The Massachusetts Senate overwhelmingly
approved a landmark, first in-the-nation bill to create a comprehensive management plan for the state’s ocean waters. The bill now heads to the House of Representatives
The Massachusetts Ocean
Act (S. 2281), which aims to end uncoordinated decision-making by state agencies that is threatening the health of state ocean waters, is the result of nearly three years of consultation and coordination with scientists, fishermen, environmental and marine trade industries.
According to a January 2007 poll, nearly eight-in-ten (78%) registered Massachusetts voters favor a comprehensive plan that would require future development and economic uses of the ocean to be determined by deliberate planning. If passed into law, Massachusetts would become the first state in the nation to adopt a comprehensive ocean management plan.
Specifically, the Massachusetts Ocean Act, S. 2281, will: establish clear authority for ocean management decision making by placing oversight, coordination and planning authority for ocean resources within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs
; create an ocean management plan advised by a broad-based 16-member ocean management commission, including state agency representatives, state legislators, municipal officials, and environmental, fishing, and marine industry representatives; ensure decisions about the ocean are guided by the best available science through the creation of a 9-member ocean science advisory council; end ad-hoc decision-making by requiring that all permits and decisions about ocean development conform with the ocean management plan.