Marine spatial planning

Washington’s four Pacific coast counties — Clallam, Grays Harbor, Jefferson, and Pacific — account for 331,000 acres of marine waters and 157 miles of open ocean coastline. Coastal communities, including coastal Indian tribes, have a rich history and maintain a unique relationship to coastal resources. Yet, there are increasing demands on these resources, including new projects and uses that can potentially create conflicts.
To ensure Washington maintains a resilient, healthy coastal marine ecosystem, we lead and help manage a marine spatial planning process that supports sustainable economic, recreational, and cultural opportunities for coastal communities, visitors, and future generations.

Our role in marine spatial planning

Marine spatial planning focuses on future uses that will likely compete for ocean resources and space. The state departments of Ecology, Fish and Wildlife, and Natural Resources worked closely with local and tribal governments, other state and federal agencies, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council, environmental and planning groups, the private sector and the public to develop the marine spatial plan.

The guidance establishes a process for coordinating among local and tribal governments and state and federal agencies to ensure interest groups and the public have opportunities to weigh in on future projects.

Most ocean uses currently center on recreation, maritime shipping, shellfish aquaculture, and coastal fishing. The state, however, anticipates reviewing proposals for new activities such as renewable energy, dredged material disposal, mining, marine product harvesting, and offshore aquaculture operations.  

Creating a plan now provides an opportunity for all users to have input through a public planning process while determining the most appropriate strategies to guide and evaluate new ocean uses in the future. This planning allows for coordination between all ocean and coastal users, draws upon the best available science, and creates an inclusive decision-making process that carefully considers economic, social, ecological, and cultural interests.

Learn more and get involved

Community members have many opportunities to be involved in the planning process. Visit the state's marine spatial planning site to view these opportunities. Participate in making Washington's coast a resilient and healthy marine ecosystem that supports existing and future needs.