A Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Service Publication
VIMAS is a cooperative program between
the University of Puerto Rico Sea Grant College Program & the University of the Virgin Islands' Center for Marine and Environmental Studies.
Careers in Resource Management,
Planning, Policy Making and Law
Resource management, planning, policy making and law are among the fastest growing
marine professions. Professionals in these fields use information provided by scientists,
economists, sociologists, politicians and community members in order to develop policies,
laws and regulation that balance the needs of communities and industry with the
long-term health of the environment.
What do professionals in these areas do?
+ Humans have only recently come to realize that most of our natural resources are finite. If we do
not control, limit and change our patterns of resource use, these resources may not exist in our children's
Natural resource management professionals attempt to balance the use of our natural resources with the
needs of communities and industry in order to ensure that these resources are used sustainably. Resource
managers are an important liaison between preservation and development. They must understand
scientific concepts and be able to apply scientific research to every day needs. They must incorporate
scientific data into public policy. They must also educate lawmakers and the general public on the need for
balanced policies of resource use and development.
Like natural resource managers, policy makers and planners are responsible for finding an appropriate
balance between development and economic growth for human populations, without jeopardizing the
long-term health of the natural resources that make growth possible. Policy makers must balance human
needs and desires with information on potential long-term impacts on the environment. This is done through
the design and implementation of sound laws and regulation for population growth and development.
Planners must work with these laws and regulations as well as with information supplied by scientists in order
to develop concrete strategies for growth and development. Their work includes developing effective
infrastructure such as roadways and transportation systems, water delivery and wastewater handling
systems, and methods and strategies to manage solid waste (garbage) that will not destroy the natural
resources of an area.
Legal professionals involved with marine-related issues include the lawyers and legal researchers who deal
with environmental issues, international maritime law and treaties governing activities at sea. Other legal
professionals deal with questions of responsibility when accidents occur at sea, and yet others specialize in
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areas related to the "ownership" of submerged resources such as shipwrecks and sunken cargo. Lawyers
are needed to determine the legality and appropriate interpretation of often ambiguous policies and laws
and to clarify what is sometimes unclear language in policy statements, regulations or agreements and
Careers in all of these marine professions typically require an advanced degree, so a bachelor's
degree in an appropriate area is essential. The management, policy, planning and legal professions offer a
broad range of possibilities for undergraduate studies, from any of the biological, physical or earth sciences
to political science, sociology or even liberal arts. Graduate studies and specialized training and experience
through internships or work study in your specific field of interest are essential. Take any opportunity to work in
or around these areas, including volunteer work.
High school students can prepare for a career as a marine professional by completing a broad range of
studies including some upper level math and science courses, as well as civics, political science, economics
and geography. Computer courses and a second language are also helpful.
Financial aid, work study and scholarships are often available to help pay the cost of completing the
bachelor's degree. Check with the college or university of your choice for more details. Most universities
offer scholarships, fellowships, assistantships or internships for studies in these fields at the graduate level.
Also, many government agencies offer internships and summer employment opportunities for students in
Careers in resource management, planning, policy making and law
Admiralty lawyer specializes in legal matters relating to inland waters and the high seas.
Coastal zone manager identifies natural areas within the coastal zone; analyzes the effects of changes
within the zone on natural ecosystems; develops management criteria for complying with land and water
use guidelines and regulations in coastal areas.
Environmental planner assesses the long-range needs of the coastal zone and those who use it; works to
balance effective land use with conservation principles in order to prevent or mitigate environmental
Marine economist studies and analyzes the economic factors involved in the use and distribution of
marine-related products and services; studies, evaluates and helps to develop governmental regulations
and requirements in light of economic factors.
Marine geographer- determines political maritime boundaries between countries or states; and determines
physical/environmental maritime boundaries between ecosystems.
Maritime lawyer- implements and interprets international marine laws and laws governing coastal zone
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For more information, call or write: Virgin Islands Marine Advisory Services (VIMAS), University of the Virgin Islands Centerfor Marine and
Environmental Studies, No. 2 John Brewer's Bay St. Thomas USVI 00802 (340) 693-1392 or RR#2 Box 10,000 Kingshill, St. Croix USVI 00850
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