Coastal dependent uses, such as this working waterfront in the fishing community of Eastport, Maine, are prioritized through the National Coastal Zone Management Program.
The nation’s coasts are managed through a voluntary federal-state partnership that protects, restores, and responsibly develops our nation’s diverse coastal communities and resources. This partnership is called the National Coastal Zone Management Program (CZMP). The Program takes a comprehensive approach to problem solving—balancing the often competing and occasionally conflicting demands of coastal resource use, economic development, and conservation
The Program, administered by NOAA's Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management (OCRM), addresses a variety of coastal issues of national interest, such as ensuring that priority consideration is given to coastal dependent uses. The CZMP also seeks to establish an orderly process for siting facilities related to national defense, energy, aquaculture, recreation, ports, and transportation. OCRM provides state coastal management programs with technical and financial assistance to achieve these goals.
The Coastal Zone Management Program was created by the Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972.(CZMA) The Act, which also led to the creation of the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, established a national policy of protecting, and, where possible, restoring and enhancing coastal areas.
The National Coastal Zone Management Program fosters an effective partnership among federal, state, and local governments. By leveraging federal and state matching funds, the Program strengthens the capabilities of each partner to address coastal issues. The Program also gives states the flexibility to design a program that accommodates their unique coastal challenges along with their respective legal frameworks. Thirty-four of 35 eligible states and territories, encompassing more than 95,000 miles of coastline, currently participate in the voluntary federal-state partnership.
State and territory coastal management programs address a wide range of issues, including:
Additional components of the National Coastal Zone Management Program and related programs help coastal managers fully address these diverse issues. Through the CZMA Federal Consistency provision, states participating in the National Coastal Zone Management Program can review federal activities to ensure that the actions are consistent with the state’s coastal management policies. Federal agency activities that have foreseeable effects on coastal uses and resources must be consistent with the enforceable policies of a state’s coastal management program. Non-federal organizations applying for federal authorizations and funding must also be consistent with a state’s coastal policies.
Much of the nation's coastline is densely populated and developed. The coastal management program helps the coastal states balance the growing economic and ecological demands on those areas. Shown here is the Seattle coastline.
The Coastal Zone Enhancement Grants Program provides incentives for states and territories to enhance their coastal management programs within nine key areas, including wetlands protection, coastal hazards, cumulative and secondary impacts of development, public access to the coast, special area management planning, ocean governance, marine debris, government and energy facility siting, and aquaculture.
The Coastal Nonpoint Pollution Control Program, requires states participating in the National Coastal Management Program to develop a comprehensive program to address polluted runoff in coastal areas.
The Coastal and Estuarine Land Conservation Program was established to protect coastal and estuarine lands considered important for their conservation, recreation, historic, ecologic, or aesthetic value within a state's coastal zone or coastal watershed boundary.
Through the Coastal Zone Management Program and other activities, OCRM consistently provides national leadership, guidance, and strategic direction to its partners in U.S. states, territories, and freely associated states.