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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Predator-prey relationships can have profound effects on fish populations, but they are generally not considered explicitly in fisheries management. Several methods are available today to incorporate predators, a practical step toward ecosystem-based management.


Managing fisheries is a complex undertaking. This is partly because it is difficult or impossible to directly observe fish populations and the many factors affecting them. So managers and scientists use mathematical models to estimate fish abundance and evaluate possible management actions. At the most basic level, models use estimates of deaths and births, among other things, to calculate how many fish can be caught without reducing the longterm health or productivity of the fishery.

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at]

I know, it sounds like the title to a self-help book, but it’s true.  I’ve seen it time and again – organizations expend vast amounts of resources to promote themselves before they’ve even cultivated and internalized their image within their own organization.  In this age of fast, and often social, media demands, it may be that we are rushing headlong into campaigning without fully understanding what it is we’re promoting. 

Branding is not just something for big corporations like Coca-Cola and Microsoft.  NGOs – whether in the marine or terrestrial realm – have to think about their image beyond simply having a nice logo.  Their image, values and messages must be well-integrated into the organization's operations and staff’s mindset. 

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By Sarah Carr

Survey respondents were asked to provide some identifying information about their MSP projects, and from this information, we can get an idea where a large number MSP projects (> 100) are occurring. (Note: These results do NOT mean that MSP projects are not occurring in other locations, and they may not be representative of the geographic distribution of MSP projects as a whole.) Since the vast majority of responses were associated with a specific country or countries, we grouped results by continent where the project countries are located with the exception of a project in the Southern Ocean.

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Posted on April 15, 2013 - 9:20pm, by scosgrove

By Sean Cosgrove, Conservation Law Foundation, SCosgrove [at]

Those of us who have been watching the regional ocean planning process in New England evolve were happy to see the progress made at the second Northeast Regional Planning Body meeting last week. The group has convened through the National Ocean Policy to develop a region-wide ocean management plan. They gathered around the “big table” once again to push forward toward that goal.

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By anonymous

There is a spirited debate in the global marine conservation community: Should we focus protection efforts on inshore and threatened ecosystems, many of which are approaching a point of no return, or offshore and intact ecosystems under little or no immediate threat?

Some individuals argue that protecting a large, faraway area will allow a government to tick and flick the Aichi targets for a global system of protected areas by 2020 and claim that much has been achieved while turning a blind eye to continuing deterioration close to shore. They fear that governments facing hard economic times will find excuses not to invest financially and politically in the tough decisions that are required for progress close to home. They fear, understandably, that inshore protection proposals will be overlooked because they’re too hard.

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Posted on April 4, 2013 - 7:46pm, by RJust

By Robin Just, Conservation Law Foundation, rjust [at]

Shark! OK – not until the third paragraph, but I want you to stay with me.* The second meeting of our first-in-the-nation coastal and ocean Regional Planning Body is happening in a couple of weeks, and the goal is to set some goals for regional ocean planning. This may sound like a wonky, best-left-to-professionals sort of affair, but we beg to differ. Bear with me, and maybe I can convince you that this is worth paying attention to.

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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]

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]

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]

The European Commission have published the ‘agreed text’ of a draft Maritime Spatial Planning Directive (attached). Further information at and

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.