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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By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Waitt Foundation, ayanaelizabeth [at]

There is a lot of talk in conservation about “community-based” and “stakeholder-driven” projects, but what does that really mean? When pursued honestly, it can be summarized in one word: vulnerability.

The Waitt Institute’s evolving approach to ocean conservation is based on asking a community two questions: What do you want your ocean to look like? How can we help you get there?

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Posted on August 2, 2013 - 2:37pm, by SeaPlan

By Dave Kellam, SeaPlan Communications Manager, dkellam [at]

This week, SeaPlan’s office erupted with activity when the news broke that the first U.S. federal offshore wind energy lease auction was completed. The auction was for the Rhode Island/ Massachusetts Wind Energy Area (WEA) and is one of several auctions scheduled in the coming months on the East Coast. Now that a leasing process has been established, a new chapter in ocean planning can begin — one that can include integrated ocean management principles that are often debated, but too rarely applied.  

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Posted on July 8, 2013 - 1:47pm, by RJust

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

This summer New England took another big step toward regional ocean planning as the newly minted Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) held 10 public meetings to get feedback on set of goals they have drafted. See our previous blogs for a discussion of the draft goals and how the planning process in New England is developing.

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By  Taylor Mayol, Blue Ventures

Look at a map and find Madagascar, the fourth biggest island on Earth, just off the coast of east Africa. Focus on the dry southwest and find the town of Toliara, capital of this impoverished region.

Now imagine a drive northwards through the searing heat along a bumpy, sandy trail. You’re hugging the coast, flanking the peculiar yet alluring Spiny Forest, one of the planet’s most threatened forest ecosystems. You hold on tight as your 4×4 surges forward over rocks and nearly becomes planted in the deep, fine sand.

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Editor's note: This piece was originally published by Blue Ventures for the IUCN on June 14, 2013. It is republished here with permission by the author. Blue Ventures is working to establish a marine protected area (MPA) in Madagascar's Barren Isles. This article offers more insight into why the area warrants protection.

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Posted on June 18, 2013 - 10:26am, by Seakeeper

By John Williamson, Captain, Sea Keeper Fishery Consulting and Charter

Fishermen tend to be hands-on, action-oriented individuals; for many the subject of ocean planning and marine spatial planning has been simply too abstract to pay close attention.  However, fishing industry leadership has been tracking the progress of the Obama Administration's National Ocean Policy, and thought leaders have quietly begun a dialog within the community and with planners.

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By Sarah Carr

In December 2012-January 2013, the EBM Tools Network and OpenChannels conducted a survey of MSP practitioners worldwide to learn what tools they are using in the field and how well those tools are working.  We’ve shared many results of this survey in preceding blog posts.  For this final installment, we would like to share some of the general wisdom our survey respondents have gained over time about using tools. When asked about tool-related lessons they have learned, respondents emphasized four areas:

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Posted on June 10, 2013 - 4:20am, by PJSJones

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

What does the recommendation that the “design and management of MPAs must be both top-down and bottom-up” [1] actually mean in practice? This is the key question that a recent UNEP funded study on MPA governance (MPAG) [2] addresses, the findings of which have just been published in a special issue of the journal Marine Policy.

Debates surrounding governance strategies for MPAs have to date largely focused on top-down, bottom-up or market-based approaches. Whilst co-management approaches for governing MPAs are widely accepted as a way forward for combining these three strategies, many interpretations of this concept exist and it is applied in many different ways to MPAs in different contexts. This study aimed to explore governance through a case-study approach based on a specifically developed empirical framework – the marine protected area governance (MPAG) analysis framework – to increase understanding of how to combine the three governance approaches. A dialogue with MPA practitioners in 20 case studies helped shape the MPAG analysis framework as it developed, and an international workshop was held on ‘Governing MPAs’, bringing the practitioners together to compare results and further develop the framework. The first paper in this special issue provides an overview of the topic and research methodology and introduces the case studies (Jones, De Santo, Qiu and Vestergaard, 2013)

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Posted on June 3, 2013 - 10:22pm, by hilbornr

By Ray Hilborn

The recent Managing Our Nations Fisheries conference in Washington D.C. and the upcoming reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Management and Conservation Act has focused attention on the nation’s fisheries, how well they are doing, and what can be done to improve the contribution of US fisheries to our national well­being. A logical first step in evaluation of our fisheries is to first ask what are the objectives of American fisheries management?

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

Riots, looting and public unrest are not the usual subjects of this blog but the ongoing serious disturbances in Istanbul have caught my attention and I can’t get them out of my mind. Last night’s disturbances were in the district of Beşiktaş where I used to work and spend much of my time, dodging traffic jams, safely wandering through the narrow dusty streets as I walked home to my flat overlooking the busy Bosphorus, eating in my favourite fish restaurant by the market (they put my photo up on the wall with many other regulars; great ploy to keep customers) or my sumptuous $2 lunches of bamya, nohut and pilaf. I bought the table on which I write most of my blogs on the street that is now occupied by protesters. Turkey is full of lovely generous people and Istanbul, with around 15 million people, is its most cosmopolitan and overcrowded city. Whenever the arrivals hall of Ataturk Airport discharges me into its hubbub, I feel a curious sense of homecoming.