Recorded Webinar: What is Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning?
Watch the Webinar Run time 55 min.
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This webinar was broadcast nationally March 4 by Florida Sea Grant’s Boating and Waterway Planning Program. The presenter is one of the world’s leading experts in marine spatial planning, Charles, “Bud Ehler.” Ehler analyzed how marine spatial planning can assist with balancing the many uses and activities associated with our coastal and ocean resources.
He also reviewed how marine spatial planning has been practiced successfully in other countries like Australia, The Netherlands, Germany, and Norway for over a decade. Ehler also examined the U.S. approach from an international perspective, and identified management challenges that will have to be overcome if marine spatial planning in the U.S. is to be effective, efficient, and equitable.
Applications of Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning in Florida’s Coastal Communities
By Charles Sidman
Associate Director for Research
What is Marine Spatial Planning?
Marine Spatial Planning is a new policy framework being implemented by the federal government to guide coastal and marine ecosystem-based management efforts at national, regional and local levels.
The framework, which is now a major focus of the Obama administration and NOAA, is designed to address the growing need for a comprehensive yet flexible planning strategy to manage human uses of coastal and marine resources in a manner that sustains economic, ecological and cultural resources for future generations.
Specific marine spatial planning objectives are:
- to streamline planning and regulatory processes, such as permitting, to reduce costs and delays;
- to reduce user conflicts in marine and coastal environments; and
- to preserve critical coastal and marine ecosystem function.
Marine spatial planning embodies a ‘science-based’ and ‘participatory’ planning process to be implemented cooperatively among federal, state and local authorities, with citizen input, and supported by the latest geo-spatial data and technologies, such as Geographic Information Systems, or GIS.
Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
of Florida Sea Grant
and Florida Oceans
and Coastal Council
Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force
Announces National Ocean Policy
How Sea Grant Supports Marine Spatial Planning in Florida
While recent developments with marine spatial planning draw national to the need for more proactive management of human activities in the coastal zone, the basic concept of comprehensive waterway management is not new to Florida.
Land-based comprehensive planning has been mandated of all local governments in Florida since the mid-1980s, with each of Florida’s 35 coastal counties also being required to develop a coastal element to their comprehensive plans.
Unfortunately, much of the geospatial data that has been instrumental to Florida’s comprehensive land management efforts stops at the water’s edge. In recognition of this deficiency, Florida Sea Grant has for over 20 years supported the activities of a marine spatial planning specialist and staff affiliated with the program’s Boating and Waterway Management program.
The specialist is an expert in the application of geo-spatial technologies like remote sensing, GPS and GIS, to coastal resource management and waterway planning. The program works with state, regional, and local program stakeholders and the public to evaluate the balance between human activities in marine areas with ecological, economic and social objectives.
The marine spatial planning specialist also interfaces with attorneys associated with the University of Florida’s Levin College of Law who focus on coastal planning, navigation, and marine environmental law and who also are supported, in part, by Sea Grant.
Sea Grant’s marine spatial planning specialist interfaces with local governments and works closely with regional and state agencies charged with managing waterways, providing public waterway access, and associated recreational boating activities.
These partnerships include the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the West Coast Inland Navigation District, the Waterfronts Florida partnership, and numerous coastal counties, including Manatee, Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, Collier, Brevard, Bay and Taylor counties.
This has resulted in the development of human-dimension spatial data sets, geo-spatial management and outreach applications, and methods in support of local, regional, and state waterway planning and management directives. These efforts have also resulted in a number of educational products targeted to the boating public to address conflicts and promote stewardship of coastal and marine resources.
Sea Grant Marine Spatial Planning Impacts
Examples of recent and ongoing projects and accomplishments from Sea Grant’s marine spatial planning specialist and the affiliated Boating and Waterway Management program include:
- the development of a GIS-based Regional Waterway Management System (RWMS) that evaluates vessel and waterway characteristics to prioritize navigation channel maintenance on a regional basis. This system has led to a vastly streamlined permitting process for dredging that incorporates environmental mitigation measures.The new process has already saved taxpayers in Southwest Florida millions of dollars by allowing the Inland Navigation District to bundle up to 50 waterway maintenance operations under one ‘noticed general permit.
- the development of a GIS-based Boating Safety Risk Decision Support System that incorporates relevant spatially referenced data on boating accidents, boating citations, infrastructure, boating pattern data, and bio-physical criteria stipulated in Florida Statutes, to evaluate boating safety risk along Florida’s Intracoastal Waterways.This system provides a standardized, data-driven framework for evaluating boating safety throughout Florida and has been used to support new state rule-making to evaluate the efficacy of existing boating safety zones and to establish new boating safety zones in Intracoastal Waterways within Martin and Palm Beach counties.
- a series of regional recreational boating characterizations undertaken to develop spatial data on the travel patterns boaters who use boat ramps, marinas, and private docks.The data collected from map-based mail surveys, distributed to tens of thousands of Florida boaters, provides a science-based source of spatially-referenced data that is enabling local government and state agency partners to identify key issues/needs from the perspective of local boating communities as input to education programs and communications products.The data are also being used to evaluate a host of waterway planning needs that include demand for recreational boating access facility siting and improvements, boating congestion “hot spots”, manatee protection, and spatial associations between popular boating corridors/destinations and critical marine habitats, such as seagrass beds.
- a spatially enabled boating regulation database which maps and provides a legal description of all local, state, and federal boating-related management zones throughout Florida .This database is being used by the State to determine where legal boundaries intersect and overlap in an effort to minimize the duplication of new proposed regulations and the establishment of redundant zones.
- a new interactive web-based visualization tool, called the Manatee Awareness and Protection Resource, was created to promote stakeholder education and awareness surrounding the designation of manatee protection zones in Florida. The Web site incorporates educational modules that allows visitors to explore factors important to the delineation of manatee protection zones, such as laws, refuges, waterway infrastructure, boats, seagrass, manatee life characteristics, water quality and temperature.The site also includes a unique interactive mapping feature that allows users to visualize some of the spatial data used in delineating manatee protection zones. This educational tool which incorporates the latest geographic information is intended to engender a greater understanding and appreciation of this complex management issue, possibly leading to greater acceptance of and compliance with protection zone restrictions.
- a new public engagement outreach initiative to provide decision support to rural coastal communities in planning for public waterway access. The rationale is that rural areas of the coast remain the most pristine and most at risk for uncontrolled coastal development. Yet, those same areas typically do not have the resources of large metropolitan areas to undertake planning efforts.This project will engage the public using participatory mapping techniques in support of a recreation suitability and access analysis of publically owned waterfront lands in Taylor County, a rural coastal county in north central Florida. The results of this pilot project will be used to solicit funding from the National Sea Grant program to support a wider effort to address the public coastal access issue in other rural Gulf of Mexico regions.
- new method using spatially referenced aerial reconnaissance to map and analyze patterns of coral reef use in southeast Florida with the aim of quantifying the impacts of recreational use on reef condition and health.The results of this ongoing project will provide data and analysis to assist coastal planners and resource managers in evaluating alternatives for maintaining sustainable recreational use while minimizing detrimental impacts to near-shore coral reef systems.
Making a Difference
Sea Grant’s Boating and Waterway program has resulted in streamlined waterway management permitting that has saved taxpayers in Southwest Florida millions of dollars. It has also resulted in new rules implemented by the State which have made Florida’s waterways safer for boaters, and pro-active efforts to manage artificial and coral reef resources.
New spatial data are being used to map recreational boating activities and patterns in Florida’s major boating regions, and local governments have policy tools they use to preserve waterfront and waterway access. There’s also an increased awareness and appreciation among boaters and coastal residents for the value of cultural and natural waterway resources in Florida.