Blogs

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] openchannels.org. We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team


Blogs
Posted on April 27, 2016 - 9:53am, by christian

The sustainable management of marine ecosystems involves a multitude of stakeholders, across various sectors. The vastness of the ocean and the potentially diverging interests of stakeholders involved - including different government departments, the private business sector and civil society - are not necessarily reflected in ‘traditional’, sector-based regulation and management mechanisms. This poses a challenge to an efficient use of ocean resources, and the conservation of its ecological integrity and functioning

Integrated Oceans Management is an approach that brings together relevant actors from government, business and civil society and across sectors of human activity (e.g. fishing, mining, shipping or tourism), to collaborate jointly towards a sustainable future of our ocean environment (‘ocean’ referring to marine and oastal areas).

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As a Project Fellow at SeaPlan, I am interested in the conversation among MSP practitioners over the pragmatic utility of ecosystem services tools for “real life” application. I recently looked at the role of modeling tools and platforms that quantitatively categorize zones or ecosystems services in ocean planning. This research led me to develop a broad overview of available valuation modeling tools and to detail some interesting example applications. I thought others would be interested, so SeaPlan is sharing them here as a series of three short case studies followed by the overview. First in this series is a case study summarizing how two of the most widely-used modeling tools, InVEST and Marxan, were applied by West Coast Aquatic (WCA) for the West Vancouver Island marine spatial plans.  

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Posted on February 15, 2016 - 8:17am, by PJSJones

The book Governing Marine Protected Areas: resilience through diversity (Jones PJS 2014) is now available in paperback, after very good sales of the hardback version around the world. The price of the paperback version is £22 or $40 with the discount code DC361 when purchasing directly from Routledge. See www.tinyurl.com/GoverningMPAs to purchase from Routledge at this discount and read reviews, including more recent reviews in Nature and the International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law.

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Posted on February 10, 2016 - 6:20am, by PJSJones

Another analysis of despair by a fisheries scientist (Kenchington T, in press*) questioning whether we should have MPAs: fishing removes top predators which are migratory, therefore fishing still impacts MPAs through fish migrations and trophic cascade effects, therefore we need to choose between pristine MPAs & seafood production! Maybe address wider ecosystem impacts of fishing, e.g. through increased selectivity, maximum size limits? Also, MPAs can still achieve a lot if not pristine and not large enough to match the wide range of top-predators?

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Posted on February 1, 2016 - 3:35am, by PJSJones

An interesting paper (Fletcher et al., in press) which argues that neoliberal faith in REDD+ schemes for forest conservation, on the basis that they represent market-based initiatives, is misplaced, as it is not feasible for REDD+ payments to fully offset the short-term economic benefits of natural resource extraction that are foregone. There is increasing focus on extending REDD+ out to sea as Blue Carbon schemes for mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass, for which MPAs are often vehicles.

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Overfishing, climate change, habitat destruction, and pollution remain major threats to the world’s ocean. But amidst all that there is some seriously good ocean conservation news worth celebrating. So, to continue the tradition started last year with listing 14 Ocean Conservation Wins of 2014, here’s a rundown for 2015 that will hopefully fill you with #OceanOptimism. These wins represent the diligent efforts of organizations and individuals too numerous to list, so let’s just start with a blanket shoutout to all of #TeamOcean for a great year.

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Local conservation efforts are important to restoring and protecting coral reefs. However, if we don’t halt climate change those efforts will not be enough to save them. That’s why marine biologists and ocean lovers have their eyes on the COP 21 climate negotiations in Paris this week.

Last year, I co-authored a New York Times op-ed entitled “We Can Save the Caribbean’s Coral Reefs.” The premise was that we must not use inaction on global emissions reductions as an excuse to postpone local conservation actions. Dr. Jeremy Jackson and I wrote, “We need to stop all forms of overfishing, establish large and effectively enforced marine protected areas, and impose strict regulations on coastal development and pollution, while at the same time working to reduce fossil fuel emissions driving climate change.”

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Part 5: Ecological Thresholds can Inform Resource Management

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.

Non-linear threshold responses are common in ecological systems, driven by both natural and human-induced pressures on ecosystems. However, Incorporating ecological thresholds into management can be a daunting task. In many ecosystems we have limited ability to predict if a threshold exists, when and how rapidly it will be crossed, and if positive feedback loops that entrain the new state will develop.

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Ocean conservation is hard. You fight the challenges of “out of sight, out of mind,” of largely unregulated high seas, and of waters so vast people find it hard to believe humans could actually overfish it (or as the saying goes in Jamaica, “fish can’t done”).

The ocean is indeed in deep deep trouble due to overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction, and good science is needed to turn that around. This science doesn’t need to be fancy, expensive, or complicated. Rather, it needs to be thoughtful, targeted, and inclusive.

Here are six lessons I’ve learned (mostly the hard way) during my first decade of studying and working in ocean science and conservation that I wish I’d known from the very beginning.

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To be effective, marine conservation must be based on rigorous and targeted science. The large and growing threats to ocean ecosystems — overfishing, climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction — coupled with the limited scientific capacity of most small island states make science-based management not only an imperative, but also a challenge. Here’s one part of the solution: better global collaboration between local and foreign scientists.

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