October 2020 Newsletter | Northeast Ocean Data Portal

Northeast Ocean Data Portal Newsletter • October 2020

This issue reviews the Portal’s data updates, events, and news during the third quarter of 2020 and looks ahead at upcoming happenings.

Data Updates

All of the updated data below can be viewed on the Data Explorer map. Most Portal datasets are also available in downloadable databases or map services on the Data Download page.

Habitat – Bottom Shear Stress

  • Added new map layers showing estimated annual and seasonal median bottom shear stress
  • Based on the USGS Sea Floor Stress and Sediment Mobility Database

Learn More

Marine Transportation - Proposed Areas and Studies

Marine Transportation – Proposed Areas and Studies

  • Added new category under Marine Transportation called Proposed Areas and Studies with new map layers showing:
    • boundaries for five U.S. Coast Guard-led Port Access Route Study (PARS) areas along the East Coast, and
    • nine Atlantic Coast shipping safety fairways under consideration by the U.S. Coast Guard
  • In collaboration with the US Coast Guard and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal

Learn More

Energy & Infrastructure Theme Map

Energy & Infrastructure – Planning Areas

  • Updated Active Renewable Energy Leases and BOEM Wind Planning Areas map layers
  • Developed a new page that provides an overview of the status of offshore wind leases and projects in the Northeast
  • In collaboration with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM)

Learn More

Vessel Traffic

Marine Transportation – 2018 and 2019 Vessel Traffic

  • Added annual and monthly data on vessel transits for several categories of vessels in 2018 and 2019
  • In collaboration with the Marine Cadastre and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal

Learn More

Commercial Fishing – Management Areas

Next Anticipated Data Updates

Marine Transportation

  • Isles of Shoals North Disposal Site (Designated 9-25-20)

Commercial Fishing – Management Areas

  • Various fishery management areas in collaboration with NOAA Greater Atlantic Regional Fisheries Office

Energy and Infrastructure

  • Ongoing updates to planning areas, lease areas, proposed projects, and infrastructure (Bureau of Ocean Energy Management)


  • Updated information from states if available

Marine Life and Habitat

  • Eelgrass and coastal wetlands (in collaboration with US EPA Region 1, states, and others)
  • Via NROC, identify priorities for new or updated data products characterizing cetacean, sea turtle, seabird, and fish distributions and change over time, and engage marine life work groups to support data development and review through 2021 (using federal appropriated funds for regional data sharing from NOAA)


  • Updated maps of whale watching activity/areas
  • Updated maps of scuba areas
  • In collaboration with local industry, stakeholders, and experts

Portal in Action

Portal disseminates data and information to support EPA’s process to designate new ocean disposal site (September 25)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has designated an Ocean Dredged Material Disposal Site at Isles of Shoals North (IOSN) to serve Maine, New Hampshire, and the northern Massachusetts coastal region. Last year, EPA released the Draft IOSN for public comment and worked with the Northeast Regional Ocean Council to post data and information about the proposed site on the Northeast Regional Ocean Data Portal. Materials included links to the Draft Environmental Assessment and Evaluation Study (Draft EA), as well as interactive versions of maps in the Draft EA that included several datasets from the Portal. Public comments received by EPA on the Draft EA also referenced data and information on the Portal.

Nature article highlights Portal as innovative data source for ocean management (June 26)
A new paper in Nature Ecology & Evolution by ocean experts from Europe, Asia, South America, and the US emphasizes the need for transparency, locally focused solutions, and “new, innovative ways of extracting data” for ocean management, citing the Northeast Ocean Data Portal as an example. 

Partnership between NROC, MARCO, and RODA underway to update and improve Northeast and Mid-Atlantic commercial fisheries data products (January–October 2020)
The Northeast Regional Ocean Council (NROC) and the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) are partnering with the Responsible Offshore Development Alliance (RODA) to engage commercial fishermen in the development of updated maps and data for the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portals. Learn more

US Coast Guard Public Comment Period: Northern New York Bight PARS (Closed August 28)
The Coast Guard solicited public comment on a Port Access Route Study (PARS) for the Northern New York Bight. The Data Portal supported this process by providing online maps of the PARS study area and by helping to raise public awareness of the comment period and virtual public meetings.


Other Updates

New page provides maps and information about offshore wind projects in the Northeast

Updated case study: Portal provides data for Connecticut’s Long Island Sound Blue Plan

Upcoming Portal Events

  • October 26, 2020: NROC Ocean Planning Committee Webinar – Aquaculture Opportunity Areas, 2:00-3:30 pm. More information and registration
  • Through October: Review of Commercial Fishing data products with industry members
  • Ongoing: Portal trainings and demonstrations with various entities

Contact Emily Shumchenia (emily.shumchenia@gmail.com) to schedule a Portal training.