Top Lists

The OpenChannels Team curates important content into "Top Lists" to offer you a starting point to learn about many topics in ocean planning and management. If you feel critical content is missing from a list, please let us know in the comments section of that list. If you would like to see a new list created, please email Nick Wehner at nwehner [at] Thank you!

Marketing and Communications for Effective Ocean Planning/Management

For ocean planning and management processes to be effective and cost-effective in the long term, they benefit greatly from the support of their stakeholders. Without such backing, a marine protected area or marine spatial plan may find that users disregard the goals and regulations they don't support. Compliance can go down and enforcement costs go up - neither result ideal. Building a base of support, whether from specific stakeholder groups or the community at large, requires practitioners to be able to communicate effectively with their audiences. This involves not only what the practitioners say but how they say it, and how they engage the community in dialogue.

The following items provide a primer on how practitioners can engage their audiences effectively, what tools are most useful, and what the marine sector can learn from the field of marketing.

Marine Protected Area Enforcement

MPA enforcement (which covers surveillance, policing, and prosecution) can take many forms, from high-tech tools to low-tech community-based strategies. Choosing the right tools and strategies depends on the budget, management capacity, and physical characteristics of each MPA. The following items offer a primer on how managers and tool-developers are approaching MPA enforcement, including good practices for encouraging stakeholder compliance with MPA regulations.

Planning and Management in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ)

At the time of this top list's creation (July 2017), a UN committee is negotiating a set of recommendations on developing a legally binding instrument for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJs). There is currently no legal mechanism for establishing MPAs outside of states’ EEZs, which makes high seas conservation difficult. The UN negotiation process is expected to yield recommendations by the end of 2017, and potentially lead to a formal treaty conference in 2018. The following items offer a primer on the ongoing negotiations, what governance could emerge from a new high seas treaty, and how protecting the high seas can benefit ocean ecosystems. (For additional information, visit the websites of the UN Preparatory Committee handling the negotiations and the High Seas Alliance, an NGO highly engaged in the negotiations.)

UN Sustainable Development Goals and the Ocean

In January 2016, member states of the United Nations adopted a series of 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs. These ambitious and interconnected goals - each with its own set of targets - are expected to guide national development plans through the year 2030.

The list below includes articles from MEAM and MPA News on how the SDGs will impact ocean planning and MPAs, respectively. The literature items and blog provide further exploration of the relationship between the development goals and sustainable ocean management.

Initiating and Managing an MSP Process

Marine spatial planning (MSP) is the focus of considerable interest worldwide. In the past decade, it has grown from initiatives in a handful of places, mostly in Western Europe and North America, to over 60 initiatives around the world in various stages of development. Depending on each locale's unique ecological and socioeconomic character, MSP processes can involve any of a number of elements and buzzwords - including ecosystem-based management, marine protected areas, Blue Growth, Large Marine Ecosystems, transboundary management, adaptive management, and much more. The list below offers a start to understanding the steps in building an effective MSP process, and how to continue that process through creation of a useful spatial plan and beyond.

Engaging the Business Community

Despite the enormous economic role of the maritime sector in global commerce (shipping, offshore energy, fishing, mining, etc.), ocean planning processes are often dominated by government agencies, NGOs, and academics. This failure to engage business effectively is due to various reasons - some the fault of planners, others the fault of business itself. That being said, constructive engagement of industry in marine planning processes - and the support of ocean businesses for the eventual results - increases the likelihood of marine spatial plans being implemented and achieving widespread compliance. This primer provides an outline of the issues involved, and guidance for building trust and engagement.

The Blue Economy and Blue Growth

The concepts of the Blue Economy and Blue Growth are related. The Blue Economy refers to the use of seas and coasts for economic activities. Blue Growth refers to the expansion of such marine and coastal activities in a planned way. The latter also involves sustainability: Blue Growth strategies include the premise that healthy ocean ecosystems are more productive (and therefore more supportive of ocean-based economies) than unhealthy ones – so such growth should be done with conservation and long-term sustainability in mind.

The following items offer a primer on these concepts and how they can be used to advance economies, often in a sustainable way.

Using Genetic Information for Ocean Planning and Management

Marine biodiversity is typically studied and managed at the ecosystem and species levels. However, it also exists at the genetic level: the more genetic diversity a population has, the more resilient it may be when encountering stressors. With this in mind, the advent of quick and inexpensive DNA-sequencing technology should be a boon for informing ocean and coastal conservation. The following items offer a primer on using genetic information for planning and management.

Catch Shares and Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs)

Catch shares are a system of fishery management. In this system, the right to harvest a specific geographic area, or a specific portion of a fishery's total allowable catch, is assigned to particular individuals or groups. Individual transferable quotas (ITQs) are one type of catch share: they are portions of a total allowable catch that can be bought, sold, or transferred to other individuals. The list below offers a primer on the concepts of catch shares and ITQs, how these concepts fit into ecosystem-based management, and how catch shares perform as a real-world fishery management tool.