|Photo credit: Tyna McNair|
All this talk about Marine Spatial Planning can be a bit confusing, especially for those of us who do not spend our time tackling legislative issues. The truth is that the entire process of Marine Spatial Planning is really about the people living near and using the ocean, first and foremost. Understanding how Marine Spatial Planning relates specifically to you and your recreational enjoyment is vital to the process.
Access to Recreational Areas
With a coastline of over 3,000 miles, Washington has a plethora of coastal areas to enjoy. Despite its apparent abundance, continued development of the coast has limited public access to our coastal areas and beaches. This includes public resources that we have a right to access. This is one reason to take part in Marine Spatial Planning-to help keep industry out of our important recreational areas. Various commercial activities like oil drilling, coal transport, or energy exploration pose threats to the waves and waters we value for their recreational opportunities like surfing and kayaking. Anticipating and planning for changes in coastal commercial activity is vital for areas with high recreational value. We can do this with Marine Spatial Planning.
Health of Recreational Areas
Keeping our recreational areas healthy is an important part of our experience outdoors. After all, we do not want our children to play in polluted water. Nor would we enjoy taking in a view of the beach inundated by plastic and other garbage. We value the areas where we recreate, and part of that means taking care of them properly and making sure that their value is properly accounted for in the Marine Spatial Planning process.
Enjoyment for All
The ocean provides us with many natural resources and provides a myriad of benefits for humans and animals alike. This is why we need to ensure that recreationalists are not priced out of areas and their hobbies-the oceans and beaches should be enjoyed by everyone. Surfrider was born from an innate love of the water, and part of our mission is to protect that resource for the enjoyment of all. Just because the coast has high economic value does not mean that only a subset of the population should enjoy it: the waves are for everyone.
Help with the Marine Spatial Planning process by understanding how it relates to you, and make sure to participate in the public commenting period (see previous post). Remember, this process aims to bring multiple stakeholders together to create solutions that work for us all. So help out the process and make sure that you are heard!