...to preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders
NOAA, CRMC celebrate Ocean SAMP federal approval
July 27, 2011, NARRAGANSETT, R.I .– Governor Lincoln Chafee and NOAA Administrator Jane Lubchenco, Ph.D. joined the R.I. Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) and other national and state officials on July 22 to recognize the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) and its recent federal adoption.
“Today is a landmark event for the State of Rhode Island and for the Nation,” said Lubchenco. “One year ago this week, President Obama signed the Executive Order establishing the first ever National Ocean Policy. The Rhode Island plan is what President Obama envisioned in the National Ocean Policy. It sets a great example for other coastal states.”
The CRMC, NOAA officials, members of the Ocean SAMP team and others gathered at the University of Rhode Island to celebrate with a signing of a SAMP approval document. NOAA’s Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) on May 11, 2011 approved the incorporation of the Ocean SAMP into the state’s federally approved coastal management program. The Ocean SAMP, the largest ever developed by the CRMC and University of Rhode Island, was approved in late 2010 by the Council for state waters adoption.
The CRMC sought approval from NOAA for formal inclusion of the SAMP into the federally-approved R.I. Coastal Resources Management Program (RICRMP). Securing this adoption – something the CRMC does with all applicable SAMPs – allows the CRMC to exercise federal consistency within state waters, as provided for in the Federal Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA).
The Ocean SAMP spans approximately 1,467 square miles over portions of Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. The CRMC, together with the URI Graduate School of Oceanography and Coastal Resources Center, Rhode Island Sea Grant, Roger Williams University and numerous stakeholders, organizations, federal and state agencies, developed the nearly 1,000-page document in two years.
A team of 260 scientists, policy makers, educators, lawyers and students at URI and Roger Williams University School of Law worked on the SAMP’s creation with CRMC staff and others. Using the best available science and working with well-informed and committed resource users, researchers, environmental and civic organizations, and local, state and federal government agencies, the SAMP provides a comprehensive understanding of the complex and rich ecosystem of Rhode Island’s offshore waters. The document covers topics including ecology, global climate change, cultural and historic resources, fisheries, recreation and tourism, marine transportation, navigation and infrastructure, renewable energy and other offshore development, future uses, existing statutes, regulations and policies, and policies of the Ocean SAMP.
For federal waters adoption, the CRMC has requested a geographical boundary expansion to its federal consistency boundary by documenting in advance that certain licenses, permits, leases, etc., will have a foreseeable effect on the state’s coastal zone. The CRMC will also establish formal agreements with key federal agencies by obtaining the geographical boundary extension approval from NOAA; continuing close coordination with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE, formerly MMS) through the Atlantic Governor’s Consortium; and establishing a formal working relationship with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).
“Prior to this plan, individual proposals for new ocean uses generated conflict that wasted time and energy,” Lubchenco said. “Now, with this plan, there is overarching guidance about balancing different uses. A healthy economy and a healthy ocean go hand in hand. This plan enables both. This plan will create jobs, while helping to meet the White House’s energy goal of reducing the nation’s use of oil by one-third by a little more than a decade from now.”