Podcast by Mid-Atlantic Regional Ocean Partnership
On The Capitol Beach podcast series, Derek Brockbank, Executive Director of the Coastal States Organization, spoke with representatives of the four Regional Ocean Partnerships (ROPs): Kimberly Cole of MARCO, Lisa Engler of the Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC), Laura Bowie of the Gulf of Mexico Alliance (GOMA), and John Hansen of the West Coast Ocean Alliance (WCOA). ROPs are the coordinating and planning bodies that address regional offshore and nearshore issues, including ocean planning, hosting data portals, and relationship management across the myriad of agencies with coastal and ocean jurisdiction. While similar in purpose, each ROP has a regional flavor and structure – GOMA is a gumbo of diverse stakeholders; WCOA works with 100+ tribal nations; NROC coordinates planning and response to the nation’s first offshore wind projects; MARCO provides data and coordination to foster the Mid-Atlantic’s vibrant blue economy.
MARCO is a state-led ROP, and its Management Board consists of coastal managers from the five Mid-Atlantic states of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Its priorities are ultimately agreed upon by the Management Board, but are informed by stakeholder engagement efforts, topic-specific working groups, and interagency committees that MARCO oversees. For example, MARCO convenes the Mid-Atlantic Committee on the Ocean (MACO), which is a mechanism to coordinate with federal agencies, tribes, and the Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council on regional ocean planning.
The regional topic-specific working groups currently include marine debris, ocean acidification, offshore wind, non-consumptive recreation, maritime commerce and navigation safety, and ocean mapping and data. Each work group follows its own stakeholder engagement plans, and produces annual work plans and semi-annual progress reports that are available on MARCO’s website: www.midatlanticocean.org
While ROPs have been around at some level for 15 years, Congress is currently considering an ROP Act that would officially authorize and fund these ROPs and pave the way for others in the Great Lakes and South Atlantic. So, for a taste of the ROPs, listen to “The-Exciting Possibilities of Cooperative Management with Regional Ocean Partnerships” on The Capitol Beach, one of the American Shoreline Podcast Network’s podcasts.