Report | March, 2011
Important Ecological Areas in the Ocean
We urgently need a practical approach to preserve the health, biodiversity and resilience of marine ecosystems. Left unconstrained, the thermal and acidifying effects of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere combined with extractive uses, development, pollution, and other anthropogenic impacts on the marine environment will dramatically accelerate extinction rates in the world’s oceans and the irreversible loss of valuable ecosystem services. We explicitly embrace a strategic approach to protecting the health of our coasts and oceans and reducing activities that are incompatible with ecosystem protection, all the while maintaining and promoting present and future economic benefits.
This strategic approach combines the rigors of the western scientific process with the vast storehouse of local and traditional knowledge, with an emphasis on understanding and integrating the knowledge base of indigenous communities that have observed and managed their ocean resources since time immemorial. This holistic, iterative approach is necessary to ensure we have vibrant coastal communities for this and future generations. Our approach leverages science, law, policy and the public to identify and protect Important Ecological Areas (IEAs).