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New York Ocean Action Plan

The New York Ocean Action Plan was announced by Commissioner Seggos on January 23, 2017. Copies of the Ocean Action Plan (PDF, 3.8 MB), Ocean Action Plan Matrix, and press release are also available by writing to NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources, 205 N Belle Mead Rd., Suite 1, East Setauket, NY 11733 or calling 631-444-0430.

What is the New York Ocean Action Plan?

A whale head surfacing out of the ocean with buildings in NYC in the background
Humpback whale surfacing with the Empire State Building
in the background. Photo courtesy of Artie Raslich.

The New York Ocean Action Plan (OAP) is a coordinated and inclusive effort focused on improving the health of our ocean ecosystems and their capacity to provide sustainable benefits to New Yorkers. Together, scientists, resource managers, and a wide range of stakeholders will take stock of New York's ocean-related activities and programs. Through a ten-year, sixty-one point action plan, the goal of the OAP is to achieve better-managed and healthier ocean ecosystems that will benefit people, communities, and the natural world. Grounded in short-term actions to reach long-term goals, the OAP will guide State government funding, research, management, outreach, and education choices.

The OAP outlines the following four interconnected goals that reflect New York's priorities for immediate action:

Goal 1- Ensure the ecological integrity of the ocean ecosystem;
Goal 2- Promote economic growth, coastal development and human use of the ocean in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with maintaining ecosystem integrity;
Goal 3- Increase resilience of ocean resources of impacts associated with climate change;
Goal 4- Empower the public to actively participate in decision making and ocean stewardship.

The corresponding long-term objectives and specific actions outlined in the OAP were developed through a stakeholder process with a diverse array of stakeholders, many of whom we would expect to be partners and take the lead in implementing the identified actions.

Why is New York creating the Ocean Action Plan?

Sand tiger shark. Photo courtesy of Brandon Puckett.
Sand tiger shark. Photo courtesy of Brandon Puckett.

New York's ocean resources face growing challenges. Changing ocean temperatures affect the health and distribution of valuable fish stocks, making efforts to sustainably manage our fisheries more difficult. In response to fishery and other management challenges, the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council (Council) called for development of an OAP in its April 2009 report to the Governor and legislature. The Council recognized that current management can be improved by implementing a more comprehensive and integrated approach to ocean management.

What is ecosystem-based management?

Ecosystem‐based management (EBM) is a comprehensive, place-based approach to resource management-distinctive from traditional approaches that manage resources individually. EBM recognizes that people are an integral part of any ecosystem and that ecosystems are vital in supporting human life. EBM also emphasizes the necessity of sound scientific understanding and strong partnerships to address complex and often contentious issues. Using EBM, New York can take a comprehensive look at its ocean and coastal resources, leading to better management decisions and healthier communities and ecosystems.

What areas of the ocean does the Ocean Action Plan address?

Map of the Ocean Action Plan focus area
Map of the Ocean Action Plan focus area.

The geographic area encompasses the State's ocean waters stretching from New York City to the end of Long Island, including ecological connections to offshore waters out to the edge of the continental shelf. Additionally, given the interconnectedness of ocean waters with nearshore waters, the ecological relationship with several estuaries and their habitats will also be examined: the Peconic, Hudson River, and NY-NJ Harbor Estuaries, Long Island Sound, and the lagoonal bays of the south shore of Long Island-Great South Bay, Jamaica Bay, Moriches Bay, Hempstead Bay, and Shinnecock Bay.

How does the Ocean Action Plan relate to the New York Coastal Management Program's Atlantic Ocean Amendment?

The New York Department of State, working with stakeholders and State and federal partners, is mapping offshore uses and compiling resource data to identify offshore habitat areas and locations that may be best suited for offshore wind energy development. The Atlantic Ocean Amendment to the State's federally approved Coastal Management Program will provide information for a stronger New York voice in decisions on proposed federal actions in the ocean, including projects proposed well beyond State waters. The OAP will help to inform future Amendments to the State's Coastal Program.

Who is leading the Ocean Action Plan process?

The DEC and DOS are coordinating the development of the OAP. For more information please contact Sherryll Huber Jones at 631-444-0448 or Gregory Capobianco at 518-474-8811. You may also email with the subject line "Ocean Action Plan".

More about New York Ocean Action Plan:

  • Fisheries - New York's marine fisheries includes hundreds of marine fish and shellfish that support economically important commercial and recreational fishing industries.
  • Protected Species - New York's marine waters are home to a variety of endangered and threatened species, including fish, marine mammals, and sea turtles.
  • Ocean Action Plan Matrix - A summary of the actions recommended in the Ocean Action Plan.