DEEP: Blue Plan Basic Background

Long Island Sound Blue Plan Background
 
 
After several years of background work and coastal and marine spatial planning research conducted by a coalition of environmental groups, academics, and Department of Energy and Environmental Protection staff, Public Act 15-66, An Act Concerning a Long Island Sound Blue Plan and Resource and Use Inventory, was signed by Governor Daniel P. Malloy on June 19, 2015 and went into effect on July 1, 2015.
 
This "Blue Plan" legislation establishes a process by which Connecticut will develop an inventory of Long Island Sound's natural resources and uses and, ultimately, a spatial plan to guide future use of the Sound's waters and submerged lands. {American lobster}
 
Currently, Connecticut's Coastal Management Program (CMP) protects coastal resources and guides development along the immediate coast.  The development of a Blue Plan for Long Island Sound will supplement the CMP's existing authority in the deeper offshore reaches of the Sound. 
 
The Long Island Sound Blue Plan will help minimize conflicts between marine life and human uses of the Sound, such as navigation and aquaculture. The Blue Plan is intended to prioritize the protection of existing natural resources and uses such as fishing, aquaculture, and navigation from future conflicting or incompatible activities and would not create new regulatory restrictions for them.
 
Under the Blue Plan bill, an inventory of Long Island Sound's natural resources and uses must be completed by a Long Island Sound Inventory and Science subcommittee that will be convened by the University of Connecticut.
 
{New London Ferry}
The inventory will be based on the best available information and data on the Sound's plants, animals, habitats, and ecologically significant areas in nearshore and offshore waters and their "substrates" (surfaces where marine organisms grow).  The inventory must also include the human uses of Long Island Sound's waters and substrates.  These uses include boating and fishing, waterfowl hunting, shellfishing, aquaculture, shipping corridors, as well as energy facilities and interests including electric power lines, gas pipelines, and telecommunications crossings in the Sound.      
Once the resource and use inventory is complete, that information will be used to develop the Blue Plan, a spatial plan that will help avoid user conflicts in Long Island Sound by identifying and protecting special, sensitive, and unique estuarine and marine life and habitats.  The Plan will foster sustainable uses of the Sound that will make the most of economic opportunity without significantly harming the Sound's ecology or natural beauty.
 
The Blue Plan will also remain "fluid," adapting as necessary to our ever-evolving knowledge and understanding of the marine environment, recognizing current issues like climate change impacts and sea level rise adaptation while anticipating and addressing future emerging issues.  Another significant benefit of the Blue Plan will be the identification of appropriate locations and performance standards for activities, uses, and facilities that are regulated by state permit programs, developing measures that will guide the siting of those uses in ways that are consistent with the Plan. 
 
The Blue Plan must be consistent with the resource and use inventory described above and must provide for the ongoing acquisition and application of up-to-date resource and use data, including seafloor mapping. The Plan must also be consistent with the State's Plan of Conservation and Development and the goals and policies contained in the Connecticut Coastal Management Act.  
{Sea urchins and common sea stars}

In accordance with the Blue Plan legislation, the Plan must be developed by a transparent and inclusive process that includes widespread public and stakeholder participation and encourages public input in decision making.
 
Development and implementation of the Plan must also be coordinated with the State of New York, and with local, regional, and federal planning entities and agencies including (1) the Connecticut-New York Bi-State Marine Spatial Planning Working Group, (2) the Long Island Sound Study, and (3) the National Ocean Policy's Northeast Regional Planning Body.
 
The Blue Plan will not "zone" the waters of Long Island Sound.  There is no need to specify uses or "use zones" over every part of the water surface.  But the Plan could establish priority use areas such as utility corridors or shellfish beds where no other use could interfere with the primary use.  The Plan could also identify critical areas that may need greater protection and management of uses, and more intensive regulatory review.  These could include important habitat areas where disturbance would not be allowed, or areas important for navigation or recreation where permanent or structural occupation of the water surface or water column would not be allowed.  But these priority areas would be established where needed and only where needed.
 
Want to learn more about the Blue Plan?
 
Take a look at the Blue Plan Vision and Goals Statement and “Blue Plan Basics” factsheets to understand the overarching views of the Blue Plan:
Explore our Frequently Asked Questions to see common questions users of LIS have about the Blue Plan, and how the Blue Plan Team can address your concerns.
 
Check out Blue Plan Related Links, to learn more about marine spatial planning and how it has been used in the Northeast.
 
Want to get involved?
 
Join the Long Island Sound Blue Plan List Serv to receive notification of Blue Plan Advisory Committee meetings, web postings, and other information.
 
Share with us your concerns, interests, and input surrounding the Blue Plan on our Blue Plan Comment Form or email us at DEEP.BluePlanLIS@ct.gov.
 
 
 
Content Last Updated March 8, 2018