Placing Marine Protected Areas onto the ecosystem-based management seascape

The article Placing Marine Protected Areas onto the Ecosystem-based Management seascape discusses how ecosystem-based management (EBM) should also incorporate marine protected areas (MPAs). Both approaches seem to have similar goals and there is some common overlap. In my opinion the article could give more of an indication into how the division came about. While it does clearly explain one of the causes into why there is a divide this is insufficient. It is only in the last paragraph of the introduction do we learn the reason for the text. Although this may seem alright, there is too much room for people to be confused before they get to this part. I think this should have been earlier as it would allow readers to fully grasp this article’s aim.
The results of this text are divided into two areas, comparing and contrasting MPAs and EBM and can MPAs achieve specific EBM goals. I think this is an excellent idea as it sections the results so the reader can examine each result without being distracted by a result of a different type. The structuring of the first section is done well. Each result has its own paragraph which is necessary. However towards the end of the results more focus is put towards MPAs rather than EBM. For instance, in one paragraph it discusses due the variety of MPAs it is impossible to generalize the ability of MPAs into achieving the varied goals of EBM. After this, it discusses whether the success of MPAs in meeting EBM goals will be achieved or not due to a number of factors. I like how the article explains that it is impossible for the two to be merged fully due to different goals but people still assume the two are synonymous. We learn that this is because EBM is a “buzz word” and thus it is the focus of funding, policy agendas and scientific meetings. In my opinion the part discussing the absence of scientific guidance on how to implement EBM and fall back on MPAs by managers is vital to the text. It allows us to understand that there is a problem occurring. I think the example of zoning processes for Australia’s Great Barrier Reef Marine Park converging on EBM is excellent. It provides a clear understanding that the Great Barrier Reef is an MPA but there is a risk in letting the idea that MPAs and EBM planning are the same.
In my opinion, this section of results was done alright. While there was slight confusion in reading it, by the end of the section the reader could fully understand the differences between the two approaches and how people might sometimes assume the two are interchangeable. I think more examples like the Great Barrier Reef could have been given to show that people do think these are the same and thus, cause problems.
While it may not be appropriate for the article to declare that it is difficult to answer the question posed in the title of the section in the opening lines in my opinion it works in this case. I think the admission that MPAs are not playing a significant role in advancing EBM because there is not enough in the long term to guarantee the delivery of the full suite of marine ecosystem services. In the text they examined the representativeness of this protection by biogeographic classifications and discovered an imbalance. It is surprising to learn that only 18% of ecoregions have MPA coverage that exceeds 10%. It is clear from the article that MPAs cannot solve the many external problems to a marine system such as climate change or marine invasive species. I like how the article quotes examples of places where MPAs are being established i.e. California, which is paralleling an effort to move the state toward marine EBFM and EBM. According to the article there is an absence of more extensive case studies so assumptions must be made to evaluate the potential of MPAs to achieve the EBM goal cumulative impacts. I like this admission. I don’t think it is advisable to say that they focus on no-take marine reserves for simplicity as this does not reflect a clear picture of what is occurring. According to the article, fishing in certain regions contributes to more than 80% of the cumulative impact on ocean health. These regions include much of the Coral Triangle, South and East China Seas and the waters off Argentina. It is clear that this idea is wrong as the article says diminishing cumulative impacts within their boundaries, well designed and enforced no take reserves in these regions could dramatically improve overall ocean health and increase the delivery of ecosystem services. I agree with this idea as it will increase the biodiversity of the regions.
The article then discusses the degree of spatial variance in fishing impacts across ecoregions, e.g. the Black Sea and South China Sea. The article says that the cumulative impact from fishing leads to much greater differences in scenario results when enclosing 30% of each ecoregion compared to 10% of each ecoregion. In my opinion, this experiment proves that increasing the efficiency of MPAs is more effective instead of increasing the amount of MPAs, however, I think, another experiment is necessary in two other regions to correlate the results and determine if this is true or not. The article says that this is true for the ~20 ecoregions that show >10% difference between the two scenarios. In my opinion this should be true for all ecoregions not just these.
Then the article moves onto a discussion on the results. I agree that although marine reserves are effective they are not the same as EBM and will not solve all its problems. While the article says that a reduction in cumulative impact resulting from these hypothetical marine reserves would significantly improve ocean health and in turn lead to increases in the production of a suite of ecosystem services, I think this would be too difficult to maintain in the long-term. However, even these regions experience external factors that need additional management tools which decreases the ability of the regions to produce verified results. The article says, in locations where these assumptions do not hold, marine reserves may make important contributions to conservation, fisheries or other EBFM goals but not to broader EBM goals. In my opinion this is just speculation as no testing has been carried out to prove this. I like how the article argues that the MPAs’ evaluation in the context of their contribution to reducing negative impacts to ocean ecosystems as a key component of EBM and not just as a fisheries and conservation management tool is an important first step. This can allow for more changes in the future.
It is unfortunate that only 0.2% of the worlds’ oceans are protected in no-take marine reserves. This means their contribution is negligible, at least on a global and regional level. In my opinion, it is very hard to encompass all the worlds’ oceans as MPAs due to certain rules and regulations. From the article it is clear that marine reserves can reduce the impact on oceans health. However it is unfortunate that poor ocean health can limit the ability of reserves to meet their intended ecological, social or economic outcomes. The article also says that marine reserves have been shown to produce highly variable ecological effects and that only a small percentage of these are explained by species characteristics. The article says that this suggests that the reserves context may also play a role. I agree with this viewpoint as surrounding activities also play a role. The article explains that the issue of context is particularly important in the roles of MPAs and EBM. In my opinion, this is very true as both are different. EBM is an attempt to integrate the full spectrum of goals, management entities, and constituents within the region to design a management strategy that explicitly considers the necessary tradeoffs among various activities and services. It says that EBM efforts must focus on interplay among the range of objectives and host of actors in that system. In my opinion, this is similar to a play as every part must be in order and that the EBM is like the director making sure everything is going the way it should. However on a small scale MPAs may not be a viable option according to the article as it would be pointless. Due to social and political issues reserves will always be small. However I think this is wrong and that we should be able to protect our oceans health no matter what. It says that on larger levels spatial management tools will need to include multiple layers that cover a range of objectives, from no-take reserves to all access areas. The article says if we use MPAs within EBM we will be able to plan for spatial configurations that minimize negative impacts to particularly sensitive species, habitats or ecosystems and minimize external factors that could reduce the effectiveness of the MPA. I agree with this idea because it allows us to protect our endangered from unwanted influences. There is the strategy that buffer zones could be put into effect. These would be areas around the MPAs with lower levels of protection to minimize externalities. In my opinion, this concept is not viable as eventually these zones would have to be incorporated into the MPAs in the future and thus more buffer zones would have to be created around these.
Due to the increase in demand for wind and wave energy MPA planners are faced with the difficult task of considering the potential negative effects of these activities on the MPA. I think this is very true as the building alone of wind turbines would cause massive problems for the biodiversity of the area. It is good to see that as MPA planning processes move toward more dynamic inclusion of socioeconomic factors they are moving closer to an EBM approach. Unfortunately, MPAs can never be a substitute for EBM. I completely agree with this notion as mentioned before, there are some problems present. It says that even when EBM goals include the reduction of fishing impacts on ecosystem health, MPAs will not be enough to answer the total impact of and tradeoffs among the full suite of benefits people want and need from our ocean ecosystems. In my opinion people shouldn’t need benefits from our oceans as this is wrong. According to the article, fishing is the dominant impact in many areas, but there are also many other factors to consider, including, climate change, land-based pollution and commercial shipping, that make huge impacts to the overall cumulative impact. This is very true as often it is the external factors that cause more damage. For instance, the BP oil spill caused incredible damage to the marine ecosystem in the gulf. This is something that cannot be planned for when determining MPAs. Of course MPAs will be a vital part of EBM efforts except on a small scale. However the article says that marine protected areas alone will rarely, if ever, be sufficient to achieve the range of inherent goals in comprehensive ecosystem-based management.
In my opinion, this article was well-written and very detailed. The ideas put forward were well discussed and allowed for debate. While there may have been slight confusion at the start of the article this was cleared towards the end. In my opinion, this topic is very current as climate change is affecting our oceans health and unless MPA planners can incorporate this into new marine reserves there will be negative outcomes in the future. I also like how the article explains that EBM can be the umbrella for a wide number of goals including some MPA goals but ultimately it will not encompass them all. Therefore it is concluded that MPA goals and EBM are similar yet different.

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