Like other coastal zones around the world, the inland sea ecosystem of Washington (USA) and British Columbia (Canada), an area known as the Salish Sea, is changing under pressure from a growing human population, conversion of native forest and shoreline habitat to urban development, toxic contamination of sediments and species, and overharvest of resources. While billions of dollars have been spent trying to restore other coastal ecosystems around the world, there still is no successful model for restoring estuarine or marine ecosystems like the Salish Sea. Despite the lack of a guiding model, major ecological principles do exist that should be applied as people work to design the Salish Sea and other large marine ecosystems for the future. We suggest that the following 10 ecological principles serve as a foundation for educating the public and for designing a healthy Salish Sea and other coastal ecosystems for future generations: (1) Think ecosystem: political boundaries are arbitrary; (2) Account for ecosystem connectivity; (3) Understand the food web; (4) Avoid fragmentation; (5) Respect ecosystem integrity; (6) Support nature's resilience; (7) Value nature: it's money in your pocket; (8) Watch wildlife health; (9) Plan for extremes; and (10) Share the knowledge.
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Top 10 principles for designing healthy coastal ecosystems like the Salish Sea