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In its final report, An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century, the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy makes a strong case that addressing some of the most pressing coastal and marine policy issues will require developing fundamental information needed to allow policy decisions to be made within an ecosystem-based context. Establishing an effective ocean observing system is clearly one of the most important challenges and opportunities facing the ocean science and policy community. Progress is being made in hardware development, including sensor and platform designs and construction, as well as in data exchange and management, suggesting that a truly useful system for understanding and predicting ocean conditions is technically feasible, if given adequate resources, and lies in the near future. The Commission also points out that actions taking place on land have profound influence on coastal environmental quality. This conclusion has significant implications for the development of information intended to support policy making, especially with regard to two of the most widely recognized coastal policy problems, nutrient pollution and land loss. This article briefly reviews a series of coastal and watershed policy challenges endemic to a specific watershed and coastal region (i.e., the Mississippi River Basin and the northern Gulf of Mexico) to point out: i) that the interrelationship of many watershed and coastal issues is significant, ii) that efforts to acquire adequate information to support effective marine policy decisions can benefit from similar efforts taking place in watersheds, iii) that steps should be taken to ensure that decision makers shaping marine and coastal policy have access to appropriate watershed information, and finally, iv) that in many instances, policy making must dovetail efforts to address watershed and coastal policy issues, in order to increase the likelihood of success.
The Marine Technology Society Journal is the flagship publication of the Marine Technology Society. It publishes the highest caliber, peer-reviewed papers on subjects of interest to the society: marine technology, ocean science, marine policy and education. The Journal is dedicated to publishing timely special issues on emerging ocean community concerns while also showcasing general interest and student-authored works.