June 3, 2016 09:21AM
By Brooke Constance White
Sun staff writer
STONINGTON — The New England Science and Sailing center sent a staff member to join more than 20 other stakeholders to speak with Congress about how ocean planning benefits the Northeast and, specifically, the state of Connecticut.
Mary Horrigan was among those on a trip organized last month by the Ocean Conservancy, a nonprofit environmental advocacy group in Washington D.C., to allow Connecticut marine stakeholders to voice their opinions and insights to their U.S. senators and representatives about how ocean planning provides for and supports recreation, fisheries and energy infrastructure locally.
Once finalized, the Northeast Ocean Plan, which began as an executive order under the Bush Administration, will be a model for the rest of the country and will allow as many people as possible to utilize the ocean for a variety of uses that further both conservation and recreation, Horrigan said.
“Since 2010, 27 government agencies and stakeholders have been sharing data and designing a plan based on scientific data and research,” she said. “The cool part is that this plan is all based on science and documented data, which is really awesome and makes it that much more important.”
This final push to establish continued support for the draft of the plan with the region’s politicians and thank them for their work up until now will hopefully help thrust the document through the final stages, she said.
“They work really hard to support their region and in a couple of instances, Joe Courtney, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy have supported this and kept the process moving along,” Horrigan said. “It was great because commercial fisheries, marine trade and marine education and recreation from Connecticut were all represented and were expressing their appreciation for the support from our legislators. It was wonderful to see the collaboration.”
The Northeast Regional Planning Body is the first of the nine regional planning bodies to implement an ocean plan. The second one will be the Mid-Atlantic Regional Planning Body, with the remaining seven regions following suit.
Horrigan said she was honored to speak in support of the plan and ask politicians to continue their support during her second trip to D.C.
“The Ocean Conservancy was looking for stakeholders to represent different aspects of ocean use, and so I went to represent sailing and science education on the water,” she said. “It’s great that I’m able to tell my students that we are truly stewards of the ocean and are having a broader impact than we ever expected.”