Ocean Action Hub

Marine and Coastal Ecosystems - CLOSED

The online discussion on Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems took place during the preparatory process for The Ocean Conference in order to engage stakeholders in assessing the challenges and opportunities related to delivering on implementation of Targets 14.2 and 14.5 aiming to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, including strengthening their resilience, to achieve healthy and productive oceans. The discussion ran from 15 March - 5 April 2017. More....

The discussion is now closed and the final report will be posted online here shortly.

Marine and Costal Ecosystems - Question 1

What are the challenges faced in your community, country or region in achieving Target 14.2 & 14.5 aiming to sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems, including strengthening their resilience, to achieve healthy and productive oceans?

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Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

With discussion now completed on Target 14.2 and 14.5, concerning sustainable and resilient marine and coastal ecosystems, it is clear that we have had a rich and wide-ranging interaction. Under Question 1, we have explored the many challenges involved, ranging from ecological issues directly, to human impacts on local communities and resources users, through to governance challenges. Responses to Question 2 examined possible priority actions that might be taken in relation to achieving these SDG goals. Finally, under Question 3, a range of ideas were presented about partnerships and collaborations that can be useful along the road to achieving the SDGs. Relating to all of these questions, it is important to keep in mind some important principles or guidelines. Notably, the next steps around SDG 14, and notably any 'calls to action', must, as a whole, (1) be applicable at multiple spatial scales (i.e. ensuring sustainability of local-level coastal ecosystems, through to regional seas and large marine ecosystems), (2) incorporate all levels of decision-making (including participation of coastal communities in local decision-making, through to large-scale stakeholder organizations in national and regional decision-making, through to global processes), and (3) recognize issues around both ecological wellbeing and human wellbeing (such as poverty alleviation and food security), to better meet equity and fairness principles, and to achieve truly durable longlasting conservation results.   

Johanna Polsenberg's picture

Johanna Polsenberg said:

SDG Target 14.2 calls for maintaining resilience of and restoring healthy oceans in the face of human activities that continue to intensify. Thus, successful prioritization and management of competing objectives requires a comprehensive assessment of the current state of the ocean. Assessment frameworks to successfully define and quantify current ocean state must not be site-specific, limited to a few ocean components, or difficult to reproduce in different geographies or through time, all of which limits spatial and temporal comparisons as well as the potential for shared learning. Ideally, frameworks should be tailorable to accommodate use in disparate locations and contexts, removing the need to develop frameworks de novo and allowing efforts to focus on the assessments themselves to advise action.

Thus we recommend the Ocean Health Index (OHI) for your consideration as an existing and proven methodology for helping sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems. The OHI framework and process together create a tailorable and repeatable approach that has been successful in measuring health of coupled human-ocean ecosystems in different contexts by accommodating differences in local environmental characteristics, cultural priorities, and information availability and quality. Since its development in 2012, eleven assessments using the OHI framework have been completed at global, national, and regional scales, and at least 16 more have been started. Our team, a partnership between Conservation International and the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis, has found the following to be best practices for conducting assessments: Incorporate key characteristics and priorities into the assessment framework design before gathering information; Strategically define spatial boundaries to balance information availability and decision-making scales; Maintain the key characteristics and priorities of the assessment framework regardless of information limitations; and Document and share the assessment process, methods, and tools. These best practices are relevant to most ecosystem assessment processes, but also provide tangible guidance for assessments using the OHI framework. These recommendations also promote transparency around which decisions were made and why, reproducibility through access to detailed methods and computational code, repeatability via the ability to modify methods and computational code, and ease of communication to wide audiences, all of which are critical for any robust assessment process.

Our experiences in a few of our earliest assessment countries are outlined in "Best practices for assessing ocean health in multiple contexts using tailorable frameworks", available here: https://peerj.com/articles/1503/

www.ohi-science.org is an online portal where end users can go to begin assessments. There is step-by-step guidance for every phase of an ecosystem-based OHI assessment, from stakeholder identification and engagement through conducting collaborative workshops through the technical details of taking advantage of the global database and incorporating any additional local, national and regional data that are available. The OHI provides a starting point, regardless of data availability or capacity, for the essential conversations and organizing of stakeholders, local needs and desired management targets that have to happen as part of effective ecosystem-based management approaches.

Felicia Chinwe Mogo's picture

Felicia Chinwe Mogo said:

Nigeria has huge deposit of crude oil reserve in the marine environment that is well endowed also with rich flora and fauna.In the process of taping these resources, the 850sq kilometers of coast line and the exclusive economic zone is left with trails of marine pollution that interfere with the sustainability of marine ecosystem both in quality and quantity

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan said:

In response to Peter's request for experiences of the domination by blue growth in MSP'ing, a small-scale example could be the opening of a salmon farm by aquaculture giant Marine Harvest in 2012 in an area where a Natura 2000 marine special area of conservation (mSAC) was proposed (the mSAC was designated a year later). The salmon farm was opened in the Sound of Barra off the coast of the small island of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland, providing 6 full-time jobs in a community of 1200 people where full-time jobs are very rare. The proposed mSAC was bitterly contested by many in the local community (more detail on this in my post under Q3). While a number of privately owned fish farms used to exist on Barra, these smaller companies had previously been forced out of business due to market prices and economies of scale. People on Barra were really conflicted about the Marine Harvest farm. They recognised the huge importance of 6 full time jobs, but it rankled that this farm could get through an Environmental Impact Assessment in a potential mSAC. During 2012, Scottish Natural Heritage (the Scottish government agency responsible for nature conservation, and therefore for proposing mSACs) found themselves in the bizarre situation of fielding a barrage of angry feedback from islanders about the proposed mSAC in the Sound of Barra, while at the same time they were taking calls from islanders who were not necessarily in favour of the mSAC, but were criticising SNH for letting the salmon farm go ahead in a potential nature conservation area.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

That's a really interesting example of the challenges of reconciling blue growth and environmental conservation, with the conservation agency being simultaneously criticised from both sides in their attempts to achieve this balance. I worked for the Crown Estate in 1989 on Scotland's west coast, including on environmental issues related to salmon farming. Sea lice treatments, eutrophication and seal deaths were the big issues then, cut to 28 years later and the same issues and related impacts are still controversial, but now with a larger scale and more corporate salmon farming sector. The enduring nature of these issues indicates that getting this balance right is an ongoing problem. I do not follow salmon farming issues in detail any more, but I wonder how Article 6 of the Habitats Directive played out in this case? These legal checks can be an important means of ensuring that the pendulum does not swing too far towards blue growth at the expense of environmental conservation. Does anybody know of any other cases that illustrate this key role of environmental regulations as legal checks to maintain a balance between blue growth and environmental conservation? One challenge here is that environmental regulations are often criticised by neoliberalists precisely because they can put restrictions on blue growth, and many countries are swinging more towards neoliberalism and a related focus on blue growth, including the repeal of such environmental regulations. This is one of my big fears with Brexit, as there is overt hostility to environmental regulations amongst many more right leaning politicians, and the 'Great Repeal Bill' (their title, not mine, there is nothing 'great' about it!) could, according to the environment minister, lead to around one-third of environmental regulations from the European Commission being dropped in this 'bonfire of regulations'.  Viva blue growth?

Roshan T Ramessur's picture

Roshan T Ramessur said:

The development of an integrated coastal management framework for Mauritius is promoting sustainable  development in the coastal zone and should  move towards optimisation of long-term socio economic  and environmental benefits. The ICZM should remain a continuous, proactive and adaptive process of resource management of multi-sectoral activities and maintains options for future uses of coastal and ocean resources in islands of the South West Indian Ocean and mainland coastal East Africa. The approach adopted under Recomap in 2008 has been one which examine many solutions and approaches, optimising strategies, plans and policy formulation under the DPSIR Framework. Final suggestions should thereby represent best practices to stand the best chance of adoption and success during implementation and it is essential to ensure stakeholder ownership of the programme achieved through stakeholder participation across the region. The approach should be  process oriented inclusive and  aim to build consensus focusing on what is practical and achievable within the parameters of the programme, given the resource constraints, institutional capacity and willingness of other institutions and agencies, and other stakeholders to participate. Institutional integration and cooperation and stakeholder participation are not easily achieved, especially in the initial stages of the process and ICZM is considered a long-term process and strategy which gradually encourages, the major players and key stakeholders to join whenever they feel it is appropriate to do so.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

ICZM was a precursor to MSP and similarly includes the ambitous aim to build consensus and provide for wide stakeholder participation throughout. However, we argue in our recent paper MSP in Reality [link] that conflicts tend to prevail through the planning process, in that they often cannot be 'planned away', and that whilst consensus on certain overall lofty principles may be achievable, consensus can rarely be achieved on specific development proposals where there are conflicts between sectors as well as conflicts between economic development and environmental conservation. I think it is better to be realistic about what planning processes like ICZM and MSP can actually achieve, rather than risk over-selling such processes as having to potential to resolve conflicts and achieve consensus?

Avijit Gangopadhyay's picture

Avijit Gangopadhyay said:

First, I would like to thank Dr. Hassan Moustahfid for inviting me to participate in this forum. He has specifically asked me to comment on the Blue Belt Initiative in Morocco. As I understand it, Morocco has taken up the BBI to boost coastal resilience, and launched the program during COP22. The promise was made for "Building on its experience in the sustainable development of three Moroccan wetlands located on the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coasts, the Foundation will take part in the creation of marine protected areas."

There are three climate markers, temperature, sea level and Ocean Acidification (OA), which are thought to be important for impacting the ecosystem in the Moroccan coast. First, I would like to think that their effects on the coastal ecosystem parameters are different at different time-scales. These three climatic forces also should impact the different coastal components differently. For example, a particular species might migrate to a different region along the coast in a particular year when the temperature rises beyond its tolerance level; however, its larvae might not survive a particularly high level of acidification, resulting in very low abundance in following years throughtout the coastal Morocco.

Thus, it is worth documenting such events in the past and be prepared for such events in the future by developing remedial sustainable strategies.

Another issue is time-scale dependent management structure might be useful to be developed in a variable climate background. identifying dominating time-periods in a species abundance might tell us when the lows are going to be repeated and thus restrict exploitation for such years might help recover the species abndance to a sustainable level faster.

Approaches like spectral analysis for short-term data, Big-Data Analytic techniques would also be useful to identify nodes and clusters; dependencies, attractors and repellers in a multi-species, multi-region, multi-stressor, multi-response system.

Would welcome thoughts and comments.

Romani's picture

Romani said:

In the Mediterranean, to date (2016 Mediterranean MPA Status Report: Main findings. MedPAN/RACSPA), there are 1,231 MPAs and OECMs (Other Effective area-based Conservation Measures), covering 179,798 km2, which places a surface of 7.14% under a legal designation. For the majority of sites, little is known on whether management measures are implemented, and if they are, whether these measures are effective to reach the site’s conservation targets. Only 0.04% of the Mediterranean Sea (976 km2) is covered by no-go, no-take or no-fishing zones.

The MPAs in the Mediterranean region as a whole do not yet constitute a regional ecological network of Marine Protected Areas. Given the magnitude of the pressures and challenges, achieving the UN SDG 14.5 target, will only be possible in the short and medium term if there is a renewed, stronger, and coherent commitment from all stakeholders (international organisations, conventions, agreements), riparian states, NGOs, the scientific community, national institutions, MPA managers, the private sector, local populations/communities etc.), and on every geographic scale (local, national, Mediterranean, European and international).

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

I completely agree, Romani, there is no 'quick and easy fix' to achieve these targets and the underlying aim to conserve/restore marine ecosystems. At least in the Mediterranean you are ahead of the UK in terms of no-take MPA coverage - it may only be 0.04% but that is 40 times more than around UK, where we have just 0.001% no-take MPA coverage!

No-take arguments aside, we have previously argued that there is too much focus on the MPA coverage element of the Aichi (and related SDG) target (paper link and related The Conversation link article), hence our research on MPA governance to promote the more effective and equitable governance of MPAs (see www.mpag.info). There are plans to feature some related guidance at the Oceans Conference, including drawing on five MPA case studies in the Mediterranean, building on the Rome Call to Action and related Scientists' Consensus Statement, which includes MPA governance recommendations [link]. These revolve around the argument that we need a diversity of incentives, representing top-down, bottom-up and market approaches to governance - "The key to resilience is diversity, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems" (p.197 Governing MPAs: resilience through diversity link). One of the most vital ingredients in any governance mix is to have sufficient political will for effective MPAs, as any shortage of this will critically undermine any MPA initiative. I agree on the need for commitment amongst a broader range of actors, but the crucial ingredient is political will, including amongst Mediterranean states, if we are to have MPAs that are effective, equitable, representative and coherent.

The Oceans Conference and related initiatives and commitments will be extremely important in helping to build both (1) a shared understanding of different means of effectively and equitable governing MPAs and (2) the political will amongst different countries to implement appropriate governance approaches

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones said:

The question itself is very interesting, Raphaele, it would seem that the "airport runway extension that will affect mangroves ecosystem quite heavily" is planned to go ahead as a nationally significant infrastructure project (NSIP). Whether this represents 'blue growth' or just good old fashioned and quite possibly much needed economic development is debatable, though it is doubtful that it represents an ecosystem-based approach, unless major steps are taken to mitigate against and compensate for mangrove losses, particularly given the very high ecosystem services benefits of these vital habitats. What is clear to me is that there is more to this than a communication gap between 'pro green growth' and 'only economic development' goverment institutions. This represents a basic value tension, if not conflict (see figure below), between those focused more on the protection of ecosystems and those focused more on economic development, and such tensions can rarely if ever be addressed by simply improving communication between the different people that hold them. Given the extremely high ecosystem services values of mangroves as flood defence, coral fish nursery area, food source, carbon sink, wood source, etc, the focus needs to be more on how the impacts can be minimised/mitigated and how any mangrove losses can be compensated for by planting and restoring compensatory mangrove areas. Maybe even the decision that the airport runway should be extended in a way that heavily affects mangroves needs to be revisited?

Your question is a practical illustration of the challenges of ensuring sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems, these being more about trying to address conflicting values (see figure below) than about breakdowns in communication. Recognising that basic conflicts exist between more ecosystem-based perspectives and more economic development-focused perspectives is a vital start for negotiations on how impacts can be avoided, mitigated against and compensated for. Communication is important but it is not necessarily the answer.

Also, beyond government institutions, what do local people, NGOs, fishermen, etc think about this proposed runway extension and heavy mangrove loss? When the questions are broadened, it becomes clearer that this is about more than learning lessons so as to avoid loopholes in communication as there is more to the conflicts than information deficits and communication breakdowns?

I am sure that there are many examples of approaches to help assess such conflicts (including ecosystem services assessments) and help support negotiations, but it is important to recognise that there is more to this than communication.

Fig. 1 Different perspectives on marine spatial planning (pp.34-35 Governing Marine Protected Areas, see Qiu and Jones (2013 Open Access) to further explore related perspectives)

Raphaele Deau's picture

Raphaele Deau said:

Hi everyone. I'm looking for case studies on partnership for big infrastructure projects in coastal areas. The topic I'm currently working on is an airport runway extension that will affect mangroves ecosystem quite heavily. And the main challenge is one of a communication gap between the government institutions we're dealing with (some pro green growth, some focused on economic development only). So, any similar cases with lessons learned would help us avoid the loopholes. Thanks!

Sukhyun Park's picture

Sukhyun Park replied:

South Korea is one of the countries that utilize the public water in the coastal zone due to the lack of land area. While public awareness of the value of the coastal ecosystem increased after a huge reclamation project, called Saemangeum Reclamation Project, small-scale constructions like airport runway extension have been carried out. We do not have mangroves ecosystem, yet we do have a wide area of the tidal flat which is the birth and raising place for a variety of crustaceans and shellfish that feeds fish and birds (migratory birds). We, conservationists, had tried to convince the public and the government with ecosystem services valuation studies, but the development coalition stood strongly with the feasibility report based on the benefit-cost analysis. Valuation changes depending on the times and the events. If there is a compromise between the conservation value and the economic development, it would be pro-green growth that you mentioned. However, it is not easy to lead such a conclusion because of the "conflict frame" in communications. I'm afraid we are all pointing each other and making them enemies. I'd recommend if you apply the concept of 'coastal area's resilience in the era of climate change' for communications? Korean cases also reflect the conflict frame and hurt each other. Later on, blame one another for the "social cost" of we are facing.  There only few case studies showing an agreed upon modification of the original development plan though. Sigh~~

Matthew Jeffery's picture

Matthew Jeffery said:

Hi, I have projects that work across several countries that deal with coastal conservation. One of the challenges for my work is that shorebirds and other bird species are not well represented in the MPA and coastal conservation initiatives - there is a tendency to focus under the water... yet birds that occupy the intertidal zones and breed on rocky outcrops are great indicators of a productive system. They are often not considered in many of the conservation schemes I have come across. 

Regardless of the birds some of the issues that I often see are: 1. Coordination on the ground between government agencies within a country are poor and there is often very little connection to the NGO's working on the same issues. 2. The real economics of conserving a site are often missing, are abstract (more of an academic exercise) or the capacity of the decision makers and local communities to understand them is limited. and 3. where there is understanding and engagement there are still issues due to lack of basic enforcement needs and a judiciary system specialized enough to effectively prosecute for the infringement.

The international community can help convene and sometimes coordinate – although there needs to be more thought on the stakeholders being engaged – but the governments agencies need more encouragement and incentive to better coordinate on coastal conservation issues.

Kelvin Passfield's picture

Kelvin Passfield replied:

Re the seabirds, yes, they are often ignored in the planning process.  We are in the process of trying to get exclusion zones around islands in the Cook islands, where foreign fishing and seabed mining will be banned.  Our domestic commercial fishery is small so not such a problem. 

We have several very important seabird islands. One of them is Suwarrow, and we are pushing for a 100 nautical mile (nm) buffer zone around that to protect the foraging area for the seabirds. The reason, as we understand it, is that if too many of the tuna are taken from within that area, that will impact the food fish for the birds, as these are pushed up to the surface by the predators (tuna) where the seabirds can catch them.

Our main obstacle is the Government ministry in charge of fisheries, that does not want to close off waters to the foreign boats for the fear they may lose some licence fees. 

Kelvin Passfield's picture

Kelvin Passfield replied:

Update!  Last week the Cook Islands Cabiinet Ministers agreed to increase foreign fishing exclusion zones from 12 nautical miles to 50 nautical miles, which is a big win for marine conservation in the country, and our Marae Moana Marine PArk.  No doubt it will take some time to implement these changes, but it is a great outcome after years of lobbying by various sectore of the community.  There will still be more than 80% of the Cook Islands EEZ (about 1.6 million sq.km. out of 2 million total) open to foreign vessels with access agreements.

Dr. Balasaheb Kulkarni's picture

Dr. Balasaheb K... said:

Now it is time to take action to protect our marine and coastal ecosystem. Most of us know that marine ecosystems are under stress of aanthropogenic pressure but we only discuss .

Thomas Kirk Sørensen's picture

Thomas Kirk Sørensen said:

Hello to all and thanks to the organizers and moderators for setting this up. My experiences focus on designation and management of protected areas (usually prescribed by EU directives) and general aspects relating to spatial planning of maritime sectors in Denmark.

Regarding 14.2: A major challenge to the achievement of Goal 14.2 is one that is likely shared by many future posts in this forum: the massive political weight placed behind job creation and income generation. In the EU this is referred to as Blue Growth, and the approach has rapidly been endorsed by both the current government and maritime sectors. If we are not very careful, Blue Growth may provide a window of opportunity to legitimately industrialize the oceans. While the oceans really do represent untapped opportunities for growth, we must be very careful that we don't compromise the ability of our seas to deliver ecosystem goods and services. In fact, Blue Growth is driving scientists to (often reluctantly) adopt the natural capital concept in order to provide counterweight in political processes. So a major current challenge for Goal 14.2 is that, more so than ever before, justification for environmentally sustainable development at sea is being challenged by industry  and the concept of "overriding public interest".

Regarding 14.5: In relation to designation of MPAs, the situation is similar. New MPAs have been designated in our waters as a part of the implementation of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Initial proposals were based on science and were appropriate in relation to the focal species. However, even the responsible authorities admitted that the final set of MPAs was designated based on opportunity, i.e. effectively avoiding fishing grounds. The influence of industry can also be felt in relation to regulating fisheries within existing MPAs designated via EU nature legislation. Instead of focusing on sites and site integrity, the default approach in northern Europe is now to focus solely on establishing narrow buffer zones around features (e.g. physical reef structures, sandbanks) within sites, in order to accommodate fisheries. So again, conservation targets (and resulting management) have been heavily influenced by income generation and industry.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

Regarding SDG14.5 and your point that MPAs have been displaced and sidelined by economic development priorities related to fishing activities, but also to renewable energy developments, etc., we also found this in our analysis of the MPA network design and implementation process in south-west England (Open Access link), where economic development priorities and top-down processes eventually dominated the process and decisions, as the network design process shifted from a more science-based (using best available evidence) and local stakeholder-based process to a more economic development focused (with requirement for evidence-based approach to justify MPA decisions) process in which MPAs were located on a more opportunistic basis. As in Denmark, eventually designated MPAs tended to have a very narrow focus on only a few specific features (particular habitat types and species) and tended to deprioritise conserving and restoring wider ecosystem integrity, the narrow focus often providing a basis for allowing fishing, aggregate extraction, marine renewables, etc proposal to go ahead within MPAs.

Again, are there any more positive experiences out there that illustrate how MPAs can be designed and implemented on a more ecosystem-based approach that actually does prioritise ecosystem conservation/restoration, rather than MPAs being sidelined by economic development processes and undermined by a very narrow focus on only a few specific features?

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

Thanks, Thomas excellent points. Regarding SDG14.2 and MSP as a vehicle mainly for blue growth, we found the same through our case study research on MSP initiatives around Europe, as part of the EC funded MESMA project, in which you were of course a participant and provider of a case study. Based on an analysis of 12 MSP case studies, our paper MSP in Reality (Open Access link) argues that the blue growth agenda embedded in the EC Directive Establishing a Framework for Maritime Spatial Planning dominated the decisions taken through MSP'ing processes, and that the ecosystem-based approach agenda embedded in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive was neglected and de-prioritised in MSP'ing processes and decisions. We also relate our findings to parallel arguments and findings from around the world on the realities of MSP'ing. The highlights of the paper are:-

  • The realities of marine spatial planning contrast with related conceptual ideals.
  • National blue growth priorities lead to a focus on ‘strategic sectoral planning’ [thanks to Richard Kenchington for this term!]
  • Top-down approaches dominate from which participative platforms are disconnected by design.
  • Politically expedient focus on integrated-use is undermining environmental priorities.
  • A more critical empirical approach to marine spatial planning research is needed.

It would be interested to see if there are any other experiences of this domination by blue growth in MSP'ing or, more encouragingly, if there are examples out there of how MSP'ing has effectively balanced the need for blue growth and the adoption of an ecosystem-based approach that successfully promotes the conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems. In a related vein, and in order to add the final element of sustainable development, we also found that top-down decision-making processes tended to dominate in MSP'ing, this being related to the focus on nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) and the role of government bodies ensuring that such NSIPs go ahead for national economic security reasons. Might a more bottom-up approach to MSP'ing decision-making that involves local interests help prioritise small-scale users and a more ecosystem-based approach, or will local economic development interests again prevail?

In essence, we can consider MSP'ing as another representation of the concept of sustainable development, in which the challenge is to combine the achievement of social, economic and environmental goals. Recognising that there is no 'easy fix' to these challenges, what experience have forum participants had (positive and negative) of how MSP'ing has or has not been successful with respect to promoting a more ecosystem-based and participative approach to decision-making that provides for economic development but does not allow blue growth to dominate the agenda?

Abdurazak Hassan's picture

Abdurazak Hassan said:

My concern is the devastating effect  illigal fishing is having in the idian ocean, specifically on the coast of Somalia, some of the species such as the female and pregnant lobster has been overfished and almost depleted. Those illegal trawlers do not only deplete fish stocks but also pollute the environment sometimes large number of fish is washed ashore in places where there has been a lot of illegal fishing activity, no investigation has been carried out yet as why? I mean illigal fishing on the territorial waters Somalia. Most of these vessels are own by iranians, Yemenis, Koreans, Tailand Egypt, and so on. The livelihoods of the fishing villages on Idian Ocean has been endagered, and that is the reason they resort to extreme and inhumane actions such as piracy; gangs pretending to be protecting those communities have had a havoc on the ships passing through the Gulf of Aden and the Idian Ocean. Somali government is weak and Somalia is fragmented, but a lot of pressure can be applied on regional governors such as the president of Puntland region.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

I agree, Abdurazak, countries with a relatively weak state capacity need international support in protecting their marine resources from incoming exploitation interests in order to avoid major social and environmental injustices for countries like Somalia. The UN and related international institutions, with the support of wealthier countries with a stronger state capacity, need to support countries like Somalia in preventing the 'grabbing' of fisheries and other resources, be this through illegal or poorly regulated legal fishing activities, as local people will otherwise suffer the social and environmental injustices. The means to do this are developing, such as through the coupling of satellite surveillance technologies with Port State Measures Agreements to prevent illegal fishing vessels from landing and selling their fish. The UN and related international bodies and national governments have a strategic role to play in maturing and applying such surveillance technologies and enforcement approaches, and SDG14 is an ideal vehicle for promoting and enabling this

Oleg Khalidullin's picture

Oleg Khalidullin said:

The ocean affects not only the region and the country, but also the entire planet. Part of the formation of weather and climate.
The main evaporation in the clouds is evaporation from the surface of the oceans. In turn, the oceans are replenished by the rivers that flow from the land. With each passing day, river waters increase the pollution of the oceans not only with chemistry and waste, but also with a changed structure of water.

There are studies that the water passed through the pipes and turbines of hydroelectric plants undergoes destruction of the natural structure. The restoration of the natural structure by the very course of the rivers has not been investigated. Suppose the worst. The water structure does not change. Then the waters with a changed structure cover the surface of the ocean.

It is also unknown the quality of evaporation. Traditionally, we are accustomed to sit, that the molecules of Xb2O leave the atmosphere. However, there are studies that evaporation has different properties. For example, a Japanese researcher, Emoto Masaru, revealed distortions in the structure of water from the simplest effects on it. If this is so on the scale of whole rivers, then in the clouds we get water with a distorted structure. It is possible that the increasing volumes and periodicity of precipitation have become the main cause of the weather and climate change of the planet as a whole.

Ole Vestergaard's picture

Ole Vestergaard said:

Welcome to this online forum to discuss effective ways to ensure sustainable oceans and coast in advance of the UN Oceans Conference to be held 5-9 June this year. We are pleased to be moderating this discussion and look forward to engaging with you in exploring innovative ideas and suggestions to tackle this important topic.

We are interested in hearing your thoughts and big ideas on how best to enable sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems in face of multiple drivers and needs? - from the level of the citizen, all the way to government.  Please feel free to make your inputs on one or all of the questions we have posed here. 

Under Question 1, we are interested to learn from you about key challenges or gaps you see in maintaining healthy and productive marine and coastal ecosystems? What are main limitations of current management practices? After decades of coastal management, why are we not seeing more tangible improvements in the health of the ecosystems? What are key challenges in ensuring effective marine protected areas? What are the main obstacles in sharing their costs and benefits?

Overall, what are the main challenges in practically tackling competing objectives of marine and coastal stakeholders? Is ecosystem-based management an effective approach to ensure healthy oceans and coasts, or is it mostly an academic concept? What are key gaps in applying ecosystem-based management approaches to ensure healthy marine and coastal ecosystems as basis for viable sustainable development?

This E-forum will remain open until 5 April and we will monitor the inputs and provide moderation to ensure the discussion effectively feeds substantive input into the Conference discussions in June. Summaries of the responses will be synthesized at the end of the discussion. We anticipate the discussion will feed directly into conference discussions on challenges and actions. So your voice matters.  Make it count to sustain Life Below Water for our and future generations!

Marine and Coastal Ecosystems - Question 2

What do you see as the priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.2 & 14.5 to improve ecosystem-based marine and coastal management, including marine protected areas? What actions could support ocean contributions towards wider sustainable development?

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Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this e-discussion. In thinking of "priority actions" for achieving SDG targets 14.2 and 14.5, this discussion has generated not only some useful "action" proposals, but also important principles and guidelines that need to be kept in mind for any and all "actions". John highlights that the goal of "ensuring sustainable marine and coastal ecosystems" must be pursued more widely than solely within marine protected areas. This reinforces the point made by Peter that while any single management tool, notably spatial tools like TURFs and MPAs, has a role to play, it is important to recognize the need for combinations of tools - what I have referred to as a "management portfolio". Felicia emphasizes the need for environmental assessment and planning for coastal cities - in thinking of SDG14, although there may often be a focus on managing uses of the oceans, such as fisheries, the reality is that coastal cities have a huge impact on sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems, so urban issues are very much ocean issues. Finally, as an important principle or guideline, it is clear from the discussion that collectively, proposed 'calls to action' must (1) cover multiple spatial scales (i.e. ensuring sustainability of local-level coastal ecosystems, through to regional seas and large marine ecosystems) and (2) cover all levels of decision-making (by including participation of coastal communities in local decision-making, through to large-scale stakeholder organizations in national and regional decision-making).  

Felicia Chinwe Mogo's picture

Felicia Chinwe Mogo said:

Massive graduated awareness creation on the importance so far the ocean, designation of protected areas and its mapping,
Strict compliance with environmental impact assessment/ environmental plan for coastal cities, adherence to international and national laws in protection of the seas through formulation of regulations and guideline and standards, encouragement of partnership arrangement within and outside regions on protection of the ocean

John Davis's picture

John Davis said:

I propose that the Ocean Conference should clarify that the entirety of the ocean — 100% of it, including the high seas — should be managed sustainably.

Our field regularly applies percentage targets to MPAs but typically doesn’t to the rest of the ocean. I believe this is an oversight. It allows the conception that as long as a certain percentage of the ocean is protected in MPAs then we’re fine — even if much of the rest of the ocean is still being managed unsustainably.

SDG 14.2 calls on governments to “sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems” but doesn’t say all such ecosystems. Depending on the reader’s inclination, the goal could reasonably be taken to mean all ecosystems or just some of them.

Stating at the Ocean Conference that 10% of the ocean should be in MPAs by 2020, and that these MPAs should be nested in an ocean that is 100% sustainably managed, would provide clarity. Without such clarity, we leave open the possibility (probability?) of creating “islands of hope in a sea of despair” as Dan Laffoley has termed them.

This all being said, if the lack of a percentage target for 14.2 is purposeful and assumes that parts of the ocean will need to continue to be managed in an unsustainable manner, then we should discuss how much of the ocean is acceptable to be managed unsustainably, and why.

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

With just a few days remaining in this e-discussion, I would like to take this opportunity as a co-moderator to express thanks to all contributors to Question #2, and to encourage further participation. In terms of the key element under this question, namely "priority actions which we can all rally around in global 'Calls for Action' in achieving Target 14.2 & 14.5 to improve ecosystem-based marine and coastal management, including marine protected areas", there have been several important points made already. Here I take the liberty of subjectively picking a few points  but rest assured that all contributions will be looked at fully following the discussion... "MPA sites currently established should benefit from the necessary support for effective, equitable and efficient management by 2020." (Romani) "Locally-driven participatory management empowers fishing communities and other stakeholders to articulate and achieve a broad set of objectives". (Sarah) but it is important to put in place legal and regulatory means to "facilitate a community-led co-management process where the government is working in partnership with local communities to achieve conservation objectives". (Ruth) Finally, the need for a 'portfolio' of management 'tools' is important since any one is only "part of the potential solution... as the effectiveness and equity of the MPA in question can only be achieved through a combination of governance approaches" (Peter).

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan said:

The Regulations implementing the Habitats Directive in the UK do not currently facilitate a community-led co-management process where the government is working in partnership with local communities to achieve conservation objectives. Specifically, the Regulations do not envisage a local community/communities management group co-producing and co-leading the co-management of an SAC as they do not include in the list of key management actors a local community/communities management group set up for the purpose of (co)management of an SAC. In 2013, the Minister for the Environment in Scotland said that he would support an amendment to the Regulations if this was necessary to facilitate decisions reached by the relevant management team. He was referring to a developing community-led co-management process for a mSAC in the Sound of Barra, Outer Hebrides, Scotland where the management team for the SAC would be majority locally controlled. As far as I know, the Regulations have not yet been amended to address this (partly because the management team structure for the Sound of Barra mSAC has not yet been finalised).

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

There is a potential problem with devolving decision-making authority to a management committee that has a majority of local interests. What if they understandably focus on blue growth opportunities at the costs of undermining the fulfilment of biodiversity conservation obligations under the Habitats Directive? It would arguably be legally unwise for the Scottish government to hand control of the SAC to a locally dominated management committee when this could lead to the Scottish government being in breach of the Habitats Directive? This could be why the regulations that transpose this directive in Scotland have not been revised to provide for this. This is consistent with my argument for combining MPA governance approaches rather prioritising one single governance approach, e.g. community-based management. "the state may deconcentrate, delegate or devolve power, but it should not relinquish it by totally transferring power [to local community representatives], as scale challenges such as those posed by MPAs require some form and degree of state control in order to effectively and equitably address them"? (Jones 2014, p.107 [link])

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan replied:

Hi Peter - in this example, part of the co-management process involves all parties signing up to an Outcome Agreement which obliges parties to achieve the relevant conservation objectives. I think I may have mentioned this in my comment on Question 3. This is what is so interesting about this example. The parties are trying very hard to find a way to achieve a balance between blue growth and conservation - the quid pro quo of community-led management in this case is recognition of the conservation obligations of the Scottish government. As such, this example is already combining governance approaches - and it is trying to do so in away that makes sense to the people who live on the islands.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

Thanks, Ruth, that does sound like a very interesting MPA governance initiative, such 'Outcomes Agreements' are an excellent example of attaching conditions to ensure that a devolved partnership approach does not lead to MPA governance drifting off-course. This is another example of the importance of focusing on the interactions between incentives in a governance system, in the same way that a synecologist focuses on the interactions between species in an ecosystem. The figure below (Jones 2014, p.186 [link]) illustrates this synecology way of thinking about MPA governance, recognising that "the key to resilience is diversity, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems (Jones 2014, p.197 [link]) 
Sarah Poon's picture

Sarah Poon said:

Fishing communities rely on coastal and marine ecosystems for their livelihoods, and they bear the burden of ecosystem degradation. This deep connection to marine resources also positions fishing communities as great stewards of coastal resources and advocates for environmental protection. Fishing communities can lead conservation of marine ecosystems when they have the power to make decisions about how coastal resources are managed. To sustainably manage and protect marine and coastal ecosystems at scale, it is important to set up management systems that place decisions in the hands of those who rely on marine resources.

Secure fishing rights allocate secure, exclusive rights to communities to fish in a designated area or to harvest a share of the total allowable catch. Spatial fishing rights, known as Territorial Use Rights for Fishing (or TURFs), are particularly compatible with ecosystem-based management. By setting up a system in which fishing communities are responsible stewards of a designated marine space, TURFs promote holistic fisheries management that accounts for not just the target species, but also the habitats and ecosystems they interact with.

Locally-driven participatory management empowers fishing communities and other stakeholders to articulate and achieve a broad set of objectives, including ecological objectives that promote the long-term sustainability of marine resources and social and economic objectives that rely on healthy ecosystems. Fishing communities empowered to manage their fisheries and ecosystems in a TURF have been known to set aside space in no-take marine reserves (a combination sometimes referred to as “TURF-reserves”). This combination allows the fishers within the TURF to benefit from the ecological and fishery benefits that the no-take reserve generates. Thus, secure fishing rights can be set up to allow resource users to directly benefit from conservation behavior, thereby motivating ecosystem protection. Such systems should be considered—where appropriate—to achieve conservation objectives and protect the ecosystems upon which people depend.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

TURFs essentially represent collective property rights and can make an important contribution to promoting sustainable fisheries and achieving related conservation objectives for MPAs. They are not, however, without their challenges, e.g. need to ensure equity and justice when allocating and operating such property rights in order to avoid elites grabbing all the access rights and marginalised people being denied such access. There will also often be a need to attach legal conditions to such property rights related to effectiveness in achieving conservation objectives and equity in the allocation and operation of these property rights. Furthermore, the people to whom these property rights have been allocated will rarely have the capacity to enforce the access and related conservation restrictions on incoming users and determined local rule-breakers, especially if these rule-breakers are poor people unfairly denied access in the allocation and operation of these property rights. There will also, therefore, invariably be a need for continued state enforcement of the MPA and/or TURF restrictions, coupled with a need for state assisted monitong and assessment of the status of fish populations, other species, habitats, etc.

When considered as part of the governance mix, TURFs have a lot to offer, but only in appropriate circumstances. They must also always be combined with other governance approaches, such as the conditions, enforcement, etc discussed above. This is a good illustration of why we focus on how different governance approaches are combined in MPA case studies through the MPA Governance analysis approach link, including in the Rome Call to Action link and related Scientists' Consensus Statement link, as a means of identifying combinations of governance approaches (detailed through 36 incentives from five categories - see figure below and the related book on Governing MPAs link). Such combinations can then be transferred to comparable MPAs in similar contexts, as a means of developing capacity for effective and equitable governance. Such an approach can also be integrated with the development of capacity to deliver a range of sustainable development goals, and we plan to launch some related guidance at the Oceans Conference.

Returning to your excellent point about the potential of TURFS, it is important not to think of these as the solution, but to instead consider them as part of the potential solution, i.e. an element of a governance framework, as the effectiveness and equity of the MPA in question can only be achieved through a combination of governance approaches, recognising that “the key to resilience is diversity, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems” (p.197 Governing MPAs: resilience through diversity link). We look forward to working with UNEP/UNDP and related partners to assist in building capacity for effective and equitable MPAs and related fisheries through this combined governance approach studies.

Sarah Poon's picture

Sarah Poon replied:

Thank you Peter for these additional thoughts. I certainly agree that TURFs rely on a broader governance system that promotes equity, transparency and accountability, and that provides support for rights holders to achieve biological, economic and social objectives. Thank you for the additional resources as well! I think the 36 incentives provide a useful framework, which helps shed light on the many interrelated factors we can consider when working to improve governance of marine resources. I look forward to reading more. Are there any case studies in the book that you think provide particularly interesting insights for governance of TURFs?

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

The two main case studies from the Governing MPAs book that include TURFs are Os Minarzos (Galicea, NW Spain) and Isla Natividad (Baja California, Mexico). Both of these case studies illustrate the need to combine TURFs with other governance approaches, including state monitoring and assistance with enforcement, both being lacking in these respects in these two case studies. Since the book we have undertaken a further 16 case studies and we are in the process of analysing these, along with 18 of the original 20. I think Nusa Penida (Madagascar) includes a form of community fishing rights, but again the challenge was the need for ongoing input from the state to assist in enforcing these. This is a common challenge with Locally Managed Marine Areas (LMMAs), the role of the state in protecing local user rights from incoming users being a recurring challenge, which again highlights the need for caution in focusing on just one governance approach, such as rights-based fisheries management, as 'the answer'.

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles replied:

Sarah, thank you for your comment. I could not agree more that their "deep connection to marine resources" ... "positions fishing communities as great stewards of coastal resources and advocates for environmental protection". This is an essential message of the new Guidelines on Small-Scale Fisheries, as well as FAO's Tenure guidelines. As you note, empowering communities is a crucial ingredient, so that they can choose the path best for them, in conserving ecosystems and sustaining livelihoods. Notably community-based fishery management, and community-based conservation, can take many forms. How it appears in practice, and indeed whether it ends up succeeding, will depend on the community being able to choose the approaches and "tools" that best fit local values, traditions, goals and experiences. 

Sarah Poon's picture

Sarah Poon replied:

Thank you Tony! We have certainly seen in our work that fisheries management works best when fishing communities play a central role in decision making. I look forward to seeing how the implementation of the SSF and Tenure Guidelines further advances locally-driven, participatory management.

Romani's picture

Romani said:

Key actions for the "Calls for aciton" in achieving Target 14.5 could be:The coverage and implementation of no-entry, no-take and no-fishing zones, within either existing or future MPAs, needs to be increased, especially in key functional areas.All MPA sites currently established should benefit from the necessary support for effective, equitable and efficient management by 2020.Exchange of experience, best practices and knowledge among MPA managers, should be strengthened.Win-win relationships of MPAs with decision-makers, donors and private sector need to be reinforced in order to respond to pressures beyond MPA borders, while considering MPAs as a natural capital and a management instrument to reach sustainability targets.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

I could not agree more, Romani, seeking 'win-win' approaches to MPA governance and exploring how these can be tranferred to other MPAs as a means of wider capacity-building is a core aim of the MPA governance project [link]. We will be launching some guidance based on this project at the Oceans Conference, building on the Rome Call to Action [link] and related Scientists' Consensus Statement [link] towards equitable and effective MPAs under the Aichi and SDG target

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones said:

Greetings to forum participants and thanks to Tony for kicking-off the discussions. Allow me to copy some points here in response to an interesting post in relation to Question 1.

Regarding SDG14.2 and MSP as a vehicle mainly for blue growth, we undertook case study research on MSP initiatives around Europe, as part of the EC funded MESMA project. Based on an analysis of 12 MSP case studies, our paper MSP in Reality (Open Access link) argues that the blue growth agenda embedded in the EC Directive Establishing a Framework for Maritime Spatial Planning dominated the decisions taken through MSP'ing processes, and that the ecosystem-based approach agenda embedded in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive was neglected and de-prioritised in MSP'ing processes and decisions. We also relate our findings to parallel arguments and findings from around the world on the realities of MSP'ing. The highlights of the paper are:-

  • The realities of marine spatial planning contrast with related conceptual ideals
  • National blue growth priorities lead to a focus on ‘strategic sectoral planning’ [thanks to Richard Kenchington for this term!]
  • Top-down approaches dominate from which participative platforms are disconnected by design.
  • Politically expedient focus on integrated-use is undermining environmental priorities.
  • A more critical empirical approach to marine spatial planning research is needed.

It would be interested to see if there are any other experiences of this domination by blue growth in MSP'ing or, more encouragingly, if there are examples out there of how MSP'ing has effectively balanced the need for blue growth and the adoption of an ecosystem-based approach that successfully promotes the conservation and restoration of marine ecosystems. In a related vein, and in order to add the final element of sustainable development, we also found that top-down decision-making processes tended to dominate in MSP'ing, this being related to the focus on nationally significant infrastructure projects (NSIPs) and the role of government bodies ensuring that such NSIPs go ahead for national economic security reasons. Might a more bottom-up approach to MSP'ing decision-making that involves local interests help prioritise small-scale users and a more ecosystem-based approach, or will local economic development interests again prevail? In essence, we can consider MSP'ing as another representation of the concept of sustainable development, in which the challenge is to combine the achievement of social, economic and environmental goals. Recognising that there is no 'easy fix' to these challenges, what experience have forum participants had (positive and negative) of how MSP'ing has or has not been successful with respect to promoting a more ecosystem-based and participative approach to decision-making that provides for economic development but does not allow blue growth to dominate the agenda?

Regarding SDG14.5 and the point that MPAs have been displaced and sidelined by economic development priorities related to fishing activities, but also to renewable energy developments, etc., we also found this in our analysis of the MPA network design and implementation process in south-west England (Open Access link), where economic development priorities and top-down processes eventually dominated the process and decisions, as the network design process shifted from a more science-based (using best available evidence) and local stakeholder-based process to a more economic development focused (with requirement for evidence-based approach to justify MPA decisions) process in which MPAs were located on a more opportunistic basis. As in Denmark, eventually designated MPAs tended to have a very narrow focus on only a few specific features (particular habitat types and species) and tended to deprioritise conserving and restoring wider ecosystem integrity, the narrow focus often providing a basis for allowing fishing, aggregate extraction, marine renewables, etc proposals to go ahead within MPAs. Again, are there any more positive experiences out there that illustrate how MPAs can be designed and implemented on a more ecosystem-based approach that actually does prioritise ecosystem conservation/restoration, rather than MPAs being sidelined by economic development processes and undermined by a very narrow focus on only a few specific features?

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

Welcome to the online forum on Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems. I am pleased to be one of the moderators of this forum, which aims to contribute to the upcoming Ocean Conference, and help to realize the potential of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and in particular SDG 14 – “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”. In this forum the focus is on SDG14 targets 14.2 and 14.5… dealing with the role of ecosystem-based management and marine protected areas in sustainably using, managing, protecting and restoring marine and coastal ecosystems.

We are looking forward to hearing from you, with your contributions on these essential ingredients of modern ocean, coastal and fishery management. These topics highlight the importance of taking an ‘integrated’ perspective, one that looks at the ocean, as well as individual uses and single species, on an ecosystem basis.  

While these approaches are well-accepted, we have seen that implementing ecosystem-based management and marine protected areas is not a simple task. There are many scientific and technical issues (e.g. how to assess ecosystem changes over time, or how to establish protected areas that are effective for a variety of species), social and economic ones (e.g. what are the social impacts of a new marine protected area, or the economic effects of an ecosystem approach), and governance issues (e.g., who is involved in decision-making, and how exactly should the decisions be made).

So here, under Question #2, we are seeking your contributions about what priority actions are needed to meet those challenges in order to achieve Target 14.2 & 14.5 – improving ecosystem-based marine and coastal management, including marine protected areas. In particular, what actions can we all rally around in global 'Calls for Action'? What actions could support ocean contributions towards wider sustainable development?

It may be helpful to consider what should be the priorities for action at many levels – from the citizen and local communities, all the way to governments and international agencies. For example, what local-level or community strategies could be put in place to support sustainable development of marine and coastal ecosystems, and build sustainable livelihoods? What national or regional measures could strengthen ecosystem resilience and improve the management of coastal and marine ecosystems while ensuring economic, environmental and social needs are met? What international actions are most needed to provide policy guidance in restoring and conserving marine environments globally?



This forum will remain open until April 5th and we will monitor the inputs and provide moderation to ensure the discussion effectively makes a substantive input to be carried to the Conference in June. Summaries of the responses will be compiled at the end of the discussion period and posted on the platform. Please add your voice to the discussion as the global community converges in June 2017 to commit to action on Sustainable Development Goal 14 for our and future generations.

Marine and Coastal Ecosystems - Question 3

Please share any innovative partnerships - existing or proposed - aimed at more effective marine and coastal policy-making, governance and management that you are aware of or involved in that could be featured at the June Ocean Conference and can advance effective actions from local to global levels.

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Mary-Elizabeth Miller's picture

Mary-Elizabeth ... said:

Thank you all for sharing your interesting and innovative partnerships! We have seen a variety of partnerships and processes aimed at more effective marine and coastal policy-making from several areas throughout the world. From your responses we can see that a diverse management approach, with all stakeholders involved, is key to Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems.

Partnerships work to raise awareness and build knowledge and institutional capacities to ensure all stakeholders are involved and have a voice in the decision-making process. Documenting these approaches is of particular importance for knowledge sharing, learning, and general understanding of common, and not-so-common, issues. These interactions, at many different scales are immensely important in order to accomplish sustainable growth, and conservation of resources. This can be seen with the partnership examples of community-led partnerships such as the CCRN.The community approach gathers managers, local and regional management authorities, local stakeholders and scientists towards the same overall goal. More partnership examples include the regional MPA networks, and EIUI partnership that work toward gathering and managing information so it can be readily available for use in decision making processes. On the front of technology and information, GPS can be used as a management and monitoring tool, providing real-time spatial information to track fishing activity and adherence to rules and regulations. Though not all cases from one place to another will reflect the conditions and outcomes of one another, these are important to build a relative understanding of process.

Partnerships, or at least an openness to engage, are integral to effective management processes. So much can be accomplished with open dialogue and a recognition of social, cultural and economic conditions. In fact it has been widely recognized that local stakeholders must have a voice in MPA decision-making. Along this line we have also seen that States need to be involved in the management approaches, listen to and work with the people. With all of the varying actors we were reminded of the importance of structure and organization for cooperation, with clear goals and objectives as well as mechanisms for communication and dispute resolution. This can be particularly relevant when bringing together a diversity of interested groups to achieve effective marine and coastal decision-making, governance and management.

Felicia Chinwe Mogo's picture

Felicia Chinwe Mogo said:

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency(NIMASA) partnered with United Nations Environment programme(UNEP) to carry out a pilot study on marine litter in Nigeria and also develop an Action plan & campaign concept for marine litter management in Nigetia under my co- ordination

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan said:

Another example of innovation can be found in Loch Torridon on the west coast of Scotland. The nephrops creel fishery there was certified by the Marine Stewardship Council in 2003. The creelers developed a voluntary management plan code of conduct which, for example, involved escape hatches on their creels and limiting the number of creels on the boats. The MSC certificate was suspended in 2011 as the increase in nephrops in the loch attracted other creelers, many of whom would not sign up to or adhere to the voluntary code of conduct. As such it wasn't possible to achieve appropriate limits on fishing pressure. In 2014, Loch Torridon fishers withdrew from the MSC certfiication programme. Whe I visited Loch Torridon, initially I was confused as to why they would go through a lengthy and expensive process of certification when their main market was Spain, where the MSC label (at that point at least) didn't make any difference to price of sales. It turns out that the fishermen were using an ecolabel as a tool to try to achieve TURFs - they reasoned that if they got the MSC certification, the MSC would impose conditions to ensure sustainability (which, of course, they did) and the fishermen could use this as a lever to convince the Scottish Government to limit the fishery to those who abided by the conditions (which reflected those in the Management Plan Voluntary Code of Conduct). Althogh the Scottish Government had closed the loch to mobile gear in 2001, it remained open to other static gear fishers. Although the strategy of the loch Torridon fishermen didn't work in this case (sadly, since sustainability of the stocks was their objective), it's an interesting example of the use of eco-labelling as a political rather than as a market tool.

Dr Peter JS Jones's picture

Dr Peter JS Jones replied:

Interesting case, Ruth, also illustrates that voluntary fisheries management approaches are rarely, if ever, effective, as local or incoming fishers that were not party to the voluntary restrictions but who will gain profit by ignoring them will inevitably breach the restrictions, underming the capacity for cooperation by other fishers. Whilst TURFs may have provided a framework to exclude incoming and/or fishers who have not been allocated TURFs, there will still be a need for state regulatory approaches to back-up voluntary cooperation amongst TURF allocees and to help enforce the exclusion of non allocees. Neither purely voluntary cooperative nor purely property-rights based approaches can be effective, nor indeed can a combination of the two - they always need combining with state regulation, i.e. "the key to resilience is diversity, both of species in ecosystems and incentives in governance systems" (Jones 2014, p.197 [link])

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

With just a few days remaining in this e-discussion, I would like to take this opportunity as a co-moderator to broadly comment on the discussion so far, and especially to express thanks to all contributors, as it seems we are nicely covering a wide range of important considerations. This includes everything from innovative GPS technology to help fishers monitor their spatial location, to avoid closed areas / MPAs, and support e-commerce at the same time (Xavier), the role of information management to support the science-policy interface for ocean management (Elizabeth), the importance of clear goals and objectives and suitable institutions and structures (Roshan), the 2-way connection between the well-being of coastal communities and the health of local marine ecosystems (Tony), and the very interesting partnership examples of regional MPA networks around the world (Romani) and community-led co-management, in Scotland (Ruth). A key lesson here, I would suggest, is the necessity of recognizing the value of this diversity of partnership approaches, and of the need for attention to multiple spatial and organizational scales (e.g. from a specific coastal community through to national, regional and global efforts).  

Please continue to contribute to this e-discussion, and invite others to do so as well. 

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan said:

I'd like to highlight an innovative partnership between the Scottish Government (Marine Scotland) and local people in the small island community of Barra (Outer Hebrides, Scotland) around developing a co-management plan for a locally contested Natura 2000 marine Special Area of Conservation (mSAC). Since 2000 there has been a conflict between many islanders on Barra and the Scottish Government around the designation of 2 mSACs off the coast of the island. However, since 2012 a community-led co-management process for one of the mSACs has been unfolding, even though the mSAC designation is not generally viewed as desirable within the community. One of the main reasons for the lengthy dispute was a clash in worldviews and value systems between many islanders and those in the marine policy environment tasked with achieving the objectives of the Habitats Directive. A rich maritime heritage and distinctive ways of knowing appeared to be colliding with values driving the mSAC designation process. In 2012, people within the local community and in the policy environment took the risk of taking a different approach. Key people who had previously refused to discuss anything to do with a management plan for the about-to-be-designated mSAC agreed to engage in dialogue with Marine Scotland (Scottish government directorate responsible for marine and fisheries issues in Scotland). At the same time, the Marine Scotland official tasked with opening the dialogue was instrumental in persuading colleagues within the policy environment to support the design of a genuinely community-led approach for the Sound of Barra mSAC. Progress is slow, very slow. But I think it's a good example of a developing co-management approach that recognises the socio-cultural relations (and different worldviews) that form part of a local social-ecological system, while also acknowledging the need to meet conservation objectives at various scales (national, European, international). It shows that genuine acknowledgement of different ways of conceptualising marine spaces can open doors where previously there seemed to be none.

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles replied:

This is a fascinating and positive example, Ruth. Thank you for sharing it. 

Just this week, the Community Conservation Research Network launched a new global initaitive, Communities in Action, to bring together, in one on-line location, just this kind of example of the interaction of Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods (www.CommunityConservation.net). 

Ruth Brennan's picture

Ruth Brennan replied:

Thank you, Tony. It's great to know about this network. I've signed up to their newsletter.

Xavier Lawrance's picture

Xavier Lawrance said:

Thanks to the forum moderators for helping this forum to happen.

I would like to highlight an innovative solution that we have built in India for the fishermen community. One of the biggest challenge with current GPS is that they only provide the basic info for fishermen. It does not help the MPA Managers or Government to define MPA, Spatial Closure, Maritime boundaries into the GPS. Each country has its own local rules for fishing.  Hence most of the  time fishermen are unable to follow the Regulatory measures defined by the Government or local authorities.

We have created  Mobile GPS, with an external GPS chip for the location accuracy,   in India  where the MPA managers,  Government, local fishery authorities and Fishermen can work together and define the rules or MPAs in the Cloud and can be synced with their GPS. The Mobile GPS comes with advanced features which is very relevant for fishermen based on their local culture. The fishermen can see the MPA, Spatial closure, maritime boundary in the GPS and are given a warning sound when they approach the areas. The data can be synced with Cloud and local authorities can track people who misuse the Regulatory measures. It also solves some of the biggest international border crossing issues.

The platform comes with e-commerce features so that fishermen can access the markets directly. You can find more about our solutions for MPA managers here www.odaku.in/index2.html. Please feel free to contact me if you want more information about our product or interested to work with us.

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles replied:

Xavier, thank you for sharing this positive initiative. 

Elizabeth De Santo's picture

Elizabeth De Santo said:

I would like to highlight an innovative research partnership that I am involved in, focused on improving the science-policy interface in marine and coastal management.  The Environmental Information: Use and Influence (EIUI) project, based at Dalhousie University, involves an interdisciplinary team of experts from the natural and social sciences, including information management.  Given the vast amount of science (including grey literature) being produced on the oceans, it is important to track how and where this information is used in the decision-making process, and how influential it is.  We have been working with a range of governmental agencies as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and we recently produced a monograph on the "Science, Policy, and Information Interface for Effective Ocean and Coastal Management" with CRC Press, which brings together a range of case studies from around the world.   Please feel free to reach out either to me or via our website above (if the link does not work, the address is www.eiui.ca) if you would like more information about the project or are interested in working with us. 

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles replied:

Elizabeth, your project is certainly valuable in focusing on an often-neglected topic, information management, and in assembling a strong set of case studies. Thank you for sharing with this e-discussion. 

Mary-Elizabeth Miller's picture

Mary-Elizabeth ... replied:

Thank you Elizabeth for highlighting this partnership. It is great to see such initiatives taking place that can help elucidate the linkages between science and policy, and draw together all of the valuable science being produced. The science – policy interface is essential to ensure policies remain up to date and adaptive to new or evolved scientific evidence, and in turn that science is poised to tackle the issues societies and ecosystems face. 

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

Roshan, thank you for your useful reminder of the importance, in developing parternships and cooperation agreements, of agreeing on goals and objectives and on developing suitable institutions and structures. As you note, this particularly applies in the context of ICZM, and of course the same requirements would also hold for any initiative relevant here, i.e. "aimed at more effective marine and coastal decision-making, governance and management".  

Roshan T Ramessur's picture

Roshan T Ramessur said:

A necessary condition for cooperation among different international and regional institutions is agreement on overall goals or strategic objectives, in resolving particular issues as the holding of regular meetings of the National ICZM Committee. The key to the beginning of cooperation is therefore an agreement on a tangible strategic objective that is of benefit to all concerned. Equally important, for the successful coordination and cooperation, is the development and establishment of an organisational structure that ensures maintenance of communications among organisations, provides effective oversight and handles disputes.  ICZM require policies and strategies for overall sustainable development and also in accordance with the requirements of various regional and multi-lateral agreements to which Mauritius is party and which are pertinent to ICZM; to review and develop an appropriate policy and regulatory framework that promotes ICZM; and to develop ICZM plans for pressure zones to guide future development and interventions to promote sustainable development in the CZ.

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

Thank you for the comments, Raphaele and Romani.

Raphaele, hopefully there will be some responses to your request for case studies on coastal infrastructure projects. Certainly, the issues of communications, and of the varying perspectives of government (and other) institutions are crucial ones. As I noted in a previous post, the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN) is soon to launch at our website www.CommunityConservation.net a new participatory “Communities in Action” page, as a learning and sharing vehicle for case studies covering a wide range of experiences.

Romani, thank you for drawing attention to MPA manager networks. These are just the kind of partnerships, and 'learning mechanisms' that this forum is hoping to assemble. As you note, these "build a regional MPA community gathering managers, local and regional management authorities, local stakeholders and scientists towards the same overall goal". This reflects the important recognition that local stakeholders must have a voice in MPA decision-making. (See, for example, http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/aqc.2648/epdf). Indeed, some MPAs that, to me, are most impressive around the world are those where local fishers and other stakeholders were prominent in proposing, implementing and managing the MPA. (A case close to home for me is the Eastport MPA in Canada.)  

Romani's picture

Romani said:

Because regional MPA networks are first and foremost networks of people managing MPAs, several initiatives have grown up over the world to formalise these “human” networks, such as MedPAN (Mediterranean), CaMPAM (Caribbean), RAMPAO (West Africa), NAMPAN (North America)….

MPAs managers’ networks are recognised as a cornerstone of the MPA viability and longevity:

- They build a “regional MPA community” gathering managers, local and regional management authorities, local stakeholders and scientists towards the same overall goal;

- They provide a rationale for individual MPAs to coordinate with each other to share experiences, tools, and methods, which enhances each other efforts in managing their respective MPAs;

- They shape a common language, encourage harmonisation and coherency including by offering knowledge development and capitalisation tools;

- They increase the visibility of MPAs and the funding opportunities.

Their successes, including in facilitating learning and in building scientific knowledge and institutional capacities are tangible. They also have a great potential to channel information and to champion the new marine conservation challenges. Working for the same goal, regional MPA managers’ networks have a great potential for teaming up to keep global and regional MPA agenda moving forward.

Raphaele Deau's picture

Raphaele Deau said:

Hi everyone. I'm looking for case studies on partnership for big infrastructure projects in coastal areas. The topic I'm currently working on is an airport runway extension that will affect mangroves ecosystem quite heavily. And the main challenge is one of a communication gap between the government institutions we're dealing with (some pro green growth, some focused on economic development only). So, any similar cases with lessons learned would help us avoid the loopholes. Thanks!

Tony Charles's picture

Tony Charles said:

Thanks to Mary-Elizabeth Miller of FAO for starting off the discussion of Question 3, on “innovative partnerships aimed at more effective marine and coastal policy-making, governance and management”. One element is to document “partnerships that have developed or encourage solutions-based approaches that strengthen ecosystem resilience and improve the management of coastal and marine ecosystems”.

Along those lines, I would like to highlight a specific partnership, the Community Conservation Research Network (CCRN). The CCRN is a global partnership of indigenous, community, academic, government & nongovernmental organizations, which unabashedly focuses on the local community scale, and the role of communities in bringing together marine and coastal conservation with sustainable livelihoods.

This focus recognizes the 2-way connection between the well-being of local communities and the health of local ecosystems. The idea is that sustaining ecosystems is crucial for local communities (and equally for national economies), and sustaining strong, cohesive communities is crucial to enable conservation that maintains healthy ecosystems. This 2-way connection also requires suitable governmental policy, so the CCRN looks for ‘best governance practices’ that effectively support community conservation and sustainable livelihoods.

The CCRN, while engaged in local community-based research and capacity building at sites around the world, also provides a global focal point on interactions of Communities, Conservation and Livelihoods. In particular the website www.CommunityConservation.net describes community conservation research and support initiatives around the world, with a range of Community Stories, a video page, and training tools for community conservation. A new participatory “Communities in Action” page will be available by the end of March, as a learning and sharing vehicle for community conservation experiences.

I hope others will share their (existing or potential) partnerships in this discussion forum, so that a range of innovative approaches can be documented! 

Mary-Elizabeth Miller's picture

Mary-Elizabeth ... said:

Welcome to the online forum on addressing Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems in advance of the SDG-14 Ocean Conference that will take place in June of this year. We are very pleased to be moderating this discussion and look forward to hearing from you. 

We are interested in receiving your contributions as to how the global community can respond to Ensuring Sustainable Marine and Coastal Ecosystems from the level of the citizen, all the way to government.  Please feel free to make your inputs on one or all of the questions we have posed here.  Under Question 3, we are interested to learn from you about innovative partnerships that can foster solutions to these complex problems involving communities, the public and private sectors.  

For example, how can local fisheries and management strategies work together to ensure the sustainable development of marine and coastal ecosystems in the short and long term; combining sustainable use and conservation to ensure healthy and productive people and environment?

Are there partnerships that have developed or encourage solutions-based approaches that strengthen ecosystem resilience and improve the management of coastal and marine ecosystems while ensuring economic, environmental and social responsibilities?

What kinds of concrete activities can help to strengthen resilience, restore, and conserve threatened habitats at the local level?

How might we come together to improve or put in place measures to pay for efforts to restore, recover or preserve our marine environment, and make our efforts sustainable in the long run?  What might be our Calls for Action at the Conference in June to achieve the targets laid out in the SDGs? 

This forum will remain open until 5 April and we will monitor the inputs and provide moderation to ensure the discussion effectively feeds makes a substantive input to be carried to the Conference in June. Summaries of the responses will be compiled at the end of the discussion period and posted on the platform.

Your voice matters!  Make it count as the global community converges in June 2017 to commit to action to realize Sustainable Development Goal 14 to sustain Life Below Water for our and future generations!