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 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.

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Posted on May 29, 2013 - 11:14am, by lemorgan

Today two leading marine science and conservation organizations, the Marine Conservation Institute and Mission Blue, issued the 1st-ever quantitative, scientifically rigorous national ranking of states’ protection of their ocean waters. SeaStates: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters? shows that most states and territories are failing to safeguard our nation’s marine life, seafood and coasts.

Oceans are crucial to our health and economy. Coastal counties include only 5.71% of the area in the lower 48 states but generate 35.54% of the Gross Domestic Product. Indeed, coastal counties generate $7,992 more GDP per person than inland and Great Lakes counties.

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

I was honored to be asked to speak at the Caribbean Challenge Initiative’s Summit of Political and Business Leaders, which took place in the British Virgin Islands May 17th and 18th. (See AP story for an overview of the event.) I spoke from the heart, and here is what I said:

At the risk of being controversial, I would like to offer my honest take. The #1 threat to coral reefs is lack of political will and sense of corporate responsibility. It’s great that this summit is focused on those two groups, but we need much more progress on this front. Apart from that, the primary threat has long been overfishing, and that is now being joined by, and soon to be eclipsed by, climate change. Pollution and habitat destruction are at #3 and #4, the order depending on your location.

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By Lyn Goldsworthy, Campaign Essentials Pty Ltd, lyn.goldsworthy [at]

At their annual Meeting in 2012, the 25 members of the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) failed to come to agreement on the declaration of any specific marine protected areas. This was despite several years of discussions and clear commitments to the establishment of a representative system of MPAs within the Convention Area by 2012, the adoption of a small MPA providing protection to the South Orkney Islands southern shelf in 2009, and an agreement in 2011 of Conservation Measure 91-04 providing a general framework for the establishment of CCAMLR MPAs. States are happy to commit to protecting the continent (and reap the benefits of looking proactive) but seem to lack the willpower to follow through.

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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 practitioners are actually using in the field and how well those tools are working. 91 practitioners reported using one or more tools for an MSP process or processes, and they cited a wide range of benefits of using tools. Some of the most commonly-cited benefits of using tools are that the tools:

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

Ralph Keeling runs the Mauna Loa observatory where his father began CO2 measurements 55 years ago. He recently had the unenviable responsibility to tell the world that CO2 levels have passed the 400ppm mark for the first time, the highest level for about 4 million years. The news fleetingly passed through the front page of some newspapers; others steadfastly ignored it. Disbelief and overt scepticism maybe, but also the denial of an alcoholic diagnosed with the early stages of cirrhosis.

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By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Director of Science and Solutions, Waitt Foundation

Bycatch. That’s the fish that fishers didn’t mean to catch but did – baby fish, species people don’t like to eat, fish no one will buy. High levels of bycatch make fishing unsustainable, not to mention it’s a huge waste. So what can be done about it? Well, that depends on the type of fishing gear being used. For fish traps (often called fish pots), I have a solution: put a hole in the corner. No, I’m not being glib. Putting vertical, rectangular holes, aka escape gaps, in opposing corners of fish traps can reduce bycatch by up to 80%, without reducing (and potentially even increasing) the value of the catch. How, you ask? Escape gaps allow the narrow-bodied and juvenile fish (including lots of herbivores) to escape, while retaining the larger, meatier fish that fishers want to catch. It’s that simple.

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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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Posted on May 2, 2013 - 3:18pm, by rfujita

By Rod M. Fujita, Environmental Defense Fund, rfujita [at]

Ocean conservationists have been arguing for a long time that marine reserves are a good investment, because they help sustain many ecosystem services, including fisheries and tourism.  Various studies have helped to quantify the value generated by marine reserves, but a new study puts it all together and presents a convincing value proposition for marine reserves.  Now all we need are investors who can appreciate that value proposition and make it work economically, and the right combination of rules and governance that will make these new kinds of markets – ecomarkets – viable.