West Coast Ocean Alliance

A regional partnership focused on enhanced management and coordination for the ocean along the West Coast of the U.S.


West Coast Regional Vision

Ocean conditions are changing, new uses of the sea are emerging, and the authorities for ocean management are complex and overlapping. These West Coast-wide challenges are best evaluated holistically rather than as individual management entities. Our work will support healthy, resilient ocean ecosystems and communities that thrive on ocean resources. -West Coast Ocean Alliance Membership


Goals & Objectives


  • Increase understanding of past, current and future interactions among ocean uses and the ocean and coastal ecosystem.

  • Proactively engage federal, tribal, state and local authorities to assimilate current and emerging regional ocean uses.

02. Effective and transparent decision-making

  • Host an intergovernmental forum that supports open, transparent and equitable dialogue based on a common vision for the West Coast.

  • Develop a clear, collective understanding of all co-management responsibilities and jurisdictions.

  • Avoid duplication in planning by building on existing efforts and including all relevant management entities.

03. Comprehensive ocean and coastal data

  • Facilitate ongoing discovery of, connectivity to, and sharing of data and science from all relevant entities through the West Coast Ocean Data Portal.

  • Include traditional knowledge in databases as appropriate.

  • Identify core data sets and produce synthesized data products to incorporate in decision-making.

  • Identify data gaps and collaborate to fill them.

04. Increased understanding of and respect for tribaL rights, traditional knowledge, resources and practices

  • Improve understanding of tribal rights and trust responsibilities.

  • Ensure inclusion and consideration of traditional knowledge in ocean management and decision-making as appropriate.

  • Improve awareness and recognition of traditional ocean uses.


“Ocean conditions are changing, and new uses of the sea emerging…”

Excerpt - West Coast Ocean Alliance regional vision


West Coast History

Recent regional ocean coordination efforts on the West Coast began in 2007 with the formation of the West Coast Governors Agreement on Ocean Health, brought together by the Governors of California (Schwarzenegger), Oregon (Kulongoski) and Washington State (Gregoire). Over time those regional activities focused on a range of issues bringing together state and federal partners on topics like marine debris, ocean education, and coastal resilience, among others. These early activities also included a data coordination focus, which eventually spun off into the standalone West Coast Ocean Data Portal, which has continued to serve as the entity overseeing regional data priorities and coordination for West Coast regional ocean efforts.

In 2010 President Obama signed Executive Order 13547, which established the first U.S. National Ocean Policy and formalized federal engagement in regions choosing to form Regional Planning Bodies (RPB). The West Coast first began to organize discussions around forming its own RPB in 2013, focusing on outreach to West Coast states along with every federally-recognized tribal government. Based on that outreach, an in-person meeting was organized in early 2015 that included the three West Coast states, approximately 10 tribal governments and federal agencies. At this meeting state and tribal governments in the region agreed to proceed on forming a West Coast RPB, which culminated in a formal charter in early 2016.

Parallel to the formation of the West Coast RPB, the West Coast Governors Alliance on Ocean Health, which had grown out of the previous West Coast Governors Agreement on Ocean Health under new Governors administrations, continued discussions about how best to coordinate a Regional Ocean Partnership for the West Coast in concert with the new West Coast RPB. In early 2015 the decision was made by state, tribal and federal partners to reboot as the West Coast Ocean Partnership (WCOP), which included a renewed emphasis on engaging tribal governments. In 2016 the WCOP released a new strategic framework focusing on three core topics: coastal resilience, changing ocean conditions, and data coordination.

In June 2018, President Trump signed Executive Order 13840, which rescinded Executive Order 13547 and formally terminated all active Regional Planning Bodies around the U.S. The language of the Executive Order included the opportunity for regional coordination to continue via Regional Ocean Partnerships in each region choosing to do so, with federal partners invited to participate. State and tribal governments who participated in the West Coast RPB and WCOP announced in December 2018 they were forming the new West Coast Ocean Alliance to continue as the Regional Ocean Partnership for the West Coast, building on previous regional coordination activities.

At launch the WCOA announced a Regional Vision with goals and objectives to guide its work, and is currently developing a work plan that will include specific action items and deliverables built around elements of common regional goals of state, tribal and federal partners.


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