The decline of the Great Barrier Reef can be reversed by improvements to governance and management: current policies that promote fossil fuels and economic development of the Reef region need to be reformed to prioritize long-term protection from climate change and other stressors.
In this essay, I review six decades of my career in marine science and fisheries, considering the ideas that came and went in the period as “food for thought”. I describe my inspirations and successes, and my disappointments and failures. My activities were both administrative and research-oriented. As regards the former, I was part of major changes in ocean policy and new ocean research programmes that gave me a unique perspective. For example, I was responsible for the implementation of the US extended jurisdiction in fisheries under National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Also I conceived and led the creation of the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Programme (GLOBEC) and guided it in many international contexts, including its integration with the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP). From a research standpoint, my efforts leading up to GLOBEC strongly influenced the introduction of ocean physics into biological oceanography. This led me into plankton dynamics, food signals, small-scale turbulence and physical forcing, even into the stochastic geometry of the plankton. My life-long interest in the dynamics of marine fish populations was strongly influenced by the seminal thinkers in fisheries and my research explored population regulation processes as well as practical applications of statistics and operations research to fisheries management. In my last academic post, I became founding Dean of the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts. This position required integrating administrative and research (both pure and applied) perspectives to create an institution of academic excellence which was at the same time actively responsive to issues arising in our local, nationally prominent fisheries. I end the essay with a consideration of “what has changed”.
In 1999, the California Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which directed the state to establish a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along California’s coastline. As part of this legislation, monitoring of MPAs is required to evaluate whether they are achieving the goals set out by the MLPA and to support adaptive management in the future. The South Coast Lobster Research Group (SCLRG) was formed in 2011 in response to interest in how MPAs may affect the abundance, size, and behavior of the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus). The California spiny lobster is one of the State’s most economically important organisms that supports large commercial and recreational fisheries, has non- consumptive value for recreational divers, and plays an important role in the ecology and stability of coastal ecosystems. The SCLRG is a partnership between scientists, managers, stakeholders, and volunteers, and encompasses personnel from a diverse set of institutions: the San Diego Oceans Foundation (SDOF), San Diego State University (SDSU), Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Lobster Trap Fishermen’s Association (CLTFA). Our team initiated lobster monitoring in five South Coast MPAs and addressed the following goals:
Form a collegial group of researchers and volunteers representing different perspectives and walks-of-life to successfully evaluate the status of lobsters in and around South Coast MPAs;
Estimate spiny lobster abundance, size-frequency distribution, growth, spillover, and mortality through the implementation of a tag-recapture program;
Establish baseline estimates of lobster density and behavior through SCUBA-based surveys;
Map benthic substrata to link lobster abundance to benthic habitat composition and distribution across a range of spatial scales; and,
Determine whether MPAs cause short-term changes in lobster CPUE, and the amount and distribution of lobster fishing effort.
Establishing marine-protected areas (MPA) is important for maintaining biodiversity and protecting endangered species. MPAs can also effectively inhibit human interference, such as tourism and pollution. MPA implementation is a feasible measure to fulfill the sustainable management goal that is to conserve marine habitats for achieving an integrative ecosystem and higher biodiversity. However, how to design an MPA under these concerns remains an important research issue to be explored. A spatial resource allocation modeling approach has been developed by integrating some earlier study efforts. The integer linear programming technique was used to develop the models, and they account for the spatial attribute of the compactness in terms of boundary length. Two models (the minimal protected area model and the maximal biodiversity conservation model) were formulated to address 2 major MPA design objectives. The models show the reciprocal relationship between MPA compactness and the 2 objectives: area size and the biodiversity value. In particular, the modeling results show that a more compact MPA contains less biodiversity. This tradeoff relationship, which is easily explored using the spatial resource allocation modeling approach, enables an MPA design to allow decision makers to select various non-inferior solutions to meet their decision preferences. This study uses the Kaomei coastal wetland in Taiwan as a case study to demonstrate the proposed modeling approach.
It is widely recognised that anchored, nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) are one of the few practical ‘vehicles’ for increasing access to tuna to help feed the rapidly growing rural and urban populations in many Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs). However, considerable planning, monitoring and research is still needed to understand and fulfil the potential of nearshore FADs. Investments are required to (1) identify the locations where FADs are likely to make the greatest contributions to the food security of rural (coastal) communities, and yield good catches near urban centres; (2) integrate the use of FADs with other livelihood options available to rural communities and remove any blockages preventing such communities from harnessing the full range of benefits from FADs; (3) assess whether exclusion zones for industrial fishing provide adequate access to tuna for small-scale-fishers; (4) determine if small-scale fishers are able to catch sufficient tuna to meet the protein needs of rural communities; (5) evaluate whether FADs add value to coral reef management initiatives; and (6) improve the design and placement of nearshore FADs. This paper describes these investments and outlines other steps that governments and their development partners need to take to establish and maintain nearshore FADs as part of national infrastructure for food security of PICTs.
Understanding the role of a global seawater desalination plant project using potential ecological indicators is important in assessing ecological risk and/or impact evaluations from observations at a molecular level. A marine health assessment of ecological indicators (e.g., as an early-warning system) can provide information about an area of ecosystem disturbance, the disappearance of symbiosis, organism mortality, instability of fertility and breeding species, the emergence of single species, the bioaccumulation of test bed operation pollutants discharged, and changes in the communities. Here, we provide a comprehensive review of ecosystem health assessments using potential ecological indicators in a seawater desalination test bed. We review some empirical analyses and compare desalination concentrate treatments, the impact of reverse osmosis and multistage flash, chemicals used in the plant, the impact pathway, the brine outfall pipe, an operational assessment, salinity tolerances, and the eco-toxicological effect of brine in a marine ecosystem. Based on literature research results and data illustrating the degraded ecosystem and/or the original ecosystem, stress caused by a desalination project on the marine ecosystem damage can provide information about the marine ecosystem disturbance, the disappearance of symbiosis relationship, which may be as important as sustainable management using living ecological indicators.
Collisions between traffic and wildlife can have population-level consequences and carry economic costs. Vessel-strike may threaten the viability of whale populations especially where habitat overlaps with frequent vessel traffic; as seen in the Hauraki Gulf, New Zealand, which is the entrance to the busy Ports of Auckland and holds a year-round population of endangered Bryde’s whales (Balaenoptera edeni). Here, we identify a serious threat: out of 44 Bryde’s whale-deaths, 17 of 20 (85%), with known cause of mortality, sustained injuries consistent with vessel-strike; a mortality rate that is likely to be unsustainable. This information started a social forum with stakeholders engaged in science-based discussion of mitigation measures to reduce lethal vessel-strikes in this region. To determine the viability of different mitigation actions we studied Bryde’s whale behavior with suction-cup attached tags. Tagged whales (n = 7, 62.5 h) spent 91% of their time at depths within the maximum draft of vessels transiting the Gulf, increasing the probability of vessel-strike. Whales are broadly distributed throughout the Gulf so re-routing traffic would not lessen the threat of vessel-strike. Monitoring whales visually is difficult and not applicable at night, when whales rested closer to the surface than during the day. Passive acoustic monitoring is unreliable due to the whales’ low vocal activity and because low frequency calls are susceptible to masking from vessel noise. These findings resulted in a Transit Protocol for Shipping including voluntary speed restrictions and a monitoring plan, highlighting the value of scientific and social stakeholders working together for conservation.
Assessments of global wave power have been receiving increasing attention currently; however, a characterization of the global resources that holistically consider the different temporal scales that influence wave climate (monthly and seasonal, interannual and long-term) is still lacking. Moreover, the debate around the global figure of available resource is still widely open. This study provides a new global wave power assessment using a dataset that covers the period from 1948 to 2008, which was corrected using altimetry data and validated with buoys in terms of wave power. This study characterizes the mean wave power globally as well as its monthly and seasonal variability. Furthermore, it provides a link with the most relevant climate indices globally. The effect of the interannual variability is especially noteworthy for the Northern Hemisphere, where the seasonality is strongest. Additionally, we detect decadal long-term changes and determine that natural variability could explain a few of the differences found between decades. Lastly, we provide an assessment of the global theoretical wave power that covers the last six decades, compare approaches and estimates, and discuss factors of discrepancy. The global offshore wave power is estimated at 32,000 TW h/yr, which is reduced to 16,000 TW h/yr when considering the direction of the energy. The historical average change is 580 TW h/decade. Our results indicate that the global natural variability could be a more relevant factor in the lifetime of wave farms than the historical long-term changes in wave energy.
It is widely acknowledged that many renewable energy technologies cannot (yet) compete with incumbent (fossil fuel) options e.g. in terms of price. Transitions literature argues that sustainable innovations can nevertheless break out of their ‘niches’ if properly shielded, nurtured and empowered. Most studies using this perspective have focused on how innovation champions engage in shielding, nurturing and empowering (SNE) activities: none have so far focused specifically on the role that policy plays in relation to these three processes. This paper therefore aims to analyze the way in which policy constrains and enables the shielding, nurturing and empowering of renewable energy innovations. To do so, it presents a qualitative review of the development of offshore wind power (OWP) in The Netherlands over the past four decades. Based on interpretation of a wide variety of written sources (academic histories, reports, policy documents, parliamentary debate transcripts, news media) and nine semi-structured interviews, it discerns six periods of relative stability in the history of Dutch offshore wind. It then analyzes the effects of various policies on the shielding, nurturing and empowering of offshore wind in these periods. The paper contributes to transitions literature (1) by providing an analysis of how policies can enable and constrain the shielding, nurturing and empowering of renewable energy innovations, and (2) by bringing together, for the first time, fragmented accounts of the surprisingly long history of Dutch offshore wind development and implementation. Both contributions are timely, given the recent reprioritization of OWP on the Dutch policy agenda.
For marine energy to be truly sustainable, its social and ecological impacts must be identified and measures by which to mitigate adverse effects established before devices are deployed in large arrays. To inform future research and encourage environmentally-sensitive developments, this review aims to identify the most significant social and ecological issues associated with wave and tidal current energy generation. Modifications to wave climates, flow patterns, and marine habitats, particularly through increased underwater noise and collision risk, are identified as key ecological issues. Social acceptance of renewable energy is found to be closely linked to the level of stakeholder involvement and the public perception of renewable energy. The review concludes with a call for a more strategic and collaborative research effort between developers, academia, and the public sector to improve environmental monitoring standards and best practices for device and array design.