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

Blog series logo

By Scott Stewart, NBT Solutions, scott.stewart [at]

Many of the geospatial data sets used in the MSP process already exist or can be compiled with minimal effort and coordination. However, the lack of data representing human use or the socioeconomic dimension of coastal and marine resources is well-documented and accepted by MSP planners. Called the “missing layer,” the human dimension of the marine environment has been used only sparingly in the MSP process, and even less in the GIS-based decision support systems on which the MSP process relies.

One possible way to include this “missing layer” is to mine social networks for human-use activities—Twitter, for example.

Blogger picture
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.

Blogger picture

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

What if ocean zoning was conducted on an island-wide scale, centered on the values and goals of the community? What if management holistically strove for sustainable use, which led to improved livelihoods and improved ecosystem health?

Well, then you might have something the Waitt Foundation calls a Blue Halo Initiative. The Blue Halo concept is comprehensive ocean zoning plus sustainable management of fisheries that:

Blogger picture

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.

Blogger picture
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.

Blogger picture
Posted on March 29, 2013 - 10:39am, by jonesk

By Kerri-Ann Jones, US Department of State

On March 18, 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry spoke to a packed room of diplomats from around the globe, non-governmental conservation advocates, and others about the urgency of protecting our vast oceans. New Zealand Ambassador to the United States Mike Moore and Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr, two good friends of the United States and of oceans, joined the Secretary on the podium at this important event.

The Secretary spoke passionately about our connection and responsibility to the oceans as a people and a nation, and how ocean acidification, pollution, and fishing pressure are challenging our ability to sustain the sea and the benefits it provides to us all. You can read and watch his full remarks here.

Blogger picture

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

"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.

Blog series logo

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.

Blogger picture

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.

Blogger picture
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: