Zoning the Oceans

Dec 11, 2009 | RFF Staff

Zoning the OceansAn overarching policy to manage the many environmental and economic pressures threatening the use of ocean resources on which millions of Americans rely is being formulated by the Obama Administration. In an editorial in the December issue of Scientific American, editors endorse measures to rationalize the overlapping activities of federal agencies responsible for marine life and industrial uses, such as fishing and energy extraction. RFF Nonresident Fellow James N. Sanchirico has pioneered a widely heralded option known as "zoning the oceans," which would allow fair and environmentally responsible competition while protecting the overall health of the world’s seas.

“Extending this ‘planning and zoning’ paradigm offshore makes good sense,” the editorial argues. “Zoning would give all parties with a stake in the seas the security of knowing certain spaces are designated for their desired uses. Commerce benefits because environmental groups are less likely to block industry on a case-by-case basis. Marine ecosystems benefit because conservation finally gets an equal seat at the planning table with the fishing and petroleum industries.”

related work on this topic

Comprehensive Planning, Dominant-use Zones, and User Rights: A New Era
in Ocean Governance

James N. Sanchirico, Josh Eagle, Steve Palumbi, and Barton H. Thompson, Jr.
Bulletin of Marine Science, Vol. 86 No. 2, forthcoming 2010  

Ocean Zoning and Spatial Access Privileges: Rewriting the Tragedy of the Regulated Ocean
Josh Eagle, James N. Sanchirico, and Barton H. Thompson
NYU Environmental Law Journal, Vol. 17, No. 1, 2008

New Approaches on Energy and the Environment
Policy Advice for the President, Chapter 21 
Edited By Richard D. Morgenstern and Paul R. Portney
RFF Press, 2004

   James N. Sanchirico
James N. Sanchirico
Nonresident Fellow

Watch a video interview of Sanchirico explaining ocean zoning.
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