Increasing Capacity for Stewardship of Oceans and Coasts:

A Priority for the 21st Century

National Research Council, 2007

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Marine environments support the livelihoods, economies, and quality of life for communities around the world. But growth of coastal populations and increasing demands on marine resources are putting the future of ocean and coastal resources at risk through impacts such as overfishing, wetland drainage, coastal urbanization, climate change, and pollution of coastal waters.

The rapid decline of many ocean and coastal ecosystems has captured the attention of governments, national and international organizations, and private foundations. There is growing recognition that increasing the stewardship of local and global seas will require a greater capacity to assess, monitor, manage, and govern coastal and ocean resources. Programs to grow this capacity are needed for training scientists, managers, and policymakers and for strengthening institutions that supply the necessary financial support, technology, and tools.

This National Research Council report assesses past and current capacity-building efforts to identify barriers to effective management of coastal and marine resources encountered in coastal nations, particularly in the developing world. The report recommends ways that governments and organizations can help strengthen marine and coastal protection and management capacity, including periodic program assessments, sustained funding, and the development of leadership and political will.

Statement of Task

The study will identify barriers to effective management of coastal and marine resources encountered in coastal nations, particularly in the developing world. The committee will examine current and past efforts to build the scientific, technological and institutional capacities required for countries to develop and implement effective coastal and marine resource policies. This review will include analysis of strategies for sustaining the benefits of capacity-building efforts over the long term. In carrying out its task, the committee will:

  • Identify the types of information that would be required to form a foundation for policy decisions affecting the long-term health of coastal and marine ecosystems;
  • Examine the roles of human resource development, establishment of appropriate institutions and infrastructure, and creation of a favorable policy environment in building legitimacy across a broad spectrum of society into oceans-related programs; and
  • Identify measures to link investment in capacity-building to “on-the-ground” results, using such analytical tools as economic cost-benefit, environment and development indicators, and transboundary diagnostic analysis.

The committee will recommend ways in which the United States and partner organizations, including governments, international bodies, and stakeholders, can help strengthen the marine protection and management capacity of other countries. This will include recommendations on how capacity-building activities can be translated into sustainable environmental and economic programs.

Committee Roster

Committee on International Capacity Building for the Protection and Sustainable Use of Oceans and Coasts

Mary (Missy) H. Feeley (Co-Chair)
ExxonMobil Exploration Company

Silvio C. Pantoja (Co-Chair)
University of Concepción, Chile

Tundi Agardy
Sound Seas

Juan Carlos Castilla
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Stephen C. Farber
University of Pittsburgh (Ret.)

Indumathie V. Hewawasam
The World Bank

Joanna Ibrahim
University of the West Indies

Jane Lubchenco
Oregon State University

Bonnie J. McCay
Rutgers University

Nyawira Muthiga
Wildlife Conservation Society, Kenya

Stephen B. Olsen
University of Rhode Island

Shubha Sathyendranath
Partnership for Observation of the Global Oceans, Canada

Michael P. Sissenwine
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Ret.)

Daniel O. Suman
University of Miami

Giselle Tamayo
University of Costa Rica (Resigned May 2007)

Susan Roberts (Board Director), Frank Hall (Program Officer), and Jodi Bostrom (Research Associate)
National Research Council


This project was supported by the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Presidents’ Circle of the National Academies, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Science Foundation, the Marisla Foundation, and the Curtis and Edith Munson Foundation.