(both natural and anthropogenic) requires substantial time and effort to understand. This situation is not unique to Drakes Estero—uncertainty about effects of human activities on ecosystems is a common feature of most decisions about actions that affect natural resources.
The ultimate decision to permit or prohibit a particular activity, such as shellfish farming, in a particular location, such as Drakes Estero, necessarily requires value judgments and tradeoffs that can be informed, but not resolved, by science. Science describes the effects (differences in outcomes) that can be expected with and without shellfish farming in Drakes Estero, the level of uncertainty given current knowledge about these effects, and approaches to assess and balance potential risks and benefits. Because stakeholders may reasonably assign different levels of priority or importance to these effects and outcomes, there is no scientific answer to the question of whether to extend the RUO for shellfish farming. Like other zoning and land use questions, this issue will be resolved by policymakers charged with weighing the conflicting views and priorities of society as part of the decision-making process.