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The Time For Action Is Now

From May 30 - June 3, 2003, ocean experts convened in Los Cabos, Mexico for the Defying Ocean’s End Conference (DOE) to set a common global agenda for ocean conservation. The goal of Defying Ocean's End was to articulate a practical agenda for conserving life in the oceans, including the identification of specific priority interventions and determining the cost of implementing a broad strategy to reverse the general trend of declining ocean health. CI’s Global Marine Division is taking a lead for follow-on implementation of DOE’s recommendations and is working with a coalition of international and regional organizations to that end. For questions about the Defying Ocean's End Agenda for Action, please contact: Arlo H. Hemphill, or visit the Defying Ocean's End website.

Conservation International’s Marine Strategy
One of CI’s highest-priority goals for 2005-2010 is to establish protective management regimes in five key seascapes covering ocean ecosystems with the most species at risk, and initiate 20 new marine protected areas for marine wildlife and critical habitats. Expanding marine protected area networks is a central recommendation of the DOE conference and several additional international resolutions.

CI’s seascape strategy provides for comprehensive marine management at a scale that significantly advances current marine protected area management regimes. The vision includes enhancing the stewardship of the abundance and diversity of fish and other marine wildlife in the seascapes as well as using the experience and example of the seascapes to reinforce and improve the legal and policy authorities for marine conservation. Successfully addressing the global threats to marine biodiversity will require planning and implementing seascapes—significantly larger protection regimes that spread across regions and ecosystems, ensure sustainable resource use, and maintain the ecosystem services and functions upon which we depend. CI and other organizations are now developing large marine management areas to expand conservation and marine stewardship and investments at the national and international levels. This seascape concept enables us to work at a scale that best ensures we can protect marine species and secure other marine conservation outcomes. In addition, CI, in partnership with the World Conservation Union (IUCN), is now beginning to undertake a Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA), the results of which we will use to further identify and refine global marine conservation priorities.

Conservation International’s marine work focuses on a variety of habitats from coral reefs to deep sea ecosystems, and is engaged in issues such as marine protected area establishment and management, ocean governance, sustainable fisheries, integrated coastal and ecosystem based management, and environmental education and awareness. CI established the Global Marine Division (GMD) in its Washington, DC headquarters office to accelerate the organization’s efforts to prevent extinctions of marine species and protect their habitats. GMD is charged with facilitating and promoting CI’s marine work administered by the programs headquartered in Washington, DC, and by the regional offices, and provides a coordination lead in development of CI’s marine programs. In addition to working with the regional marine offices, GMD works closely with numerous other CI programs involved in marine activities, such as The Center for Environmental Leadership in Business (CELB), The Center for Conservation and Governance (CCG), The Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS), Communications, and the Regional Programs Division (RPD).

Advancing Science for Marine Managed Areas (MMA)
A major challenge facing conservation biology is to understand how protected areas can be created and managed to guarantee the continued provision of ecological services. Major questions remain as to the effectiveness of marine managed areas (MMAs), and there is a need for systematic observations and in situ experiments on various management regimes, the size, design and location of MMAs and MMA networks, and the ecology and behavior of species and habitats protected.

CI is advancing the study and application of MMA science within its Center for Applied Biodiversity Science (CABS) through a new MMA science initiative. The initiative will significantly increase the knowledge of the structure, dynamics and conservation needs of selected marine ecosystems and their human counterparts which contribute to the effective design, implementation and improvement of MMA management regimes. In addition, the MMA science initiative will greatly enhance infrastructure and training for researchers and practitioners to conduct and use MMA science, and increase the level of awareness among policymakers and other stakeholders that MMA regimes are addressing human welfare.

Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA)
CI and the World Conservation Union (IUCN) are launching the Global Marine Species Assessment (GMSA)—the first global, strategic review of the conservation status of marine species, including every marine vertebrate species and selected invertebrates and plants. CI and IUCN will engage a range of partners to compile and analyze, over a period of about three years, all existing information on the status of approximately 20,000 marine species and determine the relative risk of extinction for each according to IUCN Red List Categories and Criteria.

The data the GMSA collects on each species will be compiled in a database created for the GMSA as part of IUCN’s Species Information Service. This database will be freely available to the public and other researchers for reference and analysis. To the greatest extent possible, it will be compatible with existing databases on marine biodiversity to allow separately compiled information to be shared and compared.

By identifying the most vulnerable species, the threats, the needed conservation measures, and the most important sites for investment, the GMSA will provide clear priorities for action. The GMSA and resulting analyses will assist in advising and influencing policy makers and funders to invest in marine conservation. Most importantly, the GMSA will serve as the foundation for marine conservation planning, funding, and action for decades to come.

Marine Rapid Assessment Program (RAP)
A program based on CI's successful terrestrial biological survey protocol, Marine RAP's goal is to rapidly generate and disseminate information on coastal and near-shore shallow-water marine biodiversity. RAP surveys yield priority recommendations for conservation and also often result in discoveries of new species.

Marine RAP expeditions record the diversity of selected indicator groups of marine organisms, and analyze this information in tandem with social, environmental and other ecosystem information to produce appropriate and realistic conservation recommendations in a time frame suited to managers and decision-makers. Capacity building is achieved by having local scientists in the region take part in the survey. Previous surveys have focused on marine ecosystems in New Caledonia, Brazil, Madagascar, Indonesia, Philippines, and Papua New Guinea.

Resources and Links

CI Wide
Priority Area: Key Marine Regions
Strategy: Seascapes
Program: Sea Turtle Flagship Program
CABS: Marine Rapid Assessment Program
Web Site: CI Marine Portal
Web Site: Defying Ocean's End
Frontlines: Deep Sea Bottom Trawling
Frontlines: The Net Loss of Overfishing
Frontlines: Smooth Sailing Ahead for Cruise Industry
Frontlines: Kiribati Safeguards Entire Coral Archipelago
Frontlines: CI Backs Island Community's Conservation Efforts
Frontlines: Tsunami Survivors Replant, Rebuild, and Restore Frontlines: Troubled Waters
Frontlines: Island purchase helps safeguard Caribbean jewels
Frontlines: Earth's life support
Frontlines: A study in marine conservation challenge and reward
Frontlines: Ten Species on the Brink of Extinction
Frontlines: Corridor project links unique island worlds
Frontlines: McDonald's sets sights on marine environment
Frontlines: Restoring the "Aquarium of the World"
Frontlines: Q&A: The fisheries crisis
Frontlines: Caribbean depths home to biological treasures

On the Web
Deep Sea Conservation Coalition
The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWoT)

Publications & Downloads
Brochure: Seascapes: Globally Important Marine Ecosystems (PDF–661kb)
Book: Defying Ocean's End
Report: The State of the World's Sea Turtles (SWoT) (PDF–3.2mb)
Poster: Ten Most Threatened Sea Turtles in the World (PDF–705kb)


© Roger Steene
Tunicates, or sea squirts, are small marine animals that attach themselves to rocks and feed on plankton. These were found near the Calamian Islands, Philippines.

© Patricio Robles Gil/Sierra Madre/Minden Pictures
Blue-footed booby (Sula nebouxii) perched on rocks on San Pedro Mártir Island, Gulf of California, Mexico.

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Photo credits for banner images: (Greater Flamingos © Tui De Roy/Minden Pictures); (Diagonal-banded Sweetlips © Fred Bavendam/Minden Pictures);
(Madagascar Aloe © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hippo © Frans Lanting/Minden Pictures); (Hummingbird © Pete Oxford); (Malagasy Frog © Piotr Naskrecki/CI)