Canada and USA have over a 100-year history of international cooperation on Great Lakes management. For over 30 years, federal, state, and provincial governments have successfully used locally-defined ecosystem approaches to develop and implement remedial action plans to restore beneficial uses impairments in 43 Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Each remedial action plan identifies use impairments/causes, remedial/preventive actions to restore uses, and implementation responsibilities and timeframes. Areas of concern are removed from the list when all uses are restored. Long-term efforts are needed to ensure sustainability through adaptive management. Shared resources, like the Arabian Gulf and Great Lakes, require collaboration among boundary countries to achieve common goals. A network of regional technical and governmental representatives could be established under or affiliated with the Regional Organization of Protecting Marine Environment to promote cleanup and ecosystem-based management of degraded areas of the Sea. It would have to be flexible, not prescriptive, science-based, action-oriented, and result in well recognized benefits to all partner countries. Workshops or conferences could be convened to address ecosystem issues. This network must be value-added and build capacity, and could eventually lead to use of locally-defined ecosystem approaches to develop cleanup plans for degraded areas of the Gulf, similar to Great Lakes Areas of Concern. Gulf countries, through the Regional Organization of Protecting Marine Environment and with support of a network, could then come together every three-five years to report on progress, identify research needs, celebrate successes, and establish next steps. Gulf I, II, and III conferences are building blocks for such a network. A logical next step would be to engage the Regional Organization of Protecting Marine Environment in the establishment of a network for ecosystem-based management and co-sponsorship of a Gulf IV Conference or other forum. In the spirit of cooperative learning, further exchanges of both scientific research and management practices would be beneficial between the Great Lakes and the Gulf.
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