ACT Goals

The OSU Marine Council recognizes the importance of staying informed of new ocean policy research priorities. The goal of the New Ocean Policy Research Priorities Action Coordination Team (ACT) is to form a network of OSU faculty to follow current ocean policy activities such as infrastructure changes in ocean observing systems, and federal opportunities that may arise from the newly released National Ocean Policy. The ACT is initially focussing efforts on contributing to regional and national Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP), as this is a priority of President Obama and his Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force.

The Marine Council's CMSP initiatives are included below, or you can download a pdf version of the CMSP Integrated Plan.

Team Lead:

Dr. Mark Abbott



CMSP as a National Priority

The Nation’s oceans and coasts support a number of traditional and emerging uses and activities including commercial and recreational fishing, scientific exploration, conservation, recreation, tourism, and energy development.  These increasing and often competing demands call for improved planning and management to allow for current utilization of ocean resources, while ensuring that these resources exist for future generations.  Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) was proposed by President Obama’s Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force in their July 2010 national policy recommendations as a High Priority approach to better manage a range of social, economic, and cultural uses.  President Obama adopted these recommendations and directed federal agencies to take appropriate steps to implement them through his signing of an Executive Order that established a National Policy for the Stewardship of the Ocean, Coasts, and Great Lakes.  In that Order, CMSP is defined as:

… a comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based, and transparent process, based on sound science, for analyzing current and anticipated uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes areas…In practical terms, CMSP provides a public policy process for society to better determine how the ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes are sustainably used and protected – now and for future generations.

Thus, CMSP provides a strong integrated framework for cross-disciplinary approaches. It identifies areas most suitable for various types or classes of activities in order to reduce conflicts among uses, reduce environmental impacts, facilitate compatible uses, and preserve critical ecosystem services to meet economic, environmental, security, and social objectives. Scientific understanding, science-informed decision-making, conflict resolution, planning, socioeconomic analyses and assessments of stakeholder needs and available ecosystems services are all required.

In their recommendations, the Executive Order calls for coordination of CMSP to occur at regional levels, and identified the West Coast Governors’ Agreement on Ocean Health (WCGA) – a California, Oregon, and Washington tri-state partnership – as the regional ocean partnership for the West Coast.  The Task Force proposed that $20 million be provided to the regions to advance CMSP, and an announcement for a Federal Funding Opportunity (FFO) was recently released by NOAA’s National Ocean Service.  The announcement states that applicants are required to demonstrate coordination with the relevant regional ocean partnership on projects and funding amounts proposed.


CMSP in Oregon

Oregon should take a lead role in CMSP for the region and the nation due to existing efforts that can serve as the foundation for CMSP, and because Oregon has unique centrally located qualities that make it a suitable case study.  In a September 2009 forum organized by The Nature Conservancy, leaders of Oregon CMSP efforts from sport and commercial fishing, port, wave energy, academic and extension, and foundation communities identified existing policy frameworks, uses, and data (collection, synthesis, and tools) that contribute to CMSP [1].  Some of these items identified at the workshop, as well as infrastructure in Oregon that could support CMSP, include:

  • Policy Frameworks: Oregon Territorial Sea Plan, Oregon Nearshore Strategy, Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Oregon and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), WCGA
  • Ocean Uses: Existing uses – tribal uses, commercial and recreational fisheries, conservation; Emerging uses – wave energy development, marine reserves
  • Data: Fishing effort mapping, recreational ocean uses study, marine reserves process base maps, seafloor mapping of Oregon’s state waters, Coastal Atlas, Marine Cadastre, TNC Marine Ecoregional Assessments, Habitat Use Database, Pacific Coast Ocean Observation Database, Northwest Association of Networked Ocean Observing Systems, Ocean Observatories Initiative, Oregon Wave Energy Trust (OWET) Cumulative Effect Analysis Framework, as well as many data collection efforts by federal and state agencies, academics, non-governmental organizations, and multi-agency efforts
  • Infrastructure: NOAA Pacific Fleet homeport in Newport, R/V Yaquina (UNOLS) ship, Hatfield Marine Science Center (HMSC), Oregon Sea Grant, Oregon State University College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS), University of Oregon Institute of Marine Biology (OIMB), Oregon Health Science University Center for Coastal Margin Observation and Prediction (CMOP), South Slough National Estuarine Research Reserve, Lower Columbia River Estuary Partnership 

In addition to these ongoing efforts, Oregon has unique strengths that make it an ideal place for testing CMSP policies and practices.  Relative to other states, Oregon has a defined and manageable set of coastal and ocean issues and clear policies and practices in place that incorporate manager and stakeholder involvement.  Oregon has an established public process, with Citizen Involvement being the first of 19 statewide planning goals.  There is also a strong land-ocean coupling in Oregon, with our coastal zone (as defined in our NOAA approved Coastal Program) extending inland to the crest of the coast range to include the state’s coastal watersheds as well as the entire Columbia River Basin which extends deep into the Pacific Northwest.


Oregon State University as CMSP Lead

Oregon State University (OSU) is well positioned to play a leadership role in Oregon’s and the nation’s CMSP efforts. The University has academic strengths in oceanography, coastal physical processes, marine biology and genomics, fisheries, regional climate modeling, marine geosciences and geographic information systems, coastal and applied economics, Free-choice learning, coastal decision-making, sociology, and education and engagement.  OSU marine researchers strive to define the quantitative connections among ecological, physical, economic and social decision-based frameworks.  This interdisciplinary approach and well-defined connectors among disciplinary platforms can drive an integrated, comprehensive, framework for planning and managing human activities in the marine environment and will span all Divisions within OSU.

As one of only two Land, Sea, Space and Sun Grant Institutions in the United States, OSU is heavily invested in partnerships with state and federal agencies, and industry and has a well-established and highly respected engagement and trust with coastal stakeholders.  OSU has just achieved the Carnegie Foundation Community Engagement classification.  The Hatfield Marine Science Center and the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station provide focal points on the coast for integrated research with federal and state agency partners and community outreach. The Oregon Sea Grant Program has led major new initiatives integrating research, stakeholder engagement and education and has extension agents located in many coastal communities. OSU houses a wide range of ocean and coastal cooperative research programs, including Partnership for Interdisciplinary Study of Coastal Oceans (PISCO), OSU’s Marine Mammal Institute (MMI), the Cooperative Institute for Marine Resources Studies (CIMRS), Cooperative Institute for Oceanographic Satellite Studies (CIOSS), the Ocean Observatories Initiative (OOI), and the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS). The first rate College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences (COAS) has renowned scientific capabilities, and the Marine Resource Management (MRM) program in COAS utilizes these scientific strengths to address social and economic issues.  The MRM program also considers legal coastal and ocean challenges through their affiliation with the University of Oregon’s School of Law.  This integrated and multidisciplinary program provides an opportunity to engage graduate students in CMSP research and policy efforts. The International Institute of Fisheries Economics & Trade and the North American Association of Fisheries Economists, both based at OSU, provide national and international networks for the exchange of economics-related research on fishery resource management and trade in seafood products.

Areas where OSU can contribute to CMSP:

  • Strong and widespread capabilities in biophysical and social sciences necessary for coastal and marine spatial planning, decision-making and conflict resolution.
  • Develop an understanding of economic and ecological evaluation and decision support tools to enable science-based decision-making over multiple scales and in face of changing environmental and economic risks and damages.
  • Increase knowledge of the content and form of information needed by local and regional decision makers to understand risk and uncertainty and to make sound decisions.
  • Facilitate interactions among researchers and local communities, thereby enhancing fundamental research and increasing the speed with which new research findings are adopted and used by local decision makers.
  • Provide an international prospective on coastal resource use and management needs, comparing Canadian, Native American, U.S. and Mexican approaches to valuation, use and management in the California Current large marine ecosystem.
  • Develop and disseminate tangible products for researchers, decision makers, and other stakeholders, including the development of user-friendly web sites and/or other mechanisms to facilitate the effective use of scientific information in local decision making.



Short-term Strategy –

In response to the NOAA FFO for regional ocean partnerships to advance CMSP, the WCGA crafted one proposal for the region with the assistance of stakeholders.  They held workshops in California, Oregon, and Washington to determine CMSP needs and invited ideas to be submitted electronically.  Members of the OSU Marine Council participated in the Oregon workshop, and submitted written proposals of ideas to be included.  Oregon Sea Grant proposed that the WCGA include funding for stakeholder engagement and for a workshop to assess the research and information needs for CMSP on the West Coast, a goal that is identified in the Marine Council Communications Plan.

After considering stakeholder input, the WCGA submitted their proposal request for $4 million in December 2010, entitled, Achieving Sustainable Coastal Communities by Advancing Regional Ocean Priorities and Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning on the West Coast.  The proposal included five regional CMSP objectives that the WCGA would like to achieve, and their strategy for achieving most of those objectives would be to allocate funds to contractors through an open proposal process.

Next Steps:

  1. Track federal funding to determine if $20 million (or some amount of money) is appropriated to NOAA for the regional FFO.
  2. Should money be appropriated, stay informed on how much money is allocated to the WCGA and forward any funding announcements to the Marine Council. 
  3. In preparation for the possibility of funding being allocated to the WCGA, review the WCGA proposal objectives, consider how OSU can lead or be involved in proposals, and begin to prepare proposals. 


Mid-term Strategy –

Create a cross-division Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Center in Oregon where OSU would take the lead in establishing a “policy in practice” test bed that could serve as a case-study for dealing with complex emerging ocean and coastal issues. This center would be a federal, university, regional, and state partnership as it is important to consider issues within Oregon’s waters as well as transboundary issues that intersect with federal and other states’ waters.  However structured, it would be a national collaborative based on the west coast.  This center would be an MSP equivalent of a NNMREC, CIMRS or Federal Cooperative Research Center.    

Next Steps:

  1. Appoint an individual or small team to lead the OSU effort.
  2. Develop a concept paper for a national CMSP center at OSU.
       a. Designate a Team to develop a comprehensive plan (goals, milestones and action items) and support network and initiate a Center (this could begin with an ACT).
       b. Identify and capture roles and responsibilities of all potential collaborators.
  3. Host a state-wide workshop to bring together and assess the wide capabilities of OSU and partner institutions to assess the state of the science and priorities for future research, partnerships, education and engagement.
  4. Brief Congressional delegation, Coastal Caucus and Governor’s Natural Resources Office regarding the content and intent of the Center concept.
  5. Identify key participants (departments, colleges and individuals) and produce a report on cross-college capabilities and needs
  6. Solicit University and federal support and funding for a National Center for CMSP at OSU through competitive proposals; and encourage agencies to develop competitive funding opportunities.
  7. Identify educational opportunities and consider cross-divisional possibilities (e.g. a Professorship in Marine Spatial Planning which could be modeled after the Sea Grant Professorship in Free-Choice Learning)



Mark Abbott, Team Lead and Dean, COAS,

Stephen Brandt, Director, Oregon Sea Grant,

Kate Sinner, Federal Relations,

Rick Spinrad, Vice President Research,



[1]Goldfarb, G. (2009, September).  Marine Spatial Planning in Oregon: An Emerging Story.  Proceedings of a forum hosted by The Nature Conservancy, Oregon Coast Aquarium, Newport, Oregon.