It is mid-July and the Deepwater Horizon oil well blowout in US waters of the Gulf of Mexico is still spewing crude oil from the underground field into the water column. The spill began nearly three months ago, and several million barrels of oil have been released from the seafloor wellhead. Oil company BP and the US Coast Guard continue efforts to shut off the well's flow. The latest efforts involve installing a new cap on the broken wellhead and drilling relief wells kilometers below the seafloor. Neither strategy is guaranteed to be successful.
In the wake of the Deepwater Horizon spill, governments around the world are double-checking spill response plans for their own marine areas and coastlines, particularly in areas of offshore drilling. But despite the catastrophic impact the spill may have on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem, no government is taking steps to outlaw offshore drilling all together in its waters. The economic pressure against such a move is too great.
Last decade, multiple international goals were set for the protection of oceans through MPAs, with deadlines for reaching them. For some of the main goals, the deadline is now just two years away:
By Carlo Franzosini, Marco Costantini, Saul Ciriaco, Maurizio Spoto
Miramare Marine Protected Area, Trieste, Italy
Scientists call for large no-take areas
More than 260 marine scientists from 39 countries have signed a statement calling for the designation of a global system of very large no-take MPAs. Such a system would help ensure the future abundance of top marine predator species and would match the scale of management to the scale of important ecosystem processes, they say.
This "Building Resilience" feature is contributed by the Reef Resilience program of The Nature Conservancy (www.reefresilience.org). The program provides guidance on building resilience to climate change into MPA design.
By Rebecca Cerroni, Reef Resilience Project Manager, The Nature Conservancy
When corals bleach or suffer other effects of climate change, managers need to be able to communicate these incidents to their constituents, including dive operators, fishers, tourists, and government agencies.
As our global society's need for energy continues to grow, the oceans are playing an increasing role in meeting that demand. The development of deeper and deeper petroleum reserves offshore is opening up significant new supplies of oil and gas. And projects to harness the potential of wind, wave, and tidal energy are sprouting off many coastlines, offering the promise of abundant, renewable power.
By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM (tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net)
By Paul Holthus, Executive Director, World Ocean Council
The single most important factor determining the health of the ocean is the way business is done in the marine environment. As the tragedy in the Gulf of Mexico unfortunately demonstrates, the best-laid marine spatial plans or best-designed marine protected area can be severely compromised, if not rendered meaningless, by outside impacts on marine environmental quality in the protected area.
A step toward EBM: Form a regular advisory group