Thank you for making the Forum a success! Check back soon for videos of the presentations and panels.

The Sixth Annual Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum was hosted by the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Planning Committee on May 13 and 14 at the Virden Retreat Center in on the University of Delaware campus in Lewes. The Forum is the region’s premier annual event dedicated to ocean planning, gathering ocean professionals and stakeholders representing federal and state agencies, Tribal entities, marine industries, nonprofit research and advocacy organizations, and the public.

A crowd watching the discussion at the Forum.

The free event featured expert presentations and discussions on topics including climate-ocean action, sustainable ocean economies, ocean conservation and healthy ecosystems, marine spatial planning and data-sharing, a student poster session, and much more.

Goal: Foster robust information exchange and collaboration across multiple state and federal government agencies, Tribes, non-governmental entities, and ocean stakeholders to promote informed decision-making around regional ocean planning.


  • Increase awareness and understanding of state, federal, Tribal, and regional fisheries management programs and other efforts to advance a sustainable ocean economy and a healthy ocean ecosystem
  • Identify and assess key issues and opportunities that could benefit from regional coordination and collaboration
  • Invite stakeholders to provide input on regional ocean planning activities
  • Promote collaborative partnerships among diverse stakeholders, leveraging collective expertise and resources for the sustainable management of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean region



Day One: Monday, May 13


09:30 | Welcome and Coffee


10:00 – 10:30 | Opening Remarks

Avalon Bristow, Executive Director of Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO)

Tony MacDonald, Director of the Urban Coast Institute at Monmouth University



Kristi Lieske, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control

Lisa Borin-Ogden, Deputy Secretary of Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control


10:30 – 11:30 | Data Sharing and Marine Spatial Planning

Moderator: Kevin Hassell, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP)

Implementing Data Governance for Collaborative Ocean Data Sharing (Dr. Rachael Blake, Intertidal Agency)

East Coast Climate Change Scenario Planning Initiative: Informing a Coordinated East Coast Fisheries Management Response to Change (Kiley Dancy, Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council)

Marine Life Distribution and Abundance Model Updates (Jesse Cleary and Sarah DeLand, Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab)


11:50 – 12:45 | Data Sharing and Marine Spatial Planning (cont.)

Moderator: Nick Napoli, Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC)

Coordinating with Mid-Atlantic Partners to Support the Sustainable Development of Offshore Wind Energy Along the US East Coast (Mike Crowley, Mid-Atlantic Regional Association Coastal and Ocean Observing System [MARACOOS])

Spatial Planning in Action: GIS Support for an Offshore Wind Construction Operation Plan (Gwen Lockhart and Todd Gys, Tetra Tech)

Introduction to the Rutgers University Weather Research and Forecasting (RUWRF) Model Dataset (James Kim, Rutgers University Center for Ocean Observing Leadership)


12:45 – 2:15 | Midday Break + Poster Session


2:15 – 3:15 | Ocean Justice in the Mid-Atlantic: Breakout Sessions Facilitated by Raben Group

Topic 1: Identifying Underserved Communities in Regional Ocean Planning
Topic 2: Harnessing Effective Communication for Ocean Justice
Topic 3: Broadening Equitable Access to Public Lands and Waters


3:30 – 4:30 | Coastal Communities and Habitat: The human dimension, aquaculture, carbon, and beyond

Moderator: Paul Ticco, New York State Department of State

Connecting Sea Grant, the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Sciences, and coastal-ocean communities in the Mid-Atlantic to improve sustainable aquaculture siting and development (Hannah Cooper, Maryland Sea Grant)

Assessing Variability of Blue Carbon Stocks Across Scales and their Fate Under Sea Level Rise (Dr. Molly Mitchell, Virginia Institute of Marine Science)

Where Does the Carbon Go? Exploring Carbon Dynamics in a Temperate Salt Marsh (Rodrigo Vargas, University of Delaware)


4:30 | Adjourn 

Three panelists speak behind a table covered with a MARCO banner.

Day Two: Tuesday, May 14


08:00 | Welcome


08:30 – 09:00 | Opening Remarks and Plenary


Kaitlyn Dykes, Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control


09:00 – 10:30 | Monitoring and Characterization of Ocean and Coastal Changes

Moderator: Will Isenberg, Virginia Coastal Zone Management (VACZM)

Acidification Data Layer: A tool for monitoring site selection (Dr. Janet Reimer, Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network)

The Shellfishes’ Silent Struggle: a case for acidification monitoring (Stephen Tomasetti, University of Maryland Eastern Shore)

ECO-Gliders: An autonomous-based oceanographic and ecological mission to inform offshore wind development (Dr. Josh Kohut, Rutgers University)

Enhancing Coastal Resilience through Better Water Level Data and Information Products (Mary Ford, MARACOOS)


10:50 – 12:00 | Concurrent Breakout Sessions: Engaging and Understanding Communities for Marine Resource Management

1. Our Changing Ocean – understanding community needs and priorities and connecting people with resources (Alexandra Puritz, NOAA Ocean Acidification Program)

2. Mid-Atlantic Marine Sanctuaries (Leann Hogan, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries)

3. Marine Debris CBSM and Policy Perceptions
a. Mid-Atlantic Survey Results (Steve Raabe, OpinionWorks)
b. Facilitated discussion (John Kuriawa⬨, NOAA Office of Coastal Management)


12:00 – 1:00 | Midday Break

Demos available at MARCO Portal and MARACOOS OceansMap tables; GreenFin table: MACAN coastal and ocean acidification videos; Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control table


1:00 – 2:00 | The Seafloor: Sand and Sediment Management

Moderator: Ursula Howson, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

BOEM’s Holistic System’s Approach to Sand Resources and Ecosystem Balance (Jeffrey S. Waldner, BOEM Marine Minerals Program)

A Balancing Act: Applied Science for Environmentally Responsible Use of Outer Continental Shelf Sand Resources (Victoria Brady, BOEM)

Modeling and mapping 21st century beach sand supply and demand along the Delaware-Maryland Atlantic coastline and beyond (Daniel L Warner, Ph.D., Delaware Geological Survey)


2:15 – 3:15 | The Seafloor: Habitat

Temporal Variability in the Highly Migratory Shark Assemblage on a Dredged Shoal (Benjamin Marsalay, University of Delaware)

Shoreface Sand Ridge Structuring of Fish Habitat off New Jersey (Thomas Grothues, Rutgers University)

Regional Wildlife Science Collaborative Habitat and Ecosystem Regional Seafloor Activities (Nikelene McLean, RWSC Habitat Subcommittee Lead)


3:30 – 4:30 | Stakeholder Panel

The panel will include representatives from Federal, State, Regional, Maritime Industry, and Non-Governmental Organizations

Five seated speakers and a moderator standing behind a podium.

Day Three: Wednesday, May 15


09:15 – 11:00 | Eco-Tour by Boat

Eco-tour by vessel of the Delaware Bay
9:30 a.m. departure from Anglers Road dock in Lewes, DE