The Ocean Planning Committee is one of three NROC Standing Committees. This committee was established to inform and recommend to the Council how best to approach regional issues and coordinate activities related to ocean planning in New England. This Committee’s work is directly supporting the efforts of the Northeast Regional Planning Body, which has the responsibility of developing an ocean management plan for New England.

Current Activities

The Ocean Planning Committee has been responsible for helping to scope and provide oversight for the regional ocean planning projects listed below. Up-to-date project details and products can now be found on the Projects page of the Northeast Regional Planning Body website.

Northeast Ocean Data Portal

Working closely with partner organizations to provide easy-to-use interactive maps and data for ocean planning.

Characterizing Spatial Patterns of Commercial Fishing

Developing maps of commercial fishing activity with participation of the commercial fishing industry, scientists, and managers.

Marine Industry Engagement

Conducting meetings and workshops with marine industry representatives to determine key planning issues.

Conservation and Science Community Engagement

Engaging with science and conservation communities to identify and better understand natural resource conservation issues that can be addressed through regional ocean planning.

Review of Marine Habitat Classification, Characterization, and Modeling Activities

Reviewing a range of approaches to marine habitat classification that could help to advance management of ocean habitats.

Recreational Boater Survey

Northeast Recreational Boater Survey

Obtaining spatial and economic information on recreational saltwater boating activity throughout the Northeast.

Download the Committee’s work plan for 2015-2016.

Committee Goal

Assist in the development of a regional ocean plan to support ecosystem-based management of the Northeast’s marine environment and its human uses by working collaboratively with federal, state and tribal government, Northeast Fisheries Management Council, and stakeholders.

Sustaining New England’s Ocean Heritage

The health of the ocean and the livelihoods that depend on it are vitally important to New England residents, visitors, and businesses. In 2009, ocean-related economic activity totaled over $11 billion in GDP for the region, providing over 190,000 jobs. People in New England greatly value this traditional ocean-related heritage and are seeking basic needs from the ocean—food, energy, conservation, and others—in new and increasingly complex ways. Simultaneously, there is much to learn about the ocean ecosystem, its natural resources, and existing uses that depend on those resources such as fishing, shipping, and recreation. Better scientific information and a better understanding of current and potential human uses of the ocean will enable New England to achieve its economic goals and ensure healthy oceans.

Data and Information for Ocean Planning

To meet these needs, NROC is gathering data and developing maps of human activities such as commercial fishing, shipping, and boating. NROC also is helping to enhance understanding of the ocean ecosystem by developing maps of areas used by marine mammals, fish, and birds. For these projects, NROC is working with people directly involved with these activities: scientists, fishermen, boaters, and environmental groups, as well as leaders in the shipping, ports, and energy industries. This approach ensures that people who depend on the ocean are involved in NROC’s work.

Shared Membership with Regional Planning Body

The National Ocean Policy states that a Regional Planning Body will have the responsibility of developing an ocean management plan for New England. In spring 2012, New England’s governors, federal agencies, Northeast Fishery Management Council, and tribal governments named representatives to this Regional Planning Body. NROC shares membership with the Regional Planning Body, and thus NROC will be an important resource and contributor to the development of a New England ocean plan — a blueprint for the future of our ocean.


The committee has determined three strategies for working toward its goal. During 2012-2014, the committee will:

  1. Develop information and engage stakeholders in support of regional ocean planning.
  2. Develop data and science products in support of regional ocean planning.
  3. Connect and strengthen regional ocean planning efforts in NE through providing a forum for discussion, seeking new sources of capacity.

Committee Members

Betsy Nicholson, NOAA (Federal Co-chair),

Grover Fugate, Rhode Island (State Co-chair),

Kathleen Leyden, Maine

Matthew Nixon, Maine

Steve Couture, New Hampshire

Chris Williams, New Hampshire

Bruce Carlisle, Massachusetts

Brian Thompson, Connecticut

David Blatt, Connecticut

Robert LaBelle, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Leann Bullin, BOEM

Sherry Morgan, Fish and Wildlife Service

Patrick Gilman, Department of Energy (DOE)

Meghan Massaua, DOE

Lorraine Wakeman, Department of Transportation (DOT)

George Jackson, DOT

Jeffrey Flumignan, DOT

Cherryl Barnett, Navy

Joe Atangan, Navy Joint Chiefs of Staff

Christopher Boelke, NOAA

Daniel Martin, NOAA

Katie Lund, NOAA

Ron Beck, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG)

Michele DesAutels, USCG

Daniel Hubbard, USCG

Mel Cote, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Regina Lyons, EPA

Peter Murdoch, U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)

Walter Barnhardt, USGS

Christine Clarke, Department of Agriculture


John Weber, NROC Ocean Planning Director

Nick Napoli, NROC Ocean Planning Project Manager