People and ecosystems

Understanding of the links between coral reef ecosystems, the goods and services they provide to people, and the wellbeing of human societies.


Ecosystem dynamics: past, present and future

Examining the multi-scale dynamics of reefs, from population dynamics to macroevolution


Responding to a changing world

Advancing the fundamental understanding of the key processes underpinning reef resilience.

Coral Bleaching

Coral Bleaching

Coral Reef Studies

From 2005 to 2022, the main node of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies was headquartered at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland (Australia)

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Ecosystem-based management in Norway: Pioneering implementation of regional-scale marine spatial planning


Thursday 23rd of July 2015 – 16:00 to 17:00 hrs

Building 19 (Kevin Stark Research Building) Room #106 (upstairs), JCU, Townsville
Dr Erik Olsen
Dr Erik Olsen


Abstract: Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is seen as a practical way to implement marine ecosystem-based management. Development varies globally, with Europe and Australia in the lead. The U.S. is lacking integration between legislation and executive levels and is lagging behind in development, but some regions, e.g. the Northeast and the Pacific states, are forging ahead with regional planning efforts. Research projects and UN institutions like UNESCO have developed guidance both to develop the science base for MSP and plan development. Norway was an early implementer of MSP, with integrated management plans in place since 2006. Three regional plans have been implemented in Norway, two of which have been revised. The Norwegian experiences will be discussed in relation to international developments of both the science base and governance of MSP processes.

Bio: Erik Olsen is a principal scientist at the Institute of Marine Research, in Bergen, Norway, where he has been working since 1999. Born in Sweden to Norwegian and Swedish parents who worked extensively in developing countries Erik grew up and was educated in Bergen, Norway. He studied at the University of Bergen where he received a BSc in biology (1995), MSc in fisheries biology (1997) and a PhD in fisheries biology in (2002). Since completing his PhD Erik has worked as a scientist at the Institute of Marine Research primarily on issues related to ecosystem-based monitoring, assessment and management. He has developed and lead the implementation of ecosystem surveys in the Barents sea jointly with the Russian scientists from PINRO, as well as transferring the concepts to developing nations like Mozambique and Sudan through surveys and development programs.

Erik was deeply involved in the development and groundwork for implementing the Norwegian Integrated Management plans, first for the Barents sea, then the Norwegian sea and finally the North Sea. This groundbreaking work in implementing ecosystem-based marine spatial planning has caught worldwide attention and Erik has been an invited speaker to present the Norwegian planning efforts and its scientific base at both scientific and government meetings (e.g. the United Nations). From 2009-2013 Erik was elected chair of the ICES Science Committee Steering Group on Human Interactions on the Ecosystem. He has chaired several workshops on Marine Spatial Planning as well as being a reviewer and counselor on these issues.

Erik is currently on his way home to Norway after being seconded to NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, as a visiting scientist. He is now in Australia to continued his research on developing the science base, tools and methods for ecosystem-based management and marine spatial planning. Key study areas are the use of quantitative tools like the Atlantis ecosystem model, as well as analyzing how ecosystem-based governance varies globally. Understanding the interactions between the socio-cultural-economic system on one hand and the ecological science needed to support sound management is at the core of his current research.


Australian Research Council Pandora

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