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Policy and Practice Reviews ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Mar. Sci. | doi: 10.3389/fmars.2019.00639

Overhauling ocean spatial planning to improve marine megafauna conservation

  • 1University of Western Australia, Australia
  • 2Deakin University, Australia
  • 3Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, United Kingdom
  • 4Institute of Interdisciplinary Physics and Complex Systems (IFISC), Spain
  • 5Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Australia
  • 6Macquarie University, Australia
  • 7Centro de Investigação em Biodiversidade e Recursos Genéticos, Universidade de Évora, Portugal
  • 8University of Porto, Portugal
  • 9University of California, Santa Cruz, United States
  • 10South Australian Research and Development Institute, Australia
  • 11University of Tasmania, Australia
  • 12United States Geological Survey (USGS), United States
  • 13San Jose State University, United States
  • 14Independent researcher, Australia
  • 15Office of Naval Research, United Kingdom
  • 16King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Saudi Arabia

Tracking data have led to evidence-based conservation of marine megafauna, but a disconnect remains between the many thousands of individual animals that have been tracked and the use of these data in conservation and management actions. Furthermore, the focus of most conservation efforts is within Exclusive Economic Zones despite the ability of these species to move thousands of kilometres across multiple national jurisdictions. To assist the goal of the United Nations General Assembly’s recent effort to negotiate a global treaty to conserve biodiversity on the high seas, we propose the development of a new frontier in dynamic marine spatial management. We argue that a global approach combining tracked movements of marine megafauna and human activities at-sea, and using existing and emerging technologies (e.g., through new tracking devices and big data approaches) can be applied to deliver near real-time diagnostics on existing risks and threats to mitigate global risks for marine megafauna. With technology developments over the next decade expected to catalyse the potential to survey marine animals and human activities in ever more detail and at global scales, the development of dynamic predictive tools based on near real-time tracking and environmental data will become crucial to address increasing risks. Such global tools for dynamic spatial and temporal management will, however, require extensive synoptic data updates and will be dependent on a shift to a culture of data sharing and open access. We propose a global mechanism to store and make such data available in near real-time, enabling a holistic view of space use by marine megafauna and humans that would significantly accelerate efforts to mitigate impacts and improve conservation and management of marine megafauna.

Keywords: Areas Beyond Natioanl Jurisdiction, Global repository, Improved data sharing, Marine megafauna tracking data, Real-time management, global ocean conservation and policy

Received: 26 Jun 2019; Accepted: 30 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Sequeira, Hays, Sims, Eguíluz, Rodriguez, Heupel, Harcourt, Callich, Queiroz, Costa, Fernández-Gracia, C. Ferreira, Goldsworthy, Hindell, Lea, Meekan, Pagano, Shaffer, Reisser, Thums, Weise and Duarte. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Ana M. Sequeira, University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia, ana.sequeira@uwa.edu.au