WSG News Blog

Washington Coast Marine Spatial Plan Released for Public Comment

November 7, 2017

Five years ago, the state legislature allocated funding for the development of a marine spatial plan (MSP) for Washington’s coast. A MSP is a public process of analyzing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine environments to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives.  The Washington coast plan outlines a strategic approach to incorporate new uses in coastal waters by identifying ecologically important areas and areas in which current ocean uses takes place. It also discusses the potential conditions and factors that go into locating a suitable area for new uses off Washington’s coast. 

Washington Sea Grant has been a key player in the development of the MSP by providing outreach, coordinating a science advisory panel and developing indicators of social wellbeing and economic indicators. Sea Grant field agents Bridget Trosin and Kevin Decker have planned workshops, open houses and presented at local meetings and festivals along the coast and Puget Sound region to engage local communities in the MSP process. Their work also involved collecting local feedback by bringing concerns and questions they heard from their conversations with local communities to the State Ocean Caucus. Trosin also led the coordination of the Marine Spatial Planning Science Advisory Council which provided scientific review of several new data sets that are used in the MSP. Science Advisory Council members included scientists from federal and state agencies, tribes and universities with a wide variety of subject expertise.

One of the requirements the MSP state law was the development of indicators for ecosystem health. WSG social scientist Melissa Poe took the lead along with WSG team members Melissa Watkinson and Bridget Trosin to develop indicators of social wellbeing. Coastal economist and outreach staff member Kevin Decker developed economic indicators for the coast to help communities and state managers track not only the health of our natural system but also of the people that work and live in our coastal communities.

While there has been a large body of work completed in the draft MSP, there remains much more work to ensure we are strategically planning for the future of our coastal resources and the communities that rely on them. We encourage you to provide your comments on the draft MSP and continue to stay engaged.

You can provide comments on the draft plan online or in person at the following public workshops and hearings:

  • Wednesday, Nov. 1, in Forks – The meeting starts at 6 p.m. at the Department of Natural Resources building, Olympic Region Conference Room, 411 Tillicum Lane, Forks.
  • Tuesday, Nov. 7, in Aberdeen – The event starts at 6 p.m. at Grays Harbor College, Manspeaker Building Room 2250, 1620 Edward P. Smith Dr., Aberdeen.
  • Wednesday, Nov. 8 in Long Beach – The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Cranberry Museum, 2907 Pioneer Road, Long Beach.
  • Thursday, Nov. 9 in Tukwila – The event starts at 6 p.m. at the Tukwila Community Center, 12424 42nd Ave. S., Tukwila.