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Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) Maintained by IOC  
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Global distribution of Large Marine Ecosystems
Photo title: Global distribution of Large Marine Ecosystems
Photo credit: NOAA
Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are regions of ocean and coastal space that encompass river basins and estuaries and extend out to the seaward boundary of continental shelves and the seaward margins of coastal current systems. As their name states, LMEs are relatively large regions that have been delineated according to continuities in their physical and biological characteristics, including inter alia : bathymetry, hydrography, productivity and trophically dependent populations. The LME as an organizational unit facilitates management and governance strategies that recognize the ecosystem's numerous biological and physical elements and the complex dynamics that exist amongst and between them.
 
Presently, the health of many of the 64 LMEs is at risk primarily as a result of pollution, over-fishing, habitat modification and habitat destruction. The consequences of these threats on ecosystem function and health, as well as the corresponding consequences to the global human population, is not known in empirical terms (ecosystem dynamics are non-linear, often with causes and effects separated by a variable time lag). However, the importance of marine and coastal area resources is undeniably substantial, thus mitigating the negative impacts of these threats and adopting management practices that sustain ecosystem function and health has become an international priority.
 
The international community is very concerned with the deteriorating conditions of coastal ecosystems. As a result of follow-up actions to United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) declarations in 1992 on the declining state of global coastal ocean areas, an important corner has been turned toward a focused global effort to improve and sustain coastal ecosystems. With the initiation in 2001 of the Benguela Current, Yellow Sea, Baltic Sea, and Guinea Current Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) projects , 30 countries across the globe in Asia, Africa, and eastern Europe have made ministerial level commitments to ecosystem-based assessment and management practices in support of the global objectives of Chapter 17 of Agenda 21. Among the specific project objectives are: (1) the recovery of depleted fish biomass and fisheries to promote greater food security, sustainable productivity and socioeconomic benefits; (2) reduction in pollution and eutrophication levels of coastal waters; and (3) restoration of degraded habitats including corals, mangroves, and wetlands. The biomass recovery and restoration activities encompass whole marine ecosystems. An additional 20 countries are preparing proposals to improve global coastal health and restore depleted biomass yields in west Africa (Canary Current LME), east Africa (Somali Current and Agulhas Current LMEs), Asia (Bay of Bengal LME), and Latin America (Caribbean LME and Gulf of Mexico LME, Humboldt Current LME, and the Pacific Central American Coastal LME). This coastal ocean restoration and sustainability approach is based on a 5-module assessment and management methodology. The modules are science-based and country driven; they include considerations of ecosystem: (1) productivity, (2) fish and fisheries, (3) pollution and ecosystem health, (4) socioeconomics, and (5) governance. (Figure 2). This approach is engaging ministries across traditional sectors (e.g. Environment, Fisheries, Energy, Tourism, and Finance).
 
Large Marine Ecosystems Information Resources
 
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Large Marine Ecosystems
Photo title: Large Marine Ecosystems
Photo credit: US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
 
 
 
 
All  (16) News   (4) Websites   (4) Documents   (2) Books   (2) Multimedia   (2) Projects   (1) Institutional Contact   (1)
 All
 
News
Websites
IOC webpage devoted to an examination of modern ocean and coastal issues Fisheries and Ecosystems IOC webpage devoted to an examination of modern ocean and coastal issues...  
IOC webpage devoted to the examination of modern coastal and ocean issues Marine Environmental Protection IOC webpage devoted to the examination of modern coastal and ocean issues...  
NOAA website on current actions and status of the world's LME's NOAA and the World Summit : Large Marine Ecosystems NOAA website on current actions and status of the world's LME's 
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in the region. Northeast Fisheries Science Center The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in...  
Documents
Review of the socio-economic literature dedicated to various aspects of marine protected areas Economic analysis of marine protected areas. A literature review Review of the socio-economic literature dedicated to various aspects of marine ...  
Fisheries harvest related to large marine ecosystems Trends in Oceanic Captures and Clustering of Large Marine Ecosystems ...re Database Fisheries harvest related to large marine ecosystems 
Books
Textbook for students and professionals Ecology of Coastal Waters. With Implications for Management Textbook for students and professionals 
Human Dimensions, Market Economies and the Sustainability of LMEs Sustaining Large Marine Ecosystems: The Human Dimension Human Dimensions, Market Economies and the Sustainability of LMEs 
Multimedia
What it's like in the world's most extreme environment Discover Antarctica What it's like in the world's most extreme environment Editor's Choice
A 25 minute documentary film, directed by Francois Odendaal Productions for GEF IW:LEARN, available as DVD and on Google videos. Turning the Tide. Sustaining Earth's Large Marine Ecosystems A 25 minute documentary film, directed by Francois Odendaal Productions for GEF...  
Projects
Regional, national and international technical assistance for ecosystem approaches to management Large Marine Ecosystem Program Regional, national and international technical assistance for ecosystem approac...  
Institutional Contact
The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in the region. Narragansett Laboratory, NOAA Fisheries The Northeast Fisheries Science Center is the research arm of NOAA Fisheries in...  
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