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State seeks public feedback on ocean plan

Area residents are invited to help chart the future of the state’s ocean waters – including the location of wind turbines off the coast and the use of offshore sand for shoreline protection.

The state recently released a draft update to its 2009 Ocean Management Plan, and is holding five regional public hearings to seek public input. A local hearing is set for 5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Ipswich Public Library, 25 North Main St.

The plan is designed to protect critical marine habitat and important water-dependent uses in the ocean off Massachusetts. It also sets standards for ocean-based development. The law requires that the plan be updated every five years.

“We’ve gained significant real-world experience in implementing the ocean plan,” said Maeve Vallely Bartlett, state secretary for environmental, natural resource, and energy regulatory departments in the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, in a prepared statement.

Among the revisions to the original plan is an outline of potential transmission corridor routes for offshore wind-power generators. The update also seeks to streamline the process for offshore wind development while addressing concerns of commercial fishermen and communities, according to the state.

The draft identifies potential offshore sand resources with the goal of advancing up to three pilot projects where sand could be brought on to the shore to help with shoreline protection.

It also includes proposed fees to be assessed to developers as mitigation for ocean development projects.