Washington Gets Its Marine Spatial Plan

The Pacific Northwest's competing and sometimes conflicting stakeholders have created a master plan for the use—and also the preservation—of marine resources.
November 3, 2017, 10am PDT | Katharine Jose
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Elliot Point, Lighthouse Park and Mukilteo Beach in Washington.
cpaulfell

On October 12, the Department of Ecology in Washington State released a document it has named the Draft Marine Spatial Plan for Washington’s Pacific Coast.

That somewhat uninventive title is a disservice to what Washington has actually done—created a collaborative master plan using the increasingly popular process called Marine Spatial Planning.

Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) aims, more or less, to take the basic tenets of modern land-use planning—engaging many stakeholders, considering commercial, social and environmental trade-offs—and establishing comprehensive plans for marine areas.

Massachusetts and Rhode Island have employed MSP for ocean-resource master plans, and the process is underway in San Diego; Marine Spatial Planning is also in use for various projects around the nation and the world, particularly in places most affected by climate change. In Washington, observers hope the process can dampen longstanding conflicts between interests, and provide "a framework to guide decisions about new development on the outer coast."

The Draft Marine Spatial Plan for Washington's Pacific Coast is now open to public comment.

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Published on Thursday, October 26, 2017 in Sightline Institute
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