Click for next page ( 14


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 13
Regional Symposia Interactions between coastal science and policy were examined in depth at three symposia involving scientists, policymakers, managers, industry represen- tatives, representatives of nongovernmental organizations, and private citizens, with experience in the California, Gulf of Maine, and Gulf of Mexico regions. Proceedings for each symposium have been published separately (NRC, l995a,b,c) and are cited extensively throughout this report. This chapter presents a brief overview of the three regions, including significant environmental and resource management concerns identified by individuals from each region and a summary of the discussions of three issues selected for particular focus during the symposium. The three issues examined in each regional symposium are listed in Table 2. In each case one issue was selected from each of the following three categories: (1) concerns that are of intense current regional interest, (2) emerging concerns for the future, and (3) concerns related to the cumulative impacts of the human use of coastal environments. TlIE CALIFORNIA SYMPOSIUM California's coastal region is characterized by spectacular beauty and re- markable natural and cultural richness and diversity. From the fog-shrouded redwoods of the north to the wide sandy beaches in the south, the more than 1,100-mile California coast supports numerous habitats and spans several bio- logical provinces (California Coastal Commission, 1987~. Most of this coast is composed of headlands with semienclosed bays, lagoons, and estuaries, which 13

OCR for page 13
4 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST TABLE 2 Issues for Which Science-Policy Interactions Were Evaluated in Each of the Three Regional Symposia Region California Nov. 11-13, 1992, Irvine, Calif. Gulf of Maine Nov. 2-4, 1994, Kennebunkport, Maine Gulf of Mexico Jan. 25-27, 1995, New Orleans, Louisiana Issues Cumulative Impacts of Development Coastal Ocean Habitat Mitigation Strategies Coastal Sediment and Water Quality Cumulative Impacts of Land and Water Activities Protecting Regionally Significant Terrestnal and Manne Habitats Using Indicators of Environmental Quality Cumulative Impacts of Offshore and Coastal Oil and Gas Development Effects of Freshwater Inflow Changes Water Quality and Shellfish Production are, with a few exceptions such as San Prancisco and San Diego bays, relatively limited in scope. The habitats in these environments have been particularly susceptible to the effects of human activities. For example, since the l950s, nearly 90 percent of California's once highly productive coastal wetlands have been destroyed or substantially altered (California Coastal Zone Conservation Commission, 1975~. Most rivers have been dammed or modified, starving beaches of sand and estuaries of vital fresh water. Intensive urbanization, min- ing, logging, agriculture, tourism, development of public works such as roads, and energy and port development have forever changed the character of California's coast. The diversion of fresh water to supply the needs of the state's nationally important agricultural enterprise and the domestic water needs of the urbanized south has resulted in significant changes in the San Francisco Bay estuary and the resources it supports. The bay is important for commercial and military maritime purposes, but with shipping has come the introduction of many nonindigenous species that have changed the bay's ecosystem. Furthermore, there are continuing problems of disposal of dredged material. To the south, the large and growing population centers around Los Angeles and San Diego have generated concerns about the effects of sewage disposal and polluted runoff into the ocean and loss of public access and recreational opportu- nities. Major controversies involve the expansion of offshore oil and gas produc- tion, which began in California in the 1880s, including the effects of oil spills, onshore support activities, and loss of aesthetic resources. Largely as a result of these concerns, substantial areas along the coast have been designated as state and national marine sanctuaries, which pose new management challenges for balancing preservation and development.

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 15 The value of the California coast to the state and nation is immeasurable. As a consequence of the importance of the coast to its people, California established one of the first and most comprehensive state coastal management programs in the nation. In contrast to the Gulf of Maine and Gulf of Mexico, most of California's coastal problems are intrastate in scope and origin. Multijuris- dictional issues abound, however, as California's 73 local coastal governments (58 cities and 15 counties) and over 100 special districts and state, regional, and federal governmental entities struggle to both use and protect the coast. Science has occasionally played an important role in aspects of coastal ocean management in California. One specific case of science-policy interaction, un- precedented in its ecosystem approach, is the California Coordinated Oceanic Fisheries Investigation (CalCOFI), established in 1948 in the wake of the col- lapse of the California sardine fishery (Scheiber, 1995~. Science has also been applied to air and water quality control programs, monitoring programs related to public health and habitat productivity, port expansion activities, selection of offshore dredge disposal sites, location of new marinas, offshore energy resources development, mitigating the impacts of electricity generating plants, and public lands management. Research on the subject of shoreline processes and hazards affecting coastal development and uses, habitat loss and restoration, a wide range of fisheries issues, and aquaculture has helped state and local officials manage these processes and activities. As a result of the attention that the California symposium focused on the need to increase the use of science in coastal policymaking, the California legis- lature amended the state coastal management program's legislation to encourage science-based decisionmaking (California Public Resources Code, 1992, Section 30335~5). Summary of California Symposium Findings Cumulative Impacts of Development~onsensus was achieved on several points. Cumulative impacts exist and must be addressed relative to nearly every major issue faced by coastal managers (e.g., loss of coastal habitat, air and water qual- ity, public access, visual quality). Although such impacts are real, very few people understand them, they are difficult to measure, and governance systems are not structured or inclined to deal with them. The "tyranny of small deci- sions"-the unintentional and adverse consequences resulting from narrowly fo- cused actions on individual projects-is characteristic of the management of Californ~a's coastal ocean. Significant issues relating to cumulative impacts were raised in each of the major discussion sessions and became the common thread running through this symposium and subsequent symposia. In 1990 Congress amended the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) and identified cumulative impacts of coastal development as a priority need nation- wide. In response, California's Coastal Commission launched a Regional Cumu

OCR for page 13
16 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST lative Assessment Project (RECAP) in the Monterey Bay region to assess the cumulative impacts of development on wetlands, coastal hazards, and public access. The project is intended to result in program and policy recommendations to improve management of such impacts (California Coastal Commission, 19949. It is too early to judge the results of this effort, which moves into its critical implementation phase in 1996. Understanding and dealing with cumulative im- pacts offer many opportunities for, and requires, extensive interaction between the science and policy communities. Coastal Ocean Habitat Mitigation Strategies Vast areas of biologically rich habitats in California are economically, environmentally, and socially significant but have been substantially altered or lost because of human perturbations. Wet- lands and estuarine systems and coastal embayments containing relatively shal- low waters have been affected most severely. Over the past 30 years, mitigation and restoration techniques have been developed and tested in an attempt to re- cover some of this valuable coastal habitat. Although science played little or no role in actions that resulted in the loss of these resources, recent decisions about mitigation and restoration have been in- fluenced by science. At the same time, science relating to coastal habitat cre- ation, restoration, and enhancement is still in its infancy. Accordingly, although much has been learned, until it can be demonstrated scientifically that habitats have been successfully restored, such activities should be viewed as experimental and prevention of habitat loss should still be emphasized. Given the existing state of the art, it should not be assumed that habitats lost to new development can be replaced elsewhere through creation and restoration techniques (NRC, 1992a, 1994a). Strategies to maintain the biological integrity of coastal habitats should begin with avoidance of loss, minimization of adverse impacts, and compensa- tion for unavoidable losses. When these strategies are unavailable, creation of new habitat and substantial restoration of severely degraded habitat should be pursued. This is an area where the use of science in policymaking is achieving positive results and where continuing interactions between scientists and policy- makers are essential and will be very productive. Fundamental limitations in- clude lack of basic information about the ecosystems affected, lack of agreement on valid methodologies to accurately measure the values of the habitat lost or adversely affected by new development and the habitat to be restored, and the absence of mechanisms to make scientific information available in a timely fash- ion for policymaking and management. Despite the obstacles described above, examples of meaningful and effective science-policy interactions were identified and discussed. The knowledge exists to improve future restoration and mitigation projects significantly. Several pnn- ciples were identified. First, criteria should be adopted for the selection of restoration and mitigation sites. Project sites should be evaluated in the context of the larger physical and biological systems of which they are a part. Second,

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 17 clear performance standards should be adopted for project development and for measuring, based on sound scientific evidence, the extent to which restoration or mitigation objectives are met (e g., project success). Third, long-term monitoring should be provided to measure the effectiveness of maintenance and remediation and to identify lessons learned to inform future decisions and projects. An example incorporating these principles is the approach adopted by the California Coastal Commission to attempt to compensate for the adverse impacts on the marine environment of the operation of units two and three of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County. This compensation took the form of requirements that the utility restore the San Dieguito wetlands and create an artificial reef. The development of an applied science of mitigation and restoration of coastal ocean habitat was encouraged. Creation of a special panel to identify the long-term information needs of decisionmakers, creation of a research agenda to secure this information, and assessment and synthesis of evolving mitigation science also were recommended. Coastal Sediment and Water Quality The quality of coastal waters and sedi- ments in Southern California is of major public concern. The periodic need for beach closures and health warnings about eating contaminated fish justifies the expenditure of considerable resources annually for monitoring. Population growth and development have increased levels of pollution discharged into ma- rine waters. To avoid enormous prevention and cleanup costs, better cause-and- effect data are critical, especially to distinguish between natural and human- caused impacts on biological health and productivity. Remedial management decisions have been influenced by good science, and improvements have been achieved. However, problems persist. The causes, dynamics (e.g., additive effects), and geochemistry of anthropogenic pollutants in the marine environment involve complex processes, some of which are not well understood. Like habitat restora- tion, this is a young field of scientific knowledge. Existing monitoring data are often not available in usable form. Monitoring data need to be more readily accessible, sampling and analytical methodology should be updated and stan- dardized (so that samples collected at different sites and times are analyzed by the same procedures), and quality control and assurance are needed. Additional research is also required, especially in the area of identifying, understanding, ranking, and prioritizing risks. Strategies to protect and enhance the productivity of the Southern California marine environment should be comprehensive and should integrate monitoring with research on a scale that takes into account the spatial and temporal parameters of nearshore processes. Although the components of a comprehensive integrative approach are known, implementation is challenging. An example of this approach is the Environmental Protection Agency's National Estuary Program (NEP). The two

OCR for page 13
8 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST NEP projects in California (for San Francisco and Santa Monica bays) were among several examples examined by symposium participants to illustrate ways in which science-policy interactions operate relative to coastal water quality is- sues. The major unknown factor relative to these projects is the degree to which the estuary management plans prepared through these programs will actually be implemented. THE GULF OF MAINE SYMPOSIUM The Gulf of Maine extends from Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and includes the Bay of Fundy and Georges Bank. It is a semienclosed sea, separated from the Atlantic Ocean by underwater banks. It is an economic resource linking three American states and two Canadian provinces and is the foundation of a distinct maritime culture shared by two countries. More importantly, the Gulf of Maine is a marine ecosystem comprised of nutrient cycles, currents and tides, food chains, and energy flows. The crustaceans, fish, marine mammals, and birds inhabiting the Gulf of Maine region lead transboundary lives, crossing between Canada and the United States freely. The foundation for the Gulf of Maine symposium was the initiative of the region's governors (Maine, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire) and premiers (New Brunswick and Nova Scotia) as expressed in the 1989 Agreement on Con- servation of the Marine Environment of the Gulf of Maine Between the Govern- ments of the Bordering States and Provinces. Through this agreement the region's leaders formed the multilateral Gulf of Maine Program, established the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (hereafter referred to as the council), and called for the negotiation of a 10-year Natural Resources Action Plan. Fundamental to the Gulf of Maine Program was the definition of shared environmental management goals and the desire to ". . . maintain and enhance marine environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine and to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations."4 The Gulf of Maine Program builds on existing state, provincial, and federal initiatives. Examples of these initiatives are the three state coastal management programs and Sea Grant College Programs, the National Estuarine Research Reserves, and the National Estuary Program sites. The Gulf of Maine Program serves as a cooperative mechanism to address transboundary issues by adopting a watershed management approach that incorporates both the upland area and the coastal marine environment. It seeks to accomplish this through implementation of the Natural Resources Action Plan and a gulf-wide monitoring plan. 4Agreement on Conservation of the Marine Environment of the Gulf of Maine Between the Gov- ernments of the Bordering States and Provinces (signed by the governors and premiers of Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Brunswick, and Nova Scotia in Portland, Maine, in 1989).

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 19 The integration of science, policy formulation, and management is facilitated by the existence of the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM)s and the Gulf of Maine Regional Marine Research Board (RMRB).6 These organizations are actively involved in gulf-wide issues and have negoti- ated a three-party agreement with the council on ways to sustain cooperative activities. This coordination has been supplemented by the formation of the Gulf of Maine Collaboration of Community Foundations (CCF).7 In 1991 the council prepared the Natural Resources Action Plan, which was subsequently adopted by the governors and premiers and represents a regional consensus on the most pressing natural resource management issues to be addressed by the council in its first 10 years. The plan identifies specific annual actions that the council will pursue per- taining to coastal pollution, monitoring and research, public education, habitat protection, and public health. Because the Gulf of Maine Program is a state- provincial initiative, implementation of its action plan has been largely dependent on the availability of state-provincial financial resources. As the region's economy slowed in the 1990s, so did implementation of the plan. The Gulf of Maine Symposium focused on three issues that emanated from the plan. These included (1) cumulative impacts of land and water activities, (2) protecting re- gionally significant terrestrial and marine habitats, and (3) using indicators of environmental quality. Summary of Gulf of Maine Symposium Findings Cumulative Impacts of Land and Water Activities One of the most pressing coastal and ocean management issues is the gradual, incremental degradation and loss of resources. This issue was identified by the three states in their CZMA Section 309 strategies and by the council as it developed its action plan. Primary issues of concern involve the loss of coastal and marine habitats and the conse- quences of that loss. For example, the collapse of the groundf~shery is largely the SRARGOM is an association designed to foster quality scientific research related to the Gulf of Maine through increased communication and collaboration among the region's academic and man- agement institutions. 6The nine regional marine research programs were established in 1990 by the U.S. Congress by an amendment to the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act. 7CCF was formed in 1992 to facilitate cross-border approaches to protect the ecological integrity and economic sustainability of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem and to encourage multisectoral discus- sions around gulf issues. It is comprised of the six individual community foundations bordering the Gulf of Maine. 8Section 309 of the CZMA requires states to prepare and submit to the Ocean and Coastal Re- sources Management office coastal assessments and strategies that respond to eight national priori- ties.

OCR for page 13
20 SCIENCE, POUCY, AND THE COAST result of overfishing. However, there is growing evidence that the ecosystem effects of harvesting (e.g., dragging, changes in predator-prey relationships) also play a role in habitat loss. Declining marine water quality is a priority concern, and the three states are preparing coastal nonpoint-source pollution control strat- egies in response to this threat. Among the actions that could be taken to improve the use of science in coastal policymaking, members of this issue group identified the following: (1) develop area-wide comprehensive planning programs for all sectors of the coast, (2) consider the use of a National Environmental Policy Act-like approach to integrate science into the decisionmaking process, (3) involve stakeholders in the prioritization and selection of research activities, and (4) evaluate the success of management programs in incorporating science. Specific suggestions focused on using the council as a vehicle to implement strategic planning in the region and increase public understanding of the issue. - To- - r ~^= ^ ~^ _~-v4& ~- Protecting Regionally Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats Gulf of Maine habitats continue to degrade. For those habitats that support transboundary species, the council can play a vital role in stemming this degradation. For three years the council supported an analysis of regionally significant species and developed a list of 150 plant and animal species to identify priority habitats. Among the factors that need to be addressed to improve the use of science in coastal policymaking, the issue group identified the following: (1) legal and institutional structures that tend to focus on single issues, (2) specialization among scientists that hinders information flow, (3) lack of adequate information about the location and extent of priority habitats that hinders effective management, and (4) a lack of innovative ways to craft solutions in response to complex problems. Suggestions for improving the use of science in coastal policymaking included: (1) incorporating value systems in setting priority habitats, (2) develop- ing a habitat classification system, (3) strengthening the institutional relation- ships that are being fostered by the council and RARGOM, (4) coordinating and expanding data acquisition efforts on habitats, (5) improving access to habitat information, and (6) developing consistent approaches to managing Gulf of Maine coastal and marine habitats between the United States and Canada. Using Indicators of Environmental Quality-The region's science and manage- ment community has embraced the use of indicators of marine environmental quality. Primary objectives of this regional initiative include: assessing the status and trends of conditions in the marine environment by monitoring appropriate indicators of change in environmental quality, especially those that will allow identification of the early stages of change, and assessing existing levels, trends, and sources of toxic compounds, as well

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 21 as the economic impacts of acute and chronic exposure of humans to toxic com- pounds transmitted through marine foods and through water contact.9 The issue group identified the following as necessary for improving the use of science in coastal policymaking: (1) communicate the results of monitoring programs more effectively, (2) provide appropriate planning horizons for the development and implementation of monitoring programs, (3) involve natural and social scientists throughout the process, (4) promote dialogue between scien- tists and policymakers, (5) sustain current binational monitoring efforts, and (6) encourage stakeholders to be proactive in both producing and using the results of momtoring programs. THE GULF OF MEXICO SYMPOSIUM The Gulf of Mexico is a large (600,000 mi2) semienclosed sea with a narrow inlet from the Caribbean Sea and an even narrower outlet to the Atlantic Ocean. The United States has an extensive shoreline on the Gulf of Mexico, which is also bordered by Mexico and Cuba. Five U.S. states border the Gulf of Mexico: Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. Resources of the Gulf of Mexico are of great regional and national impor- tance. The gulf yields over 25 percent of the commercial fisheries harvest of the United States and supports recreational fisheries valued at $2.2 billion annually. One-half of the nation's coastal wetlands are located around the Gulf of Mexico, and these wetlands have been lost at a rapid rate during the last half of the twentieth century. Productivity in the vast majority of Gulf of Mexico fisheries depends on these wetlands and numerous shallow estuaries found along the coast. In addition, the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most active areas in the world for offshore oil and gas development and production. More than 72 percent of the oil and 97 percent of the gas produced offshore in the United States comes from the region off Louisiana and Texas. Some 45 percent of U.S. export and import tonnage passes through Gulf of Mexico ports. A large portion of the coterminous United States drains into the Gulf of Mexico via the Mississippi, Rio Grande, and other rivers. Consequently, the coastal regions of the Gulf of Mexico are greatly affected by natural and anthro- pogenic variations in the flow of fresh water, sediments, nutrients, and other chemical constituents from land. Reductions in freshwater inflow due to use or diversion, the effects of changing sediment supply on coastal environments, and the excess enrichment of coastal waters with ever-borne nutrients are significant environmental management issues for much of the Gulf Coast. To facilitate joint solutions to environmental protection and resource man- agement problems around the U.S. Gulf of Mexico, the Environmental Protection 9These are the council's objectives as stated in the monitoring plan. The plan is based on two major scientist/manager meetings held in 1990 and 1991.

OCR for page 13
22 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST Agency established the Gulf of Mexico Program in 1988. This effort now in- cludes 12 federal agencies and five state governments working in a partnership with citizens of the region. Eight issue committees have been formed to address specific problem areas: freshwater inflow, nutrient enrichment, marine debris, coastal and shoreline erosion, toxic substances and pesticides, habitat degrada- tion, public health, and living aquatic resources. The science-policy interactions surrounding three specific issues embedded in this comprehensive list served as the focus of discussion at the Gulf of Mexico Symposium: the cumulative im- pacts of offshore and coastal oil and gas development, the effects of freshwater inflow changes, and water quality and shellfish production. Summary of Gulf of Mexico Symposium Findings Cumulative Impacts of Offshore and Coastal Oil and Gas Development-Off- shore and coastal oil and gas development has proceeded over the past 50 years in the northwestern portion of the Gulf of Mexico. Much of this development took place at a time when little knowledge about environmental impacts and planning principles existed; environmental and socioeconomic impacts were of relatively little concern. As more attention was given to assessing environmental impacts, it was shown that marine pollution from oil spills has not had significant adverse impacts offshore. The environmental effects have, however, been significant in near- and onshore areas, particularly in Louisiana's coastal wetlands, which have been channelized for access and transportation. There are other activities unre- lated to oil and gas development that have impacted these environments, includ- ing changes in the delivery of fresh water, sediments, nutrients, and contaminants via rivers. These multiple, often synergistic, impacts have made assessment of the cumulative effects of oil and gas development difficult. Similarly, the social, cultural, and economic consequences (both positive and negative) of oil and gas development have been substantial for coastal communities but have occurred simultaneously with other sociocultural and economic changes. Among the means to improve the use of science in coastal policymaking, the issue group identified the following strategies: (1) improved communication be- tween scientists, policymakers, and implementors; (2) greater cross-cultural lit- eracy within affected groups; (3) more research focused on "real-world" prob- lems; (4) greater incentives for scientists to participate in the policymaking process; (5) greater tolerance of unpopular findings; (6) public education; and (7) more peer review of scientific products. Specific suggestions targeted studies of the aging pipeline infrastructure, socioeconomic impacts, wetlands restoration, offshore platform removal, regions not yet developed (e.g., the eastern gulf), and improved application of risk analysis. Elects of Freshwater Inflow Changes-Changes in the volume of freshwater inflows into coastal ecosystems and the locations and timing of flows as a result

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 23 of human activities have produced extensive effects in the Gulf of Mexico region. Three areas from around the Gulf of Mexico were explored by this issue group to better understand and compare science-policy interactions: Florida Bay, the Mis- sissippi Delta, and the Nueces Estuary (Texas). Water has been consumed for agricultural purposes or drained from the Everglades, resulting in greatly reduced flows into the large, shallow Florida Bay. For the Mississippi River Delta, the issues relate primarily to the consequences of diverting freshwater flow from the river into the surrounding estuaries to combat saltwater intrusion and wetlands loss. The Nueces Estuary drains an arid region and thus receives limited flow subject to competing demands for agriculture and municipal water supplies. The issue group identified eight major challenges for improving the use of science in coastal policymaking: (1) obtaining a clear statement of the questions posed by policymakers and a clear statement of the answers provided by scien- tists; (2) determining the preexisting conditions and realistic environmental goals; (3) understanding the role and limitations of science, specifically in determining freshwater requirements for the desired ecosystem conditions or, conversely, in predicting the effects of freshwater allocation determined by other economic or political considerations; (4) dealing with uncertainties and surprises by applying adaptive management in allocating freshwater reserves; (5) accommodating the difference in time frames between managers who want immediate answers and scientists who believe that long-term studies are needed; (6) resolving conflicting scientific analysis through greater use of scientific consensus building and peer review; (7) linking environmental and economic considerations on a common basis; and (8) encouraging a water conservation ethic. Water Quality and Shellfish Production Because of the low tidal range and consequent poor flushing of shallow Gulf Coast estuaries coupled with warm water temperatures and numerous human population centers, Gulf of Mexico waters are particularly susceptible to contamination by human pathogens. Public health concerns have resulted in the closure of large areas of shellfish growing waters, with considerable economic impact. Although the scientific procedures used to monitor shellfish growing areas have protected human health, these pro- cedures rely primarily on assays for fecal coliform bacteria, tests that do not directly detect the human pathogens of greatest concern, so that the protection of public health is rather indirect. On the other hand, for a variety of reasons, fecal coliform concentrations may be elevated when there is little risk of human patho- gen contamination, raising concerns that shellfish harvests are being unnecessar- ily restricted. The issue group identified nine different potential barriers to the use of science in coastal policymaking: (1) too little science has been applied in the development of efficient indicators of pathogens, (2) available science is poor or of uncertain value, (3) scientific information is not communicated to managers, (4) useful scientific information is ignored by policymakers, (5) available data

OCR for page 13
24 SCIENCE, POLICY, AND THE COAST are not in a format readily usable in the decisionmaking process, (6) other consid- erations outweigh the scientific information, (7) the public fails to understand the scientific facts or policy processes, (8) scientific information appears uncertain in contrast to other information, and (9) the complexity of policy and science con- siderations requires a diversity of participants in the process. Specific suggestions for improving the policymaking process were devel- oped, including involvement of all the stakeholders, education of scientists and policymakers about each other's methods and needs, translation of scientific results and their limitations so that they can be comprehended readily by policy- makers and the general public, and increasing the understanding of all partici- pants about the backgrounds and biases of the participants. ADDRESSING CUMULATIVE IMPACTS Some aspect of the cumulative impacts of coastal development or human uses of the coastal ocean was considered in all three symposia: coastal develop- ment in California, land and water use in the Gulf of Maine, and offshore and coastal oil and gas development in the Gulf of Mexico. Furthermore, virtually every other issue considered in the regional symposia relates to cumulative im- pacts. Given the inexorable pressures of population growth, technological ad- vances, and economic development, coming to grips with cumulative impacts is perhaps the most compelling challenge confronting the science and policy com- munities. No ready solutions or easy approaches for addressing the complex problem of cumulative impacts emerged from the symposia, but some common issues were identified. First, a shared understanding must be achieved among scientists and policymakers about what constitutes cumulative impacts. Second, improved methods for evaluating cumulative environmental impacts must be developed and applied. Third, the capacity of existing governance arrangements to manage such impacts effectively must be enhanced. The following definition garnered acceptance at the symposia, focusing on aggregative effects of incremental actions: Cumulative impacts are those Mat result from the interactions of many incre mental activities, each of which may have an insignificant effect when viewed alone, but which become cumulatively significant when seen in aggregate. Cu mulative effects may interact in an additive or synergistic way, may occur on site or offsite, may have short-term or long-term effects, and may appear soon after disturbance or be delayed. (Dickert arid Tuttle, 1985) Cumulative impact assessment refers to specific ways in which the process of accumulation of effects and their environmental and social consequences are identified and evaluated. Such assessment involves identification of causal con- nections between activities and effects and delineates the primary role of science. Management involves deciding among options for activities based on their poten

OCR for page 13
REGIONAL SYMPOSIA 25 tial contributions to cumulative impacts on environmental or societal resources. Creating effective linkages between assessment and management requires mutual understanding of management goals and environmental and social consequences by scientists and policymakers. In that regard, managing cumulative impacts poses two specific challenges for science. First, there is an implicit need to consider socioeconomic constraints and potential outcomes, including variables such as demographics, growth management scenarios, and infrastructure needs. Second, setting spatial and temporal boundaries for scientific analyses of cumu- lative effects is difficult. The problems inherent in setting boundaries are compli- cated by the need to address multiple complex issues simultaneously and requires an understanding of the various geographical units used to conduct the assess- ment (e.g., habitat, ecosystem, watershed, airshed, ecoregion, governmental ju- risdiction). Clearly, the assessment of cumulative impacts within the context of complex and dynamic social and natural systems requires that a wide range of variables and functional relationships be taken into account. Managing Cumulative Impacts Although understanding and assessing cumulative impacts is challenging, their management may be even more problematic. Govemmental responsibility for activities that affect the environment is fragmented, geographically and by activity or resource sector. Coupled with incremental decisionmaking, this con- stitutes a major institutional impediment to the management of cumulative im- pacts. One way to address this problem is to ensure that decisionmaking is guided by a comprehensive, long-range regional planning framework that is up- dated periodically and establishes specific policies for regulatory decisions to manage or avoid adverse cumulative effects. However, comprehensive plans alone will not lead to effective management. Governance reforms also are essen- tial. To create the impetus for needed institutional change, substantial agreement on the desired social and environmental outcomes and scenarios must be reached, or at least there must be agreement on outcomes and scenarios to be avoided. The role of both natural and social scientists is important in this regard. To be effective, an integrated comprehensive framework for managing cumulative im- pacts must be politically viable-it must have sufficient public support, be "equi- table" in terms of who "pays" and who "benefits," and be adequately compelling to overcome resistance to change. The governance system selected must have sufficiently comprehensive and inclusive decisionmaking authority, in both geo- graphic and temporal dimensions. It must also be endowed with adequate fiscal resources to carry out the necessarily intensive comprehensive planning, scien- tific research, data collection, monitoring, and public education that will be re- quired. Finally, it must have sufficient legal authority to adapt its approaches as new information and circumstances warrant.

OCR for page 13