NARRAGANSETT—No one would disagree that the ocean is a valuable resource which accommodates multiple users, from schools of fish to archaeological surveys. Commercial fishermen, architectural firms, and university scientists are among the many competing parties who wish to preserve, understand, and utilize every facet of the ocean’s bounty. The Ocean Special Area Management Plan, or SAMP, is the first tool in the country which will help to negotiate these relationships.
Federal, state, and university officials gathered on Friday to federally recognize the Ocean SAMP. Rhode Island is the first state to develop such a broad marshalling of scientific information about the ocean as a natural resource, led by the work of the Rhode Island Coastal Management Council (CRMC) and the Graduate School of Oceanography at URI. Other states and countries, such as France, Denmark, and New Zealand have all looked towards the Rhode Island Ocean SAMP as a model for their own government’s efforts in marine environment management.
“By developing this plan, Rhode Island has emerged as a national leader in coastal management and ocean stewardship,” said Dr. Jane Lubchenco, Administrator and Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere at NOAA. “This plan takes is what President Obama envisioned in the National Ocean Policy, and it sets a great example for other coastal states.”
The Ocean SAMP is a comprehensive reference document which holistically details the ecological, recreational, cultural, and economic resources of the Block Island and Rhode Island Sounds, approximately a 1,500 square mile area. The plan, aided by the School of Law at Roger Williams University and Rhode Island Sea Grant, was developed over two years and is the culmination of input from multiple stakeholders. Numerous research teams and committees were charged with data collection, dissemination, and community outreach, and thus creating a significant scientific and regulatory knowledge base.
“Interactions with all stakeholders, such as the fishing community, Narragansett Indian Tribe, and others, have been key,” said Paul M. Rich, Rhode Island Development Officer for Deepwater Wind. “These relationships are never easy to broker. Rhode Island sits in pole position, but it is a delicate situation because there are many different interests.”
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