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Marine debris - also called marine litter or ocean trash - can be one of the most visible challenges an MPA faces. Whether it is a plastic bag floating on the sea surface or a discarded fishing net snagged on a coral head, such debris is an easy-to-see reminder that the oceans are not free from human impacts, even in protected areas.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

In ecosystem-based management, people are considered to be part of the ecosystem. As such, EBM decisions not only take ecological factors into account but also the economic and social conditions that affect, or are affected by, the environment. The idea is to build a framework for management that ensures a sustainable environment and sustainable human communities over time.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

By Tundi Agardy, MEAM Contributing Editor (tundiagardy [at]

Participatory planning is the Holy Grail of EBM. Reaching out to stakeholders to determine a group vision for the coastal or marine area to be managed, bringing stakeholders into the planning process, and actively involving user groups in management are each thought to be a key to EBM success.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

[Editor's note: Ecosystem-based management is as much a process as an endpoint. It does not require a single giant leap from traditional, sectoral management to fully integrated, comprehensive management. Rather, it can be achieved in a step-by-step, adaptive manner. In our new "Profiles in EBM" feature, MEAM will briefly highlight places where important steps toward EBM are being taken - recognizing ecosystem connections, protecting ecosystem services, integrating management, and pursuing multiple objectives.]