The astounding array of biodiversity in our oceans and the habitats that support it is at the heart of ecosystem health, sustaining a range of essential services from shoreline protection to commercial and recreational fishing, carbon sequestration, and more. The Lenfest Ocean Program and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation are supporting an international team of experts led by Dr. J. Emmett Duffy, Smithsonian Institution, and Dr. Daniel Dunn, University of Queensland, to:
- develop a framework to assess the abundance and distribution of marine biodiversity; and
- apply it to U.S. waters from the near coast to the borders of Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
Why the Marine Biodiversity Assessment Framework?
In the United States, America the Beautiful calls for a voluntary goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. To make this effort truly effective requires a series of marine protected areas (MPA) that are more than the sum of their parts, considering not just one species or habitat type, but rather the dynamic nature and interconnectedness of marine systems.
Drs. Duffy and Dunn have convened two expert teams to develop the framework, providing the basis by which managers and communities can ground regional and local actions in an EEZ-wide knowledge of marine biodiversity distribution. It can inform not only the strategic expansion of protected areas, but also a host of existing mandates from the National Marine Sanctuaries Act to the Endangered Species Act.