OpenChannels has a team of dedicated bloggers addressing targeted aspects of ocean planning and management, including communication, technology, ocean uses, and more. Our bloggers are experts in the field, drawing from their own knowledge and experience.

The OpenChannels community can also benefit from your knowledge and experience. We appreciate the diversity of perspectives in this field and welcome the use of OpenChannels for sharing these views. Do you have a perspective on ocean planning you would like to share? We'll help you do that right now: just click the button above and follow the prompts. If you are interested in blogging but have questions, please email Nick Wehner at nwehner [at] We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team

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Two and a half years ago, the Waitt Institute launched the Blue Halo Initiative, through which we partner with governments and communities as they envision, design, and implement sustainable ocean management for their waters. In the time since, we supported the Caribbean island of Barbuda in passing meaningful legislation that zones the island’s entire coastal waters and protects 33 percent of them in marine reserves. This year we began working with the islands of Montserrat and Curaçao.

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Policy change, even at its most efficient, is often difficult and slow. This can be especially true for conservation policy, which often involves curtailing private sector business practices. On the flip side, the policymaking process can be sped up by clear public support. That’s why the recent consensus between the Caribbean fishing and SCUBA diving communities is so important – both groups understand that their coral reefs and fisheries are in serious trouble. 

Over the past 45 years, Caribbean coral cover has declined by more than half. Fish populations have plummeted due to overfishing. Fishermen are having a hard time making a living. Meanwhile, SCUBA tourism has increased dramatically. It’s evident to locals who derive their livelihoods from the sea that the ocean ecosystem on which they’ve traditionally relied is deteriorating rapidly.

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By Holly Rindge, USC Sea Grant

Mesh plankton net, bucket, thermometer, pipette, and microscope.  Rowena Valderrama with The SEA Lab in Redondo Beach gathers equipment and prepares to train volunteers on how to collect and analyze plankton samples from the local harbor. They are on the hunt for specific species of algae that may be toxic and lead to harmful algal blooms (HABs). The SEA Lab is a program of the Los Angeles Conservation Corps and her volunteers are mostly underserved young adults. Once a week they become citizen scientists and contribute important data to the Community HABwatch Program.

Posted on August 6, 2015 - 5:20am, by EBM Tools

Brought to you by the EBM Tools Network

There are scores of resources for helping coastal planners gauge potential climate change impacts to natural resources and communities (e.g. Resources for gauging the economic/financial aspects of climate change adaptation actions (as opposed to climate change impacts themselves) are much rarer. There are very few software tools that deal with the costs and benefits of different adaptation options, but the EBM Tools Network ( has found one as well as a number of other great resources on this topic:

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Co-authored by Stephanie Roach, Waitt Institute Program Manager

The Waitt Institute team is made up of people who spent their childhoods playing at the beach, swimming in the calm turquoise Caribbean Sea, and learning about the amazing, diverse creatures that live beneath the surface. Each of us fell in love with the ocean at a young age, and we’ve been thrilled to be able to share that love, excitement, and wonder with the children of Barbuda over the last two summers.

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Part 4: Seven Principles for managing tipping points

The Ocean Tipping Points project is a collaboration of natural and social scientists, lawyers, environmental managers, and stakeholders working to understand what drives abrupt ecological shifts, and how they might be prevented or reversed. This is the fourth blog in a series highlighting the latest research and insights from our team of researchers.

Awareness is growing among scientists and environmental managers that human impacts can lead to dramatic, sometimes rapid, changes in the way that ecosystems look – for example, in the species and habitats that are dominant – and the way they work – such as how productive they are, how rapidly nutrients are cycled, or what benefits they provide to people.

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Posted on July 21, 2015 - 11:04am, by jfelt

By Jennifer Felt, Ocean Campaign Director, Conservation Law Foundation

Happy Birthday National Ocean Policy! This weekend the National Stewardship Policy for the Ocean, Our Coasts and Great Lakes (aka the National Ocean Policy, NOP) will have been around for half a decade. So, if you are at a backyard BBQ this Sunday, July 19 –the day the NOP officially turns five — don’t forget to raise a glass, bottle, or juice-box to commemorate our nation’s first comprehensive stewardship policy for the ocean, our coasts, and Great Lakes.

I was seven months pregnant and surviving the summer in Washington, D.C. when President Obama established the National Ocean Policy via Executive Order 13547. As I prepare to celebrate both my daughter’s and the NOP’s 5th birthday I cannot help but reflect on and rejoice over the journey of the past five years.

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Posted on June 30, 2015 - 4:47am, by PJSJones

The European Environment Agency provides independent scientific assessments and advice to the European Commission and European Parliament. It's recent European Environment — State and Outlook 2015 (SOER 2015) report highlights some worrying issues and trends, particularly for the marine environment (see briefing), e.g.

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When the average internet user seeks out information on a scientific topic, the first place she turns to isn’t the latest scientific literature or even a mainstream news publication, it’s Wikipedia. Google any scientific topic and the online encyclopedia will turn up as the first or second search result. Though many within the science community regard Wikipedia with a certain level of wariness, there’s no denying that for millions of people across the globe, it’s the first exposure many people have to issues they know little about. As such, it wields tremendous influence in shaping the way the general public understands and views a particular topic.


Miami - The legendary wisdom of anglers is changing with the times, according to groundbreaking new research published Thursday in the Journal of Marine Science and Engineering. The first study to use personal seafood budgets to reveal environmental orientation shows that South Florida’s recreational fishers have a newfound recognition of climate change and a strong will to open their wallets for high quality seafood.

Old timers remain stingier than newer generations, reveals researcher James W. Harper, who surveyed a selection of Florida’s more than one million registered marine fishers for the the scientific article The New Man and the Sea. But one of the study’s biggest surprises is that poorer people are not stingy when it comes to paying more for sustainable seafood. The online survey found middle to lower class households were just as willing as upper classes to pay a few dollars extra to purchase fish with a sustainability label on it. These residents living near the Florida Reef especially want local seafood, because 80 percent were in favor of higher costs to guarantee seafood caught nearby.