Editor’s note: In 2012, the US state of California formally adopted a statewide network of 124 marine protected areas (MPAs), covering over 16% of state waters. A new book Beyond Polarization: Public Process and the Unlikely Story of California's Marine Protected Areas analyzes what allowed the California Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative to succeed in a time of political polarization and fiscal constraint. We interviewed book author Steven Yaffee and process participant Kaitilin Gaffney to get their perspectives about the MLPA Initiative and how conservation action can be achieved at times of political polarization. Yaffee is a professor of natural resources and environmental policy at the University of Michigan, and Gaffney is director of the Ocean, Coast, and Fisheries Program at the Resources Legacy Fund, which oversaw the MLPA Initiative, a public-private partnership between the state of California and philanthropic donors. She participated in the MLPA Initiative as director of the Pacific Program of Ocean Conservancy.
- New marine planning and management trainings added to Skimmer database
- Report assesses challenges and opportunities facing ocean economy post-COVID
- New information hub for monitoring, forecasting, managing, researching Sargassum
- New policy brief links ecological connectivity to effective ocean governance
- UN published framework for MSP in high seas
- Review of economic impacts of MSP available
- Guide provides guidance and examples for drafting MSP legislation
- Sharks missing from 19 percent of world’s coral reefs
- Northeast Pacific and Northwest Atlantic experiencing marine heatwaves
- Viral and bacterial outbreaks among marine mammal populations on the rise
- La Niña conditions likely through at least Northern Hemisphere winter
- New ocean ecoprovince classification developed with machine learning
- More research shows microplastic in ocean vastly underestimated (here, here)
- Plastic flow into ocean could triple by 2040, but existing technologies could reduce current flow by 80%
- China revises rules for distant-water fishing fleets to curb illegal fishing, improve sustainability
- No countries meet 2020 targets for ocean-focused sustainable development goal
- COVID-19 pandemic makes achievement of SDG goals more unlikely
- Report suggests ways to strengthen Arctic Ocean management
- Study estimates benefits of protecting 30% of planet would outweigh costs 5:1
Editor’s note: In our last issue, The Skimmer heard from coastal and marine tourism operators and experts from around the world (including Indonesia, Brazil, the Mediterranean, and the US) about the diverse ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting coastal and marine tourism, how it is likely to change coastal and marine tourism in the future, and what impacts this is likely to have on coastal and marine ecosystems. We received comments from additional experts about how the pandemic is affecting other communities such as the surfing community and British Columbia, Canada, and aspects of coastal/marine tourism such as beach management.
When MPA News reported on blue carbon back in 2016, it was still just a concept, discussed as a way that MPAs could help fight climate change. But now two MPA projects are implementing blue carbon strategies as a source of revenue – the first MPAs to do so. They are generating credits based on the tons of carbon their projects have captured and stored, then selling those credits to global buyers who want to offset their own carbon emissions.
This is a whole new way of monetizing MPAs. The timing is potentially good: the global market for carbon credits is expected to grow substantially as nations and other entities, like airlines, strive to meet various emission-reduction commitments. According to one of the projects selling blue carbon credits, the current demand for them may be as much as a thousand times greater than current supply.
By Ambassador Teburoro Tito, Chairman of the PIPA Conservation Trust Fund Board
On 11 December 2018, Kiribati made history by being the first country to have its domestic marine conservation initiative recognized by the UN General Assembly as an exemplary model of international cooperation. What is so unique about the Phoenix Islands Protected Area to justify this special mention?
By Ton IJlstra
Over the past 20 years, wind energy and MPAs have staked important spatial claims with regard to the Dutch North Sea – to the potential detriment of the Netherlands' commercial fishing industry. For this reason, the North Sea Foundation called in 2017 for an agreement among stakeholders that would preserve the country's North Sea ecosystem while enabling sustainable fisheries and the expansion of wind parks.
Canada joins Global Ocean Alliance, advocating 30% ocean protection by 2030
In early July, Canada became the 22nd nation to join the Global Ocean Alliance, a group of countries in favor of protecting 30% of the ocean by 2030. Current MPA coverage of Canada’s waters is 13.8%. Globally, the World Database on Protected Areas calculates 7.4% of the world ocean is under some protection.
Members of the Global Ocean Alliance support setting a worldwide ‘30x30’ target next year under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Started by the UK in 2019, the alliance now includes Belgium, Belize, Cabo Verde, Canada, Costa Rica, Croatia, Fiji, Finland, Gabon, Germany, Italy, Kenya, Luxembourg, Monaco, Nigeria, Palau, Portugal, Senegal, Seychelles, Sweden, the UK, and Vanuatu.
A recent study by over 100 economists and scientists concluded that the economic benefits of protecting 30% of the world’s land and ocean by 2030 would outweigh the costs by a ratio of 5-to-1. Media coverage of the study is here, here, and here.
Editor’s note: In this series, The Skimmer is taking a look at the various ways that the pandemic is affecting marine ecosystems and their conservation and management. In April, we took an initial look at the impact of the pandemic on fisheries and aquaculture. In this issue, we cover how the pandemic is impacting coastal and marine tourism and the potential impacts of these changes on coastal and marine ecosystems. In future issues, we will examine the pandemic’s impact on plastic pollution, climate change, and more. We will update previous articles as we are able, so if you see critical aspects that we are missing from this and previous articles, please let us know at skimmer [at] octogroup.org.
In many ways, coastal and marine tourism has become a posterchild for the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the earliest and highest-profile cases of the mass spread of the COVID-19 virus happened aboard passenger cruise ships (here, here). Photos of crowded beaches have become synonymous with inadequate social distancing to prevent the virus’s spread. And photos of empty beaches show the devastating impacts of the pandemic on local economies.
The Skimmer asked coastal and marine tourism operators and experts from around the world (Indonesia, Brazil, the Mediterranean, the United States, and more) about the diverse ways that the COVID-19 pandemic is currently affecting coastal and marine tourism, how it is likely to change coastal and marine tourism in the future, and what impacts this is likely to have on coastal and marine ecosystems. Their responses (below) give reasons for both hope and concern.
- New marine planning and management trainings added to Skimmer database
- New tools compilations added to Skimmer database
- New resource available for finding ocean webinars
- One-fifth of ocean floor now mapped (while less than one-fifth of deep sea life is identifiable)
- New study assesses vulnerability of shellfish aquaculture to climate change and ocean acidification
- Loss of endangered charismatic marine megafauna could have catastrophic impacts on marine ecosystems
- Experts call for a rethinking of how ocean data are collected, shared, and accessed
- Free smart buoys available to monitor reef temperature, wind, and waves in real time
- Step-by-step guide to ecosystem services valuation available
- New toolkit available for developing a coastal restoration project
- New model predicts ocean acidity up to five years in advance
- Study identifies coastal regions that would benefit most from ecosystem-based adaptation
- New report highlights value of seagrasses to environment and people
- Study finds existing mangroves provide US$65 billion in flood protection globally
- European Commission commits to protecting 30% of the EU’s land and oceans by 2030
- EU countries have overfished 8.78 million tons over last 20 years
- Finland releases draft national marine spatial plan
- Construction finished on US’s second offshore wind farm
- Responses requested to survey to improve understanding of the use of marine data
Editor’s note: Jon Fisher is currently a conservation science officer at The Pew Charitable Trusts where he provides scientific expertise to inform and improve research projects and helps to increase the impact of scientific research. He was formerly a senior conservation scientist at The Nature Conservancy where he led and conducted research as a principal investigator and conducted internal theory of change work. He and co-authors recently published a paper “Improving scientific impact: how to practice science that influences environmental policy and management” in the journal Conservation Science and Practice. Fisher presented a webinar on this research to the OCTO networks (including the EBM Tools Network) in December 2019, and we highly recommend reading the paper and watching the webinar recording.
Skimmer: As you describe in your paper, a lot of scientific research that is intended to be applied isn’t ever used - because decision-makers are unaware of it, aren’t able to access it, don’t understand it, or don’t see it as relevant. Your recent paper outlines practical steps for improving the impact of science on decision making. Could you give us a summary of those steps?
Fisher: Sure, at a high level we recommend four steps:
- Identify and understand the audience (e.g., a decision-maker with whom you can partner)
- Clarify the need for evidence (i.e., how new information could lead to action)
- Gather "just enough" evidence (i.e., so there is enough rigor to be credible without missing key decision-making deadlines or wasting resources on gathering extraneous information)
- Share and discuss the evidence (i.e., help people learn about your results and motivate them to act on them).
These are guidelines rather than a strict recipe for success because there are many factors that determine the impact that research has. But following these steps improves the odds of research being influential. In fact, we ourselves have found that not following these steps in past projects has led to disappointing outcomes.