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Ecosystem Research and Coastal Management, Making the Connection at the Regional Scale

May 18-19, NOAA Science Center, Silver Spring, MD

Purpose of the Workshop

Regional ecosystem research has led to a better understanding of the nutrient management implication for over 40% of the continental US to mitigate the annual hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

Regional ecosystem research has led to a better understanding of the nutrient management implication for over 40% of the continental US to mitigate the annual hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico. Photo credit: USGS

Regional-scale ecosystem research has gained acceptance in recent years as a critical need to address complex regional and national issues affecting the management and health of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes ecosystems.

The division of ecosystem components among different agencies, scientific disciplines, and political boundaries, as well as the complexities of conducting large-scale research make effective ecosystem management at the regional scale very challenging. For over a decade, NOAA and other agencies have conducted a number of regional-scale ecosystem research efforts in support of mission requirements.

Workshop Summary

On May 18-19, 2009 NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science hosted a workshop for the scientific and coastal management community to critically examine regional-scale ecosystem efforts and identify the most promising approaches which lead to results with direct management relevance and impact.

Approximately 70 experts in regional ecosystem science, management and policy were convened to identify best practices and lessons learned in three phases of research: identification of research priorities, guidance and oversight, and transition of results into management and policy application.  Important perspectives from leaders in policy and science on issues such as climate change, regional governance structures and use of existing regulatory frameworks as well as presentations of 8 case studies from the science and management perspectives were analyzed.

Early engagement between managers, researchers and stakeholders repeatedly emerged as a key to success along with other specific ideas on how to improve upon current practices.  It was generally recognized that this additional engagement would not be easy or without cost but that it was a required to insure use of sound science in management of coastal systems over the long term.  The final report will be completed in August.

Workshop Information

Related NCCOS Center(s):
Shorter web link for sharing: http://coastalscience.noaa.gov/news/?p=1747

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