Past Seminars

Since 2006, our Ocean Seminar Series has covered a wide range of important topics. Click on the heading link for each webinar to access expanded descriptions, audio recordings, and written summaries of the events. Or click below to sort by topic.

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The Law and Policy of Sea Level Rise Adaptation
Friday, October 14, 2016

Imagine a map of sea-level rise in the year 2100. You know the ones—they show many of the world’s major coastal cities inundated by blue shading. With the sea predicted to rise one to two meters over that time, those maps are showing the consequences. Billions of people and trillions of dollars will be flooded out.

However, those maps only tell part of the story. Most of the world will not passively await the blue shading to come over them. Instead, local and national governments will adapt to sea-level rise. Through a suite of adaptation strategies, they will try to reduce impacts when possible and manage retreat when required.

This webinar brought together experts in policy, law, and planning in California to talk about some of the key issues with sea level rise adaptation in the state. The lessons learned could provide useful information on success stories and legal risks associated with adaptation strategies.

RESTORE Council Comprehensive Plan: Questions and Answers
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

On August 23, 2016, the Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council released an update to its Comprehensive Plan. The plan will have far-reaching implications for how billions of dollars are spent on Gulf restoration. The public can comment on the draft plan through October 7.

The webinar convened RESTORE Council staff (including Executive Director Justin Ehrenwerth) to provide background on the plan and answer questions from the audience. The goal was to provide information that will inform the public and enhance the public’s ability to provide meaningful comments.

Greater Than the Sum of Its Parts: Using Coordination and Leveraging to Enhance Gulf Restoration
Monday, March 7, 2016

Billions of dollars have been obligated to several different restoration and recovery processes in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Given the focus of these processes, there is the potential for overlap – not only among the various processes, but also with many existing plans and programs. This overlap makes coordination essential, from development of plans, programs, and projects through funding and implementation.

This webinar brought together representatives from federal, state, and local government to discuss how coordination and leveraging are playing a role in Gulf restoration. The goal of this webinar was to understand what opportunities are available, and what more can be done, to make Gulf restoration greater than the sum of its parts.


The Other Gold Rush: Impacts and Governance of Coastal Sand Mining
November 18, 2015

What connects beaches, roads, and skyscrapers? All three–along with many electronics–rely on sand mining. Globally, 40 billion tons of sand are consumed per year, far more than any other mineral. Sand mines are proliferating in rivers and along coasts all around the world for everything from land reclamation on the U.S. east coast to concrete construction projects in Dubai. With increased need for sand comes increased environmental risks from the mining process. Simultaneously, there is a growing need for sand mining governance that adequately balances the realities of industrial societies alongside potentially catastrophic ecological impacts from mining activities.

The webinar convened experts on sand mining to discuss what it is, where it is being carried out, and how it is being governed. The goal was to spark discussion about the best way to move forward with this other type of Gold Rush.

Offshore Aquaculture and the Army Corps of Engineers: Regulations and Recommendations
June 3, 2015

Most offshore aquaculture facilities require a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act—and in some cases, this permit will be the only one required under federal law. ELI’s white paper, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Regulation of Offshore Aquaculture, provides a detailed legal and practical overview of Corps regulation of offshore aquaculture, illustrated through case studies of three offshore aquaculture projects that have recently received Section 10 permits. In addition, it provides recommendations for steps to increase the consistency and timeliness of Section 10 permitting of offshore aquaculture while ensuring that all environmental impacts are effectively addressed.

This webinar featured presentations on the content and recommendations of the white paper, along with presentations and reactions by experts from the Army Corps of Engineers and Salem State University’s Northeastern Massachusetts Aquaculture Center.

International Deep Seabed Mining
April 22, 2015

This webinar brought together some of the foremost experts on deep seabed mining to discuss this pressing issue. Of particular relevance are the ISA’s Exploitation Regulations, released in draft form on March 13 and open for public comment until May 15. In light of these important legal developments and leaps forward in scientific understanding, now is the time to pause to consider the special nature of the deep ocean and how to best manage it.

Climate Change, Community Resilience, and Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico
April 10, 2015

This webinar brought together a panel of experts to discuss the complex intersection of climate change, community resilience and Gulf of Mexico restoration, focusing on the challenges of and opportunities for creating restoration projects that both incorporate climate change considerations and are responsive to the needs of coastal communities.

Deepwater Horizon Litigation: Where things Stand and What is Next
January 14, 2015

The webinar brought together leading experts on the oil spill litigation to discuss the first two phases of the trial, including the court’s ruling that the oil spill was the result of BP’s gross negligence and willful misconduct, and previewed some of the major issues that were be addressed in Phase III.


Marine Debris: Cleaning up the Sea
December 15, 2014

This webinar brought together some of the foremost experts on marine debris to discuss what can be done by different levels of government, NGOs, private companies, and the public. The goal was to discuss policy and inform action to clear the sea of marine debris.

The Next Frontier: Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing
October 8, 2014

Emerging awareness of offshore hydraulic fracturing has spurred questions about the nature of the practice, how it has been employed, and the framework for managing it. This webinar convened representatives from various sectors to address these and other questions surrounding the science, law, and policy of offshore hydraulic fracturing. The goal of the webinar was to provide perspective on the growing, yet rarely discussed, practice of using hydraulic fracturing in the ocean setting.

The New RESTORE Act Regulations, Notice, and Guidelines from Treasury
August 28, 2014

The Treasury Department, tasked with overseeing implementation of the RESTORE Act, released several important rules and guidance documents  relevant to the administration, distribution of funds, and proposal of projects and programs. This webinar featured a panel of experts to provide an overview of these complex and interrelated documents, with special focus on the Treasury Department’s interim final rule for administering the Restoration Trust Fund.  


Tracing Seafood from Vessel to Plate
December 12, 2013

The second part of a two-part webinar series on seafood safety and traceability, this webinar brought together governmental, nongovernmental, and industry experts to discuss the need for and challenge of deploying effective traceability systems

Ensuring Seafood Safety After a Disaster
November 15, 2013

The first of a two-part webinar series on seafood safety and traceability, this seminar brought together government, non-governmental, and industry experts to discuss the impacts of recent natural disasters on finfish and shellfish, as well as the framework for responding to and assessing potential contamination from these disasters.

Deepwater Horizon Litigation: Overview and Update
November 13, 2013

Coming on the heels of Phase II of the BP civil trial, this webinar provided an overview of the litigation landscape related to the disaster, and then considered the status and implications of the BP civil trial that is ongoing in New Orleans.

Offshore Aquaculture and the Magnuson-Stevens Act
June 28, 2013

This webinar brought together experts from NOAA, nongovernmental organizations, and the aquaculture industry to explore questions related to the application of the Magnuson-Stevens Act to offshore aquaculture.

Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities in Global Shark Conservation
May 2, 2013

This panel convened government, nongovernmental, and fishing industry experts to discuss the implications of the March 2013 CITES decision on trade in shark products, the current status of domestic and international shark protection efforts, and potential approaches to ensuring a long-term future for sharks.


Point Sources and Pollutants: Using the Clean Water Act to Regulate Offshore Aquaculture Discharges
December 5, 2012

This webinar brought together experts from the Environmental Law Institute, EPA, and academia to explore questions related to the application of the Clean Water Act to offshore aquaculture.

Ocean and Coastal Law Enforcement: Enforcing Ocean Water Quality Standards
September 13, 2012

This panel convened experts to discuss existing challenges, opportunities, and successes in enforcing water quality standards in the marine environment.

Ocean and Coastal Law Enforcement: Enforcing Protected Species Laws in the Marine Environment
August 10, 2012

The panel featured expert speakers whose experiences with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Department of Justice, and Greenpeace provided the foundation for discussion of key challenges, success stories, and potential opportunities to strengthen marine protected species enforcement.

Implementing the RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act: Key Considerations and Opportunities
July 30, 2012

This seminar brought together experts to discuss the key considerations and opportunities ahead in implementing the RESTORE Act, including what the RESTORE Act could mean for the environment, economies, fishing communities, and citizens of the Gulf Coast states.

Fisheries Law Enforcement: Status and Challenges
April 27, 2012

In this café style session, panelists discussed the key challenges facing fisheries law enforcement agencies and the regulated industry, ongoing reform efforts, and what additional actions and solutions may be necessary to ensure that the system maximizes fisheries compliance.

Offshore Oil & Gas in the Arctic: The Next Five Years
January 26, 2012

In this seminar, panelists discussed the draft leasing program and aspects such as science needs and availability, expected activity impacts, and how the program may align with other ongoing ocean management processes, such as coastal and marine spatial planning.


Harnessing NEPA to Manage Cumulative Impacts in the Ocean
November 30, 2011

This seminar brought together experts to discuss methods for improving cumulative environmental impacts analysis and utilizing NEPA to enhance ecosystem-based, adaptive management of human activities in the ocean.

Managing Threatened and Endangered Marine Species in the Face of Climate Change
November 2, 2011

In this seminar, expert panelists discussed how the Endangered Species Act programs can be best implemented in order to provide long-term protection and recovery of endangered and threatened species in a time of rapid and profound change.

Early Restoration in the Gulf of Mexico: When, Why, and How
September 20, 2011 

This seminar brought together experts to discuss what early restoration is, how it fits within the broader Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) process, and the framework agreement and process.

National Security, Economic Well-Being, and the Law of the Sea
June 6, 2011

In this seminar, international ocean management experts explored the rationale for acceding, focusing specifically on the relevance of UNCLOS to national security and economic well-being.

Designing Effective and Enforceable Catch Share Systems
March 17, 2011

In this session, experts discussed some of the key issues and possible solutions surrounding the design and implementation of effective, equitable, and enforceable catch share systems.


High Seas Marine Protected Areas: Safeguarding Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction
December 16, 2010

In this seminar, panelists discussed the international rationale and underlying legal framework for establishing MPAs on the high seas, and considered strategies for setting aside protected areas and the implications of different methods and approaches.

The Atlantic Bluefin Tuna Challenge: Sustaining a High-Value Migratory Species in a Highly Impacted Ocean
November 8, 2010

In this panel discussion, experts discussed the current state of bluefin tuna and domestic and international efforts to conserve the species. The panelists identified the key challenges associated with managing this high-value, highly migratory species and potential approaches to overcome them.

Ocean Acidification: Managing the Marine Impacts of Climate Change
June 23, 2010

In this seminar, panelists representing the scientific, nongovernmental, federal, and regulated communities addressed the litigation, legislation, and research being undertaken and developed to address the changing ocean conditions resulting from acidification.

The Oil Spill Liability Framework
May 24, 2010 

This panel discussed the primary oil spill liability provisions in effect at the time of the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, and aspects such as the types of damages covered, past experiences, and the factors that influence the extent of liability in different circumstances.

Arctic Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and the Role of the Arctic People
March 11, 2010 (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

This seminar centered on the rights, traditions, and experiences of the Arctic people; existing co-management practices; competing management imperatives; and how to build from the existing system toward an Arctic marine spatial planning framework.

A National Framework for Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning
January 26, 2010 (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace)

This seminar brought together a panel of CMSP experts from federal government, the environmental NGO community, and the private sector to discuss the Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force’s Interim Framework for Effective Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning.


Stemming the Flow of Marine Debris
December 8, 2009

This seminar brought together experts to discuss the challenge of managing and preventing marine debris, including options for taking legal action to address the problem.

New Visions for the National Marine Sanctuaries Act
November 4, 2009

In this seminar, representatives from national sanctuaries, the scientific community, the environmental NGO community, and the recreational fishing sector discussed the purpose of the sanctuaries program, the need for reauthorization, and what reauthorization might include in light of current efforts to develop a national ocean policy and framework for marine spatial planning.

The Coastal Zone Management Act and the Nation’s Policy on the Oceans, Coasts, and Great Lakes: Its Role and Its Potential
October 9, 2009

Representatives of federal and state agencies, the private sector, and nongovernmental organizations discussed the role of the CZMA in our nation’s ocean policy moving forward and how the CZMA serves as a tool to address challenges facing coastal communities, coastal ecosystems and the nation.

Marine Spatial Planning: Why, How, and When?
July 28, 2009

This seminar explored the rationale for marine spatial planning (MSP) and science, law, and policy efforts underway to develop MSP; panelists discussed efforts to map biological, physical, jurisdictional, and human use data in order to inform management decisions.

Oil, Gas, and Mineral Resources of the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf: Extent, Recoverability & Environmental Implications
April 20, 2009

This seminar explored the U.S. Extended Continental Shelf Project, the potential extent and recoverability of Extended Continental Shelf mineral resources, and the implications of commercial recovery for the ocean environment.

The Future of Sustainable Seafood
March 8, 2009 (Blue Vision Summit)

This three-part session included an exploration of the sustainability of wild fishing and aquaculture and a discussion of how national ocean policy can guide the future of sustainable seafood.


Oil and Gas Development in the Outer Continental Shelf
November 21, 2008 

In this seminar, panelists discussed terms under which oil and gas leasing should proceed and how environmental concerns will be considered going forward. Panelists also discussed the likelihood of Congress revisiting a moratorium or considering other legislative proposals that will affect OCS leasing, development, and royalty issues.

Of Whales and Sonar: Environmental Protection and Naval Training Collide in Winter v. NRDC
October 15, 2008 

Panelists offered their insights into the legal and scientific arguments presented in this environmental case, and on how the Justices may come down in a dispute where the two sides present very different views of the constitutional doctrine of separation of powers.

Ocean Energy: Offshore Wind
September 15, 2008

In this seminar, panelists discussed the legal and regulatory framework for offshore wind development, and also considered whether the existing legal framework goes far enough to provide regulatory certainty for the offshore wind industry and ensure appropriate environmental protection.

Ocean Energy: Tide, Current, and Wave Energy
July 29, 2008 

In this seminar, the panel discussed tide, current, and wave energy development in the U.S. and specifically considered the recent programmatic environmental impact statement for the new alternative energy program at Minerals Management Service.

Noisy Oceans: Beyond Navy Sonar
May 20, 2008 

In this seminar, panelists led a discussion of the legal and policy landscape of two particular issues—noise from oil and gas exploration and from commercial shipping—as a way to understand what legal and policy measures exist and may be needed as we expand ocean uses to include alternative energy development, increased shipping, and expanding oil and gas exploration.

Ports, Shipping, and Air Emissions
April 30, 2008 

Panelists discussed existing legal and policy obstacles to and opportunities for reducing greenhouse gas and other air emissions from the marine shipping industry.

Emerging and Expanding Ocean Uses: Scientific and Regulatory Uncertainty
February 13, 2008

In this seminar, panelists tackled the challenges of decision-making, development, and conservation in the marine environment in the face of scientific and regulatory uncertainty.


Marine Aquaculture: A Growing Business
February 6, 2007 

In this seminar, panelists discussed the current environmental challenges facing aquaculture, laws and policies that regulate existing aquaculture practices, and expanding and emerging sectors such as offshore aquaculture.

Catch the Next Wave of Ocean Energy Development
January 10, 2007  (The DC Bar)

This series of three panel discussions focused on Outer Continental Shelf (OCS) alternative energy activities, the latest developments involving OCS oil and gas and liquid natural gas, and the roles of the states, the environmental community and other regulatory agencies, like the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which are impacted by OCS energy development initiatives.


Sustainable International Fisheries: Pipedream or Reality?
November 1, 2006 

In this seminar, panelists covered topics included overfishing, overcapacity, bycatch and illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing and discussed the existing management regime as well as additional potential opportunities and options to achieve sustainable fisheries.

Ocean Shipping and the Environment
July 25, 2006 

In this seminar, panelists explored some of the major legal and policy issues related to shipping and the environment, including whale strikes, ship noise, and invasive species introduction.

Ocean Law & Policy: An Update
April 18, 2006

In this seminar, panelists shared their expertise on a variety of topics including: the activities that have resulted from the recent release of reports from the Pew Oceans Commission and the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy; the adequacy of current governance structures to meet ocean environmental and regulatory needs; current legal risks for marine environments and industries; and likely changes in federal ocean law and policy.