In 2008, the Marine Conservation Initiative’s grantees made significant gains in fostering resilient and productive marine ecosystems in North America. By advancing area-based management in British Columbia, California, and New England, our grantees helped to plan, create, and maintain working seascapes that continue to provide food, jobs, and recreation without sacrificing ecosystem health. Through fisheries management reform in these regions, our grantees continued their work to align incentives with conservation, helping to achieve lasting protection for these marine ecosystems and the fish populations within them.
Interest in spatially-explicit integrated ocean management, or Area-Based Management (ABM) is building in Canada and in US states including Hawaii, Florida, New York, New Jersey, and Rhode Island. With our grantees’ collective achievements, the tide is turning towards support for area-based management. Examples of demonstrated grantee successes include the following:
- In May 2008, the state of Massachusetts passed the nation’s first comprehensive ocean management and planning bill. The Massachusetts Oceans Act paves the way for the design of a single, inclusive area-based management plan for the state’s marine resources. The University of Massachusetts Boston, a Marine Conservation Initiative grantee, supports the Massachusetts Ocean Partnership, a coalition of stakeholders working to ensure sound integrated marine spatial planning for the state’s ocean resources. Support by the Foundation enabled other grantees and their partners, including Ocean Conservancy, Massachusetts Audubon, and Conservation Law Foundation, to play a critical role in building a supportive constituency for comprehensive planning and zoning for healthy oceans. Successful implementation of area-based management in Massachusetts will be a pioneering model for New England and the rest of the US.
- In British Columbia, Foundation grantees, namely the Coastal First Nations - Turning Point Initiative and Tides Canada Foundation (together with the BC Marine Planning Network), worked to launch an area-based management process through a December 2008 memorandum of understanding between the First Nations and federal government. The MOU formally initiated the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area (PNCIMA) integrated spatial planning process.
- Through concerted effort by conservation groups in California, the California Ocean Protection Council identified area-based management as a top priority for 2009-2010. Among these groups, Marine Conservation Initiative grantee Resources Legacy Fund Foundation played a coordination role between the groups, fostering a strategic focus on area-based management
- Also in 2008, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) drafted a manual containing principles and guidelines for implementing area-based management. Distilled from case studies around the world, the manual is emerging as the leading work on the subject. The manual will be released in 2009 and shared with other Foundation grantees.
Reforming Fisheries Management
The sea change in fisheries management that Marine Conservation Initiative grantees helped bring about began in 2007, and grew into a full-blown movement in support of dedicated access privilege programs or "catch-shares" in 2008. Even groups traditionally opposed to these programs have withheld their opposition once they have understood that Foundation grantees are not advocating a one-size-fits-all approach. Our grantees have begun to change the day-to-day decision-making realities of fishing, giving fishing communities a share of the fish in the sea, reducing harmful impacts from unsustainable fishing, and designing programs that encourage long-term stewardship of resources.
We thank all our grantees for their hard work and achievements in 2008. The sum of their efforts has helped transform the way we manage our oceans and chart a clear course towards healthy and productive oceans, for us and for future generations.