MARCO News, July 2023
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You're Invited!

Come join the MACAN community and learn about OA happenings in the Mid-Atlantic and beyond. There will be multiple opportunities for networking and collaborative discussions during this two-day event, which will also lead into the MARACOOS annual meeting

Questions? Email [email protected]
SEPTEMBER 11-12, 2023

Join us Sept. 19 at noon for a special edition of the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal’s “How Tuesday” webinar series highlighting two state tools serving coastal and ocean data: the new and improved New York State Geographic Information Gateway and Virginia Coastal GEMS.

For more information, contact Karl Vilacoba at [email protected]
In-Person Summit!

The public is invited to join researchers, educators, policy makers and businesses as we explore regional and collaborative solutions to reduce and prevent the sources of marine debris.



DECEMBER 6-7, 2023
Preliminary Agenda will be available soon. For more information email [email protected]
The Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean is committed to improving and increasing engagement with State and Federally recognized Tribes in the Mid-Atlantic Region as well as those with ancestral ties to the Mid-Atlantic. Incorporating and preserving tribal knowledge within ocean conservation efforts not only deepens our understanding but also strengthens the effectiveness and long-term sustainability of conservation strategies.

MARCO is looking to ensure Tribal members are able to attend as well as present at any meeting in which their Tribe has a vested interest. Please email [email protected] with the subject, “Tribal Member Travel Support Request” if you would like to participate in any of MARCO’s upcoming meetings and require travel support. 

Several hundred map products and educational resources have been added or updated on the Portal, including data depicting marine mammal distributions, vessel traffic, wave heights and more. Browse below and click on the links for more information on these items. 

  • 2022 AIS Vessel Transit Counts: View monthly and annual traffic patterns from last year for several types of vessels with a series of new maps based on Automatic Identification System (AIS) data.

  • Marine Mammal Data Updates: In collaboration with the Northeast Regional Council on the Ocean and the Marine life Data & Analysis Team (MDAT), the cetacean data products on the Portal have been updated to reflect the latest model outputs developed by the Duke University Marine Geospatial Ecology Lab. The resolution of marine mammal maps previously available in the Marine Life and Marine Life Library (Species Specific) themes has been doubled and seal maps are now available for the first time. 

  • Munitions and Explosives of Concern: The Portal’s Unexploded Ordnance Areas and Unexploded Ordnance Locations map layers have been replaced by a new Munitions and Explosives of Concern (MEC) layer, now available in the Security theme.

  • Atlantic Wave Height and Climate: A new map in the Portal’s Oceanography theme models typical wave heights, directions and intervals at sea and in major estuaries from Maine to Florida.

  • Gulf of Maine Final Call Area: An interactive map of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) Gulf of Maine Call for Information and Nominations for offshore wind energy development can be viewed on the Portal.

  • Additional Summer Updates: We’ve also added map layers for several individual offshore wind energy project envelopes, bathymetric contours, and replaced the Portal’s Aids to Navigation layer.
Locate coastal water trails in your area or find a public boat ramp!
Locate Public Boat Ramps throughout the Region on the Portal

A boat is trailered down a ramp at Liberty State Park in New Jersey. Users can click on any point for a popup containing details about the facility such as its name, address, operator, contact information, and links to websites with further...

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Map Collection Shows Region's Vast Network of Coastal...

Stand-up paddleboarders and canoeists enjoy the Hudson River, part of both the New York City Water Trail and greater Empire State Water Trail system. Water trails, also known as blueways, are marked routes on waterways such as rivers, canals,...

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Questions on these items? Email [email protected]
MACAN (the Mid-Atlantic Coastal Acidification Network) recently released an RFP for a Workforce Development Fellowship. This fellowship is designed to introduce students from underrepresented minority groups to the field of Coastal and Ocean Acidification, including, but not limited to, aspects of scientific research, policy, industry, education, and/or outreach related to. 

MACAN’s fellowship aims to provide an immersive, real world learning opportunity while also helping to build diversity within the field of COA. This fellowship is also intended to support a project(s) that builds on the activities outlined in the MACAN 2022-2024 Workplan. The student will interact with one or more mentors to learn about the fundamentals of COA science, policy, industry, education, and outreach.

If you have any questions, please contact: Janet Reimer, Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean Science Program Manager, [email protected]

Since its inception in early 2008, MARCO has been making waves in the realm of ocean conservation. One individual has been an integral part of this organization since its early days, and now, as she embarks on a new chapter in life, we celebrate the legacy of Laura McKay with the MARCO Management Board.

Laura McKay's journey with MARCO began when George Stafford of NY DOS, whom she had previously worked with during her tenure at NY Sea Grant in the early 80s, made a fateful call. It was an invitation to join the efforts in forming a regional ocean partnership that would unite all states in the Mid-Atlantic region. With a passion for marine conservation, Laura eagerly accepted the challenge, and by 2009, MARCO officially came into being.
Laura McKay (right) pictured with MARCO Executive Director, Avalon Bristow
Throughout her 15-year tenure, Laura McKay's contributions have been nothing short of extraordinary. She played a pivotal role in kickstarting the MARCO Ocean Data Portal using VA CZM funds, leaving a lasting impact on the organization's data-driven approach. Serving as the State Co-Lead on the Regional Planning Body, alongside Darlene Finch as the Federal Co-Lead and Kelsey Leonard as the Tribal Co-Lead, she helped shape essential policies and foster collaboration among diverse stakeholders.

One of the most memorable highlights of Laura's journey was her instrumental role in drafting the healthy ocean ecosystem actions for the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Plan. This endeavor, driven by her dedication to finding solutions, culminated in the prestigious Peter Benchley Award for "Excellence in Solutions" in 2016, recognizing the profound impact of their work.

Beyond the accolades, Laura McKay's dedication and passion for ocean conservation have taken her on unforgettable adventures. A special moment came when she was invited by Joe Atangan, the DoD representative on the RPB, to witness firsthand the Navy's commitment to the ocean. The experience of spending a night on the aircraft carrier USS Eisenhower and being catapulted off the next day left her in awe of the forces working to protect the seas.

As she bids farewell to MARCO, Laura leaves behind a profound legacy of perseverance, patience, and unwavering commitment to environmental protection. Her wisdom extends to future conservationists, emphasizing the importance of staying the course and cherishing the journey, even when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges. The MARCO community and the ocean it protects will forever be grateful for her dedication and love for the cause. 

Happy Retirement Laura McKay!
MARCO is pleased to announce a new member joining the Management Board. Ryan Green, from the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, will be stepping into the role previously held by Laura McKay.

As Ryan prepares to embark on this exciting journey with MARCO, he expresses his gratitude for the warm welcome from the MARCO community. He looks forward to getting to know his fellow members and working closely with them to further the organization's mission of ocean preservation.
With approximately 10 years of experience at the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, Ryan Green has worn many hats in the water quantity and water quality domain. Most recently, he managed the Water Supply Planning and Analysis program—an interdisciplinary initiative that provided technical facilitation and oversight to Virginia's 323 localities in their long-range water supply planning efforts. His work focused on developing strategies to address water supply risks, including drought, climate change, and sea-level rise.

Before venturing into the world of environmental conservation, Ryan's journey began as a special education teacher. Fondly reminiscing about those days, he cherishes the impact he made as an educator.

A native of New Mexico, Ryan has spent the majority of his life in Virginia. He pursued his undergraduate degree at the University of New Mexico before earning a Master's in Environmental Science from Virginia Commonwealth University. Recently, he completed the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute at the University of Virginia, enhancing his leadership skills and environmental expertise.

Ryan currently resides in Richmond and spends almost all his time outside of work raising two young boys and mucking it up in Virginia's wonderful Coastal Zone! Ryan and his family have a soft spot for Virginia's Eastern Shore and fond memories of visits to Delaware's Seashore State Park, as well as taking the ferry between Lewes and Cape May.

As Ryan Green takes on his new role within the MARCO Management Board, the organization looks forward to leveraging his diverse experiences and passion for environmental conservation. His presence promises to further enrich the collaborative efforts dedicated to protecting and preserving the Mid-Atlantic ocean region for generations to come.

As part of an effort to help MARCO stakeholders and partners get to know members of the MARCO Management Board, the quarterly newsletter has added a new feature – “Spotlight on a Management Board Member.” This month’s spotlight is on the alternative representative from Delaware, Kristi Lieske. Kristi has also assumed the role of MACO Chair as of July 1, 2023.
Outgoing MACO Chair, Mike Snyder (left) and incoming MACO Chair, Kristi Lieske at
The Fifth Annual Mid-Atlantic Ocean Forum

The New York Department of State relaunched its Geographic Information Gateway (Gateway) 3.0 Friday, April 21st in celebration of Earth Day. The Gateway Team conducted focus groups and received feedback during the past year of development, and considered feedback received over the course of the last 6 years since the Gateway’s initial release in 2016. We incorporated many of the changes requested and suggested.

A major part of the upgrade was migrating from a server-based platform hosted on the Amazon Cloud to a web-based platform hosted on the Esri cloud, ArcGIS OnLine or AGOL. The data holdings have expanded and now include more than 800 layers of information available for informing work, including a large new batch from New York State Energy & Research Development Authority (NYSERDA) on sea floor cable corridor identification. More data focused on Long Island Sound, and offshore renewable energy development will be added soon expanding the Gateway’s holdings further to nearly 1000. We are now able to push out data in feature services, webservices that allow the end user more control over how layers are displayed.
Here are some of what you can find with this upgrade:

Home page - has a search of the data catalog right up front. The Coastal Atlas is now prominently displayed in multiple locations (navigation bar, and a “card” below the Welcome). 

About Page – this page contains updated Office of Planning, Development, and Community Infrastructure (OPDCI) and NOAA Office of Coastal Management descriptions, program descriptions and contacts, and a library of all program resources. 

Map Viewer – the viewer looks significantly different from the old Gateway viewer. There is a “splash page” with viewer tool use tips (once you’re familiar with the viewer tools there is an option to check a box to not see this splash page again).  More base maps are available, datasets now have thumbnail maps of what the dataset looks like, there is a draw tool and a measure tool.

Story Maps – scrolling down the home page you will see “cards” for 5 of 6 stories developed for the old Gateway featured here…all 6 stories have been revisited, updated and formatted to the new platform style, check them out, we think they are even better!

Explore Data (on the navigation bar) – this page provides a search box, “cards” to both the Gateway map viewer and the Coastal Atlas, a way to parse data by categories and by program.

Dive In (on the navigation bar) – This is a page the features the different programs hosted in DOS’ Office of Planning, Development, and Community Infrastructure where the focus panels and the focus pages went, and all 6 stories are available here. 

Program Resources – (on the navigation bar) – This is a new Partners/Resources page listing out Gateway partners and providing a bridge to those organization’s pages. Below the Gateway partners is a program resources library. 
Brand new to the Gateway is a Community page with a card titled Engage (seen on the right), this will act like a Gateway Community of Practice. Users can check on the latest beach conditions around the State. There is a section where users can submit their work so that we can highlight how the Gateway is being used, such as maps developed on or derived from data on the Gateway, dashboards , or other relevant projects relevant to the Gateway. We also host our mobile applications on this page, including the Recreational Information Tracker, RecIT-NY, which allows users to upload their experiences recreating in New York State. Also on this page is a section that provides dynamic feedback on the top 5 datasets most viewed on the Gateway.

Jump in and kick it around, let us know what you like, what you don’t like, what is missing. Leave us Feedback! A Mid-Atlantic Ocean data Portal How Tuesday session is being planned to provide a demonstration of the Gateway on September 19th at Noon, register today!

SSER 30th Anniversary

The South Shore Estuary Reserve is celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve Act, which was passed by the New York State Legislature in 1993! Recently on June 22, 2023 the South Shore Estuary Reserve and Citizens Campaign for the Environment held a conference celebrating the 30th Anniversary recognizing the progress as well as an assessment for future needed actions. Over 70 people registered for this event with opening remarks from NYS Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, and keynote speaker Dr. Chris Gobler who outlined the state of the South Shore Estuary. Other topics included water re-use, coastal resiliency projects, fish passages, an update on the NYSDOS/SSER Blue Carbon Seagrass Restoration project, and speakers from state and local governments.
(Pictured above from left to right: New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez, Deputy Secretary of State Kisha Santiago, SSER Program Coordinator Jeremy Campbell and Program Implementation Specialist Sally Kellogg.)


  • DNREC’s Delaware Coastal Programs is developing an Ocean and Bay Plan to protect Delaware’s marine resources, ecological functions and ocean and bay uses. Developing the plan will include public input and review by stakeholders, residents and the public at large. Find out more information here.


  • View the final report for the VA CZM grant to CSSF for Dr. Sue Barco's and SMRU's work "Power Analysis for Optimal Design of a Passive Acoustic Monitoring Network in the Virginia Offshore Wind Area".
Photo Credits: Header (L-R): Coral, NOAA-OER/BOEM; Wind turbines, Ralf Hettler; Kayaks, Raul Rosa; Shipping container, Dan Barnes; Schooling fish, Jet Chen Tan; U.S. Naval ships, Gina Addison. Body. Footer (L-R) Fishing boat, William Sherman; Diver, Michael Eversmier; Beach scene, Christie Mazzeo-Pfoertner
Established in 2009 by the Governors of New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia, MARCO provides a forum for our coastal Mid-Atlantic states to collaborate on shared regional priorities related to marine habitats, renewable offshore energy, climate change adaptation, and ocean water quality. MARCO initiated and oversees the Mid-Atlantic Ocean Data Portal to assist the region with ocean planning efforts. For more information about MARCO, visit our website,

Thank you for your continued interest in MARCO. We welcome questions and feedback you may have, including content for upcoming issues of MARCO News. To provide comments or suggestions, or to join our email distribution list, please click "Join Our Mailing List" below, or contact us at: [email protected]