April 2016 (9:6)

Issue PDF archive:

Dear MEAM readers,

Please join us for a webinar with Daniel Dunn of Duke University, Sara Maxwell of Old Dominion University, and Alistair Hobday of CSIRO on the Dynamic Ocean Management lead article and EBM Toolbox from our November 2015 issue. The webinar will be held on Thursday, May 5, at 3 pm US EDT/Noon US PDT/7 pm UTC. Register for the webinar.

Best wishes for your work,
Sarah Carr, MEAM Editor

Wind energy. Land reclamation for port expansion. Sand and gravel mining. Communications and power cables. Shipping. Aquaculture. Coastal tourism. Demands for ocean space are growing rapidly due to new and expanding uses. And “blue economy”/”blue growth”/”ocean economy” initiatives that aim to harness the potential of oceans, seas, and coasts for jobs, value, and sustainability are accelerating these demands. (Read about European Commission and Small Island Developing State “blue growth” initiatives.)

Recent articles in MEAM have featured ocean planners citing MSP as a critical tool for planning for these new and expanding uses before they arise, rather than being reactionary. Another expert expressed concern that MSP in combination with ”blue growth” is catalyzing new uses at the expense of traditional uses and the environment.

Obviously, ideal ocean planning processes would be able to allocate resources in ways that allow all ocean uses - both new and existing - to be accommodated and grow. However, it is unavoidable that at times some uses will grow at the expense of others (see “Fishing on a Square Inch”, a cri de coeur from the Dutch industrial fishing fleet. More on this example here.)

So how are ocean planning processes prioritizing between new and existing uses? We asked a range of marine governance experts for their thoughts on how these decisions are being made, or should be made, in their region or worldwide. The responses provide a variety of perspectives — from praise for an MSP process that effectively incorporates indigenous concepts of well-being and stewardship, to cautious optimism for MSP as a vehicle for rational planning for the marine environment (in contrast to ad hoc development).

Let us know what you think and share your experiences in the Comments section below.

If not blue, then what color will the economy be?

Editor's note: Jeff Ardron is an adviser for ocean governance with the Commonwealth Secretariat and president of the board for the Pacific Marine Analysis and Research Association (PacMARA). He can be contacted at jeff.ardron [at] gmail.com. The views expressed below are those of the author alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the institutions with which he is associated.

Many people fear that high-level government promotion of an “Ocean Economy” or “Blue Economy” will simply accelerate harm to the marine environment and local communities. I agree that this is a risk. However, as I discuss below, that argument is missing a key point.

Development of ocean space, particularly the nearshore, is nothing new. Indeed, the sort of development that many fear will come as a result of the “Blue Economy” is already at hand and occurring on a grand scale. Ocean spaces pretty much everywhere are becoming increasingly crowded, coastal communities are being disrupted, and coastal and marine environments damaged. The Blue Economy concept, and the high-level government attention it garners, offers an opportunity to break with this shameful tradition. When looking at the costs and benefits of a Blue Economy, the alternative must be borne in mind: should governments simply let things progress as they had done in the past? Shouldn’t we at least try to better coordinate maritime development and protection in a planning process, no matter what it is called? Admittedly, some efforts will be more successful than others, but the poor examples should not discourage others from trying to do a better job than their neighbors and predecessors.

In last month’s MEAM, Tundi Agardy described the attractive and romantic notion of villagers gathering clams at low tide and spontaneously breaking out into song… into eternity (see “Dispatches from the Field: When MSP enable Blue Growth, who benefits?”). But the reality is rather different. There are fewer and fewer clams, fewer villagers content to dig them up for a living, and sadly, fewer things to sing about in general. Yes, the Blue Economy concept could be window dressing for more of the same. But it need not be. Prioritizing between new and existing uses has no universal how-to manual. National solutions will have to be tailored to the region and its societal expectations. However, with a planning process that is inclusive and transparent (rather than the status quo semi-opaque, sometimes shady, handing out of permits), there is a greater chance that fair and equitable solutions can be found. It is not guaranteed, of course, but that should not stop governments from trying.

Existing users often lack awareness of their role as stakeholders and their power to protect the ocean

Editor's note: Maria Adelaide Ferreira is a researcher of MSP with the Interdisciplinary Center for Social Sciences at the New University of Lisbon in Portugal. She can be contacted at adelaide.ferreira [at] fcsh.unl.pt.

Existing uses, including consumptive uses – such as fisheries – and non-consumptive uses – such as tourism and leisure – provide financial and/or spiritual sustenance for a wide range of individuals and communities. But even when the promotion of existing uses is among the stated objectives of MSP, governments often promote new uses rather than protect existing ones.

The reason for this is quite straightforward. Big companies promoting new uses can easily offer prospects of large investments, job creation, generalized environmental improvements, and economic revenue (if and how these prospects materialize is a different issue). The math on the other side of the scale, for existing uses, is trickier – especially when we’re talking about non-extractive uses which are harder to put numbers on. When we don’t pay for something, e.g., the enjoyment provided by the scenic beauty of a pristine seascape, we often don’t realize its full value, until it’s lost. Also, the complex web of existing users – whether consumptive or non-consumptive – are often not aware of the fact that they are stakeholders and have an important role to play in ocean planning processes.

This tipping of the scale toward new uses should not come as a surprise, but should prompt some reflection. If, as the saying goes, “the squeaky wheel gets the grease”, then perhaps existing ocean users should do more to balance things out. Why, then, doesn’t this occur? Why don’t these stakeholders engage? Although inaction may result from a variety of reasons, the problem stems, I believe, from a three-fold lack of awareness of:

  1. The intrinsic/full value of the ocean as a source of physical, economic, and spiritual sustenance;
  2. The system’s frailty;
  3. Our duty as citizens to protect our common asset - particularly the need for existing users to play their role, as new or prospective users do – to be vocal participants in these processes and exercise their power as legitimate stakeholders.

Arguably, a keen awareness of these aspects would prompt action. In our jobs as practitioners, researchers, and/or educators, we need to increase awareness of and literacy on these issues, particularly among graduate and undergraduate students and groups of existing ocean users such as surfers and beach goers. Such initiatives should contribute to bringing the legitimate interests of a wider array of stakeholders to the ocean planning processes and help balance the scales between promoting new uses and protecting existing ones – while preserving the fragile ecosystem upon which our well-being depends.

Space for Māori in planning for New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf

Editor's note: This response was co-authored by Nathan Kennedy and Shaun Awatere of the Mātauranga Māori Reference Group for the Seachange – Tai Timu Tai Pari process to develop a spatial plan for New Zealand’s Hauraki Gulf\Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi. They can be contacted at contact [at] seachange.org.nz.

The Hauraki Gulf, known to Māori (New Zealand’s indigenous people) as Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi, has endured decades of pressure from land-use management, extractive industries, and the country’s largest metropolitan center (Auckland). These have severely diminished the ecological health of Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi. To help mitigate the decline in ecological health, a comprehensive spatial planning exercise has been carried out.

Over the last three years, Mana Whenua (Māori tribes holding customary authority for Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi) have worked collaboratively with local and central government agencies and community stakeholders in a spatial planning project called Seachange – Tai Timu Tai Pari (“the rising and falling tide”). While the plan will be non-statutory, it will be implemented through the statutory plans and policies of central and local government agencies with resource management responsibilities for Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi.

Māori also have resource management rights and responsibilities for Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi. Customary common law rights and responsibilities are enshrined in the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi between Māori and the British Crown. Mana Whenua are currently negotiating with central government for the settlement of historical claims for natural resources, financial restitution for Treaty breaches, and co-governance\co-management of Tīkapa Moana\Te Moananui a Toi.

Critically, community and government partners of Seachange have made space in the plan for Mana Whenua interests. An agreed principle is that the plan will uphold customary rights and Treaty settlements. Building on examples of plans that recognize indigenous rights and responsibilities such as the Haida Gwaii marine spatial plan of British Columbia, Māori and their collaborative partners are articulating concepts of marine management, restoration, and protection from an indigenous perspective. For example, the overarching goal of the plan is the restoration and maintenance of a Māori concept of well-being - mauri (life force or principle). Furthermore, kaitiakitanga – a Māori environmental management approach based on obligations of stewardship and care stemming from familial relationships between mankind and all elements of the natural world – is an overarching ethic of the plan.

Intended for completion in late 2016, Mana Whenua believe the plan will be ground-breaking, both for being driven by local communities, and substantially incorporating indigenous interests and values.

Spatially accommodating new uses in Indonesia using MSP

Editor's note: Permana Yudiarso is head of section on program and evaluation at the Regional Office of Marine and Coastal Resources Management of Denpasar, Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries of Indonesia. He can be contacted at permana.yudiarso [at] kkp.go.id.

The Indonesian Ministry of Marine Affairs and Fisheries (MMAF) is responsible for MSP at a national level as well as assisting provincial governments in MSP development. According to MMAF regulations, new ocean uses should be added to existing MSP by:

  1. Revising the existing marine spatial plan before accommodating the new ocean use or uses. In revising the plan, the new use will be analyzed for strategic importance to the country and the National Development Plan. As part of this analysis, an MSP team will collect field data on coastal and ocean uses including the new proposed uses.
  2. After data collection, locations proposed for the new use will be analyzed, and there will be public consultations where all stakeholders (government agencies, representatives of existing ocean uses, and other relevant actors) provide spatial and non-spatial input in term of risks and conflicts amongst existing actors.
  3. Once the public consultation approves a plan, the MSP team will submit a final report to the national or local government MSP authority for input.

These processes will ensure all proposed new ocean uses can be better accommodated spatially.

However, it must be added that MSP in Indonesia needs to be accelerated. To date, only a few local governments have established MSP regulations. In September 2015, five of 34 provinces and eight regencies and four municipalities out of 511 total have established MSP by law. Furthermore, MMAF which is responsible for MSP nationally, has not established national MSP by 2016 as mandated.

Editor’s Note: The interview below is excerpted from a longer interview MEAM conducted with Charles “Bud” Ehler in 2012. Ehler is a marine planning consultant and co-author of the MSP “bible”, the 2009 UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission guide “Marine Spatial Planning: A Step-by-Step Approach toward Ecosystem-based Management.”

MEAM: Let’s talk about “winners” and “losers”, a central concern for MSP processes. How can you convert sectors that are concerned they might lose access or territory by participating in an MSP process into willing participants in such a process?

Ehler: You can’t force stakeholders to be part of the process. People have to come to the table voluntarily because they realize they have a stake in the outcome of the MSP process. There are some good examples where stakeholders immediately become losers in the process simply by not being involved.

For example, when the Netherlands was developing its first marine spatial plan that was completed in 2005, during its first round of planning, the commercial fishing sector said, “Look, we have a small EEZ – about 50,000 square kilometers - we have to fish everywhere. We do fish everywhere. And we're not going to give away any space to oil and gas interests or marine protected areas or any other uses. We want to have access to the entire EEZ.”

The government responded, “Well that's not very reasonable because we have a lot of existing and new uses in this relatively small marine space. So come and make sure that we understand where the most important areas for your particular activities are.” And the fishing community countered, “No, we're just not interested in doing that.” So they walked away and did not participate. And two years later, the government released its plan. To no one's surprise, except perhaps that of the fishing industry, most of the space was allocated to other uses.

In this case the government had produced a plan with a map with areas allocated to wind farms and a lot of area consumed by shipping lanes. The fishermen looked at these maps and said, “What are you doing? You've left us only a square inch for fishing!” They literally characterized it as “We can now only fish on a square inch of the EEZ of the Netherlands.” And the Dutch Fish Product Board wrote a report in 2004 called “Fishing on a Square Inch” as a result of what happened to commercial fishing.

The outcome of that report is interesting because in the end they said, “Look, you know, we should have been at the table. We appreciate the value of spatial planning now. And the next time the Netherlands goes through this process, we're going to be there.” And they were. The next plan in 2009 reflected the interests of the fishing industry significantly more than the first one did when they were not at the table.

The moral of that story is that you're either at the table or you're on the table. And if you're on the table, you're going to get carved up, which was exactly what happened to the interests of the fishing community in the first plan.

They were a “loser” for sure in the first one while almost all the other sectors were winners. And they decided they wanted to be a winner - or at least more of a winner than in the first round of planning. And that's the way it worked out. Things are calmer now. There's still a lot of competition for marine space in the Netherlands. But MSP has made the situation a lot more calm and reasoned than everybody just doing their own thing or some groups doing what they would like to do to the exclusion of other sectors.

I think the situation is always going to be that you're going to have to give up something in MSP if you want to win. But that loss will be to the benefit of the wider stakeholder community including all the different users. And it certainly can have real benefits to the marine environment by protecting and sustaining many areas that are ecologically or biologically important.

By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, MEAM. Email: tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net

My last Dispatches from the Field, from the sleepy town of Olhao, Portugal, got me thinking about participatory planning, democratic decisions for allocating use, and fair representation in decision-making. EBM and MSP guidance manuals and trainings almost always cover the need to identify stakeholders and get their input – precursors to broad-based, meaningful participation in planning processes. But having everyone at the table isn’t necessarily a recipe for broad-based, meaningful participation.

In most MSP processes I’ve witnessed, those with the most influence over allocation decisions are those with the loudest voices. Don’t picture shouting matches – though I’ve seen that too. No, the loudest voices – those that are heard – are the ones that are best able to deliver their message. Sometimes, they are the individuals best trained in communications, other times the most assertive negotiators, and often those backed by strong, well-financed institutions. The meek shall not inherit the ocean world…

So does it matter, you might ask, if the fringe elements of society – those using outdated, traditional (and inefficient, I might add) methods to fish or those attached to ancient, sacred ocean places, lose their voice? In a world of 6 billion hungry people and a lot of money to be made in allocating ocean use to well-run, profit-making industries, does this matter?

Nature must be given a voice

Well, let’s look at what voices are least-heard in ocean planning. Traditional users, often invited to planning processes, have perhaps the strongest stake in maintaining ocean health – their food security, livelihoods, and societies are often intimately tied to healthy marine systems. But while these interests are commonly ‘represented’ in planning processes, their representatives are often handicapped by a lack of tools (or access to tools) for meaningful participation. Traditional users may have trouble accessing databases on the value of their ocean use, if such databases exist, and they almost always lack the sophisticated tools that transform such data into hard-hitting graphics or hard-edged negotiating points. And, commonly, those who represent these communities are not well versed in negotiation tactics, dampening the volume of their voices in the horse-trading that marks most MSP processes. But we must remember, while the revenues generated from traditional use may pale in comparison to industrial uses, collectively a large proportion of human society is directly dependent on healthy oceans for food security, livelihoods, and well-being.

But we’ve covered this topic before and explored how to improve participation in planning processes (e.g., here and here). So now I’d like to throw out another idea. That is: perhaps the most under-represented interest in MSP – the one with the weakest voice – is nature itself.

I get it. At this point most of you serious EBM practitioners will stop reading. But bear with me for one more moment. We ignore giving nature a voice at our own peril – it will come back to haunt us. Even the richest, most powerful corporations face a risky future if planning decisions are made without considering what nature needs to survive. Nature must be represented in MSP and ocean use decisions. It must be given a stronger voice.

Planning for sustainability protects us all

The MSP processes we see unfolding around the world right now are treating conservation as a special interest – and a very weak one at that. Environmental organizations are given a seat at the table, but considerations of sustainability are only given passing notice. Once the token representative for nature has been heard, the discussions can get on to serious business – ways to pack in as many profitable uses into the ocean space as possible. Old uses, traditional uses, conservation-related non-use can only remain if they can be shown to be as profitable as emerging and profit-making industrial uses.

There are ethical reasons – including responsibility to future generations – why giving nature a voice is a moral imperative. But the arguments for not destroying nature through development are not very convincing to everyone, I’m afraid. What might be more convincing is the prospect of countries and companies losing all their blue growth investments as marine ecosystems unravel from multiple pressures that undermine their functioning and resilience. And most alarming of all is the prospect of a future with few new options – as the opportunities that conservation-based planning could have provided are gone due to the loud calls for aggressive development strategies for unlocking the ocean’s ‘blue growth potential’.

Another voice of concern about European maritime policy

For another voice of concern about European maritime policy “veering off course towards an integrated-use model of maritime spatial planning in which ecosystem protection/restoration … is demoted to just another sectoral priority, with trade-offs consistently steered towards economic development,” read a recent blog on OpenChannels.org by Peter J. S. Jones, senior lecturer in the Department of Geography at University College London.

Editor's note: The goal of The EBM Toolbox is to promote awareness of tools for facilitating EBM and MSP processes. It is brought to you by the EBM Tools Network, a voluntary alliance of tool users, developers, and training providers.

Did you know the EBM Tools Network will work with you to design and organize customized training on tools that fit the needs of your specific project or region? If you are interested in working with the EBM Tools Network to develop and find funding for a customized EBM Tools training in your area, please contact Patrick Crist at patrick_crist [at] natureserve.org to discuss.

And if you are free from 19-22 April 2016, please come join the EBM Tools Network in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for a Coastal-Marine EBM Tools Training event! The training is intended for all coastal and marine conservation and management practitioners and will cover tools and methods for:

  • Integrated Land-Sea Planning
  • Marine Spatial Planning/Marine Protected Area Planning and Management.

View the agenda to learn more and register here. Please contact Samantha Coccia at samantha.coccia [at] natureserve.org if you have any questions about this training.

By David Geselbracht, Outreach Officer, The Sea Around Us. E-mail: d.geselbracht [at] oceans.ubc.ca

In the mid-1990s it became clear to many observers that global fisheries were in trouble. When the Northern cod (Gadus morhua) fishery collapsed off the east coast of Canada, the outline of the crisis only became starker. In 1999, in the wake of the collapse, the Sea Around Us was initiated by Daniel Pauly at the University of British Columbia – with a growing recognition that not only was global fishing becoming unsustainable, but it was negatively affecting the health of marine ecosystems. Therefore, the initiative sought to investigate and document the impacts of fisheries on marine ecosystems and to propose policies to mitigate these impacts.

Since then the Sea Around Us – funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts for the first 15 years and currently funded by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation – has had many successes. The research initiative has:

  • Led catch reconstructions for over 250 Exclusive Economic Zones, covering all maritime countries in the world (plus high seas fisheries). This work describing how the amount of fish pulled from the oceans is 30 percent higher than officially reported and declining has been reported by media around the world from the Washington Post to The Guardian.
  • Simulated the effects of climate change on fisheries and marine biodiversity on a global scale for the first time
  • Developed and applied advanced software techniques to integrate global ecological and fisheries datasets for spatial representation at ecological and politically meaningful scales.

The content-rich Sea Around Us website (www.seaaroundus.org) offers a variety of tools to disseminate fisheries research and make all material and data freely available. Interactive graphs and maps display global as well as country and ecosystem level data from 1950 to the present, and all data are available for download by fisheries scientists, students, environmental NGO’s and the interested public. These data and tools are essential for protecting our marine resources, because, as Pauly writes in the journal Nature: “Most fishermen worldwide are finding fewer fish in the hauls than their predecessors did.” And only with better data can we devise and implement policies that can reverse this trend.

UN begins discussions on protecting high seas biodiversity; guide and issue brief available

The committee charged with developing the basis of a formal treaty for the conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) is meeting for the first time in late March-early April 2016. Some of the issues to be addressed by the committee include the scope of the treaty, how MPAs should be created and managed, and access to and sharing of marine genetic resources. The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), negotiated more than 30 years ago, did not address marine biodiversity in ABNJ. Formal negotiations for this treaty will begin in 2018. The Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations (IDDRI), a non-profit policy research institute based in Paris, has produced a detailed guide to the discussions providing background on UNCLOS and current governance of ABNJ, gaps in the current framework, State positions to date, and challenges that may arise in negotiating an agreement. Download the guide. Download a short issue brief.

Global map of ecologically or biologically significant marine areas published

From 2011 to 2014, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) engaged countries and experts from around the world in regional workshops to describe ecologically or biologically significant marine areas (EBSAs). The workshops examined 204 areas (ranging from 5.5 km2 to 11.1 million km2 in area) in detail. Thirty-one (31) of the areas examined were solely outside national jurisdiction, 35 extended into national jurisdictions, 137 were solely within a national jurisdiction, and 28 were inside the jurisdictions of more than one country. (One area lacked precise boundaries.) The results of the workshop were formally recognized by the Conference of Parties to the CBD resulting in these 204 areas being identified as EBSAs. These areas represent the only global, internationally recognized suite of marine sites considered to be relatively more important from a biodiversity standpoint than their surroundings, and they will support UN deliberations on conserving biodiversity in ABNJ. Read more about the workshops and view the map of EBSAs.

Case studies of MSP in Washington State, Rhode Island, San Francisco released

The Coastal Resources Center of the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island Sea Grant have released case studies of MSP in Washington State, Rhode Island, and San Francisco as part of their Case Studies of Marine Spatial Planning Report Series. They are available for download here: Washington State, Rhode Island, and San Francisco.

Manual of marine and coastal biodiversity datasets updated

Biodiversity data for marine and coastal environments are fragmented and can be difficult to access. To start to address this problem, the UNEP World Conservation Monitoring Centre provided a manual of global marine and coastal datasets of biodiversity importance in 2014. A new edition of the manual has just been released adding 53 new resources (for a total of 128). New data sets include those related to mangrove forest cover, spawning aggregations, vulnerable marine ecosystems, global diversity hotspots for sharks, coastal recreation values, cumulative human impacts, plastic debris, and undersea cables. In addition to the information provided on existing datasets, challenges, gaps and limitations of coastal and marine data are discussed. Download the manual.

Authors respond to comments on catch reconstruction findings

Authors Daniel Pauly and Dirk Zeller of the Sea Around Us project based at the University of British Columbia have issued a rejoinder to comments on their recent article “Catch reconstructions reveal that global marine fisheries catches are higher than reported and declining” published in Nature Communications in January. That paper estimated that marine fisheries catches are significantly higher than reported to the FAO and that annual landings have declined faster than official data would suggest. (See the note in last month’s MEAM “Global fishery catches and fish stock declines dramatically underreported?” for the original article and responses.) The rejoinder addresses why the authors find many of the criticisms of the original article incorrect or misleading. Read the rejoinder.

Portal to view and download observations of North Atlantic vulnerable marine ecosystems launched

A portal with data on the actual and potential distribution of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs) in the North Atlantic has been launched by the Joint ICES/NAFO Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC). VMEs are deep-sea ecosystems that can be impacted adversely by bottom contact fishing gear and include cold-water coral reefs, coral gardens and deep-sea sponge aggregations. VMEs are difficult to identify in deep-water without underwater cameras, but VME indicators, benthic species such as sponges, gorgonians, or stony corals found in trawl bycatch, may indicate VME habitat on the seabed. The database consists of both VME habitats for which there is unequivocal evidence such as ROV observations and VME indicators weighted by uncertainty to aid interpretation. Use the database.

Editor’s Note: From the Archives calls attention to past MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant.

Natural resource management is fundamentally about making trade-offs - between shorter and longer-term benefits, between different uses of ocean space, etc. In this article, experienced trade-off negotiators share tips and lessons learned from the negotiating table. Read the article.