Jennifer McCann of URI’s Coastal Resource Center was selected to receive the 2017 Peter Benchley Ocean Award for developing the Rhode Island Ocean Special Area Management Plan, which provides regulations for the management and protection of Rhode Island’s ocean resources and activities. Grover Fugate, executive director of the state Coastal Resources Management Council, was also recognized for his role in the plan.
“I’m deeply honored to receive this award,’’ said McCann. “I really feel that this has been a team effort with my colleagues at CRC, Sea Grant and CRMC, our host of partners, and the people of Rhode Island.”
The acclaimed management program McCann created increased protection for fishing, marine trades and conservation, and it resulted in the installation of the country’s first offshore wind farm. The Ocean SAMP, as it is called, is a regulatory document that has won international praise from policy makers, fishermen, tribes, environmentalists and other Rhode Islanders for examining how best to manage, protect, and enhance increasing uses and resources of the state’s ocean waters.
The award judges praised McCann and Fugate for “enabling us for the first time ever to make smarter, better coordinated planning decisions for long-term enhancement of our shared ocean resources, including fisheries stocks, transportation channels, and the leasing, permitting, and development of offshore energy projects.’’
In addition to her work on the Ocean SAMP, McCann leads statewide efforts to improve shellfish management and to minimize the impacts of coastal erosion and inundation.