The Skimmer & MPA News

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

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:
     
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

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.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

The Skimmer’s new Tools page is now fully operational, and you can use it to find information on tools that deal with:

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!

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s note: Several new papers have examined the feasibility and advisability of applying different management and conservation measures at different depths of the water column (aka ‘vertical zoning’). In this issue, with help from a couple of experts, The Skimmer takes a quick look at the history of vertical zoning and current thinking on where it can and should go next.

Why would we want to do vertical zoning? Isn’t 2D[1] conservation and management complicated enough?

  • As The Skimmer readers are well aware, the marine environment (temperature, pressure, salinity, light, nutrients, oxygen, currents, physical structures, etc.) and the species that inhabit it vary dramatically with depth. One just has to read the latest articles about fascinating new creatures discovered in the deep ocean to get a sense of this.
     
  • This variability means that entirely different communities of organisms with different human uses, vulnerabilities, and conservation needs exist at different depths at the same latitude/longitude. This variability creates complexity for conservation and management but also opportunity. Most conservation and management actions essentially treat the ocean as 2D. Allowing different suites of human activities at different depths, however, could potentially reduce restrictions on human activities in the marine environment (potentially increasing public support for conservation and management activities) while affording the same level of ecosystem protection as vertically homogenous management. We catch up with the latest thinking on the soundness of this approach and our ability to implement it below.
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

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.

Several months ago, an EBM Tools Network member asked a question about how a project in Abu Dhabi could map marine ecosystem service hotspots. Mapping marine ecosystem service hotspots involves mapping relevant marine ecosystem services, then assimilating results for individual ecosystem services in an ecologically and politically justifiable manner. Neither of these tasks is trivial for various reasons: 1) the spatial data needed to map ecosystem services is severely limited, 2) ecosystem services are very heterogeneous, making them difficult to compare (e.g., some can be easily quantified in monetary terms while others cannot), and 3) developing societal consensus on how to weight diverse ecosystem services is extremely difficult.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

Editor’s note: A new resource that just came out adds some additional European context to our article from last month - “Missing half the story: How considering gender can improve ocean conservation and management”. Many thanks to Sophia De Smet of the FARNET Support Unit for sending us this information.

EU Fisheries Local Action Groups (FLAGs) are local partnerships that bring together the private sector, local authorities, and civil society organizations to fund projects to address specific local needs and opportunities. A recent report explored FLAG support to women in the EU fisheries and aquaculture industry. They found that:

  • Even though women represent ~27% of the workforce in the EU seafood industry (~100,000 women in 2014), their role in the industry is both understudied and undervalued.
The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

A bit of big news from us: MEAM is going to be changing its name to The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management – or The Skimmer, for short – next month. This new name (which in long form still references our old name MEAM) comes with an amazing new logo designed by Larrea Young of Little Knids. What’s not changing? Our focus on bringing you critical insights for the sustainable management and conservation of marine ecosystems.

Why the change you ask? About a year ago, we started experimenting with a new type of feature – “Skimmers” – with the aim of providing a quick synopsis (a “bird’s eye view” if you will) of the latest news and research on a topic. We have covered ocean plastics, climate-related changes in the Arctic, how weather and climate extremes are impacting the ocean, managing ocean ecosystems in a changing climate, what managers should know about ocean bacteria and viruses, and (this month) gender as Skimmer articles, and are now taking this as the name of the publication. Not all of our articles will be in this specific format, although many will be. And in general the new name represents the type of integrative and easily and rapidly digestible information that marine conservation and management practitioners need – and which we’ll continue to provide.

The Skimmer on Marine Ecosystems and Management

“If we only think of fishing as men in boats pulling nets out of the water, we’re missing half the story. When we only tell half the story we’re in danger of underestimating how many animals are being caught, what types of animals are being caught, and why types of habitats are important for fishing. Not only that, we’re missing how families feed themselves, how they pay for school or health care, or how they share with their neighbors. When we miss half the story we are more likely to make fishing and conservation management decisions that don’t work.”

---- Dr. Danika Kleiber

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