September 2012: California Ocean and Coastal Ecological Principles Guide
Government staff must weigh myriad, sometimes conflicting, considerations before making management decisions that impact California’s iconic coast and ocean. A holistic, ecosystem-based approach to management that uses the best available scientific information can ensure that ocean and coastal management decisions account for the maintenance and restoration of ecosystem health. This month, the Center for Ocean Solutions released a guide, Incorporating Ecological Principles into California Ocean and Coastal Management: Examples from Practice (Guide), which describes how important ecological principles and ecosystem vulnerability characteristics, such as cumulative impacts and climate change, can be applied to existing California management practices. The Guide focuses on four ecological principles that include maintaining or restoring native species diversity, habitat diversity and heterogeneity, populations of key species, and connectivity between populations. By grounding the ecological principles and ecosystem vulnerability characteristics within the California Ocean Protection Act, the California Coastal Act, the Marine Life Management Act, the California Environmental Quality Act and the Public Trust Doctrine, this Guide serves as a practical tool for California agency staff to fulfill their legal mandates and protect California’s invaluable ocean and coastal resources for generations to come. In addition, many of the principles, practices and lessons described in the Guide are applicable to a wide variety of users, such as practitioners, managers, local community members and other stakeholders in the Pacific and around the world.
This month, the Pacific Ocean Library blog focuses on ecosystem-based management (EBM) to explore how to move this management approach from theory to practice. Below, we define EBM and provide examples of how EBM has been applied in the Pacific region.
Ecosystem-Based Management Approaches in the Pacific
EBM is a framework that helps policy makers and resource managers consider the long-term sustainability of ecosystems and their associated social and economic systems as “a precondition rather than an afterthought” to management. The key to an EBM approach is to “make protecting and restoring marine ecosystems and all their services the primary focus, even above short-term economic or social goals for single services.” EBM is about making connections and linkages between ecosystems and focusing on the multiple benefits ecosystems can provide, rather than focusing on a single species or ecosystem. It is an integrated management approach that should involve cross-sector considerations, from fisheries policy to coastal development policy, to ensure that collective goals are met.
Examples of EBM strategies include the use of case studies and toolkits on planning processes to incorporate lessons learned into a region’s adaptive management plan. In addition, active and collaborative engagement with stakeholders and scientists can integrate discussions on biological and social concerns to more effectively implement a long-term, integrated EBM plan. EBM strategies can be informed by the use of software and web-based programs (such as Marine Integrated Decision Analysis System (MIDAS) and MarineMap) that can collect, integrate and analyze data to improve decision-making. From the coast of California to the shores of Indonesia, EBM strategies vary, yet they all seek to incorporate a science-based approach to maintain productive and resilient ecosystems that continue to provide essential services, such as food and recreation. Here are examples of EBM strategies from around the Pacific:
- California, U.S.: The Ventura River Watershed provides habitat for a wide variety of species and empties into the Pacific Ocean. Construction of the Matilija Dam at the head of the Ventura River and urban development at the mouth of the river inflicted negative effects on habitat and water quality. The Ventura River Ecosystem Project was established to include a wide range of stakeholders in science-based watershed management. As a result, the Matilija dam will be removed, which over time will improve water quality and restore fish habitats and natural sediment transportation.
- Ecuador: The Galapagos Archipelago is recognized worldwide for its unique terrestrial and marine ecosystems that support high biological diversity and numerous endemic species. To alleviate increased pressures on marine resources from tourism and artisanal fishing, the Galapagos Marine Reserve Management Plan (GMRMP) was established to “protect and conserve the coastal and marine ecosystems of the archipelago and its biological diversity for the benefit of humanity, the local population, science and education.’’ A multiple-use marine zone, including conservation, tourism and fishing subzones, was established in waters surrounding the Galapagos. The GMRMP reduced space conflicts between tourism and fishing organizations, thereby enhancing the sustainability of economic activities in the region while conserving and protecting biodiversity.
- Indonesia: The marine and coastal ecosystems of the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS) are among the richest and most diverse on the planet, pitting marine conservation against resource extraction and development. Faced with the challenge of how to balance conservation of the area’s natural resources with sustainable economic development, the local government in BHS worked with The Nature Conservancy, Conservation International and WWF-Indonesia to research the ecological, social, economic, and governance benefits and services of the area. The result was establishment of a network of ten multiple use marine protected areas, covering more than 9,000 km2, to protect marine biodiversity and major migratory routes for several large marine mammals, breeding, calving and nesting grounds, and high larval dispersal rates between the Pacific and Indian oceans. These areas also support sustainable fisheries and generate income for local communities through visitor entrance fees.
Want to learn more about ecosystem-based management? Check out the Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network, an online source that provides information about coastal and marine management tools and customized trainings in the United States and internationally.
Ecosystem-Based Management Research
This month we highlight EBM in three articles that provide insight into a variety of strategies and tools used for management. Click on the title links below to view the abstracts in the library, and while you are there, have a look around!
This article discusses ecosystem-based spatial management, an integrated plan-based approach to managing activities in the marine environment. It evaluates the shortcomings and lessons learned in planning, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and adaptation of the Galapagos Marine Reserve’s marine zoning scheme, and it provides recommendations to better realize the potential value of the ecosystem-based spatial management approach to co-managing the shellfisheries of the Galapagos Marine Reserve.
This report outlines how scientific studies have quantified aspects of ecosystems and socio-economics for use in MPA management, fisheries management, spatial planning and threatened species management within the Bird’s Head Seascape (BHS). It provides case studies for various regions within the BHS that show successful ecosystem-based management approaches and highlights the importance of conservation science in informing ecosystem-based management.
This UNEP report lays out a series of principles to guide management towards long-term sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems. Using this guide, countries and communities can take steps towards making marine and coastal ecosystem-based management operational from strategic planning to on-site implementation.
Explore the Library!
Did you know that the Pacific Ocean Library now contains more than 6,650 articles, government publications and reports from the Pacific region that focus on the greatest threats, environmental and socioeconomic impacts, and potential solutions for the region? The library is a great resource for anyone involved in coastal and ocean conservation and management. Each month, we select focal topics of importance to practitioners, managers, academics, decision makers and stakeholders within Pacific Ocean communities and add interesting reports, resources and tools, making the library a robust one-stop information source. This month, we added 39 new articles related to ecosystem-based management as well as sea-level rise, with a focus on the United States, Indonesia and the greater coastal areas in the Pacific.