The importance of migratory connectivity for global ocean policy
The distributions of migratory species in the ocean span local, national and international jurisdictions. Across these ecologically interconnected regions, migratory marine species interact with anthropogenic stressors throughout their lives. Migratory connectivity, the geographical linking of individuals and populations throughout their migratory cycles, influences how spatial and temporal dynamics of stressors affect migratory animals and scale up to influence population abundance, distribution and species persistence. Population declines of many migratory marine species have led to calls for connectivity knowledge, especially insights from animal tracking studies, to be more systematically and synthetically incorporated into decision-making. Inclusion of migratory connectivity in the design of conservation and management measures is critical to ensure they are appropriate for the level of risk associated with various degrees of connectivity. Three mechanisms exist to incorporate migratory connectivity into international marine policy which guides conservation implementation: site-selection criteria, network design criteria and policy recommendations. Here, we review the concept of migratory connectivity and its use in international policy, and describe the Migratory Connectivity in the Ocean system, a migratory connectivity evidence-base for the ocean. We propose that without such collaboration focused on migratory connectivity, efforts to effectively conserve these critical species across jurisdictions will have limited effect.
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