European MSP knowledge-sharing platform launched

With the adoption of the EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (2014/89/EU), all coastal EU Member States are required to prepare cross-sectoral maritime spatial plans by 2021. A new service, the European MSP Platform funded by the EU Directorate General for Maritime Affairs and Fisheries (DG MARE), just launched to help EU Member States share relevant MSP knowledge and experiences to promote implementation efforts. The platform currently offers information on the status of MSP processes in each coastal EU Member State, an overview of previous and ongoing MSP projects and their outputs, EU-wide and national funding opportunities, MSP training programs and workshops, and a Question & Answer service on issues related to MSP. Visit the platform.

Report provides comprehensive review of effects of ocean warming

A report “Explaining ocean warming: Causes, scale, effects and consequences” issued by IUCN reviews the effects of ocean warming on species and ecosystems and the ecosystem services oceans provide. The report chronicles already detectable effects of ocean warming – including movement of entire groups of species such as plankton, jellyfish, turtles, and seabirds as much as 10 degrees of latitude towards the poles; loss of breeding grounds for turtles and seabirds; and diminished breeding success of marine mammals. It also describes expected effects (even under low future carbon emissions scenarios), such as movement of fish species to cooler waters and reduced fisheries catches in tropical regions. The report also reviews evidence of other ocean warming impacts such as increased disease in plant and animal populations and increased spread of pathogens harmful to humans such as cholera and ciguatera.

"Most of the heat from human-induced warming since the 1970s — a staggering 93% — has been absorbed by the ocean, which acts as a buffer against climate change, but this comes at a price. We were astounded by the scale and extent of ocean warming effects on entire ecosystems made clear by this report," says Dan Laffoley, Marine Vice Chair of the World Commission on Protected Areas at IUCN, and one of the lead authors of the report. Recommendations from the report include recognizing the severity of ocean warming impacts; better evaluating their social and economic risks; and addressing research gaps that need to be resolved to tackle the impacts of ocean warming with greater confidence in the future. Read the report.

Researchers find realities of MSP implementation contrast with conceptual ideals

A special section of the journal Marine Policy on the topic of how MSP is implemented in reality finds that integrated-use MSP implementation in Europe is often based on political expedience and a desire to achieve blue growth priorities rather than environmental priorities. In addition, participative platforms are disconnected from executive decision making by design ensuring that top-down approaches dominate. The special section consists of eight papers focused on case studies around Europe and a discussion paper. The discussion paper can be accessed at no cost here. A blog describing the sections findings and linking to the case study papers is available here.

Report finds current UN protections for deep sea ecosystems inadequate

A new report “How much longer will it take?” by the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition finds that implementation of UN General Assembly resolutions to manage deep-sea fisheries sustainably and protect the deep-sea environment falls short and leaves vast areas of the ocean unprotected from destruction by deep-sea bottom trawling. The report is intended to inform the UN General Assembly’s review of the management of deep-sea bottom fisheries in areas beyond national jurisdiction this year. It makes a number of recommendations including: 1) conducting comprehensive impact assessments in all areas where bottom fisheries are permitted or authorized to occur in areas beyond national jurisdiction; 2) closing all areas to bottom fishing where vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs) are known or are likely to occur, unless a science-based determination is made that significant adverse impacts will not, or are not likely to, occur; 3) conducting cumulative impact assessments to determine the extent to which existing VMEs have been impacted over time by bottom fishing and/or are under threat from other stressors such as ocean acidification. Read the report.

New web platform with coastal-marine “solution” case studies

Panorama, a global partnership facilitated by GIZ and IUCN, has launched a new web platform that features over 240 “solution” case studies related to the management of coastal-marine environments and protected areas. The coastal-marine portfolio, hosted by Blue Solutions, offers a tool for practitioners to share and learn from successful approaches to a variety of conservation and development situations. Visit the Panorama platform.