The Application of Ocean Zoning Management for Offshore Energy Development in North Carolina

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The concept of spatial planning, or zoning, is widely applied for regulating land use activities. This project assesses the potential for using ocean zoning as a management tool in North Carolina. In particular, this project looks at the role of new offshore energy developments, such as wind farms, and how management policies may adapt to handle these projects. Ocean Zoning has been successfully applied in the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Zones are designated based on their biological and physical properties. Activities within each zone are classified as compatible, conditionally compatible, or incompatible and are permitted based on their classification and the overall management objectives.

For this project, a survey of current users of the North Carolina coastal community was conducted to gather data on the variety of activities in the North Carolina coastal zone and the user’s opinions on compatibility of 13 different activities. These results were compiled into a compatibility matrix to guide classification of activities. Based on this matrix of responses, conservation and planning are clearly perceived as activities benefiting the activities of all respondents. Conversely, minerals mining and coastal development are perceived as harmful to all respondents activities. The apparent compatibility of other activities varies by respondent and activity.





Carlson, David (2009). The Application of Ocean Zoning Management for Offshore Energy Development in North Carolina. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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