Coastal States Organization


Serving the States

CSO serves as the collective voice for the nation’s coastal States, Commonwealths, and Territories on federal legislative, administrative, and policy issues relating to coastal, Great Lakes, and ocean management. CSO works at the nexus of coastal science research, policy and social science research, outreach, and decision-making — striving to provide coastal communities with tools to inform coastal management and to improve their capacity to understand, plan for, and respond to changing coasts now and into the future. We use research, outreach, and education to bring the latest science, and policy to coastal managers. By connecting decision-makers with coastal science, social trends, and cutting-edge policy, we help strengthen and preserve ecosystems and communities across the nation.


Helping states to maintain their leadership role in the development and implementation of national coastal and ocean policy is among CSO’s most important functions. CSO works with Congress to shape legislation and arrange for state testimony and works with Federal Agencies to comment on proposed regulations. CSO advocates for increased federal funding and support for state-based coastal and ocean programs, as well as responsiveness of federal agency program administration and policies to state concerns.

CSO provides information, updates and alerts that keep states attuned to developments in Washington, DC to enable states to respond to legislative, regulatory and policy developments as they occur.

Applied Science and Research

CSO works with natural and social science partners to meet the research, data, and technical assistance needs of coastal states and communities. CSO investigates new and emerging scientific and social science knowledge to apply to coastal decision-making, developing and disseminating products such as reports, tools, trainings, and webinars for coastal management end users. The focus of CSO’s applied research is the intersection of natural coastal science, the social science of decision-making, and policy formation. Our applied science and research program builds foundational knowledge on key coastal management challenges, creates tools that can be applied in other coastal regions, catalyzes additional investment and research into critical areas of coastal adaptation and resilience, and cultivates a narrative around the importance of proactively managing our coastlines.

CSO leads engagement-driven applied science research projects involving multiple stakeholders to assess adaptive capacity of coastal communities to changing coastal conditions. Our programmatic experts work to:

  • Research emerging coastal hazard issues and synthesize findings for practitioners.
  • Conduct reviews of coastal studies, identify data gaps, work with stakeholders to scope and develop research products that advance the practice of coastal management with best available science and data.
  •  Research, assess, and distribute resources and tools to access coastal data and apply coastal and social science to decision-making.
  • Provide scientific and technical input into national and regional coastal studies done by the federal government and academia.


CSO serves as an important professional network for state coastal and ocean managers. Peer-to-peer learning and sharing of best practices is an essential part of CSO. Whether through policy or applied research, coastal states and territories use the CSO network to answer pressing questions and share successes.

CSO Work Groups focus on coastal water quality, coastal hazards, coastal zone management, ocean policy and island affairs. Each workgroup has components of policy and applied research in natural and social sciences.

CSO also supports a state Legal Council which provides legal research, background and analysis to all members when needed.

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