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Suggested Citation: "Executive Summary." National Research Council. Science, Policy, and the Coast: Improving Decisionmaking. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1995.
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Suggested Citation: "Executive Summary." National Research Council. Science, Policy, and the Coast: Improving Decisionmaking. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1995.
Page 2
Suggested Citation: "Executive Summary." National Research Council. Science, Policy, and the Coast: Improving Decisionmaking. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1995.
Page 3
Suggested Citation: "Executive Summary." National Research Council. Science, Policy, and the Coast: Improving Decisionmaking. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 1995.
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Executive Summary Coastal ecosystems are under stress from a variety of human activities, and many have experienced widespread degradation. Laws have been enacted and regulations implemented in an attempt to stem coastal environmental damage and guide responsible development, but these control measures are not always founded on adequate scientific information. Knowledge about coastal ecosys- tems, including the human component, is needed to enable management of these systems in a manner that will preserve their value and restore degraded systems while allowing economic development and a high quality of life. A continuous exchange of information between scientists) and managers who focus on coastal areas is necessary to develop and use scientific results effectively and to address emerging environmental problems in coastal areas. 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 recognized fully. All stakeholders scientists, managers, industry, the public, environmen- tal groups, and others should be involved in coastal policy formation and man agement. The National Research Council's Ocean Studies Board (OSB) and its Com- m~ttee on the Coastal Ocean believed that a study to examine the existing interac- tions between coastal scientists and policymakers and to recommend ways to improve these interactions could be beneficial to states, regions, and the nation. To understand the use of science in policymaking and how scientists and policy- makers interact, three symposia were convened-in California, the Gulf of Maine 1Unless otherwise noted, the tenn "scientists" is used to refer to both natural and social scientists.

2 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST region, and the Gulf of Mexico region-that focused on the use of science in addressing specific regional issues. The purpose of the symposia was to formu- late recommendations for improving the application of science by evaluating existing practices and past successes and failures in coastal policymaking. Fur- thermore, it was expected that mechanisms for using science in coastal policy- making identified in each region could be transferred to other regions and used nationally and that comparisons among regions would yield additional insights. Each regional symposium was documented with a proceedings report, each pro- viding a wealth of information. The OSB formed a Committee on Science and Policy for the Coastal Ocean to summarize and synthesize the findings of the three symposia and to make recommendations for improving the use of science in coastal policymaking and management. This study was based on three tenets: 1. Successful coastal environmental policies have been formulated over the past half century through efforts of scientists and/or policymakers; science and technology have played an important role in policy successes. 2. Problems related to interactions between scientists and policymakers are shared among the three regions studied and presumably across the nation. 3. Experiences with the management of coastal environmental problems can provide lessons to guide future management and policymaking. Much was learned in the regional symposia regarding the use of science in coastal policymaking and management. It was clear that scientific information is more important in some stages of the policy process than in others. Scientists and policymakers must be aware of the differences in their cultures and reward sys- tems and create mechanisms for interaction that account for these differences. Environmental problems should be well defined, with the proper questions being asked in a language shared by scientists and policymakers. To be helpful to policymakers, science must provide timely and credible information that is re- sponsive to policy-relevant questions. Scientists must identify the significance of their findings and the limitations inherent in the information they provide, as well as the additional questions that are raised by their research and the potential cost of addressing those questions. Great care must be devoted to providing a struc- ture for interactions that yields scientific advice that is objective and balanced. Adaptive management systems, in which science is a substantial part of planning, evaluating, and modifying management strategies, are gaining favor as a means to improve interactions between scientists and managers for the purpose of creat- ing more effective environmental policy. Adaptive management has the capac- ity to detect, learn from, and adapt to changing circumstances and new informa- tion. Integration of management efforts also is important. Integrated management involves harmonizing policy development and implementation among coastal zone uses, interacting land and sea processes, levels of government, and scientific disciplines.

3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY Discussions at the symposia and of the Committee on Science and Policy for the Coastal Ocean revealed three common themes: (1) coastal scientists and policymakers do not interact sufficiently to ensure that decisions and policies related to coastal areas are based adequately on science; (2) coastal policies tend to lack sufficient flexibility and most often are designed to manage single issues; and (3) compared with resources allocated individually to policy, management, and science, the allocation of available resources to apply coastal science to policymaking is suboptimal. To address these concerns, the committee recom- mends that agencies and legislatures at state and federal levels: 1. improve the interaction between scientists (natural and social scientists) and coastal policymakers/implementors at all levels of government, 2. employ integrated and adaptive management approaches in coastal policymaking and implementation, and 3. improve the allocation and coordination of resources to achieve effec- tive interaction between coastal scientists and policymakers. Specifically, the committee recommends that the National Oceanic and At- mospheric Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Depart- ment of Interior, the Department of Energy, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and other relevant federal agencies review the recommendations herein for appli- cation at the federal level. Federal agencies could benefit from implementing the recommendations of this report through revisions to existing agency policies, programs, and practices and in the creation of new ones. Congress should consider the recommendations contained herein in the de- velopment of legislation affecting coastal environments and their resources. The recommendations of this report are relevant to many federal laws (see Table 1 for examples), particularly the Coastal Zone Management Act. Recommendations herein could also provide useful guidance to state agen- cies and legislatures. Authorities in states and regions could benefit from an analysis of region-specific suggestions summarized in Chapter 2 and discussed in more detail in the proceedings of the regional symposia. The recommendations in this report are directed not only at governmental agencies and elected officials but also scientists and academic institutions, indus- try, nongovernmental organizations, the news media, and the public. Detailed actions to implement the three recommendations listed above are discussed in Chapter 4 and are summarized in Table 4 on pp. 64-67. The committee believes that many of its recommendations could also be applied to address coastal problems faced by other nations, because many of the same problems 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.

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This book summarizes three symposia that were convened in the California, Gulf of Maine, and Gulf of Mexico regions to seek new ways to improve the use of science in coastal policymaking. The book recommends actions that could be taken by federal and state agencies and legislatures, local authorities, scientists, universities, the media, nongovernmental organizations, and the public to yield better coastal decisions and policies. It is unique in that it resulted from a partnership among natural scientists, social scientists, and policymakers.

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