3
Processes by Which Regional Marine Research Needs and Priorities are Defined

It is instructive to consider how regional marine research needs have been identified and research priorities set when formulating the plans for new research programs. This review provides a framework for considering the strengths and weaknesses of the planning approaches used and identifies common elements in the planning of successful programs. Approaches to research planning can be categorized as follows:

  1. Community Plans—A process with substantial, direct input from stakeholders, including broad participation from the regional scientific and management communities;

  2. Scientists' Plans—A process that has broad national participation by the scientific community but little direct involvement of managers and other stakeholders outside the scientific community;

  3. Agency Plans—Prioritization and planning by agencies with advice of a select group of scientists and, sometimes, managers;

  4. Legislative Mandates—Research mandated by legislation, which may bring into play any of the above. Most research planning includes some combination of these categories, however, one of these planning approaches is usually characteristic of the process for defining goals and setting priorities.



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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research 3 Processes by Which Regional Marine Research Needs and Priorities are Defined It is instructive to consider how regional marine research needs have been identified and research priorities set when formulating the plans for new research programs. This review provides a framework for considering the strengths and weaknesses of the planning approaches used and identifies common elements in the planning of successful programs. Approaches to research planning can be categorized as follows: Community Plans—A process with substantial, direct input from stakeholders, including broad participation from the regional scientific and management communities; Scientists' Plans—A process that has broad national participation by the scientific community but little direct involvement of managers and other stakeholders outside the scientific community; Agency Plans—Prioritization and planning by agencies with advice of a select group of scientists and, sometimes, managers; Legislative Mandates—Research mandated by legislation, which may bring into play any of the above. Most research planning includes some combination of these categories, however, one of these planning approaches is usually characteristic of the process for defining goals and setting priorities.

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research COMMUNITY PLANS This process typically incorporates inputs from some combination of resource managers, local and state regulatory agencies, government, non-government organizations (NGOs), individuals or collectives of stakeholders not represented by the NGOs, science funding agencies, and scientists. Such a process generally yields the broadest possible range of proposals, discussion, and information. In addition to the identified product of a research plan, the communication and mutual education that can occur among these groups can have many benefits. For example, scientists can learn the specific needs and concerns of the other groups, and groups outside the scientific community can learn the capabilities and limitations of environmental research. Even if many of these concerns cannot be addressed immediately by research, the discussions can help to establish longer-range goals. Stakeholders and managers can learn that certain types of research, while not offering immediate solutions to their problems, lay an essential foundation for addressing their concerns. A disadvantage is that it can be expensive, in both time and money, to obtain direct input from all concerned individuals and groups. Further, it is sometimes a daunting task to assemble a coherent research plan from the disparate views presented from many different perspectives. However, once a process for obtaining, assimilating, and using community input is established, most of these difficulties are greatly reduced. Two examples of programs planned with different types of broad community participation will be discussed: the Regional Marine Research Program (RMRP) and the National Estuary Program (NEP). Despite the challenges of community-based planning, these two examples illustrate the value of this approach. The design and implementation of future regional marine research programs can benefit from the experiences, and perhaps specific organizations and procedures, employed by the RMRP and NEP. Regional Marine Research Programs The 1990 amendment to the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act created the Regional Marine Research Program (Public Law 101-593) in the from of nine geographic areas with specified boundaries: Gulf of Maine, Mid-Atlantic, South Atlantic and Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico, Southwest, Pacific Northwest, Alaska, and the Insular Pacific (Figure 3-1). The legislative mandate was to: set priorities for regional marine and coastal research in support of efforts to safeguard the water quality and ecosystem health of each region; and carry out such research through grants and improved coordination. The Act prescribed that a Regional Marine Research (RMR) Board, consisting of 11 members and chaired by a Sea Grant Program Director, be established for

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research FIGURE 3-1 Regional Marine Research Program (RMRP) areas as defined under the authority of the South Carolina Fish Hatchery Act (P.L. 101-593; Figure from: "The Regional Marine Research Program [RMRP]: A new approach to marine research planning," in Coastal Management, 1993, Vol. 21 (4), p. 328. B.C. Bryant, Taylor & Francis, Inc., Philadelphia, PA. Reproduced with Permission. All rights reserved.). Note that this program is referred to throughout the text in capital letters. When reference is made to regional marine research in general, lower case letters are used.

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research each region to develop a 4-year research plan that included: (1) a summary of environmental status and trends, (2) an inventory and description of research related to water quality and ecosystem health, (3) a statement of research needs and priorities and their justification, (4) a plan for incorporating existing marine, coastal, and estuarine research and management activities into a coordinated regional program, and (5) a description of research objectives and timetables for their achievement through the funding of projects submitted as grant applications to the Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Although the authorizing legislation implied that funds would be available to implement the research plans in each region, only the Gulf of Maine plan was actually funded in the congressional appropriation. Although all nine regions followed these general instructions, their planning processes differed significantly. The following examples are given to illustrate these differences. The Gulf of Maine RMR Board enlisted the help of an existing regional scientific association (the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine [RARGOM]) to develop its research plan. The Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (ARGO-Maine), the precursor to RARGOM, had worked with Senator George Mitchell's staff to draft the RMRP legislation, which was passed in 1990. After review and revision by the RMR Board, the plan drafted by RARGOM became the Gulf of Maine Research Plan (Robert Wall, in letter to committee dated August 16, 1999). Three earlier workshops and conferences were important in identifying the research needs of the Gulf of Maine (GOM-RMRP, 1992). The first, ''The Gulf of Maine, Sustaining Our Common Heritage" (December 1991), was an international conference (United States and Canada) that concentrated on issues of interest to resource managers and environmental policymakers. The second activity was a scientific workshop on the Gulf of Maine at Woods Hole (January 1991) that summarized the status of research in the Gulf of Maine and identified priorities for future research. The third effort was the "Marine Research and Activity Plan" developed by the Maine Marine Research Board in 1991. This Gulf of Maine Research Plan was the only RMRP funded under the authorizing legislation and hence was the only research plan to be implemented. This program will be discussed in greater detail in Chapter 4. In the Southwest region, the Sea Grant Deputy Director took a strong role in organizing the process. Three invitation-only workshops, including U.S. and Mexican participants from academic institutions, government agencies, and user groups, were focused on natural variability, cumulative impacts and thresholds in biological systems, habitat protection and management, and restoration of coastal marine habitats. Participants in these workshops drafted research needs and priorities that were submitted for outside review and synthesized into the final research plan.

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research The Insular Pacific Region had a very inclusive planning process. A team to develop the plan was formed by the University of Hawaii Sea Grant Program. The team and the RMR Board compiled a list of agencies and organizations interested in marine research in the region. Private consulting firms, public interest groups, and other private organizations were invited to participate. Input was collected through questionnaires and interviews. Research plans, annual reports, and other documents from these organizations and agencies were reviewed. A draft plan was then compiled by the development team and revised in response to the Board's review. Workshops were held in Hawaii, Guam, and American Samoa to allow marine scientists to review and comment on the draft plan. The final draft of the plan was sent out for review and comment to all the contributing organizations and agencies and to public interest and marine resource user groups. The planning processes of the other regions fell somewhere within this spectrum, ranging from broad community participation to being largely the work of a small group of scientists and managers. National Estuary Program The NEP was established in 1987 by amendments to the Clean Water Act, with the mission to identify, restore, and protect nationally significant estuaries of the United States. Unlike traditional regulatory approaches to environmental protection, the NEP targets a broad range of issues and engages local communities and interest groups in the resource management process. The program focuses on maintaining the integrity of the entire ecosystem. NEP activities for designated estuaries are funded jointly by the state and the federal government through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NEP is designed to encourage local communities to take responsibility for managing their own estuaries. Each estuary program (twenty-eight estuary programs are currently in existence, see Box 3-1) is made up of representatives from federal, state and local government agencies responsible for managing the estuary's resources, as well as members of the community—citizens, business leaders, educators, and researchers. These stakeholders work together to identify problems in the estuary, develop specific actions to address those problems, and create and implement a resource management plan to restore and protect the estuary with support from federal, state, and local authorities. Although the NEP is concerned mainly with developing plans for management and monitoring, research is often needed to achieve the goals of these plans, because there is insufficient knowledge to support decisionmaking. The EPA administers the NEP, but committees of local government officials, private citizens, and representatives from other federal agencies, academic institutions, industry, and estuary user-groups carry out program decisions and activities. Estuaries are selected for inclusion in the NEP through a nomination pro-

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research Box 3-1 Estuaries in the National Estuary Program Albemarle-Pamlico Sounds, North Carolina Massachusetts Bays, Massachusetts Barataria-Terrebonne Estuarine Complex, Louisiana Mobile Bay, Alabama Barnegat Bay, New Jersey Morro Bay, California Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts Narragansett Bay, Rhode Island Casco Bay, Maine New Hampshire Estuaries, New Hampshire Charlotte Harbor, Florida New York-New Jersey Harbor (Harbor Estuary Program), New York and New Jersey (Lower) Columbia River Estuary, Oregon and Washington Peconic Bay, New York Corpus Christi Bay, Texas Puget Sound, Washington Delaware Estuary, Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania San Francisco Estuary, California Delaware Inland Bays, Delaware San Juan Bay, Puerto Rico Galveston Bay, Texas Santa Monica Bay, California Indian River Lagoon, Florida Sarasota Bay, Florida Long Island Sound, New York and Connecticut Tampa Bay, Florida Maryland Coastal Bays, Maryland Tillamook Bay, Oregon cess. Nominations must be submitted to the EPA by the Governor(s) of the state(s) where the estuary is located during specific nomination periods. Once selected, each NEP site creates decisionmaking committees made up of relevant stakeholders, including members of the scientific community, to identify and prioritize the problems in the estuary. Most NEP sites choose a management framework that includes a Management Committee to oversee routine operation of the program; a Policy Committee, made up of high-level representatives from federal, state, and local government agencies; a Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) to guide scientific decisions; and a Citizens Advisory Committee to represent the interests of estuary user-groups and the public. Together, the committees develop a Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan (CCMP) for protecting the estuary and its resources. The objective of each NEP site is to create and implement a CCMP that addresses the environmental problems facing the estuary and recommends short- and long-term management measures to address these problems. Although federal funding for CCMP development is substantial in some cases, in general, much less federal funding has been available for implementation. A critique of the NEP has been that "it does not provide funds or processes for implementation or accountability" (NRC, 1997). The Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project (SMBRP) in California serves as an example of how one NEP site determined their regional research needs. Two

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research stakeholders, the Bay Watershed Council (BWC) and the TAC were primarily responsible for identifying and prioritizing research needs. The BWC is the governing body of the SMBRP and is composed of representatives of elected officials, government agencies, dischargers, environmental groups, and the general public. The TAC is composed of technical staff from government agencies, environmental groups, and scientists from local universities and research institutes. SMBRP used a consensus building process to identify four major areas of concern: How safe is it to swim in the Bay? How safe is it to eat Bay seafood? Are fisheries and other living resources in the Bay adequately protected? Is the health of the Bay's ecosystem adequately protected? Actions to address these issues are summarized in the Bay Restoration Plan published in 1994 (SMBRP, 1994, 1995). As the functions of the SMBRP shifted from development of the action plan to implementation, the focus also shifted, from problem characterization and evaluation of action (technical solution) alternatives, to status and trend analysis and evaluation of action effectiveness. In both the RMRP and the NEP, the community planning approach was employed successfully, despite the difficulties inherent in developing a consensus from a broad spectrum of stakeholders. In the case of the NEP, stakeholders identify the problems and develop a consensus on the management actions that need to be taken. This is essential to the voluntary implementation of these plans and helps develop community support. Similarly, the RMRP process brings together researchers, managers, and agency representatives to identify and prioritize the research needs in the area. This not only helps match the needs of management with the expertise of the scientists, but also improves communication among the research and management communities throughout the region. The incorporation of community-based planning methods is an important feature in the development of regional marine research programs. Because different regions and issues may require different approaches, future programs could benefit from examining the specific organizations and procedures employed by the RMRP and NEP for including participation by stakeholders to determine how different approaches can be applied to meet the specific issues that arise in different regions. Scientists' Plans Research proposals to the National Science Foundation (NSF) are selected for funding based on merit as assessed by peer review. Although NSF Ocean Sciences core programs do not target a specific place or region, some programs are developed that have a specific geographic focus and designated funding. Planning for these programs may be initiated by NSF or by groups of scientists. In either case, this is followed by special sessions at national scientific meetings

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research and workshops to engage the scientific community in a discussion to assess the importance of the issue to be addressed and to define goals. Frequently, selected groups of scientists, such as the Ocean Studies Board (OSB), are asked to comment. When a broad research need is identified and incorporated into NSF's long-range plans, funding for more extensive research design activities can be obtained via a proposal process that includes peer review. Normally, an individual or small group of scientists takes a leading role in requesting funding to support planning workshops. These workshops lead to reports, which the NSF program managers can then use to promote these programs both within NSF and externally. If sound plans with wide community support, consistent with NSF's broader goals, emerge from the workshop process, they have a good chance of being funded through focus programs. The funds are distributed by NSF's normal competitive proposal review process, except that the specific goals and priorities of the focus programs are added to the simple merit criterion for proposal success. The extensive discussion of these research plans within the research community has the advantage that virtually every scientific nuance of a problem is considered during the process. When the process works well, it promotes scientific consensus building, as the issues are thoroughly aired and the strongest arguments prevail. The disadvantages are that the process is time-consuming and arduous. Sometimes, meaningful consensus on research priorities does not emerge and reports are so broad and inclusive as to be almost useless in allocating limited resources. In other instances, workshop discussions and report writing are dominated by smaller groups with strongly held views, so that the product is not representative of the majority. The latter problem is alleviated if the reports are subjected to substantive peer review. Finally, consistent with NSF's basic science mission, direct input from managers and stakeholders is rarely sought. This results in programs that help fulfill the need for a fundamental understanding of coastal processes; however, these programs do not necessarily provide immediate solutions to contemporary coastal ocean problems. Three examples of programs designed by broad-based groups of scientists are the Land-Margin Ecosystem Research (LMER), Coastal Ocean Processes (CoOP), and the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC). Land-Margin Ecosystem Research The NSF, as part of its Global Geosciences Program initiated LMER in 1988. The broad goals of LMER are to characterize changes in inputs of materials and energy from land, air, and ocean to estuarine and coastal marine ecosystems and to assess the effects of these inputs on populations and processes in an ecosystem context. Projects funded by this program incorporate four key elements:

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research Multidisciplinary teams collaborating on a common problem; Comparative approaches to assess the commonality of processes; Experimental studies that integrate across a range of scales in time and space; Development of models as heuristic, diagnostic, or predictive tools. As with most NSF programs, goals were established by involving the scientific community in a series of workshops. Using the results of these workshops, an advisory committee was formed to inform NSF on research needs and formulate a plan for implementation. The American Society of Limnology and Oceanography, the Estuarine Research Federation, and the Southern Association of Marine Laboratories endorsed the call for research. A steering committee of scientists from the community at large was formed to oversee the program, and a coordinating office was established. The scientific community was invited to form teams and prepare proposals for five-year projects, and ultimately six such projects were funded based on the results of peer and panel review. Of the original six LMER sites, three are currently funded. The active ones are Chesapeake Bay, Maryland; Columbia River, Washington; and Georgia Rivers, Georgia. The former sites are Waquoit Bay, Massachusetts; Tomales Bay, California, and Plum Island Sound, Massachusetts. LMER will end with the expiration of the current funding for the remaining three sites. Coastal Ocean Processes This is an interdisciplinary research program, which seeks to achieve a new level of quantitative understanding of the cross-margin transport of biologically, chemically, and geologically important materials. CoOP grew out of an earlier research planning exercise, Coastal Physical Oceanography (CoPO), which conducted several planning meetings during the late 1980s and identified key physical processes and important questions relative to cross-margin transport. CoOP was initiated when it was recognized that the cross-margin transport of materials could not be understood without knowledge of a wide-range of processes, including biological formation and decomposition of particles, particle sinking and resuspension, and many others. NSF and the Office of Naval Research (ONR) provided funding for CoOP planning activities and an interdisciplinary steering committee, consisting of biological, chemical, geological, and physical oceanographers and meteorologists interested in the coastal ocean, was selected. The steering committee held a community workshop (Brink et al., 1990) and prepared a science prospectus (Brink et al., 1992). In this latter document, they built upon an idea first proposed by CoPO planners, that coastal ocean processes could be best understood by studying regions where cross-margin transport is dominated by one physical forcing mechanism, such as wind or tides. By synthesizing data

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research and models from several such regions, more complex coastal areas could be understood. In 1994, CoOP began a series of scientific community workshops based upon idealized coastal regions described in the science prospectus. The first such workshop dealt with research questions and priorities for cross-margin transport on wind-driven shelves. The workshop was open to anyone who wished to attend. From the input of the working groups and external reviewers of a draft document, the workshop organizing committee prepared a science plan, which was later the basis for an announcement of opportunity (AO). Since the wind-driven shelf workshop, similar workshops dealing with the Great Lakes and with buoyancy processes on shelves have been held. From the beginning, CoOP planning has been conducted and directed by the scientific community. Although societal needs are considered and used as an important justification for coastal ocean research, CoOP does not seek direct input from stakeholders, local or state agencies, NGOs, or other concerned parties, but rather relies on documents prepared by other groups (such as the National Academies) to identify relevant needs. Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics GLOBEC began with an interest in the causes of fluctuations in abundance of pelagic marine organisms, including fluctuations due to the possible impact of global change (the effect on the environment of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases), as discussed at a meeting sponsored by NSF, NOAA, and ONR in 1988. The long-term goal of the program is to understand how physical processes influence marine ecosystem dynamics in order to predict the response of the ecosystem and the stability of its food web to climate change. U.S. GLOBEC has research efforts in Georges Bank/Northwest Atlantic Region, and the Northeast Pacific, with components in the California Current and the Coast Gulf of Alaska, and it is contributing to the international GLOBEC program in the Southern Ocean. The international GLOBEC is a core program of the International Geosphere Biosphere Program (IGBP). Research priorities for U.S. GLOBEC are reached by a consensus vote of the Scientific Steering Committee (SSC). The SSC, initially established in 1989, is an elected body drawn from the scientific community to represent a disciplinary, regional, and institutional balance. Nominations for new members each year are solicited from the oceanographic and fisheries communities and a slate of candidates is selected by the Executive Committee and voted on by the full committee. This process is designed to ensure that a broad range of scientific expertise and viewpoints are represented on the SSC and that research priorities reflect a consensus position on the key questions to be addressed. Selection of study regions for U.S. GLOBEC is based on the following scientific criteria: (1) the ability to establish linkages with climate-scale factors; (2) the choice of general system types and potential for comparative analysis with the same system types in other regions; (3) the availability of an historical series

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research of biological, physical, and chemical observations on the system to permit retrospective analyses and development of hypotheses; (4) the potential for collaborative and complementary work with other groups of investigators; and (5) the identification of ecologically and economically important target species in the region. Like CoOP, this program addresses issues of relevance to the governance of local, state, and regional resources, specifically fisheries, but relies on the scientific community to provide the guidance for the research program. Although it is too soon to evaluate the success of these ongoing scientist planned programs, some preliminary assessments can be made. LMER has advanced the understanding of nutrient cycling and trophic dynamics in estuarine systems and quantified their roles in modulating the transport of nutrients and carbon from land to the open ocean. CoOP has contributed to a better understanding of cross-shelf transports of major nutrients, carbon, and sediments, and has implemented plans to enhance sustained near-shore observations through the integrated use of shipboard measurements, towed sensor arrays, and moored instrumentation. GLOBEC has advanced the understanding of how physical processes influence juvenile cod and haddock populations on Georges Bank and has played an important role in the development and application of ecosystem models that incorporate realistic trophic dynamics (NRC, 1999). Except for a few of the LMER sites, the achievements of these programs have gone largely unnoticed by the public at large, and applications of their results to problems of environmental protection, resource management, and environmental prediction so far have been limited. AGENCY PLANS In contrast to the basic science mission of the NSF and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), other agencies have regulatory or management missions and support research programs that are more applied. These agencies typically use a planning process in which agency program managers take the lead in setting and prioritizing research goals. Usually, substantial input from scientists, resource managers, or other groups is included. However, this input tends to be advisory, rather than directive, and circumscribed to some extent. For example, an agency might select a small group of scientists to serve on an advisory panel and receive a narrower range of viewpoints than would be represented in a planning workshop. An agency might also limit the range of input it receives by asking specific questions of its advisors, as opposed to giving them an open-ended charge to design a research program. A variation of this approach is for an agency to ask a study organization such as the National Research Council (NRC) or the JASON Program (a unit of the Mitre Corporation used by the U.S. Department of Defense [DOD] and the U.S. Department of Energy [DOE] to assess needs) to conduct a study and make recommendations that would lead to a research plan. The obvious disadvantage of the agency

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research approach is that if input from the scientific and management communities is limited, vital information, key questions, and valuable research avenues can be missed. The agency process tends to be more susceptible to political manipulation than community or scientists' plans. On the other hand, this approach can have clear advantages. It often is less time-consuming and less expensive than seeking broader input to the decisionmaking process; and it allows agencies to maintain focus on their specific mission. In addition, thoughtful collaboration among agency personnel, scientists, and resource managers can often yield a sound research plan. The two programs described below illustrate difficulties that can arise with inadequate interagency coordination. Agency research planning does not necessarily preclude effective coordination among research programs. In practice, broader planning activities are more time-consuming and less amenable to completion on strict schedules; hence, they can be more difficult to coordinate. In addition, unless there are strong incentives, agencies may not make effective collaboration a priority. Three examples of agency planning will be discussed: NOAA-National Sea Grant College Program; the NOAA Coastal Ocean Program (COP); and the Louisiana-Texas Shelf Physical Oceanography Program (LaTex), a research program planned and executed by the U.S. Minerals Management Service (MMS) in the Gulf of Mexico. National Sea Grant College Program The National Sea Grant College Program is located within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), NOAA's primary research arm (Figure 3-2a and b). Sea Grant is unusual among federal agencies in that its management structure includes both state and local elements. Created through the National Sea Grant College and Program Act of 1966 (as amended in 1976 and 1987), Sea Grant has established a unique network of ocean research and outreach partnerships between federal, state, and local governments, academic institutions, and the private sector. The Sea Grant Program provides funding to institutions in 29 states for improving the understanding of ocean resources and developing strategies for sustainable ocean resource development, management, and conservation. Research priorities are set through a combination of objectives established at the national level and the needs at the state level. Lately, National Sea Grant evaluation teams are placing greater emphasis on the need for programs to be responsive to state concerns. Under this recently adopted policy, a local Sea Grant College is required to be responsive to the needs of the state's coastal region as a whole and to support research among all qualified investigators in that state using strict peer-review and open-competition procedures. The local Sea Grant entity must be able to set strategic priorities that encompass university, state, and federal objectives, as opposed to the more narrow focus of

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research an academic department or school. Many coastal states have benefited from the Sea Grant Program through research in fisheries, oceanography, mariculture, marine biotechnology, marine engineering, water quality, recreation, and ocean policy and management. The fact that each coastal state has its own Sea Grant Program can cause difficulties in planning and funding regional marine research through Sea Grant. Typically, states are reluctant to contribute funds for research that crosses state boundaries. Also, individual Sea Grant Programs have fairly modest financial resources. Although Sea Grant awards are generally too small to support interdisciplinary oceanographic research over large geographic areas, some programs have filled an important role through consistent funding of projects that require a long-term commitment. Sea Grant's mission includes an effort to provide effective communication between university-based research programs and the users, policymakers, educators, and public who can benefit from the information generated by these programs. Through Sea Grant's Outreach and Extension services, the results of scientific research are communicated to those that apply them; in turn, the problems and needs of these groups are communicated back to Sea Grant researchers. Thus, Sea Grant plays an important role in identifying problems, finding potential solutions, and providing education for a wide range of people. Coastal Ocean Program In 1999, NOAA's COP became part of the Center for Sponsored Coastal Ocean Research, within the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science administered by the National Ocean Service, one of NOAA's five line offices (Figure 3-2b). However, COP was established in 1989 as a cross-line office program (Figure 3-2a), with the objective of coordinating activities within a subject area common to the other NOAA line offices (NRC, 1994a). The COP was formed to provide information for decisionmakers to enable the nation to realize the full potential of its coastal resources, while protecting them for the future. The more specific goal was to distinguish between natural variability and the impact of human activities on fisheries, environmental quality, and coastal hazards to improve our ability to predict future impacts. The operational goals were to promote cooperation among NOAA line offices in coastal ocean research and to enable more effective collaboration among NOAA and academic scientists. To accomplish this role, the COP administration and budget were initially independent of the five NOAA line offices. In 1990, the NRC was asked to assemble a panel on the NOAA COP. This panel was formed to provide recommendations to strengthen the coastal ocean activities at NOAA, with specific reference to COP, and was composed principally of academic scientists who were not directly affiliated with NOAA. The panel was tasked to:

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research FIGURE 3-2A National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (FY 1994 Organization and Budget Allocations)

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research FIGURE 3-2B National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (FY 1999 Organization and Budget Allocations) * Formerly the Coastal Ocean Program

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research Provide broad scientific programmatic guidelines on coastal ocean pollution and degradation, living marine resources, and the protection of life and property in coastal areas; Assist in identifying the science and information needs of coastal decisionmakers; Suggest ways for NOAA to develop an efficient and cost effective program to complement coastal programs in other agencies; and Evaluate ongoing NOAA activities, plans, and institutional arrangements relevant to the goals and objectives of COP (NRC, 1994a). In addition, COP implemented a management and review structure, which consisted of a Program Management Committee (PMC) and a TAC. The PMC consisted of a representative from NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), OAR, COP, and academia. In consultation with the director of COP, the committee was given responsibility for review, analysis, long-range planning, priority-setting, oversight, and implementation. TACs, which consist of NOAA and academic scientists, were formed to provide advice and guidance to the PMC on concepts, proposal, and research plans. In both planning and implementation more emphasis was placed on soliciting the advice of academic scientists than on consulting with coastal managers and decisionmakers. Also, it should be noted that the OSB review of COP (NRC, 1994a) emphasizes the impact of congressional earmarks on COP funding decisions. Over time, COP has spent an increasing portion of its resources on congressionally-mandated projects. This undermines the normal planning and peer-review process and risks funding poorer quality science and science that does not address problems of the highest regional or national priority. The Nutrient Enhanced Coastal Ocean Productivity (NECOP) program was funded by COP and will be used as one of two in-depth case studies for Chapter 4. In addition, COP funds other regional programs around the United States, including Southeast Bering Sea Carrying Capacity, South Atlantic Bight Recruitment Experiment, South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Prediction and Modeling, and Pacific Northwest Coastal Ecosystem Regional Study (PNCERS; see Chapter 4 for description of PNCERS), among others. COP has participated in some of the activities of the CoOP and GLOBEC programs described above and the interagency program, Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (EcoHAB). In most cases, COP has sought and received substantial external contributions to the planning processes from scientists and, in some current programs, from resource managers. However, a considerable amount of program dollars are spent on research that is mission oriented. This can result in neglect of research on fundamental processes essential to understanding the regional system. Louisiana-Texas Shelf Physical Oceanography Program The primary goal of LaTex was to study the physical oceanography of the

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research northern Gulf of Mexico. The study was commissioned by MMS in support of one of its missions, to assess potential environmental impacts of offshore oil and gas exploration and production. MMS perceived a need for specific information on currents in the coastal Gulf, so agency personnel designed the research in detail, to the extent of specifying locations and depths of current meter deployments. Despite the initial consideration of broader regional research needs in the context of possible cooperation with NECOP, in the end LaTex did not join in any collaborative effort, largely because the goals of NECOP did not fall within the specific mission set by MMS for LaTex. LEGISLATIVE MANDATES An increasing number of mandates for regional marine research stem from federal legislation. Sometimes, research is the focus of the legislation, as in the case of the RMRP. With this type of mandate, funding is usually provided to support the research, although it may not be sufficient to meet the requirements of the enabling legislation. Often, as was the case with RMRP, mechanisms for planning the research are specified. Other legislative mandates may prescribe either broad or quite specific research objectives. Such mandates typically are not based on a systematic effort among stakeholders, decisionmakers, and scientists to plan needed and effective research in the coastal zone. Rather, they tend to result from the efforts of focused interest groups, ranging from researchers seeking unconventional sources of research funding, to industries with specific resource issues, to conservationists seeking to protect a particular species or habitat. In other instances, although research is not the subject of the legislation, carrying out the legislative mandate may require extensive research. An example of this latter situation is the 1976 Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, as amended by the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (P.L. 104-267). This law established a new requirement to describe and identify essential fish habitat (EFH) within each regional fishery management plan. EFH is defined within the act as ''those waters and substrate necessary to fish for spawning, breeding, feeding, or growth to maturity." Only species managed under a federal fishery management plan are to be considered. The designation of EFH uses a four-tiered approach: Level 1 includes presence/absence distribution data; Level 2 examines habitat-related density data; Level 3 analyzes growth, reproduction, or survival rate data within habitats; and Level 4 includes an analysis of production rate data available for each habitat for each species.

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research The goals outlined in the Sustainable Fisheries Act are ambitious and require a considerable amount of research to understand the relationship between individual fish species and the habitat necessary to support their life stages. Also, detailed information from monitoring, coupled with modeling, is needed to assess the relative impact of proposed activities and to inform those involved in the subsequent consultative decisionmaking process. The Endangered Species Act contains implicit mandates for research. For example, in 1997, the Steller sea lion was declared an endangered species in the western part of its range in the northern North Pacific; after earlier being listed as a threatened species in 1990. NMFS is bound by Section 7a(2) of the Endangered Species Act: Each Federal agency shall ensure that any action authorized, funded, or carried out by that agency is not likely to jeopardize the continued existence of any endangered or threatened species or result in the destruction or adverse modification of habitat of such species. In a series of biological opinions issued or reviewed since 1991, NMFS identified pollock fishing as plausibly having adverse impact. Therefore, NMFS instituted restrictions on the fishery that included Steller sea lion buffer zones (no-trawl zones) near sea lion rookeries. In April 1998, an independent panel requested by the North Pacific Management Council reviewed the scientific justification for the NMFS opinions. The panel included the following statement in its report: It is the conclusion of the panel that, on the basis of the available scientific and commercial data, the possibility of competition between Steller sea lions and the pollock fisheries cannot be excluded. However, the panel emphasizes that this does not mean that the magnitude or effect of the competition has been determined. Quantification and causation have not been established. On July 10, 1999, a federal judge ruled in a lawsuit brought by several environmental groups that current pollock fishing regulations issued by NMFS do not protect the Steller sea lion and, hence, violate the Endangered Species Act. The judge's decision emphasized that NMFS had not provided a quantitative rationale for the specific restrictions instituted; that is, they had not demonstrated that the restrictions were likely to be effective. In particular, the sea lions' numbers continued to decrease even after the fishery restrictions were in place. The 1998 independent panel review made it clear that the scientific information needed to justify the NMFS management measures was lacking. Therefore, the court decision, if upheld, will require substantial additional research on the causes of the Steller sea lion population decline and the effects of any remedial measures taken. A regional marine research program that uses an ecosystem-based strategy

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Bridging Boundaries through Regional Marine Research should provide the necessary framework to support the decisionmaking processes outlined in the Sustainable Fisheries Act, the Endangered Species Act, and similar mandates. Ideally, clearly defined regional research priorities would help balance the arguments of special interest groups who promote particular research programs. Better coordination among NOAA programs responsible for coastal ocean research (COP and National Sea Grant), fisheries (NMFS), and endangered marine species (NMFS) would facilitate planning and implementation of research programs needed to support management decisions.