A State-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nutrient Innovations Task Group concluded in a 2009 report (State — EPA Nutrient Innovations Task Group, 2009) that ‘continuing the status quo at the national, state, and local levels and relying upon our current practices and control strategies will not support a positive public health and environmental outcome.’ A systems approach that integrates watershed load reduction programs with enhanced nutrient processing in coastal systems may prove more effective at restoring ecosystem services at less cost than load reduction programs alone. Shellfish aquaculture, which has shown promise in reducing eutrophication impacts by taking up nutrients from the water, is an alternative method that might be used together with land-based methods. Eutrophication is among the most serious threats worldwide to the function and services supported by coastal ecosystems…Many water bodies worldwide have experienced nutrient-related water-quality degradations with consequent impacts, such as hypoxic bottom waters and loss of valuable habitats, with cascading impacts on fisheries…Concern about these conditions has led to legislation that requires monitoring, assessment and implementation of management measures to reverse coastal eutrophication in places where degradation is observed (e.g. US Clean Water Act, EU Water Framework Directive). Most of these management measures focus on reductions of land-based sources of nutrients, such as fertilizer application and wastewater treatment plant discharges, and in some cases these measures have been successful. There is increasing recognition that returns on investment diminish with increased stringency in both point and non-point source controls, that additional management will result in incrementally smaller reductions in nutrient loads, and that at some point further reductions are not cost-effective…This is particularly the case for non-point sources, where control is difficult technically, but is also a problem for point sources once nutrients are reduced to concentrations at the limit of technological feasibility. Another argument for finding alternate management measures is highlighted by the different (and unpredictable) recovery paths that can occur, in contrast to a management model based on the presumption that the recovery path is the reverse of the impact path, and that both are linear …Historical alterations in habitat quality, food webs, and community structure in coastal systems can alter nutrient processing, thus modifying the ecosystem response to reduced nutrient loads…This modification may be due to a regime shift that results in an altered recovery trajectory, and/or a moving baseline, due to climate change for instance.