Protecting Regionally Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats



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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Protecting Regionally Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium INTRODUCTION The process by which protection of regionally significant habitats is now attempted is inadequate because the jurisdictions over habitats are divided among different government entities, stakeholders are not involved in the protection process in a way that will yield their cooperation with eventual decisions, and the information necessary to make decisions is often lacking. Problems with the quality, quantity, retrieval, and dissemination of information are faced by managers attempting to protect habitats. The quality and quantity of information for essential habitats in the Gulf of Maine are varied. In general, existing data regarding marine, estuarine, and terrestrial habitats in the Gulf of Maine are inadequate for the complete definition of essential habitats and there is little social, cultural, and economic information about people and communities using marine habitats. A number of factors impede science-policy interactions with relation to regionally significant habitats. These factors include outdated legal and institutional structures, professional specialization, information inadequacies, and a lack of mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts. There have been efforts through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others, however, to rank priority species in the Gulf of Maine and to use this list to identify priority habitats for protection.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium PROTECTING REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT MARINE HABITATS IN THE GULF OF MAINE: A CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE Blythe D. Chang, R.L. Stephenson, D.J. Wildish, and Wendy M. Watson-Wright Department of Fisheries and Oceans Biological Station St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada Introduction In this presentation we would like to discuss the protection of significant marine habitats in the Gulf of Maine. We wish especially to deal with the role of the natural sciences in the habitat-management process, illustrating this with two case studies from the Canadian portion of the Gulf of Maine. The Gulf of Maine is generally thought to be relatively free of the environmental problems prevalent in much of the world's coastal waters. Nevertheless, recent studies have found that several coastal marine sites in the Gulf of Maine do show signs of deteriorating environmental quality and declining natural resources (Van Dusen and Johnson Hayden, 1989; Harvey, 1994; Thurston and Larsen, 1994). If we accept the general description of habitat as “the ecological relationships that exist between organisms and their environments” (Gordon, 1994), we must therefore recognize that some marine habitats in the region are under threat; that such threats will likely increase in the future; and that steps must be taken to protect significant habitats.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium The identification of significant habitats depends on one's point-of-view. For a biologist, a significant habitat would be one that is essential to a critical stage in a species' life history (Langton et al., in press). Often, however, habitat management issues deal with a broader definition of habitat, encompassing all aspects of the marine environment utilized by various species and human activities. In such cases, a significant habitat may be defined by its aesthetic values or its usefulness to human activities, as well as its ecological importance to the various species in the area. Once a significant habitat has been identified, we must then ensure its protection. Usually the main players involved in the decision-making process are habitat managers in various government agencies. It is generally recognized that, in most instances, scientific input is essential to the process. As stated by Levings et al. (1989): “…defensible [habitat] management has to arise from scientific facts.” We would now like to discuss how science can provide input into habitat management issues, from our viewpoint as scientists in the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans. Types of Scientific Input in Habitat Management Wildish and Strain (1994) have classified the types of scientific input to habitat management as follows: specific research projects, field monitoring, and predictive models. Specific research projects can be conducted to gather scientific information on which to base habitat management decisions. Such research can include laboratory studies, pilot field studies, or research at other sites where similar activity is already taking place. Unfortunately, because habitat managers usually must make decisions within relatively short time frames, there often is not sufficient time to conduct specific research projects. Lack of funds for research also is frequently a problem. Field monitoring before an activity begins can be used to evaluate the potential of a site for a certain activity. Monitoring may allow identification of sensitive or significant habitats that might be impacted, but only when scientific research on the expected effects of the activity has already been done. Predevelopment monitoring can also provide the baseline data with which post-development data can be compared in order to determine if significant impacts have occurred. Field monitoring after an activity has started can be used to assess the effects of past management decisions. The results can then provide a scientific basis for altering past decisions and for making future decisions in similar circumstances. Since the results of such monitoring are only available after an activity has started, it cannot serve a purpose in the process leading to approval of a new activity.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Predictive models can be used to test the effects of alternative habitat management options, before decisions are made. These models have the added advantage of providing results within a short time frame and at little cost (once the model has been developed). These models, however, can only be developed where basic research and monitoring studies on similar activities in similar habitats have already been done—scientific knowledge of the site and potential impact must already exist. There is also another type of input that scientists are increasingly being asked to provide: advice based on existing knowledge. Scientists are often reluctant to provide this type of advice, since it often requires making inferences on limited and imperfect information. This is contrary to the conservatism built into the scientific method, which rigorously controls the permissible level of inference. Some scientists have suggested the need for a method of establishing the acceptable level of inference that scientists could use when providing input to habitat management issues (Bain, 1989). Another factor limiting scientists' desire to provide advice based on synthesis and inference from available data is that they receive little scientific recognition for this type of activity (Basta and Ehler, 1994). In any case, the quality of scientific advice provided will depend on the quality of scientific information on which the advice is based. The importance of scientific studies, which provide this information, cannot be overemphasized. The Management of Aquatic Habitat in Atlantic Canada - Background In Canada, the strongest legal ground for the protection of aquatic habitats is in the federal Fisheries Act. Under this Act, “fish habitats ” are defined as those parts of the environment “on which fish depend, directly or indirectly, in order to carry out their life processes.” Because the Act broadly defines “fish” to include all the life stages of “fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and marine animals, ” the provisions for the protection of “fish habitat” under this Act can be considered to cover habitat requirements of most aquatic life. Administration of the Fisheries Act rests predominantly with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), although at the present time some aspects are shared with the federal Department of Environment and provincial government agencies. In administering the habitat provisions of the Act, DFO has a policy objective to achieve an overall net gain of the productive capacity of fish habitats. This objective is to be attained via three goals: (1) conservation, (2) restoration, and (3) development of fish habitat. The guiding principle for implementing the habitat conservation goal is “no net loss of productive capacity of habitats” (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1986). Within DFO, the Habitat Management Branch is currently the focus for all habitat-related matters. Development proposals that may impact on fisheries habitat are referred to this Branch, which is then responsible for developing the Department's response. Because

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium the Department recognizes that habitat managers need input from scientists to ensure that the best habitat management decisions are made, formal linkages exist between habitat managers and scientists. In DFO's Scotia-Fundy Region, which includes the Canadian portion of the Gulf of Maine, the Marine Assessment and Liaison Division is the focal point for requests for scientific advice from habitat managers, as shown in Figure 1. Habitat managers request scientific information from this Division, which then contacts the appropriate scientists and compiles the scientific advice into a coordinated response back to the habitat managers (Ducharme, 1992). Recent initiatives have been undertaken in order to improve the linkages between science and habitat management within DFO's Scotia-Fundy Region (Ducharme, 1992). These include: consultation between science and habitat management in annual work plan preparation, cooperation between science and habitat management in the education of the public and industry toward habitat awareness, joint review of documents relating to habitat issues, conduct of special applied projects on habitat issues, and cooperative intervention on certain habitat issues These linkages help to ensure that scientists know which habitat issues are currently important, so that appropriate scientific data can be obtained. Similarly, such linkages help habitat managers to understand better what they can expect from scientists. To further facilitate these linkages, in late 1994, DFO amalgamated all of its habitat activities (both research and management) within the Department 's science sector. We will now move on to discuss two case studies, representing different ways that habitat-management issues have been dealt with in Canadian waters of the Gulf of Maine. Protection of herring spawning habitat on Trinity Ledge, Nova Scotia Multiuse habitat issues in the Fundy Isles region, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick These are two quite different cases—in the first instance, we are dealing with an “essential habitat” (Langton et al., in press) for a single species. In such a case, the goal of habitat management is quite clear and specific: to protect a habitat essential for a single species, in order to protect the resource. In the second case, we are dealing with habitat in a broader context, referring to the marine environment in an area used by various species and

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium activities. In this case, habitat management becomes more complex, as it involves balancing the often conflicting demands of the various stakeholders. Case Study 1: Trinity Ledge Herring Spawning Grounds Background and Context Fisheries management in Canada is the mandate of DFO. There is a well established framework for the integration of science and policy in this aspect of resource management. Emphasis has increasingly been placed on input from industry through consultation in an advisory committee process. The focus of the current system of evaluation and management is the protection of the fish population, rather than of the habitat in the traditional sense of the word, and overall habitat considerations are made in an ad hoc way. This case study involves the evolution and treatment of one “habitat” issue within the current resource management structure. The Southwest Nova Scotia herring fishery (area 4X) is a typical example of fisheries management under this system. It has an elaborate management structure, and is under considerable regulatory control. This fishery was one of the first to be placed under limited entry restriction (1970), Total Allowable Catch (TAC) regulation (1972), and an individual quota (IQ) system of management in the major purse seine fleet (1976). The fishery is managed according to an annual plan developed by a representative advisory committee (see Stephenson et al., 1993a for details). Atlantic herring migrate and mix extensively as both juveniles and adults, but aggregate in discrete locations to spawn. There is believed to be a high degree of homing to these spawning grounds, so that herring management units are considered to be made up of a number of spawning components or stocks (or substocks). The summer fishery has traditionally focused on, and around, these spawning grounds, where herring aggregate in a regular and predictable manner. Trinity Ledge (Figure 2) is one such spawning location and has been a favorite fishing area because of its proximity to the major port of Yarmouth. Within the last decade, the focus of fishing activity on the Trinity Ledge spawning grounds has become a habitat issue, and the management process has had to evolve to accommodate it. Chronology In the early 1980s, Trinity Ledge was the most popular fishing ground in the summer Bay of Fundy herring fishery. Competition between a purse seine fleet (of approximately 40

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium vessels) and a gillnet fleet (of over 100 vessels) was intense on this relatively small fishing area. Gear conflict in 1984 resulted in the prohibition of purse seiners from an area of approximately 35 mi2 (90 km2) during the last week of August and first week of September (smaller box in Figure 2), leaving the area to the gillnet fleet, which had few other fishing areas (Stephenson et al., 1985). This restriction was primarily to reduce gear conflict, but was immediately considered by some to have an element of habitat protection because it might reduce overall effort on the central spawning grounds. Despite this closure, by 1985 the pressure on Trinity Ledge increased, due to the emergence of a large Japanese roe market. In that year more than 40 percent of the total summer fishery catch was taken from the Trinity Ledge area during spawning (Figure 3), and an unknown additional amount of fish were taken from the Trinity Ledge stock in mixed fisheries before and after spawning. Assessment of the population in 1986 focused concern over the increasing concentration of the fishery on this spawning ground. Stephenson et al. (1986) stated: “the exact contribution of this spawning group to the whole stock is unknown, but it is almost certainly experiencing fishing pressure in excess of its relative contribution to the stock complex.” Several control mechanisms were suggested, including catch limits, time restrictions, area closures, and effort limits, but none was adopted. Only the two-week gear conflict exclusion was continued, and the 1986 fishery saw changes on Trinity Ledge, including a drop in the purse seine catch rate (Stephenson et al., 1987). For the 1987 fishery, the industry agreed to a partial closure of a larger 100 mi2 (260 km2) area around the Ledge for three days per week during the period August 15 -September 15 (larger box in Figure 2), but Trinity Ledge remained the single most important fishing area in the Bay of Fundy, representing 28 percent of the total summer purse seine catch (Stephenson et al., 1988). In a continuing effort to decrease fishing pressure on the Trinity Ledge spawning component, the original plan for 1988 called for a closure of the 100 mi2 area for 18 days during late August and early September. However, because of negative industry reaction, this was modified to a series of three- and four-day closures per week. The closure resulted in a slight decrease in effort on Trinity Ledge, but catches remained about the same as in the previous year (Stephenson et al., 1989). The 1989 fishing plan also imposed an 18-day intermittent closure, but very little spawning took place on the ledge, and very little catch (266 tonnes) was taken there (Stephenson et al., 1990). Although the restriction was for purse seiners, the gillnet fishery had been declining in recent years due primarily to lack of market and was minimal by this point.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium By late 1989, the industry was sufficiently concerned about the lack of spawning on Trinity Ledge to place a continuous 18-day closure, beginning August 15 for the 1990 fishery. In 1990 only 1,113 tonnes (1 percent of the total summer fishery) was recorded as having been taken from Trinity Ledge. The 18-day continuous closure beginning August 15 has been included each year since 1991 (through 1994), at the request of industry and by consensus. Increasing amounts of herring have been seen, on and around the Ledge, and increasing amounts have been taken from the area prior to and after the closure (although these amounts are much less than was taken during the mid-1980s) (Stephenson et al., 1993b). There is no question now that Trinity Ledge was unable to sustain the disproportionately high degree of fishing pressure exerted during the 1980s (illustrated in Figure 3). The need for protection of this significant habitat took time to recognize, and protection took even longer. Learning from this example, the industry and DFO are pursuing options for spreading the fishery among spawning components more appropriately in future management of the resource. Lessons Consideration of the importance of specific habitat is not common in traditional fisheries management. In this case, the subtleties of substock structure and the related habitat issue of substock spawning ground protection were not adequately addressed by the overall approach to management. This case study points out the need for recognition of essential habitats in the life history of a species. Future management of herring must include adequate consideration of the spawning stock and of the spawning area habitat. This case study also shows the difficulty in decision making related to habitat issues. This was a case of heavy local exploitation leading to spawning area collapse, not adequately prevented by management. Scientists had advised that the disproportionately high effort was likely to be detrimental. Although the industry perceived a problem and imposed some voluntary restrictions, it could not bring itself to take significant restrictive action early enough to prevent overfishing of the area. This situation shows the importance of science-management-industry consensus on management objectives, and on the methods of achieving them.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium How do population levels of cod and haddock affect the Georges Bank and other important ecosystems? It has been observed that dogfish and skates have increased in abundance as cod and haddock populations decreased, so one possible effect of groundfish recovery would be a decrease in dogfish and skate populations. How are cod and haddock populations affected by human activities? What are the social and economic significances of Georges Bank cod and haddock on regional and national levels? Scientists enlisted to provide this information should establish a single repository for their data and interpretations of it, including information about alternative actions and their implications. Scientists and policymakers should meet in an appropriate forum to communicate the information developed. Scientists might recommend, based on answers to the natural and social science questions described above, that specific areas of the Gulf of Maine should be closed to specific activities during specific intervals of time. Scientists should meet again later with policymakers to evaluate the progress of policy implementation, recommend adjustments to policy, and identify new information needed. Natural Science Issues One approach to the identification and management of essential habitat associations has been outlined in a report of a recent Regional Association of Research on the Gulf of Maine habitat workshop (Fisheries Resources Working Group, 1994; Stevenson and Braasch, 1994) and is also outlined in the paper by Steneck in this proceedings (see pp. 147-154). In this scheme, a sequential series of questions and research actions is used to determine whether a species requires an essential habitat during any of its life history stages. Essential habitat is the type of environment that is necessary for the survival or stability of a species. Once knowledge of the extent of these essential habitats is acquired, appropriate management decisions can be made regarding conservation or permissible alteration of the habitat. The quality and resolution of information on essential habitats in the Gulf of Maine are varied. In general, existing survey data of marine, estuarine, and terrestrial habitats in the Gulf of Maine are inadequate for the complete definition of essential habitats. Comprehensive, fine-scale maps of physical habitats in the Gulf of Maine do not exist, although there are maps of nearshore bathymetry, substrate types, and depositional environments for a large portion of the Gulf of Maine coastline (e.g., Kelley et al., 1987a,b). Additional geological characterization of nearshore benthic habitats is being conducted along the Maine coast. The distribution and abundance of populations of commercially important fish are reasonably well documented as a result of long-term, stratified random surveys conducted by

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium agencies such as the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and various coastal states and provinces in the Gulf of Maine region. The distribution of these populations has been compared with seafloor characteristics and other physical parameters, such as temperature and salinity. A limited amount of data also exist correlating the distribution of the most common marine invertebrates with these physical parameters. However, much of this information is too sparse to define specific habitats within the region. With available information, attempts to correlate species distributions with habitat types would be coarse, at best. Classifications have been developed for intertidal and nearshore subtidal habitats (Brown, 1993) and for terrestrial communities (Maine Natural Areas Program, 1991) in Maine. Terrestrial, marine, and estuarine communities have been mapped by the Maine Natural Areas Program and are being used in a geographic information system (Wipplehauser, 1994). The Maine Natural Areas Program administers the official list of Maine's endangered and threatened plants (Maine Natural Areas Program, 1994), maintains a register of areas voluntarily protected by landowners, and documents the location, condition, and status of Maine's rare botanical features in a comprehensive database system (Wipplehauser, 1994). Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, completed a list of priority species for the Gulf of Maine (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994). Also available is a series of wetland inventories for selected coastal areas, prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g., Foulis and Tiner, 1994). The creation of an interface between the various databases has yet to be achieved. Furthermore, cross-disciplinary exchange and integration of information is rare to nonexistent. Development of a mechanism for information exchange is as necessary as collection of data at the appropriate scales. Social Science Issues There is very little social, cultural, and economic information about people and communities using marine habitats. Rather than attempting to construct complete ethnographies for all of the communities and groups with interests in significant marine habitats, we suggest that two kinds of data be collected. First, baseline data should be gathered for all sets of people and coastal communities that depend on significant marine habitats. This includes information on numbers of boats, people employed, gear used, support facilities, and other relevant factors. It also includes data on the social organization (i.e., informal groups, associations, marketing organizations, political organizations) of coastal communities. Particular attention should be paid to gathering information about the way coastal inhabitants define marine habitats, their attitudes toward them, their ideas and observations about the animals that live in these habitats, and

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium any norms or practices that influence the ways these habitats are used, protected, or abused. These data are essential if management plans are to be formulated that take advantage of “local level” knowledge and avoid conflicting with community norms and practices. The use of local-level knowledge should, in turn, aid in producing plans that can gain a maximum amount of support in the political arena from those most dependent on significant coastal habitats. In addition, data should be gathered on all other stakeholders related to these habitats. This would include groups as diverse as environmental associations, mineral companies, tourists, cottage owners, manufacturing firms, scientists, managers, legislators, and government agencies. Data should be collected on the attitudes, goals, ambitions, and plans of stakeholders related to the habitat, as well as on perceived problems and solutions involving these significant habitats. These data would presumably help scientists and managers to understand conflicts among stakeholders and to suggest possible ways to resolve such conflicts. The Nature of Existing Science-Policy Interactions The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is attempting to integrate the efforts of all parties in the Gulf of Maine that have an interest or responsibilities in science and policy development. However, coordination efforts are in early stages. Although responsible agencies are influenced by the broader perspectives of the Gulf of Maine Action Plan, most science and policy development is undertaken within the normal operating procedures of each resource agency. Each agency brings its own institutions, procedures, and resources to bear on the issue of habitat conservation within the Gulf of Maine region. Thus, science is initiated and undertaken within the familiar paradigms of either self-initiated research by institutions with their own mandates and capabilities, or through requests for research funding from scientists to agencies or granting bodies. There are several examples in the Gulf of Maine region of new partnerships of responsible agencies, other institutions, and local interests that are forming to achieve environmental goals. These coalitions perform several functions: (1) the collective assessment of existing environmental quality parameters, (2) the establishment of processes to determine the environmental goals and objectives of the “community of interest,” and (3) the design of a plan for the collective achievement of the goals and objectives. Partnerships for science-policy interactions are effective only when individual participants are willing to relinquish some of their authority and normal operating procedures in favor of the collective effort. Collective action affects scientific activity, because research priorities are collectively set. Research review and screening processes may also be different when conducted in partnership. Multidisciplinary studies become more common under partnerships than under single-agency authority. Research products are “translated,” so that the broader community of interested individuals can understand the findings and implications

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium of the research. Despite these differences between single agency and partnership approaches to research definition, organization, and review, the standards of good scientific process should remain the same. The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment has used the partnership model in its attempts to develop a protected-areas strategy for the region. Given the breadth of the community of interest, the multiple governance jurisdictions, the institutional complexity, and the progress that must be achieved to develop a common working vision for the marine region, the task of developing a comprehensive plan is daunting. Impediments to the Science and Policy Interactions A number of factors impede science-policy interactions with relation to regionally significant habitats. These include outdated legal and institutional structures, professional specialization, information inadequacies, and a lack of processes for the resolution of conflicts. Legal and institutional structures have developed to address single issues, for example, fisheries. These structures tend to discourage international, interstate, interprovincial, and interagency collaboration. Interaction is further impeded by short-term and changing policy goals, and by conflicting public priorities. Institutions are also handicapped by slow reactions that prevent either the anticipation of problems or the rapid response to early warning signs of problems. Often, preventative action is not taken, until it can be proven that harm would result from inaction. The adversarial nature of the process restricts full access to information. Specialization among scientists and interest groups can hinder information flows among disciplines, as well as prevent holistic, collaborative approaches to environmental problems. Research funding mechanisms and academic traditions promote the continuation of professional compartmentalization. Lack of information is another impediment to science-policy interactions. This lack includes deficiencies in the quantity and quality of information on the social, economic, and ecological factors relating to the use and protection of habitat, as well as deficiencies in the flow of information among scientists, policymakers, and the public. Ecosystem science also needs to be advanced to achieve a better understanding of cause-and-effect relationships in ecosystems. Uncertainty in science often leads to equivocal statements that create frustration among policymakers or the public. Conflicting scientific information can result in policy inaction. In addition, poor public education about science and policy leads to a lack of understanding of ecosystem causes, effects, and possible preventive actions. Information is often unavailable within the appropriate time frame. Science and policy operate on different time scales: the time horizon of policy decisions is much shorter than that of research.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Scientific information is rarely presented in a form that is understandable and usable by all participants in the process. The lack of appropriate processes for conflict resolution is another impediment. Traditional “yes-no” decision-making processes may not be as suitable to habitat protection issues as would be more adaptive styles of management. Agency policy may be locked in by its tradition of conducting science and its concern for consistency and credibility. Unclear definitions of authority and processes for action contribute to the need for conflict resolution on multiple jurisdictional scales. Interactions Between Science and Policy in Managing Gulf of Maine Habitats: Some Examples There are a number of recent and ongoing examples of Gulf of Maine management efforts that involve close interaction between science and policy, some of which are highlighted below. Habitat protection should result from these efforts. As of yet, however, there do not appear to be any cases of science-policy interactions designed specifically to protect regionally significant habitats, where the significance of the habitats has been determined through broad discussion among all stakeholders. A good discussion of the regional scale of habitat-related research priorities relevant to Gulf of Maine management needs is presented in Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings (Stevenson and Braasch, 1994). This workshop was designed specifically to encourage communication between scientists and managers to enhance the use of habitat-related research and management in the Gulf of Maine. Designation of Gulf of Maine Priority Species In 1992, the Gulf of Maine Project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment brought together state, federal, provincial, and nongovernmental entities to develop an approach to identify regionally significant fish and wildlife habitats in the Gulf of Maine. That meeting represented the initiation of the Council's effort to address one of the priority objectives of the Gulf of Maine Action Plan—to protect, restore, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Maine. The USFWS “priority species” approach was adopted as a means to identify regionally significant habitats. A ranked list of 161 species has now been compiled through the work of a Habitat Panel composed of representatives from wildlife, fish, marine resource, and nongovernmental agencies from each federal, provincial, and state group (USFWS, 1994). Criteria for species selection and ranking represented social, economic, and environmental concerns of public, private, and governmental interests. The Gulf of Maine Project is now using this list to identify priority habitats to protect, based on the number and rank of the

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium priority species present within a given habitat. Once identified, watershed management plans will be developed to protect and restore these priority habitats. Protection of Bay of Fundy Benthic Habitats In 1993, scientists and managers from the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) met with fishermen to address the impact of scallop dredges (used for sea urchin harvesting) on benthic organisms and benthic habitat in the Bay of Fundy. DFO scientists presented the results of benthic surveys at a series of meetings, and the fishermen developed a set of regulations for the urchin-harvesting industry based on survey results and resource economic considerations. The regulations included such measures as closed seasons, size limits, limits on dredge size, and prohibition on the use of the more destructive scallop dredge in favor of a lighter design causing less bottom disturbance. The fishermen also developed a sanctions policy that penalized violators of regulations. These regulations were adopted as policy by DFO, and the fishermen were asked to demonstrate their agreement with the new policies by signing a document sent to them with their fishing licenses. Fishermen participated in the management process because they understood the economic benefits of protecting the resource, and because they realized that the fishery would ultimately be regulated anyway. The availability of definitive scientific information, presented by the scientists themselves using underwater photography and color videos, was essential to the project's success. Evaluation of Coastal Wetlands in New Hampshire Barrier beach salt marsh systems are the predominant habitat along the New Hampshire coastline. These habitats have been and continue to be subject to intense development pressure. To develop a coherent planning process to manage land use along the coast and to select sites for potential habitat restoration projects, the New Hampshire Coastal Program, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (now part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service), and the New Hampshire Audubon Society collaborated on the development of a coastal wetland evaluation manual (completed in 1993) designed for use by citizen groups in each of New Hampshire's seven coastal towns. A steering committee comprised of scientists, environmentalists, citizens, and policymakers participated significantly in the development of the manual. The New Hampshire Audubon Society is now conducting workshops to train citizen groups in each town to use the manual to inventory and evaluate their coastal wetland resources. This information will be used to reduce the impact of local and state development decisions on coastal wetland resources and to prepare for the movement of beaches that is predicted to occur if sea level continues to rise.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Habitat Evaluation in the Damariscotta River Estuary In 1993, the Coastal Program of the Maine State Planning Office initiated the Damariscotta River Estuary Project. The goal of the project is to develop a habitat-based estuarine watershed management plan that will be supported and implemented by the seven towns in the watershed. A steering committee of 17 local citizens, including one member each from a local land trust, the Damariscotta River Association, and the Lincoln County Planning Office, has guided the activities of the project from its inception. To date, project researchers have characterized upland and aquatic habitats in the watershed and have organized this information in a spatially-referenced geographic information system. They have conducted a resource economics survey of the estuary, known for its shellfish aquaculture industry. The project is now beginning its work with local planning board members. Together they will develop a watershed management plan that will recommend habitat protection measures to maintain the quality of the Damariscotta' s estuarine resources. Success of this endeavor will be a function of its acceptance by both the public and environmental scientists in the region. Beach and dune habitat has been subject to intense human activity in the Gulf of Maine for decades. Many beaches are now experiencing severe erosion during winter storms due to the effects of seawalls and jetties, possibly exacerbated by sea-level rise. In Wells, Maine, undermining and buckling of sea walls protecting beachfront property in late 1992 spurred the organization of a Beach Task Force, made up of community members; town, state, and federal officials; academic scientists; and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). The task force brought together all interested parties to discuss the best strategy to restore beach and dune habitat and, therefore, protect several miles of beach property. To date, task force activity has lead to the installation of several small-scale beach stabilization projects to protect the properties at greatest risk. The task force continues to work on plans for large-scale beach enhancement, based on research conducted by scientists associated with the Wells NERR and the Maine Geological Survey. Over the longer term, the Wells NERR is developing research-based educational materials to help coastal Gulf of Maine communities prepare for the movement of beaches that is predicted if sea level continues to rise. Improving Interactions Between Science and Policy on Regionally Significant Habitats Room for improvement exists in several key areas of science-policy interaction. Although impediments to science and policy interactions were the basis of the following consensus areas, we also suggest a mechanism for strategic and proactive planning with respect to regionally significant habitats that will establish an opportunity to identify, study, and develop policy addressing the next generation of resource use issues.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium The group reached a consensus on the need for the following mechanisms to improve science-policy interactions: a framework that allows natural and social scientists to conduct their research in an environment relatively insulated from direct political influences; requests for proposals from granting institutions that require research to address the information needs of policymakers; incentives within academic institutions to encourage tenured and tenure-track professors to conduct research and publish papers that address resource management questions, offer policy recommendations, and interpret and translate scientific information for the lay audience; incentives within resource agencies to encourage agency scientists to interact and work constructively with their lay constituency groups; funding to encourage the interface between researchers and policymakers at the planning stage of development; processes to enable collaborative participation of policymakers, scientists, and other stakeholders in a way that ensures the quality control of resulting information; mechanisms to improve the development and use of a shared, distributed data base and electronic media as a tool for improving collaborative processes; adaptive management approaches that incorporate flexibility in response to ecological variability and scientific uncertainty; and incorporation of predictive components into ecosystem strategic planning to allow policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders the opportunity to identify future threats to resources and to anticipate management and policy needs. Conclusions: Improving Science and Policy Interactions Two days of discussions of regionally significant habitats in the Gulf of Maine identified the six issues listed below. Issue 1: A wide variation in value systems make it difficult to assign priorities to various habitat types. Conclusions: A consensus on the relative values of various habitats can be reached only through extensive participation of the communities of interest, many of which

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium are outside government. All communities must have access to relevant information in a format that they can understand readily. All communities must feel that they have had access to the decision-making process. Given that stakeholders have a wide range of goals, attitudes, and interests, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should facilitate programs aimed at collaborative problem solving. Issue 2: The jurisdictional environment is complex, and it is difficult to get agencies and institutions working toward a common plan. Institutions whose interests and responsibilities relate to Gulf of Maine habitats do not usually coordinate their activities, leading to uneven treatment of problems and inefficiencies. Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Program should continue to forge partnerships and should consider sponsorship of a Gulf of Maine habitat joint venture to develop a clear, prioritized action plan for advancing a habitat protection strategy for the Gulf of Maine region. As an initial step, the Gulf of Maine Program should consider developing a compendium of habitat-related programs and initiatives that are ongoing regionally and could serve as models for a joint venture or could be incorporated within such an initiative. The North American Wildlife Management Program is one possible model. The species prioritization initiative currently being pursued by USFWS, in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, represents a common approach toward identifying regionally significant habitats and should be continued and supported by U.S. and Canadian agencies and institutions in the region. It may also serve as a useful model for future collaborative work. Issue 3: Information related to Gulf of Maine habitats is very incomplete. Conclusions: Coordinated efforts should focus on marine areas and their uses. The research agenda can be improved by explicitly including social sciences and community knowledge related to habitats. Information is needed on life cycles and essential habitats of valued species assemblages. We also need information on impacts of human activities and the stresses that they place on the elements and function of the ecosystem. We should continue the process of trying to develop a habitat classification system on priority species ranking. Issue 4: Information related to the Gulf of Maine remains fragmented and difficult to access. It is often available only in highly technical form and is not very accessible. Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should advance and support the development of a data information network using available Internet systems. The Council should develop policies and protocols it would like to see adopted by participating partners to make Gulf of Maine habitat information more widely and readily available. These protocols should include requirements that data be made available in a timely manner and in a format that is understandable to the general public.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Issue 5: There are no integrated or strategic national policies focused on management and protection of the Gulf of Maine. The mandates of U.S. federal agencies are, in some cases, too weak to allow them to be full partners in regional initiatives. Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should develop a strategy that would lead to clear national policies related to the management of the Gulf of Maine and its contiguous coastal zone, that are consistent between the United States and Canada. Ways should be sought to involve federal agencies more formally, while maintaining the spirit of equal partnership that Gulf of Maine policymaking now enjoys. Policies must be adaptive to incorporate new information and evolving value systems. References Brown, B. 1993. A Classification System of Marine and Estuarine Habitats in Maine: An Ecosystem Approach to Habitats. Part I: Benthic Habitats. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine. Fisheries Resources Working Group. 1994. Report. In D. Stevenson and B. Braasch (eds.) Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings. RARGOM Report Number 94-2, Sea Grant Report #UNHMP-T/DR-SG-94-18. Foulis, D.B., and R.W. Tiner. 1994. Wetland Trends for Selected Areas of the Casco Bay Estuary of the Gulf of Maine (1974-77 to 1984-87). Ecological Services Report R5-94/1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, Maine. Kelley, J.T., R.C. Shipp, and D.F. Belknap. 1987a. Geomorphology and Sedimentary Framework of the Inner Continental Shelf of Southwestern Maine. Open-File No. 87-5, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Conservation, Augusta, Maine. Kelley, J.T., D.F. Belknap, and R.C Shipp. 1987b. Geomorphology and Sedimentary Framework of the Inner Continental Shelf of South Central Maine. Open-File No. 87-19, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Conservation, Augusta, Maine. Maine Natural Areas Program. 1991. Natural Landscapes of Maine: A Classification of Ecosystems and Natural Communities. Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine. Maine Natural Areas Program. 1994. Elements of Natural Diversity: Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants. Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Stevenson, D., and B. Braasch (eds.). 1994. Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings. RARGOM Report Number 94-2, Sea Grant Report #UNHMP-T/DR-SG-94-18. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Project, and Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. 1994. Identification of Species for Priority Habitats. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Project, Falmouth, Maine.