New York State Ocean Action Plan

New York Department of Environmental Conservation released a final Ocean Action Plan (OAP) for the state of New York - a ten-year action plan focused on improving ocean ecosystem health, and the ocean’s capacity to provide sustainable benefits to the state. One of the four primary goals included in the plan is to increase resilience to climate change impacts. The OAP will guide State government funding, research, management, and outreach and education choices. 

The report describes “significant degradation” to the estuarine, coastal and offshore waters  of New York, due to the unsustainable use of ocean resources. The report details current climate change impacts on ocean waters including ocean acidification leading to species decline; rise in sea surface temperatures which shifts the range of fish stocks - in turn hurting the economy; and stronger and more destructive coastal storms that will harm the highly populated coastline and causes loss of wetlands. 

The OAP outlines four goals for immediate action:

Goal 1 - Ensure the ecological integrity of the ocean ecosystem

Goal 2 - Promote economic growth, coastal development and human use of the ocean in a manner that is sustainable and consistent with maintaining ecosystem integrity

Goal 3 - Increase resilience of ocean resources of impacts associated with climate change

Goal 4 - Empower the public to actively participate in decision making and ocean stewardship

The plan identifies 61 actions that meet these goals, and the strategies and steps to accomplish the actions. Each is broken out into short-term (implemented in 2 years), near-term (in the next 5 years), and long-term (in the next 10 years) steps.

The following objectives and related actions are detailed in the plan - for achieving the climate focused goal: “Increase resilience of ocean resources to impacts associated with climate change.”

Objective: Conduct vulnerability assessments to inform climate change adaptation and coastal planning strategies.

  • Assess and predict the vulnerability of the coastal areas to climate change.
  • Identify, assess and prioritize flood-prone areas at risk due to climate change.
  • Examine the impacts of increased coastal flooding and sea-level rise on wastewater, stormwater and other vulnerable infrastructure in New York City and Long Island.
  • Support the use of living shorelines as a tool to reduce coastal erosion and flooding while providing better environmental services.
  • Evaluate and periodically revise the breach contingency plan.

Objective: Adopt long-term climate adaptation and coastal planning strategies.

  • Update current community planning practices to include coastal resiliency strategies that effectively minimize the impacts of extreme weather events and sea-level rise.
  • Encourage coastal municipalities to participate in the Climate Smart Communities Program.

Objective: Implement ecologically sustainable inshore and offshore sediment resource management strategies.

  • Improve policies for sediment resource management, particularly for dredging and use of clean dredged sand from state waters.
  • Identify and assess sand resources within state and federal waters.

Along with the plan itself, the NY DEC provides an Ocean Action Plan Matrix summarizing the 61 actions outlined in the OAP. Included is a brief description, as well as suggested lead agencies, potential partners, milestones, and their implementation status as of 1/1/2017. 


New York State’s press release for the OAP details the economic and ecological value of the ocean:

"New York's marine waters are home to the third-largest port in the country, and support more than 275,000 jobs in the Port of New York and New Jersey alone. Commercial fishing plays a critical role in the regional economy generating over $1.8 billion annually and supporting 42,000 jobs for New Yorkers. The recreational fishing sector contributes nearly $212 million a year to the economy and supports over 3,000 jobs. Tourism, one of Long Island's largest industries, produces about $4.7 billion annually, and relies heavily on the health of New York's ocean, bays, and estuaries.

...The ocean ecosystem provides valuable habitat for more than 300 marine species that inhabit New York waters. While species directly support the state's commercial and recreational economy, they also play an important and specific role in maintaining a healthy and biological diverse ecosystem."



Publication Date: January 23, 2017

Related Organizations:

  • New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC)


Resource Category:

Resource Types:

  • Plans (other)

States Affected:


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