Click for next page ( 6


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 5
1 Introduction COASTAL ENVIRONMENTS UNDER PRESSURE The coastal2 areas of the United States, and indeed the world, are sites of intense human activity. A majority of the U.S. and world populations live either near the coast or along rivers that empty directly into the coastal zone. Further- more, coastal populations are growing faster than inland populations, increasing by more than 1 percent per year in the United States (Culliton et al., 1990~. Coastal population growth creates extra demands for food, waste disposal, public health, and protection from natural disasters. In the United States, changing demography is resulting in more affluence and more consumption of resources and land per individual in many coastal areas. For example, in the Chesapeake Bay watershed, the conversion of farms and forests to residential and commercial uses has outstripped the rate of population increase by a factor of 3.5 (The Year 2020 Panel, 1988~. In other coastal regions, people are rapidly immigrating into urban centers, resulting in changing social and economic demands on the coastal environment. In addition to residents of the coastal zone, many additional people flock to the coast for recreation and tourism, increasing environmental pressures from roads, commercial development, waste disposal, marinas, and other recreational facilities. The resources of coastal ecosystems are exploited for seafood and 2"Coastal" is defined herein as the zone extending seaward 200 miles from the coastline to the limit of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone and extending landward from the coastline to the limit of tidal influence. s

OCR for page 5
6 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST energy resources to benefit the entire country. Many fish and shellfish stocks from enclosed coastal waters and the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone are being harvested to the limits of sustainability or are being overfished (NMFS, 19939. For example, the groundfishery off the northeastern United States has essentially collapsed. The previously dominant cod and Catfish species have been replaced by dogfish and skates (Fogerty et al., 1991~. Oyster production from the Chesa- peake Bay is now less than 5 percent by volume of what was harvested at the turn of the century (Richkus et al., 1992~. There is a growing realization that coastal areas are also influenced by events and processes that occur far from the coastline. For example, buoyant materials accidently or purposely dumped at sea find their way to beaches (Ebbesmeyer and Ingraham, 19929. Nonindigenous marine organisms may be introduced through discharge of ballast water from transoceanic ships originating from for- eign ports. Organisms, such as Asian clams introduced into San Francisco Bay (presumably via ballast water) can proliferate and have major effects on coastal ecosystems (Nichols et al., 1990~. Spores of algae responsible for toxic blooms can be introduced in the same manner (Hallegraff and Botch, 1991~. These and other species are of growing concern (Carlton and Geller, 1993~. In San Fran- cisco Bay, for example, at least 255 alien species of invertebrates have estab- lished populations (Hedgpeth, 1993~. Coastal ecosystems are also affected by activities that occur far inland, through changes in the delivery of water, nutrients, and chemical contaminants from rivers and atmospheric deposition (NRC, 1994b). Large areas of such important coastal waters as the Chesapeake Bay, the northern Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound, Lake Erie, the North Sea, and the northern Adriatic Sea have experienced increased plankton blooms and depletion of dissolved oxygen as a result of nutrient overenrichment from both point-source (sewage discharges) and diffuse inputs (agricultural and urban runoff and atmospheric inputs) during the latter half of this century (Officer et al., 1984; Rydberg et al., 1990; Parker and O'Reilly, 1991; Rabalais et al., 19949. Finally, coastal environments are among those most susceptible to the consequences of global climate change that could affect sea level, freshwater runoff, frequency and intensity of storms, and temperature patterns. Dealing with increases in coastal populations, resource consumption, and land development, while at the same time trying to protect healthy environments, restore degraded environments, replenish depleted fisheries, support economic development, and enhance the quality of human life, is a daunting challenge for policymakers. Coincidentally, society is demanding more efficient and less in- trusive governance, which requires technically sound assessments of risks, costs, and benefits among alternative decisions as well as progress toward more local decisionmaking.

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 7 THE IMPORTANCE OF SCIENCE Scientific information is needed to guide the wise use of coastal resources, to protect the environment, and to improve the quality of life of coastal zone resi- dents. This need is becoming more evident as the complexity of the relationships among the environment, resources, and the economic and social well-being of human populations is fully recognized and as changes and long-term threats are discovered. Earlier this century, coastal managers and policymakers concerned themselves primarily with how people could exploit coastal areas and resources, with little recognition of the impacts of such exploitation. The impacts were relatively modest (or at least localized) until coastal land and water use and the discharge of society's wastes intensified during the last half of this century. Fishing, population growth, fertilizer and pesticide use, fossil fuel consumption, shipping, wetlands destruction, and other factors began to take their toll. Envi- ronmental legislation passed by states and the federal government in the 1960s and 1970s (e.g., the National Environmental Policy Act and the Coastal Zone Management Act) gave new importance to coastal management and policymaking and focused new attention on the need for scientific information for decision making. Although the mounting pressures pose new challenges for management and the science to support it, it is important to recognize that there are coastal prob- lems that have been dealt with effectively and that science and technology have played an important role in these successes. A good example is the formulation of policies and regulations regarding the release of artificial radionuclides from energy facilities to the atmosphere and the ocean (NAS, 1957; NRC, 1971~. Policies implemented in the 1950s and 1960s were successful in protecting the health of human populations. In the 1960s the impacts of halogenated hydrocar- bon biocides on nontarget organisms, particularly the effects of DDT and its degradation products on fish-eating birds, brought about legal constraints to their use in pest control, which have allowed the recovery of threatened species. Sci- ence played a key role in the strategies that led to the cleanup of some coastal systems degraded by overloading with organic and nutrient wastes, including Lake Erie (IAGLR, 1991) and the Potomac River below Washington, D.C. (Jaworski, 1990~. A more recent example of how science has contributed to solving coastal environmental problems is the identification of the effects of extremely low concentrations of tributyl tin (in marine paints) on marine organisms (Goldberg, 1986~. This led to the banning or severe restriction of this extremely toxic compound by several nations and U.S. states. Likewise, imposition of technol- ogy-based standards for pretreatment of industrial and municipal discharges and resource recovery efforts have resulted in reductions in the loadings of many toxic substances to U.S. coastal waters and incorporation in sediments and in tissues of marine organisms (NOAA, 1990~.

OCR for page 5
8 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST Some environmental and resource problems have worsened because scien- tific information is inadequate to understand or anticipate them fully. Wide- spread eutrophication (nutrient overenrichment) of coastal waters has been docu- mented, often only after severe effects, such as complete depletion of oxygen, were apparent (Rabalais et al., 1994~. Similarly, our poor understanding of the quantitative relationships between water quality, habitat condition, and fish pro- duction has made it difficult to develop management strategies for sustainable populations that separate environmental effects from those caused by overf~sh- ~ng. Perhaps even more troubling have been instances in which scientific infor- mation was available and there was scientific consensus but appropriate policies were not enacted, resulting in worsening environmental conditions, declining resources, or unnecessary costs to society. The collapse of groundf~sh popula- tions off the northeastern U.S. coast resulted in part because the harvests allowed by the management process exceeded those that scientific analyses indicated were sustainable. Although controversy about the environmental effects of drill- ing discharges was a factor that delayed oil and gas exploration, scientific con- sensus indicated that these discharges posed little risk (NRC, 1983a). Require- ments for secondary treatment of municipal discharges from some California communities were pursued vigorously when scientific consensus indicated that there were more effective and less expensive alternatives (NRC, 1993~. These "failures" were the result of weak linkages between science and policy, exacer- bated by the way scientists and policymakers deal with uncertainty, how consen- sus is formed, and the influence of social, economic, cultural, and political factors on decisionmaking. Scientists have long been fascinated by the coastal ocean, its organisms, and its environmental processes. The first ocean science institutes founded at the end of the nineteenth century focused on coastal studies. Many still do. As people have colonized coastal areas, scientists and engineers have increasingly been called on to provide an understanding of natural systems to help adapt human activities to coastal processes in such a way that natural systems are preserved, resources sustained, and the flow of benefits maintained. Although social scien- tists began coastal studies in an organized fashion later than did natural scientists, social scientists have, since the 1970s, played an increasingly important role in understanding the human element of coastal ecosystems, which is a broadly interdisciplinary challenge. The scientific community often views environmental policy as being influ- enced by public pressures more than by scientific considerations. In our demo- cratic system of government it is appropriate for policy to be influenced signifi- cantly by the public. The public plays an important role in interpreting science and in communicating its preferences to policymakers. This factor makes public education about science important. Situations sometimes arise in which there is an apparent agreement between decisionmakers and the scientific community,

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION 9 but the policies fail because the affected public disagrees with the policy choice. The reasons for the disagreement may include differences in goals and objec- tives, the financial cost of the policy, different perceptions of risk, ineffective public education strategies, misinformation and distortion of facts by individuals or groups with vested interests in particular policy outcomes, or a simple lack of trust that scientists and policymakers have taken sufficient account of public values. Neither the importance of science (including research, monitoring, and mod- eling) to the wise management of coastal environments, resources, and human effects, nor the process by which science is used, has been emphasized ad- equately. Concerted efforts are seldom made to foster interactions between sci- entists (social and natural) and policymakers (agency and legislative). Often the public is involved late in policy processes and only in response to legislative and regulatory mandates. New means must be developed to improve interactions among scientists, policymakers, and the public so that policymakers can obtain the information they need about social and natural systems, scientists can deter- mine from policymakers what kinds of scientific questions are relevant to policy, and the public can be introduced as an integral participant in coastal management and policymaking. Improved interactions among all relevant participants are needed but are unlikely to occur until attention is focused on interaction pro cesses. ORIGINS OF THIS ASSESSMENT This study resulted from the realization by members of the National Re- search Council's Ocean Studies Board and its Committee on the Coastal Ocean that the use of science in coastal policymaking is often less effective than is desirable and should be improved. It was anticipated that improvements could be achieved by assessing existing practices, evaluating past successes and failures in the use of science in the management of coastal areas, and discussing new means of communication among scientists, policymakers, and the public to complement existing methods that seem to be effective. U.S. federal agencies, including those that funded this assessment-the Na- tional Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Minerals Management Service (MMS)-have made significant investments in coastal research and management. The federal government spent $672 million on coastal science in FY1991-1993, primarily for science related to living resources, habitat conservation, and environmental qual- ity (SUSCOS, 19934. There has also been substantial national investment in coastal ocean management activities through programs such as NOAA' s Coastal Zone Management Program and EPA's National Estuary Program and through the implementation of various federal laws concerned with coastal areas (see Table 11. The national investment in the marine-oriented social sciences has been

OCR for page 5
0 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST TABLE 1 Science and National Coastal/Ocean Management Programs (from Knecht, 1995) Explicit Science Component in Legislation/ Procedures Tractability of the Management Problem Degree to Which Physical Sciences are Involved Degree to Which Social Sciences are Involved CZMA No Low Moderate Low FCMA Yes Moderate Moderate to Moderate high OCSLA Yes Moderate to Moderate Moderate high MMPA Yes High High Low NEP Yes Moderate Moderate to Low high CZMA - Coastal Zone Management Act FCMA - Fishery Conservation and Management Act OCSLA - Outer Conunenta1 Shelf Lands Act MMPA - Manne Mammals Protection Act NEP - National Estuary Program modest (primarily through NOAA's National Sea Grant College Program and to some extent as a part of programs funded by agencies such as MMS). Nonethe- less, a significant body of knowledge and expertise on the human aspects of coastal ocean issues is available in the United States. The use of science in coastal management programs varies; Knecht (1995) presented his estimates of the degree to which science is used in federal programs related to coastal manage- ment (Table 1~. STRATEGY USED Regional Symposia The strategy of this study was to gather information about specific issues of science-policy interactions in three different coastal regions of the United States: California, the Gulf of Maine, and the Gulf of Mexico (see Figure 1~. It was expected that different interactive processes identified in each region could be transferred to other regions and used nationally and that comparisons among regions would yield additional insights. The three regions differ in terms of such factors as political structures (the single-state California situation versus the multistate binational Gulf of Maine and Gulf of Mexico situations), the extent of policy experience in each region, and the degree to which the coastal physical

OCR for page 5
INTRODUCTION \: .~:. . .: it.. ~ ~ ~ \ ~ \.J Gulf of Mexico Figure 1 Regions addressed in the Tree regional symposia. 11 Gulf of Maine systems are connected throughout the region. All three regions have substantial past and present research and policy activities related to the coastal ocean. Regional information was gathered by conducting three regional symposia that brought together natural and social scientists; legislative staff and policymakers;3 federal, state, and local agency officials; and representatives of environmental and industrial organizations. Each symposium extended over two days and included plenary stage-setting sessions and concurrent sessions focused on specific issues. Each of the symposia addressed three types of issues: (1) one issue of common importance in all three regions, (2) one regional issue of present interest, and (3) one issue that is likely to be of importance to the region in the future (see Table 2~. "Cumulative impacts of development" was selected as the common theme to be addressed in each symposium. The three themes for each region were identified by a group of individuals within the region. Discussions and interactions of participants at the three symposia, fueled by information in the proceedings reports, were intended to stimulate increased use of science in coastal policymaking in each region. The symposia sought to: elucidate the process of interaction between science and policy by exam- ining a number of case studies of successes and failures; identify obstacles to effective interaction between science and policy; identify specific incentives and mechanisms for improving the interaction between science and policy; and 3Relatively few of the legislative staff and legislators invited were able to attend the symposia.

OCR for page 5
12 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST develop ideas for specific actions that could improve science-policy inter- actions in the region and, ultimately, the nation. A proceedings volume has been published for each of the regional symposia, containing the papers presented and the results of group discussions related to the three issues addressed in the region (NRC, l995a,b,c). Although each sympo- sium was designed as a separate activity, each was also designed to contribute to the formation of national-level recommendations for improving the use of sci- ence in coastal policymaking. Most members of the Committee on Science and Policy for the Coastal Ocean participated in all three symposia and were involved in planning from the initiation of the project. The committee used the symposia proceedings in large measure as the basis for forming the recommendations pre- sented in this report. OBJECTIVES OF THE REPORT The purpose of this report is to make recommendations for improving the use of science in coastal policy and management. This objective requires that com- munication be improved among all participants in the coastal policy process- scientists, regulators, legislators, and the public- so that more rapid progress can be achieved in making the use of U.S. coastal areas sustainable. The report first summarizes the regional symposia by describing the regional settings and briefly summarizing the perspectives and suggestions of the partici- pants related to the three issues addressed at each symposium (Chapter 2~. Par- ticular attention is paid to the common thread of addressing cumulative impacts. Based on the results of the regional symposia, the broader literature, and commit- tee members' experiences, the report then discusses the challenges for effective interactions (Chapter 3~. This chapter addresses the role and limitations of sci- ence, cultural differences that affect interactions, scientific advisory and review mechanisms, the integration of scientific information, the role of prediction and uncertainty, scientific agenda setting, the interactions among the multiple sectors involved in the policy process, and making coastal management more integrated and adaptive. The committee presents its findings and recommendations for improving the use of science in coastal policymaking in Chapter 4. The recommendations of the report are directed primarily to federal and state agency staff, federal and state legislators, and natural and social scientific com- munities. The committee believes that many of its recommendations could also be applied beneficially by other nations, because many of the same coastal prob- lems are experienced around the world. A major recommendation of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was that nations should create (or strengthen) management processes and institutions to attain sustainable development of their marine and coastal areas, and we offer this report as one step toward that goal.