Long Island Sound Comprehensive
Conservation and Management Plan

Sound Science and Inclusive Management


The Long Island Sound watershed covers more than 16,000 square miles in six states and encompasses hundreds of local watersheds. Effective and efficient management of Long Island Sound, as with any large waterbody, requires collaboration and governance among numerous cross-jurisdictional partners and stakeholders.

Inherent to effective management is thorough scientific understanding through strengthened research, monitoring, assessment, mapping, and modeling programs. As new data, research, knowledge, and issues emerge, it is critical that implementation and management is adapted and improved. Ecosystem-based management provides a framework for both science and management that accounts for the complex interrelationships of human society and the environment. It means planning on an ecosystem level, involving multiple stakeholders and integrating the full spectrum of ecosystem services supporting human wants and needs, developing cross-jurisdictional goals, implementing programs through coordinated, accountable strategies across levels of government, incorporating adaptive management that acknowledges uncertainty in our understanding, and establishing long-term observation, modeling, and research programs.

Our estuarine and coastal systems have been impaired primarily from overharvesting of living natural resources, pollution, and habitat loss and degradation. Invasive species and climate change also have had an impact that will likely become more influential in the future. To address these drivers and pressures successfully, LISS management must develop and support integrated, adaptive, and coordinated relationships among fisheries, coastal zone, and pollution management programs in the context of human use of the Sound. Societal needs and the economic consequences of activities to ecosystem services that society relies upon are vital elements to be integrated into management. In this way, managing Long Island Sound as an ecoystem is an integral part of meeting pressing social needs in environmentally sustainable ways.


  • Coastal waters are becoming warmer and potentially more acidic, both of which may alter the food web and negatively impact human uses.
  • Assessing the health of the Long Island Sound ecosystem and linking it to human pressures that impair it.
  • Developing diverse funding strategies that consider the social, environmental, and economic benefits of actions.
  • Changes in fish and shellfish populations and habitats have made Long Island Sound more susceptible to nutrient pollution.
  • Demands for uses of Long Island Sound such as energy transmission lines can result in conflicts with existing uses.


  • Integrate climate change science into management and adaptation activities. ยท Integrate research and monitoring (including citizen science) to refine and adapt management solutions.
  • Estimate changes in the value of ecosystem services that result from impairment or restoration to inform and sustain investment in protecting and restoring those assets.
  • Increase the capacity of Long Island Sound to assimilate nutrients without harmful effects by restoring wetlands, eelgrass, and harvesting (aquaculture) of shellfish and seaweed.
  • Increase collaboration among marine users and stakeholders through coastal and marine spatial planning.




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