Challenges of large-scale planning revealed through comments to the National Ocean Policy

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The National Ocean Policy represents recent efforts by the United States federal government to develop a comprehensive plan to manage uses in the federal exclusive economic zone of the ocean. Planning efforts encounter numerous challenges, including: planning long-term action in a system with short-term political cycles, incorporating the uncertainties science in the planning process, and having adequate capacity to manage the problem. Large planning initiatives have additional issues with multi-jurisdictional planning and the need for representative planning bodies. Additionally, the history of the environmental movement in the United States and the history of environmental policies effect the development of the National Ocean Policy.

The public comments represent the views of concerned stakeholders and reveal the challenges of this type of planning. A thematic analysis of recent public comments to the Strategic Action Plans for the National Ocean Policy shows that new or additional regulations and fear of negative economic impacts are the primary reasons given by stakeholders opposed to the policy. The reasons given for support of the policy include general environmental protection and the policy as a method to deal with the impacts of climate change.

The comments also reveal broader challenges to the planning efforts including the timescale mis-match between policy-making and elections, the integration of science and policy, contextual issues of planning in a changing climate, and the political landscape. The challenges that are revealed by this analysis are fundamental challenges to this and other planning processes and will need to be overcome for successful implementation of the Policy. Reasons for opposition or support of the policy can guide the National Ocean Council in areas of necessary public outreach to aid promotion and implementation of the National Ocean Policy.





LaRocco, Michelle (2012). Challenges of large-scale planning revealed through comments to the National Ocean Policy. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from

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