Monday, September 28, 2009

Tasking the Task Force

This evening, I submitted a comment to the Ocean Policy Task Force as follows:
Thank you for the opportunity to comment. I attended the Task Force’s public forum in Providence, RI, and I have been impressed by the participatory environment that you have created for developing a plan to manage and conserve ocean resources and ecosystems.

I would like to speak for an ocean-dependent industry that is not always considered as a user-group – marine scientists. I am a marine biologist at Brown University in Rhode Island. My livelihood depends on access to the sea and marine resources, not unlike the fishermen and ferrymen who spoke at the forum. I have found that most of the shoreline is restricted access across private property and that even public property managers are often hesitant to allow research. This is doubly true for manipulative field research, which can be disruptive but is the most telling and mechanistic type of science. There is little intertidal and underwater space set aside for research.

I have benefited greatly from the National Estuarine Research Reserve System, a network of 27 coastal reserves designated for research activities. They have funded my work, and, almost more importantly, they own coastal ecosystems where I can do science. Using field experiments in these reserves, I have developed predictions of how valuable coastal wetlands will respond to global warming. This is the kind of vital knowledge managers and policymakers will need to anticipate the effects of global change on ecosystems and to head off deleterious effects on human communities.

The interim report calls to “use the best available science and knowledge to inform decisions affecting the ocean, our coasts, and the Great Lakes.” I am a scientist who would like to provide that information in the coming decades. Please enable research by maintaining access for governmental and non-governmental researchers when you are planning for the diverse users of our coastal oceans.
Read more about the Ocean Policy Task Force, charged with developing a recommendation for a national policy for our oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes, on the Council on Environmental Quality's webpage.

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