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5 Conclusions and Recommendations Concern about degradation of ocean and estuarine environments and resources is increasing demand for information about these changes, their causes, and their cures. Environmental monitoring can be important in determining the health of the marine environment and the effectiveness of management policies and actions for maintaining or improving conditions. The present national effort in marine environmental monitoring is large, exceeding $130 million per year. However' this figure is modest (3 percent or less) compared with annual marine pollution abatement expenditures. Although monitoring practices have advanced, marine environmental mon- itoring programs are consistently hampered by poor design, inadequate resources (personnel and funds), and limited attention to changing the data into useful information that meets the needs of decision makers. Marine environmental monitoring can be made more effective by: · strengthening the role of monitoring in marine environmental man- agement; conducting more monitoring over regional and national scales; and . . . improving monitoring program design and making information products more useful. How can these objectives be reached? Specific recommendations are given below. 90
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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 1. MONITORING CAN STRENGTHEN ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT Conclusions 91 · Marine environmental monitoring is an effective technology for defining the extent and severity of pollution, evaluating environmental policies and actions, helping to estimate the risks and consequences of future actions, and detecting emerging problems before they become severe. · Marine environmental monitoring is part of a broader comple- ment of technical contributions to environmental management, which also includes fate and effects research and predictive modeling. Yet monitor- ing programs are seldom coupled with research and predictive modeling programs designed to support integrated decision making. Nor are many marine environmental monitoring programs effectively coordinated and related to research programs that address marine environmental quality. Monitoring activities need to be implemented in concert with other tech- nical approaches in order to maximize the usefulness of information they provide for management decisions. · Monitoring activities usually focus on the collection and analysis of data that are not useful to management decisions unless they are synthe- sized into information. Although there have been technical improvements, monitoring needs to be an integral part of an effective environmental man- agement system in which information from monitoring is routinely used to guide and focus future actions, including regulating activities, influencing decisions, and refocusing management efforts. Recommendations . The effects of significant marine environmental management poli- cies and actions (e.g., reductions in pollution loadings, discharge of poten- tially hazardous substances) should be monitored to evaluate the actions and to improve the ability to predict the consequences of management . . c Decisions. . The linkages among monitoring, research, and modeling within ma- rine environmental management systems should be improved through con- certed efforts. Regional and national trends monitoring programs should incude research elements or effective ties with research programs designed to provide information critical to the interpretation of monitoring results and to improve the design of monitoring programs and the collection and interpretation of monitoring data. · Monitoring programs should be sufficiently flexible for results to be used to redesign and eliminate monitoring components that have not produced or are not likely to produce useful information.
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92 MANAGING TROUBLED WATERS · Agencies charged with environmental management responsiblities should provide for periodic systematic reviews of the results of their mon- itoring programs. To improve program effectiveness, such reviews should assess the consequences of the findings in management terms and identify needed revisions or improvements. 2. COMPREHENSIVE MONITORING OF REGIONAL AND NATIONAL TRENDS IS NEEDED Conclusions · The present array of compliance monitoring programs, regional monitoring programs (e.g., the Chesapeake Bay), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) National Status and Trends (NS&T) Program is inadequate to establish patterns and trends in the quality of the nation's coastal ocean and estuaries or to determine the effectiveness of environmental policies and regulations. · Most resources spent on marine environmental monitoring are for monitoring compliance with specific permit conditions. Much less is allocated to assessing the regional and national extent of pollution problems or evaluating actions (past and future) to improve them. · Compliance monitoring programs meet limited, specific objectives and are not designed to address broader public concerns about whether the marine environment is being degraded or about what such degradation means in terms of human health and ecological values. · ~ address public concerns and assess the threat of the cumulative impacts of human activities on the marine environment more effectively, regional status and trends monitoring is needed. Regional monitoring information also provides a context for interpretation and evaluation of site-specific compliance monitoring. It may be possible to change the objectives of some compliance monitoring programs (e.g., the Southern California Bight program) in such a way that results in reallocation of resources and in adequate regional status and trends information without additional effort or cost. However, compliance monitoring cannot always be reduced prudently, and additional resources and effort are needed to meet the needs for regional status and trends monitoring. Recommendations · The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and NOAA should cooperate to develop a more effective national program to monitor environ- mental status and trends in the coastal ocean and estuaries. The program should combine regional programs with a sparser network of long-term
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CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 93 stations and studies including some in natural areas not heavily influenced by human activities. The regional programs should emphasize intensive studies to develop understandings of cause-effect relationships and support and evaluate management decisions. The network would provide a basis for regional comparisons and detection of broader trends. The nucleus for this network should be developed through NOAA's NS&T Program and EPA's National Estuary Program (NEP) and its related coastal water activities. To facilitate establishment of effective, coordinated regional pro- grams, new legal authority or regulatory policies should be instituted, allowing some resources devoted to compliance monitoring conducted by a permitted to be reallocated to a regional status and trends monitoring program. This change might be effected by requiring major dischargers to participate in a regional program or by levying fees (as a condition of permits) to support the monitoring activities of a public body. · Other federal, state, and interstate regional monitoring programs should be strongly encouraged to participate in regional efforts by adopting compatible protocols that are consistent with their own missions and needs. However, centralized requirements should not impinge on the flexibility required to tailor regional programs to regional needs. . Those responsible for managing estuaries included under Section 320 of the Water Quality Act of 1987 (i.e., NEP) should be required to develop and implement a status and trends monitoring program. Regional monitoring should be designed as an integral part of the particular estuarine management strategy that is developed. It should also meet certain min- imum requirements and protocols to ensure coherence and compatibility with the national monitoring network. · NOAA's NS&T Program, in concert with EPA's proposed Environ- mental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP), revised and modified as necessary, should serve as the basis for the network component of the national program, through which regional programs can be linked and compared. Federal funding for national status and trends monitoring should be significantly increased for the NS&T Program and NEP to provide incentive and seed funding for the development of regional programs, enhance monitoring in areas not covered by regional programs, and support data management and interpretation activities. · Adequate legislative mandates to undertake a national program such as the one recommended here exist, but they have not been imple- mented eRectively. To ensure the necessary coordination for an effective in- teragency program, the administration and Congress should critically review existing coordination arrangements under the Water Quality Act of 1987, Title II of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act of 1972,
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94 A/IANAGING TROUBLED WATERS and the National Ocean Pollution Research, Development, and Monitoring Planning Act of 1978 and revise them if they are found to be inadequate. The coordination of marine pollution research and monitoring programs among the federal agencies authorized by the 1978 legislation should be critically evaluated. Necessary administrative and statutory changes should be implemented to improve definition of responsibilities, interagency coor- dination, and overall effectiveness. Statutory or administrative provisions needed to ensure a more coordinated effort should be implemented, and Congress should continue to exercise strong oversight on the effort. · NOAA should take the lead, in cooperation with EPA, in preparing a report to Congress every three years. It would synthesize the results of the national monitoring program, document the status of the coastal ocean, and evaluate management actions to protect and improve the health of the coastal ocean. This report should define the extent and severity of pollution problems, place priorities on health and environmental risks based on the extent and severity of pollution, identify emerging problems, assess regional trends in marine environmental quality, indicate important topics for research and development, and identify policies and programs needed to restore, maintain, or enhance marine environmental quality. 3. IMPROVED PROGRAM DESIGN AND INFORMATION PRODUCTS WILL MAKE MONITORING RESULTS MORE USEFUL Conclusions Many monitoring programs are ineffective because they devote too little attention to the formulation of clear goals and objectives, technical program design, and the translation of data through analysis and synthesis into information that is relevant and accessible to decision makers and the interested public. · Effective marine environmental monitoring programs must have the following features: clearly defined goals and objectives; a technical design that is based on an understanding of system linkages and processes' is directed at testable questions and hypotheses, and is subjected to peer review; methods that employ statistically valid observations and predictive models; and the means to translate data into information products tailored to the needs of their users, including decision makers and the public. . Recommendations · Regional and national status and trends monitoring programs, monitoring for model validation, and major compliance monitoring pro- grams should incorporate a rigorous design methodology such as that developed by the committee and presented here.
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CONCLUSIONS AND COMMENDATIONS 95 · New and existing compliance monitoring programs for major activ- ities should be carefully reviewed by the regulatory agencies requiring the monitoring to ensure that they meet the criteria outlined in the committee's design methodology. · EPA, in cooperation with NOAA, should prepare guidance doc- uments on the design of compliance and regional monitoring programs for use by its regional offices, state regulatory agencies, and permittees. Adequate resources should be allocated to data analysis and integration as well as to data collection. · NC)AA, in cooperation with EPA, should promote the development of new techniques and technical protocols for use in regional and national monitoring programs to ensure compatibility and comparability of data.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: