In Western-style resource management, specific human activities are usually managed by dedicated agencies. Fisheries, for example, are managed by fisheries agencies. Offshore petroleum is regulated by energy or minerals agencies. Shipping is overseen by transportation agencies, and so forth. Each pairing of agency and industry sector operates in its own management silo, seldom interacting with the other ocean uses on planning or management.

A central concept in ecosystem-based management, however, is that management should be integrated. This means that the range of human activities that occur within an ecosystem should be considered together in decision-making – because, after all, the activities are often interlinked. In this integrated management, entities (from individual stakeholders to small groups to whole governments) may have to learn to work cooperatively for the good of ecosystems and the services they provide to humans.

The need for integrated management is cited often in EBM guidance but rarely fleshed out in terms of how it is achieved. What does integrated EBM look like in practice? How can government agencies – whose bureaucracies may be resistant to change – work together and share responsibility? In this issue, MEAM examines three examples of integrated management and how the integration has impacted EBM.

How shared assessment protocols can help nations work together: The Wadden Sea

The Wadden Sea is a vast intertidal zone in the southeastern part of the North Sea, stretching 500 km from The Netherlands through Germany to Denmark. Typified by tidal mud flats and associated islands, the ecosystem is recognized for its rich biodiversity, particularly bird species. It is a Ramsar wetland of international importance and a UNESCO-listed World Heritage site, and is the world's largest tidal barrier island system.

The governments of Denmark, Germany and The Netherlands have worked together since 1978 to protect and conserve this ecosystem and the services it provides. In 1982, a Joint Declaration on the Protection of the Wadden Sea was agreed upon in which the countries declared their intention to coordinate activities and regulations. A renewed Joint Declaration 2010 was adopted last year, together with a trilateral management plan.

Jens Enemark is secretary of the Common Wadden Sea Secretariat (, which supports and facilitates the trilateral cooperation. "In the course of 30 years of trilateral Wadden Sea cooperation, the common policies have developed from being rather sectoral in the 1980s (protection of single species), to more integrated approaches in the 1990s (species protection, habitat protection, environment quality), to an integrated ecosystem approach in the 2010s," he says. "The key message of the Joint Declaration is that The Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark will continue to manage the Wadden Sea as a single ecological entity for its natural, landscape and cultural heritage values, for the benefit of present and future generations."

Managing the 14,000-km2 area as a single ecological entity is more easily said than done when it includes three countries with different management regimes. The Wadden Sea countries have been working for years to harmonize those national differences, says Enemark, with a particular focus on developing common methods for integrated ecosystem assessments.

"Having a common assessment methodology – as we do with regard to the status of salt marshes, for example – is a fundamental first step in the process of developing a common management approach," he says. A common assessment methodology allows the three countries, for the first time, to know the real status of Wadden Sea salt marshes, ecosystem-wide. "The management of salt marshes has already reached a high level of harmonization across the three states," says Enemark. The countries have also harmonized their assessment of input nutrients and pollutants across the ecosystem.

"An integrated and comprehensive approach does make a difference," says Enemark. "When the discussion started a generation ago, the Wadden Sea was under heavy pressure: habitats were being lost due to coastal development, there were declines in biodiversity due to pollution and disturbance, and various unregulated activities compromised the system. Now pollution has decreased and the populations of many species have rebounded. Although there are still concerns and challenges, including climate change and fisheries impacts, in general it has been a good success story." The Wadden Sea Quality Status Report – Synthesis Report 2010, an assessment of ecosystem developments, issues of concern, and knowledge gaps, is at

Integration does not have to mean everyone does the same thing: Coral Triangle Initiative

Under the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security, six South Pacific nations have worked together since 2007 to protect their coastal ecosystems and the people who depend on them ( The governments of Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor) have committed to develop a plan of action to conserve the region's natural resources, including targeted research on tuna spawning, climate change adaptation, and threatened species status. The 5.7 million-km2 Coral Triangle region is home to the highest diversity of marine life on Earth.

Partnering with the six governments are several major NGOs, including The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International, and WWF. The Global Environment Facility and USAID have provided major funding. All together, the initiative is a complex project involving multiple nations and large institutions.

Lida Pet-Soede is leader of the Coral Triangle Programme for WWF, which is providing technical expertise and funding to the Coral Triangle Initiative. "To me, integrated management means that the various parts of a government coordinate their various development agendas," says Pet-Soede. "Working in the environmental conservation arena, this means that we need to understand how economic development requires certain levels of natural resource use, and that we focus on supporting the most sustainable forms of that. Vice versa, it means that agencies and organizations working in the economic or social development arena need to understand that such would also require certain limitations on the use of natural resources." Along this line, WWF is working to establish a sustainable live reef fish trade and promote sustainable tuna fisheries, in addition to championing marine protected areas and other conservation strategies.

A challenge, says Pet-Soede, involves encouraging that same mindset of integrated environmental and socioeconomic considerations across governments. "Various agencies still have different perceptions of their priorities," she says. "Our challenge as NGOs is to find the right way to explain, for example, that a security agenda is well-served by improved fisheries management and enforcement of fishing regulations at sea, and that environmental regulations are not simply a way to reduce the potential economic output of one country versus another."

She notes that the six Coral Triangle nations have collectively embraced the threat of climate change as an issue on which they must work cooperatively, in unison, to sustain food security. She applauds this, but adds that integrated management does not always have to mean that everyone does the same thing. Instead it can mean that partners develop a common agenda while allowing for different priorities under that agenda.

She cites the region's fisheries management as an example. "In the Coral Triangle Initiative, some countries expressed interest to collaborate because of their tuna interests, while others said they wanted to focus their collaborative fisheries management on reef fisheries first. This has not been resolved, but it does not need to be. The general discussions within the Coral Triangle Initiative on applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) are still applicable to the different fisheries. So all six countries embrace the EAFM and are interested in integrating it throughout their fisheries management, even though their focus on particular fisheries may vary."

Pursuing "seamless" integrated management across an MPA: Papahānaumokuākea

The 362,000-km2 Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is governed under a co-management scheme. Three parties serve as co-trustees: the US Fish and Wildlife Service (under the Department of the Interior), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (under the federal Department of Commerce), and the State of Hawai`i all play roles in managing portions of the vast, remote site. (The roles generally preceded the designation of the monument in 2006. For example, the MPA includes some land and waters that belong to the State of Hawai`i, as well as national wildlife refuges that were already managed by the Fish and Wildlife Service –

This cooperative arrangement is built into the site's mission, which is to "carry out seamless integrated management to ensure ecological integrity and achieve strong, long-term protection and perpetuation of Northwestern Hawaiian Islands ecosystems, Native Hawaiian culture, and heritage resources for current and future generations." To implement the cooperative arrangement, the MPA's organizational structure consists of:

  • A Senior Executive Board composed of a designated senior policy official for each party that is directly responsible for carrying out the agreement and for providing policy direction for the Monument;
  • A Monument Management Board (that reports to the Senior Executive Board) composed of representatives from the federal and state agency offices that carry out the day-to-day management and coordination of Monument activities; and
  • An Interagency Coordinating Committee representing other state and federal agencies as appropriate to assist in the implementation of Monument management activities.

How the site's mandated "seamless integrated management" looks in practice can be viewed through a single event: the salvage last year of a 33-foot steel-hulled sailboat (Grendel) that had grounded in the lagoon of Kure Atoll, in the most northwestern section of the MPA. Papahānaumokuākea staff partnered with the US Navy Pacific Command on the operation, which involved Navy divers refloating the boat and towing it to deeper water, where it was lifted onto a salvage vessel and transported to Hawai`i for scrapping. Scott Godwin, who led the operation for Papahānaumokuākea, says that the true integrated management aspect was not the collaboration with the Navy in and of itself, which was outside the normal operations for the Monument. Instead it was the additional conservation activities that were accomplished secondarily to the salvage:

  • Under supervision by NOAA representatives, Navy personnel removed 6000 pounds of derelict fishing gear from Kure Atoll;
  • Under supervision of State of Hawai`i representatives, the Navy removed one acre of alien weeds from Green Island at Kure Atoll; and
  • Under supervision by Fish and Wildlife Service representatives, the Navy removed four tons of scrap metal from Midway Atoll on its voyage back to Hawai`i.

Godwin points out that although the MPA's trilateral co-management system is robust, it must still reach out to other entities – like the Navy – when particular, sophisticated capabilities are required. "These types of management actions cannot be accomplished without partnership with public sector entities," he says. "The personnel and assets at the disposal of the US Navy are not present within the agencies tasked with conservation in the marine environment."

For more information:

Jens Enemark, Common Wadden Sea Secretariat, Wilhelmshaven, Germany. E-mail:

Lida Pet-Soede, WWF, Jakarta, Indonesia. E-mail:

Scott Godwin, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, Honolulu, Hawai`i, US. E-mail:

BOX: Seven components of integrated management

Effective integrated management in marine EBM must consist of more than just individual agencies working together, says Jon Day, director of ecosystem conservation and sustainable use for the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. In Managing Protected Areas: A Global Guide, Day outlines that integrated management should include the following components:

  • Inter-governmental integration – vertical integration across all relevant levels of government, including any jurisdiction responsible for the marine environment or the adjoining coastal environment;
  • Inter-agency integration – horizontal integration between agencies with differing mandates;
  • Intra-agency integration – horizontal integration within agencies;
  • Land-water interface integration – across the land-water boundary, considering such aspects as connectivity and downstream impacts;
  • Inter-sectoral integration – considering the range of different user and stakeholder groups;
  • Inter-disciplinary integration – integrating ecological, social, economic, and cultural considerations; and
  • Inter-generational integration – considering the views and interests of past, current, and future generations.

[Day, JC. (2006) Marine Protected Areas, in Managing Protected Areas: A Global Guide, Lockwood, M., Worboys, G., Kothari, A. (eds). Earthscan, London, pp 603-634.]

For more information: Jon Day, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority, Townsville, Australia. E-mail:

BOX: Insights on guiding agencies toward integration

In his 1998 book Getting Agencies to Work Together (a landmark volume on collaborative management among government agencies), Eugene Bardach laid out the changes that bureaucrats often must make to adjust to integrated management, including in the field of managing ecosystems. He wrote:

"The collaborators say they often have to learn a new way of thinking, a new way of doing business, to put results ahead of procedures, capacity building above turf protection, trust ahead of suspicion, joint problem solving ahead of accepted, time-worn methods."

These changes require significant effort, but they can result in better service of the public interest. Bardach, who is now an emeritus professor in public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, suggested the greatest challenge of integrated management is in convincing agency personnel that the changes involved in integrating management are worth it. Below are highlights of the book, excerpted by MEAM to illustrate how to guide agencies toward integration:

On starting integration

Initially, when you have task forces starting, you have everybody staring at one another thinking, "I'm not sure why I'm here." For a task force to mature into an entity that really can deal with environmental problems, it takes a couple of years…. The key component is cross-education. Other agencies can't help you until they understand your mission and your jurisdiction. That takes quite a while. You have to make lots of presentations and have people interested in learning.

On the bureaucratic ethos vs. the collaborative ethos

Almost nothing about the bureaucratic ethos makes it hospitable to interagency collaboration. The collaborative ethos values equality, adaptability, discretion, and results; the bureaucratic ethos venerates hierarchy, stability, obedience, and procedures. Making the transition from an existing way of doing agency business to a new and more collaborative way requires actors to withdraw at least temporarily from the bureaucratic ethos. They must spurn something they may have at least respected if not cherished.

On the importance of interpersonal collaboration

The cutting edge of interagency collaboration is interpersonal collaboration. If interagency collaboration is supposed to create new value, that value will almost certainly be bigger and better if the people involved can work together easily and constructively. One barrier to doing so is the bureaucratic culture. A possible smart practice is to use that culture to cure its own problems. Have interagency teams of experienced bureaucrats exercise their bureaucratic craft skills to design a simpler, less bureaucratic approach to accomplishing the same ends as an existing but too cumbersome system.

[Getting Agencies to Work Together (Brookings Institution Press, 1998) is available on for US $20.93.]