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The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

UK passes Marine and Coastal Access Act

In November, the UK passed the Marine and Coastal Access Act, establishing a wide-ranging policy to enhance protection of the marine environment, improve fisheries management, and allow for easier coastal access. The Act also lays the framework for developing a national marine planning system that will set priorities and guide managers in the sustainable use and protection of marine resources.

Specifically, the Act prescribes the following measures, among others:

MPA News

There has always been natural "noise" in the sea. Undersea volcanoes, for example, can produce extremely loud sounds - intense enough, hypothetically, to kill a man at close range (if the boiling water and lava did not get him first). The low-frequency vocalizations of some whale species are intense enough to travel 10,000 miles.

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An international scientific partnership has been launched to help nations identify significant areas in the open ocean and deep sea that need protection. Facilitated by IUCN with support from the German Federal Agency for Nature Conservation, the Global Ocean Biodiversity Initiative (GOBI) will apply the best available science to analyze areas according to criteria adopted by the Convention on Biological Diversity in 2008. The criteria include ecological considerations such as uniqueness, vulnerability, diversity, productivity, importance to life history stages, and more.

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The new coordinator of the UNESCO World Heritage Marine Programme says the World Heritage Convention has "not been applied anywhere close to its full potential for marine ecosystems." Today, there are just 35 World Heritage sites - out of a total of nearly 900 worldwide - that have been identified and protected specifically for their marine values. The lackluster coverage of marine sites has not been helped by the fact that funding for the Marine Programme dried up three years ago, leaving it without oversight.

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UK launches consultation on MPA around Chagos Archipelago

The UK government has launched a consultation on designating an MPA around the Chagos Archipelago in the Indian Ocean. The archipelago, also called the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), has an Exclusive Economic Zone of 636,000 km2. The consultation seeks views on whether the BIOT should become an MPA and what regulations would be appropriate, such as whether it should be completely no-take. The archipelago lies about 500 km due south of the Maldives, its nearest neighbor.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

In the two years that MEAM has been published, the most common questions from readers have related to terminology. Namely readers have wondered about the distinctions between ecosystem-based management and other resource management terms that have gained favor at different times in various places - like ecosystem approach to management, or integrated coastal management. A Google search of these terms will yield multiple definitions for each, with enough overlap to blur the distinctions.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

As with new concepts in virtually any field - particularly ideas that involve change from the status quo - misconceptions exist about marine ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning (MSP). These misconceptions, held by practitioners and stakeholders alike, pose obstacles to implementation. Below, authors of two new publications describe some of the most common misunderstandings they have encountered on MSP and EBM, and how they respond to each.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

In the Western Pacific, the archipelagic nation of Fiji includes more than 800 high islands, cays, and islets. Holding roughly 4% of all coral reefs in the world, Fiji includes the third-longest barrier reef on Earth - the Great Sea Reef, or Cakau Levu. Most of the country's population of 945,000 people live along the coast, and many rely on the sea's resources for food and income. Fijian lifestyles, history, and customs - including the traditional use of tabu areas in Fijian resource management - all reflect the islanders' relationship with the sea.

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