In this paper we focus on systemic delays in the Baltic Sea that cause the problem of eutrophication to persist. These problems are demonstrated in our study by addressing three types of delays: (1) decision delay: the time it takes for an idea or perceived need to be launched as a policy; (2) implementation delay: the time from the launch of a policy to the actual implementation; (3) ecosystem delay: the time difference between the implementation and an actual measurable effects. A policy process is one characterized by delays. It may take years from problem identification to a decision to taking action and several years further for actual implementation. Ecosystem responses to measures illustrate that feedback can keep the ecosystem in a certain state and cause a delay in ecosystem response. These delays can operate on decadal scales. <br /> <br /> Our aim in this paper is to analyze these systemic delays and especially to discuss how the critical delays can be better addressed in marine protection policies by strengthening the adaptive capacity of marine protection. We conclude that the development of monitoring systems and reflexive, participatory analysis of dynamics involved in the implementation are keys to improve understanding of the systemic delays. The improved understanding is necessary for the adaptive management of a persistent environmental problem. In addition to the state of the environment, the monitoring and analysis should be targeted also at the implementation of policies to ensure that the societies are investing in the right measures.
Our ability to meet environmental targets is often constrained by processes and events that occur over long timescales and which may not be considered during the planning process. We illustrate with examples and define three major types of temporal scale phenomena of relevance to marine managers: Memory and Future Effects (jointly called Legacy Effects) and Committed Behaviors. We examine the role of these effects in achieving marine environmental targets in Europe under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the implications for future management, indicating the increased importance that these temporal phenomena give to reducing future pressures.
The sustainable exploitation of marine ecosystem services is dependent on achieving and maintaining an adequate ecosystem state to prevent undue deterioration. Within the European Union, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires member states to achieve Good Environmental Status (GEnS), specified in terms of 11 descriptors. We analyzed the complexity of social-ecological factors to identify common critical issues that are likely to influence the achievement of GEnS in the Northeast Atlantic (NEA) more broadly, using three case studies. A conceptual model developed using a soft systems approach highlights the complexity of social and ecological phenomena that influence, and are likely to continue to influence, the state of ecosystems in the NEA. The development of the conceptual model raised four issues that complicate the implementation of the MSFD, the majority of which arose in the Pressures and State sections of the model: variability in the system, cumulative effects, ecosystem resilience, and conflicting policy targets. The achievement of GEnS targets for the marine environment requires the recognition and negotiation of trade-offs across a broad policy landscape involving a wide variety of stakeholders in the public and private sectors. Furthermore, potential cumulative effects may introduce uncertainty, particularly in selecting appropriate management measures. There also are endogenous pressures that society cannot control. This uncertainty is even more obvious when variability within the system, e.g., climate change, is accounted for. Also, questions related to the resilience of the affected ecosystem to specific pressures must be raised, despite a lack of current knowledge. Achieving good management and reaching GEnS require multidisciplinary assessments. The soft systems approach provides one mechanism for bringing multidisciplinary information together to look at the problems in a different light.
Marine environments have undergone large-scale changes in recent decades as a result of multiple anthropogenic pressures, such as overfishing, eutrophication, habitat fragmentation, etc., causing often nonlinear ecosystem responses. At the same time, management institutions lack the appropriate measures to address these abrupt transformations. We focus on existing examples from social–ecological systems of European seas that can be used to inform and advise future management. Examples from the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea on long-term ecosystem changes caused by eutrophication and fisheries, as well as changes in management institutions, illustrate nonlinear dynamics in social–ecological systems. Furthermore, we present two major future challenges, i.e., climate change and energy intensification, that could further increase the potential for nonlinear changes in the near future. Practical tools to address these challenges are presented, such as ensuring learning, flexibility, and networking in decision-making processes across sectors and scales. A combination of risk analysis with a scenario-planning approach might help to identify the risks of ecosystem changes early on and may frame societal changes to inform decision-making structures to proactively prevent drastic surprises in European seas.
Choke points are social, cultural, political, institutional, or psychological obstructions of social-ecological systems that constrain progress toward an environmental objective. Using a soft systems methodology, different types of chokes points were identified in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the Baltic, and the North and Mediterranean seas. The choke points were of differing types: cultural and political choke points were identified in Barra and the Mediterranean, respectively, whereas the choke points in the North Sea and Baltic Sea were dependent on differing values toward the mitigation of eutrophication. We conclude with suggestions to identify and address choke points.
The European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires the Good Environmental Status of marine environments in Europe's regional seas; yet, maritime activities, including sources of marine degradation, are diversifying and intensifying in an increasingly globalized world. Marine spatial planning is emerging as a tool for rationalizing competing uses of the marine environment while guarding its quality. A directive guiding the development of such plans by European Union member states is currently being formulated. There is an undeniable need for marine spatial planning. However, we argue that considerable care must be taken with marine spatial planning, as the spatial and temporal scales of maritime activities and of Good Environmental Status may be mismatched. We identify four principles for careful and explicit consideration to align the requirements of the two directives and enable marine spatial planning to support the achievement of Good Environmental Status in Europe's regional seas.
This article presents some fresh reflections on participation in environmental decision-making by focussing on the case of newly designated Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The article draws on empirical research conducted by the author with South-East fishermen, considering their perceptions of the designation process. Julia Black’s distinction between ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ proceduralisation serves as a theoretical basis to explain fishermen’s perceptions of the process of designation of MCZs but it is then complemented by observations on knowledge construction and representation, following critical social sciences writings on nature conservation. The argument put forward is that the process of designation of MCZs is an example of ‘thin’ proceduralisation and that a move towards ‘thicker’ forms would benefit from acknowledging the existence of multiple knowledges within each participant and from deconstructing the dichotomy between socio-economic and ecological aspects in thinking about conservation.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is becoming increasingly used in the sustainable management of marine and coastal ecosystems. However, limitations on time and resources often restrict the data available for MSP and limit public engagement and participation in the MSP process. While citizen science is being increasingly used to provide fine-scale environmental data across large terrestrial planning areas, there has been little uptake in MSP to date. This paper demonstrates how consistent citizen observations can be used to identify hotspots of good and poor environmental health across a MSP region, and where environmental health has improved or degraded in the past five years; information that is difficult to obtain by other means. The study demonstrates how citizen science provides valuable insight into environmental health across a MSP region, while fostering a supportive space for the public to contribute their own observations and participate in the planning process.
Table of Contents:
White: Communicating Science in the Coral Triangle
Piazza: Freshwater Network
Ulfelder: When to Say No
Smith: Data and Models
Tallis: Applied Science
Drinking from the Fire Hose:
Announcement: SNAP Proposals
New Conservancy-Authored Publications
Anthropogenic climate change is predicted to decrease oceanic oxygen (O2) concentrations, with potentially significant effects on marine ecosystems. Geologically recent episodes of abrupt climatic warming provide opportunities to assess the effects of changing oxygenation on marine communities. Thus far, this knowledge has been largely restricted to investigations using Foraminifera, with little being known about ecosystem-scale responses to abrupt, climate-forced deoxygenation. We here present high-resolution records based on the first comprehensive quantitative analysis, to our knowledge, of changes in marine metazoans (Mollusca, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, and Annelida; >5,400 fossils and trace fossils) in response to the global warming associated with the last glacial to interglacial episode. The molluscan archive is dominated by extremophile taxa, including those containing endosymbiotic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (Lucinoma aequizonatum) and those that graze on filamentous sulfur-oxidizing benthic bacterial mats (Alia permodesta). This record, from 16,100 to 3,400 y ago, demonstrates that seafloor invertebrate communities are subject to major turnover in response to relatively minor inferred changes in oxygenation (>1.5 to <0.5 mL⋅L−1 [O2]) associated with abrupt (<100 y) warming of the eastern Pacific. The biotic turnover and recovery events within the record expand known rates of marine biological recovery by an order of magnitude, from <100 to >1,000 y, and illustrate the crucial role of climate and oceanographic change in driving long-term successional changes in ocean ecosystems.