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A Survey of Coastal Managers' Science and Technology Needs Prompts a Retrospective Look at Science-based Management in the Gulf of Maine

A Survey of Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology
    Needs Prompts a Retrospective Look at
  Science-based Management in the Gulf of Maine

                           August 2004

       A synthesis by Marjorie Ernst of the NOAA National Ocean Service, based
       in part on a survey hosted by the Coastal States Organization and the Gulf
       of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, and funded by the Cooperative
       Institute for Coastal and Estuarine Environmental Technology. The survey was
       developed by the Urban Harbors Institute and conducted by Annette Arno and
       Dr. Andrew Smith of the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

       This paper was prepared at the suggestion of the Gulf of Maine Council as
       a foundation for a one-day workshop in the fall of 2004 for setting research
       priorities responsive to the coastal managers needs and in anticipation of the
       2004 Gulf of Maine Summit.

                       Gulf of Maine Council Mission
             To maintain and enhance environmental quality in the Gulf of Maine
            and to allow for sustainable resource use by existing and future generations...

                     Coastal States      Cooperative Institute for Coastal    National Oceanic and
Gulf of Maine Council on
                     Organization       and Estuarine Environmental     Atmospheric Administration
the Marine Environment

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

Executive Summary
The results of a 2004 survey of the science and technical    below for dealing with habitat change and land use are
needs of coastal managers in the Gulf of Maine region      relevant to these topics as well.
have provided timely input for setting research priori-
ties, a subject to be addressed during the upcoming       What types of research, information, and technical sup-
Gulf of Maine Summit (Arno and Smith 2004). Prior        port are needed for dealing with habitat change? Most
to the Summit, the Regional Association for Research      managers want improved methodologies and data for
on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM) and the Gulf of          conducting cumulative impact assessments and better
Maine Council on the Marine Environment (Council)        indicators of habitat health. Information is needed
will co-host a one-day meeting to facilitate discussion     for trends analyses, ecological and physical baselines,
between U.S. and Canadian scientists and coastal re-      and inventories. Another improvement consistently
source managers of key feedback from the survey and       requested is rapid ecological assessment and evalua-
begin to prioritize and scope research projects.        tion technology. For land use, the top-ranked research
                                need is for indicators that link land use with ecosystem
What did the web-based survey of 63 representatives       impacts, followed by the need to identify cumulative ef-
drawn largely from the resource management com-         fects of coastal development and to quantify the impact
munity reveal? The management topics of greatest        of land use on water quality. Land use change analyses
importance over the next five years are habitat change     are in demand also. About half of those surveyed need
and land use. Habitat change is the highest priority      more complete and useful geospatial data for GIS ap-
topic in the region, with 94% of respondents ranking      plications, while three of four want improved access
this category as very important or important. Habitat      to customized GIS tools and services.
change results from human-induced alterations that
can cause or contribute to the degradation, loss, or res-    The survey feedback is placed in an historical context by
toration of habitat, which can affect coastal ecosystem     recounting how science-based strategies for addressing
functions and values. About 83% of those surveyed tar-     these challenging topics have evolved since the mid-
geted salt marshes as the most important habitat type.     1980s. The region’s participation in RARGOM, the
Almost nine of ten respondents believe land use to be      Council, and the Regional Marine Research Program
either very important or important to their programs,      have helped bridge the gap between state/provincial and
and particularly, the ability to manage the effects of     federal activities, sustain a tradition of cross boundary
regulated and unregulated changes in land use. Other      collaboration and priority setting, and stimulate com-
broad management topics ranked behind these top         munication. This experience will be a critical asset as the
priority areas were ocean management (68%), nutrient      region’s jurisdictions consider policy recommendations
enrichment of coastal waters (65%) and environmental      from the two national ocean commissions for a transi-
contamination (64%). Some research needs outlined        tion toward ecosystem-based management.

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

Introduction                           ecosystems function, how they vary over time, and
                                 how human activities change them (NRC 1995a).
                                 But although researchers had generated state-of-the
Sound coastal decision-making depends on sustained
                                 art knowledge by international standards, the level of
interaction between scientists and managers to ensure
                                 understanding of the Gulf of Maine was not adequate
that evolving scientific understanding gets integrated
                                 to resolve many of the day’s coastal management issues
into policies and helps guide management actions af-
                                 (Wiggen and Mooers 1992).
fecting coastal resources. The Gulf of Maine region
presents an instructive case for exploring the factors
                                 Scientists in the region have long held that the Gulf
that have affected the capacity of scientists and man-
                                 should be understood holistically as an ecosystem and
agers to maintain a policy-driven research agenda and
                                 its management based on ecological principles (Asso-
dialogue over time so relevant scientific information
                                 ciation for Research on the Gulf of Maine Prospectus
can be developed and used more effectively. This paper
                                 1986; Van Dusen and Hayden 1989). In reality, many
describes results of a recent survey of U.S. and Canadian
                                 factors conspired to keep this goal out of reach. Coastal
coastal managers designed to determine their needs for
                                 ocean research was fragmented among multiple dis-
science and technology for addressing two management
                                 ciplines and funding agencies (Wiggen and Mooers
topics—habitat change and land use—shown through
                                 1992). Research studies by individual investigators
the survey to be a high priority for the region. Coastal
                                 focused on specific problems with narrow objec-
habitats are broadly defined, for assessing the survey
                                 tives. This piecemeal approach was not contributing
results, to include lands within 1,000 feet of salt water,
                                 to a system-wide understanding of the GOM. The
estuarine areas, and marine waters out to the 60-meter
                                 management-oriented research being conducted was
isobath. The survey feedback is placed in an historical
                                 typically problem-specific and site-specific. It was rec-
context by recounting how science-based strategies for
                                 ognized that some environmental problems could not
addressing these challenging issues have evolved since
                                 be solved without the benefit of a regional perspective
the mid-1980s. These experiences make the region well
                                 (NRC 2000). Yet, most federally funded research was
positioned to test some of the recommendations for
                                 either national or global in nature or relatively local-
advancing a regional ecosystem-based management
                                 ized (NRC 1994).
approach issued recently by the U.S. Commission
on Ocean Policy and previously by the Pew Oceans
                                 During the 1970s and 1980s, the scientific community
                                 came together periodically to share their knowledge of
Background on Science-to-Management               this complex ecosystem and identify gaps to help guide
Linkages in the Region                      the direction of marine research. For example, a series
                                 of investigator-driven U.S./Canadian workshops on the
                                 oceanography of the GOM and adjacent seas was held
A semi-enclosed continental shelf sea, the Gulf of
                                 in 1977, 1979, and 1981. An intensive study of Georges
Maine (GOM) is one of the most productive water
                                 Bank in response to a proposal to drill off-shore for oil
bodies on earth, the result of complex interactions be-
                                 and gas led to another series of annual workshops from
tween physical and biological processes. The Gulf has
                                 1987-1989, as researchers tried to assess the potential
also been one of the most thoroughly studied bodies
                                 effect of this activity on the environment. One example
of water in the world and pioneering oceanographic
                                 of the benefit of sustained interaction was the Global
research helped to explain the nature of these control
                                 Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program, ini-
mechanisms (Wiggen and Mooers 1992). Historically,
                                 tiated in 1991 to investigate how global change will
the importance of estuaries and coastal waters was not
                                 affect the structure and function of the global ocean
well understood, as evidenced by their use as receiving
                                 (Backus 1987). Through such opportunities for ex-
waters for domestic and municipal waste (OTA 1987).
                                 change, a strong tradition of collegiality and coopera-
By the 1980s, the focus of coastal ocean science here
                                 tion was established in the scientific community that
and elsewhere revolved around understanding how

                                  Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

crossed national boundaries and disciplines. Researchers     address with a predictive capability (Gulf of Maine
also recognized the need to contribute their expertise      RMRP Research Plan 1992). The region received $7M
and deepen their evolving dialogue with environmental       from 1993-1997 to implement the research objectives
managers (Wiggen and Mooers 1992).                outlined in the first five years of the ten-year research
                                 plan. The GOM was the only region in the U.S. to
Several regional entities have helped to perpetuate this     receive RMRP implementation funds.
interaction and sense of shared stewardship: the Gulf of
Maine Council on the Marine Environment (Council);        The RMRP stimulated a resurgence of communication
and the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf       among scientists and with resource managers by iden-
of Maine (RARGOM). The region’s actions in response        tifying management needs that could be met through
to the U.S. Regional Marine Research Program (RMRP)        research. A major conference was held in Woods Hole,
also left an indelible legacy.                  Massachusetts in 1991 in anticipation of the Act’s au-
                                 thorization; another took place in St. Andrews, New
The Council is a state/provincial partnership forged       Brunswick in 1996. Both RARGOM-sponsored forums
in 1989 in recognition of the need to protect the eco-      allowed participants to assess the current understanding
logical integrity of the Gulf of Maine and the many        of the Gulf ecosystem, consider the effects of stressors,
uses that depend on its continued good health (Van        and identify gaps in understanding. Earlier priorities
Dusen and Hayden 1989). The Council’s Action Plans        for research and management were revisited and new
address issues that can be solved at a regional scale and     ones were set (Wallace and Braasch 1997). This paper
emphasize prevention.                       draws from the comprehensive syntheses that were
                                 derived from these two conferences.
Formed in 1991, RARGOM is a federation of insti-
tutions having active research interests in the Gulf of      Building on that momentum, in 1997 RARGOM con-
Maine and its watershed. The Association played a         vened a workshop at Sebago Lake, Maine for scientists
key role in developing an effective and representative      and managers to share their perspectives on the mecha-
approach during the early 1990s for the long-term re-       nisms needed to improve the integration of science into
search plan called for by the RMRP. Over time, RAR-        management decisions affecting the Gulf. Consensus
GOM has been an effective mechanism for cultivating        was reached on recommendations for improving for-
connections between researchers with mutual interests       mal levels of interaction, communication, information
and encouraging productive interactions between the        sharing, knowledge of decision-making processes, and
scientific and resource management communities.          development of new interactive tools to facilitate the
                                 integration of science and policy (RARGOM Workshop
The region was presented with a unique opportunity to       Report 1997). While participants were encouraged to
realize its vision of an ecosystem-wide research initiative    adopt these approaches in their daily work, the impetus
with the passage by the U.S. Congress in 1990 of the       for institutionalizing many of these mechanisms waned
Regional Marine Research Act (Public Law 101-593).        with the termination of the RMRP.
The Act called for the establishment of a series of re-
                                 Survey of Coastal Managers to Assess Science
gional, broad-based research programs that were respon-
                                 and Technology Needs
sive to management needs. The program’s guidelines for
setting research priorities included a consideration of
water quality and ecosystem health, regional research,      In 2004, representatives of coastal and estuarine man-
and cooperation/coordination. The GOM Regional          agement programs in the Gulf of Maine region par-
Marine Research Board was formed and the 10-year         ticipated in a bi-national, web-based survey developed
Gulf of Maine Research Plan issued in 1992. Driving        by the Coastal States Organization and hosted by the
the plan’s development was an overarching question:        GOM Council to assess science and technology needs
what are the priority Gulf-scale issues that science can     for addressing nine broad management topics. These in-

                                     Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

                                    Overview of Gulf of Maine State
clude: habitat change (including degradation, loss, and
                                    and Provincial Survey Results
restoration); land use; nutrient enrichment; environ-
mental contamination; nonindigenous species; coastal
hazards; sediment management; ocean management;             I. Habitat Change
and marine debris. Information was gathered from 63
respondents: 60 percent were from Maine (ME), New            Habitat change is the highest priority management
Hampshire (NH), and Massachusetts (MA) and 40              topic in the region, with 94% of respondents ranking
percent from Nova Scotia (NS) and New Brunswick             this category as very important or important. Habitat
(NB), Canada.1 Table 1 contains a background profile          change results from human-induced alterations that
of the survey respondents. The survey results, tabulated        can cause or contribute to the degradation, loss, or res-
at the regional and state/provincial levels, will be used        toration of habitat, which can affect coastal ecosystem
to shape priorities for investments in research, technol-        functions and values. These changes are most often as-
ogy, and technical assistance necessary to advance the         sociated with the regulatory review of project proposals
management of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem.               or funded policy initiatives and must be managed in the
                                    context of natural and climate-induced variability.
      Table 1. Number of Responses by
      Program Position or Responsibility
                                    Almost eight of ten respondents in the states believe
                                    habitat change is a very important topic, while about
      Program Manager
                                    half of those surveyed in the provinces ranked it simi-
      Management Staff                      larly. Program managers were twice as likely as policy
                                    staff to consider the topic very important. This may
      Technical Staff
                                    be because managers are typically faced with assessing
      Policy Staff                        permit decisions having a potential impact on habitat
                                    on a case-by-case basis and usually with limited knowl-
      Advisor y Committee
                                    edge about the cumulative effect of these decisions on
                                    the Gulf ecosystem.

Respondents were asked first to rank the relative im-          Survey takers were asked to select no more than three
portance to their program of each of the nine manage-          habitat types that are important when considering
ment topics over the next five years on a five-point scale       habitat change over the next five years. About 83%
ranging from very important to not relevant. For topics         of respondents in the U.S. and Canada targeted salt
ranked very important or important, a series of fol-          marshes as the most important habitat type. Given
low-up questions were posed where survey takers were          the inherent diversity of habitats and policy objec-
asked to select a maximum of three key sub-topics and          tives being pursued within individual jurisdictions in
needs for research activities, types of information, and        the region, there were varied responses among the re-
improved technologies from among a menu of options           maining habitats selected. For example, while 67% of
(see Table 2). A category called “other” was included          survey takers in MA selected salt marshes and shellfish
also for each of the follow-up questions so respondents         beds to be of equivalent concern, they demonstrated
could offer additional alternative responses.              that the state’s submerged aquatic vegetation habitat
                                    was even more of a priority (93%). From 42-60% of
                                    respondents in ME, NH, and NS acknowledged the
 The national survey was completed by 230 participants from

                                    importance of upland and freshwater wetland habi-
33 states, territories, and Commonwealths who are affiliated with
                                    tat also, and particularly those in headquarter offices
a number of national associations or programs dedicated to the
management of coastal and estuarine resources. The same survey     with oversight responsible for development decisions.
was made available to resource managers from Nova Scotia and
                                    Habitats most often cited that were not included in
New Brunswick and results for the Gulf of Maine region were
                                    the survey included the seafloor—from the nearshore
tabulated separately for this report.

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

Table 2. Top-ranked Responses by Survey Respondents For Top Six Management Topics

Management Topic      %  Research Need       %    Information Need     %  Technology Need     %
Habitat Change      94  Cumulative impact    63   Trends analysis      69  Rapid ecological    55
                assessments                           assessments

Land Use         89  Indicators linking land  70   Land use change      69  Customized GIS      75
                uses and ecosystem        analysis

Ocean Management     68  Ecological        70   Geospatial data for    88  Mapping & data     66
                characterizations         GIS              acquisition

Nutrient Enrichment    65  Cumulative impact    73   Short-term forecasts of  56  Cost effective     66
                assessments           nutrient loading        monitoring equipment

Environmental       64  Cumulative impact    73   Remediation options    60  Rapid/real time     56
Contamination          assessments                           detection

Nonindigenous Species   56  Early detection of    68   Ecosystem inventor y   70  Prevention techniques  78

subtidal zone to the open ocean, including areas with      degradation, even as concern was mounting about the
unique geologic features.                    potential impact of bottom trawling on benthic habitats
                                 (Wiggen and Mooers 1992). There was a growing real-
Retrospective Look at Habitat Change Issues           ization that excess nutrient and organic loadings were
                                 affecting water quality, benthic habitat, and ultimately
The rate and extent of habitat degradation and loss       living marine resources. However, it was difficult to iso-
were poorly quantified by the 1980s but believed to       late anthropogenic signals from natural variability. The
be significant (Van Dusen and Hayden 1989). Physical       RMRP addressed the region’s two overarching societal
alterations to coastal habitats from the construction of     concerns related to habitat—that contamination of the
dams, causeways, and dykes were thought to be a major      GOM either degrades living marine resources or alters
cause. As significant, but more difficult to account for,    ecosystem structure, and that physical changes to habi-
were the numerous small and large-scale dredge and fill     tats in the GOM alter ecosystem structure and function
activities associated with coastal development projects.     (Gulf of Maine RMRP Research Plan 1992).
At the same time, coastal habitat was disappearing—al-
beit at a considerably slower rate—due to sea level rise     Documentation of habitat loss became possible by the
driven by geologic and climatic forces. Efforts to docu-     early 1990s as remote sensing technologies evolved.
ment habitat loss focused mainly on emergent habitats,      Satellite imagery allowed detection of the extent and
such as salt marshes and non-tidal wetlands that could      change of land cover, while aerial photography was
be documented using aerial photography.             being used to assess submerged aquatic vegetation.
                                 While satellite sensors presented an efficient approach
Scientists knew that habitat was being impaired by en-      for quantifying the extent of land cover categories in
vironmental pollution. Investigation of the pathways,      other regions, resolution fell short of what was required
fate, and effects of toxic chemical contaminants with      to accurately account for the small-scale mosaic of habi-
respect to the environment and living marine resources      tat types that characterize the GOM region.
was a dominant research and management priority by
the 1980s as assessment techniques improved. Toxic        Another important area of research focused on the life
contaminant levels in marine sediments and tissues were     history and habitat requirements of living marine re-
being used as the primary indicator of fishery habitat      sources. Attention was placed mainly on economically

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

important species. By 1996, the research and manage-       This divergent response reflected a pattern seen else-
ment communities had selected as a first order prior-      where in the survey in which programs with research
ity the need to identify and map ecologically sensitive     missions often cited needs recognized to be important
habitats (Wallace and Braasch 1997). Furthermore,        that they are not fully equipped to address. Another
the focus had been shifting to the need to understand      research need that was recommended, though not in-
essential habitats (NRC 1995a). Second order objec-       cluded in the survey, was the need to define, identify,
tives were to improve understanding of the thresholds      and map habitats.
for the impairment of habitat function and the signifi-
                                 Habitat Change: Information Needs
cance of the linkages between habitats (Wallace and
Braasch 1997).
                                 Survey takers were asked to select no more than three
Although habitat protection has been the management       types of information categories from the list that would
goal of choice, habitat restoration has become an es-      best address important habitat change issues over the
sential strategy for sustaining resources in the face of     next five years. Almost seven of ten respondents wanted
growing population pressures. The scientific basis for      to see more information on trends analyses and the
habitat restoration has been strengthened over several      ecological and physical baselines and inventories upon
decades of experimentation, including the trial and       which such analyses should be based.
error of mitigation-driven restoration. Research priori-
ties have evolved to include the need to evaluate restored    Massachusetts (60%) and Maine (56%), and to a lesser
habitats. For management purposes, there is a strong       extent, the two provinces (42-45%) expressed the need
need to document the success of restoration projects in     for more geospatial data for GIS (i.e., increased data
terms of gains in habitat quantity and quality.         resolution and additional resource data layers). Over
                                 half of the coastal and fisheries management programs
Habitat Change: Research Needs                  and all of the NERR program respondents also con-
                                 sidered this a high priority.
Survey takers were asked to select no more than three
                                 Habitat Change: Technology Needs
research activities most important to their program
when considering habitat change over the next five
years. More than six out of ten respondents in the region    The technology improvement most consistently re-
want improved methodologies and data for conducting       quested is rapid ecological assessment and evaluation
cumulative impact assessments. Policy staff expressed a     technology (55% regionally). Almost five of ten wanted
greater demand for this activity than program manag-       to see advancements in low cost remote sensing plat-
ers. This was followed closely by the need to identify      forms to measure change and the development of long-
indicators of habitat health by more than half of re-      term monitoring equipment. Four out of ten wanted
spondents and a comparable level of interest by MA        predictive or simulation models and high resolution
and ME and to a lesser extent NS in identifying causes      remote sensing. Policy staff was twice as likely to call
of habitat loss or gain. Evaluating the effectiveness of     for models then managers or technical staff.
restoration and protection techniques is a high priority
for NH, where an active restoration program has been       New Hampshire’s restoration program clearly influ-
underway for almost a decade.                  enced its response for new restoration techniques
                                 (80%) and rapid ecological assessment and evaluation
In contrast, over 60% of the National Estuarine Re-       technologies (60%). Likewise, the NERR programs
search Reserve (NERR) program representatives wanted       called for technologies that would strengthen existing
assistance in providing ecological characterizations,      programmatic thrusts, such as the use of remote sens-
valuing social, ecological, and economic factors, and      ing to measure change and long-term monitoring of
determining the effects of human values and choices.       coastal environmental parameters.

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

Examples of Current Approaches For                scales. Broad and specific benchmarks for evaluating
Addressing Habitat Change                    restoration success will be an important element in
                                 ecosystem-based management.
The Council provides a cooperative management
framework for addressing habitat change from re-
                                 II. Land Use
gional to state and local scales. A major goal of the
Council is to protect and restore coastal and marine
                                 Almost nine of ten respondents felt land use will be
habitats. In a previous initiative under the 1996-2001
                                 very important or important to their program over
Action Plan, the Council identified three regionally sig-
                                 the next five years. Managing the effects of regulated
nificant habitat types—uplands, estuarine, and marine
                                 and unregulated (e.g., the activity is under a regulated
habitat, based on the habitat requirements of a ranked
                                 threshold or there are changes in uses such as from
list of 161 species, before deciding to concentrate on
                                 farmland or open space to forested) changes in land
estuarine and coastal habitats. On the terrestrial side,
                                 and water use will, in part, require a greater aware-
a baseline was generated of coastal lands under some
                                 ness of the location, type, pattern, and rate of such
level of protection with an eye toward increasing land
                                 changes. The three states were twice as likely as the
acquisition efforts.
                                 two provinces to consider land use a very important
                                 management issue.
Operating under the current 2001-2006 Action Plan,
the Council has maintained a focus on these regionally
                                 The most significant land use issue over the next five
significant habitats by preparing a Regional Habitat
                                 years will be to manage the effects of coastal develop-
Restoration Strategy to help prioritize restoration ac-
                                 ment. This was expressed consistently across the re-
tivities in the Gulf. They intend to collaborate with
                                 gion (77%) and the country (76%). There was general
others to link the protection and restoration of prior-
                                 agreement that integrated watershed/ecosystem plan-
ity habitats more closely to watershed management
                                 ning at the state and local level and the conservation
plans. A marine mapping strategy has been developed
                                 of open space and/or natural habitat protection are
also to improve the understanding and management of
                                 significant land use issues. Most respondents also felt
habitats located from high water to the 60-meter depth
                                 that reducing the effects of nonpoint source pollution
contour, beginning with subtidal habitats.
                                 was important.
Biodiversity has not been a central management goal,
                                 Retrospective Look at Land Use Issues
yet biodiversity is threatened by habitat modification
and loss, nonindigenous species, environmental con-
                                 By 1990, the GOM had become the third most densely
tamination, and nutrient enrichment. There is a need
                                 populated coastal region in the U.S. (NRC 1995a).
to evaluate biological diversity on regional scales and to
                                 Managers and scientists who were focused on coastal
better understand the effects of habitat changes (e.g.,
                                 processes had witnessed a disturbing pattern—the in-
modification, fragmentation, and loss) on diversity.
                                 flux of people living and working in the coastal zone
There is also the need to relate biodiversity to eco-
                                 was being matched by increased degradation of the
system function and resilience (NRC 1995a). Loss of
                                 coastal environment. Use of both Gulf waters and land
biodiversity was registered in the survey as a concern
                                 had intensified and the economic and environmental
by managers in the context of ocean management.
                                 implications for the region were uncertain (Van Dusen
                                 and Hayden 1989). People needed an improved un-
With increasing attention being directed toward assess-
                                 derstanding of the relative importance of land use and
ing and restoring aquatic habitats in the GOM region,
                                 other human activities on coastal water quality and liv-
there should be a commensurate effort to determine
                                 ing marine resources (Wiggen and Mooers 1992).
the scientific criteria for measuring habitat integrity—
both quality and spatial extent—at various geographic

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

As knowledge of the physical and biogeochemical pro-      impacts must include an understanding of cumulative
cesses of the offshore Gulf was strengthened, researchers    social and economic impacts (NRC 1995b).
turned their attention toward the near-shore environ-
ment. The view of the GOM ecosystem expanded to         Cumulative impacts need to be described and mea-
encompass a system of interconnected segments—the        sured at appropriate space and time scales. Substantial
watershed, near-shore, and offshore areas. The land       spatial and temporal variability, occurring on a variety
and sea were recognized to be linked by the hydrologic     of scales, also must also be taken into account (Wig-
cycle and a key research need was to measure fluxes       gen and Mooers 1992). Cumulative impacts are best
of freshwater coming from the land via surface and       evaluated at the regional scale because it is at this level
groundwater and understand the processes that control      that the majority of cumulative effects will be readily
them. Emerging technology would enable researchers       seen (NRC 1995a). This notion of the consequence
to study the physical components of lower riverine,       of effects applied over a range of temporal and spatial
estuarine, and near shore ecosystems, including such      scales is at the heart of understanding cumulative im-
near-shore processes as coastal currents and sediment      pacts (NRC 1994). However, the process of setting
transport (Wiggen and Mooers 1992).               these boundaries is difficult because many geographic
                                units are possible to account for multiple sources and
The basis for managing coastal water quality was        impacts—such as habitat, watershed, airshed, ecosys-
undergoing a profound shift. The focus had been on       tem, or ecoregion (NRC 1995b). It would be diffi-
managing waste from individual sources and estab-        cult to make progress in this area without adequate
lishing linkages to observed affects (OTA 1987). The      monitoring programs designed to answer system-wide
deterioration of some marine environments was well       questions and linked closely to research and modeling
documented while other perceptions of deterioration       programs (NRC 1990).
and relationship to human activities were not sup-
ported by scientific evidence (NRC 1990). Cause and       Risk assessment involves the need to determine the
effect relationships were difficult to document with      threats or stressors that have the greatest effect on eco-
certainty (OTA 1987). There was growing recognition       system integrity, living marine resources, biodiversity, or
that broad scale ecosystem effects were chronic effects     society. Risk assessment is closely linked to cumulative
from multiple stressors and/or incremental and dis-       impact assessment. Assessment and management of
persed, small-scale activities. These cumulative effects    cumulative impacts are separate but linked activities.
could explain ecological changes for which there was      Advances in understanding, methodologies, and tools
no apparent single cause (NRC 1990). At the time,        will depend upon closer cooperation between scientists
there was no shared understanding of cumulative ef-       and managers. Cumulative impact assessment is also
fects as a concept, adequate methods for evaluation, or     inextricably linked to sustainability and it has been
governance structures offering the capacity to manage      suggested that sustainable development could serve as
this phenomenon (NRC 1995b).                  a common goal that may force the integration between
                                economic and environmental policy (NRC 1995a).
Ten years ago, understanding the effects of cumula-
                                Land Use: Research Needs
tive impacts on coastal ecosystems was considered the
most compelling challenge for the science and policy
communities. The scientific questions associated with      The survey results reflected consistency across the region
assessing cumulative impacts involved processes and       (70%) and the country (72%) in the need to develop
factors that had not been understood individually, much     indicators that link land use with ecosystem impacts.
less in an integrated sense. This type of research was     This was followed closely by the need to identify cu-
considered high risk and historically had not received     mulative effects of development (61%), and to quantify
adequate federal funding. And to be comprehensive, in      the effect of land use on water quality (59%). With
addition to physical and biological impacts, cumulative     the exception of NH, 20-44% of respondents ranked

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

identifying growth and land use conversion patterns       pursue proactive measures in preparing for growth. The
as an important research activity. Again, with the ex-     GOM Council has encouraged work to demonstrate
ception of NH, 25-33% of respondents wanted to see       links between land uses and coastal ecosystem effects.
research to support the development of methodologies      This initiative has generally taken the form of efforts
to calculate pollutant removal efficiencies.          to develop and apply indicators to detect early signs of
                                environmental degradation. The ability to detect the
It was striking to note that a much lower percentage of     threshold for permanent damage has been eclipsed over
respondents in the region (20-36%) wanted support for      time by the development of more sensitive indicators
socioeconomic cost/benefit analysis of various land use     for detecting earlier signs of deterioration or even char-
options. Although the demand expressed for underlying      acteristics that make an environment more susceptible
socioeconomic studies was lower in the survey, this was     to environmental threats.
likely a function of the survey itself. Respondents were
limited to three choices and the top selected alterna-     The need for increased scientific and technical support
tives were dominated by three separate but interrelated     for dealing with cumulative effects of development was
categories of research activities.               a common thread in the survey. This reflects a need for
                                support for both the assessment and management of
Land Use: Information Needs                   cumulative impacts. Over time, many of the scientific,
                                legal, and institutional barriers to planning and manag-
The survey asked for the types of information that       ing cumulative impacts have been overcome. Yet, it is
would best help respondents address land use over the      critical that the science and management communities
next five years. Seven out of ten wanted land use change    work closely to keep pace with evolving science so that
analyses to address this issue, and about half wanted      momentum can be sustained (Vestal and Rieser 1995).
more geospatial data for GIS, although this need was      The emphasis placed on ecosystem-based management
markedly higher in New Brunswick (78%).             by the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew
                                Oceans Commission should help to instigate renewed
Land Use: Technology Needs                   attention for this issue. The region will want to con-
                                sider the Ocean Commission’s recommendation for
When asked what technologies would best help them        a single, scientifically-based regional assessment that
to address land use issues over the next five years, the    would help to reduce duplication of effort and ensure
demand was greatest for customized GIS (75%). An        that cumulative impact assessments are based on con-
average of 66% also wanted access to affordable re-       sistent, comprehensive, and timely information (U.S.
mote sensing and improved predictive or simulation       Commission on Ocean Policy 2004).

Examples of Current Approaches for
Addressing Land Use Issues
                                The feedback gained from the survey confirmed that
The survey results reinforce longstanding needs for ana-    habitat change and land use dominate the agenda of
lytical tools, techniques, and methodologies that allow     the region’s coastal managers. The capacity of manag-
managers to better plan for and minimize the effects of     ers to assess and predict the potential impact of land
land use decisions on coastal ecosystems. Embayments      use changes on coastal conditions has matured. Over
along the southwestern shore of the GOM are particu-      the past two decades, key tools such as remote sensing
larly susceptible to land use activities. Development      platforms and GIS have evolved from the research and
pressure in the region’s two maritime provinces has       development phase into widespread operational use.
not yet caught up with that being experienced across      The survey points to the need for more advanced as-
the border, affording the provinces an opportunity to      sessment tools and techniques that are easier to use, can

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

be tailored to specific needs, yield more rapid results,     proach. The U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy calls
are cost-effective, and more accessible.             for the creation of supporting programs for regional
                                 research, information, and ecosystem assessment. Both
Another important theme in the survey was the de-        commissions recommend the voluntary establishment
mand for research and tools that support improved        of regional ocean councils that would fill the void that
cumulative impact assessments and the analysis of land      currently exists for a mechanism that would facilitate
use trends and patterns. These needs are related to the     the bottom up planning and top down coordination
request for improved indicators that are linked with       of research, information management, and assessment
and allow a quantification of the effect of these land      activities (NRC 2000). Until the Commission’s recom-
use trends and patterns on the Gulf ecosystem. Tools       mendations are translated into specific Congressional
that allow information to be aggregated and analyzed       authorities, the region can continue to implement pilot
at a broad range of temporal and spatial scales will be     ecosystem management approaches.
essential. Comparative ecosystem studies will continue
to be important, as will ecological characterizations and    Scientists and managers in the region have the benefit
ecological and physical baselines and inventories.        of experience and a long tradition of collaboration in
                                 improving the scientific understanding and manage-
Ocean management was ranked third in importance in        ment of the Gulf of Maine ecosystem. As models, the
the aggregated survey results shown in Table 2. Ocean      RMRP, RARGOM, and the Gulf of Maine Council
management offers the potential for a comprehensive       have helped bridge the gap between state/provincial and
framework for ocean planning and governance that         federal activities, encourage cross boundary collabora-
could improve the handling of other management topics      tion and priority setting, and stimulate communication.
of concern in the survey. Coastal and ocean resources are    Other elements are also critical for continued success,
being affected by a combination of land-based activities     such as the need for a long-term vision for the Gulf
and a number of current and emerging offshore uses.       of Maine ecosystem to help guide policy development
Yet, there has been no national directive or guidance for    and decision-making; and a long-term, stably funded,
an integrated ocean resource planning or governance       multi-disciplinary research program that is responsive
regime. To address this void, an increasing number of      to management needs (RARGOM Workshop Report
states are taking steps to develop ocean management       1997).
legislation and programs to best address varying needs
for governance, management tools, scientific under-       As a community, scientists in the Gulf of Maine re-
standing, and outreach. Consequently, while the states      gion have had considerable experience contributing to
and provinces exhibited some common research and         policy-driven research. Operating in this arena brings
technical needs, there was also considerable divergence     a new and complex set of challenges, such as how to
in response to the survey. These differences were likely     be responsive to management needs without losing
a function of varying governance structures, develop-      necessary objectivity. Another is to find ways to use
ment pressures, the extent and types of habitat under      more of the answer-driven research that is focused on
stress, and the nature of the individual program initia-     experimental outcomes to inform policy questions that
tives for addressing coastal concerns.              cannot be observed. The demand for scientists willing
                                 to perform syntheses of research results and conduct
As evident from the retrospective review of the region’s     ecosystem assessments will increase, and both commu-
approach and experiences to understanding and manag-       nities will need to find ways to make more complete
ing the Gulf of Maine ecosystem, there are some obvi-      use of existing information. This raises a related issue
ous scientific and economic (i.e., economies of scale)      that scientific investigation of some problems (e.g.,
advantages to managing ecosystems at the regional level.     cumulative impacts) may require a higher degree of
Both ocean commissions have made recommendations         certainty or precision than is needed by management
advancing a regional ecosystem-based management ap-       or regulatory programs (NRC 1995a). As managers

                                 Gulf of Maine Coastal Managers’ Science and Technology Needs

and scientists work together to foster a science-policy     National Research Council (NRC). 1995a. Improving
connection, both will need to develop better approaches      interactions between coastal science and policy:
for dealing with uncertainty.                   proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium.
                                  National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
Managers need to do a better job of communicating        National Research Council (NRC). 1995b. Science,
how science gets used in policymaking and manage-         policy, and the coast: improving decision-making.
ment since it is more important at some stages of the       National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
process than others (NRC 1995b). Managers need to        National Research Council (NRC). 2000. Bridging
articulate more effectively where and how science can       boundaries through regional marine research.
play a role in the management decision-making process       National Academy Press, Washington, D.C.
and where it does not. These efforts will be instrumental    Pew Oceans Commission. 2003. America’s living
in ensuring that relevant research is conducted and that      oceans: charting a course for sea change.
scientists are appropriately involved in policy develop-     Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of
ment, implementation, and evaluation. Opportunities        Maine (RARGOM).      1997. Mechanisms for
for continuous exchange of information will be neces-       improving the integration of science and managment
sary to develop and use scientific results effectively to     in decisions affecting the environmental quality of
solve the challenging topics targeted by the survey.        the Gulf of Maine. Workshop Report.
                                 U.S. Congress. 1987.       Wastes in Marine
                                  Environments. Office of Technology Assessment.
References                             OTA-O-334. U.S. Government Printing Office,
                                  Washington, DC.
Arno, A., and A.E. Smith. 2004. Improving links         U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy.        2004.
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 to assess science and technology needs - Gulf of         Regional Approach.
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Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine. 1986.        heritage.
 A prospectus for a scientific research initiative on      Vestal, B. and A. Rieser et al. 1995. Methodologies
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by Shaun Walbridge last modified 11-10-2006 18:53

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