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 Bob Pressey, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

On land and in the sea, we’re losing sight of what nature conservation is about. We’ve become dangerously focused on protected areas, but rarely consider what they’re supposed to achieve. One result is that biodiversity is declining almost everywhere while protected areas expand.

Why the apparent paradox? An important reason is that protected areas tend to be in the wrong places. On land, it’s a safe generalisation that protected areas are biased to “residual” places – those with least promise for commercial uses. In some regions, this is because only residual landscapes survive in anything like their natural state.

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By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at]

One of the first posters I ever bought when I was younger (aside from teenage heartthrob pop stars) was the one of a harp seal pup, its luminous eyes pleading at the camera, seemingly begging the viewer to stop the slaughter for their fluffy white fur.  Almost everyone I knew either owned or had seen that image. 

And then there was the mock commercial of a glamorous woman getting out of a limousine at a red carpet event, decked out in jewels and a mink boa. When she slung the boa around her shoulder in slow motion, blood squirted out and splattered onto the crowd, who cried out in horror.  It was a PSA against the fur trade, and was ultimately pulled for being too disturbingly graphic (even though that was the whole point).  That video came out before its time.

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Posted on January 1, 2013 - 9:53pm, by cehler

By Charles N. Ehler, Ocean Visions Consulting, charles.ehler [at]

The New Year is a good time to pause and assess where we are and where we might go over the next 10-12 years in the rapidly developing field of integrated marine spatial planning (MSP).

Integrated MSP is alive and well in many parts of the world and continues to grow at astonishing speed.  Strategic debates about the long-term future of marine areas are being held in various fora throughout the world. Today almost 10% of the world’s exclusive economic zones (EEZs) are covered by government-approved marine spatial plans—an impressive accomplishment that has been reached only over the past 10-12 years.  Over the next 10-12 years marine spatial plans will easily cover more than a third of marine waters under national jurisdiction.

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Posted on December 14, 2012 - 10:01am, by afjohnson

By Andrew Frederick Johnson, Bangor University, andrewjohnson540 [at]

In my last post, I closed by saying that in order for unsuccessfully managed fisheries to move forward, we need to innovate instead of repeating our current mistakes. I also introduced the idea of “rights-based” fisheries management as one method that has proved beneficial for past and present fisheries. This blog discusses, Individual Transferrable Quotas (ITQs), a rights-based approach showing promise, and describes how they can benefit struggling fisheries.

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Posted on December 10, 2012 - 4:45am, by SeaPlan

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

Around the office we call it swag: the pens, water bottles and mugs emblazoned with the SeaPlan logo. At first, these familiar marketing tools of the business world may seem out of place at a nonprofit, but promotional materials can help any organization achieve its goals.  

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By Bob Pressey, Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, James Cook University

“Australia’s precious marine environments have been permanently protected with the proclamation of the world’s biggest network of marine reserves.”

That’s how the federal government describes the recent creation of marine reserves covering 2.3 million square kilometers of ocean, a decision which made the news worldwide. But is it accurate?

What if the reserves were designed to minimize impact on commercial and recreational fishing and the oil and gas industries, and therefore minimize real protection for marine biodiversity? The government may be simply taking its policy of reserving also-ran, non-commercial tracts of land and applying it to the ocean.

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The following originally appeared on Ocean Conservancy's The Blog Aquatic on 28 November 2012.

By Sandra Whitehouse, Ocean Conservancy

As stakeholders and state, federal and tribal officials from across the Northeast gathered in Portland, Maine, last week for the first meeting of the New England Regional Planning Body (NERPB), I sensed optimism (mixed in with a bit of skepticism) in the room.

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Posted on November 21, 2012 - 4:17pm, by scosgrove

By Sean Cosgrove, Conservation Law Foundation

“I’ve often heard the phrase ‘everyone has a seat at the table,’ but this is the first time I’ve seen it,” said National Marine Fisheries Service Regional Administrator John Bullard. His keynote statement pretty well summed up the sense of opportunity in the comments of most members of the Northeast Regional Planning Body at its inaugural meeting this week in Portland, Maine.

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Posted on November 16, 2012 - 4:22pm, by JGardner

Canada’s Cohen Commission calls on government to implement the Wild Salmon Policy

By Julie Gardner, Dovetail Consulting, jgardner [at]

As an environmental policy and planning consultant, I have to accept that the fruits of my labors can end up sitting on shelves. It hurt when one policy into which I and many others had invested much effort didn’t gather the momentum it deserved: Canada’s Policy for Conservation of Wild Pacific Salmon (the Wild Salmon Policy). Recently, however, a federal Commission of Inquiry into the Decline of the Sockeye Salmon in the Fraser River (the Cohen Commission, named for its commissioner, Justice Bruce Cohen of the British Columbia Supreme Court) felt my pain. A key recommendation calls on the federal government to fully implement and fund the 2005 Wild Salmon Policy.

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Posted on November 13, 2012 - 2:18pm, by RJust

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

Ocean planning is a practice proudly developed in New England – you need only look at the success of the Massachusetts Ocean Plan and the Rhode Island Special Area Management Plan (SAMP), as well as ways that ocean planning already works in the Northeast. The success of these new planning efforts lies in the dedication of New England’s diverse ocean users and the realization among state leaders that our region needs a better way to grow our economy and maintain our ocean’s health and our quality of life. The Northeast’s planning effort will effectively get underway on Nov, 19th, when the country’s first regional planning body convenes in Portland, Maine, for its inaugural meeting.