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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Posted on August 23, 2016 - 1:25pm, by nwehner

Ever heard of the phrase, the Twitter fire-hose? That’s a colloquialism for all the data coming out of Twitter. And there’s a lot of data! Roughly 50-times the data available via the standard stream. On average, there are over 6,000 tweets sent each second. And that’s only Twitter we’re talking about here. Just think of how many Facebook and Instagram posts, snaps, and emails are sent each second (hint: it’s well over 1.3 million, every second, even accounting for the fact that about 50% of emails sent are spam).

Let’s say you read the last two blogs in this series: you have done some research in collaboration with a protected-area manager, it has clear management implications, the academic journal article is freely-available online, and you’ve written a short one-pager for the management audience. How are you supposed to share your work when you’re competing with the unfathomable amount of data your audience (and you!) are sifting through every second of every day?

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Posted on August 16, 2016 - 9:27am, by nwehner

In last week’s blog, I focused on the need for scientific publications to be available freely online. No managers are going to pay to access your pay-walled research. While Open Access publications are expensive, and review boards often force young researchers to publish in “top” journals, there are plenty of ways to get your research online for free. More in this topic to come. But in the meantime, we’ll focus on researching and writing with management in mind.

I must say, this isn’t rocket science. If you’re doing research to help conservation, do the research that’s needed by the people managing that resource. I hear countless stories from MPA managers (and others in similar situations) talking about the “fly-and-bye” tendency of academics. That is, they fly in from abroad, do a bunch of research, and then leave. Never to return to talk about their findings. Never even bothering to share their work with the managers, nor ask how it’s helped. Please, don’t be these kinds of people!

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Posted on August 11, 2016 - 11:30am, by nwehner

Let’s be honest: Academia hates poor people. The status quo needs to change. Quickly.

Despite compiling a Literature Library of over 5,000 items we here at MARE have no institutional access to pay-walled journals or database. No access to Elsevier’s journals, nor Thomson Reuters’, nor Springer’s. None.

In fact, we tried to buy access to Marine Pollution Bulletin once. We were quoted USD $10,000 for just myself and John Davis to have access to the journal for one year. Yes, you read that correctly: $10k for 1 year for 2 people. That’s $5,000/person/year. Needless to say, we didn’t purchase a subscription. (Did I mention MARE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit? We are. That didn’t matter for the subscription costs).

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Posted on August 10, 2016 - 4:20pm, by SeaSketch

Analyzing user behavior with computer science methods is common in commercial website design, where a subfield called web analytics uses electronically gathered quantitative data to gain insights about user behavior. Commercial companies use this information for a variety of purposes, from improving search engine performance and customizing a user’s experience to targeting ads in ways that may seem unnerving. What can be done with the information depends on two key factors: (1) what and how information is collected (2) laws, polices, and norms governing the use of information.

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Posted on July 27, 2016 - 5:47am, by PJSJones

A special section of the journal Marine Policy (outline) has just been published that explores the realities of how marine spatial planning is actually implemented, through 12 case studies around Europe, employing a structured qualitative empirical approach. This represents a novel approach to research on marine spatial planning based on realities, rather than the theoretical and conceptual approaches taken by many such studies. 

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Posted on July 19, 2016 - 5:09pm, by SeaSketch

Why should we invest in geospatial tools? What makes them so valuable in science-based participatory process? In light of exciting progress toward the U.S. National Ocean Policy and marine spatial planning goals globally, and the proliferation of mapping portals and tools to support this work, we share this critical examination of MarineMap, the award-winning mapping platform that supported California's Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. From 2012 to 2014, the McClintock lab collaborated with Amanda Cravens, to investigate MarineMap, the predecessor to SeaSketch. A paper describing part of the results of that research was recently published, and we have boiled down the key lessons learned in this post.

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Posted on June 20, 2016 - 4:15am, by PJSJones

Targets for marine conservation have been important since 1998, when 1605 scientists from around the world signed a call for governments to protect 20% of the world’s seas from all threats by 2020. Since then, there have been several formal targets for MPA coverage, most significantly the Convention on Biological Diversity’s ‘Aichi target’ that at least 10% of the world’s seas should be effectively conserved through systems of MPAs by 2020. The achievement of such targets has increasingly been progressed through the designation of giant MPAs, often surrounding islands in remote oceans, i.e. vast remote MPAs. The first VRMPA was the 340,000 km2 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Coral Reef Ecosystem Reserve, designated in 2000, as part of Bill Clinton’s departing environmental legacy, and larger than all of America’s national parks combined. This VRMPA was later included in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, this 2006 designation by George Bush building on the previous one. Initially open to bottom trawling, all fishing throughout the PMNM was banned in 2011, as whilst ‘bigger is better’, it is also considered that ‘no-take is best’. The race was on.


In a new paper published June 1 in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, scientists argue that environmental managers must broaden their focus from routine ecological monitoring to include social and economic factors if we are to protect ecosystems before they cross undesired tipping points.

A fashion for otter fur in the 19th Century has given researchers insight into how social changes can be a warning for ecosystems on the brink of collapse. In a new paper published today in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment, scientists argue that environmental managers need to broaden their focus from routine ecological monitoring to include social and economic factors if we are to protect ecosystems before it is too late.

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).