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Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium (1995)

Chapter: Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats

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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Protecting Regionally Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

INTRODUCTION

The process by which protection of regionally significant habitats is now attempted is inadequate because the jurisdictions over habitats are divided among different government entities, stakeholders are not involved in the protection process in a way that will yield their cooperation with eventual decisions, and the information necessary to make decisions is often lacking. Problems with the quality, quantity, retrieval, and dissemination of information are faced by managers attempting to protect habitats. The quality and quantity of information for essential habitats in the Gulf of Maine are varied. In general, existing data regarding marine, estuarine, and terrestrial habitats in the Gulf of Maine are inadequate for the complete definition of essential habitats and there is little social, cultural, and economic information about people and communities using marine habitats. A number of factors impede science-policy interactions with relation to regionally significant habitats. These factors include outdated legal and institutional structures, professional specialization, information inadequacies, and a lack of mechanisms for the resolution of conflicts. There have been efforts through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and others, however, to rank priority species in the Gulf of Maine and to use this list to identify priority habitats for protection.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
This page in the original is blank.
Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

PROTECTING REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT MARINE HABITATS IN THE GULF OF MAINE: A CANADIAN PERSPECTIVE

Blythe D. Chang, R.L. Stephenson, D.J. Wildish, and Wendy M. Watson-Wright

Department of Fisheries and Oceans

Biological Station

St. Andrews, New Brunswick, Canada

Introduction

In this presentation we would like to discuss the protection of significant marine habitats in the Gulf of Maine. We wish especially to deal with the role of the natural sciences in the habitat-management process, illustrating this with two case studies from the Canadian portion of the Gulf of Maine.

The Gulf of Maine is generally thought to be relatively free of the environmental problems prevalent in much of the world's coastal waters. Nevertheless, recent studies have found that several coastal marine sites in the Gulf of Maine do show signs of deteriorating environmental quality and declining natural resources (Van Dusen and Johnson Hayden, 1989; Harvey, 1994; Thurston and Larsen, 1994). If we accept the general description of habitat as “the ecological relationships that exist between organisms and their environments” (Gordon, 1994), we must therefore recognize that some marine habitats in the region are under threat; that such threats will likely increase in the future; and that steps must be taken to protect significant habitats.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

The identification of significant habitats depends on one's point-of-view. For a biologist, a significant habitat would be one that is essential to a critical stage in a species' life history (Langton et al., in press). Often, however, habitat management issues deal with a broader definition of habitat, encompassing all aspects of the marine environment utilized by various species and human activities. In such cases, a significant habitat may be defined by its aesthetic values or its usefulness to human activities, as well as its ecological importance to the various species in the area.

Once a significant habitat has been identified, we must then ensure its protection. Usually the main players involved in the decision-making process are habitat managers in various government agencies. It is generally recognized that, in most instances, scientific input is essential to the process. As stated by Levings et al. (1989): “…defensible [habitat] management has to arise from scientific facts.” We would now like to discuss how science can provide input into habitat management issues, from our viewpoint as scientists in the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Types of Scientific Input in Habitat Management

Wildish and Strain (1994) have classified the types of scientific input to habitat management as follows:

  • specific research projects,

  • field monitoring, and

  • predictive models.

Specific research projects can be conducted to gather scientific information on which to base habitat management decisions. Such research can include laboratory studies, pilot field studies, or research at other sites where similar activity is already taking place. Unfortunately, because habitat managers usually must make decisions within relatively short time frames, there often is not sufficient time to conduct specific research projects. Lack of funds for research also is frequently a problem.

Field monitoring before an activity begins can be used to evaluate the potential of a site for a certain activity. Monitoring may allow identification of sensitive or significant habitats that might be impacted, but only when scientific research on the expected effects of the activity has already been done. Predevelopment monitoring can also provide the baseline data with which post-development data can be compared in order to determine if significant impacts have occurred. Field monitoring after an activity has started can be used to assess the effects of past management decisions. The results can then provide a scientific basis for altering past decisions and for making future decisions in similar circumstances. Since the results of such monitoring are only available after an activity has started, it cannot serve a purpose in the process leading to approval of a new activity.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Predictive models can be used to test the effects of alternative habitat management options, before decisions are made. These models have the added advantage of providing results within a short time frame and at little cost (once the model has been developed). These models, however, can only be developed where basic research and monitoring studies on similar activities in similar habitats have already been done—scientific knowledge of the site and potential impact must already exist.

There is also another type of input that scientists are increasingly being asked to provide: advice based on existing knowledge. Scientists are often reluctant to provide this type of advice, since it often requires making inferences on limited and imperfect information. This is contrary to the conservatism built into the scientific method, which rigorously controls the permissible level of inference. Some scientists have suggested the need for a method of establishing the acceptable level of inference that scientists could use when providing input to habitat management issues (Bain, 1989). Another factor limiting scientists' desire to provide advice based on synthesis and inference from available data is that they receive little scientific recognition for this type of activity (Basta and Ehler, 1994).

In any case, the quality of scientific advice provided will depend on the quality of scientific information on which the advice is based. The importance of scientific studies, which provide this information, cannot be overemphasized.

The Management of Aquatic Habitat in Atlantic Canada - Background

In Canada, the strongest legal ground for the protection of aquatic habitats is in the federal Fisheries Act. Under this Act, “fish habitats ” are defined as those parts of the environment “on which fish depend, directly or indirectly, in order to carry out their life processes.” Because the Act broadly defines “fish” to include all the life stages of “fish, shellfish, crustaceans, and marine animals, ” the provisions for the protection of “fish habitat” under this Act can be considered to cover habitat requirements of most aquatic life.

Administration of the Fisheries Act rests predominantly with the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), although at the present time some aspects are shared with the federal Department of Environment and provincial government agencies. In administering the habitat provisions of the Act, DFO has a policy objective to achieve an overall net gain of the productive capacity of fish habitats. This objective is to be attained via three goals: (1) conservation, (2) restoration, and (3) development of fish habitat. The guiding principle for implementing the habitat conservation goal is “no net loss of productive capacity of habitats” (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, 1986).

Within DFO, the Habitat Management Branch is currently the focus for all habitat-related matters. Development proposals that may impact on fisheries habitat are referred to this Branch, which is then responsible for developing the Department's response. Because

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

the Department recognizes that habitat managers need input from scientists to ensure that the best habitat management decisions are made, formal linkages exist between habitat managers and scientists. In DFO's Scotia-Fundy Region, which includes the Canadian portion of the Gulf of Maine, the Marine Assessment and Liaison Division is the focal point for requests for scientific advice from habitat managers, as shown in Figure 1. Habitat managers request scientific information from this Division, which then contacts the appropriate scientists and compiles the scientific advice into a coordinated response back to the habitat managers (Ducharme, 1992).

Recent initiatives have been undertaken in order to improve the linkages between science and habitat management within DFO's Scotia-Fundy Region (Ducharme, 1992). These include:

  • consultation between science and habitat management in annual work plan preparation,

  • cooperation between science and habitat management in the education of the public and industry toward habitat awareness,

  • joint review of documents relating to habitat issues,

  • conduct of special applied projects on habitat issues, and

  • cooperative intervention on certain habitat issues

These linkages help to ensure that scientists know which habitat issues are currently important, so that appropriate scientific data can be obtained. Similarly, such linkages help habitat managers to understand better what they can expect from scientists. To further facilitate these linkages, in late 1994, DFO amalgamated all of its habitat activities (both research and management) within the Department 's science sector.

We will now move on to discuss two case studies, representing different ways that habitat-management issues have been dealt with in Canadian waters of the Gulf of Maine.

  1. Protection of herring spawning habitat on Trinity Ledge, Nova Scotia

  2. Multiuse habitat issues in the Fundy Isles region, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

These are two quite different cases—in the first instance, we are dealing with an “essential habitat” (Langton et al., in press) for a single species. In such a case, the goal of habitat management is quite clear and specific: to protect a habitat essential for a single species, in order to protect the resource. In the second case, we are dealing with habitat in a broader context, referring to the marine environment in an area used by various species and

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

activities. In this case, habitat management becomes more complex, as it involves balancing the often conflicting demands of the various stakeholders.

Case Study 1: Trinity Ledge Herring Spawning Grounds

Background and Context

Fisheries management in Canada is the mandate of DFO. There is a well established framework for the integration of science and policy in this aspect of resource management. Emphasis has increasingly been placed on input from industry through consultation in an advisory committee process.

The focus of the current system of evaluation and management is the protection of the fish population, rather than of the habitat in the traditional sense of the word, and overall habitat considerations are made in an ad hoc way. This case study involves the evolution and treatment of one “habitat” issue within the current resource management structure.

The Southwest Nova Scotia herring fishery (area 4X) is a typical example of fisheries management under this system. It has an elaborate management structure, and is under considerable regulatory control. This fishery was one of the first to be placed under limited entry restriction (1970), Total Allowable Catch (TAC) regulation (1972), and an individual quota (IQ) system of management in the major purse seine fleet (1976). The fishery is managed according to an annual plan developed by a representative advisory committee (see Stephenson et al., 1993a for details).

Atlantic herring migrate and mix extensively as both juveniles and adults, but aggregate in discrete locations to spawn. There is believed to be a high degree of homing to these spawning grounds, so that herring management units are considered to be made up of a number of spawning components or stocks (or substocks). The summer fishery has traditionally focused on, and around, these spawning grounds, where herring aggregate in a regular and predictable manner. Trinity Ledge (Figure 2) is one such spawning location and has been a favorite fishing area because of its proximity to the major port of Yarmouth.

Within the last decade, the focus of fishing activity on the Trinity Ledge spawning grounds has become a habitat issue, and the management process has had to evolve to accommodate it.

Chronology

In the early 1980s, Trinity Ledge was the most popular fishing ground in the summer Bay of Fundy herring fishery. Competition between a purse seine fleet (of approximately 40

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

vessels) and a gillnet fleet (of over 100 vessels) was intense on this relatively small fishing area. Gear conflict in 1984 resulted in the prohibition of purse seiners from an area of approximately 35 mi2 (90 km2) during the last week of August and first week of September (smaller box in Figure 2), leaving the area to the gillnet fleet, which had few other fishing areas (Stephenson et al., 1985). This restriction was primarily to reduce gear conflict, but was immediately considered by some to have an element of habitat protection because it might reduce overall effort on the central spawning grounds.

Despite this closure, by 1985 the pressure on Trinity Ledge increased, due to the emergence of a large Japanese roe market. In that year more than 40 percent of the total summer fishery catch was taken from the Trinity Ledge area during spawning (Figure 3), and an unknown additional amount of fish were taken from the Trinity Ledge stock in mixed fisheries before and after spawning.

Assessment of the population in 1986 focused concern over the increasing concentration of the fishery on this spawning ground. Stephenson et al. (1986) stated: “the exact contribution of this spawning group to the whole stock is unknown, but it is almost certainly experiencing fishing pressure in excess of its relative contribution to the stock complex.” Several control mechanisms were suggested, including catch limits, time restrictions, area closures, and effort limits, but none was adopted. Only the two-week gear conflict exclusion was continued, and the 1986 fishery saw changes on Trinity Ledge, including a drop in the purse seine catch rate (Stephenson et al., 1987).

For the 1987 fishery, the industry agreed to a partial closure of a larger 100 mi2 (260 km2) area around the Ledge for three days per week during the period August 15 -September 15 (larger box in Figure 2), but Trinity Ledge remained the single most important fishing area in the Bay of Fundy, representing 28 percent of the total summer purse seine catch (Stephenson et al., 1988).

In a continuing effort to decrease fishing pressure on the Trinity Ledge spawning component, the original plan for 1988 called for a closure of the 100 mi2 area for 18 days during late August and early September. However, because of negative industry reaction, this was modified to a series of three- and four-day closures per week. The closure resulted in a slight decrease in effort on Trinity Ledge, but catches remained about the same as in the previous year (Stephenson et al., 1989).

The 1989 fishing plan also imposed an 18-day intermittent closure, but very little spawning took place on the ledge, and very little catch (266 tonnes) was taken there (Stephenson et al., 1990). Although the restriction was for purse seiners, the gillnet fishery had been declining in recent years due primarily to lack of market and was minimal by this point.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

By late 1989, the industry was sufficiently concerned about the lack of spawning on Trinity Ledge to place a continuous 18-day closure, beginning August 15 for the 1990 fishery. In 1990 only 1,113 tonnes (1 percent of the total summer fishery) was recorded as having been taken from Trinity Ledge.

The 18-day continuous closure beginning August 15 has been included each year since 1991 (through 1994), at the request of industry and by consensus. Increasing amounts of herring have been seen, on and around the Ledge, and increasing amounts have been taken from the area prior to and after the closure (although these amounts are much less than was taken during the mid-1980s) (Stephenson et al., 1993b).

There is no question now that Trinity Ledge was unable to sustain the disproportionately high degree of fishing pressure exerted during the 1980s (illustrated in Figure 3). The need for protection of this significant habitat took time to recognize, and protection took even longer. Learning from this example, the industry and DFO are pursuing options for spreading the fishery among spawning components more appropriately in future management of the resource.

Lessons

Consideration of the importance of specific habitat is not common in traditional fisheries management. In this case, the subtleties of substock structure and the related habitat issue of substock spawning ground protection were not adequately addressed by the overall approach to management. This case study points out the need for recognition of essential habitats in the life history of a species. Future management of herring must include adequate consideration of the spawning stock and of the spawning area habitat.

This case study also shows the difficulty in decision making related to habitat issues. This was a case of heavy local exploitation leading to spawning area collapse, not adequately prevented by management. Scientists had advised that the disproportionately high effort was likely to be detrimental. Although the industry perceived a problem and imposed some voluntary restrictions, it could not bring itself to take significant restrictive action early enough to prevent overfishing of the area. This situation shows the importance of science-management-industry consensus on management objectives, and on the methods of achieving them.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Case 2: Multiuse Conflicts in the Fundy Isles Region

Background and Context

This case is an ongoing habitat management issue involving multiuse conflicts. The area in question is the Fundy Isles region in southwestern New Brunswick (Figure 4). The region extends from the St. Croix River east to Point Lepreau, including Grand Manan, Campobello, and Deer Islands.

The Fundy Isles region is considered to be one of the most ecologically diverse marine areas in Atlantic Canada. The region presents a varied, attractive landscape, with unique oceanographic conditions, including a large tidal range and corresponding large tidal currents. Because of these characteristics, a number of human activities occur or have been proposed in the region.

Traditional Fisheries

The region supports a number of commercial fisheries. Total landings in 1993 were 41.5 thousand tons (Figure 5). Herring comprised 80 percent of the total, mostly caught by approximately 200 coastal weirs (traps), which have been a unique feature of this portion of the Gulf of Maine for over a century (see Stephenson, 1990). The total value of landings for all species in 1993 was Can$18.4 million (Figure 6); the final product value is considerably higher, especially because of value added in canning juvenile herring as sardines. The most important species in value are scallops, lobsters, and herring. Other valuable species are groundfish (especially cod and pollock), sea urchins (a relatively new fishery), and soft-shell clams.

The habitat of wild fish stocks can be affected by many of the other activities in the area, such as industrial and sewage discharges and the recent growth of aquaculture. For example, high bacterial levels have resulted in the closure of many of the region's clam beds. The fishing industry can also have adverse effects on the marine habitat. Fishing activity can be damaging to the environment through overfishing, as well as due to benthic impacts caused by bottom trawling and scallop dragging.

Marine Plant Harvesting

Traditional hand picking of dulse has a long history in the region, especially on Grand Manan. Because of the small scale (225 tonnes in 1993) and the harvest methods, it is unlikely that this causes any significant habitat impacts. Pilot scale rockweed harvesting has recently been approved in New Brunswick and will likely begin in the near future. The annual harvest in the Fundy Isles region has been initially set at about 6,500 tonnes, using

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

only hand-held harvesting tools. Rockweed harvesting has raised concerns, since rockweed beds serve as habitat for many fish and invertebrate species, including those of commercial importance.

Aquaculture

Salmon cage aquaculture has been successful in this region because of a combination of factors, including the abundance of sheltered sites among the islands; the tidal currents, which serve to disperse wastes and also help to maintain water temperatures generally within acceptable levels for salmon; and generally good water quality. The Fundy Isles region salmon aquaculture industry began in the late 1970s; by 1993, production was more than 10,000 tonnes (Figure 7), worth almost Can$100 million (Figure 8). This represents over 90 percent of the cultured salmon production in all of eastern Canada.

Aquaculture can have adverse impacts on the marine habitat, due to the discharge of wastes (food, feces, chemicals) that can affect bottom sediments, water quality, and the wild species inhabiting the area. The presence of aquaculture operations can also obstruct fish migration routes, fishing activity (mobile and fixed gear), and navigation routes.

Aquaculture is also impacted by other activities and environmental factors. Because of its need for clean water, aquaculture cannot take place in polluted waters. Aquaculture may be restricted from some areas, due to traditional fisheries and other interests. Predators, especially seals, can cause mortalities at some sites. Because of this, aquaculture operators have recently been given limited permission to control seals at their sites.

Shipping

Commercial shipping passes through the Fundy Isles region en route to the port at Bayside, on the St. Croix River near St. Andrews, New Brunswick. Also, large commercial vessels, including oil tankers, pass just to the south of the Fundy Isles en route to the port of Saint John, New Brunswick. The major habitat concern related to shipping is the potential for oil spills, which would have disastrous effects on the natural environment and species, as well as on the aquaculture industry.

Industrial Discharges

Fish-processing plants are the most important industries discharging effluent along the coast, and they may cause local water quality degradation. The region may also be impacted by pulp and paper mills located further inland on the mainland in Maine and New Brunswick.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
Human Settlement

Humans have been attracted by the abundance of resources in the region and in the adjacent mainland. Human settlements have caused physical alterations to coastlines, as well as water quality problems due to sewage discharges, both from sewage treatment plants and from septic systems.

Energy Production

Currently, the only energy production in the region is at the Point Lepreau nuclear power generating station, located at the eastern extremity of the region. Because of the high tidal currents and unique geography of the region, there have been proposals for tidal power generation in the Fundy Isles region. A project proposed in the late 1950s would have involved a series of dams between Deer and Campobello Islands and the mainlands of New Brunswick and Maine (International Passamaquoddy Engineering Board, 1959). Because of serious ecological implications, it is unlikely that such a proposal would be considered now.

Tourism

Tourism has a long history in the Fundy Isles region. Tourists are attracted by the scenery and diverse biota, which includes whales, seals, and seabirds. Whale species which spend time feeding here include fin, minke, humpback, and right, and the region supports one of the largest harbor porpoise populations in the western North Atlantic. In addition to the traditional land-based tourism, the region offers many opportunities for boat tours, recreational boating, and diving. Because of the tourist potential, there have been proposals to establish a national marine park in the area around Deer and Campobello Islands (Parks Canada and Tourism New Brunswick, 1985).

Tourism may conflict at times with some of the other users. For example, one of the main concerns that the fishing industry had with the original marine park proposal was that there would be restrictions on normal fishing activities. There are similar concerns for how aquaculture might be affected. Tourists come to visit the clean, natural environment. Therefore, any activity that might degrade the environment could adversely affect the tourist industry.

Habitat Management in the Fundy Isles Region—Experience to Date

Habitat management in the Fundy Isles region generally has been done on a single-issue basis, because different government agencies are responsible for different activities. For example, there are different lead agencies for the management of traditional fisheries,

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

aquaculture, effluent discharges, and navigational concerns. Although the management process for each of these activities usually includes some input from other agencies, it is not what would be considered “coastal zone management,” in the sense of involving all stakeholders representing all activities and resources in the region.

In recent years, salmon aquaculture has been the most important activity in the region, both in economic terms and in its potential for affecting habitat used by other activities and resources. Aquaculture is a relatively new activity in the area, having started only in the late 1970s, but as seen earlier, it has grown rapidly. The lead agency for management of aquaculture in the region is the provincial government 's Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture (DFA). In order to make its management decisions, DFA receives recommendations from various federal and provincial government agencies representing the other major users of the region. Public notification and input is also part of the process. Scientific information enters the aquaculture management process mainly through the various government agencies.

A number of scientific studies have been carried out to provide a scientific basis for habitat management in the region. Various monitoring studies have looked at the environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture in the Bay of Fundy and have identified some impacted areas (e.g., Wildish et al., 1990; Thonney and Garnier, 1993). Research has also been conducted on possible conflicts between traditional fisheries and aquaculture. A study conducted off Grand Manan provides some evidence for a change in lobster distributions related to the operation of a salmon aquaculture farm (Lawton and Robichaud, 1992). Stephenson (1990) suggested some possible conflicts between the region's herring weir fishery and salmon aquaculture. Herring migrations and behavior may be affected by aquaculture due to (1) degraded water quality, (2) the presence of large numbers of salmon (a herring predator), (3) the physical blocking of fishways by cages, and (4) the effects of noise, lighting, and activity around cages.

While the scientific studies conducted to date have helped to assess past decisions and the overall impact of aquaculture on the region 's marine habitat, they have been less useful in helping the decision making process for individual applications for new aquaculture sites or expansions of existing sites. Recent studies have looked at the development of computer models that would be able to predict the habitat impacts of individual aquaculture operations (Silvert, 1992; Hargrave, 1994). Such models have the potential to assist in the decision-making process greatly.

Lessons

The current habitat management process, based on single issues, appears to have prevented overall degradation of environmental conditions in the region's waters. There are, however, some sites within the region that have been degraded. For example, the benthic

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

environment under some aquaculture sites is known to be impacted (Thonney and Garnier, 1993). Effluent discharged from a pulp and paper mill constructed near St. George in the 1970s resulted in the loss of traditional fisheries, as well as the potential loss for aquaculture and tourism, in a 275 hectare area within the region. If the process leading to the approval of this operation had been part of a coastal zone management system, including strong scientific input, these impacts might have been avoided (Wildish, 1983).

The potential impact of the rapidly growing salmon aquaculture industry is the major habitat concern at present. Initially, the main concerns with aquaculture were related to impacts on the region's traditional fisheries, as well as general environmental concerns. However, in the early years of the industry, there were relatively few conflicts, other than displacement of some activities, because of the small number and sizes of the operations, and because many of the original entrants to the industry were from the local fishing industry. Any environmental impacts that were detected appeared to be confined to the area immediately under the cages. Now, individual farms are larger, and with more than 60 aquaculture sites operating in the region, applications for new sites tend to be in areas more likely to conflict with the interests of other users or resources, thus making habitat management decisions more difficult. New site applications are more likely to conflict with traditional fisheries and some recent aquaculture siting issues have involved potential conflicts with other resources that previously appeared to be unaffected, such as whales, seabirds, recreational diving activity, and the marine park proposal. Furthermore, recent scientific studies indicate that the aquaculture industry in some areas of the region may be approaching the holding capacity, beyond which overall degradation of water quality and benthic environment may be expected (Cranston, 1994; Strain et al., 1994). Thus, aquaculture development has implications for all other resources and activities dependent on the marine habitat.

Management of the aquaculture industry has been, up to now, primarily on a site-by-site basis. However, as the impacts of aquaculture begin to impinge more on other activities and resources in the region, the argument in favor of some form of multiuse zonal management becomes stronger. The need for multiagency cooperation is clear in this case, as is the need for scientific information to assist in the difficult management decisions that will have to be made.

Discussion

We have looked at two very different case studies, involving very different habitat-management processes. It is apparent that no one process of habitat-management will serve all situations. In the Trinity Ledge case, the single species type of management, focussing on an essential habitat, is appropriate. In the Fundy Isles case, multiuse management using a broad definition of habitat is required. In both types of cases, management decisions require strong scientific input.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

One problem, currently facing habitat managers, is how to obtain the necessary scientific information, while facing declining budgets. One tool that can help is geographic information systems (GISs). GISs can help, by increasing accessibility to existing data, as well as facilitating interpretation of the data. However, problems of reconciling differences in format, scale, and quality of the information to be incorporated in GISs are a major hindrance.

In addition, more cost-effective ways must be found to collect new data. Newer technologies such as remote sensing by satellite and side-scan sonar, have the potential for providing data at lower costs than traditional methods. Low-cost, low-technology methods of data collection should also be investigated. Collaboration with other user groups in the collection of data also has the potential for reducing costs. For example, there are plans for collaboration between DFO and the fishing industry for collection of fisheries and oceanographic data. Fishers would collect the data, while DFO would train fishers in data collection methods and would analyze the data. Another example is the Atlantic Coastal Action Program, sponsored by Environment Canada, which has set up community-based projects involving all stakeholders in the management of selected coastal areas in Atlantic Canada. These projects include collection of environmental data by trained volunteers. Collaborations such as these have the added advantage of bringing most of the various stakeholders into the management process. Involving more people can, of course, also add some complications to the decision-making process, since obtaining a consensus often becomes more difficult.

We also need improvements to the decision-making process for habitat management, to allow us to weigh scientific, social, and economic factors properly (Langton et al., in press). Even when the scientific input indicates a clear cause-and-effect relationship between an activity and habitat degradation, we still need to decide if such impacts are acceptable, bearing in mind that virtually all human activities will cause some measurable impact on the environment. When the scientific input is unclear as to potential impacts of an activity, the decision-making process is made even more difficult. Predictive modeling can be a useful tool in habitat management, by allowing us to test the impacts of different decision options, before any habitat degradation occurs (Strain et al., 1994). Structural decision making using techniques of management science will become more important in management of aquatic sciences generally (Lane and Stephenson, 1994).

It is important that habitat management be done at the appropriate scale. The current trend toward “ecosystem management” may or may not prove to be a better way of managing habitat and resources. There can be little argument against the need to integrate ecological principles into habitat management, whether we are looking at single species habitat or multiuse habitat. However, it is questionable whether we will ever have enough information and understanding, to allow us to manage at the ecosystem level properly. Furthermore, trying to manage at the ecosystem level may lead to less focussed, and therefore less effective, habitat management. We need to manage at the appropriate scale for

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

each problem (Basta and Ehler, 1994; Stephenson et al., 1994). As we have seen in our first case study, managing at too large a scale can result in ignoring key details, such as essential habitats.

Conclusions

Establishing effective links among the sciences, management, and policy in marine habitat protection is a goal which must be pursued. In Canada, recognition of this fact has led to the amalgamation of habitat science and management within one branch of DFO. In addition, realignment of all marine habitat issues within one federal Department is anticipated in the near future. The larger problem, however, lies in achieving the cooperation of all of the stakeholders in the recognition and protection of significant marine habitats. Workshops such as this will greatly assist in facilitating this cooperation.

Acknowledgments

The authors thank P. Lawton for his assistance in preparing this presentation. We also thank B. Best for her assistance in preparing the figures and slides.

References

Bain, L.H. 1989. Report of the working group on permissible levels of inference in habitat management for salmonids. In Proceedings of the National Workshop on Effects of Habitat Alteration on Salmonid Stocks, C.D. Levings, L.B. Holtby, and M.A. Henderson, ed. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 105:194-195.

Basta, D.J., and C.N. Ehler. 1994. Bridging the gaps among science, management, and public policy. Pp. 847-859 in Coastal Zone Canada '94, Cooperation in the Coastal Zone: Conference Proceedings, Vol. 1, P.G. Wells and P.J. Ricketts, ed. Coastal Zone Canada Assoc., Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Cranston, R. 1994. Dissolved ammonium and sulfate gradients in surficial sediment pore water as a measure of organic carbon burial rate. Pp. 93-120 in Modelling Benthic Impacts of Organic Enrichment From Marine Aquaculture, B.T. Hargrave, ed. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Science. Biological Science Branch, Scotia-Fundy Region, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Department of Fisheries and Oceans (Canada). 1986. Policy for the Management of Fish Habitat. Information and Publications Branch, Communications Directorate, Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa, Ontario.

Ducharme, A. 1992. Links between science and habitat management (an overview of the importance of linking science and habitat management to address the Gulf's most pressing habitat issues). Pp. 147-157 in Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Scientific Workshop, J. Wiggin and C.N.K. Mooers, eds. Urban Harbors Institute, University of Massachusetts at Boston.

Gordon, D.C., Jr. 1994. Location, extent and importance of marine habitats in the Gulf of Maine. Pp. 15-24 in Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings, D. Stevenson and E. Braasch, ed. Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM) Report 94-2. Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H.

Hargrave, B.T. (ed.). 1994. Modelling benthic impacts of organic enrichment from marine aquaculture. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 1949.

Harvey, J. 1994. Turning the Tide: A Citizen's Action Guide to the Bay of Fundy. Conservation Council of New Brunswick, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

International Passamaquoddy Engineering Board. 1959. Investigation of the International Passamaquoddy Tidal Power Project. Report to the International Joint Commission. Washington, D.C.

Lane, D.E., and R.L. Stephenson. 1994. Fisheries management science: the framework to link biological, economic, and social objectives in fisheries management. International Council for Exploration of the Sea C.M. 1994/T:41.

Langton, R.W., R.S. Steneck, V. Gotceitas, F. Juanes, and P. Lawton. In review. The interface between fisheries research and habitat management. North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

Lawton, P. and D.A. Robichaud. 1992. Lobster habitat ecology research in the Bay of Fundy. Pp. 53-56 in Science Review 1990 and 1991, J. Cook ed. Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Levings, C.D., L.B. Holtby, and M.A. Henderson. 1989. Introduction. p. 1 in Proceedings of the National Workshop on Effects of Habitat Alteration on Salmonid Stocks. C.D. Levings, L.B. Holtby, and M.A. Henderson, ed. Canadian Special Publication of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 105.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Parks Canada and Tourism New Brunswick. 1985. The West Isles Feasibility Study, Phase I Report.

Silvert, W. 1992. Assessing environmental impacts of finfish aquaculture in marine waters. Aquaculture 107:67-79.

Stephenson, R.L. 1990. Multiuse conflict: aquaculture collides with traditional fisheries in Canada's Bay of Fundy. Journal of the World Aquaculture Society 21(2):34-45.

Stephenson, R.L., S. Gavaris, and D.E. Lane. 1994. The scale of management: an impediment to linking biological, social and economic considerations in management? International Council for the Exploration of the Sea C.M. 1994/T:40.

Stephenson, R.L., D.E. Lane, D.G. Aldous, and R. Nowak. 1993a. Management of the 4WX Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus) fishery: an evaluation of recent events. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 50:2742-2757.

Stephenson, R.L. and M.J. Power. 1988. Assessment of the 1987 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Documents 88/69.

Stephenson, R.L. and M.J. Power. 1989. Assessment of the 1988 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Document 9/59.

Stephenson, R.L., M.J. Power, W.H. Dougherty, D.J. Gordon, and J.B. Sochasky. 1990. Assessment of the 1989 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Documents 90/50.

Stephenson, R.L., M.J. Power, and T.D. Iles. 1986. Assessment of the 1985 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Documents 86/43.

Stephenson, R.L., M.J. Power, and T.D. Iles. 1987. Assessment of the 1986 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Documents 87/75.

Stephenson, R.L., M.J. Power, T.D. Iles, and P.M. Mace. 1985. Assessment of the 1984 4WX herring fishery. Canadian Atlantic Fisheries Scientific Advisory Committee Research Document 85/78.

Stephenson, R.L., M.J. Power, J.B. Sochasky, U. Buerkle, F.J. Fife, and G.D. Melvin. 1993b. Biological evaluation of the 1992 4WX herring fishery. Department of Fisheries and Oceans Atlantic Fisheries Research Document 93/76.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Strain, P.M., D.J. Wildish, and P.A. Yeats. 1994. The application of simple models of nutrient loading and oxygen demand to the management of a marine tidal inlet. Marine Pollution Bulletin (in press).

Thonney, J.-P., and E. Garnier. 1993. Bay of Fundy Salmon Aquaculture Monitoring Program 1992-1993. New Brunswick Department of the Environment, Fredericton, New Brunswick.

Thurston, H., and P. Larsen. 1994. Marine Environmental Quality in the Gulf of Maine. Gulf of Maine State of the Environment Fact Sheet 94-1. Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, Boston, Mass.

Van Dusen, K., and A.C. Johnson Hayden. 1989. The Gulf of Maine: Sustaining Our Common Heritage. Maine State Planning Office, Augusta.

Wildish, D.J. 1983. Coastal zone management and the pulp and paper industry. Pulp & Paper Canada 84(6):T145-T148.

Wildish, D.J., J.L. Martin, A.J. Wilson, and M. Ringuette. 1990. Environmental monitoring of the Bay of Fundy salmonid mariculture industry during 1988-89. Canadian Technical Report of Fisheries and Aquatic Science 1760.

Wildish, D.J., and P.M. Strain. 1994. Science and coastal zone management. Pp. 2139-2148 in Coastal Zone Canada '94, Cooperation in the Coastal Zone: Conference Proceedings, Vol. 5, P.G. Wells and P.J. Ricketts, ed. Coastal Zone Canada Assoc., Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 1 Linkages between science and management sectors within the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Scotia-Fundy Region until 1994 (from Ducharme 1992). Note that in late 1994, all DFO habitat activities (both research and management) became part of the science sector.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Figure 2 Map of Trinity Ledge, southwestern Nova Scotia, showing small closure box (approx. 35 mi2 or 90 km2) in effect 1984-1986 and larger closure box (approx. 100 mi2 or 260 km2) in effect since 1987.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 3 Trinity Ledge summer purse seine landings (figures indicate percent of total 4X summer purse seine fishery) and gillnet landings (primarily Trinity Ledge), 1985-1993. (Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans statistics)

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 4 Map of Fundy Isles region.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 5 Traditional fisheries landings in the Fundy Isles region 1977-1993. (Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans statistics)

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 6 Value of traditional fisheries landings in the Fundy Isles region, 1977-1993. (Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans statistics)

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 7 Salmon aquaculture production in the Fundy Isles region, 1979-1993 (with harvest fisheries landings for comparison).

(Statistics from Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and New Brunswick Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture)

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 8 Value of salmon aquaculture production in the Fundy Isles region, 1979-1993 (with harvest fisheries landings values for comparison).

(Statistics from Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans and New Brunswick Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture)

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Figure 9 Salmon aquaculture sites in the Fundy Isles region in 1994.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

A FRAMEWORK FOR PROTECTING REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT HABITATS: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE CONSIDERATIONS

Robert S. Steneck

Department of Oceanography

University of Maine

Introduction

What are “regionally significant habitats” and do they need protection? These important questions require effective interactions among existing information, research scientists, and management policymakers. Here I propose an interactive framework designed to steer research in a productive and efficient direction to improve the way we understand and manage regionally significant habitats. I will use examples from the Gulf of Maine to illustrate the utility of this approach.

The Science-Policy Triad

There are three functional components to the science-policy interface: (1) research, (2) information, and (3) management/policy. This triad must be highly interactive to work (Figure 1).

Environmental policy and management should preserve, protect, or enhance habitats of regional significance. Managers must draw on the best available science (i.e., the information node) which includes published literature and databases (e.g., information

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

retrieval services, geographic information systems, and technical advisors). However, the scientific knowledge necessary to make informed policy decisions is often lacking and funding limitations are a fact of life. So focused, efficient, and nonduplicative, new research will be essential. This requires researchers be cognizant of, and draw from, past studies that are retrievable from the information node. Missing information that is important for a management policy can be solicited from the research community in a request for proposals, which stipulates the research and the necessary information that must be delivered to the information node.

To illustrate how the triad might work, I will offer an approach that draws heavily on a plan developed by several scientists from the United States and Canada in a recent benthic-habitat workshop (Langton et al., submitted) and supported by the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine and others.

Necessary Components of Habitat Research and Information

Habitats are where organisms live. Recently, the scientists who work in the Gulf of Maine reviewed habitat classification schemes used elsewhere and reached an agreement on how benthic marine habitats should be classified (Brown, 1993). Since a species may use a variety of habitats throughout its life, it is necessary to understand how habitat requirements change during the species' development. For example, organisms may begin as a planktonic larvae floating in ocean currents, before settling to a nursery ground on the seafloor. As they grow to reproductive maturity, they may live in another distinct habitat and quite possibly spawn in yet another. Certainly, to some degree, all habitats used by an organism are important, but it is also quite possible that not all need to be managed.

Arguably, regionally significant habitats include those of socioeconomic importance. For example, habitats necessary to support commercially important species have regional significance. No doubt, other habitat criteria also qualify (e.g., habitats important to ecosystem function), but my emphasis on commercial importance will be to address the more difficult question: How we develop a sufficient understanding of component species to manage them most effectively and at appropriate scales? Since most of the commercially important species of the Gulf of Maine live on or utilize benthic habitats (e.g., lobsters, cod, other groundfishes, scallops, shrimp, sea urchins, mussels, and clams) the benthic realm will be the focus of this proposed framework. The approach could easily be applied to other nonbenthic habitats.

Critical Life-History Phases

A critical phase in the life history of an organism is the period in its life when it is most susceptible to mortality, or for other reasons (e.g., spawning) has a disproportionately

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

great influence on determining population size. For many organisms, this period occurs at the time of settlement, when they make the transition from their floating larval life to bottom-dwelling (Doherty and Fowler, 1994). The duration of this critical phase, however, can be variable and may not exist for some species (i.e., there may be no developmental change in vulnerability among some organisms).

Essential Habitats

Some organisms require a specific habitat at a critical phase in their life. Such habitats are generally called “essential” rather than “critical,” because the latter has a specific connotation for endangered species. The linkage between a species and a specific habitat may functionally control the carrying capacity of the environment for that species. Different species may range from having several essential habitats to none at all (i.e., habitat-generalists).

Habitat Life-history Matrix

The habitat life-history matrix (Figure 2) was developed by Langton et al. (submitted) as a heuristic and diagnostic tool to determine if critical life-history phases are dependent on particular (i.e., “essential”) habitats. The habitat life-history matrix for the American lobster (Homarus americanus) is presented in Figure 2. In that matrix, developmental phases of the species are represented from X1 (youngest) to X5 (oldest). In this example for the American lobster, X1 represents the three larval stages (Harding and Trites, 1988) and X2 represents pelagic postlarvae (Incze and Wahle, 1991). X3 represents the phase when postlarvae settle in nearshore cobble habitats and begin their benthic life (Wahle and Steneck, 1991). This habitat is one of the only places where recruiting lobsters are safe from predators (Wahle and Steneck, 1992). X3 is a critical phase in the life history of this species, because it is most habitat-restricted. At larger sizes, lobsters become less substratum specific and are found in mud, sand, boulders, and ledge habitats (Steneck, 1989; Steneck et al., in prep.). Because the essential habitat for lobsters (i.e., cobble substrata at the time of settlement) is rare, comprising less than 10 percent of the available substrata (Steneck, 1989), this linkage between the essential habitat and critical phase constitutes a demographic bottleneck (sensu Steneck, 1989; Wahle and Steneck, 1991). This bottleneck implies that this linkage may determine the population size of lobsters. Such implications should be viewed as testable hypotheses (see Underwood, 1994), but barring any conclusive information to the contrary, they should serve the information needs of managers.

Similar matrices constructed for other commercially important species, such as, codfish, herring, and hake have results different from lobsters. Codfish are limited by substrata at the time of recruitment (Gotceitas and Brown, 1993) and at the time of spawning (e.g., Rose, 1993). Herring are limited by available spawning substrata (Stevenson and

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Knowles, 1988), whereas silver hake require specific habitats for feeding and concealment from predators (Auster et al., 1994).

Setting Priorities

Essential habitats that are rare and/or at risk for important species should be given the highest priority attention for protection, conservation, or possibly restoration (Figure 3).

Flow Diagram to Guide Habitat-Related Management

To organize information that is necessary and sufficient for management-policy decisions requires knowledge of the organism and its habitat. To gain such knowledge, prioritized sequential questions (Figure 4) have been formulated that require information from research and/or the information nodes of the science-policy triad (Figure 1). The end product of the sequential questions (shaded area in Figure 4) determines the need and regional extent of habitat-related management policy decisions. Each question requires answers from the information node, or if the information does not already exist, it will be generated by the research node. If the species is economically important and its habitat-related management priority high (i.e., Figure 3), then there should be a high priority placed on funding research necessary to address information gaps in the flow diagram (Figure 4). Without the necessary information, managers may need to make assumptions to answer prioritized questions. However, such assumptions should be clearly identified as hypotheses and tested as soon as possible (Underwood, 1994). Readdressing these questions iteratively allows for the constant evolution of the science and information databases. Management and policy decisions should also require scientific testing to determine and demonstrate to skeptics the efficacy of the protection scheme.

Eye to the Future

By focussing on the essential habitats for critical phases of important species, the minimum sufficient area needed for their protection can be determined. The science of conservation biology has developed the necessary tools to determine the minimum viable population size necessary to conserve a species (Soulé, 1990). This approach should minimize impact by determining how much and what kind of habitat is necessary and sufficient to protect the economic or biological viability of the species. Armed with clear priorities of what habitats are regionally important (Figure 3), and how and why they should be protected (Figure 4), a clearly understandable management policy can be forged.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Acknowledgements

Ideas expressed here were influenced by discussions with many individuals including Vy Gotceitas, Dave Keeley, Rich Langton, Josie Quintrell, Barbara Vickery and Les Watling. Anne Hayden, Bob Wall, Les Watling, and Steph Zimsen made useful comments on an earlier draft. To all I am grateful.

References

Auster, P.J., R.J. Malatesta and C.L.S. Donaldson. 1994. Small-scale habitat variability and the distribution of post-larval hake, Merluccinus bilinearis. Proceedings of the 124th Annual Meeting of the American Fisheries Society. Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Brown, B. 1993. A Classification System of Marine and Estuarine Habitats in Maine: An Ecosystem Approach to Habitats. Part 1: Benthic Habitats. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Economic and Community Development. Augusta, Maine.

Doherty, P., and T. Fowler. 1994. An empirical test of recruitment limitation in a coral reef fish. Science 263:935-939.

Gotceitas, V., and J.A Brown. 1993. Substrate selection by juvenile Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua): effects of predation risk. Oecologia 93:31-37.

Harding, G.C., and R.W. Trites. 1988. Dispersal of Homarus americanus larvae in the Gulf of Maine from Browns Bank. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 45:416-425.

Incze, L.S., and R.A. Wahle. 1991. Recruitment from pelagic to early benthic phase in lobsters Homarus americanus. Marine Ecology Progress Series 79:77-87.

Langton, R.W., R.S. Steneck, V. Gotceitas, F. Juanes, and P. Lawton. In review. The interface between fisheries research and habitat manuscript. submitted to North American Journal of Fisheries Management.

Rose, G.A. 1993. Cod spawning on a migration highway in the north-west Atlantic. Nature 366:458-461.

Soulé, M.E. 1990. Viable Populations for Conservation. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, England.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Steneck, R.S. 1989. The ecological ontogeny of lobsters: in situ studies with demographic implications. In Proc. Lobster Life History Workshop, I. Kornfield, ed. Orono, Maine. 1:30-33.

Stevenson, D.K., and R.L. Knowles. 1988. Physical characterization of herring egg beds on the eastern Maine coast. P. 257 in Benthic Productivity and Marine Resources of the Gulf of Maine, I. Babb and M. DeLuca, eds. National Undersea Research Program Research Report 88 - 3, U.S. Department of Commerce, Washington D.C.

Wahle, R.A., and R.S. Steneck. 1991. Recruitment habitats and nursery grounds of the American lobster (Homarus americanus Milne Edwards): A demographic bottleneck? Marine Ecology Progress Series 69:231-243.

Wahle, R.A., and R.S. Steneck. 1992. Habitat restrictions in early benthic life: experiments on habitat selection and in situ predation with the American lobster. Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology 157:91-114.

Underwood, A.J. 1994. Ecological research and (and research into) environmental management. Ecological Applications 4:775-823.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Fig. 1. The three nodes of the science-policy triad are in the circles with information flow represented by arrows.

Fig. 2. A habitat life-history matrix for the American lobster (Langton et al submitted).

Fig. 3. Habitat - related management priorities.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Fig. 4. Flow diagram to guide benthic, habitat-related management (Langton et al submitted).

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION, FISHERIES MANAGEMENT AND THE THEORY OF CHAOS

James M. Acheson

Department of Anthropology

University of Maine

Introduction

In the past 20 years, fish stocks in a number of the world's most important fisheries have declined precipitously. It is generally assumed that the cause of stock failure is due to political and economic pressures, which allow overexploitation in spite of good scientific advice. Recent research by our team leads us to believe that the problem is not essentially political in nature, but is traceable to flawed scientific concepts that lead to ineffective policies. Most other fishing societies use different kinds of management methods, which may suggest a solution to our management problems.

Quotas, Individual Transferable Quotas, and the Precepts of Scientific Management

In modern industrial countries, most fisheries are managed by establishing quotas for single species over the entire range of that species. There are two bodies of theory that lead unerringly to such management policies. First, scientific management is based on stock recruitment models. The central idea is that the long-term abundance of a species is strongly linked to the size of the parent stock. Thus, the goal of management is to control the amount

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

of exploitive effort to achieve a total allowable catch (TAC). It is assumed that this will result in a satisfactory level of recruitment in the future. Emphasis is placed on limiting tonnage caught; there is little concern for the characteristics of the fish caught, including their size, age, and fecundity. Quotas are a favorite technique (Rosenberg et al., 1993).

Second, the theory of common property resources has also had a significant effect on management. If the problems of over-exploitation and inefficient use of natural resources can be traced to a lack of property rights, then the solution is to allocate property rights (Acheson, 1989).

Under these conditions, it is scarcely surprising that management efforts seek to cut effort, primarily by allocating property rights [licensing, quotas, limited entry, individual transferable quotas (ITQs) etc.] ITQs are in vogue now. They promise to achieve a total allowable catch and economic efficiency simultaneously.

Four aspects of this traditional approach need to be emphasized.

  1. This approach places no emphasis on preserving the environment.

  2. This approach requires a great deal of quantitative information about stock levels, effort, fishing mortality, recruitment, etc.

  3. The management zone is the entire range of the species.

  4. Last, but not least, there is little evidence that this approach works.

Fisheries Management in Other Societies

Many traditional societies make no discernable attempts to manage marine fish stocks. Those that do, however, use very different techniques from those employed by “scientific” management. Over the course of the past two years, I have been gathering data on fisheries management techniques in other societies. I have been able to discover over thirty cases in which societies have deliberately generated sets of rules to conserve fish resources (Wilson et al., 1994).4,5

4  

In many of these 32 societies on which data exist, some of the rules concerning fishing are designed to ensure equitable access. They may cut exploitive effort, but this is not their primary intent.

5  

In many of these societies no formal governments exist. Thus enforcement is affected by community pressure or religious sanction.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

For our purposes, there are three notable aspects of these case studies. First, in virtually all of these societies, some form of territoriality or riparian rights exists. Territoriality itself is not necessarily evidence that management exists, but management cannot take place in the absence of territorial rights. A rule can only apply in a region owned by a community that has agreed to abide by the rule.

Second, all of the rules and practices used are designed to regulate “how” fishing is done, not to limit the amount of fish that can be caught. That is, there are limits on gear used, seasonal restrictions, restrictions on taking juvenile fish and egged females, rules against fishing on breeding grounds, etc. Outside the modern, industrial world, I found only one instance where quotas were used.

Third, the rules and regulations are generated and enforced by small-scale societies that have control only over small areas—not over the entire range of a stock.

The fact that management designed to regulate “how” fishing is done (i.e., seasons, techniques, protection of breeding stock) in small areas is so pervasive, suggests that this approach to management is adaptive and has some beneficial effects on stocks. We also argue that such an approach to management makes sense, given the complex, and possibly chaotic, nature of fisheries.

The Theory of Chaos and Management

Recent work by our research group strongly suggests that even simple communities of fish exhibit chaotic population patterns. That is, the population level of individual species varies unpredictably within limits, even though it has an equilibrium tendency.

These conclusions are the result of work with a simulation model reported in Wilson et al. (1994), which approximates the conditions (i.e., spawning, growth, and mortality) seen in a typical groundfish population in temperate waters. The model assumes an age-structured community of five species, with a large amount of niche overlap. Interactions among these five species are marked by what Sissenwine (1984, 1986) calls community predation, in which small fish of all species are eaten by larger fish. Cushing (1977) and Ricker (1950) have demonstrated that cannibalism produces swings in populations of a single species. Our model is a multiple species model of the same phenomena. Chaos is the result.

The model exhibits two notable characteristics that can be observed among marine systems. First, the total biomass of the community of fish is relatively stable, but the biomass of individual species varies unpredictably. Second, there is no observed relationships between the size of the spawning stock and recruitment.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

We believe that our model approximates the characteristics of fish and ocean ecosystems. Others, such as Hastings (1994), also argue that marine systems are chaotic. However, there is no consensus on the matter yet, and none will probably arise for a period of years.

Under these conditions, the key question is, “If fisheries are chaotic, how should they be managed?” Answering this question necessitates some understanding of the nature of chaotic systems. Chaotic systems are not marked by a complete lack of order. There are cause-and-effect relationships, but the complexity and nonlinearity of these relationships makes these systems highly unpredictable. These outcomes, however, take place within well-defined limits. More important, these inputs into the system (parameters of the model) are able to be specified with precision. In marine biological systems, these parameters are such factors as spawning potential, growth rates, food supplies, natural mortality rates, predation, migration, etc. Since these basic parameters remain stable over time, fish populations can be expected to vary within certain limits, even though population changes will be unpredictable.

Theoretically, one should be able to predict the size of fish populations, given any particular set of initial conditions. However, the number of relationships is so large, and the feedback mechanisms are so complicated, that a huge amount of accurate, fine-grained, continuously updated data would be necessary to make accurate prediction possible.

There are two conclusions. First, given our state of knowledge about interrelationships in fish communities; our real measurement capabilities; and our lack of knowledge about the effects of effort on recruitment; it is virtually impossible to predict future stocks of fish. This means that management programs designed to achieve Maximum Sustainable Yields by limiting effort will not work.

Second, the stability of the biological parameters results in populations fluctuating within certain specified limits. This stability suggests that the goals of management should be to maintain these basic biological processes and habitat characteristics. Even if we cannot control the amount of fish to be produced in the future, we can preserve the habitat and biological functions (e.g., spawning grounds, juvenile habitat, migration routes, water quality) and maintain the spawning stock to keep populations within certain limits. It may be all that we can do, but this is a useful goal. Such a management program would prevent the kinds of stock failures and population crashes that we are seeing in so many fisheries in the world.

Managing the environment (i.e., the biological parameters) also has the virtue of relying on kinds of information that we really are capable of obtaining at a relatively low cost. To be sure, it takes effort to learn the habitat requirements of species of fish and their life cycles, but once this information is obtained, it remains current for a long time. The information problems can be reduced still further if we attempt to manage relatively small

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

areas. It is far easier to obtain fine-grained knowledge of a restricted area (this may be the primary virtue of local level management).

Parametric Management

The problems plaguing the major fisheries of the world can only be solved by taking a different approach to management. One of the essential problems with the traditional approach is the scientific concepts used. The essential problem with stock recruitment models is that they create a huge information problem for managers. If fisheries are to be managed, policies must be based on information that can be obtained at reasonable cost. What people are able to obtain is information on regular biological processes. The information problem is reduced further by managing small areas of ocean. This situation calls for a very different approach to management than the one currently in vogue—namely management oriented toward preserving those aspects of the environment necessary to preserve regular biological processes (i.e., spawning, migration, food supply, water quality, etc.) in relatively small zones. This could be accomplished by rules that: (1) maintain the environment; and (2) specify when, where, and how fishing is done. Such rules would make no attempt to specify “how many” fish can be taken over the entire stock. We believe that such a parametric approach is possible. It is exactly these kinds of rules that are seen in so many other fisheries—primarily in tribal and peasant society.

References Cited

Acheson, J.M. 1989. Management of common property resources. P. 199 in Economic Anthropology, Stuart Plattner, ed. Stanford University Press, Stanford, California.

Cushing, D.H. 1977. The problems of stock recruitment. P. 117 in J.A. Gulland, ed. Fish Population Dynamics. Wiley and Sons, London.

Hastings, A., and K. Higgins. 1994. Persistence of transients in spatially structured ecological models. Science 263:1133-1136.

Ricker, W.E. 1950. Cycle dominance among Fraser Sockeye. Ecology 31:6-26.

Rosenberg, A.A., M.J. Fogarty, and J.G. Shepherd. 1993. Achieving sustainable use of renewable resources. Science 262:828-829.

Sissenwine, M.P. 1984. Why do fish populations vary? In Explorations of Marine Communities, R.M. May, ed. Springer-Verlag, Berlin.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Wilson, J.A. J. French, P. Klegan, S. McKay, and R. Townsend. 1994. Chaotic dynamics in a multiple species fisheries: A model of community predation. Ecological Modeling 58:303-322.

Wilson, J.A., J. Acheson, M. Metcalfe, and P. Kleban. 1994. Chaos, complexity and community management of fisheries. Marine Pollution 18:291-305.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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POLICY DEVELOPMENT CONSIDERATIONS WITH REGIONALLY SIGNIFICANT HABITATS: SCIENCE AND POLICY IN FEDERAL FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

Peter Shelley and Eleanor Dorsey

Conservation Law Foundation, Inc.

Boston, Massachusetts

Introduction

Perhaps no living resource in the Gulf of Maine occupies the intersection between the marine ecosystem and the regional economy more squarely than our groundfish stocks. Stories abound from centuries past of schools of cod that were so dense that they could be caught with baskets lowered over the side of a sailing ship or so dense that it was difficult to row a boat through them.

The newspapers today tell another story of the region's fisheries. Headlines now talk about overharvesting and pollution and the loss of our commercial fisheries. Formerly multimillion dollar industries have been reduced to relic operations in many communities, and stock recoveries are discussed in terms of decades, rather than years—if they are discussed at all.

The challenge of developing a “sustainable” harvest based around our region's fisheries is enormous. With respect to inshore and anadromous fisheries that once existed and have never recovered, pollution and physical changes to the inshore, estuary, and river systems no doubt play a significant role. For the offshore fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank, where primary productivity and other biological indicators remain healthy,

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

overfishing has been identified as the major culprit in collapsed stocks of cod, haddock, halibut, redfish, yellowtail flounder, and the greatly reduced sea scallop stocks. The New England fishing fleet is shrinking, and large areas of Georges Bank and the Gulf of Maine are about to be closed to most fishing in order to allow stock restoration.

One question no one has focused upon is, What role is the loss or change in regionally significant habitat playing in the depletion or potential recovery of commercially important fish stocks? The answer seems to be: no one really knows. Perhaps even more remarkable is the fact that, in the United States, few people are even asking the question. Given that fact, What are the relevant policy development considerations that emerge?

Policy Development Considerations in Managing Regionally Significant Fisheries Habitat

Perhaps the first place to start exploring this issue is with a dictionary. What exactly is a “policy”? Webster's provides this definition: “1. prudence or wisdom in the management of affairs 2. a definite course or method of action selected from among alternatives and in light of given conditions to guide and determine present and future decisions.”6

Starting from this definition (and bearing in mind that we are discussing fish species that have both significant ecological function and important economic and social function in the region), the best that can be said about policy development regarding regionally significant fish habitat in federal waters is probably that there is none.

To be sure, we are not arguing that there is no policy, since the decision not to be concerned in practice with the role that essential habitat plays in the population dynamics of cod or halibut stocks is a rather primitive form of policy. Rather, we are suggesting that there is no policy development in this area, sort of a flat electrocardiogram in regional management activity.

Can anyone seriously argue that our current federal marine policy activity (or inactivity) regarding the understanding, protection, or even restoration of significant habitat fits Webster's first definition of “policy”? Are we pursuing a “prudent” or “wise” course of action by ignoring these habitats, by ignoring what our human actions have done or might be doing to change these habitats, and by ignoring how fundamental structural changes associated with our actions might be altering basic ecosystem processes within the Gulf of Maine?

6  

Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary. 1965. G. & C. Merriam Co., Springfield, Illinois.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

One Example of Habitat Losses in the Gulf of Maine

We would like to consider one category of human activity in this context: fishing with mobile gear. We want to emphasize, however, that mobile fishing gear is only one of the factors affecting regionally significant fish habitat. Physical changes to estuaries and rivers, whether these are dams or highway embankments, represent losses of regionally significant habitats that may be at least as profound with respect to fish stocks in the Gulf as the benthic habitat changes we are about to discuss.7

Impacts of Mobile Fishing Gear

We have witnessed a revolution in fishing technology in the region in the past twenty years. This revolution has occurred not only in electronic fish finding and navigational technologies; it is also evident in the fishing boats and harvesting gear itself. Midsize scallopers in the New England fleet now boast engines rating well over 1,000 horsepower, capable of dragging two 4,000-pound, 18-foot wide scallop dredges around the clock at speeds of four to six knots across Georges Bank, the Gulf of Maine, and southern New England waters.

Otter trawlers, pulling trawl doors, each weighing over a thousand pounds, heavy ground cables, and roller and “rock hopper” gear, work the bottom of the Gulf of Maine the year around, targeting lobsters when groundfish cannot be found. Rough bottom that used to deter bottom trawlers can now be safely towed over with modern trawls, so former refuges for the fish have all but disappeared.

This mobile gear is causing significant changes to bottom structures in parts of the Gulf and is destroying erect benthic invertebrates and plants that provide an important vertical dimension to bottom communities. These impacts must be affecting some of the Gulf's ecological functions and may well be contributing to the groundfish decline. Information on these changes is limited and largely anecdotal, but the anecdotes that we have heard from fishermen and scientists raise serious concerns.

Loss of bottom relief—Fishermen, who constantly watch the display of bottom contours on their fish finders when fishing, have noticed places where depth profiles have changed significantly, apparently due to the repeated action of mobile fishing gear over time. Four specific locations have been brought to our attention.

7  

An example of this sort of alteration might well be the complete siltation of the Petitcodiac River in New Brunswick, caused by a highway embankment above Moncton. Other activities include hydroelectric dams, as well as physical structures in critical estuaries, for storm protection or even aquaculture development.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
  1. An area known as The Peaks, about 25 miles ESE of Chatham, Mass., used to show a series of sharp elevations of up to 10 fathoms height from the bottom. Today, the fishermen say, those peaks are largely gone, with the remaining few mounds only about 3-4 fathoms in height. It is no longer good fishing ground.

  2. An area described as cusk bottom SSE of Boon Island, Maine, used to consist of a large mound that rose 8-10 fathoms from the ocean floor. The mound is now only about 4-5 fathoms high and has a very different shape and is no longer a good place to catch cusk.

  3. A hump of mud and pipe clay (see below), known as the “244 hump,” has been lowered by 3-4 fathoms and has lost a sharp face that the gillnetters used to orient their nets toward.

  4. A hump off Plum Island, Mass., that used to be 5-6 fathoms high and big enough to fit 8 gillnets around has completely disappeared. Fishermen now see not even a blip on their screens in the area.

The decline in fish productivity that is reported to have accompanied the loss of relief in the first two examples above may not be a direct effect of the loss of relief, since region-wide declines in groundfish stocks have occurred due to excess removals. However, it is well known that structures in the ocean attract fish, and it is possible that they play an important role in fish productivity. The fishermen that reported the above changes to us believe that spawning cod orient toward bottom features like the disappearing humps and peaks and that important spawning habitat is being lost.

Destruction of “pipe clay”—Fishermen have described to us an interesting type of structured bottom that they call “pipe clay” or “curly bottom.” This is clay worked into a complex conglomeration of tubes and curly structures, apparently made by some kind of animal. The walls of these structures are 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, and the tubes vary in size up to as much as 4 inches inner diameter. Gillnetters sometimes snag pieces of this pipe clay and observe lots of brittle stars inside, as well as small scallops, small lobsters, worms, and octopuses. The structures are quite fragile. It is a fairly common bottom type at depths of 40-60 fathoms between Cape Ann and Cape Elizabeth, the fishermen report, located often at the transition between rock piles and mud bottom, but other times as isolated patches on mud.

We were told that small bottom trawlers avoid this type of bottom because their trawls get buried in it, but large trawlers drag right over it and pulverize it. If this is true, we believe that the loss of this bottom type would reduce the productivity of the area. The pipe clay appears to provide shelter to small animals, including some commercially important species, and it is likely that the vastly increased surface area provided by these structures allows increased bacterial action that would enhance benthic productivity. The fishermen believe that the pipe clay is important to cod both for feeding and for spawning.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Destruction of erect benthic invertebrates and plants—Heavy fishing gear, like scallop dredges and otter trawls, is capable of damaging or killing erect benthic invertebrates and plants that they encounter. While this effect has been demonstrated and quantified in other parts of the world,8 there is almost no documentation of this effect in New England. The ecological impact of losing erect benthic life due to repeated dragging could be significant, since the erect plants and invertebrates provide an important third dimension to flat bottom communities.

In a manuscript that is currently in preparation, Dr. Les Watling, of the University of Maine, reports the results of two dives in a submersible to the same part of Jeffries Bank, first in 1987 then again in 1993. On the first dive, he observed and videotaped many erect sponges growing on rocks and boulders, including perhaps 10 different species that he could not identify. When he returned 6 years later, in part to identify the unknown species, he found the boulders mostly rolled over and the sponges mostly gone from the rocks. The sponges that remained were too small for species identification. This occurred at 120 meters, too deep for wave action to explain the movement of the boulders. There were bottom trawlers working in the area on his second dive, and he attributes the bottom changes to their impacts.

Another indicative story: there used to be kelp growing on the bottom of Cape Cod Bay, and fishermen would pull large plants up in their bottom trawls. Some fishermen would tie plants to a stone and throw them back overboard, believing their presence to be important to the health of the Bay. Today, after decades of dragging, there is little or no kelp there anymore.

There are probably many more anecdotes of this sort. What is disturbing is that there is almost no discussion of these impacts among managers, and in many cases, we do not even know what we are losing.

Federal Policy

Remarkably, there is no federal law that directly regulates habitat alteration associated with fishing in federal waters. While the Magnuson Fishery Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (16 U.S.C. §§ 1801 - 1882) adopts a federal policy that requires conservation and management planning in fisheries, the program has two significant gaps. First, conservation and management measures are only appropriate after a fishery has already been developed, and a demonstration can be made that conservation and management measures are “required” (18 U.S.C. § 1852(h)(1)). So much for the so-called “precautionary principle.”

8  

See references included in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement developed for Amendment Five to the New England Multispecies Groundfish Fishery Management Plan (March 18, 1993).

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Second, habitat protection or alteration as a factor in fishery productivity is not a major part of the function that Congress has directed the regional fishery management councils or the National Marine Fisheries Service to perform.9 The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration interprets the law as follows:

NOAA also recognizes that a decline in stock size or abundance may occur independent of fishing pressure and that adverse changes in essential habitat may increase the risk that fishing effort will contribute to a stock collapse. Regardless of the cause of a decline, however, the Act limits a Council's authority in addressing the situation. The only direct control available under the Act is to adjust fishing mortality.10

The only indirect authority the fishery management councils have over man-made habitat changes is the capacity to comment and make recommendations on actions by other agencies that “may affect the habitat of a fishery resource under its jurisdiction” (16 U.S.C. § 1852(i)). Unfortunately, even in this modest role, most councils do not have adequate resources to carry out this function adequately, if at all.

Science, Policy, and the Practice of Protecting Regionally Significant Fisheries Habitat

Perhaps the reason that regionally significant habitats in federal waters are not identified, studied, protected, and restored in the Gulf of Maine is relatively simple: it is no one's job to do so. The only federal law that addresses management and development of the living resources in federal waters essentially denies the managers the authority to directly address the question and, as a consequence, removes their accountability for doing so.

The lack of recognition of the importance of maintaining essential regional habitats is a result of the government's failure to develop strategy and to accept responsibility for managing our claimed 200-mile exclusive economic zone—not a failure of science or policy tools. We know of no other area of economic concern associated with this country's abundant natural resources, whether we are considering forests, agriculture lands, mineral deposits, or public lands, where there exists such a profound absence of national strategic vision as currently exists in the marine resources area. Imagine, for a moment, an agricultural policy that precluded the managers from addressing the role that soil health and

9  

The National Marine Fisheries Service is authorized to study the “impact of wetland and estuarine degradation, and other matters bearing upon the abundance and availability of fish” (16 U.S.C. § 1854(e)), but this analytical effort is not a mandate.

10  

50 C.F.R. Part 602; Subpart B, App. A (emphasis added).

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

structure might be playing in crop productivity. Without such a strategic vision and a holistic approach to the ecosystem-basis of our problems, the efficacy of our science and policy will remain crippled and inadequate.

Facing the enormous biological, social, and economic challenges that the protection and restoration of the abundant fisheries present to this region, how can we justify deciding to fight this battle with our science and policy hands tied behind our back?

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

ISSUE GROUP SUMMARY

Chairs: Donald Scavia (NOAA Coastal Ocean Program) and George Finney (Environment Canada)

Facilitator: Robert Steneck (University of Maine)

Rapporteur: Susan Hanna (Oregon State University)

Other participants: James Acheson (University of Maine), Ivar Babb (University of Connecticut), Donald Boesch (University of Maryland), Blythe Chang (Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Canada), Philip Conkling (Island Institute), John DelVecchio (Maine State Planning Office), Mark DesMueles (Maine State Planning Office), Michelle Dionne (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve), Richard Langton (Maine Department of Marine Resources), James List (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve), Andrea Maker (Champion International Corporation), Josie Quintrell (Maine State Planning Office), Peter Shelley (Conservation Law Foundation), Ralph Townsend (University of Maine), James Wilson (University of Maine), and Gail Wippelhauser (Maine Natural Areas Program)

The Nature of the Problem

Simply defined, habitats are where organisms live. Within the Gulf of Maine region, how should habitats be characterized so that potential damage can be minimized? Because all organisms cannot be considered, it is necessary to identify species and habitats that are priorities for protection. Priority setting should be based on both environmental characteristics and human values. Thus, some species and habitats may be identified as priorities for protection because they play an important role in ecosystem functioning or cycling of key nutrients, or because they are rare or endangered. Other species might be

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

priorities for protection because of their direct usefulness to society. Human values will lead to a ranking of the relative significance of habitats and organisms to society. The group focused on marine habitats, but recognized that adjacent terrestrial habitats are also important.

The combination of environmental characteristics and human values will probably result in some conflicting goals and objectives for habitat protection. However, it is also possible that there will be general agreement about the importance of a relatively small set of species and assemblages for which habitat protection is paramount (e.g., USFWS, 1994). For example, some environmental planners have used geographic information systems to map the distributions of important species and habitats. Areas that are priorities for protection are those in which the ranges of several important species or habitats overlap.

Once the priority species or assemblages that require habitat protection have been identified, existing habitat classifications (e.g., Brown 1993) should be used to define habitat types within the Gulf of Maine region. Information on the distribution and abundance of the essential habitats in the region should be compiled from existing sources. New research should be conducted to develop habitat maps and to determine and fill the gaps in our scientific understanding of the relationships between organisms and their environment. Finally, the vulnerability of essential habitats to natural and anthropogenic impacts should be estimated. This course of action was recommended recently by a group of U.S. and Canadian scientists and managers who met to identify habitat management needs and research priorities in the Gulf of Maine region (Stevenson and Braasch, 1994).

The protection of regionally significant habitats involves the issue of governance. The process by which protection is now attempted has numerous inadequacies related to governance, including the fragmentation of institutional jurisdiction, disenfranchisement of stakeholders, undefined areas of responsibility, and a lack of information at all levels. Information is a vital prerequisite for most habitat protection activities. Problems with the quality, quantity, rate of retrieval, and dissemination of information are characteristic of habitat management issues. Because information gaps exist, actions to protect habitats need to be iterative, adapting to new information as it is acquired.

Information Needs of Policymakers

Policymakers need a variety of ecological and social information to make appropriate and effective management decisions about habitat. The type and resolution (spatial and temporal) of required habitat information vary depending on how and by whom the information is used. Although the determination of a habitat's “significance” is a value determination, information is needed to ensure that those determinations reflect and consider both ecological and social concerns. Once policy goals for habitats have been established, information with the following characteristics will be required:

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

Habitat requirements of organisms—What habitat is essential to which organisms, at which life history stages? What areas of overlap exist between essential habitats for different species? Are there some habitat types that are important for a group of species?

Ecological significance of habitats and organisms—What is the ecological significance of habitats and organisms to ecosystem function? Which habitats are significant to a range of ecosystem functions? Which are significant to only a few ecosystem functions? How vulnerable are ecologically significant habitats to anthropogenic stress?

Social and economic significance of habitats and organisms—What is the social and economic significance of habitats and organisms? Which habitats are significant to a range of human activities? Which are significant to only a few human activities?

Dissemination of information to policymakers—Policymakers need access to habitat-related information that can be used for management purposes. Information regarding the role of habitats in ecosystem function must often be translated into jargon-free language before it is useful to policymakers, legislators, industry, and the public.

Information on which management action can be based—Habitat-related information needs to be summarized in ways that lead to management recommendations. Alternative actions and their implications need to be specified clearly.

Information about the appropriate scale of protection—Policymakers are faced with the task of implementing management measures that will protect regionally significant habitats. However, to determine the appropriate scale (e.g., local or far-reaching, immediate or deferred, short-term or long-term) at which actions for habitat protection and management should take place, a clear understanding of the types and severity of human threats to different habitats is essential. A clear specification of authority and resources for preserving ecosystem function is also necessary (i.e., who or what entity is responsible for maintaining ecosystem “health,” what is required to achieve it, and what are the preferred temporal and spatial scales of action).

Habitat-based information that will be useful to policymakers will answer the above questions that are relevant to a given policy goal. As an example, policymakers in the Gulf of Maine region might choose restoration of commercially-important Georges Bank groundfish stocks (primarily cod and haddock) as a policy goal. They would request the following information from natural and social scientists, preferably working cooperatively:

  • What habitats on Georges Bank and elsewhere are essential to cod and haddock productivity? These could include habitats used for spawning, feeding, and nursery areas, and could include the habitats important to their prey species.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×
  • How do population levels of cod and haddock affect the Georges Bank and other important ecosystems? It has been observed that dogfish and skates have increased in abundance as cod and haddock populations decreased, so one possible effect of groundfish recovery would be a decrease in dogfish and skate populations.

  • How are cod and haddock populations affected by human activities?

  • What are the social and economic significances of Georges Bank cod and haddock on regional and national levels?

Scientists enlisted to provide this information should establish a single repository for their data and interpretations of it, including information about alternative actions and their implications. Scientists and policymakers should meet in an appropriate forum to communicate the information developed. Scientists might recommend, based on answers to the natural and social science questions described above, that specific areas of the Gulf of Maine should be closed to specific activities during specific intervals of time. Scientists should meet again later with policymakers to evaluate the progress of policy implementation, recommend adjustments to policy, and identify new information needed.

Natural Science Issues

One approach to the identification and management of essential habitat associations has been outlined in a report of a recent Regional Association of Research on the Gulf of Maine habitat workshop (Fisheries Resources Working Group, 1994; Stevenson and Braasch, 1994) and is also outlined in the paper by Steneck in this proceedings (see pp. 147-154). In this scheme, a sequential series of questions and research actions is used to determine whether a species requires an essential habitat during any of its life history stages. Essential habitat is the type of environment that is necessary for the survival or stability of a species. Once knowledge of the extent of these essential habitats is acquired, appropriate management decisions can be made regarding conservation or permissible alteration of the habitat.

The quality and resolution of information on essential habitats in the Gulf of Maine are varied. In general, existing survey data of marine, estuarine, and terrestrial habitats in the Gulf of Maine are inadequate for the complete definition of essential habitats. Comprehensive, fine-scale maps of physical habitats in the Gulf of Maine do not exist, although there are maps of nearshore bathymetry, substrate types, and depositional environments for a large portion of the Gulf of Maine coastline (e.g., Kelley et al., 1987a,b). Additional geological characterization of nearshore benthic habitats is being conducted along the Maine coast.

The distribution and abundance of populations of commercially important fish are reasonably well documented as a result of long-term, stratified random surveys conducted by

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
×

agencies such as the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service, the Canadian Department of Fisheries and Oceans, and various coastal states and provinces in the Gulf of Maine region. The distribution of these populations has been compared with seafloor characteristics and other physical parameters, such as temperature and salinity. A limited amount of data also exist correlating the distribution of the most common marine invertebrates with these physical parameters. However, much of this information is too sparse to define specific habitats within the region. With available information, attempts to correlate species distributions with habitat types would be coarse, at best.

Classifications have been developed for intertidal and nearshore subtidal habitats (Brown, 1993) and for terrestrial communities (Maine Natural Areas Program, 1991) in Maine. Terrestrial, marine, and estuarine communities have been mapped by the Maine Natural Areas Program and are being used in a geographic information system (Wipplehauser, 1994). The Maine Natural Areas Program administers the official list of Maine's endangered and threatened plants (Maine Natural Areas Program, 1994), maintains a register of areas voluntarily protected by landowners, and documents the location, condition, and status of Maine's rare botanical features in a comprehensive database system (Wipplehauser, 1994). Recently, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, in conjunction with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, completed a list of priority species for the Gulf of Maine (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1994). Also available is a series of wetland inventories for selected coastal areas, prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (e.g., Foulis and Tiner, 1994).

The creation of an interface between the various databases has yet to be achieved. Furthermore, cross-disciplinary exchange and integration of information is rare to nonexistent. Development of a mechanism for information exchange is as necessary as collection of data at the appropriate scales.

Social Science Issues

There is very little social, cultural, and economic information about people and communities using marine habitats. Rather than attempting to construct complete ethnographies for all of the communities and groups with interests in significant marine habitats, we suggest that two kinds of data be collected.

First, baseline data should be gathered for all sets of people and coastal communities that depend on significant marine habitats. This includes information on numbers of boats, people employed, gear used, support facilities, and other relevant factors. It also includes data on the social organization (i.e., informal groups, associations, marketing organizations, political organizations) of coastal communities. Particular attention should be paid to gathering information about the way coastal inhabitants define marine habitats, their attitudes toward them, their ideas and observations about the animals that live in these habitats, and

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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any norms or practices that influence the ways these habitats are used, protected, or abused. These data are essential if management plans are to be formulated that take advantage of “local level” knowledge and avoid conflicting with community norms and practices.

The use of local-level knowledge should, in turn, aid in producing plans that can gain a maximum amount of support in the political arena from those most dependent on significant coastal habitats. In addition, data should be gathered on all other stakeholders related to these habitats. This would include groups as diverse as environmental associations, mineral companies, tourists, cottage owners, manufacturing firms, scientists, managers, legislators, and government agencies. Data should be collected on the attitudes, goals, ambitions, and plans of stakeholders related to the habitat, as well as on perceived problems and solutions involving these significant habitats. These data would presumably help scientists and managers to understand conflicts among stakeholders and to suggest possible ways to resolve such conflicts.

The Nature of Existing Science-Policy Interactions

The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment is attempting to integrate the efforts of all parties in the Gulf of Maine that have an interest or responsibilities in science and policy development. However, coordination efforts are in early stages. Although responsible agencies are influenced by the broader perspectives of the Gulf of Maine Action Plan, most science and policy development is undertaken within the normal operating procedures of each resource agency. Each agency brings its own institutions, procedures, and resources to bear on the issue of habitat conservation within the Gulf of Maine region. Thus, science is initiated and undertaken within the familiar paradigms of either self-initiated research by institutions with their own mandates and capabilities, or through requests for research funding from scientists to agencies or granting bodies.

There are several examples in the Gulf of Maine region of new partnerships of responsible agencies, other institutions, and local interests that are forming to achieve environmental goals. These coalitions perform several functions: (1) the collective assessment of existing environmental quality parameters, (2) the establishment of processes to determine the environmental goals and objectives of the “community of interest,” and (3) the design of a plan for the collective achievement of the goals and objectives.

Partnerships for science-policy interactions are effective only when individual participants are willing to relinquish some of their authority and normal operating procedures in favor of the collective effort. Collective action affects scientific activity, because research priorities are collectively set. Research review and screening processes may also be different when conducted in partnership. Multidisciplinary studies become more common under partnerships than under single-agency authority. Research products are “translated,” so that the broader community of interested individuals can understand the findings and implications

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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of the research. Despite these differences between single agency and partnership approaches to research definition, organization, and review, the standards of good scientific process should remain the same.

The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment has used the partnership model in its attempts to develop a protected-areas strategy for the region. Given the breadth of the community of interest, the multiple governance jurisdictions, the institutional complexity, and the progress that must be achieved to develop a common working vision for the marine region, the task of developing a comprehensive plan is daunting.

Impediments to the Science and Policy Interactions

A number of factors impede science-policy interactions with relation to regionally significant habitats. These include outdated legal and institutional structures, professional specialization, information inadequacies, and a lack of processes for the resolution of conflicts.

Legal and institutional structures have developed to address single issues, for example, fisheries. These structures tend to discourage international, interstate, interprovincial, and interagency collaboration. Interaction is further impeded by short-term and changing policy goals, and by conflicting public priorities. Institutions are also handicapped by slow reactions that prevent either the anticipation of problems or the rapid response to early warning signs of problems. Often, preventative action is not taken, until it can be proven that harm would result from inaction. The adversarial nature of the process restricts full access to information.

Specialization among scientists and interest groups can hinder information flows among disciplines, as well as prevent holistic, collaborative approaches to environmental problems. Research funding mechanisms and academic traditions promote the continuation of professional compartmentalization.

Lack of information is another impediment to science-policy interactions. This lack includes deficiencies in the quantity and quality of information on the social, economic, and ecological factors relating to the use and protection of habitat, as well as deficiencies in the flow of information among scientists, policymakers, and the public. Ecosystem science also needs to be advanced to achieve a better understanding of cause-and-effect relationships in ecosystems. Uncertainty in science often leads to equivocal statements that create frustration among policymakers or the public. Conflicting scientific information can result in policy inaction. In addition, poor public education about science and policy leads to a lack of understanding of ecosystem causes, effects, and possible preventive actions. Information is often unavailable within the appropriate time frame. Science and policy operate on different time scales: the time horizon of policy decisions is much shorter than that of research.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Scientific information is rarely presented in a form that is understandable and usable by all participants in the process.

The lack of appropriate processes for conflict resolution is another impediment. Traditional “yes-no” decision-making processes may not be as suitable to habitat protection issues as would be more adaptive styles of management. Agency policy may be locked in by its tradition of conducting science and its concern for consistency and credibility. Unclear definitions of authority and processes for action contribute to the need for conflict resolution on multiple jurisdictional scales.

Interactions Between Science and Policy in Managing Gulf of Maine Habitats: Some Examples

There are a number of recent and ongoing examples of Gulf of Maine management efforts that involve close interaction between science and policy, some of which are highlighted below. Habitat protection should result from these efforts. As of yet, however, there do not appear to be any cases of science-policy interactions designed specifically to protect regionally significant habitats, where the significance of the habitats has been determined through broad discussion among all stakeholders. A good discussion of the regional scale of habitat-related research priorities relevant to Gulf of Maine management needs is presented in Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings (Stevenson and Braasch, 1994). This workshop was designed specifically to encourage communication between scientists and managers to enhance the use of habitat-related research and management in the Gulf of Maine.

Designation of Gulf of Maine Priority Species

In 1992, the Gulf of Maine Project of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment brought together state, federal, provincial, and nongovernmental entities to develop an approach to identify regionally significant fish and wildlife habitats in the Gulf of Maine. That meeting represented the initiation of the Council's effort to address one of the priority objectives of the Gulf of Maine Action Plan—to protect, restore, and enhance fish and wildlife habitat in the Gulf of Maine. The USFWS “priority species” approach was adopted as a means to identify regionally significant habitats. A ranked list of 161 species has now been compiled through the work of a Habitat Panel composed of representatives from wildlife, fish, marine resource, and nongovernmental agencies from each federal, provincial, and state group (USFWS, 1994). Criteria for species selection and ranking represented social, economic, and environmental concerns of public, private, and governmental interests. The Gulf of Maine Project is now using this list to identify priority habitats to protect, based on the number and rank of the

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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priority species present within a given habitat. Once identified, watershed management plans will be developed to protect and restore these priority habitats.

Protection of Bay of Fundy Benthic Habitats

In 1993, scientists and managers from the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) met with fishermen to address the impact of scallop dredges (used for sea urchin harvesting) on benthic organisms and benthic habitat in the Bay of Fundy. DFO scientists presented the results of benthic surveys at a series of meetings, and the fishermen developed a set of regulations for the urchin-harvesting industry based on survey results and resource economic considerations. The regulations included such measures as closed seasons, size limits, limits on dredge size, and prohibition on the use of the more destructive scallop dredge in favor of a lighter design causing less bottom disturbance. The fishermen also developed a sanctions policy that penalized violators of regulations. These regulations were adopted as policy by DFO, and the fishermen were asked to demonstrate their agreement with the new policies by signing a document sent to them with their fishing licenses. Fishermen participated in the management process because they understood the economic benefits of protecting the resource, and because they realized that the fishery would ultimately be regulated anyway. The availability of definitive scientific information, presented by the scientists themselves using underwater photography and color videos, was essential to the project's success.

Evaluation of Coastal Wetlands in New Hampshire

Barrier beach salt marsh systems are the predominant habitat along the New Hampshire coastline. These habitats have been and continue to be subject to intense development pressure. To develop a coherent planning process to manage land use along the coast and to select sites for potential habitat restoration projects, the New Hampshire Coastal Program, the U.S. Soil Conservation Service (now part of the Natural Resources Conservation Service), and the New Hampshire Audubon Society collaborated on the development of a coastal wetland evaluation manual (completed in 1993) designed for use by citizen groups in each of New Hampshire's seven coastal towns. A steering committee comprised of scientists, environmentalists, citizens, and policymakers participated significantly in the development of the manual. The New Hampshire Audubon Society is now conducting workshops to train citizen groups in each town to use the manual to inventory and evaluate their coastal wetland resources. This information will be used to reduce the impact of local and state development decisions on coastal wetland resources and to prepare for the movement of beaches that is predicted to occur if sea level continues to rise.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Habitat Evaluation in the Damariscotta River Estuary

In 1993, the Coastal Program of the Maine State Planning Office initiated the Damariscotta River Estuary Project. The goal of the project is to develop a habitat-based estuarine watershed management plan that will be supported and implemented by the seven towns in the watershed. A steering committee of 17 local citizens, including one member each from a local land trust, the Damariscotta River Association, and the Lincoln County Planning Office, has guided the activities of the project from its inception. To date, project researchers have characterized upland and aquatic habitats in the watershed and have organized this information in a spatially-referenced geographic information system. They have conducted a resource economics survey of the estuary, known for its shellfish aquaculture industry. The project is now beginning its work with local planning board members. Together they will develop a watershed management plan that will recommend habitat protection measures to maintain the quality of the Damariscotta' s estuarine resources. Success of this endeavor will be a function of its acceptance by both the public and environmental scientists in the region.

Beach and dune habitat has been subject to intense human activity in the Gulf of Maine for decades. Many beaches are now experiencing severe erosion during winter storms due to the effects of seawalls and jetties, possibly exacerbated by sea-level rise. In Wells, Maine, undermining and buckling of sea walls protecting beachfront property in late 1992 spurred the organization of a Beach Task Force, made up of community members; town, state, and federal officials; academic scientists; and representatives from the Army Corps of Engineers and the Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR). The task force brought together all interested parties to discuss the best strategy to restore beach and dune habitat and, therefore, protect several miles of beach property. To date, task force activity has lead to the installation of several small-scale beach stabilization projects to protect the properties at greatest risk. The task force continues to work on plans for large-scale beach enhancement, based on research conducted by scientists associated with the Wells NERR and the Maine Geological Survey. Over the longer term, the Wells NERR is developing research-based educational materials to help coastal Gulf of Maine communities prepare for the movement of beaches that is predicted if sea level continues to rise.

Improving Interactions Between Science and Policy on Regionally Significant Habitats

Room for improvement exists in several key areas of science-policy interaction. Although impediments to science and policy interactions were the basis of the following consensus areas, we also suggest a mechanism for strategic and proactive planning with respect to regionally significant habitats that will establish an opportunity to identify, study, and develop policy addressing the next generation of resource use issues.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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The group reached a consensus on the need for the following mechanisms to improve science-policy interactions:

  • a framework that allows natural and social scientists to conduct their research in an environment relatively insulated from direct political influences;

  • requests for proposals from granting institutions that require research to address the information needs of policymakers;

  • incentives within academic institutions to encourage tenured and tenure-track professors to conduct research and publish papers that address resource management questions, offer policy recommendations, and interpret and translate scientific information for the lay audience;

  • incentives within resource agencies to encourage agency scientists to interact and work constructively with their lay constituency groups;

  • funding to encourage the interface between researchers and policymakers at the planning stage of development;

  • processes to enable collaborative participation of policymakers, scientists, and other stakeholders in a way that ensures the quality control of resulting information;

  • mechanisms to improve the development and use of a shared, distributed data base and electronic media as a tool for improving collaborative processes;

  • adaptive management approaches that incorporate flexibility in response to ecological variability and scientific uncertainty; and

  • incorporation of predictive components into ecosystem strategic planning to allow policymakers, researchers, and other stakeholders the opportunity to identify future threats to resources and to anticipate management and policy needs.

Conclusions: Improving Science and Policy Interactions

Two days of discussions of regionally significant habitats in the Gulf of Maine identified the six issues listed below.

Issue 1: A wide variation in value systems make it difficult to assign priorities to various habitat types.

Conclusions: A consensus on the relative values of various habitats can be reached only through extensive participation of the communities of interest, many of which

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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are outside government. All communities must have access to relevant information in a format that they can understand readily. All communities must feel that they have had access to the decision-making process. Given that stakeholders have a wide range of goals, attitudes, and interests, the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should facilitate programs aimed at collaborative problem solving.

Issue 2: The jurisdictional environment is complex, and it is difficult to get agencies and institutions working toward a common plan. Institutions whose interests and responsibilities relate to Gulf of Maine habitats do not usually coordinate their activities, leading to uneven treatment of problems and inefficiencies.

Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Program should continue to forge partnerships and should consider sponsorship of a Gulf of Maine habitat joint venture to develop a clear, prioritized action plan for advancing a habitat protection strategy for the Gulf of Maine region. As an initial step, the Gulf of Maine Program should consider developing a compendium of habitat-related programs and initiatives that are ongoing regionally and could serve as models for a joint venture or could be incorporated within such an initiative. The North American Wildlife Management Program is one possible model. The species prioritization initiative currently being pursued by USFWS, in partnership with the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, represents a common approach toward identifying regionally significant habitats and should be continued and supported by U.S. and Canadian agencies and institutions in the region. It may also serve as a useful model for future collaborative work.

Issue 3: Information related to Gulf of Maine habitats is very incomplete.

Conclusions: Coordinated efforts should focus on marine areas and their uses. The research agenda can be improved by explicitly including social sciences and community knowledge related to habitats. Information is needed on life cycles and essential habitats of valued species assemblages. We also need information on impacts of human activities and the stresses that they place on the elements and function of the ecosystem. We should continue the process of trying to develop a habitat classification system on priority species ranking.

Issue 4: Information related to the Gulf of Maine remains fragmented and difficult to access. It is often available only in highly technical form and is not very accessible.

Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should advance and support the development of a data information network using available Internet systems. The Council should develop policies and protocols it would like to see adopted by participating partners to make Gulf of Maine habitat information more widely and readily available. These protocols should include requirements that data be made available in a timely manner and in a format that is understandable to the general public.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Issue 5: There are no integrated or strategic national policies focused on management and protection of the Gulf of Maine. The mandates of U.S. federal agencies are, in some cases, too weak to allow them to be full partners in regional initiatives.

Conclusions: The Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment should develop a strategy that would lead to clear national policies related to the management of the Gulf of Maine and its contiguous coastal zone, that are consistent between the United States and Canada. Ways should be sought to involve federal agencies more formally, while maintaining the spirit of equal partnership that Gulf of Maine policymaking now enjoys. Policies must be adaptive to incorporate new information and evolving value systems.

References

Brown, B. 1993. A Classification System of Marine and Estuarine Habitats in Maine: An Ecosystem Approach to Habitats. Part I: Benthic Habitats. Maine Natural Areas Program, Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine.

Fisheries Resources Working Group. 1994. Report. In D. Stevenson and B. Braasch (eds.) Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings. RARGOM Report Number 94-2, Sea Grant Report #UNHMP-T/DR-SG-94-18.

Foulis, D.B., and R.W. Tiner. 1994. Wetland Trends for Selected Areas of the Casco Bay Estuary of the Gulf of Maine (1974-77 to 1984-87). Ecological Services Report R5-94/1. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Hadley, Maine.

Kelley, J.T., R.C. Shipp, and D.F. Belknap. 1987a. Geomorphology and Sedimentary Framework of the Inner Continental Shelf of Southwestern Maine. Open-File No. 87-5, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Conservation, Augusta, Maine.

Kelley, J.T., D.F. Belknap, and R.C Shipp. 1987b. Geomorphology and Sedimentary Framework of the Inner Continental Shelf of South Central Maine. Open-File No. 87-19, Maine Geological Survey, Maine Department of Conservation, Augusta, Maine.

Maine Natural Areas Program. 1991. Natural Landscapes of Maine: A Classification of Ecosystems and Natural Communities. Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine.

Maine Natural Areas Program. 1994. Elements of Natural Diversity: Rare, Threatened, and Endangered Plants. Department of Economic and Community Development, Augusta, Maine.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Stevenson, D., and B. Braasch (eds.). 1994. Gulf of Maine Habitat: Workshop Proceedings. RARGOM Report Number 94-2, Sea Grant Report #UNHMP-T/DR-SG-94-18.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Project, and Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment. 1994. Identification of Species for Priority Habitats. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Gulf of Maine Project, Falmouth, Maine.

Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Suggested Citation:"Protecting Regional Significant Terrestrial and Marine Habitats." National Research Council. 1995. Improving Interactions Between Coastal Science and Policy: Proceedings of the Gulf of Maine Symposium. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9151.
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Next: Using Indicators of Enviromental Quality as a Tool to Maintain the Gulf of Maine »
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