Ocean planning is a comprehensive, stakeholder-driven process that considers the dynamic and interconnected relationship between the ocean environment and the human uses within this environment to manage resources and activities effectively and responsibly. The pilot is centered around Public Trust uses, which both partners manage, including commerce, navigation, recreation, fishing, and environmental stewardship.
We define the ocean planning process as comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based, and transparent. The partnership chose the term ‘ocean planning’ as a way to distinguish our specific pilot from other marine spatial planning processes. By looking at the space as a whole, rather than sector by sector, we will understand which areas are most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses, and preserve critical ecosystem services.
The intent of this pilot is to better understand what the current ocean uses are in this offshore space, where they occur, and how they interact. Through this process, we want to develop a framework that supports decision-making for both managers and ocean users. While both partners manage Public Trust uses, we are not regulatory bodies and do not intend to establish ocean use zones.
This is not a regulatory program nor does it stem directly from a particular legislative mandate. This is a voluntary collaboration, intended for planners and the public, that will yield an interactive spatial tool and management framework for the Commission and the Port to inform our decision-making, and will not alter or attempt to alter the statutes or regulations under the jurisdictions of other agencies, including the California Coastal Commission, California Fish and Game Commission, State Water Resources Control Board, and others.
For example, the Marine Protected Area (MPA) network is under the jurisdiction of the California Fish and Game Commission pursuant to the Marine Life Protection Act. The ocean planning process will explore opportunities to ensure ecological sustainability and enhance the function of marine environments by alleviating existing stressors and preventing incompatible developments. Our intent is that the planning partnership will not only help to protect MPAs or enhance the objectives of other managed areas, but may also be able to identify opportunities to improve their functionality.
This is the timeline for the first phase of the ocean planning process, it is primarily composed of stakeholder engagement and data collection and will result in a Summary Assessment Report.