Bridging the Large Marine Ecosystem Governance Gap

The goal of this project (ended 9/1/2006) was for CRC and its partners to connect local ICM initiatives to the larger marine ecosystems within which they’re nested. The Bridging LME Governance Gap attempted to provide research and global discussions for catalyzing action on this important issue. Global attempts to address trans-boundary marine issues have used the Large Marine Ecosystems (LME) framework to spearhead international efforts.

Large Marine Ecosystems are areas of the oceans characterized by distinct bathymetry, hyrodgraphy, productivity and trophic interactions. They annually produce 95 percent of the world’s fish catch. They are national and regional focal areas of a global effort to reduce the degradation of coastal resources and environments from pollution, habitat loss and overfishing. 68 LMEs have been identified around the world (NOAA).

Examples of LMEs include semi-enclosed seas such as the Gulf of Mexico, Baltic Sea and the Sea of Japan. Open ocean currents include the Humboldt Current (W South America), The Benguela Current (SW Africa) and the California Current (W North America).

Although LMEs operate at a scale larger than watershed or most national coastal programs, they share the core ICM principles, processes, skills and issues. LMEs complete the nested system of coastal management by adding the regional dimension to existing national and local ICM efforts. The greatest gap in the realization of effectively managed and self-financed LMEs are the governance and socio-economic elements. This project addressed this gap in three distinct phases:

  1. Analysis of current LME governance and socioeconomic practices
  2. Workshops for leaders to refine LME Governance concepts and tools
  3. Online discussion forums to allow broader dialogue of LME Governance

With funding from the Global Environment Facility’s International Waters Programme, CRC lead a team from URI’s College of Environment and Life Sciences and NOAA to implement the project.