I know this is a bit cliche to say, but my goodness, time is moving by fast! I have already completed the 2nd week of my 10 week internship and I feel like I just started.
This week has been filled with lots of emails, phone calls, stacks of policy documents, and meetings. I realized mid-week that I am in love with the field I am working towards right now. Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (CMSP) is cutting-edge for both the science and policy realms. It is also a field that calls for interdisciplinary work and requires individuals to be literate in both fields. Marine science and policy are my two passions that I have not been able to decide between; CMSP unites both. I am already starting to develop graduate school ideas for how I could contribute to this field with my future PhD.
The most interesting part of this week was sitting in on a webcast for a national policy meeting for CMSP. On Tuesday I got up at the crack ‘o’ dawn to sit in on the meeting at 6 am. To provide some very brief background, in July of last year, Obama created 9 new ocean policy priorities for the United States. Developing CMSP for coastal regions and the territorial seas of the United States was one of them. CMSP is a process where map layers of the ocean (topography, biology, oceanography) are combined with the human needs for marine resources. Spatial and decision-making computer programs map these together to identify areas of high priority (EX: finding areas of high conflicting interests, or seeking areas that are biologically most vulnerable). The national meeting that I watched online was designed to receive input from stakeholders (people who have a vested interest in the ocean) on the CMSP process laid out by the National Ocean Council. It was also a venue to help inform stakeholders about the CMSP process and the vision behind making it a national priority. While listening to agency heads was a bit boring in the beginning, I found the workshop to be very informative and engaging to listen in on.
If you are curious for more detail into what CMSP is about, I will be writing a more lengthy blog description on my personal blog AnnaRose and the Sea later today. Also if you are interested in some links to national policy visit the White House’s National Ocean Council website for more information.
AnnaRose: You might be interested in this new video from the National Sea Grant Law Center – it does a good job of laying out the basics of CMSP for those who aren’t familiar with it: http://youtu.be/pbNo1zQ6u7Y
Pat, this is great! Thanks!
Great background on CMSP! So which parts of the process do you think are most challenging – both for you, and for the CMSP community as a whole?
Sarah, there are a lot of challenges ahead of successful implementation of CMSP, but I think one large area is the incorporation of economic data and decision-making tools into the process. A lot of the research I’ve done has pointed to the fact that economic analysis needs to be better incorporated into the CMSP process to help make decisions. It’s something I’m contemplating working on for grad school.
Another large challenge will be making sure that stakeholders feel that they have an adequate stake and voice in the process. CMSP national documents right now emphasize that stakeholder engagement must be a large part of the process, but unfortunately in policy this area is often given a lot of lip service and not enough action. The National Ocean Council will produce some recommendations in the future with respect to this and I’ll be interested to read what they have to say.
Thanks for the answer! Economic valuation of ecosystems seems like a vital issue for so many areas, probably even more so for a process as large as CMSP. Good luck with your exploration of resource econ! And hopefully the CMSP workshop this fall will address some of the stakeholder engagement issues, and maybe even some of the economic ones.