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Mace & Crown | August 24, 2017

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Ocean Frontiers Documentary Screened at ODU

Ocean Frontiers Documentary Screened at ODU
Ben Maxie
Staff Writer

ocean frontiersOld Dominion University hosted a viewing of Ocean Frontiers II: A New England Story for Sustaining the Sea, a film about the potential for offshore wind energy development and oceanic planning, on Tuesday, Feb 23. A panel discussion on costal planning followed, featuring representatives from the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, the United States Navy, commercial fishermen and the Surfrider Foundation.

The event began with a talk by Matt Gove of the Surfrider Foundation, introducing the need for oceanic planning. Gove stressed that oceanic wind turbines take up considerable space and other groups use many areas considered for wind power installations.

He introduced the concept of regional planning bodies– Groups intended to plan the use of coastal areas according to the interests of several groups dependent on the ocean environment. Gove said that the RPB for the Mid Atlantic Region will publish a draft of their plans in June 2016. Gove also introduced the Marco Ocean Data Portal, a publicly-available, interactive map of ocean-use.

Ocean Frontiers II followed several New England groups engaged in how to best use an area off the coast of Rhode Island.

After the film, the panel focused on the activities and aim of the Mid Atlantic Region RPB. The group was formed in 2010 by an executive order from President Barack Obama and provides a place for recreational ocean users, fishermen, the US military and scientists to discuss their needs for the ocean.

The original plan called for the group to carry on discussions and produce a plan for ocean use and development after five years. This has now been shortened to three years, pushing the draft deadline to June 2016.

Joe Atangan, a physical scientist with the US Navy, said “There are a lot of rakes that we’re stepping on. Every iteration [of the RPB’s plan] gets better.”

Laura McKay, the program manager with the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program, said that the Mid Atlantic Region RPB is also planning to address problems with marine debris from people, particularly plastic debris.

Capt. Chris Ludford of Pleasure House Oysters brought up concerns with a changing ocean. Ludford said that fishermen were concerned about ocean acidification and its effects on the larvae of commercial species.

Ludford was also concerned about the possibility of offshore drilling in the region. After the explosion and subsequent Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010, oyster populations in the Gulf of Mexico were decimated, according Ludford.

“We’re trying to be environmentally conscious and conscious of other [noncommercial] species in the ocean,” Ludford said. “We want to keep catching and providing quality food.”

Atangan said that the upcoming presidential election is unlikely to affect the activities of the RPB. Ludford said that “everyone loves the ocean,” and that party lines are unlikely to matter.