What Is OCRM Doing to Encourage Public Involvement?
The Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) encourages public involvement in a number of ways:
OCRM provides opportunities for the public to comment on and participate in coastal management decisions. Public comments are sought in the program approval process or designation of all state coastal management and estuarine research reserves programs. OCRM also solicits public concerns and priorities on coastal issues through environmental impact assessments, meetings, workshops, and federal register notices for public comment periods.
The National Coastal Zone Management Program also incorporates mechanisms to ensure continued public participation in program decisions, including program enhancements, changes, and evaluations, and program functions, such as federal consistency and environmental protection. Many of the 33 state and territory coastal programs also provide for ongoing public involvement through formal public advisory groups that represent the coastal zone's many interests.
OCRM also establishes advisory groups to involve the public. The Marine Protected Areas (MPA) Federal Advisory Committee is very a successful example of public involvement. The MPA Federal Advisory Committee is made up of people of diverse backgrounds and experience. Committee members represent a range of stakeholders
interested in MPAs as a management tool, including scientists, academics, commercial fishermen, anglers, divers, state and tribal resource managers, energy and tourism industries, and environmentalists. The committee provides expert advice and recommendations to the Secretaries of Commerce and the Interior on implementing the National System of MPAs. Additional information, including copies of the committee’s recommendations and meeting minutes, are on the MPA Center’s web site.(top)
For the public to be involved in coastal decision-making, they need information on coastal management issues and a general understanding of the governing laws and policies. OCRM and our state partners offer public education and outreach programs and volunteer opportunities. With state partners, OCRM also provides technical assistance to other coastal decision-makers. For example, the National Estuarine Research Reserve System (NERRS) supports local governments through the Coastal Training Program. NERRS sites also provide active K-12 educational programs and other educational programs, including support for National Estuaries Day.(top)
By working with local governments and involving the public, OCRM can better identify local needs, connect local priorities to national goals, and coordinate agency actions to support local management of coastal resources. For example, through the Coral Reef Conservation Program, OCRM successfully coordinated with local governments to develop local action strategies to address threats to coral reefs.(top)
As part of the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) Performance Management System, OCRM has worked with state partners to develop performance indicators to evaluate effectiveness of state coastal management and NERRS programs in meeting the goals of the CZMA. Public involvement and support for local governments are tracked by state coastal programs through several measures in the category of Government Coordination and Decision-Making. NERRS also measure public involvement activities with indicators for the Coastal Training Program.