The Silver Anniversary of the United States' Exclusive Economic Zone: Twenty-Five Years of Ocean Use and Abuse, and the Possibility of a Blue Water Public Trust Doctrine

Turnipseed, Mary; Roady, Stephen E.; Sagarin, Raphael; Crowder, Larry B.
February 2009
Ecology Law Quarterly;2009, Vol. 36 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Sustainably managing marine ecosystems has proved nearly impossible, with few success stories. Ecosystem management failures largely stem from the traditional sector-by-sector, issue-by-issue approach to managing ocean-borne activities�an approach that is fundamentally unable to keep pace with the dynamics of coupled human, ecological and oceanographic systems. In the United States today there are over twenty federal agencies and thirty-five coastal states and territories operating under dozens of statutory authorities shaping coastal and ocean policy. Among marine ecologists and policy experts there is an emerging consensus that a major overhaul in US. ocean governance is necessary. This Article suggests that the public trust doctrine�an ancient legal concept that is already incorporated in US. state coastal laws�can uniquely provide a unifying concept for US.. federal ocean governance. Though the public, trust concept can be located in the legal systems of many countries, it robustly manifests in the United States, where it has historically protected the public `s rights to fishing, navigation, and commerce in and over navigable waterways and tidal waters. In its most basic form, the doctrine obliges governments to manage common natural resources, the body of the trust, in the best interest of their citizens, the beneficiaries of the trust. Today the public trust doctrine is integral to the protection of coastal ecosystems and beach access in many states and has even made its way into state constitutions. It would be simple, and seemingly logical, to assume that the same fiduciary responsibility of states to protect public trust uses of their waters extends to all marine resources within the United States' 200-mile Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). However an artificial line has been drawn around state waters, and the legal authority and responsibility of the US. government to protect public trust resources in the vast space of its EEZ (the largest of any country on earth) have never been fully and expressly established. Securing the place of the public trust doctrine in US. federal oceans management would be valuable, given the immense pressure to exploit EEZ resources, the failure of the current regulatory approach, improved scientific understanding of the interconnected nature of ocean ecosystems, and the growing demand for sustainable management of ocean resources. This Article will outline the development of states' public trust doctrines; discuss the expansion of US. sovereignty over its neighboring ocean waters during the twentieth century; analyze possible avenues for expanding the doctrine to federal waters; and consider how a federal public trust doctrine could clarify some specific emerging issues in US. oceans management. At the heart of our analysis lie three questions. (1) does a federal public trust doctrine exist; (2) if so, can we rightfully extend it to include the entirety of the US. ocean waters; and (3) could the doctrine provide the missing catalyst for federal agencies to manage the use of US. ocean resources in a coordinated, sustainable fashion?


Related Articles

  • Marine Protected Areas: A Governance System Analysis. Jentoft, Svein; Son, Thijs; Bjørkan, Maiken // Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal;Oct2007, Vol. 35 Issue 5, p611 

    Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are promoted as an important marine ecosystem management tool. However, they are complex systems that, from a governance perspective, raise serious challenges with regard to their effectiveness. In this paper, drawing on recent contributions to the so-called...

  • Sea Science. Spalding, Mark J.; Brooks, Hooper // Planning;Dec2011, Vol. 77 Issue 10, p8 

    The article offers information on the marine spatial planning of U.S. It states the legal context for the ocean aquaculture mandate is the Coastal Zone Management Act with the objectives including protection, preservation, restoration of the coastal zone's resources. Moreover, the economic...

  • Submarine Groundwater Discharge as a nitrogen source to the Ria Formosa studied with seepage meters. Leote, Catarina; Ibánhez, J. Severino; Rocha, Carlos // Biogeochemistry;Apr2008, Vol. 88 Issue 2, p185 

    Submarine Groundwater Discharge (SGD) has been frequently ignored as a nutrient source to marine ecosystems because it is difficult to identify and quantify. However, recent studies show its ubiquity and ecological importance to the coastal zone, particularly when associated with contaminated...

  • An evolving protocol to identify key stakeholder-influenced indicators of coastal change: the case of Marine Protected Areas. Vella, Prassede; Bowen, Robert E.; Frankic, Anamarija // ICES Journal of Marine Science / Journal du Conseil;Jan2009, Vol. 66 Issue 1, p203 

    Vella, P., Bowen, R. E., and Frankic, A. 2009. An evolving protocol to identify key stakeholder-influenced indicators of coastal change: the case of Marine Protected Areas. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 66: 203–213.In recent years, there has been a growing realization of the...

  • The Socio-Economic Contributions of Marine Protected Areas to the Fisherfolk of Lingayen Gulf, Northwestern Philippines. Vicente, J. A.; Cerezo, R . B. // International Journal of Environmental Research;Summer2010, Vol. 4 Issue 3, p479 

    The continuous degradation of the marine ecosystem leads to the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a protective measure. Because of the wide array of benefits that can be gained upon its establishment, socio-economic contributions were taken into consideration using a descriptive...

  • Coast Guard. Gaskill, Melissa // Wildflower (Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center);Summer2009, Vol. 25 Issue 4, p20 

    The article focuses on the capability of coastal landscapes including wetlands, barrier islands, and grassy marshes to provide protection from storm surges, winds, and waves. It states that coastal landscapes absorb storm energy to lessen the damaging effects of hurricanes, retain sediment to...

  • COASTAL COMMUNITIES.  // Ecological Restoration;Fall2000, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p200 

    Presents abstract of several studies on coastal ecology. `Tree Shelters Effective in Costal Swamp Restoration (Restoration),' by Ken W. Krauss, Richard A. Goyer, James A. Allen and Jim L. Chambers; Abstracts from the Coastal Zone 99 Conference held in San Diego, California from July 24-30,...

  • COASTAL COMMUNITIES.  // Ecological Restoration;2001, Vol. 19 Issue 1, p45 

    Presents abstracts of studies on coastal community restoration. `Ecological Restoration of Coastal Sage Scrub and Its Potential Role in Habitat Conservation Plans,' by P.A. Bowler from a 2000 issue of `Environmental Management'; `Tidal Marsh Restored in Record Time,' by B. Bradley from a 2000...

  • The Changing Face of Coastal Zone Management in Soufriere, St Lucia. Pugh, Jonathan; Potter, Robert // Geography;Jul2001, Vol. 86 Issue 3, p247 

    Examines coastal zone management in Soufriere, Saint Lucia. Growth of tourism in Soufriere; Problems encountered by the fisherpeople of the town; Details on the Soufriere 2000 Retreat organized by the people of Soufriere in 1990; Establishment of the Soufriere Marine Management Area in 1995.


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics