Recent scientific and ocean policy assessments demonstrate that a fundamental change in our current management system is required to achieve the long-term health of our ocean, coasts, and Great Lakes in order to sustain the services and benefits they provide to society. The present (2011) species- and sector-centric way we manage these ecosystems cannot account properly for cumulative effects, sustaining multiple ecosystem services, and holistically and explicitly evaluating the tradeoffs associated with proposed alternative and multiple human uses. A transition to an ecosystem-based approach to management and conservation of coastal and marine resources is needed.
Competing uses and activities such as commerce, recreation, cultural practices, energy development, conservation, and national security are increasing pressure for new and expanded resource usage in coastal marine ecosystems. Current management efforts use a sector-by-sector approach that mostly focuses on a limited range of tools and outcomes [for example, oil and gas leases, fishery management plans, and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)]. A comprehensive, ecosystem-based, and proactive approach to planning and managing these uses and activities is needed. Further, scientific understanding and information are essential to achieve an integrated decision-making process that includes knowledge of ecosystem services, existing and possible future conditions, and potential consequences of natural and anthropogenic events. Because no single government agency has executive authority for coastal or ocean resources, conflicting objectives around competing uses abound.
In recent years, regional- and state-level initiatives in Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) have emerged to coordinate management activities. In some respects, the components and steps of the overall CMSP process are similar to how existing ocean resources are regulated and managed. For example, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE) uses spatial planning exercises in State Renewable Energy Task Force meetings to identify competing and conflicting ocean uses, and to delineate areas suitable for renewable energy development. Similarly terrestrial areas such as in national parks and national wildlife refuges managed by the Department of the Interior (DOI) prepare management plans for preservation and restoration of species and habitats of concern, some of which are protected by law. The analogy to CMSP is clear - multiple users and multiple expectations, resulting in the requirement to establish spatial plans for management of different resources and different ecosystem services.
A two-day workshop on December 1-2, 2010, was convened for DOI representatives and several key non-DOI participants with roles in CMSP as a step toward clarifying national perspectives and consequences of the National Ocean Policy for the West (appendix 1). Discussions helped to develop an understanding of CMSP from the federal perspective and to identify regional priorities. An overarching theme was to promote a better understanding of current and future science needs. The workshop format included briefings by key Federal agencies on their understanding of the national focus followed by discussion of regional issues, including the needs for scientific information and coordination. The workshop also explored potential science contributions by Federal agencies and others; utilizing current capabilities, data, and information systems; and provided a foundation for possible future regional workshops focusing in turn on the West Coast Region (California, Oregon, and Washington), Pacific Islands (sometimes referred to as Oceania) and Alaska.
Participants were asked to share information in the following areas, recognizing that the purpose would be to learn more about the national perspective (see appendixes 2-4):
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