Guest Blog by Melissa Gates, Surfrider Foundation Northeast Regional Manager. This post was originally featured on Healthy Oceans Coalition.
A new study to characterize coastal and marine recreational activity in New England has been launched to support the Northeast regional ocean planning process. Directed by the Northeast Regional Planning Body and led by Point 97, SeaPlan, and the Surfrider Foundation, the project will collect information on a variety of recreational uses such as beach going, wildlife viewing, surfing, and kayaking.
SeaPlan is collaborating with industry leaders such as charter boat operators and event organizers to determine data collection approaches and map sailing regattas, commercial whale watching, SCUBA diving and marine events.
Surfrider is leading an opt-in online survey effort to collect data from individuals who are 18+ years of age and have visited New England’s coast at least once in the last 12 months.
The survey launched on November 13, 2014, and will be available online through midnight on April 30, 2015 (survey overview video).
Information collected through this survey includes where and how people enjoy New England’s ocean and coast in low-impact, non-consumptive ways, such as walking along the shore, wildlife watching, surfing, kayaking and swimming. Data collected will help identify spatial information for recreational uses in the Northeast, as well as associated economic values.
Register to take the survey: http://bit.ly/NE_Rec!
The study results will be published in a final report and spatial data layers will be incorporated into the Northeast Ocean Data Portal to assist the Northeast Regional Planning Body with the ocean planning process.
“Any successful ocean planning effort relies on science-based, credible information about our ocean uses and natural resources, collected through tools like this recreational use survey. By better understanding the regional nature of ocean activities, habitat, marine life and ocean processes, we can work together to make more informed decisions about how we manage the ocean here in New England,” says Betsy Nicholson from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and federal co-lead of the Northeast Regional Planning Body.
Coastal recreation is widely practiced throughout the United States from beach going to surfing, but little data exists on what specific activities people participate in, where these uses occur, and the related economic benefits. Reports demonstrate that coastal tourism and recreation is the largest contributing sector to New England’s ocean GDP but there is a significant gap in spatial data tying these economic drivers to the social values of specific locations. To address this need the Surfrider Foundation and Point 97 are involved in similar studies across the coastal U.S., including completed efforts in the state of Oregon as well as the Mid-Atlantic region, and a current study in Washington State. SeaPlan has also been engaged in characterization studies, such as this motorized boater use project:http://www.seaplan.org/project/2012-northeast-recreational-boater-survey/.
To learn more about the Northeast study and Surfrider Foundation’s involvement in Northeast regional ocean planning, visit: http://bit.ly/NE_Study.
To learn about volunteer opportunities to help promote participation in this study, contact Melissa Gates at 207-706-6378 or via email at mgates [at] surfrider [dot] org.
The Surfrider Foundation is a non-profit environmental organization dedicated to the protection and enjoyment of the world’s oceans, waves and beaches through conservation, activism, research and education.