Blogs

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 Nick Wehner at nwehner [at] openchannels.org. We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team


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By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Waitt Foundation; and Jacob James, Waitt Foundation

Ocean conservation is in need of action, not talk, but the Our Ocean Conference, hosted by Secretary John Kerry and the U.S. Department of State last week was not just hot air. Rather, it was worth its carbon footprint, and we were honored to attend.

All in attendance seemed to agree on the key challenges: sustainable management of fishing, the need for creation of marine reserves, reduction in greenhouse gases, and reducing ocean pollution. So the question quickly became: What steps can we take today and tomorrow to tackle these challenges?

The Our Ocean Conference provided a much-needed platform for governments, scientists, corporations, non-profit organizations, and philanthropists to collectively address this question.

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Posted on June 27, 2014 - 11:13am, by cehler

By Matt Brookhart, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Our nation’s system of national marine sanctuaries protect some of America’s most significant marine and Great Lakes assets – from vibrant coral reefs and kelp forests to historic shipwrecks and extraordinarily productive fishing grounds.  In doing so, NOAA economists estimate that across all our sanctuaries, about $6 billion is generated each year in local coastal and ocean-dependent activities, such as diving, tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and research.  This demonstrates that sanctuaries are an essential component of our coastal economies, as well as the long-term conservation of our oceans. 

Throughout the 1990s, several new national marine sanctuaries were designated either by NOAA or by Congress; so many, in fact, that NOAA decided to put a hold on the consideration of new sanctuaries so that we could focus on best managing the growing sanctuary system within our limited resources.

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Posted on June 26, 2014 - 9:27am, by emdesanto

By Elizabeth M. De Santo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Franklin & Marshall College

The Aspen Institute has just released a new report from the Ocean Community Strategy Roundtable, focusing on several areas as potential keys to the success of new conservation models being used to scale marine protection efforts. In particular, it focuses on developing government-led change through public-private-partnerships (PPPs), the role of corporations with shared agendas in promoting conservation, and new subcontractor models of conservation implementation.

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Posted on June 6, 2014 - 3:18am, by PJSJones

By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk)

The most recent issue of MEAM features a series of interesting perspectives on different approaches for addressing scale mis-matches between individual MPAs and the wider network or ecosystem-based management (EBM) initiative of which they are a component. The challenges of such approaches are further explored in Tundi's Take, and this blog further explores these perspectives and this take, drawing on my recent book on Governing Marine Protected Areas: resilience through diversity (Jones 2014). The essence of the challenges of scale mis-matches is that an MPA network and/or EBM initiative may have wider-scale, longer-term objectives, whereas an individual MPA may be strongly influenced by local economic gain and shorter-term objectives, including the potential for disproportionate influence or 'capture' by specific commercial sectors and community groups. These challenges are exacerbated where different MPAs are connected by the wide ranges of many fish populations and by the even wider ranges of fishermen that harvest such fish populations.

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Posted on May 14, 2014 - 9:42am, by cmwahle

By Mimi D’Iorio, PhD, NOAA National MPA Center (on detail to NOAA Coastal Services Center) mimi.diorio [at] noaa.gov

There aren’t sign posts in the ocean, no billboards or ranger-staffed kiosks alerting ocean-goers that they are entering a special area where certain activities are regulated or prohibited.   Unlike on land, special areas in the ocean are not marked or gated or fenced.  So without posted boundaries, public compliance to MPA regulations relies on effective outreach and education, as well routine monitoring and enforcement.

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By Elizabeth M. De Santo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Franklin & Marshall College

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is currently meeting to determine the legality of the UK’s 2010 declaration of a marine reserve around the Chagos archipelago. This is the latest in a suite of legal arguments undertaken since the islands’ local population was evicted to make way for the leasing of Diego Garcia to the US to build a military base. I would like to explain why the current case matters, not re-hash the rights and wrongs of the Chagossian eviction and US occupation, nor whether the “special relationship” used the MPA as a means of keeping the zone a de facto militarized space, nor am I reopening the debate on the pros and cons of large MPAs. Rather, the PCA arbitration presents new and worrying implications for former colonial powers designating large swaths of their overseas territories as conservation areas, and it adds yet another layer of negativity to the Chagos MPA that will have repercussions on future designations. 

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By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Waitt Foundation, ayanaelizabeth [at] gmail.com

I had the honor of participating in the Global Ocean Action Summit in The Hague last week. This small conference of diplomats, NGO leaders, and philanthropy and industry representatives came together to define discrete actions for how to achieve food security and blue growth.

Broad focal areas included improving traceability, transparency, information sharing, and collaboration to address challenges such as investing in small-scale fisheries and preventing illegal fishing.  For more on the official policy priorities and the new international commitments that came out of the Summit, see the summarypress release, and full official report.

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Posted on April 10, 2014 - 3:47am, by PJSJones

By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk)

Recent developments and assessments indicate that the tensions between achieving good environmental status and blue growth in Europe's seas are increasing.

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Posted on March 29, 2014 - 4:42am, by PJSJones

By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P.J.Jones [at] ucl.ac.uk)

A recent article highlights that the "Great Barrier Reef and Indigenous heritage laws face 'one-stop shop' threat", in that Australia's Environment Department is proposing to cut 'green tape' that can hinder economic development proposals. "This could mean decision-making for the dumping of materials into the Great Barrier Reef marine park being stripped from the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA) and handed to the Queensland government." The proposal to dump dredge spoil in the GBRMP to expand Abbot Point coal terminal is a key driver of this initiative.

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Posted on March 26, 2014 - 12:58pm, by cmwahle

By Charles M. Wahle, Ph.D., Senior Scientist and Blog Editor, NOAA MPA Center, charles.wahle [at] noaa.gov

Americans and our visitors are increasingly discovering the nation’s oceans as a place to play. This trend is hard to miss. Any visit to the coast or to travel and tourism websites reveals the diversity of ways we now recreate in the ocean [1]. The ongoing explosion of ocean recreation involves familiar uses pursued by ever-more people (e.g. kayaking, wildlife viewing, SCUBA), as well as the emergence of new activities not envisioned just a few years ago (e.g. stand-up paddle boards, kayak fishing, jet packs).

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