Special Oregon Sea Grant funding: Social Science and Human Dimensions Research

Implementing Ecosystem Based Management: Connecting Caretakers of the Oregon Coast with Transformative and Practical Legal Tools (2014-2016)

Richard Hildreth
School of Law - Ocean & Coastal Law Center
University of Oregon
1515 Agate Street, 1221 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403
Phone: 541-346-1395

Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) makes the health of coastal ecosystems the organizing principle for human activities occurring in nearshore environments. The goal of EBM is to maintain the health of the entire system, recognizing the many interactions and connections, including human activity, that comprise an ecosystem. President Obama’s July 2010 Executive Order on Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes (75 Federal Register 43023, July 22, 2010) prioritizes the use of EBM. Successfully implementing EBM is a complex goal, however. Responsible management of coastal systems requires new kinds of thinking and actions. Ecosystem-based approaches require coordination among federal, state, and local jurisdictions, and the active engagement of the people who live, work, play, and develop policies along our coasts.

Laws affecting Oregon’s coastal resources are made up of a fragmented jurisdictional framework including international, federal, state, and local statutes. Such legal issues span ocean law, renewable energy law, coastal wetland protection law, and even the Endangered Species Act. Legal scholarship tends to focus on individual laws that impact portions of the ecosystem but often fails to explore the interplay between jurisdictions and these important issues.

This project provides a coordinated legal framework for EBM, addressing the following questions:

  1. How does existing law affect the implementation of EBM in Oregon?
  2. What additional policy changes are needed to further the implementation of EBM in Oregon?

Project personnel, including law student interns, will provide research, analysis, and advice regarding successful EBM implementation for public, private, and community interests seeking a sustainable coastal future for Oregon.

By providing legal and policy tools to increase the implementation of EBM, the project team will work with Oregon coastal communities to become more resilient to social, economic, and environmental stresses. Specific outcomes include dialogue with stakeholders and decision-makers to inform opportunities for a coordinated and strategic plan for managing marine resource within the applicable legal framework. The ultimate goal of this work is to provide necessary information for improved decision-making and governance around finite and sensitive marine resources.

Strategic Plan Focus Area: Healthy Coastal Ecosystems and Habitats

Learn more:

Richard Hildreth’s UO Profile