Developing a coherent framework to guide the nation's activities in the ocean and coastal regions is especially important in this time of growing national interest in the ocean, which includes heightened awareness of the need to protect it, along with recognition of new opportunities to utilize marine resources. Such a framework is necessary to guide the nation's activities in the ocean and coastal regions. Challenges to the current system have arisen from changes in national priorities and in the international economic system, including the recognition that good environmental policies make good economic policies, the challenges of the globalization of markets and opportunities, and a new willingness for the U.S. government to become a catalyst for technology development and economic growth, as well as a steward of the nation's natural resources.
At the same time, demands on the coastal marine environment have been intensifying through the rapid migration of people to the coasts, the growing importance of the coasts and ocean as areas for aesthetic enjoyment, and increasing pressures to develop ocean resources and spaces for economic benefits (e.g., commercial fisheries, marine aquaculture, marine energy, and mineral resources). Taken together, all of these factors have created a sense of urgency about developing a coherent national system for making decisions.
The overall value of a healthy, diverse, and productive marine environment is difficult to assess in quantitative terms but is indisputably immense. An improved system of marine area governance and management will be effective only if it is perceived as helping to meet the national interests in the marine environment. The national interest is defined here not as the interest of the federal government. It denotes instead the fundamental values the nation as a whole has embraced for the protection and use of the marine environment. This definition transcends the interests of any single agency, mission, or special interest group and
presupposes a reasonable accommodation of the expectations of competing interests, as well as protection of the basic fabric of the functioning marine environment.
The process of marine area governance has two dimensions: a political dimension (governance), where ultimate authority and accountability for action resides, both within and among formal and informal mechanisms; and an analytical, active dimension (management), where analysis of problems leads to action. In practice, there is a continuum from governance to management. The present governance and management of our coastal waters are inefficient and wasteful of both natural and economic resources. The primary problem with the existing system is the confusing array of laws, regulations, and practices at the federal, state, and local levels. The mandates of various agencies that implement and enforce existing systems often conflict with each other. In many cases, federal policies and actions are controlled from Washington with little understanding of local conditions and needs. No mechanism exists for establishing a common vision and a common set of objectives.
Managing marine resources presents special challenges: marine resources are in the public domain, so the incentives provided by private property rights and market signals are largely absent. Many marine resources and resource users are mobile, creating ample potential for interference and conflicts; users often operate offshore, where monitoring and enforcement of rules is difficult. For these and other reasons, effective governance would be difficult at best, but the difficulties are compounded by the fractured framework of laws, regulations, and practices at the federal, state, and local levels.
As the intensity of use of the marine environment grows, the lack of effective governance is rapidly becoming a critical problem. The biological integrity of the sea is being steadily impaired, as has been demonstrated by declining fish resources and the loss of critical coastal habitats. In addition, growing conflicts about, and intensity of use of, marine resources often result in wasted economic or social opportunities. These problems will inevitably become more acute as growing populations, which are increasingly concentrated on the coast, continue to put stress on this critical global resource.
Many organizations and groups are involved in governing and managing resources and activities in marine and coastal areas, including federal, state, and local governmental agencies; commercial and industrial interests; recreational users; and environmental groups. Each group typically has a direct interest in governance and management and seldom coordinates activities with other organizations operating in the area.
These conditions were apparent in the case studies of marine area governance and management in southern California, the Florida Keys, and the Gulf of Maine, as well as in other federal and state marine management activities examined by the committee. In addition to focusing on particular problems in each area, the case studies identify efforts to improve governance and management. In southern California, a collaborative effort among local, state, and federal agencies
has forged a consensus among the interests for a plan to develop offshore oil resources. In the Florida Keys, local officials of the National Marine Sanctuary program are building support for the marine sanctuary planning process. In the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Maine Council is developing common goals and objectives among the states and provinces that border this body of water to address regional economic and environmental issues. These efforts have had some success developing plans that consider marine areas holistically. More important, all of them involve broad cross-sections of stakeholders at the local level.
None of the initiatives described above originated in Washington, D.C.; they were carried out by officials and stakeholders familiar with local problems who believed they could find solutions by working together. In many cases, efforts were initiated by a single individual who had the conviction and courage to go beyond the norms of bureaucratic behavior and try a new approach. No mechanism exists today for nurturing this type of initiative or for ensuring its continuity when the key individuals are no longer directly involved. Existing government mechanisms typically operate through relatively rigid hierarchical structures.
As a result of the case studies and other investigations of existing marine and coastal programs, and based on the performance standards developed at the outset of this study, the committee concluded that any system for improving the governance and management of the coastal areas must include the following elements:
a method for developing common goals and objectives in harmony with broad national interests
opportunities for policy-making and decision-making authority at the local or regional level
effective management tools designed to deal with the particular problems of resource use in the marine environment
Significant large-scale changes to existing systems of governance and management will be required before improvements can be realized. These changes will also require substantial, sustained efforts on the part of the organizations involved.
A number of precedents for successful, large-scale organizational change have been established in recent years. Many corporations, government agencies, military organizations, and volunteer groups have redesigned their approaches to management in the face of rapid changes. The techniques, tools, and experiences of these organizations have been documented and can be used as guidelines for redesigning marine and coastal governance and management systems. Attempts to implement new systems without fundamentally changing the way things are done today are likely to fail (National Performance Review, 1993).
The new design must consider all aspects of the existing system, including roles and responsibilities, authorities, relationships among departments and agencies and levels of government, information systems and databases, and recognition and reward systems. Changes might not be required in all of these elements, but care must be taken to ensure that they are all compatible with the new system.
In addition to the governance problems created by multiple nonmarket uses of marine resources and maintaining access to them, existing systems have two fundamental problems—first, fragmentation among federal and local agencies and second, not enough participation and coordination of interests at the local level. The findings of this study indicate that these problems can best be addressed by adopting a federalist form of governance modeled after the distribution of power between the federal government and the states. In this instance, however, federalism is not about a separation of power between federal and state governments. Instead, a federalist system of governance places power at the appropriate level of accomplishing objectives and implementing actions. A federalist approach for would lead to better protection and promotion of the national interest in the long-term health and efficient use of the marine environment, while being responsive to, and building on the capacity of, local and regional interests.
One of the main tenets of federalism is that authority belongs at the lowest point in the organization that has the capability and information to get the job done. The top level of the organization establishes the broad framework and ground rules under which the organization operates. It is responsible for defining the purpose, values, and vision of the organization and for establishing expectations and a system for measuring outcomes. Within this overall framework, the local group, which could include representatives of federal, state, and local governments and other stakeholders, assumes the responsibility and authority for charting and managing its own course of action. The local group is, however, accountable to the top level of the organization and must provide ample and timely feedback.
In a federalist structure, the top level of the organization serves an ongoing role as the enabler of the process by creating an environment that allows local groups to make their own decisions by providing training, by offering advice when requested, by serving as a repository of technical expertise, and by supporting the implementation of actions after decisions have been made. The top level of the organization also provides mechanisms for reconciling differences among decentralized authorities. Federalism recognizes that each area is unique, that each local group faces unique problems and must develop strategies and plans to handle them. The following recommendations are intended to provide a framework for improving the nation's stewardship of valuable and irreplaceable marine resources.
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS
Defining basic principles and effective processes for improved governance of ocean and coastal areas is a prerequisite both to sound economic investment and environmental stewardship and creates a climate for a reasonable, less
adversarial approach to resolving conflicts. General elements of the framework for improved governance and management envisioned in this report include the following:
There must be a clear statement of goals, especially where different entities must be brought together in a cooperative management effort.
The geographic (or ecological) area to be managed needs to be carefully delineated.
Mechanisms need to be designed for involving all relevant stakeholders in the governance process.
In most situations, the process should be initiated as a joint state-federal effort.
Systems should foster innovative responses to management needs and opportunities for resource utilization.
Processes should facilitate the incorporation of scientific information into all aspects of decision making.
Success should be measured by a clear system of monitoring and evaluation.
The system recommended in this report has four basic components:
creation of a National Marine Council to improve coordination among federal agencies, monitor the marine environment, facilitate regional solutions to marine problems, and facilitate interagency problem solving
creation of regional marine councils where they are needed to provide innovative approaches to complex marine governance issues at the operational level
enhancement of the ability of individual federal programs to succeed in their missions
adoption of management tools that would increase the effectiveness of regional councils and individual agencies
National Marine Council
The National Marine Council would be made up of directors of federal ocean and coastal agencies and would report directly to the President. The council would develop goals, principles, and policies for resolving issues of marine governance; review existing federal legislation; and coordinate national goals by balancing environmental protection with appropriate development of resources. The council would also oversee efforts to address other relevant national concerns, such as the protection of human health and safety and national security in relation to marine resources and areas. Other functions of the National Marine Council would include surveillance of the marine environment, identification of marine area
problems and conflicts, and encouraging innovative ways to resolve regional problems. The National Marine Council would ensure that the United States has clearly identified global marine issues and has mobilized adequate resources to address them.
Regional Marine Councils
In situations where there are long-standing conflicts among local or regional interests or where there are risks to marine resources or the environment, the National Marine Council should encourage the formation of regional councils. Regional councils would provide technical assistance on marine management issues, ensure the application of scientific and monitoring information, develop alternative processes for resolving disputes, encourage participation by local interests in governance decisions, and pursue contractual arrangements with stakeholders and other participants.
Regional councils would only be used in high value, high conflict, high risk, or high damage areas. They would remain in existence only for the duration of the problem or conflict but would not be permanent bodies. The composition of each regional council would vary according to the problem and the region. Functions of the regional councils would include developing long-range goals for the region and plans for achieving those goals, coordinating planning and management among state and federal agencies, coordinating fiscal planning for pooling regional resources, mediating disputes among agencies and stakeholders, and executing contracts with various groups to resolve and manage specific problems.
Improving Existing Programs
Existing federal and state coastal and marine management programs could become platforms upon which to base improved governance and management structures and processes. Recommendations for improving some existing programs are found in Chapter 5 of this report. Generally, however, all existing programs could become more effective by coordinating their activities with other federal, state, and local agencies that have jurisdictional or management responsibilities, by involving stakeholders and nongovernmental groups in decision making, and by adopting area-based views that take into account regional ecology, the array and condition of resources, and by balancing environmental and economic considerations. Existing programs would also benefit from a broader range of management tools for dealing with problems and conflicts. Federal officials, in cooperation with their state counterparts, should maximize existing programs, especially where there are urgent problems. Most existing programs could be reconfigured to deliver some, or all, of the elements associated with regional councils.
Improving Management Tools
Institutions charged with designing and applying policies have a variety of management tools with which to address problems associated with the use of marine resources and space. No single instrument is appropriate under all circumstances. Selecting a management tool involves weighing historical, technical, and economic factors, as well as social and political factors. Many innovative management tools have been used, on a limited basis, in the marine context or in the terrestrial environment. These tools include zoning and the creation of refuges, systems for establishing liability for environmental or other damage, compensation for the economic losses of certain stakeholders, user charges and transferable entitlements to regulate demands on marine resources, and negotiating ways to mitigate activities that harm marine resources or space. These management tools are discussed in detail in Chapter 6 of this report. These tools should be given renewed attention and should be more widely used in existing marine management programs and in the proposed regional marine councils. Recommendations for expanding the use of these tools are given in Chapter 7.
A fully developed system that meets all the objectives and contains all of the elements discussed in this report must necessarily evolve over time in response to actual experience. However, the committee believes opportunities are available for moving forward now by improving existing marine management programs.
National Performance Review. 1993. From Red Tape to Results: Creating a Government that Works Better and Costs Less. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.