Help chart the future of the Pacific coast

Are you interested in helping shape the future of Washington’s Pacific Coast?

Ecology is still taking public comment on the state’s proposed Marine Spatial Plan and draft Environmental Impact Statement until Tuesday, Dec. 12.

The science-based guidance would establish a process for reviewing and making decisions about future ocean uses that might be proposed on the state’s Pacific coast.

Marine spatial plan forward-looking

There are no new projects currently proposed for our ocean coast. The Marine Spatial Plan, however, is designed to be forward looking by establishing procedures to make sure that local and tribal governments and state and federal agencies coordinate with one another on planning and permitting decisions for any future proposals.

The plan also would help ensure that the public and interest groups have ample opportunity to weigh in on any future proposals.

While most current coastal activities center on recreation, maritime shipping, aquaculture, and coastal fishing, Washington could receive requests to locate new types of projects and activities in the ocean such as:

  • Dredge disposal
  • Offshore aquaculture operations
  • Renewable energy

The Marine Spatial Plan would help ensure any future projects avoid causing long-term significant adverse impacts to our environment, fisheries, and other resources.

Identifying conditions, trends, and potential effects

The proposed plan provides data on current ocean conditions and future trends. It also outlines the data and information needed to evaluate new proposed ocean projects, including the potential effects a project could have on people, local communities, and the environment.

While the plan establishes protections for fisheries and ecologically-sensitive areas in state waters, it does not change current management or permit processes for existing marine activities such as fisheries management plans or shellfish aquaculture.

Multi-party effort

Ecology developed the draft plan in partnership with the Washington departments of Fish and Wildlife and Natural Resources, Washington Sea Grant, and other agencies.

The state also worked closely with local and tribal governments, other state agencies, the Washington Coastal Marine Advisory Council, environmental and planning groups, the private sector and the public to develop the plan.

Submit comments online or by mail

The Dec. 12 deadline for submitting comments is rapidly approaching. You can submit comments online or by mail to: Jennifer Hennessey, Department of Ecology, PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA 98504-7600.