In the Anthropocene, marine ecosystems are rapidly shifting to new ecological states. Achieving effective conservation of marine biodiversity has become a fast-moving target because of both global climate change and continuous shifts in marine policies.

The authors of this paper ask: How prepared are we to deal with this crisis? To answer this question the paper examined EU Member States Programs of Measures designed for the implementation of EU marine environmental policies, as well as recent European Marine Spatial Plans.

The authors highlight that climate change is rarely considered operationally and that monitoring programs in marine protected areas are often insufficient to clearly distinguish between impacts of local and global stressors.

The authors conclude that adaptive management is the way forward (e.g., preserving ecosystem functions in climate change hotspots, and identifying and targeting climate refugia areas for protection) using Marine Spatial Planning as a framework for action, especially given the push for Blue Growth*.

*Blue Growth is clearly reflected in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal no. 14 for 2030 that aims to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources”.

Rilov et al. (2019) A fast-moving target: achieving marine conservation goals under shifting climate and policies. Ecological Applications e02009. 10.1002/eap.2009.