Marine spatial planning (MSP) processes seek to better manage ocean spaces by balancing ecological, social and economic objectives using public and participatory processes. To meet this challenge, MSP approaches and tools have evolved globally, from local to national scales. At two International Marine Conservation Congresses (2016 and 2018), MSP practitioners and researchers from diverse geographic, technical and socio-economic contexts met to share advances in practical approaches and spatial tools to achieve multi-objective MSP. Here we share the lessons learned and commonalities that emerged from studies conducted in Belize, Canada, South Africa, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and the United States on a number of topics related to advancing MSP. We identify seven important themes that we believe are broadly relevant to any multi-objective MSP process: (1) indigenous and local knowledge should inform planning goals and objectives; (2) transparent and evidence-based approaches can reduce user conflict; (3) simple ecosystem service models and scenarios can facilitate multi-objective planning; (4) trade-off analyses can help balance diverse objectives; (5) ecosystem services may assist planning for high value-data poor Blue Economy sectors; (6) game theoretic decision rules can help to deliver fair, equitable and win–win spatial allocation solutions; and (7) strategic mapping products can facilitate decision making amongst stakeholders from different sectors. Some of these themes are evident in MSP processes that have been completed in the previous decade, but the fast-evolving field of MSP is addressing increasingly more complex objectives, and practitioners need to respond with practical approaches and spatial tools that can address this complexity.
Manta ray watching tourism has become a popular tourist attraction over the past two decades, with a number of destinations offering different encounter experiences for tourists. This type of attraction has drawn worldwide attention because it can offer significant contributions to the local economy through snorkelling and diving services. Since its early development, a number of scientists have conducted research on the impacts of manta ray watching tourism, and have reported different findings regarding its sustainability. Based on published scientific articles, this study provides a literature review of manta ray watching tourism and examines the sustainability of its operation. This paper also highlights manta ray tourism hotspots in Indonesia including Nusa Penida, Komodo, and Raja Ampat as the study locations. Interviews with ten key persons including government officials, tourism operators, community, and non-governmental organization were conducted to collect and identify their perceptions. This study demonstrates different impacts of economy, ecology, and socialcultural aspects. Furthermore, different study areas apply different management approach in managing their tourist in terms of manta ray watching tourism operation. In conclusion, good governance, regulations/law enforcement, and collaborative management are significant factors to achieve sustainable manta ray watching tourism.
The objective of this study was to identify the main environmental covariates related to the abundance of 17 cetacean species/groups in the western North Atlantic Ocean based on generalized additive models, to establish a current habitat suitability baseline, and to estimate abundance that incorporates habitat characteristics. Habitat models were developed from dedicated sighting survey data collected by NOAA- Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers during July 2010 to August 2013. A group of 7 static physiographic characteristics and 9 dynamic environmental covariates were included in the models. For the small cetacean models, the explained deviance ranged from 16% to 69%. For the large whale models, the explained deviance ranged from 32% to 52.5%. Latitude, sea surface temperature, bottom temperature, primary productivity and distance to the coast were the most common covariates included and their individual contribution to the deviance explained ranged from 5.9% to 18.5%. The habitat-density models were used to produce seasonal average abundance estimates and habitat suitability maps that provided a good correspondence with observed sighting locations and historical sightings for each species in the study area. Thus, these models, maps and abundance estimates established a current habitat characterization of cetacean species in these waters and have the potential to be used to support management decisions and conservation measures in a marine spatial planning context.
Indonesia has more than 600s offshore oil and gas platforms spread in its territorial waters and of that amount, about 50 % were built around 1980s. Since the first generation platform was built almost half a century ago, decommissioning the offshore structures is something that has never been done before in Indonesia. The assets are now approaching their end of production and touching a point of minimum economic viability. Therefore, the dismantling of those structures is unavoidable issues in the near future. However, this process is not easy and presents many challenges, eg. status of assets, costs, etc. The current regulations have not been able to get the operators to dismantle and write off their assets so that many of them are left abandoned and endanger for the sea traffic for instance. There is a trend that these abandoned and idle offshore structures have now become "a fashionable donation" project from oil companies to coastal state to be re-used as artificial reefs or also known as Rigs-to-Reef (R2R). This study is attempting to improve the visibility of R2R as a potential decommissioning solution in Indonesia that provide good benefits not only for the environment but also for the coastal community while at the same time offer effective and efficient way out for oil and gas companies. The feasibility study of platform placement was done in the provincial marine conservation areas (Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Daerah, KKPD) in Bontang, East Kalimantan.
In recent years, coral reef degradation has been increasing. Management and conservation efforts have tended to focus only on the physical condition of the coral reefs with less attention to biological and oceanographic aspects, in particular genetics and hydrodynamics. Genetic data can illustrate the connectivity between and within populations of an organism, making it is possible to determine source and sink populations or sites. Studies of physical water movements can also illustrate the likely patterns of movement or predict the mobility of coral planulae. Both of these approaches can help to strengthen Marine Protected Area (MPA) design, especially at the formation stage, in particular MPAs focused on coral reef ecosystems. Together, these two approaches can provide data on biological networks in a region and help delineate stocks. The implications of such studies can help to identify conservation priorities and improve the effectiveness of management processes in Indonesia, and can certainly enable the refinement of general approaches to help produce management plans tailored to local and regional conditions and processes. This brief review aims to review the constraints that occur in the management process, including barriers to and potential benefits of integrating molecular and hydrodynamic data into the management and conservation process, as illustrated through a critical review of MPA implementation in the waters around Sulawesi Island.
The amphipod Hirondellea gigas inhabits the deepest regions of the oceans in extreme high-pressure conditions. However, the mechanisms by which this amphipod adapts to its high-pressure environment remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the elemental content of the exoskeleton of H. gigas specimens captured from the deepest points of the Mariana Trench. The H. gigas exoskeleton contained aluminum, as well as a major amount of calcium carbonate. Unlike other (accumulated) metals, aluminum was distributed on the surface of the exoskeleton. To investigate how H. gigas obtains aluminum, we conducted a metabolome analysis and found that gluconic acid/gluconolactone was capable of extracting metals from the sediment under the habitat conditions of H. gigas. The extracted aluminum ions are transformed into the gel state of aluminum hydroxide in alkaline seawater, and this gel covers the body to protect the amphipod. This aluminum gel is a good material for adaptation to such high-pressure environments.
The pelagic ecosystems of the Western Antarctic Peninsula are dynamic and changing rapidly in the face of sustained warming. There is already evidence that warming may be impacting the food web. Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is an ice-associated species that is both an important prey item and the target of the only commercial fishery operating in the region. The goal of this study is to develop a dynamic trophic model for the region that includes the impact of the sea-ice regime on krill and krill predators. Such a model may be helpful to fisheries managers as they develop new management strategies in the face of continued sea-ice loss. A mass balanced food-web model (Ecopath) and time dynamic simulations (Ecosim) were created. The Ecopath model includes eight currently monitored species as single species to facilitate its future development into a model that could be used for marine protected area planning in the region. The Ecosim model is calibrated for the years 1996–2012. The successful calibration represents an improvement over existing Ecopath models for the region. Simulations indicate that the role of sea ice is both central and complex. The simulations are only able to recreate observed biomass trends for the monitored species when metrics describing the sea-ice regime are used to force key predator-prey interactions, and to drive the biomasses of Antarctic krill and the fish species Gobionotothen gibberifrons. This model is ready to be used for exploring results from sea-ice scenarios or to be developed into a spatial model that informs discussions regarding the design of marine protected areas in the region.
Applying a proteomic approach for biomonitoring marine environments offers a useful tool for identifying organisms’ stress responses, with benthic filter-feeders being ideal candidates for this practice. Here, we investigated the proteomic profile of two solitary ascidians (Chordata, Ascidiacea): Microcosmus exasperatus, collected from five sites along the Mediterranean coast of Israel; and Polycarpa mytiligera collected from four sites along the Red Sea coast. 193 and 13 proteins in M. exasperatus and P. mytiligera, respectively, demonstrated a significant differential expression. Significant differences were found between the proteomes from the northern and the southern sites along both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts. Some of the significant proteins had previously been shown to be affected by environmental stressors, and thus have the potential to be further developed as biomarkers. Obtaining a proteomic profile of field-collected ascidians provides a useful tool for the early-detection of a stress response in ascidians worldwide.
Coral reefs cover approximately 0.10 to 0.25% of the marine environment, and yet are home to around 25% of marine species and support the livelihoods of more 500 million people. They face a wide range of threats, with the impact of global warming gaining most attention due to its frequently claimed causal link to coral bleaching. Here we review a decade of research into the micrometeorology of Heron Reef, a lagoonal platform coral reef in the southern Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Using novel pontoon mounted eddy covariance systems we show that often > 80% of net radiation is partitioned into heating the water overlying the reef, the reef benthos, and substrate. Significant spatial variability in energy and trace gas exchanges occurs over the reef in response to different geomorphic and hydrodynamic conditions. Synoptic weather patterns that bring light winds, clear skies and high humidity, result in reef scale meteorology that appears to have a greater influence on coral bleaching events than the background oceanic warming trend. The reef develops its own convective internal boundary layer, with potential to influence cloud development and therefore the surface energy balance. Knowledge of such local effects is lacking, so it is recommended that future research is needed into reef scale processes and how they interact with larger scale forcing.
Ship traffic in Northwestern European seas is intense and continuing to increase, posing a threat to vulnerable seabird species as a result of disturbance. However, information on species-specific effects of ship traffic on seabirds at sea is limited, and tools are needed to prioritize species and areas to support the integration of conservation needs in Marine Spatial Planning. In this study, we investigated the responses of 26 characteristic seabird species in the German North and Baltic Seas to experimental ship disturbance using large datasets collected as part of the seabirds at Sea counts. We developed a Disturbance Vulnerability Index (DVI) for ship traffic combining indicators for species’ shyness, escape costs, and compensatory potential, and analyzed the relationships among shyness, escape costs, and vulnerability. The DVI was calculated using the following eight indicators: escape distance, proportion of escaping birds, proportion of birds swimming prior to disturbance, wing loading, habitat use flexibility, biogeographic population size, adult survival rate, European threat and conservation status. Species-specific disturbance responses differed considerably, with common scoters (Melanitta nigra) and red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) showing the longest escape distances and highest proportions of escaping individuals. Red-throated loon, black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), Arctic loon (Gavia arctica), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), and red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) had the highest DVI values, and gulls and terns had the lowest. Contrary to theoretical considerations, shyness correlated positively with escape costs, with the shyest species also being the most vulnerable among the species studied. The strong reactions of several species to disturbance by ships suggest the need for areas with little or no disturbance in some marine protected areas, to act as a refuge for vulnerable species. This DVI can be used in combination with distribution data to identify the areas most vulnerable to disturbance.
The currently existing Biological Protection Areas (BPAs) are Italian conservation measures specifically oriented to preserve/recover commercial fish stocks through the regulation or ban of few fishing activities. Although BPAs have been well identified/designed within the Italian national waters, neither data on their effects on fishery resources nor on the fishers’ compliance with these no-take regulations are yet available.
In this context, the present study was aimed to investigate how AIS data processing could be used to map patterns in fishing activity within/around small regulated areas and rate the effectiveness of the conservation measures in place. To do this, it was impossible not to address the issue surrounding well-known and substantial gaps in data coverage and attempt an estimate of them by flagging events when AIS had been switched off within/around BPAs.
Results highlighted that almost all the BPAs are illegally trawled and that, unless additional legislation is effected to regulate the use of AIS by fishing vessels, it may provide a useful source of information to map fishing activities stated that the data are interpreted in an appropriate way.
The coastal zone of China contains extensive coastal wetlands but it is also one of the most densely populated areas. Rapid changes of land use pattern associated with socio-economic development in the coastal zone have had tremendous impacts on the health of coastal wetlands and their provision of ecological services. In this study, we used a landscape development intensity index and landscape stress index to evaluate the conservation efficacy of the coastal zone and coastal protected areas along the coastline of China from 1990 to 2015. We then analyzed the impact of population density and gross domestic product (GDP) on landscape development intensity. The results showed that landscape development intensity in coastal zone increased over the 25 year period, but the growth rate of landscape development intensity and landscape stress slowed between 2005 and 2015. Higher levels of landscape development intensity were widespread in the coastal zone of northern China compared with southern China, and the coastal zones of the Huanghai Sea and the Bohai Sea were the focus of coastal wetlands conservation in mainland China. A number of coastal protected areas, including 33 coastal national nature reserves and 67 national special marine reserves, have been established in mainland China, protecting 16.80% of the coastline. Coastal wetlands have been effectively protected to some extent by building these protected areas, with results showing lower landscape development intensity. The conservation efficacy of coastal wetlands as a whole was affected by population expansion and GDP, but the effects were not necessarily all negative. A higher population density or GDP did not necessarily lead to stronger landscape development intensity in local areas.
Improved understanding of human-nature interactions is crucial to conservation science and practice, but collecting relevant data remains challenging. Recently, social media have become an increasingly important source of information on human-nature interactions. However, the use of advanced methods for analysing social media is still limited, and social media data are not used to their full potential. In this article, we present available sources of social media data and approaches to mining and analysing these data for conservation science. Specifically, we (i) describe what kind of relevant information can be retrieved from social media platforms, (ii) provide a detailed overview of advanced methods for spatio-temporal, content and network analyses, (iii) exemplify the potential of these approaches for real-world conservation challenges, and (iv) discuss the limitations of social media data analysis in conservation science. Combined with other data sources and carefully considering the biases and ethical issues, social media data can provide a complementary and cost-efficient information source for addressing the grand challenges of biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene epoch.
Ecosystem services conceptualises the multiple interactions between ecosystems and the people and communities benefitting from their direct or indirect use, aiming to provide stakeholders and scientists with a common language. While some users appear to have adopted this language and terminology, there are concerns that the complexities associated with the concept make it inaccessible and, rather than providing stakeholders with a tool to explain complex relationships, the language and terminology itself may disengage. Through surveying UK-based coastal and marine stakeholders (n = 158), this study examines stakeholders’ perceptions of the concept of ecosystem services and its role and usefulness within the marine and coastal science-policy-practice interface. Overall, stakeholders provided favourable opinions, with findings similar across respondents with the exception of industry; which used it less, was less confident with it and believed it to be less important. The results provide an evidenced argument for the benefits of the ecosystem services approach, including communication, supporting management and linking environment to humans. The analysis also details the required advancements to ensure effective future use, including improved terminology, pluralistic valuation and shared learning. Finally, the paper highlights challenges and benefits relating to the term, creating links to ongoing discussions about effective scientific communication for marine and coastal management.
Ecological threshold is an important concept to indicate the boundary of alternate states of ecosystems driven by environmental conditions and to facilitate evaluation of ecosystem resilience. Sea-level rise (SLR) thresholds for the stability of salt marshes, if studied in two dimensions, are generally derived based on total areas without systematic accounting for spatial patterns related to edges, shapes, and contagions of patches. As these spatial patterns are potentially important for functions and ecosystem services of salt marshes and they are likely to be impacted by SLR in a different way from the total areas, it is necessary to study SLR thresholds based on these spatial patterns to obtain a more comprehensive understanding of salt marsh resilience to SLR. This research compares the SLR thresholds based on these spatial patterns of salt marshes to those based on total areas alone across different spatial resolutions.
The spatial patterns of salt marshes were quantified by 26 commonly used landscape metrics, predicted from a mechanistic wetland change model. At spatial resolutions of 2–100 m, SLR thresholds were first derived using individual landscape metrics and then the first principal component that explained >80% of total variance of these metrics showing threshold responses to SLR. In order to separate the effect of spatial configuration from composition, a neutral model which simulated the same amount of salt marsh change as the mechanistic model but at the random locations was applied. The SLR thresholds were derived based on the simulations from the neutral model and compared to those from the mechanistic model.
The results show that total area-based SLR thresholds do not comprehensively represent salt marshes’ resilience to SLR. Particularly, I find 1) the derived SLR thresholds vary from 7.29 to 11.12 mm/yr for 2100 based on landscape metrics used, 2) the SLR threshold based on the first principal components (7.99 mm/yr) is smaller than that based on the total area only (8.40 mm/yr), 3) the SLR thresholds are scale dependent, and 4) the spatial configuration’ effect on SLR thresholds is smaller for smaller salt marsh areas compared to larger salt marsh areas.
This study highlights the need to account for different spatial patterns of salt marshes and apply wetland maps with a spatial resolutions of 30 m or finer in deriving SLR thresholds, as using total areas alone or coarser-resolution maps may provide a biased interpretation that salt marshes are more resilient to SLR than they actually are.
Springing from research on the knowledge regimes that affect small-scale fishers and scientists who engage in fisheries governance, in the Azores Islands, Portugal, this article explores how knowledge and communication practices are related to our understandings of the ocean world. It uses diverse social sciences to reframe the marine ecological crisis and re-imagine a broad mix of world views co-existing. It discusses the limitations of the ontology and epistemology born from a hegemonic way of understanding The World, which grew out of the grand narrative of modernity and the colonial power that established Europe as the centre of World History, and condemned Nature to be merely resources whose sole purpose is to serve the dominant economic system. In contrast, Southern world views acknowledge the world's ontological multiplicity, showing us the relationality, hybridity and pluriverse of socio-ecological entanglements and imaginations. Drawing upon debates amongst contemporary critical scholars and activists from an environmental sociology and political ecology perspective, this article challenges normative Northern/Western sciences and how they influence the way researchers understand marine and maritime issues. It examines the implications of ontology on the current oceanic crisis focusing specifically in marine resource management and fisheries policy. Using a diverse source of social sciences it explores the dominant assumptions of the One-World world view and suggests a framework of empathy for diverse scientists and fishers to appreciate their commonalities to better work together across otherwise seemingly insurmountable differences in ways of knowing in order to imagine and create as of yet, unimagined, governance that will support the continual wellbeing of ocean ecosystems and coastal fishing communities.
Manmade antibiotics are emerging organic pollutants widely detected in the marine environment. In this study, 14 out of 19 target antibiotics were detected in corals collected from coastal and offshore regions in the South China Sea. The average total antibiotic concentrations (∑19ABs) in the two regions were similar: 28 ng/g for coastal corals and 31 ng/g for offshore corals, based on dry tissue weight (dw). Fluoroquinolones (FQs) were predominant antibiotics in the coastal corals (mean ∑FQs: 18 ng/g dw), while sulfonamides (SAs) predominated in the offshore corals (mean ∑SAs: 23 ng/g dw). However, corals living in coastal regions tend to excrete more mucus than corals in offshore habitat. We found 53% by average of ∑19ABs in the mucus of the coastal corals; while in offshore corals, most antibiotics (88% by average) were accumulated in the tissues. In addition, the tissue-mucus mass distribution differs among individual antibiotics. Sulfonamides were mainly accumulated in tissues while fluoroquinolones were present mainly in mucus. The results of this study suggest that mucus played an important role in the bioaccumulation of antibiotics by corals. It may resist the bioaccumulation of antibiotics by coral tissue, especially for the coastal corals. Additionally, corals were compared with other marine biotas in the study area and found to be more bioaccumulative towards antibiotics.
Concern about the condition of Philippine coral reefs has prompted a recent reassessment of the status of the nation's reefs, the results of which are reported here. This paper presents the largest updated dataset on Philippine coral cover and generic diversity. The dataset was obtained from equally-sized sampling stations on fore-reef slopes of fringing reefs in six biogeographic regions using identical methods. A total of 206 stations were surveyed from 2014 to 2017, and another 101 stations were monitored from 2015 to 2018.
The weighted average hard coral cover (HCC) was 22.8% (±1.2 SE) and coral generic diversity averaged 14.5 (±0.5 SE). Both were highest in the fully-formed reefs of the Sulu Sea biogeographic region and lowest in the eastern Philippines. Comparisons of findings with those of previous assessments show the continued decline in coral cover over a larger time scale, with the loss of about a third of the reef corals over the last decade. However, no consistent changes were evident in the 101 monitoring stations from 2015 to 2018 despite the global coral bleaching event. An expanded monitoring program, not just one-off assessments, is recommended to improve reef management in the Philippines.
Pollution of the world's oceans by marine debris has direct consequences for wildlife, with fragments of plastic <10 mm the most abundant buoyant litter in the ocean. Seabirds are susceptible to debris ingestion, commonly mistaking floating plastics for food. Studies have shown that half of petrel species regularly ingest anthropogenic waste. Despite the regularity of debris ingestion, no studies to date have quantified the dimensions of debris items ingested across petrel species ranging in size. We excised and measured 1694 rigid anthropogenic debris items from 348 petrel carcasses of 20 species. We found that although the size of items ingested by petrels scale positively with the size of the bird, 90% of all debris items ingested across species fall within a narrow “danger zone” range of 2–10 mm, overlapping with the most abundant oceanic debris size. We conclude that this globally profuse size range of marine plastics is an ingestion hazard to petrels.
Plastics is all the rage, and mitigating marine litter is topping the agenda for nations pushing issues such as ocean acidification, or even climate change, away from the public consciousness. We are personally directly affected by plastics and charismatic megafauna is dying from it, and it is something that appears to be doable. So, who cares about the issue of ocean acidification anymore? We all should. The challenge is dual in the fact that is both invisible to the naked eye and therefore not felt like a pressing issue to the public, thereby not reaching the top of the agenda of policy makers; but also that it is framed in the climate change narrative of fear - whereby it instills in a fight-or-flight response in the public, resulting in their avoidance of the issue because they feel they are unable to take action that have results. In this article, we argue that the effective global environmental governance of ocean acidification, though critical to address, mitigate against and adapt to, is hindered by the both this lack of perception of urgency in the general public, fueled by a lack of media coverage, as well as a fight-or-flight response resulting from fear. We compare this to the more media friendly and plastics problem that is tangible and manageable. We report on a media plots of plastics and ocean acidification coverage over time and argue that the issue needs to be detangled from climate change and framed as its own issue to reach the agenda at a global level, making it manageable to assess and even care about for policy makers and the public alike?