New Tool Provides a Roadmap toward Marine and Coastal EBM

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

A new Web-based tool exists to guide practitioners on moving EBM from concept to practice. Called the EBM Roadmap, its target audience is marine resource managers who already have some knowledge of EBM but need advice on implementing it. The EBM Roadmap is available at www.ebmtools.org/roadmap.html.

"In developing the Roadmap, we conducted focus groups with potential users and recognized the growing number of people who understand EBM conceptually but struggle with putting it into practice," says Verna DeLauer of COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea - www.compassonline.org), a US-based partnership of universities and NGOs. DeLauer co-developed the Roadmap with Waterview Consulting (www.waterviewconsulting.com) and the EBM Tools Network (www.ebmtools.org).

The Roadmap outlines eight Core Elements - such as "adaptive management", "ecosystem services", and "cumulative impacts" - that should be considered when building an EBM program. Then it directs users to existing case studies, tools, data sources, and additional readings that pertain to putting each element into practice. The Roadmap is intended to be updated over time, evolving to reflect developments in EBM. DeLauer speaks with MEAM about this new tool:

MEAM: In what ways is the Roadmap unique from other EBM guides?

DeLauer: The Roadmap distills the huge concept of EBM into a manageable amount of reading that most people can find time for. Part of its function is also to help managers see how their day-to-day work can contribute to EBM without necessarily involving huge systemic changes.

MEAM: In what ways do you anticipate the Roadmap could evolve?

DeLauer: We anticipate that it will be updated with new case studies, EBM tools, scientific papers, and other resources to reflect new developments in EBM. We would like to add more depth to the core elements, such as custom-written case studies that clearly illustrate how people have approached - or are grappling with - the core element in practice.

MEAM: Regarding those core elements, do you view EBM as an "either/or" thing: i.e., you either have all eight of the core elements in place or you are not doing EBM at all?

DeLauer: The Roadmap is meant to represent a spectrum between "no EBM" and "comprehensive EBM". An EBM project should not be considered a failure if the eight core elements are not all in place. As the name of the EBM Roadmap suggests, EBM is more about the journey than the destination. Comprehensive EBM might be a rarity or an unachievable goal in certain contexts and given certain resources. In most cases, some of the core elements will be in place, other core elements will be in the works, and some core elements will not be addressed yet. In reality, the important question is how well the management is performing: in other words, how well are ecosystem services being maintained to meet societal goals?

For more information:

Verna DeLauer, COMPASS, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts, US. E-mail: VDeLauer [at] clarku.edu

Peter Taylor, Waterview Consulting, Maine, US. E-mail: peter [at] waterviewconsulting.com

Sarah Carr, EBM Tools Network, Arlington, Virginia, US. E-mail: sarah_carr [at] natureserve.org

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