About the Project

The development of a Mid-Atlantic Ocean Research Plan was a four-year project that began in August 2008 with funding support from the National Sea Grant College Program. The project aims to identify and analyze research needs associated with ocean and coastal issues in the Mid-Atlantic Region along the Atlantic Coast from northern New Jersey to Cape Fear, North Carolina. the states in the Mid-Atlantic region face a number of similar challenges regarding the coastal ocean they share, including climate change impacts, offshore energy development, fisheries management, land-based pollution, and population growth.

Under this project, the Sea Grant programs from all states in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina) collaborated with state and federal agencies, academic partners, non-government organizations, industry, and other stakeholders to identify priority research needs relevant to the ocean and coastal management problems facing decision-makers in the Mid-Atlantic region, and developed a strategy to coordinate regional research efforts.

The vision and mission statements outline what the project seeks to accomplish through its efforts:


  • To advance coordinated research that promotes economic and environmental sustainability in the Mid-Atlantic region.


  • To articulate the research needs for enhancing the management of Mid-Atlantic ocean and coastal ecosystems.


The Plan

>> Download the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Research Plan Here [PDF]


There are growing problems in the Mid-Atlantic region. Increasing population density in coastal areas is contributing to pollution and rising influx of nitrogen and phosphorus effluents. In addition to atmospheric and urban sources, agricultural operations from crop production, poultry farms, and manure from other animal operations are also primary contributors of harmful pollutants. Toxins in poorly treated sewage discharges, harmful algal blooms, and loss of wetland nursery areas due to coastal development are additional problems that must be addressed. Other factors, such as climate change impacts, coastal erosion, and offshore energy development, are also predicted to dramatically affect the region.

There are various efforts underway that are working to address coastal and ocean management issues in the Mid-Atlantic region. While most of these are focused at smaller scales, frameworks that incorporate both inshore and offshore considerations are beginning to be developed at the regional level. This effort represents an opportunity to lend a significant contribution to regional research and management in the Mid-Atlantic. Sea Grant programs from each state in the Mid-Atlantic region (New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina) are working together with various stakeholders to identify research needs relevant to the management of ocean and coastal areas in the Mid-Atlantic region and develop a strategy to further facilitate and coordinate regional research efforts. The approach is to work with a regional advisory group in developing needs assessment to:

  • Identify preliminary regional-level research needs based on review of 347 information resources at the national, regional, and state-levels;
  • Undertake a stakeholder consultation process to elicit input on the identified research needs;
  • Refine the and re-frame, as necessary, the regional research needs based on stakeholder input;
  • Synthesize priority regional research needs into a regional ocean research plan;
  • Develop support for implementation of the final regional research plan

State Sea Grant Programs

For more information on individual programs:


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