- New long-term data set shows clear changes in El Niño patterns
- Global assessment finds humans driving a million species to extinction
- Warming waters changing compositions of global plankton communities
- Productivity of North Atlantic phytoplankton declining as ocean warms
- New report documents climate change impacts on deep ocean habitat, fish, and fisheries
- New reporting on how weak governance undermines South America’s ocean ecosystems
- US government and fishing industry to collaborate on offshore wind research and processes
- EU releases 2019 Blue Economy report
- New paper describes approaches and tools for achieving multi-objective MSP
- Global Fishing Watch makes data available/easier to use in other applications
- Free service helps nonprofits create ArcGIS StoryMaps
- Input requested on content/main uses of new marine conservation planning database
- Major newspaper switching from “climate change” to “climate crisis”
Latest Skimmer Articles
Editor’s Note: From the Archives calls attention to past Skimmer/MEAM articles whose perspectives and insight remain relevant.
To some in conservation and resource management, marketing can seem like a bad word. But marketing is inherently about getting people to change their behavior, whether it is buying a product, recycling, or supporting a new approach to management. Marketing techniques bring together elements of psychology, sociology, economics, and graphic design. Learn from three experts how to use conservation marketing to make marine conservation and management processes more effective.
Editor’s note: The deluge of popular articles and reports on marine plastic continues, but here at The Skimmer, we became curious about one important area where we weren’t seeing as much information – how marine plastic pollution is affecting ocean users and the Blue Economy. We know that marine plastic is pretty much everywhere in the ocean and can have horrific effects on individual marine organisms – think whales and seabirds with bellies full of plastic – but that the research is just not there to fully assess the severity of marine ecosystem-level impacts.
But aside from the unpleasant views of trash-strewn beaches and coastal waters, how are people, cities, and countries affected? One important reason to dig into this area and have this information readily available is that money talks. If the harm to marine life doesn’t convince decision makers to make difficult changes to address marine plastic pollution, maybe understanding the economic and social impacts can.
Editor’s note: In this interview, Val Stori, the project director for the Clean Energy Group and Clean Energy States Alliance, discusses US offshore wind energy under the Trump administration and new developments in the offshore wind industry. She can be contacted at val [at] cleanegroup.org.
The Skimmer: How have offshore wind energy policies in the US changed (or not changed) under the Trump presidential administration?
Stori: Under the Trump administration, the Department of Interior and its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) have taken steps that will enable the further development of offshore wind energy in the US.
One of the first changes to offshore wind under the Trump administration has been making permitting for offshore wind projects easier. BOEM may now use a ‘design envelope approach’ in Construction and Operations Plans (COPs). This streamlines the review and permitting of infrastructure projects and allows developers more flexibility to make last-minute project design decisions without triggering another environmental review.
By Alf Håkon Hoel
Editor’s note: Alf Håkon Hoel is a professor at UiT – the Arctic University of Norway. He can be contacted at alf.hakon.hoel [at] uit.no.
A valuable development in international oceans governance is the growing importance of regional cooperation. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), there are currently about 60 international organizations that deal with regional oceans governance. The increase in the number of these organizations is partly driven by the regional nature of many of the challenges confronting the oceans, as is the case for the Arctic. Other important drivers are the provisions on regional cooperation in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and the 1995 UN Fish Stocks Agreement.
Editor’s note: The term on everyone’s lips (and documents) these days is Blue Economy. In this issue, The Skimmer takes a look at what various groups mean when they use this term, how it came about, what it looks like in practice or could look like in practice, and why it has some people worried. We’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences about the Blue Economy in the Comments section below.
So what in the world is the ‘Blue Economy’?
- It really depends on whom you ask. The term Blue Economy means a lot of different things to a lot of different groups. For example, the World Bank defines the Blue Economy as the “sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, improved livelihoods, and jobs while preserving the health of ocean ecosystem.” In contrast, a recent European Commission document defines it as “all economic activities related to oceans, seas and coasts.”
- A 2015 article by Silver et al. analyzed preparatory documents for and discussions of the Blue Economy at the 2012 UN conference on Sustainable Development (aka Rio+20) and described four general ways that groups were conceptualizing what the Blue Economy is. Voyer et al. 2018 reviewed newer documents and updated those initial conceptualizations of the Blue Economy to the following:
- Oceans as natural capital: This use of Blue Economy is used to express the importance and value of marine ecosystem services. It is used primarily by environmental organizations and is used to promote the societal and economic benefits (e.g., ecotourism opportunities, carbon markets, payments for ecosystem services) of environmental protection and restoration activities. Such activities include the creation of marine protected areas, decarbonization, and climate change mitigation. This conceptualization promotes protection of species and ecosystems as a driver of economic development rather than a competing priority and is the least common conceptualization of Blue Economy of the four.
Editor’s note: Joanna Smith is director of ocean planning and mapping with Nature United, the Canadian affiliate of The Nature Conservancy. In this capacity, she is the Seychelles marine spatial planning (MSP) process and science lead. She splits her time between Canada, Seychelles, and other travels.
The Skimmer: How have you seen Blue Economy develop over recent years?
Smith: In 2012, the European Union introduced its “Blue Growth” platform. This platform was heavily focused on employment and creating jobs in new and emerging ocean sectors. It was a diversification of sorts to make up for shrinkage in other markets. Initially it did not have a sustainability focus per se, but in the following years, the word “sustainable” became more prominent.
To me, the “Blue Economy” was launched in 2014 by small island developing states (SIDS). It is a fundamentally different concept from Blue Growth in that it highlights the significance of the oceans for these nations in the context of ocean conservation, sustainable livelihoods, economic diversification, and maritime security. For many SIDS, a high percentage of their Gross Domestic Product (GDP) comes from marine sources – their economies truly are “blue”. For these nations, Blue Economy is not just about diversifying their ocean economies (the parts of their national economies dependent on the ocean). It is also about increasing the resilience of their ocean economies, increasing maritime safety and security (from piracy and IUU), improving ocean management and food security, protecting the environment, and adapting to climate change.
- Marine social sciences network launched
- New IUU Fishing Index maps global exposure and response to IUU fishing (read the report)
- Guatemala conducts marine spatial planning exercises
- New report describes changes and variations in the ocean over past decades
- Ocean acidification dissolving seafloor calcite in hotspots around globe
- Climate change changing ocean colors
- UN estimates improved coral reef health could generate over US$70 billion
- US National Academy of Sciences releases report on interventions to increase the persistence and resilience of coral reefs
- Report describes national single-use plastic policies worldwide
- Successful models for reducing marine pollution (wastewater, agricultural runoff, and marine litter) reviewed
- Measures to reduce plastic pollution in Latin America and the Caribbean summarized
- Report recommends ways to strengthen European marine ecosystem modeling to better inform management
- Open access book provides first comprehensive overview of marine spatial planning
- IOC launches Ocean Data and Information System (ODIS) catalog of ocean-related data, information, products, and services
- New guide helps marine scientists tweet more effectively
The Skimmer’s new Tools page is now fully operational, and you can use it to find information on tools that deal with:
- Ecosystem service assessment
- Climate change assessment and planning
- Fisheries management
- Marine spatial planning
- Stakeholder engagement
- And more.
The new Tools page pulls together journal articles, reports, MEAM/Skimmer articles, and other resources that provide information about a range of tools for these and other marine management and conservation tasks. Please let us know what you think!