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 Raye Evrard at raye [at] We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team

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Posted on December 31, 2014 - 8:24am, by PJSJones

In relation to the recent news item on the Hidden side effects of MPAs? based on the paper Effects of population density and body size on disease ecology of the European lobster in a temperate marine conservation zone.

Density dependence is a well recognised central tenet of population ecology, i.e. as the density of a population is restored back to unexploited levels, a number of 'natural' trends will increase, such as increased prevalence of disease amongst more crowded populations and older 'senile' individuals (as natural age structure is restored), along with increased competition for space, sexual partners, food, etc., leading to increased fighting related injuries. Per capita production will also decrease due to competition for food, cannibalism, etc. This is naturally what happens when you stop thinning a population through harvesting. It certainly is not hidden or unexpected, nor is it a threat to a successful marine conservation story. It is simply what should be expected to happen when a population is restored back to natural levels.

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I created Dos Mares, in January 2013, to promote marine research in the Marine Protected Areas of Central America, with the collaboration of the local and international scientific community and interested organizations, committed to contribute to the scientific development and oceanic marine services in Central America through the following objectives:

  1. Enhancing and disseminating the importance of marine science in Central America
  2. Spreading achievements, trends and gaps of the marine science activity
  3. Promoting lines of marine research for the marine protected areas.
  4. Facilitate the cooperation between international and local scientists and students.
  5. Establishing marine scientific infrastructure for the marine protected areas.
  6. Collaborate in the surveillance efforts of the marine protected areas.
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Part 2: Measuring effective threshold-based environmental 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 second blog in a series in which we share the latest research and insights from our team of researchers.

A little stress can go a long way

In nature, one plus one does not always equal two. Sometimes, small changes in human pressures or environmental conditions can result in disproportionately large responses in the ecosystem—potentially even collapse.

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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. In this initial blog, we introduce the concept of tipping points and highlight our latest research. In upcoming blogs, some of our researchers will present their work in more detail and discuss the implications for our case study regions and for the science and management community more widely.

Reaching a tipping point

Sea otters were once a common sight in kelp forests along vast expanses of the west coast of North America, until fur traders decimated nearly every otter population in the 1800s.  Without otters, the kelp forests began to disappear. Sea urchin populations exploded in the absence of their main predators—otters—and started grazing down the kelp forests, creating a patchwork of ‘urchin barrens’ where kelp forests were once prolific. Without the complex habitat provided by kelp, numerous marine species, including commercially important fish, can lose their main source of food and shelter.

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Posted on November 13, 2014 - 12:38pm, by nwehner

The OpenChannels Team live blogged throughout the 2014 World Parks Congress. John Davis was on-scene in Syndey, updating us on the conference's Marine Theme. We also curated the most useful and interesting tweets coming out of the conference in order to save them from disappearing into the ether. You can see everything as it happened in the live blog's archive at

This not-so-live blog contains relevant highlights for the ocean and coastal community. If you think we missed anything important, please let us know in the comments below. Thank you!

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Posted on November 6, 2014 - 1:02pm, by wendyd

By Steve Fletcher, Linwood Pendleton, Wendy Dodds, Tara Hooper, François Morisseau, Karine Dedieu and Remi Mongruel

The VALMER project ( convened a workshop at the International Marine Conservation Congress (Glasgow, August 2014) to share experiences about the application of ecosystem service assessments in marine conservation. We specifically asked participants about barriers to the use of ecosystem services assessment for marine conservation. In addition to the ‘usual’ answers about “poor data availability, incomplete knowledge to link ecosystem functions and ecosystem services, and difficulties in the application of monetary valuation methods,” participants repeatedly cited “the manner” in which ecosystem services assessments are conducted as a potentially significant barrier to their eventual use, or lack thereof. The engagement process, we were told, influences how the ESA results of the assessment are perceived and subsequently used. Furthermore, there was a strong sense from participants that how stakeholders, decision-makers and any other interested parties are involved in an ecosystem services assessment has a direct effect on how the results of the assessment will be treated and used. But why?

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Posted on November 6, 2014 - 9:27am, by PJSJones

In preparation for the forthcoming World Parks Congress, the November 6th edition of Nature includes a series of comments in which "experts share their priorities for what must be done to make protected areas more effective at conserving global biodiversity". These include several contributions which are particularly relevant to marine protected areas.

Peter Jones discusses the need to Assess Governance Structures:

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Posted on October 22, 2014 - 5:05am, by PJSJones

The recent much lauded announcement that the "US designates 1.2-million-km2 MPA in which all commercial extraction is banned" begs the question - How can three MPA expansions 800-1000 km apart which exclude the main fishing grounds for stocks that are known to be severely depleted be so widely and uncritically applauded? This is not a single MPA therefore the press release claim that it represents the largest MPA designation in the world is a false one that is being wrongly reinforced through uncritical repetition. These designations represents a political-economic compromise which arguably breaches the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, at least in spirit, in that it is designed to leave the grounds for a severely over-exploited fishery open to exploitation. Then there is, of course, the question of how this remote area will be enforced.

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Posted on September 15, 2014 - 4:51am, by PJSJones

The new president of the European Union recently appointed a whole new team of commissioners, including the appointment of the Maltese politician, Karmenu Vella, as the new EU Commissioner for the Environment and Maritime and Fisheries posts (see Joan Edward's blog on this), but is the environment already sinking down his agenda?