The Baker-Polito Administration announced the release of the final 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Authorized by the Oceans Act of 2008, the ocean plan protects critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses, and sets standards for ocean-based development. Under the Oceans Act, the ocean plan is required to be reviewed at least every five years, and the 2021 ocean plan now supersedes all previous plans.
“The newly released 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan provides important updates to the Commonwealth’s framework for balancing ocean uses and resource protection,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “This update and amendment effort ensures the ocean plan continues to incorporate the best science and evolving policy perspectives for sound ocean resource management.”
“Ocean resources are of critical importance to our economy and way of life in Massachusetts,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “The 2021 ocean plan showcases our Administration’s commitment to proactively and constructively manage evolving ocean uses to meet the needs of our citizens and communities.”
The original Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan, released in 2009 in response to the Oceans Act of 2008, established protections for critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses in the Massachusetts Ocean Management Planning Area and set siting and performance standards for specific ocean-based development. The Oceans Act requires the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) to review the ocean plan at least once every five years — a process led by the Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) and supported by input from the Ocean Advisory Commission, Ocean Science Advisory Council, technical work groups and a significant public engagement process. The final 2021 ocean plan contains revised maps of special, sensitive, or unique resources and water-dependent uses, a current assessment of the status and trends in ocean conditions and a Science Framework to ensure progress on key ocean management priorities over the next five years.
“Through the release of the 2021 ocean plan, the Baker-Polito Administration affirms its dedication to the responsible stewardship of ocean resources, which are critical to the state’s prosperity and to the protection of state ocean waters,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “The 2021 ocean plan would not have been possible without the dedication of many individuals and organizations, and I would like to personally thank all of these contributors for their commitment to ensuring the ocean plan meets the needs of the Commonwealth’s citizens, today and into the future.”
“The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management is committed to balancing the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources,”said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “We at CZM are proud to play a leading role in ensuring the ocean plan remains an evolving document, revised periodically to adapt as better information and science is developed, policy goals evolve and experience in applying the management and administrative framework is gained.”
The review and update for the ocean plan was initiated in 2019. The process was led by CZM on behalf of EEA and supported by the Ocean Advisory Commission, Ocean Science Advisory Council, technical work groups, stakeholder groups and public participation. In December 2020, the Review of the 2015 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan was completed and published, launching the development of the 2021 ocean plan through continued expert and public input. Then on September 22, 2021, CZM issued the Draft 2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan for public review, including four hearings and a 60-day public comment period, leading to today’s release of the final 2021 ocean plan. To download Volumes 1 and 2, see the2021 Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan web page.