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 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.

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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: