June 2016 (9:8)

Issue PDF archive:

Dear MEAM readers,

In October of last year, MEAM launched a new feature, ‘From the Archives’, that calls attention to past MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant. This issue’s From the Archives article, "Getting business on board: Engaging the business community in ocean planning”, from the June-August 2015 issue offers great advice to ocean planners for working with ocean businesses. We encourage you to check out this article and take advantage of all of MEAM’s past articles providing practical advice for EBM and ocean planning.

And we are pleased to add another training opportunity incorporating marine spatial planning (MSP) into our MSP training compilation – the UGent Blue Growth Summer School being held from September 12-23, 2016, in Ostend, Belgium.

Best wishes for your work,
Sarah Carr
​MEAM Editor

Equity and social justice concerns are intrinsic to all ocean planning processes. Some groups benefit more, or are perceived to benefit more, than others in terms of continued or new access to space and resources. The way stakeholders view the fairness of ocean planning processes and the plans that result from them in turn can influence how successfully those plans can be implemented.

Ocean planners are increasingly thinking about these relationships when designing and conducting planning processes. However, equity and justice considerations are rarely formal objectives for planning processes. And resources and information for helping ocean planners formally incorporate equity and social justice concerns into their planning and prioritization work are limited.

To learn more about what ocean planners can do to formally account for these considerations, we spoke this month with three ocean planners and researchers who are at the forefront of examining the relationship of equity and social justice to conservation and management success. In addition, the EBM Toolbox column in next month’s MEAM will examine this subject further by documenting what tradeoffs between equity and biodiversity conservation success may look like for different types of social equity.

Determine what aspects of equity stakeholders care about

Editor's note: Ben Halpern is a professor at the Bren School of Environmental Science and Management and director of the Center for Marine Assessment and Planning at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He can be reached at halpern [at] bren.ucsb.edu.

MEAM: From your perspective, what do equity and social justice look like in an ocean planning process?

Halpern: To understand how equity (or social justice) is, and is not, addressed in ocean planning, you first have to pay attention to the many different forms equity can take. The main distinction is between procedural (or process) equity and distributive (or outcome) equity. You can think of procedural equity as things like stakeholder engagement or how well different people’s voices are heard in a planning process. Outcome equity is how the costs and benefits of any particular planning action are distributed among different groups of people. That gets even more complicated – because equity can be related to all sorts of different groupings such as gender, generation, occupation, social class, and ethnicity. Some people will care most about procedural equity for different occupations (the classic stakeholder engagement concern). Others will care most about outcome equity by gender. And so on.

There are lots of examples of equity concerns influencing ocean planning even if we do not call them that. Individual Transferable Quota (ITQ) allocations (which determine who gets what proportion of a stock when the catch allocations are first distributed), the design of MPA boundaries (which determine which fishermen are impacted the most), and the many planning processes that carefully and deliberately engage a full range of stakeholders are all examples of equity issues influencing planning.

MEAM: Why should ocean planners be thinking explicitly about equity and social justice at the beginning of a process?

Halpern: For me there are two really compelling reasons why planners should be dealing with equity issues. The first is that people care about equity issues (a lot!), and if people care about something, it should be included in a planning process. Just as we make conservation and economic outcomes explicit objectives of planning processes, we should explicitly address equity outcomes. Indeed, we have a term for this – triple bottom line outcomes (effective, efficient, and equitable). The second reason to address equity issues up front is that when they are ignored, they can have an impact on how well other objectives are met. There are plenty of examples of conservation actions that did not fully consider who wins and who pays the costs, and those who had to pay decided to ignore the conservation action (for example, fishermen who decide to poach inside MPA boundaries because they feel the MPAs were not created fairly).

One of the best examples of ocean planning that failed when equity was ignored and succeeded once equity was addressed is the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process in California. The first two times the planning process was initiated, planning was top-down and did not engage stakeholder groups, and it failed. The third time, planners used an elaborate stakeholder engagement process that gave voice and participation to interested and affected groups, and the planning led to a network of MPAs along the entire coast. Other good examples of equity in ocean planning come from development of ITQ for poor-performing fisheries. Decisions about how to allocate quotas when the ITQ is first established and rules about if/how quotas can be consolidated after the system is created can have profound consequences for how well the fishery performs.

MEAM: What advice do you have for ocean planners starting to think about explicitly incorporating equity and social justice considerations into their work?

Halpern: I think the most important way to begin addressing equity issues is to understand which aspects of equity stakeholders for the process care about. For many, feeling that they are able to participate in the planning process and have their voices heard is of paramount importance. For others, the process does not matter so much as long as the outcomes seem fair. Equally important, how do people in the community identify different groups? Is it mostly by profession (e.g., fishermen, conservationists, tourists), by gender, by generations? These are the different voices that need to be heard and the lens through which the outcomes (impacts) of planning actions need to be viewed. Not all views will matter to different communities – you do not want to structure a planning process (and outcome) around equity issues that people do not care about.

Map out the social dynamics of your area at the beginning

Editor's note: Elizabeth De Santo is an assistant professor and chair of environmental studies at Franklin & Marshall College. She can be reached at elizabeth.desanto [at] fandm.edu.

MEAM: From your perspective, what do equity and social justice look like in an ocean planning process?

De Santo: I think it’s important to clarify what we mean when we’re using the terms “equity” and “social justice” because definitions vary. Equity can be viewed as fairness or justice in how people are treated, while social justice focuses on access to opportunities, wealth, and other benefits (and burdens) in society. In marine management, we typically hear about these concepts in regard to access to resources upon which livelihoods depend, such as fisheries and other extractive uses. In a wider marine management context, however, tourism and other non-extractive uses also have equity and social justice issues associated with them.

One key legal instrument for equity and justice in environmental planning that readers should be aware of is the 1998 Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-Making, and Access to Justice in Environmental Issues. While the Convention is primarily a European instrument, it is open to accession by outside countries and is viewed as a key contribution to environmental democracy, emphasizing accountability, transparency, and responsiveness to the public on the part of governments. The ability of governments to implement the Convention has varied. The first two pillars – access to information and participation in decision-making – have proven much easier to implement than the third pillar – access to justice.

MEAM: Why should ocean planners be thinking explicitly about equity and social justice at the beginning of a process?

De Santo: It is worth noting that social “injustice” can be a result of internal problems – such as domination and oppression of one group by another – not just distributional outcomes. So even though the process may appear to be fair from the planners’ perspective, there may be other dynamics that affect the outcome in a negative way.

Consequently, it is key for planners to be as transparent as possible from the beginning, and they also need to map out the social dynamics of the area in which they are working – who are the stakeholders and how do they relate to one another socioeconomically and politically? What is the pathway for information/science to reach policy makers, and are there potential obstacles? What external actors, such as environmental organizations, are present, and do they provide a bridging role at the science/policy interface or exacerbate conflicts? What relationships do different user groups have among themselves, and how can policy-makers and planners work with them in a transparent and fair manner to ensure long term compliance? These are all important considerations that highlight the importance of interdisciplinary approaches to environmental management: planners need to bring in social and political scientists as well as natural science in order to fully understand the social-ecological context within which they are working. In some situations, this will also require including indigenous and local knowledge and facilitation (i.e., both natural and social science). Otherwise, planners could be faced with situations where one group feels disenfranchised and/or refuses to comply with regulations.

An example of such a situation is the UK’s Marine Conservation Zone (MCZ) process. This ambitious, stakeholder-led process ran from 2009-2011 and resulted in a list of 127 proposed MCZs. Some stakeholders in this process felt that the fishing industry ultimately had a more powerful voice than other perspectives, however, and that the government bent to their demands behind the scenes. Whether or not this is true, it is not surprising to see different stakeholder groups and/or geographic regions feeling that some receive preferential treatment over others. Planners need to be aware of these potential concerns and recognize that they should not be used as a reason to exclude different perspectives from planning processes. If users fear that rules will be imposed on them, they may have an incentive to disrupt the process or withdraw from it. (MEAM readers interested in this issue may find a paper on the potential for improving constructive participation by the fishing industry in no-take MPA planning useful.) Five years after the MCZ consultation concluded, many stakeholders who were involved in the process are disappointed by the slow pace of site designations and feel that the UK government did not meet their expectations. Rather than designating all 127 recommended sites at once, the MCZs are being rolled out in smaller “tranches” or groups of sites (27 in 2013, 23 in 2016, and a future tranche expected in 2018). In addition, and of particular concern with regard to the ecological integrity of a network of sites, the recommendations for no-take “reference areas” have not been implemented. (Read an assessment of the stakeholder engagement aspect of the process here.)

MEAM: What advice/strategies/resources do you have for ocean planners starting to think about incorporating equity and social justice considerations into their work?

De Santo: A few key aspects that I have seen in this and other contexts to ensure long-term conservation success:

  1. Managing expectations while maintaining transparency and consistent communication throughout the process,
  2. Maintaining political consistency, both in terms of the structure of decision-making hierarchy and in the policies enacted for stakeholder engagement, and
  3. Establishing clear objectives and definitions from the outset.

While these recommendations don’t necessarily resolve the underlying societal issues that cause inequity and injustice, they can bolster stakeholder engagement and build trust in the process.

Make sure there is enough time in the process to develop relationships and understand issues and concerns

Editor's note: Russ Jones, whose Haida name is Nang Jingwas, is manager of marine planning for the Council of the Haida Nation, the government of the indigenous Haida people of Canada. He can be reached at russ.jones [at] haidanation.com.

MEAM: From your perspective, what do equity and social justice look like in an ocean planning process?

Jones: Equity and social justice in ocean planning means ensuring that processes are respectful and inclusive of everyone who has an interest or can make a meaningful contribution to ocean plans. This is particularly important for indigenous peoples and communities who are located in the planning area or may be affected by development.

MEAM: Why should ocean planners be thinking explicitly about equity and social justice at the beginning of a process?

Jones: Ocean plans require a balancing of interests, which means that there needs to be an appropriate level of engagement at all stages of the planning process including design of processes, development of objectives, and establishment of governance systems. Questions that should be asked include: Who should be involved? Do they have the resources to engage meaningfully? Are there differences in world view that need to be accounted for?

MEAM: What advice/strategies/resources do you have for ocean planners starting to think about incorporating equity and social justice considerations into their work?

Jones: My main advice would be to take time to learn about the planning area, particularly the perspectives of indigenous people, communities, and those individuals or groups that have key interests in ocean plans. It takes time to develop relationships and to understand issues and concerns, and the process needs to account for that.

My own experience with ocean planning for Haida Gwaii (an archipelago on the Pacific coast of Canada) at a regional and large ocean management (LOMA) scale illustrates the importance of governance processes to final outcomes and the need for time to develop the stable relationships and trust required to move forward with development of durable ocean plans. LOMA planning for the Canadian province of British Columbia started in 2003 when the federal government announced that the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management (PNCIMA) including Haida Gwaii would be one of five pilot projects for development of integrated ocean management plans under Canada’s Oceans Act. Following that announcement, it took more than five years to develop a governance agreement between Canada, British Columbia, and (indigenous) First Nations. The agreement was unique because it involved a partnership with most of the First Nations in the British Columbia north coast. A major reason for this unique approach was existence of both Indigenous and Crown title in the planning area. The resulting governance process involved a Steering Committee that made decisions by consensus and was responsible for designing and developing the ocean planning process. Much of the early work was led by Coastal First Nations – Great Bear Initiative of which the Council of the Haida Nation is a member.

First Nations secured resources from government and private sources to develop their own vision and community plans – through grants from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and federal sources including the Aboriginal Aquatic Resource and Oceans Management program – during a pre-planning phase beginning in 2006. The Haida Nation used this time to articulate Haida ethics and values, conduct a Haida marine traditional knowledge study, and develop a marine planning document that informed development of the PNCIMA and Haida Gwaii Marine Plan. This pre-planning process took place over five years with products being completed in stages.

A major challenge occurred in 2011 when the federal government unilaterally changed the scope of the PNCIMA process and stepped away from commitments to develop spatial plans at the sub-regional scale including Haida Gwaii. First Nations withdrew from the PNCIMA and re-engaged through a Letter of Intent in 2012. First Nations and the Province of British Columbia formed the Marine Planning Partnership with the goal of continuing to develop marine spatial plans for the four sub-regions within PNCIMA. The sub-regional plans, such as the one for Haida Gwaii, were developed over a period of a little over three years and were finally endorsed by First Nations in each sub-region and the Province in April 2015. Completion of the PNCIMA plan is still under discussion.

By Hugh Govan. Hugh Govan is an ocean and fisheries policy and governance consultant based in Fiji, an adviser and trainer for the Locally Managed Marine Area Network, and a regional coordinator for Melanesia for the IUCN World Commission on Protected Areas- Marine. He can be reached at hgovan [at] gmail.com.

I wanted to share some observations on ocean planning in the Pacific, particularly in the Pacific Small Island Developing States (PSIDS). These 12 countries have been receiving attention disproportionate to their population (approximately 10 million people) because, despite their small land masses, they have large maritime jurisdictions (30,000,000 km2). One thing that is lost in many discussions about the PSIDS is that this group includes some of the poorest countries in the world, with a large majority of the total population struggling to meet basic human needs in relative isolation.

Given the relatively low land masses, the rapidly increasing populations, and the degradation of land resources in these countries, it is hardly surprising that their traditional dependency on marine, particularly coastal, resources for subsistence has become more intense. This increased dependency in combination with a steady shift towards cash economies is contributing to declines in coastal resources. In addition, while communities are struggling to meet food and cash needs inshore, governments are striving to generate revenue offshore from globally significant tuna stocks while also casting their eyes towards the potential of seabed mining.

A surprising lack of ocean planning and a dire lack of marine resource management

Despite the importance of the ocean to PSIDS, there is a surprising lack of ocean planning and, with only a few exceptions, a dire lack of marine resource management in general. This may be partly because of the low development status of the countries. But it is also due to a delay in recognizing the need for management by national governments. Regional policy commitments such as the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape (2010) have called for practical and integrated ocean planning, but little activity has materialized. And past experience suggests that even if “ocean plans” are developed, there is little likelihood that they would be implemented.

Tuna management

Despite the absence of explicit and integrated ocean planning, there have been notable sectoral successes. Recent years have demonstrated the potential of regional approaches to tuna management such as the Parties to the Nauru Agreement (PNA), which has increased the proportion of tuna revenue that is retained by the PSIDS member countries five-fold to some US$450 million annually. The PNA use of input controls for fishing effort (a vessel day scheme), while not perhaps the optimum biological solution, has proven to be tremendously more practicable than quota systems. It has even been able to regulate a variety of activities such as fishing in Areas Beyond National Jurisdiction (ABNJ), a notoriously difficult area for management, through license conditions.

Coastal fisheries management

Another sector that has shown evidence of large scale management interventions is coastal fisheries. Nearly 8% of the region’s more than 11,000 coastal communities, primarily in Fiji and Samoa, are receiving or have received resource management support - generally from NGOs - to practice ‘community-based’ management. In the other countries, most communities still practice traditional ownership of the coastal resources. And despite the convoluted attempts of the legal systems to accommodate (or reduce) these rights, in the absence of significant government strategies to manage inshore fisheries, the main coastal fisheries management tool is local rights-holding communities restricting the access of outsiders who wish to exploit coastal resources commercially.


The final sector that has experienced large scale management intervention in the region is the conservation sector, which has seen foreign NGOs and philanthropic foundations encouraging country leaders to make large MPA declarations. The process has usually involved high level lobbying of prime ministers or presidents to make a declaration with the details of the arrangement left to be sorted out later. Examples of dependent territories with such a process include the Cook Islands and New Caledonia. The utility or effectiveness of these large scale MPAs (LSPMPAs) is open to question, e.g. their relevance in the management of the vitally important tuna resource for a number of reasons. But certainly the LSMPAs are raising the public profile of conservation and protected areas in these countries.

Thoughts on the social justice and equity implications of the current systems

The current system of marine resource management measures (or lack thereof) has major social justice and equity implications for these countries:

Tuna management

Resource management of the tuna sector is driven by regional arrangements, national government priorities and the influence of fishing nations and companies. Governance and transparency are not optimal, and more equitable distribution of rents to countries and communities should be promoted through increasing transparency and accountability of government decision making to their people. Decisions that improve equitability and sustainability could be promoted through media and engaging civil society and perhaps by judicious counter-lobbying of the fishing interests and their host governments, something that could be an ideal role for the powerful and knowledgeable US-based foundations and NGOs.

Coastal fisheries management

Community management of coastal fisheries through de facto access control seems a relatively socially just and equitable approach for resource management with the benefits generally staying with local people and distributed through traditional or community systems. Issues arise, however, when inhabitants who do not hold resource rights are reliant on fisheries for cash income. Examples include migrants, resettled communities, and the Fijian communities of Indian extraction. In general, subsistence access by these groups is tolerated, but commercial access is an issue that needs to be addressed, perhaps through improved licensing mechanisms such as those currently being discussed in Fiji.


Various indicators underline the relatively poor governance of lesser developed countries in the Pacific, but their policies are generally derived through some sort of democratic process and more or less transparent dialogue on policy that includes the local civil society. Policies reflect the major development aspirations of the population at large, e.g., meeting basic needs such as water and sanitation, improving health and education, and finding other sources of income to support the burgeoning populations. Regional intergovernmental organizations have reflected these national aspirations in their advice to member countries and the development of regional policies and priorities, and regional policies and priorities are generally determined through relatively accountable and transparent processes.

However, there is little evidence that the declarations of LSMPAs emerged from legitimate or sovereign policy processes. An examination of national priorities and public policy reflections on major unmet human needs made prior to these declarations will likely not yield much basis for the declaration of LSMPAs as urgent and priority actions. In other words, the public policy processes are being bypassed by foreign lobbying and public relations exercises – if similar approaches were undertaken by mining or fishing interests, there would be public outcry. Given that realizing development aspirations for these small developing countries will depend to a great extent on the sustainable utilization of their major ocean resources, it would be more appropriate to ensure that a public debate on the reallocation of resource rights takes place to avoid adding conservation refugees to the threatened exodus of climate refugees. In addition, despite significant injections of cash from NGOs, government staff and financial resources are inevitably diverted away from much needed resource management in biodiverse inshore areas, which provide most of the marine protein for food security towards these high-profile deep sea declarations.

Conservation actions in the region must become more just and equitable or they will fail

My arguments might seem to fall on one side of the current debate on people before nature vs. nature before people. However, most of the large NGOs, foundations and, of course, national leaders advocating for LSMPAs acknowledge the important and inextricable cultural and social link between their ocean management attempts and Pacific peoples. There is little dichotomy in the discourse, but much in the actions and tools selected and promoted.

It is critical for the conservation lobby to move towards a more socially just and equitable approach. The development aspirations of PSIDS populations will soon require serious consideration of increased exploitation of their ocean resources. Under the current governance arrangements, it would be relatively easy to redesignate or abolish MPAs for “humanitarian” reasons to allow access to urgently needed cash resources. And just as the EEZs are ultimately sovereign national resources, the rights over coastal resources are largely in the hands of communities. In both cases, conservation attempts cannot bypass the rights holders or fail to acknowledge the diversity of their development aspirations and be successful long-term.

Failure to move beyond simplistic foreign prescriptions and consider other avenues that may achieve the same ultimate objectives is likely to undermine the broader societal and environmental benefits we all claim to be seeking. Crucially there is a strong risk that promoting and using “bad governance” approaches to achieve foreign aims (whether by conservationists or resource extractors) will undermine progress at achieving the transparent, inclusive, and accountable governance needed for sustainable and environmentally friendly development in these nations.

The appropriation of use, control, or access to ocean space or resources from prior rights holders or inhabitants through inappropriate governance processes has been termed “ocean grabbing”, and it would appear that both foreign resource extraction and conservation lobbies are at times perpetrators.

It is time for a regional approach to integrated ocean planning built on nested country approaches that ensure that national priorities are foremost and that the most appropriate tools based on context and national experience are chosen. Practical in-house solutions have been developed in the region (such as the PNA and aspects of the community-based management movement), and there is a hunger to pursue these avenues. Indeed, this is the essence of the Framework for a Pacific Oceanscape, the region’s overarching ocean policy. However, if ocean planning does not abide by the highest principles of good governance, public involvement, legitimacy, transparency, and accountability, then it will merely add another layer to the current rash of ocean grabbing afflicting the region and would be better avoided.

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

Equity is an omnipresent goal in managing human affairs. But there are many different kinds of equity, and what one person sees as equitable may be very different from what someone else sees as equitable. One of the types of equity conservationists like to focus on is ‘intergenerational equity’, meaning that marine management has a responsibility to ensure that today’s uses of the ocean do not limit future generations from using the oceans or deriving value from them.

This focus on intergenerational equity has led to a drive to limit extractive industries in the marine environment – most particularly fishing and oil and gas development – because these extractive activities can undermine ecosystem function, threaten biodiversity, and cause ecological imbalances. Of particular concern are points of no return: extinction of species, extirpation of fish populations, and ecological phase shifts between alternative stable states.

Recovering from such tipping points is nearly impossible, or when possible, prohibitively expensive. To avoid these points of no return, EBM has focused on indicators to signal when such irreversible thresholds are being approached. But with limited resources to monitor indicators, sometimes planners and managers just focus on constraining extractive industries – where and when extractive uses can be undertaken – to keep ecosystems safe for future generations. However, keeping ecosystems “safe” is not all that goes into the intergenerational equity argument: in addition to securing healthy, productive, and diverse marine ecosystems in the future, people need to have access to them for the system to be equitable.

Are large scale exclusions for conservation fair?

This is where, in my opinion, conservationists have sometimes deviated from fairness. The push to label extractive industries as evil, simply because, when poorly managed, these uses have indeed caused irreversible changes, has meant that many users are denied access even if they intend to use the oceans sustainably. In effect, one value system is upheld over others: conservation trumps human needs.

Take for example the push to establish large no-take MPAs to create biological safe havens for marine species. While no-take areas are undoubtedly a necessity for the preservation of marine ecosystems and biodiversity, the wholesale exclusion of certain users from wide geographic areas – often without any consultation with affected parties – is not an equitable solution. These designations can constrain local communities, handicap businesses, and create hostility toward conservation. This is particularly true when the MPA only addresses the threat of overfishing or minerals development and does nothing to address what may be even more pressing issues of marine pollution and cumulative impacts.

Equity in management requires consideration of all ocean uses

The burgeoning human population will need to look to the sea ever more frequently to meet its food, energy, and livelihood needs. Given such demands, true equity in management will only occur when all uses and all value systems are taken into consideration and all destructive or degrading activities are stopped (including the wholesale destruction of coastal habitats for tourism development, the poisoning of coastal waters from pollution, and the suite of unregulated activities that occur on the high seas). People’s use rights and the basis for their sense of stewardship cannot be eclipsed by a conservationist agenda that strives to stop ocean use. For instance, calls by some in the conservation community for people to stop eating fish altogether is impractical, and could be argued to be unfair. Not only does a significant proportion of the global population depend on fisheries for food security, but an even greater number depend on fisheries for livelihoods. Long-lasting sustainability will only be likely if priority is given to promoting stewardship over banning use.

If we are committed to intergenerational equity, we need to guide management so that ecosystem function is preserved, points of no return are avoided, and all uses that occur are at sustainable levels. Taking the easy way out by excluding a subset of uses and patting ourselves on the back without implementing true integrated management that considers all pressures on the ecosystem is not equitable, nor is it EBM.

By David Geselbracht, Communication Officer, Sea Around Us, d.geselbracht [at] oceans.ubc.ca

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.

Access to better data on the world’s fisheries is essential for improving fisheries policy globally, especially in developing countries where data on fisheries is often extremely limited. The Sea Around Us, an initiative based out of the University of British Columbia, investigates and documents the impacts of fisheries on the world’s marine ecosystems. The initiative has reconstructed catch data for over 250 Exclusive Economic Zones with the goal of providing some of the most comprehensive global fisheries data needed to improve policy.

To make access to data simple and efficient for fisheries managers, policy makers, and research, the Sea Around Us has developed several free, publicly-available research tools:

  • A catch allocation mapping tool allows users to view where in the world countries fish, and how their fishing has changed geographically over time. A video tutorial on the tool is available here.
  • Interactive graphs allow users to view, analyze and download catch data and relevant references across multiple regions. In addition, users can view catch data for different regions and taxa across time – from 1950-2010 – and see how the reconstructed catch differs from official reporting.
  • Taxon distribution maps (found through the mapping tool) allow users to see where marine taxa that are part of the Sea Around Us global catch data occur globally. A video tutorial on the maps is available here.
  • The Sea Around Us also offers indicator tools such as Marine Trophic Index and economic tools that elucidate how government intervention can both help and hinder fisheries sustainability.
  • A biodiversity tool provides key information on taxa in the Sea Around Us database.

The data mentioned above and used in the tools are also easily downloadable and available for use by researchers, governments, NGOs, and other interested users.

World Bank urges caution in mining the deep sea in the Pacific

Deep sea exploration of minerals and resources is increasing worldwide. In the Pacific, Papua New Guinea has granted a license for ocean floor mining through the Solwara 1 Project. Four other Pacific Island countries - Fiji, Solomon Islands, Tonga, and Vanuatu - have granted permits for deep sea mining exploration, and the Cook Islands recently initiated a minerals exploration tender process. A new draft report from the World Bank, “Pacific Possible: Precautionary Management of Deep Sea Mining Potential in Pacific Island Countries”, assesses the state of knowledge of deep sea mining’s costs, impacts, and potential revenue and finds that the short- and long-term impacts of mining on environments, economies, and societies are largely unknown. The report recommends that Pacific Island countries proceed very cautiously with deep sea mining activity to ensure that appropriate social and environmental safeguards are in place and to avoid irreversible damage to the ecosystem. Read the draft report. It is open for public comment until June 9, 2016.

Draft of first ocean plan for US federal waters released

On May 25, 2016, the Northeast Regional Planning Body (RPB) released a draft of a regional ocean plan for the US Northeast for public review. The RPB is soliciting feedback on the draft through July 25, 2016. Comments can be submitted on their website, by email, or at a series of state-based public meetings scheduled for June 2016. A final version, incorporating public comment, is slated to be approved by the RPB in September 2016 then submitted to the National Ocean Council for review. If approved in a timely fashion, the Northeast Regional Ocean Plan will be the first or among the first ocean plans for US federal waters. Access the draft plan and learn more about how to provide comments.

Request for input on MSP decision support tools

The BONUS BALTSPACE research project is conducting a survey on the use of decision support tools (DST) in MSP practice. The survey aims to assess to what degree DST are used in MSP practice worldwide, the reasons they are accepted or not accepted by practitioners, and the opinions of modellers on DSTs for MSP and marine management. The survey is open until July 8, 2016. Access the survey.

New book analyzes successes and failures of transboundary conservation initiatives

A new book Marine Transboundary Conservation and Protected Areas (edited by Peter Mackelworth and published by Routledge) analyzes a series of marine transboundary conservation to examine reasons – including the effectiveness of international rules and market forces - for their success or failure. Examples are drawn from a wide range of jurisdictions, including territorial seas, continental shelves, exclusive economic zones, and areas beyond national jurisdiction. Case studies include initiatives in the Coral Triangle, West Africa, Central America, the Wadden Sea, the Red Sea, and the Mediterranean Sea. View the book's webpage. Buyers can receive a 20% discount off the list price of US$145 by using the code FLR40 at checkout.

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

Maritime industries deliver 90% of international trade, supply 30% of oil and natural gas, and carry 98% of international communications. Yet despite the vast industrial use of the oceans, ocean planning processes often have relatively little involvement by industry. Read what industry leaders have to say about what ocean planning practitioners should (and should not) do to engage the ocean business community.