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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Posted on May 2, 2013 - 3:10pm, by jfelt

By Jennifer Felt, Conservation Law Foundation, JFelt [at]

New England Ocean Action Network (NEOAN) was founded on the belief that improved management of our ocean and coasts will provide substantial benefits to all ocean users. This is why our membership is so diverse. We have fishermen, surfers, environmental groups, aquariums, and renewable energy industry representatives, all working together to promote regional ocean planning.

NEOAN members know that an important part of ocean planning is a robust public participation process, in which New England’s ocean and coastal users are fully engaged. This was the message delivered loud and clear by NEOAN members at New England’s second Regional Planning Body (RPB) meeting in Narragansett, Rhode Island April 11 and 12th. NEOAN was founded to promote public participation in this process – and NEOAN is participating. Seven members of NEOAN provided official comments to the RPB, emphasizing the importance of effective and meaningful stakeholder engagement.

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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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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.

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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 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:

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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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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.

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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.

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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.