Advice for Obama: improving the management of ocean ecosystems

3 thoughts on “Advice for Obama: improving the management of ocean ecosystems”

  1. How about appointing an Oceans Advisor position that reports to his cabinet level Science Advisor (assuming Obama appoints one…). We need someone in the upper executive branch whose job it is when he or she wakes up each morning to think long and hard about ocean issues. Someone that can bring together researchers from NOAA, USGS, NASA, NMFA, etc. and recommend avenues of novel research and organize productive meetings that result in workable solutions or realistic recommendations for congress with goals and real world budgets.

    We also need to move to reducing plastic waste in the ocean. I would advise him to lead the rest of the country in reducing waste from the White House, recycling, encourage staff to use canvas bags instead of plastic and gives local governments, businesses and citizens a reason to stop the unnecessary build up of plastic waste in both our landfills and our waterways, coastlines and the open ocean. Remember Mr. President, we are what we eat!


  2. I fully agree with your points John, especially #2; if carbon emissions are not curbed radically, then the capacity of coastal and oceanic marine ecosystems to continue producing goods and services to human communities will be jeopardized.

    However, I did miss one hugely important step that is necessary to succesfully reverse the ongoing decline of marine systems. The harsh reality of the matter is current management initiatives simply do not work because they do not take into account the obvious poverty traps in many coastal communities. We often forget that the economic realities and lack of resources in the VAST majority of coastal communities provides little maneuvering room for sustainable marine management. What is needed are new forms of governance and management that work with and for local communities, and that can achieve mutually beneficial outcomes.


  3. That is a great point Albert. I am quite undereducated in the socio-economic realm, but I often wonder how realistic calls to “just stop fishing” are given the vast poverty of many coastal communities. I thought Terry Hughes did a nice job addressing this in his ICRS plenary ( and a related press release (

    ““The global coral reef crisis is really a crisis of governance. Many of the measures put in place are failing, not because of biology, but because of lack of support from local people and governments,” he says.

    “For example many no-take marine reserves have been set up round the world by non-government organisations – but nearly all of them are proving unsuccessful because they ignore the needs of the local population and have failed to win their backing.”

    “You cannot simply remove the needs of hundreds of millions of people from the equation. You have to design your conservation measures so that they also address things like ecosystem services which the ocean provides to humans, and sustainable livelihoods for people who depend on the sea, as well as protecting biodiversity.”

    Ill put this entire release in a new post.



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