In 2007, a technical report was published in support of the Puget Sound Nearshore Partnership. Its author was James Brennan of Washington Sea Grant. On page 17 of the report, he lists the following gaps in research.
Major Gaps/Critical Uncertainties
- Studies/data on marine riparian functions for the Puget Sound region are very limited.
- Inventories (types, locations, size) of shoreline vegetation and community types or associations are lacking, and there is no monitoring or assessment of modification and loss.
- Protection, enhancement, and restoration standards for marine riparian vegetation are limited.
- Fish and wildlife inventories and dependencies on marine riparian areas are not well documented.
- Appropriate buffer widths and setbacks for protecting marine riparian and marine aquatic systems are poorly understood and inconsistently applied (if applied at all).
- An improved understanding of the exchanges (e.g., energy, matter) across and within these riparian transition areas is needed.
- Food web data are limited.
- Study of the potential effects of climate change and sea- level rise on marine riparian systems is lacking.
Some suggest that state and local planners should err on the side of caution in creating shoreline regulations. They call it the “precautionary principle.” If they don’t know something with any certainty, they should simply guess and do what they think is right.
That’s a good idea if any well intentioned errors turn out to have positive effects instead of negative effects or no effect at all. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know until long after the guesswork is completed and the money is spent. Whose money? Yours.