Blogs

OpenChannels has a team of dedicated bloggers addressing targeted aspects of ocean planning and management, including communication, technology, ocean uses, and more. Our bloggers are experts in the field, drawing from their own knowledge and experience.

The OpenChannels community can also benefit from your knowledge and experience. We appreciate the diversity of perspectives in this field and welcome the use of OpenChannels for sharing these views. Do you have a perspective on ocean planning you would like to share? We'll help you do that right now: just click the button above and follow the prompts. If you are interested in blogging but have questions, please email Nick Wehner at nwehner [at] openchannels [dot] org. We look forward to your contribution!

The OpenChannels Team


Blogger picture
Posted on July 18, 2014 - 1:09pm, by scosgrove

By Sean Cosgrove, Conservation Law Foundation, SCosgrove [at] clf [dot] org

There is a big opportunity to extend and improve ocean habitat protections in the Omnibus Habitat Amendment (OHA) now under consideration at the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC). The big question is whether the NEFMC will bury its collective head in the practices and politics of the past, or look towards the very real needs of the present and future.

Blogger picture
Posted on July 16, 2014 - 9:43am, by lemorgan

Report Useful for Policy-Makers and Summer Beach-Goers Alike; California Remains the Frontrunner, But Strongly Protecting Only 5% is Not Enough

Marine Conservation Institute, a leader in protecting marine biodiversity, today released a report that will be of interest to U.S. policy-makers and beach-goers this summer.  Called SeaStates 2014: How Well Does Your State Protect Your Coastal Waters?, this second annual report reveals that most states and territories are failing to safeguard our nation’s marine life, seafood and coasts.  California, the frontrunner of all the states, strongly protects over 5% of their waters in no-take reserves.  However, all of the states and territories, including California, fall far below the 20% level that is needed for productive ecosystems and only a few are making any progress whatsoever.  Strongly protected marine areas are needed to ensure the abundance and resilience of our oceans, not only in U.S. waters, but worldwide. 

Blogs
Posted on July 14, 2014 - 9:29am, by Sue Wells

By Sue Wells

The MCZ process has been criticised from many angles and the often negative press has resulted in an international perception that it has not been successful so far.  Although not perfect, some of us consider that it has been no worse than the efforts of other countries, and certainly far more deserving of support.  Nick Wehner recently highlighted the report of the British Government’s Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) on the MPA list but based his comments on a briefing produced by a law firm (Bond Dickinson). 

The EAC, however, is a cross-party group of MPs (Members of Parliament) and their role is “to consider the extent to which the policies and programmes of government departments and non-departmental public bodies contribute to environmental protection and sustainable development, and to audit their performance against sustainable development and environmental protection targets.”  Their report, published in June 2014 and resulting from interviews with and written witness statements from stakeholders and other interested parties, provides more detail and the necessary context to understand the recommendations.

Blog series logo
Posted on July 14, 2014 - 8:16am, by PJSJones

By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P [dot] J [dot] Jones [at] ucl [dot] ac [dot] uk)

It is increasingly recognised that marine ecosystems that have a higher diversity of species are more resilient to impacts from non-native species, climate change, etc., but why is there a link between diversity and resilience and how can marine protected areas (MPAs) be made more effective in building resilience?

Species provide a variety of functional roles in ecosystems, such as nutrient recycling, population control, etc. The higher the diversity of functional groups and the higher the diversity of species and the population sizes within each functional group, the more resilient the ecosystem is, in that it can remain stable in the face of factors that could otherwise perturb it. This is because one species can replace the role of another species in the same functional group if that species is depleted by disease, over-harvesting, etc. Also, if environmental conditions change, a species that previously appeared to be redundant, in that it has no apparent functional role, can be better adapted to the new conditions and thereby is able to adopt a functional role, replacing the role of a species which is less well adapted to the new conditions. In these ways the ecosystem is able to remain in a relatively stable state, including the capacity to adapt to changing conditions. This capacity for resilience is increasingly recognised as being important, as the pressures related to human activities which can perturb marine ecosystems, e.g. greenhouse gas emissions and species introductions, increase, potentially shifting ecosystems to alternative states that provide fewer ecosystem services, e.g. food production, greenhouse gas sinks, genetic resources and tourism value.

Blogger picture

By Ayana Elizabeth Johnson, Waitt Foundation; and Jacob James, Waitt Foundation

Ocean conservation is in need of action, not talk, but the Our Ocean Conference, hosted by Secretary John Kerry and the U.S. Department of State last week was not just hot air. Rather, it was worth its carbon footprint, and we were honored to attend.

All in attendance seemed to agree on the key challenges: sustainable management of fishing, the need for creation of marine reserves, reduction in greenhouse gases, and reducing ocean pollution. So the question quickly became: What steps can we take today and tomorrow to tackle these challenges?

The Our Ocean Conference provided a much-needed platform for governments, scientists, corporations, non-profit organizations, and philanthropists to collectively address this question.

Blog series logo
Posted on June 27, 2014 - 11:13am, by cehler

By Matt Brookhart, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries

Our nation’s system of national marine sanctuaries protect some of America’s most significant marine and Great Lakes assets – from vibrant coral reefs and kelp forests to historic shipwrecks and extraordinarily productive fishing grounds.  In doing so, NOAA economists estimate that across all our sanctuaries, about $6 billion is generated each year in local coastal and ocean-dependent activities, such as diving, tourism, commercial and recreational fishing, and research.  This demonstrates that sanctuaries are an essential component of our coastal economies, as well as the long-term conservation of our oceans. 

Throughout the 1990s, several new national marine sanctuaries were designated either by NOAA or by Congress; so many, in fact, that NOAA decided to put a hold on the consideration of new sanctuaries so that we could focus on best managing the growing sanctuary system within our limited resources.

Blogger picture
Posted on June 26, 2014 - 9:27am, by emdesanto

By Elizabeth M. De Santo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Franklin & Marshall College

The Aspen Institute has just released a new report from the Ocean Community Strategy Roundtable, focusing on several areas as potential keys to the success of new conservation models being used to scale marine protection efforts. In particular, it focuses on developing government-led change through public-private-partnerships (PPPs), the role of corporations with shared agendas in promoting conservation, and new subcontractor models of conservation implementation.

Blog series logo
Posted on June 6, 2014 - 3:18am, by PJSJones

By Dr Peter JS Jones, Dept of Geography, University College London (P [dot] J [dot] Jones [at] ucl [dot] ac [dot] uk)

The most recent issue of MEAM features a series of interesting perspectives on different approaches for addressing scale mis-matches between individual MPAs and the wider network or ecosystem-based management (EBM) initiative of which they are a component. The challenges of such approaches are further explored in Tundi's Take, and this blog further explores these perspectives and this take, drawing on my recent book on Governing Marine Protected Areas: resilience through diversity (Jones 2014). The essence of the challenges of scale mis-matches is that an MPA network and/or EBM initiative may have wider-scale, longer-term objectives, whereas an individual MPA may be strongly influenced by local economic gain and shorter-term objectives, including the potential for disproportionate influence or 'capture' by specific commercial sectors and community groups. These challenges are exacerbated where different MPAs are connected by the wide ranges of many fish populations and by the even wider ranges of fishermen that harvest such fish populations.

Blog series logo
Posted on May 14, 2014 - 9:42am, by cmwahle

By Mimi D’Iorio, PhD, NOAA National MPA Center (on detail to NOAA Coastal Services Center) mimi [dot] diorio [at] noaa [dot] gov

There aren’t sign posts in the ocean, no billboards or ranger-staffed kiosks alerting ocean-goers that they are entering a special area where certain activities are regulated or prohibited.   Unlike on land, special areas in the ocean are not marked or gated or fenced.  So without posted boundaries, public compliance to MPA regulations relies on effective outreach and education, as well routine monitoring and enforcement.

Blogger picture

By Elizabeth M. De Santo, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies, Franklin & Marshall College

The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) is currently meeting to determine the legality of the UK’s 2010 declaration of a marine reserve around the Chagos archipelago. This is the latest in a suite of legal arguments undertaken since the islands’ local population was evicted to make way for the leasing of Diego Garcia to the US to build a military base. I would like to explain why the current case matters, not re-hash the rights and wrongs of the Chagossian eviction and US occupation, nor whether the “special relationship” used the MPA as a means of keeping the zone a de facto militarized space, nor am I reopening the debate on the pros and cons of large MPAs. Rather, the PCA arbitration presents new and worrying implications for former colonial powers designating large swaths of their overseas territories as conservation areas, and it adds yet another layer of negativity to the Chagos MPA that will have repercussions on future designations. 

Pages