Ocean and coastal resources are increasingly recognized as critical to sustaining life and livelihoods across the globe. Seafood provide 4.3 billion people with 15-20% of their protein intake, and fisheries, aquaculture, recreation, tourism, and other coastal industries provide income that supports an estimated 660 to 820 million people (HLPE 2014). Many nations are seeing the ‘Blue Economy’ – or economic benefits derived from the ocean – as a viable pathway to economic development and poverty alleviation. Incorporating explicit environmental goals into this strategy, such as ending overfishing and restoring ecosystem health, enables economic progress by aligning short- and long-term outcomes, and reflects how an improved environment can also improve the economy. The current draft of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals considers Oceans and Coasts an economically and environmentally important area that can help to improve ecosystem health and socio-economic well-being of coastal communities, particularly in developing countries (Goal #14).
Over the past 15 years, new marine management schemes have emerged, supported by science and integrating physical, biological, and human dimensions of ecosystems (Pew Oceans Commission 2003, FAO 2003). This promising framework is known as a marine ecosystem approach to management and is increasingly considered to be
essential for sustainable marine development (e.g. Ruckelshaus et al. 2008, Curtin and Prellezo 2010). Here we will review the science behind an emerging marine ecosystem management approach – the implementation of paired secure-access fisheries and conservation areas – that integrates economic, social, and environmental health, the three pillars of sustainable development.
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