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Why was the study area chosen?


The selection of the study area for the Marine Spatial Plan was guided by the criteria recommended by NOAA for establishing coastal effects from federal activities to Washington’s coastal resources or uses. In particular, the study area:

  • Is based on where potential new federal activities are technically feasible and that are reasonably expected in the next 15 years. For example, while technology requirements vary by type, all renewable energy technologies appear to be limited to within 20 to 25 miles of shore in the near future. The study area is well beyond this distance from shore.
  • Is an area where effects are reasonably foreseeable on Washington’s coastal uses or coastal resources. This geography covers the area where potential impacts are most likely from potential new uses or activities. It is also the area with the highest intensity of existing coastal uses and many ecological resources with connections to Washington’s coastal zone.
  • Is ecologically meaningful and ecologically connected to Washington’s coastal zone. The study area encompasses ecological functions, processes and important resource areas such as upwelling, currents, and important feeding and migration areas and habitats. The ecological processes and functions in these areas have important connections to nearshore ecological processes, but are more distinct from farther offshore pelagic and abyssal areas of the ocean.
  • Maximizes use of existing data and information available. The amount of information available is much greater shoreward of 700 fathoms, including recent management plans and Environmental Impact Studies. Significantly less information is available beyond 700 fathoms.

For background information on the study area selection, see the SEPA scoping document.


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