Delivering essential data and interactive maps for ocean planning

The ocean in the northeastern United States is transforming rapidly with offshore wind development, aquaculture, climate change, and more. To support science-based decision-making, the Northeast Ocean Data Portal provides expert-reviewed, publicly accessible data and interactive maps on the ocean ecosystem, economy, and culture.


Northeast Regional Ocean Council

NROC is a state and federal partnership that facilitates the New England states, federal agencies, regional organizations, and other interested groups in addressing ocean and coastal issues that benefit from a regional response.


When we started working on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal in 2011, it was a relatively new website launched by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, which recognized a rapidly growing need for ocean data for public- and private-sector decision making. NROC engaged us to help enhance and expand the Portal as a decision support and information system for ocean planning, or marine spatial planning.


Many organizations contribute data to the Portal, including state and federal agencies, scientists, ocean industries, non-government organizations, and other entities. All of these groups, plus a variety of stakeholders, review Portal data and advise on data presentation and visualization. A core team, the Northeast Ocean Data Working Group, maintains and updates the Portal’s databases, maps, and website. The Working Group comprises staff from NROC, NOAA Office for Coastal Management, Northeastern Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems (NERACOOS), RPS, The Nature Conservancy, and Waterview Consulting. Peter Taylor of Waterview Consulting is communications lead for the Portal, focusing on design, content, user experience, and social media.

Northeast Ocean Data Portal


The Portal’s maps show the richness and diversity of the ecosystem and illustrate the many ways that humans and environmental resources interact. Portal users can view maps and data by theme, by creating custom maps in the Data Explorer, and by downloading data for use in other applications. The Portal facilitates decision making by government agencies, businesses, non-government organizations (NGOs), academic entities, and individuals. Offshore wind development, fisheries management, maritime safety, and aquaculture siting are among the applications of the Portal.

“The real power of having the data on the Northeast Ocean Data Portal is that it allows the people involved in our process to view the data on their own terms, during their own time, at the spatial resolution that they need, in combination with other datasets that are of interest to them.”

Fishery Analyst (New England Fishery Management Council)

“Data-sharing is critical for the public and decision-makers to have easy access to information they want and need to make decisions. The Northeast Ocean Data Portal has been a great partner.”

Environmental Planner (New York)

“I like it because you can approach it from any lens. It’s a great clearinghouse of information.”

K-12 Teacher (Maine)

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