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The Interconnected Biosphere: Science at the Ocean’s Tipping Points

Author(s): Jane Lubchenco | Laura E. Petes

Journal: Oceanography
ISSN 1042-8275

Volume: 23;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 115;
Date: 2010;
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Keywords: ocean ecosystems | ecosystem-based management | stressors

Advances in social and natural sciences provide hope for new approaches to restore the bounty and resilience of ocean ecosystems. From new interdisciplinary approaches and conceptual frameworks, to new tools, such as catch shares, ecosystem-based management, marine spatial planning, and marine reserves, to new insights into strategies for adapting to the impacts of climate change and designing resilient and effective institutions, new knowledge is beginning to inform policies and practices. This decade is a pivotal one for the future of the ocean. The confluence of local, regional, and global changes in the ocean—driven by stressors, including nutrient pollution, habitat loss, overfishing, and climate change and ocean acidification—is rapidly transforming many once bountiful and resilient ocean ecosystems into depleted or disrupted systems. Degraded ecosystems cannot provide key ecosystem services, such as production of seafood, protection of coastlines from severe storms and tsunamis, capture of carbon, and provision of places for recreation. The accelerating pace of change presents daunting challenges for communities, businesses, nations, and the global community to make a transition toward more sustainable practices and policies. In this paper, we highlight new interdisciplinary approaches, tools, and insights that offer hope for recovering the bounty and beauty of the ocean and the ongoing benefits that they provide to people.

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