Given the fragmented political jurisdictions, and substantive environmental damages from petroleum spillage, human development and other anthropogenic perturbations, a need exists for developing a coordinated set of protocols and approaches for determining impacts to activities exerting extra-territorial environmental and ecological pressures on coastal and offshore natural resources in the ROPME Sea Area (RSA; also known as the Gulf), as well as strategies for restoring (or mitigating) natural resources by human activities. Such environmental impact assessment and natural resource damage assessment protocols may readily be developed at the ecosystem level to directly inform localized coastal and marine resource decision-making by resource managers with harmonization to the Gulf level. Instead of traditional methods for gauging environmental impacts (or damages) on a single resource or habitat, impacts of anthropogenic activities may be reviewed on an ecosystem level with a focus on services provided by ecosystem components. This way, relative impacts to ecosystem services can be evaluated in order to determine the overall impacts to the system as a whole, rather than simply to a few targeted resources that exclude critical ecosystem components, functions and services. Examples of such methodologies are discussed in the context of international case studies. Considerations, limitations and strategies for adopting these ecosystem based approaches are presented.

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