Navigation Links
Public trust doctrine could aid management of US oceans

DURHAM, N.C. -- Since Congress lifted a moratorium on offshore drilling last year, federal lawmakers have grappled with the issue of how best to regulate U.S. ocean waters to allow oil, wave and wind energy development, while sustainably managing critical fisheries and marine animal habitats.

A new policy paper, published April 10 in Science by a team of Duke University experts, argues that establishing a public trust doctrine for federal waters could be an effective and ethical solution to this and similar conflicts.

"The public trust doctrine could provide a practical legal framework for restructuring the way we regulate and manage our oceans. It would support ocean-based commerce while protecting marine species and habitats," says lead author Mary Turnipseed, a PhD student at Duke's Nicholas School of the Environment.

The public trust doctrine is "a simple but powerful legal concept," Turnipseed says, that obliges governments to manage certain natural resources in the best interests of their citizens, without sacrificing the needs of future generations.

The doctrine already is well established in the United States at the state level, where natural resource agencies are legally bound to seek legal action against private parties who are infringing on the public trust.

Extending the public trust doctrine to U.S. ocean waters would help federal agencies better manage conflicting demands such as conservation, offshore energy development, fisheries and shipping in the 3.6 million nautical square miles of water included in the nation's territorial sea and Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), Turnipseed says. Currently, more than 20 different federal agencies, operating under dozens of laws, regulate species and activities in these waters, without any mandated, systematic effort to coordinate their actions for the public good.

"In the Gulf of Maine, as an example, a wide range of different activities -- including shipping lanes, ferry routes, U.S. Navy operations, fisheries and proposed wind farms -- overlap critical habitat of the endangered right whale," she says. "Most of these are regulated by separate agencies, with only piecemeal coordination. A public trust doctrine would identify these agencies as trustees of the U.S. ocean public trust, unifying them for the first time under a common mandate to manage the gulf's resources sustainably."

Many analysts, including the presidentially appointed U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy, have simply assumed that the public trust doctrine already extends to these federal waters, notes co-author Stephen Roady, senior lecturing fellow at Duke's School of Law and an environmental lawyer at Earthjustice. "Though the public trust doctrine is well suited to serve as a critical legal foundation for a coordinated, ecosystem-based federal ocean policy, it has not yet been formally articulated by the executive branch, nor has it been recognized by federal courts or expressly established in statutory law," Roady says.

The Duke researchers identify three possible avenues for establishing a public trust doctrine for federal waters.

"Each of the three branches of government has the authority to take action," says Larry B. Crowder, Stephen Toth Professor of Marine Biology at the Nicholas School and director of Duke's Center for Marine Conservation. "The doctrine could be established by a Presidential executive order; federal courts could extend it to the U.S. territorial sea and EEZ by invoking the same precedents and statutes relied upon by state courts; or Congress could mandate it by unambiguously writing the doctrine into a federal oceans law."

Regardless of which approach is used, the need to establish the doctrine is pressing, says Raphael Sagarin, associate director for coastal and ocean policy at Duke's Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions.

"We need to move past the failing status quo of current U.S. ocean management policies and build a vigorous mandate that provides both the authority and the responsibility for federal agencies to work jointly to manage our oceans as whole ecosystems," Sagarin says. "As we contemplate managing our ocean resources, not only for today but for future generations, we need to ask ourselves two critical questions: For whom should the country's oceans be managed? And for what purpose? The public trust doctrine answers both of these questions."


Contact: Tim Lucas
Duke University

Related biology news :

1. AIBS names 2009 emerging public policy leaders
2. Seattle Times reporters win ASM public communications award
3. Public Policy Center hosts flood symposium March 10-12
4. Queens University Belfast improves Malaysian public health
5. Swimmers at public beaches show increased risk of exposure to contagious staph bacteria
6. Biologist receives the 2008 AAAS Public Understanding of Science and Technology Award
7. Biggest ever public investment in bioenergy to help provide clean, green and sustainable fuels
8. UT Public Health researchers find link to severe Staph infections
9. International public-private partnership offers new paradigm for medicinal chemistry
10. VCU survey: US public supports genetic research, testing and government spending on research
11. New national survey says public reveres bison
Post Your Comments:
(Date:11/9/2015)... Calif. , Nov. 9, 2015  Synaptics Inc. ... interface solutions, today announced broader entry into the automotive ... solutions that match the pace of consumer electronics human ... biometric sensors are ideal for the automotive industry and ... Europe , ...
(Date:10/29/2015)... Va. , Oct. 29, 2015 Daon, ... today that it has released a new version of ... customers in North America have ... IdentityX v4.0 also includes a FIDO UAF certified ... are already preparing to activate FIDO features. These customers ...
(Date:10/27/2015)... -- In the present market scenario, security is one ... verticals such as banking, healthcare, defense, electronic gadgets, and ... secure & simplified access control and growing rate of ... bank accounts, misuse of users, , and so on. ... and smartphones are expected to provide potential opportunities for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... ... November 24, 2015 , ... This fall, global software solutions leader SAP ... states to develop and pitch their BIG ideas to improve health and wellness in ... for votes to win the title of SAP's Teen Innovator, an all-expenses paid trip ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , November 24, 2015 SHPG ) announced ... in the Piper Jaffray 27 th Annual Healthcare Conference in ... 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 p.m. GMT). --> ... Financial Officer, will participate in the Piper Jaffray 27 th ... NY on Tuesday, December 1, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. EST (1:30 ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. (OTCQB: TIKRF) today ... December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel time, ... Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, Tel ... Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir to the Board ... Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an amendment to certain ...
Breaking Biology Technology: