Improving Marine Governance
In the last decade, a new paradigm has emerged for governing natural resources and the global environment. This paradigm was first set out in a seminal report by the United Nations Commission on Environment and Development—the Brundtland Commission (1987). The report presents a powerful argument that the goal of environmental management in the future must be integrated into an overall strategy for sustainable development (or sustainable use). The Brundtland report points out the inextricable links between the problems of environmental degradation, poverty, overpopulation, and unsustainable development, all of which must be attacked together. The goal of sustainable development is further defined by the ethical principle that actions taken today must not compromise the environmental and development options of future generations.
Although the Brundtland Commission's work was cast in a global context, the principal recommendation concerning the need for sustainable development applies to the United States and has been further developed in a report by the President's Council on Sustainable Development (President's Council on Sustainable Development, 1996). The collapse of the New England ground fishery is just one example of poor governance. Another example is the population growth on many coastal barrier islands which, over the long-term, will have deleterious effects on fragile, near-shore marine plant and animal species and will make the islands themselves more vulnerable to climatic events and changes.
Some unique characteristics of marine areas make managing them extremely difficult:
Underwater lands and marine resources are generally publicly owned; conflicts about property rights do not apply; all of the problems of managing common resources apply to marine areas.
Marine areas more than three miles offshore are under direct federal jurisdiction; federal involvement in their management is legally required.
A key condition for the sustainable development (or use) of natural resources is an integrated approach to management that takes many factors into account. Unsustainable development often occurs when the governance framework is incomplete or limited—that is, when not all of the interest groups are adequately represented. The unsustainable use of marine resources is sometimes also related to a lack of good scientific information or understanding or, in some cases, a tendency by those responsible for management to yield to political forces.
Better integrated governance is essential for the coastal and marine areas of the United States. Many problems in the present ocean governance arrangements (e.g., the virtual stalemate in the offshore oil and gas program) can be traced, in part at least, to fragmentation in the present system. Each ocean program operates under its own legislation and its own regulations, which are administered by an office or agency dedicated to that particular activity. A few durable mechanisms have been put in place, however, for coordinating policy, identifying and resolving conflicts early, and making rational trade-offs. These include:
the Coastal Zone Management program in 30 coastal states and territories, under which focal points have been created to harmonize state, local, and federal activities with state coastal policies and good coastal practices
the National Marine Sanctuary program, under which area-wide marine management programs are put in place in important ocean areas off the U.S. coast
the National Estuary Program, under which multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional approaches are being developed on a water-body-wide basis for major estuaries in the United States
These three programs demonstrate that it is possible, under the existing legislative framework and in certain situations, to improve marine area governance.
For reasons discussed throughout this report, the most appropriate focal point for improving marine area governance for the United States appears to be the regional level (e.g., the New England region or the Gulf of Mexico region). However, broader national interests in the ocean also need to be articulated and protected, and this can best be done at the federal level (see discussion in Chapter 2).
National interests are spelled out, at least partially, in legislation and/or in the Constitution, but no authoritative guidelines have been established for setting priorities or policies in the case of conflicts between and among these interests. Nor is there a mechanism for identifying when national objectives are not being met. The committee believes a new mechanism is needed at the federal level to
consider and address these problems. The same mechanism could move beyond these substantive national interests to address some fundamental problems in the current governance system.
Effective governance requires mechanisms for allocating authority among federal, state, and local governments and continuous, sustained coordination among federal agencies. Large-scale problems (in terms of both area and time) and appropriate responses to them must be effectively identified before ecological crises or irrevocable damage has been done. Information and data need to be managed better and made available to the public so there can be constructive public involvement in decision making and so that all participants can be held accountable for their actions. Finally, systems need to be developed at the federal level to enable (and encourage) individuals and agencies to take calculated risks to improve governance.
The committee's analysis of the case studies and other coastal programs shows that governance and management often suffer from fragmentation, a lack of accountability, rigidity, a lack of creativity, and conflicts among stakeholders (see Chapter 3). At first glance, solutions to these problems appear to work at cross purposes. For example, coordination (the cure for fragmentation) can require centralization; creativity and accountability may require decentralization and the delegation of decision making authority. Neither solution will work in isolation. A superagency is likely to become bogged down in its own bureaucratic processes and is likely to be insensitive to important regional variations. At the other extreme, leaving all decisions up to local entities would make it difficult or impossible to identify and respond to larger national interests, to establish common standards, or to manage resources that extend beyond the boundaries of a particular region.
Reconciling these apparent contradictions requires a hybrid system with a centralized structure to coordinate the activities of various agencies and serve the national interest. The same organization must have decentralized mechanisms for making decisions based on the local understanding of problems. This unique system could be modeled on the federalist system, which is well developed in the management of land-based resources.
In selecting the federalist model as the defining concept for reinvigorating marine governance, the committee is not embracing the historical use of that term, which is understood as the advocacy of a strong central government at the expense of the states. Rather, the committee is using the term in a more modern sense to mean a governance system based on true sharing of authority and responsibility between the national government and the states. This modern federalist model would give the states critical authority for carrying out many of the functions of government for which they are ideally suited because of their proximity
to the problem areas (Hershman et al., 1988; John, 1994). The committee also suggests that a federalist governance structure could be useful in areas beyond the three mile limit where there is no local partner to share governance responsibilities with federal agencies.
A federalist marine governance system would have the following basic components:
a National Marine Council to coordinate the activities of federal agencies, define national response to global problems, monitor the marine environment, facilitate regional solutions to marine problems, and encourage interagency problem solving
regional marine councils to address complex governance issues at the operational level
conditions that make it easier for individual federal programs to succeed
a wide range of management tools that would make regional councils and individual agencies more effective
National Marine Council
The role of the central governing body in a federalist model differs from the same role in a hierarchical, command-and-control model. In the traditional model, the center decides, controls, mandates, enforces, and punishes. In the federalist model, the center sets boundary conditions, organizes, persuades, motivates, and ensures that fundamental issues are raised and resolved. In the federalist model, the center holds participants accountable through motivation rather than by punishment.
Previous efforts to improve the effectiveness of government fall into two broad categories—procedural and structural. Procedural reforms have included attempts to enact integrated statutes covering the marine realm and extending the scope of environmental impact assessments required under NEPA. Drafting integrated statutes under NEPA has proven to be a daunting task. The environmental impact assessments provided for in this legislation cannot be easily extended beyond their present scope. This statute applies to federal activities in the marine environment but does not provide a coherent framework for governance or management (John, 1994).
Structural approaches to change include a range of alternatives. At one extreme, existing agencies and authorities at all levels of government could simply be exhorted to do their jobs in new and better ways. Although this strategy is appealing in its simplicity, it has rarely worked in settings as complex as natural resource management where many public and private interests are involved. Exhortation, unaccompanied by organizational changes, rarely leads to implementation and is likely to fade away with changes in political administrations or philosophies.
At the other extreme is the option of creating a superagency that integrates the functions of various federal agencies and provides for overall governance of the ocean. However, creating a new organization within the federal bureaucracy is hardly feasible in the present political climate (National Performance Review, 1993). Also, reorganization is generally very costly and seldom yields significant benefits (e.g., the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy). In the case of marine governance where the paramount objective is more involvement by state and local interests, a superagency might even be counterproductive (Cicin-Sain et al., 1990).
The committee recommends a third option for consideration, the creation of an interagency council—a National Marine Council—composed of leaders of key ocean agencies. The National Marine Council should be a permanent body created at the direction of the White House and should report directly to the President. The council's functions are suggested in the following discussion. Council members should be senior policy representatives of the key federal agencies responsible for marine affairs. At a minimum, these would include the U.S. Department of Commerce (NOAA), the U.S. Department of the Interior (U.S. Geological Survey, MMS, National Park Service), the EPA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and the U.S. Department of Transportation (the U.S. Coast Guard and the Maritime Administration). The National Marine Council should have a permanent staff with a modest budget and a chairman appointed by the President to carry out its mandates.
There is a danger that the National Marine Council could create another level of bureaucracy in an already crowded arena, but the committee believes that the tasks defined for the council will effectively improve governance and management and that the cost in resources and increased government presence will be outweighed by the benefits.
The committee envisions the National Marine Council as a body with decision making authority and accountability for the state of the nation's oceans. The council should not merely be a coordinating mechanism, although one of its major functions would be to coordinate and harmonize the activities of various federal agencies. The council's responsibilities obviously could not exceed the authority of the individual agencies or the President's overall policy direction, but within the authority of existing laws, there is a great deal of scope for agencies to improve governance of the marine sphere, as described in this report.
Two tasks (outlined in detail below) would be critical to the council's success: (1) establishing national priorities and reporting on the status of the marine environment; and (2) engaging a wide range of local interests and skills to solve problems. This latter function would be carried out in conjunction with either existing entities involved in marine activities or with newly created regional marine councils (described below). In either case, the National Marine Council would empower the regional structures to define and solve problems in innovative ways. The objective would be to cut through the rigid, slow processes of centralized
authority and maximize the effectiveness of local actions to achieve national objectives.
A National Marine Council could develop goals, principles, and policies for resolving problems as they develop. The council could also review existing federal legislation with an eye toward developing simple, understandable definitions of the national interest as it pertains to water quality; biological diversity and abundance; national security; human health and safety (such as navigation safety, protection from coastal and marine hazards, and seafood safety); and other legitimate national concerns, including economic development.
In compiling this information, the National Marine Council could express the national interests, insofar as possible, in measurable terms to facilitate assessments of the success or failure of governance arrangements. Furthermore, these goals and policies would not add a level of regulation but would consolidate, simplify, and integrate goals and the standards already set out in legislation. New national goals, however, may need to be developed in response to unanticipated situations or to establish an authoritative process for setting priorities among national goals or interests. The National Marine Council would also have a coordinating and decision-making role in implementing the overall marine management strategy.
Past experiments with federal marine councils focused on science, technology, education, and interagency coordination, but they were not directly involved in management and governance. The National Marine Council would have a much broader mandate. Its job would go beyond coordination to include setting national priorities; developing a multi-agency plan for monitoring and reporting on the environment; identifying potential large scale problems or issues; and holding federal agencies accountable for failures of governance. Most important, the National Marine Council would encourage attempts to implement regional approaches to marine management.
Role of the National Marine Council
As an effective partner in a strengthened federalist system, the National Marine Council should perform the following functions:
Define the National Interest in Marine Areas. Defining the national interest in marine areas is central to changing the current marine management system. Although numerous constitutional, executive, and congressional pronouncements have been made regarding the federal role in managing the marine environment, they do not add up to a national agenda with priorities for scarce federal resources. The National Marine Council should define the nation's strategic priorities for sustainable use of the marine environment on a regular basis. The National Marine Council should take into account the risks and benefits of marine resource use and development and prioritize allocation strategies among the competing interests.
The council's primary objective should be to ensure that the United States has clearly identified the global and national issues that require the mobilization of the resources of the federal government. Some criteria have already been developed, such as the water quality standards established under the Clean Water Act and national criteria for managing striped bass. National criteria are, in effect, performance standards that protect the national interest in marine areas. The council should develop criteria for determining when federal agencies should assist regional and local managers and when federal agencies should take direct action to protect resources. National criteria and standards should still be established by existing agencies under existing authority, but the National Marine Council should coordinate activities among agencies to protect national marine priorities.
Monitor and Report on the Marine Environment. Federal, state, regional, and local agencies have developed a variety of programs and projects to monitor the condition of the marine environment. These programs often overlap or leave gaps in monitoring. The National Marine Council should encourage and facilitate monitoring of both physical conditions in coastal waters and human uses and conflicts, on a regional basis.1 The council could do this either by coordinating communication among federal agencies or by delegating monitoring responsibilities to regional agencies. Data from fisheries and biological data from other sources—including from the academic research community—should be included in a nationwide monitoring network.
The National Marine Council should compile and publish monitoring information that highlights environmental progress or indicates risks to marine resources. In other words, this document should be a report card of coastal conditions.
Identify Marine Area Problems and Conflicts. Monitoring and communications systems should be put in place to identify problems as early as possible. Once problems were detected, appropriate action should be taken by federal or state agencies before irrevocable damage has been done. If the problem threatens to interfere with achieving national goals or with the mandate of a federal agency, the council should make sure that the appropriate agency takes action. If the problem is within the mandate of an existing federal agency, the council should work directly with that agency. If the problem is regional but contradicts national priorities, the council should work with local authorities to develop an effective response or to determine whether a regional council should be established.
Protect the National Interest If Regional Efforts Have Not Addressed Significant Risks to Important Resources. The council should intervene in a situation only to address an unacceptable risk to an important resource and do the minimum needed to resolve the problem. Stakeholders must always be involved in seeking solutions to problems. The council should also intervene if a single-purpose federal agency fails to protect resources and benefits of marine waters.
Intervention by the council could simply mean working with a federal agency to implement existing statutory authority.
Encourage Regional Innovation. A major purpose of the National Marine Council would be to provide federal support for regional management. Experiments in regional governance can only be tried if the federal government is willing to make them work. The National Marine Council should be a vehicle for the cooperation and involvement of relevant federal agencies. The council should create a climate within the federal government that allows for innovation and risk taking by federal authorities at the local level.
Regional Responses to Marine Area Governance
The case studies show that the existing governance system is complex and often involves regional offices of federal agencies that have varying degrees of autonomy from their Washington headquarters. Each federal agency has a different approach to management. For example, the NMFS works closely with regional fisheries management councils in establishing policies for fisheries conservation. In the case of the MMS, some regional offices are tightly bound to headquarters policy and directives, but others are not. In the case of the Florida Keys NMS, NOAA headquarters was heavily involved in the creation of a management plan. Each of these approaches involves federal agencies interacting with each other, state governments, and local interest groups.
This complex governance system has achieved some notable successes, but in too many instances, it has failed to anticipate problems or to come up with timely solutions. The failures fall into two basic categories. Either federal and state or regional programs and interest groups have attempted to solve a management problem, but existing institutions and practices have impeded them, or federal and state or regional organizations and interest groups have not recognized and reacted to marine management problems, thus jeopardizing national and local interests in a marine area.
In many areas of the country where marine resources are subject to risk or conflicts, citizens, stakeholders, local and state governments, and the regional offices of federal agencies may recognize problems and address them effectively. If existing programs can address problems and risks, they should be used. But if federal regulations and missions conflict, if federal and state or local interests conflict, if there are not enough resources or expertise to address the problem, or if the situation is unusually complex, a new process may be necessary.
Role of Regional Marine Councils
In situations where there are complex or long-standing conflicts or risks, the committee recommends the creation of regional marine councils representing federal and state agencies and other stakeholders. Members should be appointed by
the National Marine Council through nominations by state governors and regional federal agency heads (similar to the way estuaries are designated under the NEP), or through interagency discussions within the National Marine Council. This second method would be used if federal agencies disagreed about the effectiveness of the management of a marine area or resource. The composition of each council would depend on the problem and the region. Regional councils should be created only in areas where there are substantial risks of damage to highly valued resources or serious, long-standing conflicts. Regional councils could be established at any time and should remain in existence for the duration of the problem but should not be permanent. Regional councils should be established through formal agreement between the council members and the National Marine Council.
At first glance, the regional fishery management councils created under the FMCA (Fishery Management and Conservation Act) might seem to be analogous to regional marine councils. The new regional marine councils, however, would be structured to overcome two problems that limit the effectiveness of the fishery councils. First, the mandate of the fishery management councils under the FMCA is limited to maximizing the exploitation of the fisheries resource. They often fulfill their mandate to the exclusion of a variety of other socially desirable purposes, including the long-term survival of commercially valuable fisheries stocks. Second, the fishery management councils did not include representatives of a broad range of interests concerned with the overall health and utilization of the marine environment. The regional marine councils proposed in this report would have broader objectives and goals and would represent a broad range of interests.
The regional councils have some elements in common with the regulatory and management structure described in a recent analysis of the changing nature of environmental policy making (John, 1994). This study suggests that the federal role be changed from commanding, controlling, and enforcing to setting priorities, providing information, and furnishing incentives. Neither that study nor this committee advocates abandoning the federal role of setting and enforcing standards. But they agree that more effective governance depends on problem-solving based on local knowledge and local participation. At the same time, the committee recognizes that the dynamics of a successful regional council are extremely difficult to predict. For this reason, existing institutions that have been successful in the past should be tried first. Regional councils should be created only where the nature of the problem and the interaction of the interests clearly require a new structure.
Areas where regional councils should be considered should have at least some of the following characteristics:
geological or biological features that define them as regions in scientific and political terms. (In the case studies, the Gulf of Maine and Florida Bay and the Florida Keys are logical geographic areas for regional councils. A breakthrough was made in planning the restoration of Chesapeake
Bay when elements of the entire bay watershed became part of the planning unit.)
problems and conflicts that cannot be readily resolved by conventional means (e.g., the depletion of groundfish stocks in the Gulf of Maine)
resources that are particularly important to the future of the region and the nation that may be jeopardized without timely planning and management. (In southern California, scenic/ecological and mineral resources of national importance could be lost without effective planning and management).
In general, regional councils should encompass whole coastal ecosystems regardless of political boundaries. They should be chaired by a lead agency and should have members representing state environmental agencies, federal agencies with direct responsibilities in the area, and key stakeholder groups. Participants must have decision-making authority or ready access to those who do. In some instances, this means that senior agency staff should be directly involved. In others, it could mean that elected officials or their senior aides should participate. It may be necessary for stakeholder groups to elect representatives who have the authority to present their case and commit to solutions. Depending upon the complexity of the problems, a regional council might designate subcouncils to deal with specific aspects of the overall problem or to provide technical advice. Once established, regional councils could perform the following functions:
Develop Long Range Goals and Plans. A council could be a forum for identifying problems, setting priorities, establishing long-range goals and developing plans to attain those goals.
Coordinate Planning and Management among State and Federal Agencies. A council would coordinate agency responses. The South Florida Ecosystem Working Group, which is establishing priorities for restoration of the Everglades, is a terrestrial example. The existing Gulf of Maine Council is another example, but it has less real authority than the Ecosystem Working Group.
Coordinate Fiscal Planning Including Pooling Funding from Two or More Government Programs or Agencies. Management of funds is often an obstacle to effective interagency coordination and to using available funds in the most cost-effective way. Pooled funding should include simplified performance and reporting requirements. (There was some coordinated fiscal management between EPA and NOAA in south Florida, but more could have been done to integrate water quality and habitat programs).
Mediate and Resolve Disputes among Agencies and Stakeholders through Environmental Mediation and Related Tools. So-called alternative means of conflict resolution have been used successfully to resolve environmental disputes or impasses to environmental action. Regional councils should sponsor alternative
means of conflict resolution. Federal agencies could pool funding to hire mediators and facilitators. (The Florida Keys NMS might have benefitted much earlier from mediation among conflicting stakeholders. In southern California, environmental mediation techniques were successful. The Alaska Fisheries By-Catch workshops were attempts to use alternate dispute resolution techniques to bring stakeholders together.)
Facilitate Intergovernmental Agreements. Councils should facilitate formal intergovernmental agreements, some of which may result from environmental mediation. These agreements would bind the signatories to managing marine resources in a certain way. (Intergovernmental agreements were important in Chesapeake Bay and Long Island Sound for formalizing interstate cooperation on pollution reduction.)
Waive Some Regulatory Requirements to Achieve Performance-Based Goals. Overlapping and conflicting regulatory requirements are sometimes obstacles to resolving environmental disputes and to taking proactive steps to avoid damage to resources. Regional councils should have the authority to negotiate memorandums of agreement that waive some regulatory provisions in order to achieve performance goals. Memoranda should be subject to approval by the National Marine Council to ensure that they do not violate the spirit of underlying statutes.
Execute Stakeholder Contracts. In the course of the study, the committee learned that marine interests and stakeholders must be responsible for, and a part of, the resolution of user conflicts and efforts to repair damage to marine resources. One mechanism for involving users is through contracts that establish shared responsibility for desirable outcomes.
Performance goals should be negotiated between user groups and agencies. The goals would have to be sustainable, achievable, and in compliance with the statutes governing marine areas. Once goals have been established, a contract would assign the management of a resource to a user group (or to a user group and other interests, including state or local government) establishing benchmarks for success or failure and setting a timetable for performance. This arrangement would allow substantial freedom for the responsible party to design management measures that meet bottom-line goals. Failure to achieve the benchmarks would result in penalties or termination of the contract.
An example of contracting would be to allow a group of lobstermen (or lobstermen in cooperation with government agencies) to manage lobsters along a section of the Maine coast to ensure agreed upon survival rates and population levels. The contractors would be allowed to establish management rules (like mesh sizes, seasons, by-catch provisions) provided that the performance measures were achieved.
Engage Local Interests. Regional marine councils would be focal points for bringing together diverse groups interested in resolving conflicts in a particular
region. The council would encourage responsibility and accountability, as well as create a forum for participatory democracy in the management process. Participants would have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and, at the same time, to assume some of the responsibility for success or failure.
Monitor and Evaluate the Results of Contracts and Other Management Actions. In conjunction with the monitoring systems developed by the National Marine Council, regional councils could coordinate and integrate monitoring by individual agencies to ensure that information was gathered effectively and cost-effectively. Monitoring would be essential to the performance-based management tools described above. (The San Francisco Bay Demonstration Project is an example of several agencies combining their efforts to monitor a resource.)
Provide Technical Assistance and Training. Participatory decision making, such as the processes proposed for the regional councils or for single agencies, often requires training and technical assistance. Regional councils could use pooled funds to train participants and stakeholder groups in effective decision-making and in interpreting and using scientific data. (In all of the case studies, participants in decision-making processes would have benefitted from training, which could have reduced conflict.)
Ensure Accountability. Sometimes the roles and interactions of public agencies in addressing environmental problems are so complex that it is difficult to hold anyone responsible for failure or reward anyone for success. If a regional council assumes responsibility for solving management problems, the council members would be accountable for the results. The National Marine Council should have the authority to dissolve regional councils if they fail to perform well and to assign remedial tasks to member federal agencies.
Advantages of a National and Regional Council Approach
The federalist model for marine area governance proposed by the committee has several benefits. It creates an organization that can coordinate federal activities and protect national interests in marine areas and provides a framework for a national, cost-effective marine monitoring systems in partnership with regional and local interests. A monitoring system could identify risks to resources before crises or irrevocable losses had been incurred. The proposed council would not interfere with existing marine management programs that are working effectively to avoid or solve problems. It would encourage coalitions of federal and state agencies and interest groups to identify problems and work together to solve problems, and it would give then the flexibility to design and modify programs and processes to meet regional needs. For example, councils would be able to use contracts to enable stakeholders to govern their own actions and still protect resources of national importance. This approach also creates checks and balances
among federal agencies to encourage changing a course of action when resources of national importance are threatened. A major benefit is that the council approach is based on creating coherent, cooperative relationships among existing laws and institutions rather than creating new structures.
IMPROVING EXISTING PROGRAMS
This section sets forth a variety of approaches to improving management and governance by existing programs. These approaches could be implemented either in conjunction with the two-tiered council structure proposed in this report or within the existing management and governance framework. This discussion is not intended to be exhaustive but to illustrate how the framework and processes described in this report can be used to improve existing programs and processes.
Coastal Zone Management Program
The integrity of the coastal ecosystem requires consistent management, from the upper reaches of the watersheds through the immediate coastal zone and out into the deeper waters of the coastal ocean. Although the existing CZM (coastal zone management) program is responsible for managing the principal coastal ecosystem, in some cases, adjacent marine areas would benefit from being governed in a manner consistent with existing CZM programs. The federal-state partnership principles built into the CZM program could be applied to many other aspects of marine area governance.
The proposed National Marine Council could strengthen the CZM program by providing a single, high-level location for developing national ocean policy. A national council would be a much needed focal point for coordinating federal ocean and coastal programs. The National Marine Council would strengthen the federal coastal management program by establishing an authoritative mechanism for defining the national interest, especially in situations where existing legislative mandates conflict with each other. It would also create a mechanism for coordinating federal agency programs to support and enhance state CZM policies and programs, as well as a mechanism for integrating coastal programs, such as the CZM and NEP programs, with marine program, such as the NMS program.
Regional marine councils would be in a position to greatly facilitate coordination among state CZM programs in a given region. Regional councils would provide a forum for discussing and developing regional policies that could be incorporated into state CZM programs, as appropriate. Regional councils could also direct technical assistance to state CZM programs, as needed.
National Marine Sanctuary Program
The NMS program has several qualities that make it a strong candidate for strengthening marine area governance. First, it has been especially effective in
cases where highly valued natural resources were at risk over substantial areas (e.g., the Florida Keys and Monterey Bay sanctuaries). Second, it can effectively manage a range of activities, including fishing. The NMS program has the capacity to utilize zoning as a means of managing conflicts among competing uses—a concept that this committee strongly endorses. In order to maximize the benefits of these qualities, management of the planning and governance process should be fully decentralized to the particular sanctuary.
The NMS program also needs to incorporate principles of ecosystem management that mandate comprehensive, effective management of the fish within sanctuary boundaries. Although it is not essential for the NMS to manage fisheries directly, it is essential that sanctuaries assume responsibility for the health of all resources within their boundaries and recognize that overfishing is a potential threat to living marine resources.
National Estuary Program
Although it is difficult to generalize about the success of the NEP, several aspects of the program are noteworthy. First, most NEPs do not deal with fisheries management, which is often a major aspect of an integrated ecosystem governance program. This is not surprising because the authorizing language for the NEP is the Clean Water Act. However, problems with fisheries may reflect larger problems of general decline in biological resources due to habitat degradation. Addressing problems of water quality and habitat without addressing the related problems of fisheries can be unproductive and unsuccessful.
Another limitation on the effectiveness of NEPs is that implementing a CCMP (comprehensive conservation and management plan) is purely voluntary. Because the NEP provides no significant funding for implementation, they have little recourse if goals are not met. For the NEP to be more effective at marine governance and to actively engage local interests, they will have to overcome the limitations of volunteerism.
Recent reviews of the program (Imperial and Hennessey, 1996; Martin et al., 1996) concluded that the most important change for NEP would be to fund the implementation of CCMPs. However, it is important to distinguish between two different kinds of implementation funds. Some funds ensure the continuation of the CCMP process into the implementation phase; this funding is used for monitoring, assessment, reporting, and the other activities for maintaining the institutional framework of the CCMP. This kind of funding is essential for NEP programs to move beyond the planning phase.
The second kind of funding is for direct improvements to the health of a particular estuary, including, for example, installing advanced wastewater treatment systems to reduce nutrient loadings; restoring degraded wetlands; retrofitting systems for urban storm water; and cost sharing of agricultural ''best management" practices. These activities are expensive, and, unless a local NEP is
actively involved in implementation, they may simply produce expensive planning documents, or, at best, palliative programs that slow, but do not stop or reverse, the decline of an estuary. A discussion of options for funding can be found in Chapter 6 (Financing Marine Area Governance and Management Programs) and in Appendix D.
The second improvement for the NEP is to institutionalize responsibilities for implementation (Imperial and Hennessey, 1996; Martin et al., 1996). The NEP does not have a planning component, and it is unclear how changes or modifications to CCMPs could be made. Martin et al. (1996) recommend that the implementation of CCMPs should be made a "non-discretionary duty of the Environmental Protection Agency," which would clearly give EPA ultimate responsibility. In contrast, EPA's 1996 draft report to Congress refers to the EPA as "just one of the stakeholders." Others have suggested that improving ecosystem management would require shifting the responsibility for environmental protection away from the federal government and to state and local governments. In this view, EPA's role would shift from setting standards to providing technical assistance (Imperial and Hennessey, 1996).
Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program
A new paradigm is needed for managing oil and gas leasing in the OCS because the present program is both ineffective and inefficient. Congressional moratoria are not long-term solutions for managing the oil and gas activities in the OCS. The Southern California case study shows that a more open, inclusive approach by the MMS led to dramatic improvements. The local task force used by the MMS in that situation was, in effect, a regional marine council as described in this report. The task force included all stakeholders—federal, state, and local—information was freely provided, trust was established, and the parties worked together to find solutions rather than rigidly defending their positions or philosophies.
This paradigm should be adopted in other areas where there are serious conflicts or disagreements over OCS leasing. In those cases, the National Marine Council should establish regional (local) marine councils, which include representatives of all interested and affected parties who have legitimate interests in the area. The regional councils should be charged with developing cooperative approaches to managing the OCS activities, based on good science and a balance among various resources and potential uses of the ocean and coastal region.
Fisheries Management Program
Institutional problems have contributed to the failure of the management of certain fisheries. An NRC report (1994a), for example, found that the lines of authority and responsibility between the Secretary of Commerce and the regional
fishery councils were confusing, which created inefficiencies and generated conflicts without providing a satisfactory mechanism for resolving them. The system also lacked independent checks and balances.
The proposed National Marine Council could perform many of the functions recommended in that report. It could function as an independent oversight body that could advise the Secretary of Commerce, the fishery management councils, and Congress and provide an independent mechanism for reviewing strategic planning for fisheries, reviewing controversial management decisions, resolving interagency conflicts, and coordinating federal policies that affect fisheries investment and infrastructure. The National Marine Council could review and report to Congress on performance and problems in U.S. marine fisheries, make recommendations on certain scientific and technical issues, define management goals and strategies, and highlight emerging jurisdictional problems and environmental and conservation concerns.
The role of the proposed regional marine councils is also suggested in the recommendations of the NRC report (NRC, 1994a). At the request of the Secretary of Commerce, a regional fishery council, the National Marine Council, or an ad hoc regional council could be convened to provide a forum for conflict resolution. The council would render a nonbinding decision to resolve the conflict.
The regional marine councils could benefit the existing fisheries management system. A regional council could be a vehicle for bringing various perspectives and interests into one arena. If necessary measures (such as protecting an important habitat) can only be taken through other programs (such as CZM or the Clean Water Act), the regional council could also bring these parties into the common setting. Even without regional councils, the existing system could be improved by the judicious use of contracting (see Chapter 6) to encourage self-governance by fishermen and their communities. Broadening the membership of fisheries management councils to include more stakeholders and create a less polarized environment would also be beneficial.