Arctic governance needs reform in response to climate change

The current regulatory and governance regime for protecting the Arctic marine environment is inadequate and new measures must be adopted, according to a new series of reports from WWF. The reports point out that current Arctic governance is based on assumptions the region would remain ice-covered and therefore essentially closed to fishing, petroleum exploration/development, and shipping. Such assumptions are no longer true due to climate change in the region, and the loopholes this has created could allow irreparable damage to the marine environment and indigenous populations.

The reports, compiled by WWF in a single volume, describe current governance gaps for the Arctic and propose a new legally binding instrument for governing the region's waters, based on a revised Arctic Council. "The instrument should have an overarching character, which is at a minimum conducive to integrated, cross-sectoral ecosystem-based oceans management and whose primary body could also be mandated to pursue that objective," state the authors. The compiled volume International Governance and Regulation of the Arctic is available at

Report: MPA network in Baltic Sea growing, but not comprehensive

Over the past six years, the percentage of the Baltic Sea that is inside marine protected areas has risen dramatically, according to a new report from the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM), the international body that coordinates protection of the Baltic Sea environment. Baltic Sea Protected Areas (BSPAs) designated under the Helsinki Convention now cover 10.3% of the sea – up from 3.9% in 2004. When combined with marine areas protected under the EU Natura 2000 network, the total area protected is 12%.

There are 10 contracting states to the Helsinki Convention: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia, and Sweden, as well as the European Community. The report analyzes how much marine area each contracting state has protected in BSPAs, ranging from the highest percentage (Germany, 29.7%) to the lowest (Latvia, 3.0%). Only four states are over 10%: Germany, Poland (24.3%), Denmark (22.1%), and Estonia (16.5%).

The report also assesses the ecological coherence of the BSPA network, including how well it meets criteria for adequacy, representativity, replication, and connectivity. Based on these analyses, the publication concludes, "If the aim is to provide more comprehensive protection to the entire range of biodiversity in the basin, the network of BSPAs should be expanded to at least twice its present size." The report Towards an Ecologically Coherent Network of Well-Managed Marine Protected Areas is available at

Guidelines for adopting a community-based ecosystem approach to fisheries management

The Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), an intergovernmental organization that advises Pacific Island countries and territories, has released guidelines on how an ecosystem approach to fisheries management can be combined with community-based fisheries management. SPC terms this the "community-based ecosystem approach to fisheries management" (CEAFM) and says its strengths come from the combination of stakeholder involvement and government agency expertise.

"CEAFM is not seen as a replacement for current fisheries management but an extension that combines a high degree of community and other stakeholder participation to minimize the impacts of fishing and other activities on ecosystems," state the guidelines. "The close involvement of communities accentuates that humans are also an integral part of ecosystems and their needs must be addressed." The authors describe a step-by-step process by which a promoting agency can work with a community to develop a CEAFM plan. The report A Community-Based Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management: Guidelines for Pacific Island Countries is available at

Fisheries reform would benefit global economy

Global investment of US $8 billion per year to rebuild the world's fisheries could result in benefits to the global economy of $1.7 trillion over the next 40 years, according to findings of the UN Environment Programme. The findings were previewed to journalists in May and are to be released in a report later this year.

The annual investment would be used to reduce excess capacity in the world's fishing fleets, train fishers in alternative livelihoods, set up tradable quota management systems, and designate and manage marine protected areas. "The lives and livelihoods of over half a billion people, linked with the health of this industry, will depend on the tough but also transformational choices governments make now and over the years to come," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner. "The scenarios recognize that millions of fishers will need support in retraining and that fishing fleets must shrink. But this needs to be set against a rise in catches, an overall climb in incomes for coastal communities and companies, and improvements in the health of the marine environment and ultimately hundreds of millions of people whose incomes and livelihoods are linked to fishing." A UNEP press release on the preview report is at

Oceans conference recommends adoption of nested strategies for EBM

The Fifth Global Conference on Oceans, Coasts and Islands, held in Paris in May, resulted in a set of recommendations for national and international authorities, including that strategies for ocean and coastal EBM be implemented at local, national, and regional scales, as well as on the high seas.

"The definition and implementation of these [EBM] strategies need to be fully supported/underpinned by common tools and techniques, knowledge, monitoring and assessments, financial mechanisms, and evaluation for use by decision-makers," said the conference's co-chairs in a concluding statement. The statement and a summary report on all symposia and roundtables from the conference are available at