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 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.

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By Joachim Claudet, National Center for Scientific Research, joachim.claudet [at]

“Marine protected areas are effective tools for fisheries management and biodiversity conservation.” This assertion used to be found in many articles of the conservation or fisheries scientific literature. It might now, however, be registered on the list of endangered sentences. The study of marine protected areas (MPAs) emerged in the 1990s and about 20 years were needed to clearly identify their ecological and socio-economic benefits. Today, the scientific results that led to such conclusions cannot be generalized anymore. How to explain what appears to be a regression? Could the effectiveness of such tools have decreased? The answer appears to be, unfortunately, more prosaic.

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Posted on November 11, 2012 - 6:38am, by disciara

By Giuseppe Notarbartolo di Sciara, Tethys Research Institute, giuseppe [at]

More than 20 years ago (1991), under the impetus of the highest concern for the survival of cetacean populations in the Mediterranean, strongly impacted by human activities (most notably bycatch in pelagic driftnets), with colleagues I lobbied for the establishment of a large (87,000 km2) marine mammal sanctuary in the region’s NW portion, covering an area containing critical habitat of several cetacean species. Subsequently (1999), the Pelagos Sanctuary was formally established by a treaty among France, Italy and Monaco, and was later included in the list of Specially Protected Areas of Mediterranean Importance (SPAMIs) under the purview of the Barcelona Convention. As the world’s first MPA established in the high seas, Pelagos has served significantly the purpose of attracting attention to the need of protecting Areas Beyond Natural Jurisdiction (ABNJ).

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Posted on October 30, 2012 - 12:32pm, by SeaPlan

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

Once a month for the next five years Captain Rodman Sykes and the crew of the Virginia Marise will be hauling in trawling nets full of fish three miles off the southeast coast of Block Island, RI. The catch is not destined for market, however. Instead, the fish are part of an assessment that promises to be a model for understanding the true impacts on commercial and recreational fisheries from the construction and operation of offshore wind farms.

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Posted on October 17, 2012 - 1:48pm, by toniparras

By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at]

Inform. Demonstrate. Persuade.  Assuming your purposes for filming are similar to ones I’ve encountered in my years of marine conservation work, the following are some tips for documenting project activities (issues, site overview, workshops, interviews, etc.) on video. 

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Posted on October 17, 2012 - 6:48am, by afjohnson

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

It is now well understood that our global fisheries are in trouble. With huge advances in marine technologies in the last 50 years we now fish deeper, longer, further and harder than ever before to feed the mouths of our growing global population. We also however know that current levels of exploitation are not sustainable and the number of fish in our oceans is declining. But what are our options in fisheries management? What could we do to halt current trends and perhaps even reverse them?

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Posted on October 5, 2012 - 9:42am, by lemorgan

In response to illegal incursions and fishing in America’s Pacific marine monuments, the Marine Conservation Institute today released a study that recommends ways to help law enforcement agencies combat  threats to one of America’s last relatively unspoiled frontiers. Fishermen and recreational sailors have already damaged coral reefs and other marine wildlife by vessel groundings and spills and by introducing invasive species on island wildlife refuges that constitute the heart of the monuments.

To combat illegal encroachment into these internationally recognized conservation areas, Marine Conservation Institute recommends several steps:

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By Ameer Abdulla, ameer.abdulla [at]

When is an MPA not an MPA?  When it is an area that is not protecting marine resources, but instead managing them and allowing for their regulated use.  The answer seems simple and I may be stating the obvious.  So why is it that we still struggle with calling areas that are not no-take zones — that are not protected — marine protected areas when clearly they should be called marine managed areas (MMAs)?  “Marine protected area” should be a term used only to describe a no-take marine reserve, not an area that is managed with different zones that may or may not include a no-take zone.

The IUCN definition for Marine Protected Area seems to be derived from a terrestrial definition of Protected Areas,* and may in fact more aptly describe a marine managed area:

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Posted on September 21, 2012 - 4:18pm, by SeaPlan

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

Kids quake in their beds with covers over their heads because their parents told them the Boogeyman will take them away if they don’t go to sleep. That fear of an unknown menace sticks with people and it can be a big challenge to overcome. Even in ocean planning.

This summer SeaPlan designed and conducted an extensive ocean use characterization study of recreational saltwater boaters from Maine to New York. The goal was to collect scientifically sound spatial data on recreational boating activity and estimate the economic impact of recreational boating in the region.  The impetus for the work was a data gap identified by the Northeast Regional Ocean Council, but leaders in the boating industry also recognized the need for science-based, stakeholder-informed data. 

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Posted on September 4, 2012 - 4:05pm, by toniparras

By Toni Parras, Communications Professional, toniparras [at]

Are you a marine resource manager?  Are you a filmmaker?  Who says you can’t be both?

Many conservation efforts today use imagery in some form, at some level, in support of their efforts.  From high-end, high-definition video and photography down to the point-and-shoot variety, cameras can greatly aid in getting your message across.

But where to start if you’ve never taken to the shutter before?  Not to worry: with today’s advanced camera technology, even the most shutter-shy can produce credible results with a basic, inexpensive point-and-shoot camera. 

It’s really more about the technique than the gear — the message more than expertise.  With a few simple tips to help you get started, you will be on your way to advancing your marine conservation efforts: