EBSA experience in British Columbia
In my experience, one of the key elements of a successful process is transparency. The systematic conservation planning approach, with its explicit goals and objectives, works well to ensure transparency (Margules & Pressey 2000).
I was a participant at a review meeting (2007) of the process to identify EBSAs in British Columbia, Canada. If my memory serves me right, Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) used a delphic process (interviews with experts) to identify areas of importance for key species and their life histories. The result was that all of the British Columbia coast was identified as important. They called these Important Areas (IAs). To identify EBSAs from these, the focus shifted to identifying physical features: oceanographic features that concentrate marine productivity, bottleneck areas where congestion occurs, and unique places (i.e., the hexactinellid sponge reefs). Many of the experts (many DFO scientists amongst them) who were interviewed in the Delphic process were present at the review meeting. My recollection of the gist of the conversation was there was a general and strong discontent at the EBSA results, and process used to identify them. The scientists at the meeting did not feel that the species-specific information was reflected sufficiently in the results, thought the physical features focused on were arbitrary, and did not think that the process was transparent. I do not believe any that the EBSA report changed to reflect these critiques. Please note that this meeting was held more than two years ago, that I was not involved in the EBSA process beyond attending the meeting, and hence my recollection of the event and critiques may not reflect the impression of others at the meeting.
Margules, C. R., and R. L. Pressey. 2000. Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405:243-253.
posted on 2009-06-26 01:39 UTC by Dr Natalie Ban, James Cook University