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MEBM Resources

Below is a collection of resources that can assist community groups, policymakers and researchers in learning more about marine ecosystem-based management.

General Information and Online Tools

Data.Oceans.Gov is the U.S. National Ocean Council’s portal for data, information, and tools to support researchers and practitioners engaged in planning for the future of the ocean, coasts, and the Great Lakes. The site is designed as a one-stop hub to support planners and provide useful information to the public. The site contains useful marine datasets and links to marine ecosystem modeling tools including, ARIES, Atlantis Ecosystem Model, Coastal Resilience, Cumulative Impacts, Digital Coast, EBM Tools Network, EPA Metadata Editor, MIDAS, Marine InVEST, MarineMap, Marxan with Zones, MIMES, and the Multipurpose Marine Cadastre.
The Ecosystem-Based Management Tools Network provides online tools and information to help proponents start a MEBM initiative. The site contains questions for proponents to consider, and provides lists of tips and advice. One resource is a tool database that is searchable using criteria such as ecosystem types and expertise required. The tools are software programs that provide processes or models that could be applied to MEBM initiatives. The EBM Tools Network also provides an archive of webinars that provide instructions on how to use the EBM tools and resources and a specific list of tools and steps to assist with coastal and marine spatial planning. The EBM Tool Network is an alliance of more than 40 universities, advocacy organizations, foundations, and research institutions.
The SeaWeb Ecosystem-Based Management Communications Project provides information, tips and strategies to communicate the concepts and principles of MEBM to external parties. The Web site includes a section on starting a MEBM initiative and helpful suggestions on communicating goals, values and information to different audiences. The site also includes links to image libraries and interactive marine slides, as well as about 30 MEBM initiatives that SeaWeb considers exemplary. SeaWeb is a non-profit ocean conservation advocacy organization.
The United Nations Environment Programme provides an online introductory guide to conducting MEBM. The publication, “Taking Steps toward Marine and Coastal Ecosystem-Based Management” lays out a series of principles to guide management towards long-term sustainability of marine and coastal ecosystems. It contains three main sections: Making the case for EBM – Why and how is change necessary?; Examining the core elements of EBM; and Moving towards EBM: Visioning – Planning – Implementation. UNEP published the free guide to assist countries and communities in implementing marine and coastal ecosystem-based management.
The U.S. National Ocean Council’s web site provides the latest information about the implementation of the U.S. National Ocean Policy. The site contains guidance about the ecosystem-based management priority objective of National Ocean Policy as well as information on coastal and marine spatial planning.
The West Coast EBM Network provides a handbook called “Community-Based Management of Coastal Ecosystems: Highlights and Lesons of Success from the West Coast EBM Network.” The handbook provides lessons learned and describes how ecosystem-based management has been carried out at the community level in several West Coast communities.


Online Newsletters

Marine Ecosystems and Management is a bi-monthly online newsletter on marine ecosystem-based management. It is available online from the University of Washington. Current and back issues discuss a wide range of topics related to ecosystem-based management.
MPA News is an online newsletter on the planning and management of marine protected areas. It is published in association with the University of Washington. Current and back issues dating to 1999 are available online.



Additional Sources of Scientific Data and Tools

The NOAA Coastal Services Center – Digital Coast provides downloa dable software tools to classify habitat and assist in the design of marine protected areas. The site was developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and includes Web-based training modules with instructions on how to use the tools. Other products include guides to stakeholder engagement and meeting facilitation.
The Marine Ecoregions of the World (MEOW) project provides biogeographic classifications of the world's coasts. It is the first-ever comprehensive marine classification system with clearly defined boundaries and definitions. The online tool includes maps, shapefiles, and a user guide. The project was led by The Nature Conservancy (TNC) and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), with broad input from a working group representing key NGO, academic and intergovernmental conservation partners.
The Atlantis Ecosystem Model considers the biophysical, economic and social systems related to marine ecosystems. Originally focused on the biophysical world and fisheries, the model has been expanded to address the multiple-use of marine ecosystems and climate issues. Users register for free by contacting the developer, Dr. Beth Fulton at



Regional Data Sources

The MARCO Mapping and Planning Portal is an online tool that allows state, federal, and local decision-makers and the public to visualize, query, map, and analyze ocean and coastal data in the Mid-Atlantic region. The online portal contains a summary of the available data layers. The five member states of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean (MARCO) agreed to work together to develop the regional, web-based portal as part of their 2009 action plan. Funding was provided by the Virginia Coastal Zone Management Program. The portal was developed by a team of representatives from each of the Mid-Atlantic States, NOAA, and The Nature Conservancy.
The Northeast Ocean Data Portal provides decision support and information system for managers, planners, scientists and project proponents who are involved in coastal and marine spatial planning from the Gulf of Maine to Long Island Sound. The portal provides access to data, interactive maps, tools, and other information needed for decision making. Primary audiences are regional managers, ocean stakeholders, and technical staff participating in spatial planning, though the information would be useful in other ocean management contexts. The portal builds on existing efforts in the region and provides additional capacity for both state- and regional-level spatial planning.
The Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program intends to be the principal source of fisheries-dependent information on the Atlantic coast through the cooperation of all program partners in the collection and processing of common fisheries data, and dissemination of the information for purposes of fisheries science and management. Its Data Warehouse is an on-line database populated with fisheries-dependant data supplied by the program partners.


Resources for Marine Spatial Planning

Marine Planning is a Web site that discusses the use of marine spatial planning to support ecosystem-based management. It provides information on how to conduct marine spatial planning, examples from case studies, and downloadable decision-support software that governments or advocates could use to address multiple management objectives. It is supported by environmental organizations that include The Nature Conservancy.
Oregon Marine Map is a web-based decision support tool for open and participatory marine spatial planning. The primary goal is to provide resource managers, scientists, stakeholders, and the public with a way to conduct transparent and collaborative coastal and marine spatial planning. Oregon MarineMap provides users with the ability to visualize social, economic, and ecological attributes of coastal areas; spatially locate various uses and activities; generate reports that assess the application of certain uses according to pre-defined guidelines, ecological conditions and socio-economic factors; and share information and analytical results with other users. It is a project of the MarineMap Consortium, which is composed of developers at the University of California Santa Barbara, Ecotrust, and The Nature Conservancy.
Although geared to national-level projects, the UNESCO Marine Spatial Planning Initiative offers a concise explanation of marine spatial planning and links to examples from around the world. It also offers a step-by-step guide to launch an initiative.
The International Federation of Surveyors produced a report, “Spatial Planning in Coastal Regions: Facing the Impact of Climate Change” that offers problem-solving strategies for advocates and resource managers and lessons drawn from case studies.



EBM and Fisheries

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization maintains a Web site on its Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management that provides information on best practices and guidance on ecosystem-based management approaches for fisheries management. The site includes a description of principles and elements needed for a successful ecosystem approach for fisheries management. It also includes a list of relevant international agreements and frameworks, and links to several related documents. 



United Nations Environment Programme/Global Programme of Action for the Protection of the Marine Environment from Land-Based Activities (2006). Ecosystem-Based Management: Markers for Assessing Progress. The Hague, Netherlands.  link >>

U.S. Federal

Joint Ocean Commission Initiative (2006). From Sea to Shining Sea: Priorities for Ocean Policy Reform. Washington, DC.  link >>

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. 2004. New Priorities for the 21st Century: National Marine Fisheries Service Strategic Plan, Updated for FY 2005-FY 2010. U.S. Department of Commerce. Washington, DC.  link >>

Pew Oceans Commission. 2003. America’s Living Oceans: Charting a Course for Sea Change. A Report to the Nation. Arlington VA.  link >>

U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy. 2004. An Ocean Blueprint for the 21st Century. Final Report. Washington, DC.  link >>

U.S. State

California Department of Fish and Game. California Marine Life Protection Act Initiative. Website. Accessed 20 Sept. 2012.  link >>

Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (2009) Massachusetts Ocean Management Plan. Boston MA.  link >>

New York Ocean and Great Lakes Ecosystem Conservation Council. (2009) Our Waters, Our Communities, Our Future: Taking Bold Action Now to Achieve Long-term Sustainability of New York’s Ocean and Great Lakeslink >>


Representative Peer-Reviewed Publications and Books

Arkema, K.K., S.C. Abramson and B.M. Dewsbury. 2006. Marine ecosystem-based management: from characterization to implementation. Frontiers in Ecology 4(10):525-532.

Barnes, C. and K.W. McFadden (2008). Marine ecosystem approaches to management: Challenges and lessons in the United States. Marine Policy 3(323): 387-392.

Christensen, N.L., et al. 1996. The report of the Ecological Society of America committee on the scientific basis for ecosystem management. Ecological Applications 6:665-691.

Grumbine, R.E. 1994. What is ecosystem management? Conservation Biology 8(1):27-38.

Larkin, P.A. 1996. Concepts and issues in marine ecosystem management. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 6:139-164.

Leslie, H.M. and K.L. McLeod. 2007. Confronting the challenges of implementing marine ecosystem-based management. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 5(10):540-548.

Leslie, H.M. et al. (2008) Is a new mandate needed for marine ecosystem-based management? Frontiers in Ecology 6(1):43-48.

McLeod, K.L., et al. 2005. Scientific consensus statement on marine ecosystem-based management. Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea, Corvallis OR.

McLeod, K. L., and H. M. Leslie. 2009. Ecosystem-Based Management for the Oceans. Island Press, Washington, DC.

Murawski, S. A. (2007). Ten myths concerning ecosystem approaches to marine resource management. Marine Policy 31(6):681-690.

Ruckelshaus, M., et al. 2008. Marine ecosystem-based management in practice: scientific and governance challenges. BioScience 58(1):53-63.

Shelford, V.E. 1933. The preservation of natural biotic communities. Ecology 14(2):240-245.

Sherwood, K. 2011. Synthesis report for the ecosystem-based management for sustainable coastal-marine systems initiative.  The David and Lucile Packard Foundation. Los Altos CA.

Tallis, H., et al. 2010. The many faces of ecosystem-based management: Making the process work today in real places. Marine Policy 34:340-348.

Yaffee, S.L., et al. 1996.  Ecosystem Management in the United States: An Assessment of Current Experience.  Island Press. Covelo CA.

Yaffee, S.L. 1999. Three faces of ecosystem management. Conservation Biology 13:713-725.

Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management

Pikitch, E.K. et al. (2004). Ecosystem-based fishery management. Science 305(5682):346-347.

Pitcher, T.J. et al. (2009). An evaluation of progress in implementing ecosystem-based management of fisheries in 33 countries. Marine Policy 33(2):223-232.