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Conservation planning in spatially and temporally dynamic marine environments

Grantham, H.S., Game, E.T., Lombard, A.T., Hobday, A.J., Richardson, A.J., Beckley, L.E., Pressey, R.L., van der Lingen, C.D., Peterson, S.L., Huggett, J.A., Coetzee, J.C., Merkle, D., Alpine, J.E. and Possingham, H.P. (2008) Conservation planning in spatially and temporally dynamic marine environments. In: Australian Protected Areas Congress, Protected areas in the century of change, 24 - 28 November, 2008, Twin Waters, Queensland.

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Pelagic ecosystems provide a significant and vital component of the ocean’s productivity and biodiversity. They are also heavily exploited and are currently the focus of numerous ecosystem-based management exercises. Over the past ten years there has been increasing enthusiasm for marine protected areas (MPAs) as a tool for pelagic conservation. However, there remains almost a complete absence of systematic conservation planning in the pelagic realm, both within exclusive economic zones and the high seas. Here we demonstrate the use of a decision support system to guide the implementation of MPAs that consider the physical and biological dynamics typical of the pelagic realm, and propose a method for integrative planning for pelagic and benthic conservation in the Southern Benguela ecosystem. Our approach was to maximize the representation of threatened species and key fisheries species within MPAs closed to fishing. In addition to representation, we consider MPA design to address the dynamics of the system using time series data of key oceanographic characteristics and abundance of small pelagic fish. We also discuss problems associated with offshore conservation, where the features of interest are ephemeral and dynamic. Our approach explicitly involves stakeholders and we incorporate socio-economic data into decision support tools.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Environmental Science
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