Comparative Ocean Governance
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Comparative Ocean Governance

Place-Based Protections in an Era of Climate Change

Robin Kundis Craig

Comparative Ocean Governance examines the world’s attempts to improve ocean governance through place-based management – marine protected areas, ocean zoning, marine spatial planning – and evaluates this growing trend in light of the advent of climate change and its impacts on the seas.
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Chapter 8: Making Marine Spatial Planning Climate Change Dynamic

Robin Kundis Craig


If the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument’s contributions to climate change adaptation are so far largely accidental, as Chapter 6 discussed, then the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park presents a place-based governance system that has consciously incorporated climate change adaptation considerations and expanded actions on those considerations to land-based pollution. Moreover, as Chapter 7 discussed, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority has demonstrated that zoning plans can both change—although the re-zoning process took almost a decade— and incorporate flexibility for interim responses, as in the park’s Special Management Areas. Nevertheless, both the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Great Barrier Reef Marine Park have themselves largely remained stationary: The outer boundaries of these two-place based management regimes have been adjusted but not fundamentally moved. Admittedly, such stasis in place-based marine management is unlikely to become a significant problem for coral reef ecosystem governance even in the climate change era, because corals grow fairly slowly, generally in the range of centimeters per year. Indeed, coral growth on the Great Barrier Reef may be slowing.1 However, other ocean places are far more dynamic than coral reefs. For example, many species of kelp grow extremely fast. Indeed, “[r]apid growth by giant kelp allows it to dominate nearshore habitats quickly. Kelp can also quickly recover from adverse environmental conditions (e.g., high wave action in winter, El Niño events).”2 As climate change alters ocean conditions and kelp forests move in response, the boundaries for ecosystem management regimes will...

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