Collaborative and coordinated management is necessary for successful ecosystem management, especially in marine ecosystems that cross jurisdictional lines. Agencies at the state and federal level recognize the need for effective institutional relationships. The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (OCNMS) identified collaborative and coordinated management as a priority in its 2011 Final Management Plan and Environmental Assessment. To reach its goal of achieving effective collaborative and coordinated management, OCNMS commissioned an external assessment of its institutional relationships. This assessment consisted of a literature review of standards for measuring collaboration in natural resource contexts, interviews with OCNMS staff and current key institutional partners, and a survey of individuals, organizations and tribes that work with OCNMS. The assessment determined that OCNMS has built a strong foundation for collaboration through two collaborative forums, projects and policies that address important issues for partners, and positive interactions between partners and OCNMS staff. Individuals feel they are working on issues important to their organizations and for the most part they value opportunities to share their priorities and learn about emerging issues, and they appreciate the efforts of OCNMS staff. Individuals in the network of relationships represent a wide range of institutions with different expectations for engagement and different criteria for what characterizes successful collaboration. OCNMS has complex and sometimes strained relationships with the four Coastal Treaty Tribes. OCNMS also faces challenges commonly found in other collaborative processes – constraints on individuals’ time, shortages of funding and staff support, communication challenges, and divergent goals among individuals. Still, the relationships have enabled notable accomplishments that include regulations to protect marine resources, joint projects related to research and education, and a ready network for communication and feedback
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