Seascapes (Conservation International)
In 2004, Conservation International developed a practical new approach to improve the management and governance of our ocean at ambitious scales.
Seascapes are initiatives which implement the principles of ecosystem-based management in large-scale marine systems, building partnerships to conserve marine ecosystems and strengthen human well-being.
Seascapes provide habitat for a rich abundance and diversity of marine life, and they provide homes, food sources and incomes for millions of people. Recoveries in threatened species, such as marine turtles, and ecosystems, including coral reefs, have consequential benefits for people who depend on marine ecosystems for their livelihoods, food, protection, recreation and more. Seascapes also provide a framework to address the complex impacts of climate change on the ocean and people.
Seascapes are large, multiple-use marine areas, defined scientifically and strategically, in which government authorities, private organizations and other stakeholders cooperate to conserve the diversity and abundance of marine life, with the ultimate goal of promoting human well-being. Seascapes develop sustainable, multi-level governance structures to enable issues to be addressed in the most effective way; for example, migratory-species conservation often requires transboundary responses, whereas small-scale coastal fisheries may be best managed through highly localized community models.
Each of the nine essential elements of the Seascape framework must be strong; if any element remains weak, the success of the others may be in jeopardy. Seascapes are built upon networks of marine protected areas (MPAs). It is critical to ensure that legal frameworks are in place to support the management and enforcement of these networks, appropriate science is employed to enable an ecosystem-based approach to selecting sites, and the private sector, the general public and politicians are engaged throughout the process. And ultimately, financing sources are needed to sustain each Seascape to achieve the necessary changes in ocean health.
The success of the Seascape approach relies on partnerships with locally based organizations, governments and communities. Above all, the approach is flexible; it has already been tailored to fit a variety of cultural contexts and at different scales.
The 9 Essential Elements of a Functional Seascape