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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A New Wave of Experts

When the National Ocean Council suggested Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning as a tool to achieve the National Ocean Policy, many were excited for a more integrated approach to coastal decision making. This decision was based on hundreds of published reports and articles stating the benefits of coastal and marine planning and the need for its implementation in the United States. While these articles and reports certainly tell us why we should use more integrated planning, very few tell us how this actually works, and what the process actually is.

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VERY EXCITING NEWS! The Waitt Institute has expanded its Blue Halo Initiative to Montserrat and Curaçao, building on the recent success in Barbuda. The new partnerships with these two innovative island governments and communities will help envision, design, and implement sustainable ocean policies for their waters.

With the launches of Blue Halo Montserrat and Blue Halo Curaçao the Waitt Institute has not only tripled the number of partner islands to which we offer our toolkit for ocean management, but also increased the amount of ocean area where we support sustainable policies to 38,700 km2.

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More than 90% of the world’s 36 million fishers operate in small-scale fisheries—many of which are in developing countries. From sea to plate, these small-scale fisheries support more than 100 million jobs across the supply chain and produce half of the world’s seafood for local and global markets.

But as the world’s population increases and the demand for seafood rises, the supply for wild caught fish is plummeting. As a result, many small-scale fishing communities face job and food security threats and unfortunately lack access to the tools they need to sustainably manage their fisheries.

Developed by Environmental Defense Fund, a Framework for Integrated Stock and Habitat Evaluation (FISHE) equips fishermen and marine scientists with a swift, low-cost and highly effective method with which to assess and manage fisheries that lack sufficient fishing data.

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Part 3: Causes and consequences of tipped coral reef ecosystems in Hawai‘i

In our previous blog post, we described some of the key attributes of threshold-based management that have successfully prevented ecosystems from crossing tipping points or have helped restore previously tipped systems. In this blog, we present research from our case study region of Hawai‘i, where many coral reef ecosystems may be nearing critical tipping points, and others have already crossed thresholds into algae-dominated states. Our team of social and ecological researchers is working to highlight the main drivers of change in Hawai‘i’s reef ecosystems and provide marine managers with the information and tools necessary to maintain resilient reefs.

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Posted on January 15, 2015 - 12:49pm, by PJSJones

In relation to the Nature paper "Predicting climate-driven regime shifts versus rebound potential in coral reefs"

The finding from this paper that “Reefs within no-take marine reserves were no more likely to recover than reefs in fished areas” could be related to tendency for marine reserves in Seychelles to be designated in shallower areas that are under pressure from fishing, nutrient loading, etc, rather than in deeper, more remote residual areas with lower water temperatures that are not under pressure? The real worry with this paper is that readers will go away with the take-home message that marine reserves do not promote resilience/recovery, when this finding is more an artifact of the criteria for siting marine reserve designations in the Seychelles? If it is accepted that structural complexity, density of juvenile corals and herbivorous fishes, and low nutrient loads are attributes that promote resilience/recovery, surely marine reserves have the potential to promote such attributes and thereby recovery from coral bleaching. The lack of impact of marine reserves in this study could be more to do with location of marine reserves in more used areas and their lack of effectiveness in reducing impacts of such uses, rather than marine reserves not having the potential to promote resilience/recovery, but my worry is that such caveats will not be considered in the message that people may hear, especially when findings are transferred from the Seychelles to the Great Barrier Reef...

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The Dos Mares Journal is the informative and educative magazine of Dos Mares.

Dos Mares was created in January 2013, to promote marine research in Central America, with the collaboration of the international scientific community and interested organizations.

Through the Dos Mares Journal I want to disseminate the activities, achievements and values of marine science and marine protected areas in order to facilitate the scientific cooperation between marine scientist of Central America and the global scientific community.You should enter your email address to subscribe to updates in the top right of the journal to ensure a complete reception every week.

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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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By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Waitt Foundation

Chances are you’ve come across some ocean news lately. And it may even have been positive! Yes, the ocean is still in serious trouble due to overfishing, pollution, climate change, and habitat destruction, but there are more and more success stories to point to, and point I shall.

#1. Big year for big marine reserves. Kiribati, Palau, and the Cook Islands each closed over 50% of their waters to commercial fishing, and the U.S. quintupled the size of the Pacific Remote Island National Monument. This is not happening because conservation gives political leaders warm fuzzy feelings, and not just because (as Enric Sala explains) it makes good economic sense for fisheries, but because it’s good PR for tourism and for nations’ international reputations.

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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.