The Wave of the Futureby Vikki Spruill
We rely on our ocean for many things-it drives our climate, it provides jobs that fuel our economy, and it gives us much of the air we breathe and the food we eat. Like urban sprawl on land, the demand for space in our ocean and on our coasts is growing. But a healthy ocean depends on our using it wisely. We need to coordinate the many government agencies that manage how we use the ocean, to conserve it at a time when there is increasing competition for its space.The Obama administration is advancing an ocean policy that will call for this kind of coordination. Through the use of marine spatial planning, it will begin zoning the ocean to evaluate and accommodate existing uses and proactively plan for new uses-much as we do on land. By planning ahead, we can find ways to protect fragile ocean ecosystems like coral reefs and also make sure that, for example, wind farms do not interfere with shipping lanes. Marine spatial planning brings together scientists with the best understanding of our ocean and people who have a stake in planning for ocean uses. This ensures a transparent process that puts conservation on an equal footing with industry, to help protect the ocean for future generations.Spruill is the president and CEO of Ocean Conservancy, a group advocating better planning for development in our oceans.