Much discussion on MPAs, and particularly no-take marine reserves, focuses on their benefits: to the marine ecosystem - to research - even to fishermen as insurance against stock collapse, or as a potential source of fish spilling over into fished areas. There are costs from MPAs, too. Some costs, like the potential for foregone catches when no-take areas are placed on fishing grounds, often become a central focus in the planning of new MPAs.
In November 2005, President Tommy Remengesau of Palau challenged his fellow leaders in the Micronesia region of the Pacific Ocean to conserve 30% of their nearshore marine waters by 2020. His "Micronesia Challenge" was intended to help address threats to the region's marine resources, such as climate change, while positioning Micronesia as a global leader in conservation.
Editor's note: Daniel Owen is a barrister at Fenners Chambers in the UK. He specializes in public law relating to use of the oceans. His essay, below, focuses on the continental shelf beyond 200 nautical miles from the baseline: the "outer" continental shelf. The term continental shelf has both a legal meaning and a geological and/or geomorphological meaning. It is the legal sense that is considered here.
Handbook available on Marxan good practices
A new handbook describes good practices in the use of Marxan, a popular free software program used as a decision support tool in marine and terrestrial reserve design. Published by the Pacific Marine Analysis & Research Association (PacMARA), the handbook distills the advice of 25 expert users on issues relevant to systematic conservation planning and the use of support tools like Marxan. Although peer-reviewed internally, it is still open to comments and subject to revision. A final version is expected in early 2009.
The effectiveness of watershed management has direct bearing on the scope and scale of challenges we face with marine EBM. Freshwater ecosystems that are degraded or poorly managed contribute in turn to degradation of marine ecosystems, including in the form of altered productivity and loss of ecosystem services. Freshwater systems deliver pollutants to coastal waters, changing the nature of many coastal environments and even affecting benthic and pelagic ecosystems offshore.
Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of software tools for facilitating EBM processes, and to provide advice on using those tools effectively. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network (www.ebmtools.org), a voluntary alliance of leading tool users, developers, and training providers.
By Sarah Carr
The Danube River Basin covers parts of 19 countries in Europe, making it the world's most international river basin. In size it is also noteworthy: with a total area of 801,463 km2, it is Europe's second largest river basin. The ecosystems of the Danube River Basin - and, by extension, the Black Sea, into which the Danube drains - are highly valuable in environmental, economic, historical and social terms. But they are also subject to increasing pressure and significant pollution from agriculture, industry and cities.
Editor's note: The link between watershed management and marine EBM is no better exemplified than in the case of Chesapeake Bay, on the east coast of the US. Significant efforts to improve the health of the Chesapeake over several decades have focused largely on reducing upstream pollution. So far, however, those efforts have been unsuccessful in returning the bay to good health (see box at the end of the following essay).
Massachusetts passes ocean law
Many areas of the ocean are off-limits to human activity for reasons other than conservation. Zones around coastal military bases may be completely closed for security purposes. Waters around oil platforms often restrict fishing or access in general. Anchoring is forbidden around undersea cables. These restrictions, by the fact that they limit some human impacts on these ocean sites, provide a degree of protection for the ecosystems there. For this reason, they are sometimes referred to as "de facto marine protected areas" - meaning MPAs in practice but not in law.