Center researchers have been extensively involved in the study of U.S. national ocean policy and have, through research, briefings, conferences, publications, and other activities, worked to improve the U.S. system of ocean governance. This work has spawned, in cooperation with other ocean policy specialists, the creation of a network of over 30 scholars in ocean policy-the Ocean Governance Study Group.

The U.S. system of ocean governance is based on the body of ocean and coastal law enacted in the 1970s which established new, innovative programs in coastal management, fisheries management, marine mammal protection, offshore oil development, water quality, and marine protected areas. The 1970s was a period of great activism for ocean affairs which made the United States, at that time, the world leader in ocean and coastal management. The programs that were enacted, however, while path-breaking in many ways, were also flawed in the sense that they were based on single-sector approaches to governance-one set of laws and regulations to manage offshore oil development, a different set of laws and regulations to manage marine fisheries, a third body of law to manage marine mammals, etc. Thus, one of the main challenges we now face is that there are few, if any, effective mechanisms to reconcile conflicts, encourage area-wide planning and management, and set cross-cutting ocean policy.

Regional Governance Workshop

In December 2002, the Center organized a workshop on Improving Regional Ocean Governance in the United States, together with NOAA, EPA, and the Coastal States Organization. The purposes of the workshop were to identify ocean and coastal problems that are most appropriately and effectively addressed through a regional approach to governance and to identify options for improving regional ocean governance in the U.S. The workshop was intended to inform the work of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, as well as the work of federal and state governments, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector.

The workshop addressed the following major topics:
  • The diversity of regional ocean contexts in the U.S.
  • Issues in regional ocean governance
  • Drawing lessons from existing efforts at regional ocean governance in the U.S. and in other countries
  • Major options for improving ocean governance in the United States
  • Desirable features of a regional ocean governance system
The workshop proceedings are available for download.

Perspective on Coastal Governance for a Coordinated and Comprehensive U.S. National Ocean Policy

Dr. Biliana Cicin-Sain presented a testimony on coastal governance to the third public meeting of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, the first in a series of nine regional meetings intended to provide regional, state, and local government agencies and non-governmental organizations the opportunity to discuss with the Commission ocean and coastal issues of interest or concern to the Southeastern region of the United States. The Commission will use the information received at the meeting to help formulate its recommendations for a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy, as required by the Oceans Act of 2000. In her testimony, Dr. Cicin-Sain discussed major challenges in U.S. ocean governance; the need to move toward a more integrated system; and possible ways for moving toward more integrated ocean policy at both national and regional levels.

Perspective on Coastal Governance, a testimony presented at the Southeast Regional meeting of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, January 15-16, 2002, Charleston, South Carolina.

Book on U.S. National Ocean and Coastal Policy
The Future of U.S. Ocean Policy: Choices for the New Century. By Biliana Cicin-Sain and Robert W. Knecht (Washington, D.C.: Island Press, 2000, 398 pages).

The book provides an in-depth analysis of the evolution of U. S. ocean policy and a discussion of the most important ocean and coastal issues facing the nation. The authors assess the current status of ocean policy, examine national and international trends, and consider choices for policymakers in the 21st century. Following an introductory chapter that reviews national ocean policy and the process by which it is made, the authors:
  • Review the history of development of U. S. ocean and coastal policy;
  • Examine the major ocean laws enacted in the 1970s and review and assess their record of implementation;
  • Examine factors that will affect U. S. ocean policy in the coming decade;
  • Discuss the need to make policy more coherent, and to develop institutional mechanisms that can foster more effective guidance and oversight;
  • Present a blueprint of national ocean policy reform
Studies of the Performance of State Coastal Programs

While the United States has the most long-lasting program in coastal management in the world (enacted in 1972), there have been very few studies evaluating the effectiveness of the overall program. This is partially due to the fact that at the outset of the program, few quantitative measures were established to ascertain the state of the coastal zone at that time. Hence, it has been very difficult for both scholars and policy makers to attribute specific improvements in the condition of the coastal zone to the coastal management program. This study surveyed three sets of knowledgeable respondents: coastal managers, coastal user groups, and academics in each of 24 U.S. mainland coastal states to ascertain their perceptions of the performance of the state coastal management program on four key coastal issue areas: protection of coastal resources, management of coastal development, improvement of public access to the shoreline, and reduction of losses due to coastal hazards. Several publications have resulted from the study.

National Dialogues on Ocean and Coastal Policy

In the past few years, and especially since the 1998 International Year of the Ocean, there has been growing realization that concerted efforts must be made to reexamine national ocean policy in the United States, to assess how well we are managing our oceans and coasts, and to provide a vision for the governance of these resources of great value to the American people into the 21st century and beyond. Examples of renewed interest in the reexamination of national ocean policy include the recently enacted Oceans Act of 2000, creating a national ocean policy commission, efforts by an inter-agency federal group to assess federal ocean policy in conjunction with the Year of the Ocean, discussions among stakeholder groups organized by the Heinz Center on particular areas of ocean policy, NOAA's work on defining Coastal Stewardship, and major initiatives by ocean interests, such as Seaweb and the Center for Marine Conservation, in drawing attention to issues of resource depletion and ocean conservation.

The Dialogues on National Ocean Policy, 1998-1999
Organized by academic and governmental partners (the Center, the Ocean Governance Study Group, and the National Ocean Service, NOAA), these dialogues were aimed at identifying major problems and opportunities in national ocean policy, with a view to developing policy options for improved management of the ocean and coastal resources of the United States to the limits of national jurisdiction, including the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone.

Three national dialogues were held:

The Stratton Roundtable: Looking Back, Looking Forward: Lessons from the 1969 Commission on Marine Science, Engineering, and Resources.
This workshop, held in Washington, D.C. on May 1, 1998, focused on the lessons learned in the Stratton Commission's review of national ocean policy which was conducted between 1966 and 1969 (the last time a comprehensive examination of ocean and coastal activities took place). Former members of the Commission and its staff met with a small group of academics, congressional staff, ocean interests, and other participants to review and assess the way in which the Commission conducted its work with a view toward providing recommendations for a new ocean policy commission. The outputs of the meeting- perspectives papers and a video with interviews with the former members and staff of the Stratton Commission, are available from the Center and may also be found at

National Coastal and Oceans Policy: Changing Contexts and Emerging Issues (1999).
This workshop was held on October 31-November 1, 1998 at the University of California at Berkeley. The workshop addressed a wide variety of current national ocean policy issues and examined future challenges. The meeting followed a workshop on Law of the Sea Issues organized by the School of Law, UC Berkeley..

Trends and Future Challenges for U. S. National Ocean and Coastal Policy (1999).
This Dialogue, held on January 22, 1999, in Washington, D.C. focused on understanding the implications for U.S. ocean policy of the very significant changes that have occurred in the last 30 years including such factors as the environmental movement, the elevation of energy concerns to national and international agendas, the growth in the management capacity of coastal states, the passage and implementation of a dozen federal coastal and ocean laws, and the adoption of a wide range of global agreements on oceans and coasts. The meeting identified important developments in ocean and coastal policy, and examined and analyzed trends that are likely to influence national ocean policy in the future, such as those derived from technological and industry-driven innovations, changes in the international governance framework, demographic pressures on the coast, changes in ocean industries (e.g., fisheries depletion, growth in tourism worldwide), and the actions of non-governmental organizations.

Ocean & Coastal Policy Network News
In 1998, the CSMP, in association with NOAA/NOS, the Ocean Governance Study Group, and the Delaware Sea Grant Program, inaugurated a periodic newsletter aimed at providing a forum for the exchange of news and viewpoints on U.S. national ocean and coastal policy. The newsletter includes nine sections: Articles, Federal Agencies Corner, Congressional Corner, Coastal States Corner, Industry Corner, Nongovernmental Organizations Corner, International Corner, Publications, and Forthcoming Events.

Ocean and Coastal Policy Roundtable (2001 to present)

The Center organizes a monthly Roundtable in Washington DC of executives from organizations concerned with ocean and coastal policy in the U.S. (including industry, nongovernmental organizations, government at all levels and from all branches, and academic, scientific, technical, and public outreach organizations). The purposes of the Roundtable are to promote the achievement of a coherent national ocean and coastal strategy for the United States through inter-sector discussion and the forging of consensus on particular issues.

Gerard J. Mangone Center for Marine Policy
301 Robinson Hall, University of Delaware
Newark, DE 19716 USA
Phone: 1-302-831-8086; Fax: 1-302-831-3668
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