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The information on this page is intended to serve as background and context for a stakeholder consultation on the overarching mission statement and ecological goals proposed to guide the iAtlantic systematic conservation planning exercise, part of our work on supporting sustainable ecosystem management. Respondents to the consultation will need to read the material below and/or in the briefing document (available to download below) in order to provide informed feedback on those proposed goals. We want to be sure that the framework we put in place for this SCP exercise is robust, comprehensive and appropriate, so we welcome feedback and comment from all relevant stakeholder groups.
The information provided on this webpage is distilled from the iAtlantic SCP consultation briefing document, which includes the full table of proposed SCP ecological goals and more detail about the international and regional governance provisions on which they are based. We have also provided some more general background on area-based management and SCP principles for those less familiar with these concepts. After you have read through this documentation, please click the link below to access the online questionnaire where you can provide your views on the draft goals.
Ecosystem impacts of climate change and human activities are not evenly distributed across the marine space, so management solutions need to be tailored to suit spatially explicit situations and scenarios. Area-based management refers to the integrated, sustainable, cross-sectoral management of human activities in a particular area. Applied in the context of an ecosystem approach, area-based management has been widely advocated as an effective instrument for protecting and preserving the marine environment while enabling the sustainable use of marine resources. Examples of area-based management tools (ABMTs) include marine spatial planning (MSP), marine protected areas (MPAs), ecological networks, dynamic management measures, and ‘other effective area-based conservation measures’ including indigenous, community and privately managed areas. ABMTs can also include sectoral tools, such as closure of certain vulnerable areas to fishing, shipping or mining.
ABMTs can help achieve multiple ecosystem-based management objectives such as the conservation of species, habitats and ecosystem services, increased fisheries yield (e.g. increased abundance, species diversity, and ‘spill-over’ effects), and increased tourism, recreational, and educational opportunities. When taking climate change into consideration, ABMTs become important tools to mitigate the accelerated loss of marine biodiversity vulnerable to global warming and ocean acidification1,2,3,4
Systematic conservation planning (SCP) is frequently used to support the transparent development of ABMTs and to visualise how to operationalise overall visions for the sustainable development of an area. SCP offers a framework to help meet ecological societal values as described in conservation and sustainable management objectives5. Previous efforts using SCP have demonstrated the benefit of a systematic approach to cross-sectoral planning and management6,7,8. Key benefits of systematic planning relative to sector-specific or ad hoc approaches can include transparency (e.g. defined goals, explicit analyses of data, quantitative objectives), inclusiveness (e.g. engaged stakeholders, consideration of known elements of biodiversity), integration (e.g. complementarity of selected areas and actions, spatial connectivity), and efficiency (e.g. costs to users and implementers are minimized)9.
SCP is not a goal in itself, but a tool to address ecological, socioeconomic or cultural goals. Thus, management may have a variety of objectives, and may use a range of tools and stringency of regulation to achieve them.
SCP approaches have been used to inform area-based management and marine spatial planning worldwide, with notable examples in the Gulf of California10, the Great Barrier Reef7, the Coral Triangle11, the Mediterranean Sea12, and the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem13. The H2020 ATLAS project developed SCP approaches at the North Atlantic spatial scale to inform the identification of priority areas for the conservation of Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems14. Several complementary approaches have used SCP approaches to identify priority areas for marine biodiversity conservation in areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) at a global scale15,16,17. These approaches have been used to inform the discourse around the protection of least 30% of marine environment while avoiding areas of high fishing intensity. SCP envisaged in this iAtlantic exercise will build from all these efforts, but most notably from those undertaken as part of the ATLAS Project in the North Atlantic and in the Azores14,18.
However, SCP approaches come with some caveats that need to be acknowledged and understood:
The ultimate aim of iAtlantic’s research is to be able to provide the necessary relevant information and tools to support competent authorities in the development of integrated, sustainable management decisions and practices at appropriate scales. To achieve this, site prioritisation techniques will be used to identify zones where different management regimes can be applied, and planning scenarios will be generated to inform sustainable development strategies in the Atlantic. Systematic conservation planning is the first step along this path, but first we need to determine what our overall aim is for this exercise, and what targets or goals we need to set in order to achieve that aim.
To do this, we put together an overview of sustainable management and conservation objectives reflected in existing political commitments, declarations and legal obligations related to the Atlantic marine environment in order to derive a list of potential goals and objectives that will guide the development of iAtlantic’s systematic conservation planning exercise. The CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework and the UN BBNJ negotiations (both under development) will also provide an impetus and mechanism for ABMTs in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
It is important to note that in the iAtlantic SCP exercise we focus on only on the environmental and simplified economic goals and objectives, since the governance and economic goals need to be addressed with other tools, and are therefore beyond the scope of this exercise.
Understanding the geographic boundaries of the iAtlantic SCP exercise is also important. The spatial planning area considered in the iAtlantic SCP exercise was agreed by the project consortium. It encompasses the whole Atlantic Ocean as described by the International Hydrographic Organization (IHO), but with some adaptations (Fig. 1). The northern boundary was adjusted to 74°N, which includes a portion of the Arctic Ocean named the Norwegian Sea and Greenland Sea, while the southern boundary was kept at 60°S. The SE boundary was expanded to 21°E. The spatial planning area includes the Labrador Sea and the Davis Strait in the NW Atlantic, the North Sea, Celtic Sea, and the Bay of Biscay in the NE Atlantic, the Caribbean Sea, Gulf of Mexico and Gulf of Guinea in the Central Atlantic, and a portion of the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) convention area in the South Atlantic.
Systematic conservation planning should be guided by a set of general principles that determine the nature and characteristics of the scenarios to be developed, and the criteria, decisions and choices to be adopted. The general principles described here were adapted from published SCP literature 19,20,21
Defining management and conservation goals and objectives is an essential step towards implementation of area-based management tools and should be derived from specific problems or conflicts previously identified20. Having these goals and objectives clearly defined, helps to focus and tailor systematic conservation planning scenarios on achieving such results. For transparency reasons, here we followed the definitions in Ehler & Douvere (2009)19 and Ehler (2014)21:
Such goals and objectives need to be discussed among all stakeholders, so the purposes for implementing area-based management tools are clear, understood and agreed. These goals and objectives can have multiple dimensions, usually grouped into ecological, economy, social or governance goals19. In the iAtlantic SCP exercise, we focus only on environmental and simplified economic goals and objectives, since the governance and economic goals need to be addressed with other tools, and are beyond the scope of this exercise.
‘High-level’ mission statement
Based on existing sustainable management and conservation objectives reflected in political commitments, declarations and legal obligations related to the Atlantic marine environment, we compiled a list of their ‘high-level’ mission statements (Supplementary Table A in the SCP briefing document). In general, most high-level statements are very similar and aimed at similar long-term sustainability goals (e.g., UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, CBD post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, UN Fish Stocks Agreement, The Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals, Strategy of the OSPAR Commission for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North-East Atlantic 2010-2020, the Sargasso Sea Commission, EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030). These high-level statements aim to achieve the following qualitative objectives:
In line with this global policy framework we therefore propose the following broad high-level mission statement to guide the iAtlantic systematic conservation planning approach:
Ecological management goals
Based on this high-level mission statement, a series of SCP goals that can be spatially explicitly addressed are proposed – these are shown in Table 1 of the SCP briefing document. These goals reflect the different elements of the high-level mission statement above. All are based on the aspirations of a large proportion of the international and regional political commitments, and also inspired by the SCP framework developed for the Azores deep-sea area18.
We have set up an online survey to gather stakeholder feedback on 1) the high-level mission statement, and 2) the related ecological goals to achieve this mission statement. The survey is set up using the SurveyMonkey online platform, and will take around 15 minutes to complete. Feedback will be analysed and used to strengthen and improve the mission statement and the ecological goals accordingly. In a second, separate step we may assemble a small panel of experts to help advise on more technical aspects of the iAtlantic SCP exercise. If you are interested in joining this panel, please contact Dr Telmo Morato (t.morato[at]gmail.com).
Thanks in advance for your input to the survey!
If you have any questions about the survey, please contact Dr Vikki Gunn (vikki.gunn[at]seascapeconsultants.co.uk)
1. IPBES (2019). Summary for policymakers of the global assessment report on biodiversity and ecosystem services of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services. S. Díaz, J. Settele, E. S. Brondízio E.S., H. T. Ngo, M. Guèze, J. Agard, A. Arneth, P. Balvanera, K. A. Brauman, S. H. M. Butchart, K. M. A. Chan, L. A. Garibaldi, K. Ichii, J. Liu, S. M. Subramanian, G. F. Midgley, P. Miloslavich, Z. Molnár, D. Obura, A. Pfaff, S. Polasky, A. Purvis, J. Razzaque, B. Reyers, R. Roy Chowdhury, Y. J. Shin, I. J. Visseren-Hamakers, K. J. Willis, and C. N. Zayas (eds.). IPBES secretariat, Bonn, Germany. 56 pages.
2. IPCC (2019). Technical Summary [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, E. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, M. Tignor, A. Alegría, M. Nicolai, A. Okem, J. Petzold, B. Rama, N.M. Weyer (eds.)]. In: IPCC Special Report on the Ocean and Cryosphere in a Changing Climate [H.- O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, V. Masson-Delmotte, P. Zhai, M. Tignor, E. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Nicolai, A. Okem, J. Petzold, B. Rama, N.M. Weyer (eds.)].
3. Levin, L. A., Wei, C. L., Dunn, D. C., Amon, D. J., Ashford, O. S., Cheung, W. W., (…) & Yasuhara, M. (2020). Climate change considerations are fundamental to management of deep-sea resource extraction. Global change biology, 26(9), 4664-4678
4. Morato, T., González-Irusta, J. M., Dominguez-Carrió, C., Wei, C. L., Davies, A., Sweetman, A. K., … & Carreiro-Silva, M. (2020a). Climate-induced changes in the suitable habitat of cold‐water corals and commercially important deep-sea fishes in the North Atlantic. Global change biology, 26(4), 2181-2202.
5. Margules, C. R., & Pressey, R. L. (2000). Systematic conservation planning. Nature, 405(6783), 243.
6. Pressey, R.L., Cowling, R.M. & Rouget, M. (2003) Formulating conservation targets for biodiversity pattern and process in the Cape Floristic Region, South Africa. Biol. Conserv., 112, 99-127
7. Fernandes, L., Day, J., Lewis, A. et al. (2005). Establishing representative no-take areas in the Great Barrier Reef: large-scale implementation of theory on marine protected areas. Conserv. Biol., 19, 1733-1744
8. Lombard, A., Reyers, B., Schonegevel, L., Cooper, J., Smith-Adao, L.B., Nel, D.C., Froneman, P.W., Ansorge, I.J., Bester, M.N., Tosh, C.A., Strauss, T., Akkers, T., Gon, O., Leslie, R.W. & Chown, S.L. (2007). Conserving pattern and process in the Southern Ocean: designing a Marine Protected Area for the Prince Edward Islands. Antarct. Sci., 19, 39–54.
9. Ban, N.C., Bax, N.J., Gjerde, K.M., Devillers, R., Dunn, D.C., Dunstan, P.K., Hobday, A.J., Maxwell, S.M., Kaplan, D.M., Pressey, R.L., Ardron, J.A., Game, E.T. and Halpin, P.N. (2014), Systematic Conservation Planning: A Better Recipe for Managing the High Seas for Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Use. Conservation Letters, 7: 41-54. https://doi.org/10.1111/conl.12010
10. Álvarez-Romero, J. G., Pressey, R. L., Ban, N. C., Torre-Cosío, J., & Aburto-Oropeza, O. (2013). Marine conservation planning in practice: Lessons learned from the Gulf of California. Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 23(4), 483–505. https://doi.org/10.1002/aqc.2334
11. Asaad, I., Lundquist, C. J., Erdmann, M. V., Van Hooidonk, R., & Costello, M. J. (2018). Designating Spatial Priorities for Marine Biodiversity Conservation in the Coral Triangle. Frontiers in Marine Science, 5. https://doi.org/10.3389/fmars.2018.00400
12. Micheli, F., Levin, N., Giakoumi, S., Katsanevakis, S., Abdulla, A., Coll, M., Fraschetti, S., Kark, S., Koutsoubas, D., Mackelworth, P., Maiorano, L., & Possingham, H. P. (2013). Setting Priorities for Regional Conservation Planning in the Mediterranean Sea. PLOS ONE, 8(4), e59038. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0059038
13. Kirkman, S. P., Holness, S., Harris, L. R., Sink, K. J., Lombard, A. T., Kainge, P., Majiedt, P., Nsiangango, S. E., Nsingi, K. K., & Samaai, T. (2019). Using Systematic Conservation Planning to support Marine Spatial Planning and achieve marine protection targets in the transboundary Benguela Ecosystem. Ocean & Coastal Management, 168, 117–129. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ocecoaman.2018.10.038
14. Combes, M., Vaz, S., Morato, T. (…) & Menot. L. (2019). Conservation Management Issues in ATLAS. Basin-scale systematic conservation planning: identifying suitable networks for VMEs protection. Deliverable 3.4. ATLAS project
15. O’Leary, B. C., Allen, H. L., Yates, K. L., Page, R. W., Tudhope, A. W., McClean, C., & Roberts, C. M. (2019). 30X30: A Blueprint for Ocean Protection. How we can protect 30% of our oceans by 2030. https://www.greenpeace.org/new-zealand/publication/30-x-30-a-blueprint-for-ocean-protection/
16. Pew Charitable Trusts (2020). A Path to Creating the First Generation of High Seas Protected Areas. https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/reports/2020/03/a-path-to-creating-the-first-generation-of-high-seas-protected-areas
17. Visalli, M. E., Best, B. D., Cabral, R. B., Cheung, W. W., Clark, N. A., Garilao, C., (…) & Mayorga, J. (2020). Data-driven approach for highlighting priority areas for protection in marine areas beyond national jurisdiction. Marine Policy, 103927. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.marpol.2020.103927
18. Morato, T., Combes, M., Brito, J., Rodrigues, L., Dominguez-Carrió, C., Taranto, G.H., Fauconnet, L., Ramos, M., Blasco-Ferre, J., Gutiérrez-Zárate, C., Pham, C.K., Colaço, A., Gonzalez-Irusta, J.M., Giacomello, E., & Carreiro-Silva, M. (2020b) Systematic conservation planning scenarios for the Azores deep-sea: draft v.11 Jul 2020. Okeanos Centre of the University of the Azores, Horta, Portugal.
19. Ehler, C., & Douvere, F. (2009). Marine Spatial Planning: a step-by-step approach toward ecosystem-based management. Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission and Man and the Biosphere Programme. IOC Manual and Guides No. 53, ICAM Dossier No. 6. Paris: UNESCO.
20. Dunn, D. C., Van Dover, C. L., Etter, R. J., Smith, C. R., Levin, L. A., Morato, T., (…) & Halpin, P. N. (2018). A strategy for the conservation of biodiversity on mid-ocean ridges from deep-sea mining. Science advances, 4(7), eaar4313.
21. Ehler, C. (2014). A Guide to Evaluating Marine Spatial Plans, Paris, UNESCO, 2014. IOC Manuals and Guides, 70; ICAM Dossier 8