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Large Marine Ecosystems: Assessment and Management

University of Cape Town via Coursera


Focusing on the Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) of the world, this course will introduce the concept and practice of ecosystem-based management. LMEs occupy areas of coastal ocean at least 200 000 km² or greater in size. These coastal waters produce 12.6 trillion USD in ecosystem goods and services annually and are vitally important for billions of people around the globe.

Because LMEs are bounded by ocean features and are globally linked, management of human activities needs to occur in an integrated fashion across political boundaries and economic sectors (e.g. fishing, shipping, energy, tourism, and mining.) This represents a new type of management approached - shifting from single sector-based to multi-sector assessment and management within the spatial domain of the world's 66 Large Marine Ecosystems. There is global high-level support for this new approach and in this course, we will introduce the concepts and tools for assessing and managing LMEs.

Together, leaders and experts in a global movement to recover and sustain the goods and services of LMEs will introduce you to the mechanisms used for assessment (Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis), planning and implementation (Strategic Action Programme). Based on recent activities in implementation and practice of the LME approach in 22 projects around the globe, we will showcase examples of effective management at this scale, and highlight the challenges and issues. By the end of the online course, we hope you will be able to actively use this knowledge to advance sustainable development of the world’s oceans.

The course was created with the support and input of: the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), UNESCO-IOC and IW:LEARN.


  • What is the Large Marine Ecosystem Approach?
    • Introducing the Large Marine Ecosystem approach, ecosystem based management principles, and the five modules. There are three topics covered in this first week - ecosystem-based management, the concept of Large Marine Ecosystems, and the 5-module approach to assessment and management. As well as my lectures, there are also summaries of some key readings and links to other resources. We've included practice quizzes to help you recap and test your understanding of the key concepts as we move through the lessons. There is one graded quiz at the end of the week, which carries marks - but you may take the quiz more than once. At the end of this week, and all the other weeks, Dr Kenneth Sherman will share his insights about the topics we have covered.
  • The Three Natural Science Modules
    • In this week, we deal with the three natural science modules within the five module approach.
  • The Two Human Dimension Modules
    • We move onto the two human dimensions of the five module approach.
  • Tools and Actions: the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis and the Strategic Action Programme
    • This is the heart of the course - delving into the Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and Strategic Action Programme (SAP).
  • Transboundary Marine Ecosystem-Based Management
    • This week we move into the application of the approaches and the tools we have been discussing - with a description of how LME projects are implemented - focusing on marine ecosystem-based management (EBM).
  • Taking it Home: Examples of Best Practice
    • We have included a number of case studies of LMEs, inviting marine ecosystem managers and scientists from across our network to describe their work in implementing EBM.

Taught by

Coleen Moloney


4.8 rating at Coursera based on 255 ratings

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