Washington’s Pacific coast is home to a world-class marine ecosystem and communities where people’s livelihoods depend on a healthy ocean. Now, with a proliferation of new proposals from shipping oil to exploring offshore energy, we are headed for a traffic jam in an increasingly crowded ocean. Through Washington’s Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) efforts, we can tap local knowledge and the best available science to determine how our ocean is used and protected. We can protect our coastal resources and jobs, and maintain our important recreation areas, along with other traditional uses like fishing, crabbing, and shellfish farming that define Washington coast’s cultural and economic heritage.

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Marine spatial planning is a tool that can protect existing ocean uses and prevent chaos on the seas.

A Little Background: In 2013, Washington State passed MSP legislation and invested $3.7 million in implementation funds for a two-year period. This funding will allow the state to: establish management goals and objectives; define the plan area; map existing – and identify potential future – uses and resources; establish a set of ecosystem indicators; assess areas of conflict and areas of compatibility; finalize management strategies; produce a spatial plan and accompanying implementation plan. The stated goal of marine spatial planning in Washington State is to ensure a resilient and healthy marine ecosystem on Washington’s coast that supports sustainable economic, recreational, and cultural opportunities for coastal communities, visitors and future generations.

Surfrider is involved in MSP by representing coastal recreation through involvement with the Washington Coast Marine Advisory Council and coastal Marine Resource Committees. We are fortunate to have a great representative for recreation thru Casey Dennehy, who is the Surfrider Pacific Coast Manager. You can watch a short film on some of the reasons why we believe protecting our favorite beaches and special places is important to the recreational community and the State of Washington.

RUSflyerHow YOU can Help! From May thru October 2014 the Surfrider Washington recreational-use survey is available and your participation is highly encouraged! By taking this survey, you contribute data to better understand priority areas that need to be protected, and the economic value these recreational uses contribute to our coast and the state. Local knowledge and science are integral to ensuring the marine spatial planning process meets local needs. This survey has been designed by Surfrider staff and Point 97 to document where you play on the beaches and in the waters of the Washington coast and how much you spend getting there, eating, renting equipment, and other things. Having accurate information on where people use the coast and the associated economic contribution to our State will help in efforts to ensure that these special places are protected for present and future enjoyment. Please share the survey with your beach-going friends and help us protect important recreational areas along the Washington Coast!

Interested in getting further involved by attending a future public meeting, hosting a presentation to a group of recreational users, or speaking with your State Legislators about the importance of MSP and protecting coastal recreation? Contact WA Policy Manager Gus Gates

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Photo credit: Mike Coverdale