Jump to main content.

Public Involvement Network News

Note: EPA no longer updates this information, but it may be useful as a reference or resource.

The Top Ten Marine and Coastal Cooperative Conservation Lessons Learned

The Subcommittee on Integrated Management of Ocean Resources (SIMOR) was formed in March 2005 as part of the ocean governance structure described in the President’s Ocean Action Plan. SIMOR focuses on implementing ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes management actions that will benefit from interagency coordination. Its work is designed to complement the efforts of individual Departments and Agencies, as well as other interagency groups.

SIMOR seeks to identify and promote opportunities for collaboration and cooperation. among federal agencies and to build partnerships among federal, state, tribal and local authorities, the private sector, international partners, and other interested parties. These cooperative efforts will help develop and implement management strategies that ensure continued conservation of coastal and marine habitats and living and non-living resources while also ensuring that the American public enjoys and benefits from those same resources. In March 2006, SIMOR issued its formal workplan which describes specific activities intended to promote responsible use and management of our ocean and coastal resources.

The SIMOR identified four priorities as initial focus areas:

• Regional and local collaboration

• Use of ocean science and technology in ocean resource management

• Enhance ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes resource management to improve use and

• Enhance Ocean Education

As its first work item under the regional and local collaboration focus area, SIMOR sought to capitalize on existing efforts to promote cooperative conservation and partnerships by highlighting examples of successful collaboration in this document. Its newly released report, “The Top 10 Marine and Coastal Cooperative Conservation Lessons Learned,”provides some case study examples in order to encourage and advance partnerships in coastal and marine areas.

This report of the top 10 marine and coastal cooperative conservation lessons learned identifies lessons that states and regions could apply to their individual regional contexts. Building on the 2005 White House Conference on Cooperative Conservation, this report also includes recent examples from several SIMOR agencies, and other existing reports on cooperative resource management.

Each lesson is illustrated by examples of cooperative conservation partnerships. These examples come from around the country and include various combinations of partners including federal and state agencies, tribes, citizen groups, and non-profit organizations.

Lessons learned include:

1. Build leadership capacity — Develop champions and proponents of your efforts among a diverse set of stakeholders and at a variety of levels, from agency directors to watershed coordinators. Empower others to take initiative and get involved.

2. Encourage diverse and meaningful participation — Not only should all relevant stakeholders be actively involved when planning and developing local and regional partnerships and cooperative conservation projects, but the “right people” need to be at the table (e.g., community and opinion leaders, good communicators, people who understand the issues and have the backing of their associated organizations).

3. Secure a strong knowledge foundation — Integrate accurate scientific and technical knowledge, including community-based and traditional knowledge, into problem solving.  Conservation decisions and activities need to take into consideration accurate information to put forward innovative, robust alternatives for decision-makers and to ensure that implementation is met with success.

4. Create incentives and remove obstacles — Encourage and sustain partnerships and collaborations through economic, fiscal, social, psychological, or cultural incentives and by removing barriers to participation.

5. Have a clear road map — Establish mutually agreed upon measurable goals and objectives, and include timeframes and mechanisms for evaluation. Often, the process of crafting these elements fosters ownership and helps establish meaningful working relationships, which is valuable in and of itself. While many projects include elaborate monitoring programs to measure progress, it is equally important to evaluate these results and establish a process to ensure that iterative decision-making reflects what was learned through monitoring and evaluation.

6. Maintain effective communication — Describe and agree to a shared vision, clarify roles and responsibilities and how agencies and organizations will work together early in the process. Include what the group hopes to accomplish, how it will work together, how decisions will be made on issues of shared concern, and the responsibilities of agencies, organizations, and individuals involved. Create mechanisms for ongoing communication to learn from successes and obstacles.

7. Be a good partner — Work to establish trust and transparency among partners. Develop a clear decision-making process, take time to learn what is important to partners, and stay committed to the effort.

8. Take advantage of low hanging fruit — Start with problems that are easily solved. Action is motivating.

9. Educate to foster a sense of shared stewardship — Take field trips, plan work days, and involve local community groups and schools. These types of activities are key to engaging, recruiting, and enlisting the many stakeholders and decision-makers required for long-term conservation efforts to succeed.

10. Leverage funding and resources — Do not rely on one source of financial support. By encouraging partner matches, projects are more secure, opportunities are provided for private sector involvement, and visibility of the effort is elevated.

Top of page

Local Navigation

Jump to main content.