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

The OpenChannels Team


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By Jay Harkness, Forest & Bird, J.Harkness [at] forestandbird.org.nz

"Fish, fish, the family dish." It's a familiar rhyme to the postwar generation, but less so to a member of Generation X.

Fish is not the plentiful family favourite it once was, and that's a sign of a serious conservation problem.

There are plenty of other signs, too, that the overall number of fish in New Zealand's waters is in steep decline. If it continues, we will be responsible for a huge failure in our duty to care for our environment – and we will have lost a big part of what it is to be a New Zealander.

There are a host of perfectly workable ways to avoid this, however. Marine reserves are a critical part of doing that.

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Posted on March 25, 2013 - 9:45am, by EBM Tools

By Sarah Carr

In our first blog, we reported on the tools that appear to be used most often for Marine Spatial Planning (e.g. GIS, Marxan, MarineMap, and SeaSketch). But our respondents who reported using tools (91 of the 124 total respondents) also named a vast array of other tools that are being used, or have been used, in MSP processes.

In this installment, we characterize and give examples of these “other tools” (tools reported as being used by one or two respondents) because they form a treasure trove of information and inspiration for MSP projects which are beginning to look at tools.

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By Laurence Mee, SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute, laurence.mee [at] sams.ac.uk

Let me begin by telling you something about Hallsands because it is a parable for the kind of short-sighted thinking that we often witness today. Hallsands is a little hamlet of a few well-maintained houses perched on a Devon cliff in a hinterland of rolling hills dotted with sheep and expensive holiday homes. But it didn’t used to be like that. The 1891 census showed it to be a bustling little fishing village of 159 people with 37 houses and a pub. But in a fateful storm on 26 January 1917, the entire village tumbled into the sea just after the residents had scrambled to safety. Villages that have existed for centuries don’t simply vanish without reason; the storm was a harsh but not unusual one. What precipitated the disaster was the dredging and removal of huge quantities of gravel from the underwater banks off Hallsands in the 1890s for construction material to be used for expanding the port of Plymouth. Local people had protested and the dredging was halted in 1902 … but it was too late, the natural resilience of the coastline had been fatally weakened.

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Posted on March 14, 2013 - 2:01pm, by cehler

By Charles N. Ehler, Ocean Visions Consulting, Paris, France, charles.ehler [at] me.com

Concerned about the effects of rising sea level?  You should be, but did you know that about half (51.3%) of the total area of the 152 coastal countries of the world is underwater already?  That’s right.  When the total area of each country, including its existing or potential claim to an exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and its total area (EEZ + land area) are compared—about half is underwater. Thirty-five countries are almost completely (< 90%) underwater already. The opportunity to gain additional jurisdiction over marine areas through extended continental shelf claims under the United Nations Law of the Sea could increase the size of the marine areas of some countries even further.  This is a real challenge for marine spatial planning—and not an April Fool’s joke!

Here’s a list of those countries:

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Posted on March 13, 2013 - 1:29pm, by PJSJones

By Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London, P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk

The European Commission have published the ‘agreed text’ of a draft Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (attached). Further information at http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-13-210_en.htm?subweb=347&lang=en and http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-13-222_en.htm?subweb=347&lang=en

The MSP Directive is essentially about promoting Blue Growth under the Integrated Maritime Policy and it neglects the framework nature of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). An MSP Directive complicates the policy landscape and, arguably by design, provides for Member States to focus on Blue Growth whilst potentially neglecting MSFD, Habitats Directive, etc, especially in the present economic climate. The contributions that MSP could make to achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of Europe's seas under the MSFD, such as cross-border assessments of cumulative impacts and the efficient planning of infrastructure in an integrated manner between member states, are neglected or omitted. A retrograde step for achieving GES? Hopefully, the same Members of the European Parliament (MEP) influences that are leading to an improved Common Fisheries Policy can thwart or revise this DG MARE (EC department responsible for maritime economic development and fisheries management) attempt  to do the unnecessary – legally ‘encourage’ Member States to pursue ‘smart’ (?) Blue Growth.

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Posted on March 12, 2013 - 10:14am, by RJust

By Robin Just, Conservation Law Foundation, rjust [at] clf.org

Since Governor Deval Patrick's signing of our historic Massachusetts Oceans Act in 2008 led to the promulgation of our Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan in 2009, it has been a busy time for ocean planning in the Bay State. And it promises to get even busier as Massachusetts begins a required review of the plan. The product of this review will be a document that “summarize the requirements, measures, and commitments as established by the Oceans Act, the ocean planning process, and the Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan and report on the progress made on these items to date.”

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Posted on March 4, 2013 - 10:29pm, by rmgregg

By Rachel M. Gregg, EcoAdapt, rachel.g [at] ecoadapt.org

Coral reef ecosystems provide important services; they are sources of food, habitat, biodiversity, and coastal protection, and are economically valuable. Corals are extremely vulnerable to climatic changes; a 1°C temperature change has been known to cause bleaching (Global Coral Reef Alliance). Bleaching occurs when corals, stressed by temperature changes, expel the zooxanthellae living inside their tissues, causing the corals to turn white.

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Posted on February 27, 2013 - 4:14pm, by EBM Tools

By Sarah Carr

As we reported in our first blog, 33 of our 124 respondents who completed the survey (27%) reported that they are NOT using tools for their MSP process. We asked them why to get a feel for the reasons behind that.

Some reasons why respondents reported not using tools:

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By Laurence Mee, SAMS, Scottish Marine Institute, laurence.mee [at] sams.ac.uk

February 6th will be long remembered as a good day for European fisheries as a series of major reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy were voted through the European Parliament by a massive 502 to 157 majority. The Bill covers key issues such as a progressive ban on discarding non-target caught fish, on tighter regulation of fisheries to ensure Maximum Sustainable Yield, on eco-labelling and, most importantly, on the regionalisation of fisheries management. This is a key round in a long battle for sustainable fishing and even though the battle is far from over (negotiations must continue with fisheries ministers and the European Commission), those who have worked for years to convince legislators and the fishing industry have good reason to celebrate. But, as I am about to explain, there is still an ‘elephant in the room’...

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Posted on February 19, 2013 - 12:59pm, by EBM Tools

By Sarah Carr

We’ve seen lists and spreadsheets and guides on tools for marine spatial planning, but which tools are people actually using for their marine spatial planning (MSP) processes? To help get some real-life skinny on this, the EBM Tools Network and OpenChannels solicited their communities (totaling 10,000 coastal-marine conservation and resource management types from all sorts of organizations and places) as well as folks involved in 25 sure-fire MSP processes from around the world (from a list compiled by Rhode Island Sea Grant in 2012). To learn about the full array of tools people are using, we allowed surveyees to self-define tools.

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