Sudden disruptions, or shocks, to food production can adversely impact access to and trade of food commodities. Seafood is the most traded food commodity and is globally important to human nutrition. The seafood production and trade system is exposed to a variety of disruptions including fishery collapses, natural disasters, oil spills, policy changes, and aquaculture disease outbreaks, aquafeed resource access and price spikes. The patterns and trends of these shocks to fisheries and aquaculture are poorly characterized and this limits the ability to generalize or predict responses to political, economic, and environmental changes. We applied a statistical shock detection approach to historic fisheries and aquaculture data to identify shocks over the period 1976–2011. A complementary case study approach was used to identify possible key social and political dynamics related to these shocks. The lack of a trend in the frequency or magnitude of the identified shocks and the range of identified causes suggest shocks are a common feature of these systems which occur due to a variety, and often multiple and simultaneous, causes. Shocks occurred most frequently in the Caribbean and Central America, the Middle East and North Africa, and South America, while the largest magnitude shocks occurred in Asia, Europe, and Africa. Shocks also occurred more frequently in aquaculture systems than in capture systems, particularly in recent years. In response to shocks, countries tend to increase imports and experience decreases in supply. The specific combination of changes in trade and supply are context specific, which is highlighted through four case studies. Historical examples of shocks considered in this study can inform policy for responding to shocks and identify potential risks and opportunities to build resilience in the global food system.
Biotic indices for monitoring marine ecosystems are mostly based on the analysis of benthic macroinvertebrate communities. Due to their high sensitivity to pollution and fast response to environmental changes, bacterial assemblages could complement the information provided by benthic metazoan communities as indicators of human-induced impacts, but so far, this biological component has not been well explored for this purpose. Here we performed 16S rRNA gene amplicon sequencing to analyze the bacterial assemblage composition of 51 estuarine and coastal stations characterized by different environmental conditions and human-derived pressures. Using the relative abundance of putative indicator bacterial taxa, we developed a biotic index that is significantly correlated with a sediment quality index calculated on the basis of organic and inorganic compound concentrations. This new index based on bacterial assemblage composition can be a sensitive tool for providing a fast environmental assessment and allow a more comprehensive integrative ecosystem approach for environmental management.
In response to the growing demand for unbiased answers and analysis on how deregulatory initiatives by the new Administration and Congress will impact environmental protection, governance, and the rule of law, the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) has released Regulatory Reform in the Trump Era. The report explains the legal mechanisms and processes that may get deployed, how they work, and the effect on the current regulatory landscape. It responds to the questions that are increasingly being asked of ELI: What are the pathways and impacts of regulatory reform efforts likely to be undertaken? What are the opportunities for the public and other stakeholders to engage relative to reform initiatives?
Continued growth of tourism has led to concerns about direct and indirect impacts on the ecology of coral reefs and ultimate sustainability of these environments under such pressure. This research assessed impacts of reef walking by tourists on a relatively pristine reef flat community associated with an ‘ecoresort’ on the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Heavily walked areas had lower abundances of live hard coral but greater amounts of dead coral and sediment. Abundances of macroalgae were not affected between sites. Coral-associated butterflyfish were less abundant and less diverse in more trampled sites. A manipulative experiment showed handling holothurians on reef walks had lasting negative impacts. This is the first study to show potential impacts of such handling on holothurians. Ecological impacts of reef walking are weighed against sociocultural benefits of a first hand experience in nature.
Anthropogenic debris results in detrimental interactions with many marine species. Several seabirds include debris items in their nests, which can lead to entanglement of chicks and adults, resulting in injury or death. Anthropogenic debris was found in 4–67% of kelp gull Larus dominicanus nests in seven colonies in the Western Cape, South Africa. Nests contained two types of litter: items included in the nest structure during construction (mainly ropes and straps), and regurgitated items (mainly bags and food wrappers) that probably accumulate primarily during the chick-rearing period. Debris used in nest construction was more likely to injure gulls, and was found mainly at coastal sites where there was little natural vegetation for construction. Distance to the nearest urban waste landfill significantly affected the occurrence of debris items in nests, especially dietary-derived items. The amount of debris in kelp gull nests highlights the need for improved debris management in South Africa.
In this study, spatiotemporal dynamics of macrofaunal assemblages and their associations with environmental conditions were examined in Jinhae Bay (10 sites), where the obvious sources of pollution including industries, oyster farms (hanging cultures), and municipal discharges has surrounded. The survey had performed over five consecutive seasons in 2013–2014. Target sedimentary variables included grain size, organic content, C/N ratio, carbon and nitrogen stable isotope ratios, and some heavy metals. Five ecological quality indices (EcoQ) were calculated from the benthic community data to evaluate ecological qualities in site-specific manner. Jinhae Bay is a shallow (depths range, 11–24 m) and typical semi-enclosed bay. The benthic environments represented mud dominated bottoms (>70%) with fairly substantial organic content levels (>2%) over all five seasons. Seasonal patterns were observed with peak abundances in the spring and distinctive macrozoobenthos species shifts in the summer. The spring bloom could be explained by drastic increases of some polychaetes, mainly Capitella sp., at certain site, particularly near the shore. The oyster farms situated in the innermost locations seem to provide organic-rich bottoms being dominated by opportunistic species and/or organic pollution indicator species, such as Lumbrineris longifolia, Capitella sp., and Paraprionospio patiens. In general, the EcoQ indicators indicated that Jinhae Bay was moderately polluted, with exceptionally poor EcoQ in a few locations during the specific season(s). Overall, adverse effects on benthic community was broadly attributable to contaminations of heavy metals and nearby aquatic farm activities in Jinhae Bay, which requires a prompt action toward ecosystem-based management practice in the given area.
Marine litter is a global concern with a range of problems associated to it, as recognised by the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Marine litter can impact organisms at different levels of biological organization and habitats in a number of ways namely: through entanglement in, or ingestion of, litter items by individuals, resulting in death and/or severe suffering; through chemical and microbial transfer; as a vector for transport of biota and by altering or modifying assemblages of species. Marine litter is a threat not only to marine species and ecosystems but also carries a risk to human health and has significant implications to human welfare, impacting negatively vital economic sectors such as tourism, fisheries, aquaculture or energy supply and bringing economic losses to individuals, enterprises and communities. This technical report aims to provide clear insight about the major negative impacts from marine litter by describing the mechanisms of harm. Further it provides reflexions about the evidence for harm from marine litter to biota comprising the underlying aspect of animal welfare while also considering the socioeconomic effects, including the influence of marine litter on ecosystem services. General conclusions highlight that understanding the risks and uncertainties with regard to the harm caused by marine litter is closely associated with the precautionary principle. The collected evidence in this report can be regarded as a supporting step to define harm and to provide an evidence base for the various actions needed to be implemented by decision-makers. This improved knowledge about the scale of the harmful effects of marine litter will further support EU Member States (MSs) and Regional Seas Conventions (RSCs) to implement their programme of measures, regional action plans and assessments.
Current debates about the efficacy of no-take marine reserves (MR) in protecting large pelagic fish such as tuna and sharks have usually not considered the evolutionary dimension of this issue, which emerges because the propensity to swim away from a given place, like any other biological trait, will probably vary in a heritable fashion among individuals. Here, based on spatially explicit simulations, we investigated whether selection to remain in MRs to avoid higher fishing mortality can lead to the evolution of more philopatric fish. Our simulations, which covered a range of life histories among tuna species (skipjack tuna vs. Atlantic bluefin tuna) and shark species (great white sharks vs. spiny dogfish), suggested that MRs were most effective at maintaining viable population sizes when movement distances were lowest. Decreased movement rate evolved following the establishment of marine reserves, and this evolution occurred more rapidly with higher fishing pressure. Evolutionary reductions in movement rate led to increases in within-reserve population sizes over the course of the 50 years following MR establishment, although this varied among life histories, with skipjack responding fastest and great white sharks slowest. Our results suggest the evolution of decreased movement can augment the efficacy of marine reserves, especially for species, such as skipjack tuna, with relatively short generation times. Even when movement rates did not evolve substantially over 50 years (e.g., given long generation times or little heritable variation), marine reserves were an effective tool for the conservation of fish populations when mean movement rates were low or MRs were large.
Currently little is known about the prevalence of plastics and microplastics (MPs) in the Persian Gulf. Five sampling stations were selected along the Strait of Hormuz (Iran) that exhibited different levels of industrialization and urbanization, and included a marine protected area. Debris was observed and sediments were collected for MPs extraction via fluidization/floatation methodology. The order of MP abundance (par/kg) generally reflected the level of anthropogenic activity: Bostanu (1258 ± 291) > Gorsozan (122 ± 23) > Khor-e-Yekshabeh (26 ± 6) > Suru (14 ± 4) > Khor-e-Azini (2 ± 1). Across all sites fibers dominated (83%, 11% film, 6% fragments). FT-IR analysis showed polyethylene (PE), nylon, and PET (polyethylene terephthalate) were the commonly recovered polymers. Likely sources include beach debris, discarded fishing gear, and urban and industrial outflows that contain fibers from clothes. This study provides a ‘snapshot’ of MP pollution and longitudinal studies are required to fully understand plastic contamination in the region.
This paper reviews the literature on marine conservation through the lens of inclusive development. Inclusive development requires ecological preservation, the promotion of human wellbeing, and empowerment of the weakest. However, the general literature on marine conservation and findings from Chile show that achieving inclusive development is challenging. This work aims to provide some key preliminary insights into the possible adoption of an inclusive development perspective in marine conservation policies and practices. Using the relational dimension of inclusive development as a specific lens, the paper focuses on the Chilean case, showing how institutional entrepreneurs that are embedded in social networks and the implementation of appropriate institutions for marine conservation can help to promote more inclusive development globally.
The southern subarea of the Caribbean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem encompasses most of the continental and island coasts of Venezuela, as well as Trinidad, Tobago, Bonaire, Curacao, Aruba and the northeastern continental coast of Colombia in the Caribbean. The subarea is the only area of the Caribbean Sea LME (CSLME) with an important upwelling process that determines its very high productivity, especially in the eastern region of Venezuela. It generates a big impact over the ecological conditions of the rest of the Caribbean Sea LME, mainly over the biological productivity. However, extreme changes of climatic conditions have weakened upwelling in several years during the last two decades, with severe consequences in the total fish production of Venezuela and the southern subarea of the Caribbean Sea Large Marine Ecosystem. The crisis of the sardine in Venezuela is perhaps the clearest example of it. Another contribution of the southern subarea of the Caribbean Sea LME is the high biodiversity of marine fauna and flora that appears in numerous coral reefs, seagrass meadows and mangroves in the region. Unfortunately, several factors threaten the health and population sizes of some taxonomic groups. The corals are among the most affected, with losses of significant live coral coverage at all the reefs of the southern subarea, similar to the rest of the Caribbean region. Even when the governance of the southern subarea of the Caribbean Sea LME has many environmental laws and institutions that are charged with applying these laws, the latter are not appropriately enforced. If this situation does not change, the sustainability of the southern subarea will be at risk.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being used globally to conserve marine resources. However, whether many MPAs are being effectively and equitably managed, and how MPA management influences substantive outcomes remain unknown. We developed a global database of management and fish population data (433 and 218 MPAs, respectively) to assess: MPA management processes; the effects of MPAs on fish populations; and relationships between management processes and ecological effects. Here we report that many MPAs failed to meet thresholds for effective and equitable management processes, with widespread shortfalls in staff and financial resources. Although 71% of MPAs positively influenced fish populations, these conservation impacts were highly variable. Staff and budget capacity were the strongest predictors of conservation impact: MPAs with adequate staff capacity had ecological effects 2.9 times greater than MPAs with inadequate capacity. Thus, continued global expansion of MPAs without adequate investment in human and financial capacity is likely to lead to sub-optimal conservation outcomes.
Little information is available about the bioaccumulation and biomagnification of antibiotics in marine food webs. Here, we investigate the levels and trophic transfer of 9 sulfonamide (SA), 5 fluoroquinolone (FQ), and 4 macrolide (ML) antibiotics, as well as trimethoprim in nine invertebrate and ten fish species collected from a marine food web in Laizhou Bay, North China in 2014 and 2015. All the antibiotics were detected in the marine organisms, with SAs and FQs being the most abundant antibiotics. Benthic fish accumulated more SAs than invertebrates and pelagic fish, while invertebrates exhibited higher FQ levels than fish. Generally, SAs and trimethoprim biomagnified in the food web, while the FQs and MLs were biodiluted. Trophic magnification factors (TMF) were 1.2–3.9 for SAs and trimethoprim, 0.3–1.0 for FQs and MLs. Limited biotransformation and relatively high assimilation efficiencies are the likely reasons for the biomagnification of SAs. The pH dependent distribution coefficients (log D) but not the lipophilicity (log KOW) of SAs and FQs had a significant correlation (r = 0.73; p < 0.05) with their TMFs. Although the calculated estimated daily intakes (EDI) for antibiotics suggest that consumption of seafood from Laizhou Bay is not associated with significant human health risks, this study provides important insights into the guidance of risk management of antibiotics.
This study provides toxicity values for early life stages (ELS) of two phylogenetically distinct marine animal taxa, the sea urchin (Paracentrotus lividus), a deuterostome invertebrate, and the turbot (Scophthalmus maximus), a vertebrate (teleost), when challenged by six hazardous and noxious substances (HNS): aniline, butyl acrylate, m-cresol, cyclohexylbenzene, hexane and trichloroethylene. The aim of the study was to provide preliminary information on toxic effects of representative and relevant priority HNS to assess the risk posed by spills to marine habitats and therefore improve preparedness and the response at the operational level. Selection criteria to include each compound in the study were (1) inclusion in the HASREP (2005) list; (2) presence on the priority list established by Neuparth et al. (2011); (3) paucity of toxicological data (TOXnet and ECOTOX) for marine organisms; (4) behaviour in the water according to the categories defined by the European Behaviour classification system (GESAMP 2002), by selecting compounds with different behaviours in water; and (5) physicochemical and toxicological properties, where available, in order to anticipate the most toxic compounds. Aniline and m-cresol were the most toxic compounds with no observed apical effect concentration (NOAEC) values for sea urchin ranging between 0.01 and 0.1 mg/L, followed by butyl acrylate and cyclohexylbenzene with NOAECs ranging between 0.1 and 1.0 mg/L and trichloroethylene with NOAEC values that were in the range between 1 and 10 mg/L, reflecting their behaviour in water, mostly vapour pressure, but also solubility and log Kow. Hexane was toxic only for turbot embryos, due to its neurotoxic effects, and not for sea urchin larvae, at concentrations in the range between 1 and 10 mg/L. The concentrations tested were of the same order of magnitude for both species, and it was observed that sea urchin embryos (length of the longest arm) are more sensitive than turbot eggs larvae (hatching and cumulative mortality rates) to the HNS tested (except hexane). For this specific compound, concentrations up to 70 mg/L were tested in sea urchin larvae and no effects were observed on the length of the larvae. Both tests were found to be complementary depending on behaviour in water and toxicity target of the compounds analysed.
Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.) is an important organism in coastal marine waters and is highly likely to encounter exposure to multiple stressors, both anthropogenic contaminants and natural stressors. Here, we exposed eelgrass to a range of Cu concentrations and salinities, and also varied exposure route between sediment and water. Measured endpoints were Cu accumulation in root and leaves, relative growth rate, leaf mortality, chlorophyll concentration, and maximum photosynthetic quantum yield. Cu accumulation from the sediment was translocated to all parts of the plant, while Cu taken up from the water showed a tendency to remain in leaves. Effects on relative growth rate and leaf mortality were found only following uptake of Cu from the sediment. We tested effects of different salinities, acting as multiple stressors, together with Cu, but found only weak effects with little interaction with Cu. Experiments with anthropogenic contaminants that marine plants are mainly exposed to through the sediment should be done using sediment exposure, as the common practice of using only water exposure will lead to underestimation of harmful effects. Future studies should take all relevant factors into consideration, as anthropogenic inputs and natural factors are prone to fluctuations due to e.g., climate change.
In the intertidal seagrass beds of Zostera noltii of Mira estuary (SW, Portugal) the harvesting practices are frequent. The traditional bivalve harvesting not only affects the target species as the remaining biological assemblages. The main aim of this study was to assess the disturbance caused by sediment digging in the recovery of the seagrass beds habitat, through an experimental fieldwork. The responses of the seagrass plant condition, the sediment microbial activity and the nematode assemblages were investigated after the digging activity in seagrass beds. A total of four experimental plots were randomly demarcated in situ, two plots were subjected to the disturbance - “Digging” - while other two were “Control”; the sampling occurred in five occasions, from May to October: T0–before digging; T1–14 days after digging; T2–45 days; T3–75 days; and T4–175 days. The environmental variables measured in the sediment and the photosynthetic efficiency (α) of the Z. noltii plants in each plot and sampling occasion registered similar values, throughout the experiment. The extracellular enzymatic activity (EEA) clearly presented a temporal pattern, although no significant differences were obtained between digging and control plots. Nematode assemblages registered high densities, revealing the absence of the digging effect: control plots maintained similar density and diversity throughout the experiment, while the density and diversity between digging plots was significantly different at T0 and T4; the trophic composition was similar for both control and digging plots, characterized mainly by non-selective deposit feeders (1B) and epigrowth feeders (2A).Organic matter, nitrate and mean grain size explain a significant amount of the variation in the nematode genera composition. This study demonstrated the capacity of the seagrass habitat to recover under low intensity physical disturbance associated to harvesting.
Guanabara Bay is characterized by predominant eutrophication and anoxic sediments with a mixture of pollutants. The risk prognosis associated with the dumping of its dredged sediments into the open ocean was addressed by our algorithm. Our algorithm could prioritize areas, characterize major processes related to dredging, measure the potential risk of sediments, and predict the effects of sediment mixing. The estimated risk of dredged sediment was > 10-fold than that of ocean sediments. Among metals, mercury represented 50–90% of the total risk. The transfer of dredged material into the ocean or internal dumping in the bay requires a 1:10 dilution to mitigate the risk and bring the risk levels close to that in the EPA criteria, below which there is less likelihood of adverse effects to the biota, and a 1:100 dilution to maintain the original characteristics of the ocean disposal control area. Our algorithm indicator can be used in the design of both aquatic and continental disposal of dredged materials and their management.
Society's dependence on fossil fuels to meet energy demands has resulted in an enormous release of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions into the atmosphere, thereby perpetuating global climate change. The consequences of climate change have prompted progressive governments such as British Columbia to establish legislative GHG emission reductions targets, which have lead to energy conscience municipalities within the province voluntarily committing to helping achieve such targets. Best practices examined from European municipalities share a common theme of renewable energy adoption and municipally-owned utilities. An emerging renewable energy technology are tidal current turbines (TCTs), which function to extract kinetic energy from the lateral movement of the tides in areas with considerable tidal velocities. This paper examines the history, physics, operational parameters, and plausible environmental impacts of TCTs in order to make a case for their sustainable implementation. The feasibility of the municipalities of North Pender Island, South Pender Island, and Saturna of the Southern Gulf Islands Region (SGIR), British Columbia, to help meet established GHG emissions reduction targets through the implementation of TCTs is analyzed, demonstrating that the deployment of 10 TCTs can produce 38,266,602 kWh/yr of electricity, mitigating 1138 t of CO2e, achieving 9.9% of the cumulative municipal GHG emissions mitigation targets. The paper then examines a case study in the Shetland Islands and Pentland Firth and Orkney Waters, Scotland, suggesting that jurisdictional regulatory powers over TCT installation and operation be devolved from the British Columbia government to the municipal governments of North Pender Island, South Pender Island, and Saturna, so that such communities can reap the benefits associated with a municipally-owned utility.
Oceanic top predators have ecological, social and economic value of global significance. These wide-ranging marine species, which include sharks, tunas and billfishes, marine mammals, turtles and seabirds, are the focus of international research attention under the Climate Impacts on Oceanic Top Predators (CLIOTOP) science programme, one of the Integrated Marine Biosphere Research (IMBeR) projects. Over more than a decade, research conducted under CLIOTOP has involved scientists from more than 30 countries, with international collaboration increasing markedly over time, and comparative analyses resulting in new knowledge and understanding of oceanic top predators. This special issue presents 27 papers arising from the 3rd CLIOTOP symposium, held in San Sebastián, Spain in September 2015, spanning topics such as conservation biology, trophic ecology, fisheries science, climate change, and adaptive management. The maturation and synthesis of CLIOTOP's collaborative research is now resulting in real-world management applications and improving understanding of potential ecological and socio-economic impacts of climate change in oceanic systems. The ultimate CLIOTOP goal of preparing both climate-sensitive predator populations and the human societies dependent on them for the impending impacts of climate change is now within reach.
Human activities are creating conservation challenges for cetaceans. Spatially explicit risk assessments can be used to address these challenges, but require species distribution data, which are limited for many cetacean species. This study explores methods to overcome this limitation. Blue whales (Balaenoptera musculus) are used as a case study because they are an example of a species that have well-defined habitat and are subject to anthropogenic threats.
Eastern Pacific Ocean, including the California Current (CC) and eastern tropical Pacific (ETP), and northern Indian Ocean (NIO).
We used 12 years of survey data (377 blue whale sightings and c. 225,400 km of effort) collected in the CC and ETP to assess the transferability of blue whale habitat models. We used the models built with CC and ETP data to create predictions of blue whale distributions in the data-poor NIO because key aspects of blue whale ecology are expected to be similar in these ecosystems.
We found that the ecosystem-specific blue whale models performed well in their respective ecosystems, but were not transferable. For example, models built with CC data could accurately predict distributions in the CC, but could not accurately predict distributions in the ETP. However, the accuracy of models built with combined CC and ETP data was similar to the accuracy of the ecosystem-specific models in both ecosystems. Our predictions of blue whale habitat in the NIO from the models built with combined CC and ETP data compare favourably to hypotheses about NIO blue whale distributions, provide new insights into blue whale habitat, and can be used to prioritize research and monitoring efforts.
Predicting cetacean distributions in data-poor ecosystems using habitat models built with data from multiple ecosystems is potentially a powerful marine conservation tool and should be examined for other species and regions.