Policies that mandate ecosystem-based management of the ocean have emphasized the need for good science. In the newly released "Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force" on which the new US national ocean policy is based (described later in this issue), "science" is mentioned more than 65 times. The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Common Fisheries Policy both stress the need for science to underpin management.
By Tundi Agardy, MEAM Contributing Editor (tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net)
Implicit in the EBM construct is the central role of science. By building management from a foundation of solid science, we presume that ecosystems and the resources and services they provide can be protected or restored in predictable ways, following a set path to known outcomes. And it is not only natural (ecological) sciences that are integral to that foundation: social sciences are critical as well.
In July, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a national ocean policy for the US - the country's first comprehensive, integrated policy for stewardship of its oceans and coasts. The policy launches a process of coastal and marine spatial planning for the nation, and coordinates the various ocean-related activities of more than 20 federal agencies under a new and centralized National Ocean Council. The President's action reflects the recommendations of a federal task force that explored ways to promote long-term conservation and use of ocean resources.
The Crown Estate is a commercial property organization that manages a diverse portfolio on behalf of the UK. The property ranges from offices and shops in the heart of London, to farmland and forests, to the UK's foreshore and seabed. Because the role of The Crown Estate is to enhance the value of this property and earn a surplus for UK taxpayers, it leases various activities. On its seabed property, for example, this includes licensing various offshore renewable energy projects. The Crown Estate plans for these offshore projects using marine spatial planning.
The EBM Toolbox
Our regular feature "The EBM Toolbox", produced by the EBM Tools Network, is on hiatus this issue. It will resume in our next issue (October-November 2010). In the meantime, you may learn about EBM tools and sign up for Network updates at www.ebmtools.org.
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