The Council developed its 2014-2018 strategic plan in coordination with, and with substantial input from, its stakeholders and management partners. To ensure that the plan accurately reflected the diverse interests affected by management of Mid-Atlantic fisheries, the Council engaged in a large-scale stakeholder outreach effort prior to the actual strategic planning process. The purpose of this outreach initiative, entitled the “Visioning Project,” was for the Council to gain a better understanding of stakeholders’ challenges and concerns as well as their visions for Mid-Atlantic fisheries.
This task was accomplished by collecting input from stakeholders through surveys, port meetings, and position letters. From September 2011 through February 2012 more than 1,500 stakeholders participated in the Visioning Project, offering a broad range of ideas and recommendations for improving management of Mid-Atlantic fisheries. This input was summarized in the Stakeholder Input Report which was presented to the Council and distributed to the public in June 2012.
In July 2012, the Council established a working group to spearhead the strategic planning process. The working group was made up of Council members, leaders of management partner organizations, and stakeholders representing commercial, recreational, environmental, and regional planning interests. From August through December 2012 the group met five times to develop the components of a draft strategic plan. During the first meeting, the working group reviewed the Stakeholder Input Report and agreed to a framework of 7 themes based on the top issues and concerns expressed by stakeholders. These themes—science, governance, regulatory process, communication, social and economic considerations, ecosystems, and management strategies—were used throughout the planning process to guide the development of goals, objectives, and strategies for the plan. These seven themes were eventually reduced to four strategic goals: (1) Communication, (2) Governance, (3) Science, and (4) Management.
The Visioning phase of the project was completed with assistance from S.R.I. International, and the strategic planning phase of the project was facilitated by RESOLVE Consulting.