Regional Partnerships

     While no binding laws surrounding shoreline or ocean use exist at a regional level, governors from Washington, Oregon and California have formed the West Coast Governor’s Alliance for Ocean Health. Currently the Alliance focuses on securing funding for environmental assessments and mapping projects rather than transforming legislation (a notable exception is the governors’ effort to curb offshore drilling in favor of renewable marine energy). The Alliance supports the growth of Ecosystem-Based Management. However, Washington has so far implemented only one temporary EBM program in the San Juan Islands lasting from 2007-2009 (West Coast EBM Network).

California Governor Edmund G Brown Jr. (left), Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber (center), and Washington Governor Jay Inslee (right)

As Washington finalizes its MSP, it will be interesting to see if other states in the Alliance follow suit. Washington’s process could set a precedence for the creation of a regional ecosystem-based MSP. A regional MSP, as it would encompass more physical area, would better reflect the interconnected needs (both human and ecological) of the entire nearshore marine ecosystem along the coast, rather than segregating management decisions along environmentally-arbitrary state lines. For an ecosystem-based management practice like marine spatial planning to truly be effective, ecological distinctions must direct management distinctions (Douvere and Ehler 2009:20).

     As of yet, there are no plans for a regional MSP or the implementation of enforceable regional marine management guidelines. At some point however, greater regional collaboration must  factor into the West Coast state’s management plans, as there is no way to gate oceanic ecosystems.