Two auspicious events: The MA Oceans Act of 2008 (mandating the development and implementation of an ocean management plan) was signed into law on May 28th, just a few months after the official launch of the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership. MOP, an organization with a broadly representative ocean stakeholder membership, was created specifically to support the development of a stakeholder-informed, coastal and marine spatial planning plan for MA.
Bringing ocean-use stakeholders together for cross-sector dialogue and collaborative problem solving to develop social capital is integral to MOP’s mission. MOP holds periodic (3-4/year) Partners’ events with broad-based participation of stakeholders with traditionally conflicting ocean uses. In 2008 and 2009, MOP Partners’ events helped to directly connect a wide range of stakeholder groups with the state officials conducting the fast-paced plan development process (MA Ocean Plan development encompassed 18 months from start to finish). 2010 Partners’ events will focus on enhancing stakeholder/Partner participation in planning science projects.
Role in Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
Broad-based stakeholder inclusion is, by definition, essential to effective coastal and marine spatial planning efforts. Effective, “durable” ocean management decisions require buy-on from traditionally competing stakeholders— social capital in the form of mutual understanding, appreciation and respect helps forge solutions that benefit all.
Challenges & Applications
It is logistically challenging to gather large groups for frequent in-person events. MOP expanded our reach for these meetings with live and archived webcasting followed up by web postings of meeting summaries and email distributions. The MOP model and approach is easily transferable to other states/regions.
MOP Partners’ events bring together stakeholders for cross-sector dialogue, project coordination and collaborative problem solving—ultimately, building social capital that supports effective coastal and marine spatial planning.