The  Southern  California 
Educational  Initiative



A University Research Initiative Program
involving the

University of California,
the State of California,
and the
Minerals Management Service
US Department of Interior




Mission of the Coastal Research Center


The Coastal Research Center of the Marine Science Institute, UC Santa Barbara, facilitates research and research training that foster a greater understanding of the causes and consequences of dynamics within and among coastal marine ecosystems. An explicit focus involves the application of innovative but basic research to help resolve coastal environmental issues.





The Coastal Research Center is an organizational unit within the Marine Science Institute at UCSB.  The central theme of the Center is to develop scientific knowledge to gain a more complete understanding of coastal ecosystems, which is necessary for sound management of the natural resources of the coastal region.  The Center links academic scientists from a wide variety of disciplines, enhancing the ability to address coastal environmental issues.


While CRC scientists work in coastal marine environments throughout the world, much effort is focused on the Santa Barbara Channel region, which provides a model system for scientific exploration of a wide range of coastal issues.  The area is enjoyed by those seeking recreation, is a favorite haunt of naturalists, and supports both sport and commercial fisheries.  Scientists at UCSB have long valued this environment as a natural laboratory for scientific exploration and study.  But as the human population grows, so does the number of conflicts regarding the use of the Channel region, a trend that is common for many coastal environments.  The nearshore marine environment of California is used increasingly as a disposal site for waste products.  Renewed exploitation of oil and natural gas reserves has augmented the number of conflicting demands placed upon the Channel resources.  Local issues related to the sustainability of commercial and sport fisheries mirror global concern regarding management of exploited stocks. The cumulative effects of human activities on the natural resources of the Channel and elsewhere are just beginning to be understood.  It is imperative that we learn how to balance the multiple uses of nearshore ocean waters in an environmentally sound manner.  Lessons learned by scientists in the Coastal Research Center have wide implications for understanding and resolving present and future problems, and will help local, state and federal regulators develop better management policies.


Development of sound management plans for coastal regions such as the Santa Barbara Channel is hampered by scientific uncertainty about the consequences of human activities.  To understand and predict natural and anthropogenic disturbances, synthesis of new and existing knowledge of many scientific aspects of coastal marine systems - including biology, ecology, genetics, geology, chemistry and oceanography - will be necessary.  Further, the development of new approaches and the use of emerging technologies are needed to resolve fundamental questions, some of which have remained unanswered for many years.  Only with these advances will it be possible to make reliable predictions about the consequences of various activities, to develop the ability to restore degraded habitats and conserve valuable resources, and to foster development of environmentally sound policies for use of coastal regions in general.





The Center has four major objectives: 

To act as a center for production and integration of basic scientific information to more fully understand coastal ecosystems and their natural and exploited populations.


To evaluate and predict effects of human activities on the coastal marine environment, and to develop measures to ameliorate lost or degraded natural resources.


To train students in basic research on coastal environmental issues that may be applicable to decision-makers.


To facilitate and promote interdisciplinary research initiatives.