The US National Ocean Policy calls for ecosystem-based management (EBM) of the ocean to help realize the vision advanced in the 2010 Executive Order on the Stewardship of the Ocean, Our Coasts, and the Great Lakes. However, no specific approach for incorporating EBM into planning was provided. We explore how a set of ecological principles and ecosystem vulnerability concepts can be integrated into emerging comprehensive assessment frameworks, including Australia's National Marine Bioregional Assessments, California's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative's regional profiles, Canada's Eastern Scotian Shelf Integrated Management Initiative, and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) program, to transition to ecosystem-based ocean planning. We examine NOAA's IEA framework to demonstrate how these concepts could be incorporated into existing frameworks. Although our discussion is focused on US ocean policy, comprehensive ecological assessments are applicable to a wide array of management strategies and planning processes.
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Vol. 63 • No. 8