In July 2011 the Aquarium of the Pacific together with the University of Southern California’s Wrigley Institute and Sea Grant program hosted a forum to discuss coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP). About forty representatives from colleges and universities, state and federal government agencies, various ocean and renewable energy industries, conservationists, and other stakeholder groups gathered to explore the concept of CMSP, and how it might be applied to the Southern California Bight, which extends from Point Conception in Santa Barbara south to our border with Mexico.
CMSP was one of the recommendations that came out of President Obama’s executive order for the establishment of the nation’s first national ocean policy. It’s a process that’s designed to allocate legitimate and important uses to appropriate coastal and ocean areas in an effort to benefit both environmental health and economic prosperity. It would build upon California’s efforts to protect biologically sensitive areas designated through the Marine Life Protection Act. Important human uses might include offshore wind farms, aquaculture, and other sustainable projects that could contribute to our energy and food system resources and the regional economy.
This report summarizes the discussion that took place during the forum and lays out a potential planning mechanism for CMSP in Southern California.