Once established, ocean zoning could protect vital wildlife habitat and site specific areas for energy development.
Larry Crowder, a marine biology professor at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment, envisions using the public trust doctrine to create a "marine special management plan" that has input from all of the relevant federal agencies. Ecosystems management would be a guiding principle.
Crowder predicts that as the debate over how to regulate uses of offshore areas matures, historically influential players – such as oil and gas producers – could exercise undue influence. Start-up industries, such as wave and tidal energy producers, may have less power.
"People still think of the oceans as a frontier," Crowder said. "When the West was a frontier, there wasn't zoning. The guy with six bullets won."
He added, "We've done this on land with comprehensive plans. You don't put a porn shop next to an elementary school."
Senior reporter Michael Burnham contributed.
Reprinted from Greenwire with permission from Environment & Energy Publishing, LLC. www.eenews.net, 202-628-6500