NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco joined Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee and other national and state leaders last week to recognize the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan.
This new ocean management plan improves state review processes and policies to facilitate the development of offshore projects that could lead to the creation of hundreds of wind energy jobs and balance energy development with transportation, fishing, recreation and environmental stewardship along the state’s coast and adjacent federal waters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
The management plan area spans approximately 1,467 square miles over portions of Block Island Sound, Rhode Island Sound and the Atlantic Ocean.
With NOAA’s approval of the state’s management plan, Rhode Island becomes the first state to have incorporated a comprehensive ocean special area management plan in its coastal zone management program.
This approval means that enforceable policies in the management plan for protecting existing activities such as fishing, important habitats and archaeological resources, and identifying areas suitable for energy projects, can be applied to federal actions in federal waters.
“Once again, the Ocean State is leading the nation in creating a plan for using ocean resources to create and sustain jobs, help our state build renewable energy and continue to preserve the historic fishing, transportation, recreation and other uses of the ocean that Rhode Islanders so treasure,” Chafee said in a statement.
“This plan will help our state reach its 15 percent renewable energy goal and continue to protect the coastal areas that drive tourism to our state,” he added.