Using Indicators of Environmental Quality as a Tool to Maintain the Gulf of Maine



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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Using Indicators of Environmental Quality as a Tool to Maintain the Gulf of Maine

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium INTRODUCTION An indicator is a signal of an environmental/social condition that may need further investigation or remedial action. Indicators of environmental quality are monitored for several different purposes —to gather information about the status and trends of ecosystem health, to evaluate the effects of policy and management programs, and to monitor compliance with regulatory programs. Indicators of marine environmental quality could provide a means to monitor the health of the Gulf of Maine. Many different indicators are conceivable, each related to specific environmental problems. Thus, measurements of specific toxic chemical contaminants in sediments, the water column, and organisms could provide information about sources, effects, and fates of some chemical pollutants. Monitoring of marine ecosystem health is necessary for determining how ecosystems are affected by a variety of impacts and what management options would best ensure the future health and productivity of these systems. Although monitoring can improve our understanding of marine ecosystems, in many cases a base of understanding must be achieved before we can determine what variables should be monitored and at what frequency in time and space. A pilot program for environmental monitoring in the Gulf of Maine, Gulfwatch, has been established recently. Means for cooperation among policymakers, scientists, and the public is illustrated by interactions involved in studying Boston Harbor and Massachusetts Bay (see Appendix F). Not only the natural segment of coastal systems should be monitored. It is also important to monitor the impact of coastal environmental health, use, and policies on the human ecology of coastal areas. Coastal policies work directly on people and only indirectly on the environment, through the actions of affected people. This creates a need for monitoring the effectiveness of policies in changing the beliefs and behaviors of coastal populations and how these changes relate to environmental quality.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium ENVIRONMENTAL INDICATORS OF TOXIC CHEMICAL CONTAMINANTS IN THE GULF OF MAINE Judith McDowell Capuzzo Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Environmental concern about contaminant input to coastal waters is focused on (1) the accumulation and transfer of metals and organic contaminants in marine food chains, including accumulation in commercial resources and potential impacts on human health and (2) the toxic effects of such contaminants on the survival and reproduction of marine organisms and the resulting impact on marine ecosystems. Evaluation of the fate and effects of toxic contaminants of environmental concern in the marine environment requires an understanding of (1) the temporal and spatial distribution of contaminants; (2) the partitioning of contaminants to different compartments of the ecosystem (e.g., sediments and biota), including assessment of contaminant bioavailability; and (3) the level of damage imposed by accumulation of contaminants in biotic resources. Such an evaluation requires the development of risk assessment or characterization that couples an understanding of contaminant distribution in the environment with an understanding of the mechanisms of toxic action and the transfer of contaminants to the human consumer. A conceptual model for describing ecological and human health risks must successfully relate contaminant distribution and bioavailability to the probability and magnitude of biological impact. The use of environmental indicators within the context of this conceptual model allows predictions of the temporal and spatial scales of environmental quality issues. The Gulf of Maine serves as an excellent example for the application of environmental indicators to evaluate marine environmental quality. The Gulf of Maine ecosystem extends southward from the coast of Nova Scotia to Massachusetts, where it is

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium comprised of many small embayments, and seaward on the continental shelf to Georges Bank and Browns Bank (Figure 1). This ecosystem is well known for its diverse habitats, productive fishing grounds, and unique oceanographic conditions. It is the third most densely populated coastal region in the United States (Culliton et al., 1990). The small embayments of the Gulf of Maine are strongly influenced by land-use practices and range from fairly pristine environments to highly contaminated environments in the vicinity of urban settings (Larsen, 1992). The input of chemical contaminants to the Gulf of Maine is derived from a variety of sources including discharges from industrial and municipal sources, oil spills, dredged material, offshore oil and gas exploration, atmospheric fallout, riverine inputs, and other nonpoint pollution sources. The environmental distribution of chemical contaminants has been well characterized in many areas within the Gulf of Maine. Specific concerns are focused on the distribution of trace metals, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and other chlorinated hydrocarbons, especially in many estuaries within the Gulf of Maine (e.g., Saco River, Great Bay, Penobscot Bay, Casco Bay, Merrimack River, Massachusetts Bay, and Cape Cod Bay). Two aspects of the present status of toxic chemical concentrations in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem that are important to consider in evaluating marine environmental quality are (1) comparison with other coastal areas of the United States, particularly within the Northeastern United States; and (2) the status of the distribution of toxic chemicals within specific embayments. The National Status and Trends Program for Marine Environmental Quality of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) surveyed about 300 sites in the United States coastal area for concentrations of trace metals and lipophilic organic contaminants since 1984. In the Gulf of Maine, 15 stations were surveyed for sediment contamination and nine stations were surveyed for the accumulation of contaminants in biota (Mussel Watch; Figure 2). More recently, a pilot program for environmental monitoring in the Gulf of Maine, Gulfwatch, has been established. In addition, several studies of contaminant distribution in sediments have been conducted in specific embayments or specific regions of the Gulf of Maine. Sediment Quality The distribution, fate, and effects of chemical contaminants in coastal marine environments are governed by natural biogeochemical processes that influence contaminant persistence and bioavailability. Accumulation of contaminants in biological resources may occur through aqueous, dietary, or sedimentary pathways. In the long-term, chemical contaminants of biological concern, such as metals and organic compounds, are associated primarily with particulate matter. Transport of particulate-bound contaminants within coastal areas coincides with sediment transport processes, and thus, there are numerous examples around the world where sediment deposits in coastal areas reflect waste disposal histories. Transfer of contaminants to marine biota and humans and disturbance of ecological systems

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium are dependent on the availability and persistence of contaminants within sediments and transport within benthic ecosystems. Larsen (1992) recently reviewed studies on the distribution of trace contaminants in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Trace metals, chlorinated pesticides, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) are found in sediments and biota throughout the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. Spatial gradients of contamination are delineated with nearshore, urban, and industrialized areas having higher concentrations of specific contaminants than offshore areas. Trace Metals High concentrations of several trace metals have been detected in sediment samples from several estuaries within the Gulf of Maine. Chromium concentration in the Great Bay estuary (N.H.), the Saco River (Maine), and Salem Harbor (Mass.) have been attributed to the input of tannery wastes to coastal waters over the past fifty years (Capuzzo and Anderson, 1973; Armstrong et al., 1976; Mayer and Fink, 1980; NOAA, 1991). Concentrations of other trace metals also appear to be elevated at several locations within the Gulf of Maine, including Boothbay Harbor, Casco Bay, and Penobscot Bay (Larsen, 1992). From data sets collected in the NOAA National Status and Trends Program, five sites within the Gulf of Maine had high concentrations of trace metals (greater than one standard deviation above the geometric mean for all stations; NOAA, 1991): Merriconeag Sound for tin, Cape Ann for lead and tin, Salem Harbor for silver, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, lead, tin, and zinc, and Boston Harbor for silver, cadmium, chromium, mercury, lead, and tin. Quincy Bay for silver, cadmium, chromium, copper, mercury, lead, and tin Petroleum Hydrocarbons Petroleum hydrocarbons may be derived from a variety of different sources, including the burning of fossil fuels, accidental oil spills, and chronic inputs from municipal discharges and marinas. Oil spills have occurred frequently in the Gulf of Maine, especially in Boston Harbor, Portland Harbor, and Penobscot Bay. Sites in the Gulf of Maine with high concentrations of PAHs include Boston Harbor, Casco Bay, and Penobscot Bay. Loadings of

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium PAHs to Massachusetts Bay are estimated to be within the range of 2.1 to 13.7 metric tons per year (Menzie-Cura and Associates, 1991). Sites receiving inputs from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are among the most contaminated sites in Boston Harbor/Massachusetts Bays. Concentrations of total PAHs in Boston Harbor sediments are among the highest reported for all coastal sites of the United States in the NOAA National Status and Trends program. Among sites examined within the New England region, concentrations of total PAHs in sediment samples from Boston Harbor exceeded concentrations in samples from other sites by as much as one to two orders of magnitude (MacDonald, 1991). Johnson et al. (1985) reported high concentrations of PAHs in Penobscot Bay, with a distinct spatial gradient decreasing seaward from the head of the bay. The composition of PAHs suggested a pyrogenic source, and the authors concluded that atmospheric transport and river runoff may be the major sources of PAH contamination. Larsen et al. (1983) reported high concentrations of PAHs in Casco Bay, with the highest levels found in Portland Harbor, and the composition reflecting multiple sources of input including automobile and aircraft traffic, petroleum handling facilities, and municipal sewer systems. Additional studies in the central Gulf of Maine suggested an accumulation of PAHs in the fine-grained sediments in depositional basins (Larsen et al., 1986). Among the NOAA National Status and Trends sediment stations, the following sites in the Gulf of Maine had high concentrations of low molecular weight (2- and 3-ring) compounds and high molecular weight (4-ring and larger) compounds (NOAA, 1991): Penobscot Bay - low molecular weight and high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons; Casco Bay (Kennebec River) - low molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons; Cape Ann - high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons; Salem Harbor - low molecular weight and high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons; Boston Harbor - low molecular weight and high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons; and Quincy Bay - low molecular weight and high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Chlorinated Hydrocarbons Chlorinated hydrocarbons (including DDT, other chlorinated pesticides, and PCBs) are highly resistant to degradation in the marine environment and may accumulate to high concentrations in both sediments and biota. For the few areas of the U.S. coastline for which long-term data sets exist, the concentrations of chlorinated hydrocarbons in sediments and tissues of marine organisms appear to be declining since the late 1960s and early 1970s (Mearns et al., 1988), with the exception of highly contaminated areas such as New Bedford Harbor, Mass. Comparison of data for NOAA National Status and Trends Stations in the Gulf of Maine reveal that only Boston Harbor and Salem Harbor have high concentrations of total PCBs and total DDT. Data collected by Larsen et al. (1984) on PCB concentrations in sediments from Casco Bay suggest that the concentrations of PCBs have increased since the 1980s. Data summarized by Hauge (1988) and reported by Larsen (1992) suggest that agricultural runoff may contribute large inputs of chlorinated pesticides, such as aldrin, chlordane, and heptachlor, to the Gulf of Maine through the Kennebec estuary. Concentrations of individual pesticides in sediments from the Kennebec River Plume are as high or higher than in sediments from urban harbors such as Boston Harbor. Mussel Watch Bivalve molluscs have been used extensively during the past two decades as sentinel monitors of chemical contamination (Butler, 1973; NRC, 1980; Farrington et al., 1983), and more recently, as organisms in biological effects monitoring (Bayne et al., 1988). Distinguishing between natural and enhanced levels of chemicals in marine biota is extremely difficult without a detailed data base on background levels for different species and the extent of natural variation in background levels, as a result of both environmental and biological factors. Trace Metals Differences in background trace metal levels between species of organisms can be as large as several orders of magnitude, whereas trace metal levels in the same species sampled along an environmental gradient from uncontaminated to contaminated habitats may vary by less than an order of magnitude. Marine animals differ in their capacity to store, remove, and detoxify metal contaminants. Thus, considerable variation in metal content may be apparent among different species collected from a single location. Seasonal differences in metal concentrations in mussels (Mytilus) vary by a factor of 2 to 4 due to changes in physiological and/or reproductive condition (Capuzzo et al., 1987). Samples collected and analyzed during the U.S. Mussel Watch Program (1976 to 1978) indicate a relatively high concentration of lead in mussels collected at several New

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium England sites, ranging from Cape Newagen, Maine, to Cape Cod Canal, Mass., with the highest concentrations occurring at Cape Ann and Boston, Mass. (Goldberg et al., 1983). Among the NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch stations, the following sites surveyed in the Gulf of Maine were among the 20 most contaminated sites in U.S. coastal waters for several trace metals (NOAA, 1989): Boston Harbor for silver, lead, mercury, copper, and chromium; Salem Harbor for lead, copper, and chromium; and Penobscot Bay for mercury. Results from the pilot program for Gulfwatch indicate high concentrations of lead in mussels from Boothbay Harbor, Maine (Sowles et al., 1992). Petroleum Hydrocarbons and Chlorinated Hydrocarbons The bioaccumulation of lipophilic organic contaminants is influenced by (1) chemical factors such as solubility and particle adsorption-desorption kinetics of specific compounds, and (2) biological factors such as the transfer of compounds through food chains and the amount of body lipid in exposed organisms. Differences in contaminant concentrations among species from different habitats may be the result of differences in the availability of sediment-bound contaminants and capacity for biotransformation. In contrast to body burdens of trace metals, differences in the concentration of lipophilic organic contaminants in bivalves, collected from uncontaminated and contaminated locations, may vary by several orders of magnitude (Capuzzo et al., 1987). Samples of mussels taken during the U.S. Mussel Watch Program indicate that shellfish collected from the northeastern part of the United States had elevated concentrations of PCBs, in comparison to shellfish collected from U.S. west coast sites (Farrington et al., 1983). The lowest levels of PCBs in the northeast were detected in mussels collected from the Maine coast (with the exception of Portland, Casco Bay) and stations north of Boston. Consistently elevated levels (> 0.01 ppm wet weight) were evident from Boston southward. Concentrations of PAHs in mussels were generally < 0.1 ppm wet weight, with the exception of samples collected from Boston Harbor, where values ranged from 0.3 to 0.5 ppm wet weight. Among the NOAA National Status and Trends Mussel Watch stations, the following sites surveyed in the Gulf of Maine were among the 20 most contaminated sites in U.S. coastal waters for PAHs and chlorinated hydrocarbons (NOAA, 1989):

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Boston Harbor for low molecular weight and high molecular weight aromatic hydrocarbons, total DDT, total PCBs, lindane, dieldrin, and total chlordane; Salem Harbor for dieldrin; Merriconeag Sound for lindane; and Penobscot Bay for lindane. In the Gulfwatch Program, mussels from Boothbay Harbor had high concentrations of PCBs and PAHs (Sowles et al., 1992). Other Indicators Although the data sets are much less extensive, other biological samples have been collected as part of national or regional monitoring programs and analyzed for trace contaminants. The largest data set is that for trace contaminants in fish livers, collected as part of the NOAA National Status and Trends Benthic Surveillance program. A comparison of trace metal concentrations in fish liver samples taken from 1984 to 1987 at the same sites as sediment samples were collected indicated a gradient of trace metal contamination throughout the Gulf of Maine, with moderate to high concentration of individual trace metals being detected in samples from Casco Bay, Boston Harbor, Salem Harbor, and Quincy Bay (NOAA, 1987). For lipophilic organic contaminants, samples from Boston Harbor and Quincy Bay have the highest concentrations of total DDT, other chlorinated hydrocarbons, and total PCBs (Gottholm and Turgeon, 1992). Indicators of Ecological Concerns Ecological concerns of contamination in the marine environment include changes in species distributions and abundance, habitat alterations, and changes in energy flow and biogeochemical cycles. The toxic effects of chemical contaminants on marine organisms are dependent on bioavailability and persistence, the ability of organisms to accumulate and metabolize contaminants, and the interference of contaminants with specific metabolic or ecological processes. Recent studies, of the incidence of tumors and other histopathological disorders in bottom-dwelling fish and shellfish from contaminated coastal areas, have suggested a possible link between levels of lipophilic organic contaminants and the increased incidence of histopathological conditions. Unpublished data by Sherburne (reported by Larsen, 1992) suggests a high incidence of several histopathological disorders in fish, crabs, and clams from contaminated areas along the coast of Maine. The occurrence of liver neoplasia in adult winter flounder (Murchelano

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium At the policy development stage, indicators can be much more detailed and should be directed towards defining, as clearly as possible, the problem to be addressed by policy responses. There is an inevitable clash, however, between the policymakers' need for certainty that they are choosing the correct responses, and the uncertainty inherent in the information about environmental policy collected by natural and social scientists. While long-term monitoring programs can provide adequate data, the need for decisions often predates the availability of such long-term data by months or years. This is particularly the case with broad-scale vital signs that are the most useful in the first stage, since linking cause and effect can be the most difficult with these indicators, and it is the cause-effect relationship that is most critical at the development stage. In the third stage, policy reform, monitoring information is critical. Ideally, at the same time that policy is being formulated, indicators of success are also being identified. Thus, the implementation of policy includes the actions that will be taken (regulations, expenditures, programs, etc.) and the measures of environmental quality, which will indicate whether the policy actions chosen have the expected effects. These indicator series will build on those created for earlier stages, filling information gaps that become apparent during policy development and extending the knowledge base as far as possible. The use of indicators to measure performance is an important emerging trend in public policy. A number of states, including Oregon and Minnesota, have already developed and implemented comprehensive indicator series for state policy, including environmental policies. Other states, such as Texas and Maine, are currently preparing indicators. The use of indicators in this way raises some important additional questions of goals, performance measures, and benchmarks. Goals can be defined as statements describing the outcomes in which policy should result. Performance measures, another name for indicators, are the data series that will be used to measure progress towards goals. Benchmarks (a term that is frequently and confusingly used to include goals and performance measures) identifies the reference point from which change is measured. In this context, indicators are transformed from information about what is happening to what should be happening. This transition from positive to normative uses will be difficult for many scientists, who are by training and habit not used to dealing with such questions. The use of indicators in this manner highlights that indicators are not simply a scientific exercise, but are part of a political process. Information is power, and power matters in making public policy. Thus, another emerging trend in public policy making, with implications for indicators, is to redesign the policy development process so that affected interest groups and the general public are involved in discussion and decisions at the earliest stages possible. The development of indicators thus becomes a part of the give and take negotiations characteristic of political processes, which results in something of a tradeoff between the mandates of “good science” and policy, which has a high probability of being acceptable to the various affected stakeholders. This tradeoff can be minimized if efforts are made to educate everyone involved in the process, specialists and nonspecialists alike, but it can never be eliminated entirely.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Indicator efforts are notable not only for their increasing role in setting and reforming policy, but also for their integration of information from a variety of disciplines into a coherent picture of the environment, including changes in both natural and social systems. The connection between economic and natural systems receives particular attention in indicator development proposals. This emphasis is a natural outgrowth of the desire to use indicators in the development of policy, since changes in the production or distribution of goods and services are one of the principle motivators in moving issues onto the policy agenda. However, using both economic and natural systems indicators raises some additional difficulties. Ideally, indicator series should be structured so that changes in natural systems are identified and then linked to changes in economic systems. Feedback effects are then identified. For example, one would want to know whether changes in pollutant levels in coastal waters were affecting fisheries, recreation, find the desirability of living in coastal areas. To make this determination requires information on pollutant levels and the economic value of coastal resources. It also requires an understanding of how pollution may affect the other resources and whether and how people perceive the connections between the changes in the natural systems and the goods and services they value. Only when people correctly perceive the changes, are they able to place a value on them. While essential to a complete understanding of the complex systems that policy seeks to manage, the use of economic values as indicators will also create some difficulties. Most economic data measure the value of natural resources in terms of their role in market transactions, for example fisheries. Regularly available economic data concentrate on those aspects of economics of greatest interest to policymakers, including employment, income, industrial output, and real estate prices. Yet it has been long established that the value of natural resources is only partly determined in market transactions, and that a great deal of that value must be measured through indirect means, such as the constructed market simulations, using surveys that economists call contingent valuation. Such data are increasingly being collected, but only on a case-by-case basis. Information collected on such a piecemeal basis raises serious issues of transferability to other areas. At the same time, the expense of such studies makes it very difficult to collect these kinds of data on a regular basis as part of a monitoring or indicator program.11 Economic and environmental indicators are becoming an essential part of public policymaking. All public policy is being challenged to demonstrate performance, and indicators will play a critical role. Environmental policy is increasingly challenged, not just to deal with discrete sources of pollution, but to manage entire ecosystems, and indicators are the only way that key information about complex systems can be gathered and transmitted to the policymakers who must make key decisions. Environmental policy is also increasingly being linked to the concept of “sustainable development,” explicitly forcing an integration of 11   For a discussion of the issues surrounding economic valuation and the natural sciences, see Colgan, C.S. (ed.). 1994. Sustaining Coastal Resources: The Roles of the Sciences and Economics. University of Southern Maine, Portland.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium economic and environmental policy, and indicators will be essential to understanding these links. But indicators are not a panacea, capable on their own of mutating policy dross into policy gold. The recent expansion of interest in using indicators should be viewed with a cautionary note. Public policy making is as prone to fads as any endeavor, and history is littered with such great policy reforms as program-planning budgeting and zero-based budgeting. An important factor in determining whether indicators will fall into this category or not will be how well those who prepare indicators can link them to the needs and processes of policy development.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium ISSUE GROUP SUMMARY Chairs: Theodore Loder (University of New Hampshire) Facilitator: Judith Pederson (Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management) Rapporteur: Michael Orbach (Duke University) Other Participants: Mimi Becker (University of New Hampshire), Robert Bowen (University of Massachusetts), Eugenia Braasch (Dartmouth College), Charles Colgan (University of Southern Maine), Ames Colt (Tufts University), Michael Connor (Massachusetts Water Resources Authority), James Ellsworth (Environment Canada), Edward Goldberg (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Gareth Harding (Bedford Institute of Oceanography), Lewis Incze (Bigelow Laboratory for Ocean Sciences), Stephen Jones (University of New Hampshire), Curt Mason (NOAA Center for Coastal Ecosystem Health), Judith McDowell (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution), J. Kevin Summers (EPA), Laura Taylor (Maine State Planning Office), David Terkla (University of Massachusetts), David Townsend (University of Maine), Donna Turgeon (NOAA/NOS), Herb Vandermuelen (Environment Canada), and Robert Wall (University of Maine). Introduction No public policy concerning the environment, and no collaboration between scientists and policymakers, can be complete without a program that monitors both the condition of the environment and the effects of policies and regulations on it. Although the construction of any detailed program to accomplish these objectives was beyond the scope of the group's discussions, we have identified some important aspects of the monitoring of indicators of environmental quality, and certain critical characteristics for the establishment of such programs.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Indicators of environmental quality are monitored for several different purposes—to gather information about the status and trends in the ecosystem, to evaluate the effects of policy and management programs, and to monitor compliance with existing regulations (Terkla, this volume, pp. 211-215). We define indicators of environmental quality very broadly to include both natural and social scientific measures. Although the monitoring of a wide range of characteristics is required for various scientific research and management purposes, we will confine ourselves here to the concept of “indicators.” We define an “indicator” as a signal of an environmental/social condition that may indicate the need for further investigation or remedial action with respect to a specific problem or issue. Including social science parameters as indicators of environmental quality is unusual, but is warranted, because it is important to measure public perception of what constitutes environmental quality and in monitoring its attainment or nonattainment. Policymakers need to know this information in order to be responsive to the public. Natural and social scientists can work with policymakers to educate the public about what conditions are harmful and about the causes of these conditions, so that the perception and reality of environmental quality can eventually converge. A complete set of indicators of environmental quality for the Gulf of Maine ecosystem should encompass the environmental quality of the watershed of the Gulf, as well as its estuarine and marine portions. The material presented below is intended as a sample rather than a complete set of such indicators, but it is important to note that indicators should be monitored across as much of the ecosystem as possible. More detailed comments on various aspects of the monitoring of environmental indicators are contained in papers by Jones (natural science, pp. 205-210), Terkla (social science, pp. 211-215), and Colgan (policy and administration, pp. 217-220) in this volume. The use of indicators of environmental quality is an evolving field (Bayne et al., 1988; Stebbing et al., 1992). The exact relationship of an indicator to an environmental problem is not always known. More investigation is often necessary before most potential indicators can be used as measures of environmental disturbance. Although some characteristics now measured by scientists could be used successfully as indicators, there is often little or no incentive to make this information available in a form useful to policymakers. Furthermore, scientists are often unaware of the needs of the policymakers for specific data or information. At present, few indicators of environmental quality are monitored in the Gulf of Maine. Some are monitored, but the information is not effectively assembled and communicated to the potential users, or is of insufficient quality. For some environmental quality issues, indicators are simply not available. For most monitoring programs, the support in terms of budgets, infrastructure, and expertise is insufficient. In the Gulf of Maine region, the potential users of monitoring information include local, state or provincial, and federal regulatory agencies, concerned stakeholders, and regional programs (such as the Regional Association for Research in the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Maine Regional Marine Research Board, and the Gulf of Maine Council on the

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Marine Environment). Some progress has been made at local, state/provincial, regional, and international levels on monitoring programs, but much work remains to be done. The Objectives of the Monitoring of Environmental Indicators For the purpose of this section we identified three objectives for the use of environmental indicators. These are: to identify the impacts of human activity on human health; to identify anthropogenic effects on the sustainability and integrity of ecosystems; and to identify impediments (including, but not limited to, anthropogenic effects) to the sustainable harvest of the ecosystem resources. Indicators are intended to supply relevant, efficient, cost-effective information (see Terkla, this volume, pp. 211-215). For any potential indicator, the data collection program should clearly specify: the problem or issue that the indicator is intended to address and the conceptual and practical linkage between the indicator and the problem or issue; the methods of data collection for the indicator, including quality control mechanisms; the storage and retrieval systems needed for the data; the end users of the information; and the uncertainty inherent in the data. Existing and Potential Indicators of Environmental Quality for the Gulf of Maine The group identified, for each of the objectives listed above, potential natural and social scientific indicators of environmental quality. These lists are not exhaustive, nor is detail given for the specific data elements that should be monitored for each indicator. General categories of measurements are listed below, for which specific variables might be identified as appropriate indicators.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Objective #1—Human Health Impacts of Human Activity Currently used indicators include fecal bacterial counts, shellfish biotoxins, anthropogenic chemical contaminants, and radionuclides. Potential indicators include endocrine disrupters, viruses and specific pathogens, biochemical or cellular biomarkers, and human illness. Objective #2—Anthropogenic Effects on the Sustainability and Integrity of Ecosystems Currently used indicators include benthic community structure, species abundance and diversity, eutrophication, sediment quality, and water quality. Potential indicators are sea bird community diversity and structure; shellfish toxin (microtox) tests; biochemical and cellular biomarkers; endocrine disrupters; and habitat alteration. Objective #3—Sustainable Harvest of Ecosystem Resources by Humans Indicators that are used to contribute to assessments of the sustainability of ecosystem resources include commercial fish and shellfish landings; fish stock assessments; the number, duration, and location of contaminant-related closures of beaches and harvesting areas; land-use patterns; analysis of beach debris collected during cleanup activities; and reported spills. Potential indicators include recreational fish landings (not measured accurately now), patterns and value of leisure and tourism expenditures related to ecosystem resources (including intangibles such as aesthetics), public perception of sustainability, and dredging restrictions (as an indicator of contamination potential). Characteristics of Successful Monitoring Programs Drawing on a discussion of the successes and shortcomings of existing monitoring programs (i.e., Mussel Watch and Gulf Watch, see Jones, this volume, pp. 205-210), the following characteristics of successful programs were identified (with no order of priority): clear, specific, easily measurable variables or indices as the indicators, clear legal mandates specifying authority and responsibility for the collection of data, specific guidelines and methodology for the data collection, citizen involvement and/or public support (high public demand), economic dependence of stakeholders on the outcome of monitoring,

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium monitoring and regulatory authority in the same or clearly linked agencies, and demonstrable relationship between any environmental alteration and the indicator used to measure the degree or extent of the problem. In addition to the above characteristics, several factors appear to hinder the relationship between monitoring agencies, scientists, and the policy/management process with respect to the monitoring and use of environmental indicators. Data resulting from the monitoring may be of low or uncertain quality. The best quality data may not be useful unless appropriately analyzed, synthesized, interpreted, and communicated. The uncertainty or other qualifications inherent in interpreting a data set may not be communicated to the users adequately. The appropriate data storage and retrieval system may not be available. The time lag between the identification of the information need and the ability of the monitoring system to supply the data may be too great to allow timely resolution of the problem. Our present knowledge of any specific ecosystem and its components may be insufficient to identify effective indicators. Ways to Improve the Interaction Between Scientists and Policymakers The monitoring of indicators of environmental quality, both natural and social, is an integral part of good environmental policy and management and is critical to the relationship between scientists and policymakers. To ensure that such monitoring programs are effective and efficient as possible, the following principles should be observed: Communicate the results of monitoring programs to as many audiences as possible, including policymakers, regulators, the public, and other stakeholders. This will help the integration of social and environmental monitoring information into the policy and management process, and will educate as well as inform participants in the policy process. Provide appropriate lead times for the development and implementation of monitoring programs. This will help assure that pertinent information will be forthcoming in an appropriate time frame.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium Involve both natural and social scientists in all phases of the monitoring program—agenda setting, policy development, and policy reform (see Colgan, this volume, pp. 217-220). Create a dialogue among the scientists, monitoring agencies, policymakers, regulators, and relevant publics in agenda setting, policy development, and policy reform with respect to monitoring programs. Such a dialogue might be facilitated through such entities as state Sea Grant programs, regional science centers, or cooperative agreements between agencies and universities or private firms and organizations. Provide for basic scientific research, independent of regulatory agencies or specific constituencies, and assure peer review of programs and program products. Further develop the potential for coordination of the research and monitoring programs under the memorandum of understanding among the Regional Association for Research in the Gulf of Maine, the Gulf of Maine Regional Marine Research Board, and the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, including the potential for citizen monitoring of appropriate indicators. The continuation of the present binational aspect of such programs is critical. Where feasible, scientists and policymakers should be encouraged to predict the range of possible conclusions that might be drawn from monitoring data, so that the range of potential actions needed can be anticipated. Errors in prediction may occur, when human health or impacts that are difficult to reverse are risked; it may be prudent to respond even though monitoring results are not fully conclusive. Implementation of the above suggestions could prepare coastal managers and scientists for the efficient use of new indicators of coastal environmental health as they are developed. These actions will also involve the public in the environmental policy process, of which monitoring is a tool. References Bayne, B.L., K.R. Clarke, and J.S. Gray (eds.). 1988. Biological effects of pollutants. Results of a practical workshop. Marine Ecology Progress Series 46(1-3):1-278. Stebbing, A.R.D., V. Dethlefsen, and M. Carr (eds.). 1992. Biological effects of contaminants in the North Sea. Results of the ICES/IOC Bremerhaven Workshop. Marine Ecology Progress Series 91(1-3):1-361.

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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium APPENDIXES

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