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For Release: Thursday, January 15, 2015

New York State Issues Draft 10-Year Ocean Action Plan To Protect And Restore New York State's Rich Ocean Resources

State Seeks to Protect Ocean Resources that are Major Economic Drivers

Public Comments Accepted Until Through March 9

New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Department of State (DOS) today issued a draft, comprehensive 10-year Ocean Action Plan (OAP) to protect and restore the state's ocean resources and to address urgent issues facing these resources and coastal communities. The public is invited to submit comments on the draft plan by March 9.

"This marks the first time a state member of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body for the National Ocean Policy has issued a statewide ocean action plan," said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. "This plan will help protect the more than 300 marine fish species reproducing and growing in these waters, support the valuable commercial and recreational fishing industries, as well as the 94 miles of New York State beaches that attract millions of visitors each year. I want to thank the many stakeholders who participated in preparation of the Ocean Action Plan and invite them to continue to work with us on implementation."

"The Ocean Action Plan serves as a critical starting point to ensure that the ocean continues to provide economic benefits and recreational opportunities for New Yorkers," said New York Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "The Ocean Action Plan identifies additional opportunities to protect our coastal communities from increasingly severe weather events. This Plan builds on Governor Cuomo's record of working with communities to become more resilient in the face of a changing climate. We are pleased to continue to work with the public to refine this action plan, and we encourage all New Yorkers to provide their ideas for our state's great ocean resources."

This draft OAP supports Governor Cuomo's initiatives to promote responsible stewardship of the state's vast natural resources, enhance tourism and other economic opportunities, and improve resiliency against climate change and extreme weather. It provides a framework for managing, using, restoring and conserving New York's ocean resources.

Focusing on a healthy ocean ecosystem, the draft OAP includes projects such as habitat restoration and improved fishing access which will provide critical support for commercial and recreational fishing. In 2011, commercial fishing industries landed more than $37 million worth of finfish and shellfish which generated $5 billion in sales in local communities, and supported 42,000 jobs. That same year, recreational saltwater anglers generated $369 million in sales, contributed $212 million to gross state product, and supported 3,000 jobs. Angler expenditures in New York State are the second highest in the nation. Long Island beaches help make tourism one of the area's largest employers.

In addition, the Port of New York and New Jersey processed more than $175 billion in cargo in 2011 and supported 279,200 jobs. The Plan aims to minimize erosion and improve coastal resiliency, reducing the risk of severe storm damage to critical infrastructure.

The draft OAP will enhance protection and restoration of important marine habitats to address climate change and coastal resiliency. The ocean absorbs between a quarter and a half of the carbon dioxide released into the air which helps slow global warming. Further, the ocean provides for storm resiliency and a healthy coastal environment for the more than 13 million New Yorkers- who live along the 2,600 miles of the state's coastline.

With the release of this draft OAP, New York State is once again demonstrating national leadership in natural resource conservation. New York's draft OAP could serve as a model for ongoing state and federal collaboration efforts to identify and address regional priorities for ocean management.

Ocean Action Plan priorities will:

  • Restore seagrass protection to stabilize shoreline, reduce wave damage and provide spawning, nursery and foraging habitat for fish, shellfish, birds and sea turtles;
  • Promote economic growth, coastal development and human use of the ocean in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with maintaining ecosystem integrity;
  • Provide information and support tools, such as the Geographic Information Gateway, to direct ocean and coastal development in ways that will facilitate economic growth and environmental protection;
  • Reduce bycatch-fish and other marine life caught inadvertently during commercial fishing and thrown back dead; and
    Increase resilience of ocean resources and communities in preparation for sea level rise and other climate change impacts.

Successful implementation of the draft OAP will rely on strong leadership and firm commitments by existing state and federal programs, as well as the capacity of non-profit organizations, academic institutions, municipalities and other stakeholders to work on shared priorities.

DEC and DOS developed the draft OAP over more than three years with input from multiple federal, state and local agencies, as well as Indian Nations and advocacy groups in the New York Ocean and Great Lakes Coalition and private stakeholders. The draft OAP builds from DEC's continued environmental conservation work and the DOS' ocean and coastal planning expertise. The draft OAP will encourage communication and collaboration at all levels of government, and educate and engage stakeholders to promote effective decision making and ocean stewardship.

Alison Chase, Policy Analyst with NRDC's Oceans Program said, "A healthy ocean ensures food, jobs and recreation for all New Yorkers. Developing a coordinated state ocean conservation strategy to help protect this valuable resource is a smart approach. We look forward to reviewing the draft that was issued today."

Commercial Fisherman Captain Tony Dilernia said, "An ecosystem approach and coordination on ocean management issues will help ensure a robust fishing industry into the future by protecting and restoring New York's living resources and conserving key marine habitats. I applaud the Governor, DEC Commissioner and Secretary of State for leading this effort for the Mid-Atlantic States and look forward to the opportunity to review the draft OAP and provide feedback."

"This plan will provide a valuable baseline allowing New York to quickly react to the uncertainty of changing oceanographic conditions that can impact valuable recreational and commercial fish stocks," said Charles Witek, recreational fishermen and longtime Marine Resources Advisory Council member. "It will also provide a framework for the State to act proactively in anticipation of such changes and minimize potential adverse impacts."

"As we move forward into the future, we want to ensure protection of the ocean ecosystem and provide access to boaters and fishermen," said Chris Squeri, Executive Director of NY Marine Trades Association.

The draft OAP is available on DEC's website and DOS's website http://www.dos.ny.gov (leaving the DEC website). Public comments will be accepted from January 21 through March 9.

Comments may be mailed to:
NYSDEC Bureau of Marine Resources
205 N. Belle Mead Rd. Suite 1
East Setauket, NY 11733

Comments may be emailed with Ocean Action Plan in the subject line to: debra.abercrombie@dec.ny.gov

In addition, comments may be submitted in writing or made verbally at upcoming public meetings. The meeting schedule is:

  • February 10, 2015 10 a.m. - noon at the Meadows Edge Restaurant, Suffolk County Parks Office, West Sayville;
  • February 10, 2015 7 p.m. - 9 p.m. at Riverhead Town Hall, Riverhead;
  • February 24, 2015 7 p.m. -9 p.m. at Operation Splash, Freeport;
  • February 26, 2015 2 p.m. -4 p.m. at the Long Beach Public Library, Long Beach; and
  • Location in New York City to be announced.
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