M. L. Pinsky et al., 2020

World - Ocean Planning for Species on the Move Provides Substantial Benefits and Requires Few Trade-Offs

Societies increasingly use multisector ocean planning as a tool to mitigate conflicts over space in the sea, but such plans can be highly sensitive to species redistribution driven by climate change or other factors.

A key uncertainty is whether planning ahead for future species redistributions imposes high opportunity costs and sharp trade-offs against current ocean plans. Here, we use more than 10,000 projections for marine animals around North America to test the impact of climate-driven species redistributions on the ability of ocean plans to meet their goals. We show that planning for redistributions can substantially reduce exposure to risks from climate change with little additional area set aside and with few trade-offs against current ocean plan effectiveness. Networks of management areas are a key strategy. While climate change will severely disrupt many human activities, we find a strong benefit to proactively planning for long-term ocean change.


The coastal ocean is a crowded landscape that supports diverse and expanding human uses, from fishing and recreation to energy development, transportation, aquaculture, and conservation (13). Governance that historically focused on individual activities or species has often allowed substantial and negative cumulative impacts on ocean ecosystems, including the decline of coral reefs and the collapse of both fishery and non-fishery species (1, 4, 5). In addition, many ocean and coastal uses affect and conflict with each other, such as scenic views and wind turbines or conservation and fishing (2, 6). As a result, ecosystem-based management efforts to coordinate among marine activities have become common, often expressed as coastal and marine spatial planning or ocean planning (1, 2, 4, 7).

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