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INTRODUCTION

Biliana Cicin-Sain

Center for the Study of Marine Policy

Graduate College of Marine Studies

University of Delaware

The Committee on the Coastal Ocean of the National Research Council ’s Ocean Studies Board convened the California Symposium on Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, Irvine, California, from November 11 to 13, 1992. This was the first of a series of three regional symposia organized by a planning group1 of the Committee on the Coastal Ocean to explore the interactions between science and policy in issues related to the coastal ocean —when and how these interactions occur, when and how they are successful, and why. The assumptions underlying the symposium were that interactions between science and policy are often lacking for coastal issues and that there is a need for a more effective process for communicating information needs from policymakers to scientists and for translating research results into a form that can be used to create informed coastal policy. These assumptions were validated through discussions at the symposium.

The primary purpose of the symposium was to consider how the connection between science and policy in issues related to the U.S. coastal ocean could be improved. “Science” was broadly construed to include the natural sciences as well as the social sciences and policy analysis; “policy ” was meant to encompass relevant actions by local, state, and federal governments; and the “coastal ocean” was defined as the area spanning the land portion of the coastal zone to the edge of the 200-mile outer limit of U.S. ocean jurisdiction—the Exclusive Economic Zone.

The symposium brought together about 60 individuals representing three major perspectives: natural sciences, social sciences and policy analysis, and policymaking and implementation at both state and federal levels (the symposium

1  

Biliana Cicin-Sain (cochair; University of Delaware) and Donald F. Boesch (cochair; University of Maryland), Peter M. Douglas (California Coastal Commission), Harry N. Scheiber (University of California at Berkeley), and James Sullivan (California Sea Grant College Program).



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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium INTRODUCTION Biliana Cicin-Sain Center for the Study of Marine Policy Graduate College of Marine Studies University of Delaware The Committee on the Coastal Ocean of the National Research Council ’s Ocean Studies Board convened the California Symposium on Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center, Irvine, California, from November 11 to 13, 1992. This was the first of a series of three regional symposia organized by a planning group1 of the Committee on the Coastal Ocean to explore the interactions between science and policy in issues related to the coastal ocean —when and how these interactions occur, when and how they are successful, and why. The assumptions underlying the symposium were that interactions between science and policy are often lacking for coastal issues and that there is a need for a more effective process for communicating information needs from policymakers to scientists and for translating research results into a form that can be used to create informed coastal policy. These assumptions were validated through discussions at the symposium. The primary purpose of the symposium was to consider how the connection between science and policy in issues related to the U.S. coastal ocean could be improved. “Science” was broadly construed to include the natural sciences as well as the social sciences and policy analysis; “policy ” was meant to encompass relevant actions by local, state, and federal governments; and the “coastal ocean” was defined as the area spanning the land portion of the coastal zone to the edge of the 200-mile outer limit of U.S. ocean jurisdiction—the Exclusive Economic Zone. The symposium brought together about 60 individuals representing three major perspectives: natural sciences, social sciences and policy analysis, and policymaking and implementation at both state and federal levels (the symposium 1   Biliana Cicin-Sain (cochair; University of Delaware) and Donald F. Boesch (cochair; University of Maryland), Peter M. Douglas (California Coastal Commission), Harry N. Scheiber (University of California at Berkeley), and James Sullivan (California Sea Grant College Program).

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium participants are listed in Appendix B). The symposium was cochaired by Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain (University of Delaware) and Dr. Donald F. Boesch (University of Maryland) and was funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) (Coastal Ocean Program and National Ocean Service); the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); the Federal Emergency Management Agency; the Minerals Management Service (MMS); the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; and the David and Lucille Packard Foundation. This report presents the papers delivered at the symposium and summarizes the essence of the lively discussions that ensued during the symposium and the divergent perspectives which were expressed on the difficult questions of the relationship between science and policy in coastal region issues. Rationale for Examining Science-Policy Interactions Government policy often appears to the scientific community to be unconnected to science, representing the results of value-based pressures from different groups, as is natural in a democratic system of government. Although not discussed in detail at this symposium, the public plays an important role in interpreting science and communicating its preferences to policymakers. This factor makes the education of the public and its involvement in the policy process important issues. Some issues do not require input from science, because the decisions about the issues are not based on natural or social science information. For other issues, the application of scientific knowledge is extremely important. The absence of appropriate natural science information, for example, can sometimes lead to poor policy outcomes—irretrievable damage to the environment, or a waste of public resources in efforts to overcontrol a situation that, from a scientific point of view, doesn’t need to be controlled. Similarly, when social science analysis is not used, poor policy outcomes may result—for example, the wrong people may benefit from a governmental program, a range of unintended negative impacts may occur, or a policy may not work because the institutional capacity for carrying out the policy (e.g., enforcement capability) is not taken into account. In addition, situations also arise in which there is apparent consensus between decisionmakers and the scientific community, but the policies fail because the affected community disagrees with the policy choice. The reasons for the disagreement may include the financial cost of the choice, a disagreement over risk assessment, the lack of effective public education strategies, or a simple lack of trust that scientists and policymakers have taken into sufficient account community values. Several key assumptions underlay the symposium and were used to structure its discussion sessions.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium The sciences can contribute to better policy. Part of the challenge is to determine when and how science matters to policy and which scientific perspectives (natural and/or social) must be considered. There are significant obstacles to the interaction between science and policy. These obstacles are related to the structures of the realms of science and policy and to the nature of the incentives and rewards that prevail in each realm.2 An ineffective reward structure was cited by one of the issue groups as a factor constraining interactions. As one example, academic scientists tend to emphasize and reward development and dissemination of knowledge, critical review, independence, and a long time frame, whereas policymakers tend to emphasize responsiveness and implementation of societal preferences, achievement of consensus, teamwork, and a short time frame. Considerable national benefits could accrue with more effective interactions between science and policy in issues related to the coastal ocean. The nation has already made a significant investment in coastal ocean natural sciences; the U.S. federal government spent $672 million on coastal science in FY1991-1993, primarily for science related to living resources, habitat conservation, and environmental quality (NRC, 1995).3 There has been substantial national investment in coastal ocean management activities through such programs as NOAA’s Coastal Zone Management Program, EPA’s National Estuary Program, and the implementation of various federal laws concerned with the coastal ocean (such as the Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and others). The national investment in the marine-oriented social sciences has been modest (largely through the NCAA Sea Grant College Program and to some extent as a small part of programs funded by agencies such as MMS); nonetheless, a significant body of knowledge and expertise on the human aspects of coastal ocean issues is available in the United States. The varying perspectives brought to coastal policy issues by natural scientists, social scientists, and policymakers could be more effective 2   This is drawn from Orbach, Social Science Contributions to Coastal Policymaking in this volume. 3   National Research Council (NRC). 1995. Priorities for Coastal Ecosystem Science. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium if applied jointly to address management problems in the U.S. coastal ocean, taking advantage of precious opportunities to make better policy decisions on the basis of available knowledge and national investments that already exist. All three issue groups identified the potential of adaptive management approaches for improving environmental management and/or increasing cooperation of scientists and managers. Tangible means need to be found for improving interactions between science and policy. The organizers felt that this could be done in several ways: Better understanding how and at what point the natural and social sciences could enter into the policy process. Thinking about the various stages through which policies generally proceed (policy initiation, policy formulation, policy implementation, policy evaluation, policy modification, and policy termination),4 one could identify various opportunities for the natural and social sciences to intervene in the policy process. For example, in policy initiation, both the natural and social sciences could be instrumental in identifying emerging problems likely to need a new public policy response. During the formulation and implementation stages, the natural and social sciences could provide technically sound methods for dealing with specific coastal ocean management problems.5 Looking at the science-policy interface not only in the abstract but also in the context of specific issues related to specific regions of the United States. Thus, in the California symposium as well as in two subsequent symposia that are planned, the science-policy interface is being examined in the context of (1) one issue common to all three regions, (2) an existing region-specific concern, and (3) an emerging issue in the region on which the symposium is focused. 4   Analyses of the policy process may be found in Brewer and de Leon, The Foundations of Policy Analysis, and Jones, Introduction to Public Policy. 5   A discussion of the possible contributions of the social and natural sciences at various points in the policy process may be found in Knecht, On the Role of Science in the Implementation of National Coastal Ocean Programs in this volume.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium Involving a mix of perspectives, including those of natural scientists, social scientists, and policymakers (from executive and legislative branches). Having a balance between local perspectives and perspectives from other regions, by involving participants from a given region as well as from other coastal areas of the United States to facilitate comparisons across regions. Purposes of the California Symposium Given the assumptions outlined above, the symposium sought to Elucidate the process of interaction between science and policy by examining a number of case studies (both successes and failures) focusing, in particular, on clarifying how the interaction works according to The type of issue involved. The stage of the policy process involved in the specific issue (e.g., Is the issue just emerging? Does it concern implementation of a previous decision? Does it involve evaluation and monitoring?). The relative contributions of the natural and social sciences to different aspects of the issues at different points in the policy process. The diverse needs of relevant decisionmakers (e.g., at the federal, state, and local levels, from the executive and legislative branches). Identify obstacles to effective interaction between science and policy, for example: In the case of an emerging issue, appropriate scientific information (from either the natural or the social sciences) may be absent.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium In the case of a current issue, much scientific information could be available but may be in need of synthesis and translation in nontechnical terms. There could be problems in communication and no mechanisms available to facilitate the interaction between science and policy. Identify specific incentives and mechanisms for improving the interaction between science and policy. Examples of incentives include, for policymakers, a pilot effort whereby policymakers receive constructive scientific advice in a timely manner, demonstrating the potential usefulness of the science-policy relationship; and for academic researchers, finding tangible means of rewarding, within the university award structure, advice giving by scientists to public officials. Examples of possible mechanisms for improving the science-policy interface6 include increasing the number of scientists within public agencies; establishing advisory mechanisms (such as legislative requirements for scientific review, creation of advisory boards, and science review boards); increasing education of policymakers, managers, and the public at large about use of scientific information in policymaking; and holding targeted workshops to bring scientists and policymakers together to discuss specific issues. Develop ideas for specific actions that could improve science-policy interactions in the region, and ultimately, the nation. Conduct of the Symposium Natural and social scientists, agency decisionmakers, legislative staff, and those affected by coastal policies attended the California symposium. Participants were selected primarily from California, but a number of individuals from outside the state were also invited, to bring outside perspectives and to facilitate comparisons across regions. Stage-setting and issue papers were circulated prior 6   These options are discussed in Orbach, Social Science Contributions to Coastal Policymaking, this volume.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the California Symposium to the meeting and presented orally in plenary session. These invited papers were reviewed and edited by the authors after the symposium. Symposium planners chose three major issues for their specific examination of the science-policy interface: coastal habitat mitigation strategies, coastal sediment and water quality, and cumulative impacts of development. These three issues were discussed in concurrent sessions on the second day of the symposium. Symposium participants identified general means for improving the interactions between science and policy as well as specific means for improving the use of science for policymaking in the three issue areas. The three issue papers presented at the symposium are included in this volume, together with summaries of the discussions of the issue sessions.7 The papers and issue group discussions provide useful information about successful science and policy interactions in California coastal areas, as well as failures in interactions and reasons for these failures. These sections also suggest ways in which interactions could be improved. Additional Symposia Two additional symposia on science-policy interactions were planned: one was held in the Gulf of Maine region in November 1994, and another was held in the Gulf of Mexico region in January 1995. Considerable activity exists in both of these regions in terms of both coastal policy and coastal science; it is hoped that these symposia may advance the interaction between the realms of science and policy in the context of specific issues in these regions. A proceedings report will be produced for each symposium. Following the final symposium, the Committee on Science and Policy for the Coastal Ocean (composed of natural scientists, social scientists, and environmental managers) will prepare a synthesis report of the information gathered from the three regional symposia, comparing the problems and solutions for all three regions. The goal is to produce a set of recommendations for improving science-policy interactions that can be generalized for use in the variety of coastal areas of the United States and of other nations. 7   The material presented in this proceedings reflects the perspectives of those participating in the symposium and of individual authors where identified.

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