November 30, 2011
Harnessing NEPA to Manage Cumulative Impacts in the Ocean
Human uses of the ocean are critical to coastal communities and the U.S. economy. With these benefits, however, also come costs. Directly and indirectly, human activities can negatively impact ocean and coastal resources, leading to degraded water quality, hypoxia, resource depletion, and more. It is therefore important to actively manage these cumulative ocean impacts. The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) is the key federal environmental assessment law that requires agencies to consider potential environmental impacts, including cumulative impacts, of a proposed federal action and to evaluate feasible alternatives. As ocean uses grow, the need to understand and mitigate cumulative impacts will be increasingly important for the long-term health and sustainability of ocean resources and the communities and economies that depend on them.
This seminar brought together experts to discuss methods for improving cumulative environmental impacts analysis and utilizing NEPA to enhance ecosystem-based, adaptive management of human activities in the ocean.