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Escalating use conflicts, the inertia of federal agencies, and a growing appreciation of the value of states' public trust resources support the assertion that state governments should take the lead in adopting comprehensive conflict resolution strategies for their coastal waters. The first section of this Article reviews growing marine use conflicts and analyzes why states should concern themselves with conflict resolution efforts in the marine realm. Section II briefly discusses the complex interplay of state and federal law in regulating marine uses. Section III, using the State of Maine as a case study, explores its existing legal framework for management of submerged lands and waters above those lands. It looks at the degree to which Maine's public trust doctrine contributes to resolution of use conflicts, analyzes municipal authority for management of harbors and submerged lands, and reviews state agency regulatory authority, focusing on the submerged lands lease program. This case study is followed by an analysis of conflict resolution mechanisms used in other states that may have particular applicability to improving the management of Maine's coastal waters. The conclusion offers recommendations for improving the formal framework for conflict resolution in marine waters.



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