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Keywords:

  • Ecosystem-based management;
  • marine conservation;
  • marine management;
  • marine policy;
  • marine spatial planning;
  • National Ocean Policy

Abstract

Two of the priority objectives in the new U.S. National Ocean Policy are “ecosystem-based management” (EBM) and “coastal and marine spatial planning” (CMSP). Drawing from several studies demonstrating these concepts in practice in the United States and elsewhere, we provide recommendations for those engaged in implementing the new policy. We describe the types of strategic policy actions and management choices currently being used in ecosystem-based management efforts to provide opportunities for learning and problem-solving, enable capacity for action, and enhance coordination among existing initiatives. We show that implementation of this ambitious national policy at local to regional scales—where people are most closely linked with coastal and marine systems—will require close attention to these social, political, and institutional issues, as well as to ecological constraints and objectives.