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Processes for the sustainable stewardship of marine environments


Sustainable stewardship of the marine environment necessitates a holistic approach encompassing all the relevant drivers, activities and pressures causing problems for the natural state of the system and their impact on human societies today and in the future.

The paper 'Processes for the sustainable stewardship of marine environments' by Henrick Scharin, Sic Ericsdotter, Michael Elliott, R K Turner, Susa Niiranen, Thorsten Blenckner, Kari Hyytiainen, Lassi Ahlvik, Heini Ahtiainen, Janne Aretell, Linus Hasselstrom, Tore Soderrqvist and Johan Rockstrom, provides a framework as well as a decision support process and tool that could guide such an approach.

In this process, identifying costs and benefits of mitigation is a first step in deciding on measures and enabling instruments, which has to be accompanied by analyses regarding distributional effects (i.e. who gains or loses) related to different targets and policy instruments.

As there are risks of future irreversible regime shifts and even system collapses, the assessments have to be broadened to include scenarios on possible future developments as well as ethical considerations. In particular, a deeper sustainable management strategy may be needed to respond to possible future increases in the rate of environmental change, amongst growing evidence of external pressures, interactions and non-linear dynamics.

This adaptive management strategy should focus on building the resilience required to cope with and adapt to change.