Monday, October 12, 2009

A Korean Review of American Coastal Management

Lately I’ve been translating a scholarly article by one Park Min Gyu of the Korean Maritime Institute. In it he takes a look at U.S. Fisheries management policies and in particular at the U.S. Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976 (FCMA). His goal is to review U.S. practice and see how it may apply to Korean fisheries.

One of the interesting things about the article is that despite mentioning a long list of other U.S. coastal and marine laws and regulations, it fails utterly to comment on the U.S. Coastal Zone Management Act of 1972 (CZMA). This is odd because the CZMA was the foundation upon which modern American coastal and marine management was built. It also provided the first model to which international development efforts to improve coastal management looked for guidance.

Yet this Korean article completely ignores the CZMA in favor of reviewing other U.S. legislation with much more technical and species specific goals such as the FCMA (which established ITQs), or the Anadromous Fish Conservation Act, or the Driftnet Impact Monitoring, Assessment and Control Act of 1987.

Certainly one article can’t be expected to look at everything. However there may be other reasons for the CZMA’s absence. Generally in its efforts to modernize, Korea has shown great skill at adapting and adopting Western practices while at the same time resisting cultural, and even political, Westernization. The CZMA provides the backbone upon which coastal and marine management in the US functions, but in many ways it is a highly culturally and politically contingent creation. The CZMA mandates a very decentralized, participatory, and ideally non-hierarchical approach to coastal management that is highly consonant with American, but not necessarily Korean, cultural and political ideals.

Perhaps this Korean author sensed that the CZMA was culturally and politically unsuitable and decided to focus on the more technical pieces of U.S. coastal and marine regulation? If so what does that say about the West's traditional approach of promoting CZMA-like programs in developing countries that undoubtedly have different cultural and political backgrounds?

It will take more research to see if this is a trend in the Korean coastal and marine management literature.

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