August - September 2010 (4:1)

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Policies that mandate ecosystem-based management of the ocean have emphasized the need for good science. In the newly released "Final Recommendations of the Ocean Policy Task Force" on which the new US national ocean policy is based (described later in this issue), "science" is mentioned more than 65 times. The European Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Common Fisheries Policy both stress the need for science to underpin management.

But defining the exact role for science in EBM is not easy. When EBM is described as a "science-based" process (as occurs 11 times in the US task force recommendations), does that mean science should outweigh other considerations in decision-making? Or is science simply an informative tool, one of many for decision-makers to use as they progress toward EBM?

The role of science in EBM is a central subject. Below, MEAM asks practitioners how science has been incorporated in EBM processes on which they have worked. (The next issue of MEAM, October-November 2010, will continue the coverage of science and EBM, including considerations of how to balance modern science with traditional ecological knowledge, and what user groups see as the appropriate role of science in resource planning.)

A. Role of science is to set framework and principles

Leanne Fernandes
Director, Earth to Ocean Consulting, Queensland, Australia. E-mail: leannef [at]

(Editor's note: Leanne Fernandes managed the multi-year process to rezone the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which culminated in 2004. The process, called the Representative Areas Program, increased the no-take percentage of the park from 4.7% to 33%.)

MEAM: What specific roles did science play in the Representative Areas Program?

Leanne Fernandes: The role of science in the RAP was multi-faceted and changed over time. Some highlights included:

  • Conduct of semi-structured interviews with about 70 biophysical scientists to access multiple types of information: e.g., datasets they had, opinions about best practice in MPA design given their areas of expertise, and suggestions for the process in general.
  • Based on their advice we established two independent natural and social science steering committees to guide us on issues such as data sources, data sufficiency, two sets (socio-economic and biophysical) of operational guiding principles for design of a no-take MPA network, and bioregions (in the case of the natural scientists) and communications (in the case of the social scientists).
  • Social science methods were used to design questionnaires for public submissions and to analyze the 30,000 written public submissions received.
  • GIS science helped assess the level of achievement of operational principles with various zoning options.
  • Scientists [involved in the RAP] also were willing to donate time to communicate directly with the media, the community, sectoral interests, and decision-makers as independent "honest brokers" about the issues at hand and the proposed management solutions.
  • Peer-reviewed scientific papers were summarized for use throughout RAP as well; but the knowledge base accessed through scientists who were willing to provide their expert opinion was a far greater resource for us.
  • Collaboration between managers and scientists has also delivered monitoring of the revised zoning plan.

MEAM: How did you balance science with other factors?

Fernandes: An important factor in our interactions with everyone who participated in the RAP was to be as honest as possible as to their role, their input, and their influence in the process and ours as managers. This included the scientists. In fact, an agreed set of "Terms of Reference" was developed to guide the functioning of the scientific steering committees. The TOR basically stated that the committees could expect to guide and inform the management process but that decision-making lay with the managers and, ultimately, Parliament. This was also true for input from the community and the various economic sectors with an interest in the marine park.

One point of deviation from this was due to our Federal Minister. He suggested that we accept the scientists' advice on the absolute minimum requirements to ensure the future of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem (this was the requirement for at least 20% of every bioregion to be protected in no-take areas). We succeeded in doing this.

Overall, I would say the role of science was to set the framework and the principles for the public debate, consultations, and political judgments. Science was critical to defining the problems the rezoning was intended to address, for framing options to address these problems, and for ensuring the ecological integrity of the final plan.

It is extremely important to note that the science-based operational principles for the design of the network of no-take areas did NOT prescribe specific locations for the no-take areas. Aside from some very special and unique areas, the (natural science) operational principles could be complied with through millions of potential designs of no-take areas. This meant maximizing complementarity with human uses. Throughout, natural and social science data and tools continued to inform social, economic, and political "tradeoffs" that resulted in the final statutory plan.

MEAM: During RAP, how did management handle circumstances of scientific uncertainty, such as when there was disagreement over the science?

Fernandes: There is always a scientist who will disagree with the body of scientific evidence (although I could number them on one hand in our case) and available data are always imperfect, including in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.

There were a number of techniques we used to address these circumstances.

  • First was that we genuinely aimed to gather the very best information available and the scientific community knew this to be so. This had a two-fold effect: our information was as solid as it could be, and the scientific community acknowledged this, including to the outside world.
  • Because we built the trust of the scientific community in the process, including through the use of their data and expertise, it led to a strong scientific consensus that underpinned the rezoning.
  • One of the questions explicitly put to our independent scientific steering committees was whether there was enough information to proceed with the RAP or if we needed to delay the program until we had more data; they advised us to proceed with the existing data.
  • We had the bioregions and our economic assessment of the impacts of the RAP externally and independently reviewed, with positive outcomes.
  • We acknowledged that we had imperfect information.
  • What science we did have to support our decisions was shared with as many people as possible in as many ways as possible.
  • Our management policy and, in fact, our legislation allows for review of any zoning as new information comes on board; thus a lack of perfect information was less of an impediment than it might have been.
  • We (as managers) did not enter into media debates over the science. We would state what we knew to be true and leave it at that. We did refer to scientific consensuses that were relevant and available at the time.
  • Sometimes the scientific community itself would enter into these debates to expose the inaccuracies in the minority opinions. The scientific community also took some time and effort to ensure that accurate scientific messages were delivered to the ultimate decision-makers - our politicians.

B. Science-based conservation is best approach, but often a luxury

Ameer Abdulla
IUCN Global Marine Programme, Malaga, Spain, and Gland, Switzerland. E-mail: ameer.abdulla [at]

(Editor's note: Ameer Abdulla is senior specialist and group leader for marine biodiversity and conservation science with the IUCN Global Marine Programme. He has been directly involved in marine EBM projects in the Indian Ocean, Red Sea, Arabian Gulf, Mediterranean Sea, and Gulf of Mexico, among other places.)

MEAM: How has science been handled in the EBM projects you have worked on?

Ameer Abdulla: The significance of science, specifically ecology, in environmental management and marine resource planning is widely recognized. However, the extent to which ecological research can contribute to environmental management is hampered by uncertainty and challenged by political and institutional processes. Ecological uncertainty is manifested in specific cases of human impacts on the environment where the complexity of natural and anthropogenic spatial and temporal interactions undermines the power of science. Furthermore, the institutional framework - with the necessary technical and financial resources to undertake and incorporate science formally into the planning process - is often lacking. Finally, throughout the planning process, the political will and authority of the planning agency has to remain strong and consistent to integrate science meaningfully and achieve sensible management of marine resources. These issues are especially significant, and the challenge is amplified when we attempt to understand ecosystems on a regional or a global scale.

Marine or conservation science (marine applied ecology, coastal biodiversity taxonomy, and assessments of social resilience and resource dependency, etc.) can sometimes act as the trigger for a longer and more political / institutional process to develop a governance framework for a site. For instance, the designation of a marine protected area often involves intense coordination and negotiation with the Ministry of Environment, Ministry of Tourism, Ministry of Fisheries, state governments, and sometimes the Ministry of Interior if the site is remote or strategic, etc. Although developing a designation memo and tabling it in parliament or assembly may have been triggered by its ecological significance and associated scientific assessment, its confirmation and approval is certainly the result of the dedicated and tenacious negotiation efforts of legal and institutional staff (in the different agencies and NGOs) who would like to see it happen. In these cases, the science (ecological and social assessments of the site) may be used as a placeholder - a heavy report to wave around in a room full of barterers.

MEAM: How should science be balanced with other considerations in EBM decision-making?

Abdulla: In my field conservation experience, I have seen that undertaking the science within badly conceived or nonexistent planning processes may in fact hamper conservation and management of marine resources. While environmental agencies are busy designing the perfect field survey for an ecologically significant site, the area is quietly and rapidly being zoned for development and sold to proponents. In these situations, there is a case for the "declare now, study later" approach, which I have observed and supported in a number of regions I have worked in.

Ecology alone cannot solve environmental problems. Science can provide a basic foundation for an iterative process that must contend with socioeconomic or political factors. I still believe that science-based conservation, planning, and management is the best approach, as it is the most informed approach. However, this often is a luxury and may mislead or skew the process toward the need for scientific information only, setting up resource management and planning process for failure.

In many situations, the most appropriate planning would involve a parallel approach where (a) scientific information is being collected and synthesized while (b) a political/institutional process is underway to pave way for the science and to move on an often lengthy and bureaucratic process of creating governance structures. Whether science comes at the beginning, middle, or end of the marine conservation and resource planning process will depend on the conditions of the site and the country set-up. The most crucial and primary objective for resource planning - and for assigning the role of science in that planning - is to scope and mind-map the enabling / impeding conditions for the site and country.

MEAM: How should planners handle scientific uncertainty?

Abdulla: It is unfortunate that in some decision-making situations, politicians request more research as a ploy to stall, postpone, or avoid politically controversial and unpopular decisions. At the same time, some researchers conclude their investigation with a call for further research in order to justify and procure more funding. In many of these cases, additional research would not improve the accuracy of their predictions. Scientists damage their credibility and that of ecological science by falsely advocating an increase in the predictive power of their research. Scientists should admit the limitations of their research and that it will never yield "perfect knowledge". They also should not allow politicians to use the lack of certainty as an excuse for not taking action.

A perceived inability to make robust resource management decisions can also drive organizations to try to collect large amounts of data before beginning conservation prioritization or resource planning. This incurs two costs: delayed conservation action and the possibility of money spent collecting data of negligible decision-making value.

Managers must balance scientific uncertainty with policy and decision-making. Adaptive management has been proposed as the dominant strategy to achieve this balance. Decision support tools (DSTs) for marine conservation and management decision-making are now a fundamental and widely used component of adaptive ecosystem management and marine resource planning in data-poor or data-rich environments. DSTs can enable useful management and defensible resource allocation decisions to be made in data-poor environments, through the use of a variety of easily available surrogate measures or descriptors. In addition, there is an increasing interest in the use of risk assessment in conservation and management priority setting. This is largely due to increases in human impact and the emerging impact of climate change on many marine ecosystems. Both cost and ecology must be considered in the solution, and complex trade-offs can only be made with the assistance of well-formulated decision support tools.

BOX: Science is not necessarily the final arbiter

David Johnson
Executive Secretary, OSPAR Commission, London, UK. E-mail: david.johnson [at]

(Editor's note: The OSPAR Commission protects and conserves the North-East Atlantic and its resources.)

"Whilst science informs - and OSPAR Parties are by nature cautious and conservative - it is not necessarily the final arbiter. Political decisions [in OSPAR] are made on a consensus basis and it is inevitable that individual nations have their economic interests and priorities. At times within OSPAR, there is also a need to be pragmatic and to take decisions on the basis of best information and/or incomplete science. This is realistic. The purpose of periodic review and implementation reporting on our different decisions and recommendations is to ensure that Contracting Parties do what has been agreed. It also builds up information and, where necessary, reviews actions and takes into account new scientific information.

"Regarding scientific uncertainty, all our efforts to reduce pollutants and the impacts of human activities are guided by the precautionary approach. This is because it is very difficult to say precisely what the effects (and in particular the cumulative effects) will be of many substances. Thus, for example, OSPAR has sought a reduction of the input of oil in produced water [an oil industry term for water that is produced along with oil and gas], requiring in practice the oil industry to re-inject produced water rather than discharge it into the sea."

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

Implicit in the EBM construct is the central role of science. By building management from a foundation of solid science, we presume that ecosystems and the resources and services they provide can be protected or restored in predictable ways, following a set path to known outcomes. And it is not only natural (ecological) sciences that are integral to that foundation: social sciences are critical as well.

Science is undeniably important in planning and executing ecosystem-based marine and coastal management. Science informs us of the status of ecosystems and resources, the threats ecosystems face (i.e., the problems that management must address), the drivers behind those pressures or threats, the changing context - both environmental and social - in which management must take place, and the extent to which management is having its intended effect.

But in these endeavors, science is a tool used to allow managers/decision-makers to evaluate trade-offs and choices in order to make informed decisions. Science - or rather scientists - cannot make those decisions for society. Such societal decisions can be guided, but should not be led, by science.

We have seen examples of science-led processes that have resulted in management failures, especially when planning was perceived as being in the exclusive domain of scientists. Perception is important. Thus, when the perception is that science is in the driver's seat - instead of science being harnessed - management can hit rocky roads.

In addition, the inexorable uncertainty that exists in the marine sciences (especially ecology) has presented problems to the effective harnessing of science for management. Sometimes groups seize upon these uncertainties to oppose management of ocean space and resources, creating an excuse to do nothing...or, at the very least, to not make difficult decisions regarding allowable uses. Finally, while there is increasing consensus that EBM should rest on solid science, the science component seems front-loaded: the need for continued science after implementation of management measures is not as heavily stressed as the science needed to make the initial management/policy choices.

There are a few key elements common to the successful use of science in EBM:

  • Be careful that appraisals of available scientific information do not present excuses for not taking management measures. In most instances, we know enough to do better management.
  • Embrace uncertainty by making it apparent. But stress that since decisions in all other walks of life are made in the presence of uncertainty without too much problem, marine management should not have to be held to a higher standard of certainty.
  • Ensure that the science used to support planning and management is defensible - i.e., transparent, replicable, and peer-reviewed.
  • Be aware that scientific input should not stop when management is implemented. The best EBM is adaptive management that utilizes the information flowing from management measures to buttress scientific understanding of ecosystems, their continually changing status, and the efficacy of management.
  • Harness science effectively. Do not create Frankenstein situations in which science drives decisions. Instead, decisions must be made collectively by society, with all its varying value systems.

In July, President Obama signed an executive order establishing a national ocean policy for the US - the country's first comprehensive, integrated policy for stewardship of its oceans and coasts. The policy launches a process of coastal and marine spatial planning for the nation, and coordinates the various ocean-related activities of more than 20 federal agencies under a new and centralized National Ocean Council. The President's action reflects the recommendations of a federal task force that explored ways to promote long-term conservation and use of ocean resources.

Implementation of the policy will center around a regional-level process of coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP), which the policy defines as "a comprehensive, adaptive, integrated, ecosystem-based, and transparent spatial planning process, based on sound science, for analyzing current and anticipated uses of ocean, coastal, and Great Lakes areas."

Under the plan, the CMSP process will be carried out on a phased basis across nine regional planning areas. Each regional process will report to the interagency National Ocean Council, which will also certify that the resulting plans are consistent with national policy. The plan for each region will be developed cooperatively among federal, state, tribal, and local authorities. The framework follows an earlier proposal by the task force, described in an interim report last December (see "In US, interim framework released for marine spatial planning", MEAM 3:4).

Until now, US ocean policy has been a patchwork: more than 140 federal laws apply to the oceans, and 24 agencies have ocean management responsibilities. The new national policy represents a unifying ocean vision, based on essential principles of marine science, economics and fairness, says Elliott Norse, president of the Marine Conservation Biology Institute. "It creates a new, more effective, forward-looking system for governing America's ocean realm," he says. Conservation groups have generally welcomed the new policy, while acknowledging much of its effectiveness will depend on how it is implemented.

Meanwhile some user groups, notably recreational fishing associations, have voiced concern that the new policy could lead to widespread closure of accustomed use areas. "The top-down tone of the policy is clear while significant concepts that could set the foundation for vast areas to be closed to angling and public recreation remain vague and undefined," said the American Sportfishing Association in a press statement.

The new National Ocean Council will hold its first meeting in August-September 2010 to begin implementing the national policy, including the phased regional process for spatial planning. It may be the biggest marine spatial planning process ever undertaken: the US has the world's largest Exclusive Economic Zone, spanning more than 12 million km2.

For more information on the national ocean policy:

The Crown Estate is a commercial property organization that manages a diverse portfolio on behalf of the UK. The property ranges from offices and shops in the heart of London, to farmland and forests, to the UK's foreshore and seabed. Because the role of The Crown Estate is to enhance the value of this property and earn a surplus for UK taxpayers, it leases various activities. On its seabed property, for example, this includes licensing various offshore renewable energy projects. The Crown Estate plans for these offshore projects using marine spatial planning.

In May, The Crown Estate was awarded the 2010 ESRI Award for Return on Investment, honoring its use of marine spatial planning to reduce costs and create a better investment climate. (ESRI is a leading provider of geographic information systems, or GIS.) MEAM spoke with Tim Norman, senior manager of planning for The Crown Estate, about how its marine spatial planning work has lowered costs for management and industry.

MEAM: What marine property does The Crown Estate manage?

Tim Norman: The Crown Estate has extensive marine assets throughout the UK, including around half of the foreshore, the beds of estuaries, and tidal rivers. It also owns virtually the entire seabed out to 12 nautical miles, and this includes the rights to explore and utilize the natural resources of the UK continental shelf, although it excludes oil, gas, and coal. In all, The Crown Estate has interests in a marine estate of over 850,000 km2 and is responsible for leasing many commercial activities, including offshore wind, wave, and tidal energy.

It is important to note that recent legislative changes have established a statutory system of marine planning in the UK. As The Crown Estate is a landowner not a regulator, the statutory process of planning the marine environment will fall to relevant government departments. However, The Crown Estate will still plan its own commercial activities and, as a key stakeholder, will provide input into the marine planning process.

MEAM: In what ways can marine spatial planning (MSP) lead to more efficient, cost-effective management of marine resources?

Norman: In our view the key benefits of MSP are:

  • The creation of a more certain (or less uncertain) environment for the planning of marine development. Our MSP team uses the Marine Resource System (MaRS) tool to identify areas that are constrained physically, technically, and environmentally for the different types of development that take place within the estate.
  • Mitigation of conflicts in use of the seabed. The Crown Estate uses MaRS to identify and avoid potential conflicts in use and to identify which activities can coexist with one another.
  • Direct time savings in undertaking GIS work. Our MaRS tool has dramatically simplified the work involved in generating maps and models of the seabed.

MEAM: What is MaRS, exactly?

Norman: MaRS ( is a GIS-based decision support system designed to help The Crown Estate plan the use of the marine estate. The business challenge was to build a GIS system capable of characterizing the distribution and quality of marine resources and planning their development and use. It achieves this through the mapping and categorization of:

  • Areas of physical suitability by activity (such as wind power);
  • Physical constraints and restriction to use;
  • Consenting constraints, including other marine users and environmental interests;
  • Economic return and probability of economic return;
  • Degree of social and economic sustainability; and
  • Spatial and temporal interaction between activities and features (fish, marine mammals, etc.).

MEAM: What are some specific economic savings The Crown Estate has achieved from marine spatial planning?

Norman: One example is from the third round of UK offshore wind development zones, which was derived using decision support from MaRS. The business case for MaRS is predicated on reducing program slippage. If the Round 3 program had been delayed by one year, the loss to The Crown Estate revenue would have been in the order of £22 million ($34 million) over the life of the project. So far the development zones have focused efforts and sped up project development programs by at least a year, and in some cases more. This has saved developers millions in cost and effort. This is in addition to the benefits derived from the UK's becoming an attractive investment opportunity, creating jobs, and securing its energy supply.

Another example is that of a major oil pipeline that was proposed over an already licensed aggregate dredging area. The 20-km overlap in activities was worth £120 million ($187 million) in potential lost aggregate revenue. Based on MaRS, an appropriate compromise was implemented to safeguard this future revenue.

And the time savings from having marine spatial planning automated through MaRS has helped The Crown Estate save more than 300 man days in the past six months alone, equating to a savings of over £135,000 ($210,000) in direct staff cost.

For more information:

Tim Norman, The Crown Estate, London, UK. E-mail: Tim.Norman [at]

Ocean Zoning: Making Marine Management More Effective

By Tundi Agardy. 2010, Earthscan. 208 pp. US $85 at

Although marine spatial planning has gained favor among marine and coastal planners in recent years, the related practice of ocean zoning has sometimes been pushed to the side. Often viewed as potentially too controversial for stakeholders - since it would involve setting aside some places as off-limits to certain activities - ocean zoning has been avoided by name, if not avoided altogether, in several MSP programs.

MEAM contributing editor Tundi Agardy embraces ocean zoning in this book. She views it as a potentially powerful tool for integrating marine management at the ecosystem scale, and advises managers and policy-makers to view marine spatial planning as the framework that makes comprehensive ocean zoning possible. "I would argue that MSP without subsequent (or parallel) ocean zoning of some type is incomplete management or, better put, is not taking advantage of the power of ocean zoning as a problem-solving tool," writes Agardy. "Although the scenario development that much MSP entails allows us to look to the future and evaluate various management options, at some point 'planning' can divert energy and resources away from 'doing' - and zoning represents the doing to which MSP leads." In fact, she says, without ocean zoning, MSP is little more than just a new name for the integrated coastal zone management programs that many countries have practiced for 20 years.

Her book provides several case studies of ocean zoning in practice, from Australia and New Zealand, to Europe, Africa, and North America. Writes Agardy, "Ocean zoning will undoubtedly gain in popularity as further tests of the concept emerge at various scales and as pressures on and conflicts in the sea increase."

Marine Spatial Planning: Concepts, Current Practice and Linkages to Other Management Approaches

By Fanny Douvere. 2010, Ghent University, Belgium. 125 pp. A limited quantity of hard copies is available for free; e-mail fanny.douvere [at]

This book is the Ph.D. thesis that Douvere presented earlier this year to earn her doctorate in Political Sciences at the University of Ghent. Douvere (who now leads the World Heritage Marine Programme at UNESCO) and her frequent collaborator Bud Ehler have done more than perhaps anyone to advance the field of marine spatial planning in the past five years, traveling to dozens of workshops and conferences worldwide to present on the subject of MSP. (The guidebook they co-authored in 2009, Marine Spatial Planning: A Step-by-Step Approach toward Ecosystem-based Management, remains the definitive manual on MSP implementation -

This new book by Douvere brings together articles she has previously published on the subject of MSP, with an introduction on the challenges facing the field. The text walks readers through the need for and evolution of MSP worldwide; key elements of its implementation; the importance of stakeholder participation in MSP; and the role of monitoring and evaluation. It also illustrates cases of MSP in practice in Europe, with a particular focus on Belgium, and describes the links between MSP and integrated coastal zone management. Douvere writes that she hopes the book will help raise standards for the further development of MSP and help nations to achieve "a truly integrated, ecosystem-based management of our ocean areas."

The EBM Toolbox

Our regular feature "The EBM Toolbox", produced by the EBM Tools Network, is on hiatus this issue. It will resume in our next issue (October-November 2010). In the meantime, you may learn about EBM tools and sign up for Network updates at

Lessons from Packard Foundation's EBM Initiative

From 2004 to 2009, one of the main dedicated sources of funding for coastal and marine EBM projects worldwide was the David and Lucile Packard Foundation. The foundation's EBM Initiative aimed to strengthen the science of ecosystem-based management and help move it from academic discussion into practice. Over its five-year span, the initiative distributed US $32 million in grants to dozens of projects that assembled knowledge on EBM, developed tools to implement it, and improved communications and community-building in the EBM field. (MEAM was one of the grant recipients.) The program also funded several regional projects to implement EBM - in the Western Pacific, the Gulf of California, and along the central California coast.

Although the initiative came to a close last year, EBM continues to be an important thread throughout Packard's marine conservation strategies. The foundation has released a report documenting its EBM Initiative, including case studies of the regional projects and a series of lessons on EBM gained through its grantees' experience. These lessons, described in detail in the report, are:

  1. EBM looks different in different places.
  2. The initial scale and scope of an EBM project is less important than a commitment to fully understand and sustain the ecosystem.
  3. Early investments in natural science can improve decision-making in EBM, but understanding and addressing the social dynamics of the ecosystem are equally important.
  4. Practical applications should drive the development and focus of EBM-related science.
  5. EBM is likely to benefit from the practical adaptation of scientific concepts from other areas of environmental management and conservation.
  6. Experimentation with tools over the past five years has catalyzed broad interest and generated promising examples of how tools that match user needs can yield benefits in practice.
  7. Creating "communities of practice" can help speed progress in EBM.

The Synthesis Report for the Ecosystem-Based Management for Sustainable Coastal-Marine Systems Initiative was authored by Kristin Sherwood, Elizabeth Chornesky and Beach Codevilla. It is available at

Guide for EBM in tropical Western Pacific

The Wildlife Conservation Society has published a guide to conducting EBM in the tropical Western Pacific region. Featuring five case studies (three from Fiji, one from Palau, one from Indonesia), the publication describes several supporting principles for EBM and a 10-step process for planning and implementation. The guide seeks to inform and influence conservation practice in the tropical Western Pacific, while sharing lessons from the region with conservation practitioners around the world, particularly in developing nations. The report Principles and Practice of Ecosystem-Based Management is at

Declaration at fishers forum embraces marine spatial planning

Attendees of the Fifth International Fishers Forum - held 3-5 August, 2010, in Taipei, Taiwan - agreed to a declaration that recognizes the important role of marine spatial planning in resource conservation and calls for participation of the commercial fishing industry in spatial planning efforts. The "Taipei Declaration" is at Approximately 300 people representing fishing industry, governments, academia, and conservation organizations participated in the conference.

Report shows EBM in practice in US marine sanctuaries

A new report published by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration presents eight cases of EBM in practice, all at sites within the country's system of National Marine Sanctuaries. Each case shows how EBM principles have been implemented in sanctuary-specific management and planning documents, co-management strategies, stakeholder engagement efforts, or marine spatial planning. The US Office of National Marine Sanctuaries manages more than 380,000 km2 of marine and freshwater systems across 14 sites. The report Examples of Ecosystem-based Management in National Marine Sanctuaries: Moving from Theory to Practice is at

Case studies on climate change adaptation

A searchable database of more than 100 case studies on managing natural systems to adapt to climate change is now online at Many of the case studies pertain to coastal and marine ecosystems. The database and website are provided by the Climate Adaptation Knowledge Exchange project (CAKE), a joint initiative of Island Press and EcoAdapt.

Website: Second International Marine Conservation Congress

The website for the Second International Marine Conservation Congress (IMCC2) is now online at The meeting will be held 14-18 May 2011 in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. The deadline for submitting proposals for symposia, workshops, and focus groups is 31 August 2010. More than 1200 individuals attended the First International Marine Conservation Congress, held in Washington, DC, in May 2009.

Global mangrove atlas released

The first global assessment of mangroves in more than 10 years highlights the importance of, and threats to, mangrove ecosystems worldwide. It also documents current programs to restore mangroves for the multiple ecosystem services they provide humans - including flood defense, fish nurseries, and carbon storage to combat climate change. The World Mangrove Atlas is available for US $99.95 at A press release with the atlas's main findings is available for free at

Website for Atlas of Patagonian Sea

A new website allows users to browse maps displaying an array of oceanographic and ecological features of the Patagonian Sea, which spans from southern Brazil to southern Chile. The website complements the Atlas of the Patagonian Sea: Species and Spaces, published in 2009. The atlas and website feature satellite-tracking data for 17 species of marine animals, and are intended to inform regional policy on fisheries and maritime transportation. The website address is

New map displays marine ecosystems, MPAs in North America

The latest map released for the North American Environmental Atlas uses Google Earth to display the continent's marine ecosystems, marine protected areas, and ranges of various marine species of concern. It is available at The Atlas was created by the Commission on Environmental Cooperation, a tri-national institution that enhances cooperation among Canada, the US, and Mexico on environmental policy.