Advancing an Ecosystem Approach in the Gulf of Maine

Collaborative Learning Strategies to Overcome Barriers to Ecosystem Management in Coastal Watersheds of the Gulf of Maine

Christine Baumann Feurt


Abstract.—Marine resource managers and environmental policy makers trained in disciplines grounded in the natural sciences learn quickly that some of the biggest challenges to the practice of ecosystem management are social ones. While ecosystem theory provides a conceptual framework for integrating the ecological, socioeconomic, cultural, and institutional elements of environmental problems, the practice of ecosystem management remains elusive. A potential model for addressing these challenges of ecosystem management is a U.S. “science to management” initiative of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration implemented within the National Estuarine Research Reserve System. The Coastal Training Program initiative provided the context for this study’s development of innovative interdisciplinary approaches supporting ecosystem management to mitigate land-based pollution impacts in coastal watersheds in the Gulf of Maine.