In partnership with the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation and the Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, the Lenfest Ocean Program is supporting Marine Biodiversity Dialogues II, an expert task force led by Dr. J. Emmett Duffy, Smithsonian Institution, Gabrielle Canonico, U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System and the U.S. Marine Biodiversity Observation Network, NOAA, and Dr. Steven Scyphers, University of South Alabama, to explore and synthesize how diverse marine species and habitats in U.S. wters work together to support ecosystem function and resilience.
Why Manage for Marine Biodiversity?
In the U.S., America the Beautiful calls for a voluntary goal of conserving at least 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030. Further, several mandates exist to conserve or recover marine resources (e.g., Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Act, Marine Mammal Protection Act, Endangered Species Act). However, there is no explicit mandate to protect the diversity of species and habitats, making it challenging to develop measures that consider the dynamic nature and interconnectedness of marine systems.
In Marine Biodiversity Dialogues I, an international task force created an assessment framework to map the location of marine habitats and species both inside and outside U.S. protected areas. The new task force will operationalize the framework, working with communities to understand the varieties and abundances of species and habitats in specific regions, and how they interact to affect the broader ecosystem’s structure and resilience to ocean changes. Such information can strengthen our ability to define spatial protections and other actions that effectively conserve the key components of marine biodiversity that buttress ecosystem health, and by extension the ecosystem services that benefit people.