Natural resource governance, and fisheries management in particular, includes multiple governmental jurisdictions and stakeholders. For many fisheries, however, an understanding of the numbers of organizations involved in management and the relationships among those organizations remains lacking. Using an email survey, we investigated the affiliation network of formal and informal relationships of Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC) policy and decision makers (i.e., organizations involved in the management of Laurentian Great Lakes fisheries). The 63 respondents identified 1516 relationships with 149 organizations which provide numerous opportunities for groups to share resources and information. Important organizational roles that can be identified through network analysis include the coordinating role of the GLFC׳s staff and connections through stakeholder representatives. Informal relationships are an important aspect of the affiliation network with more than one-third of all relationships identified as informal relationships and 16 organizations identified only through informal relationships. Identification of affiliation networks could be a useful tool for understanding the connection between diverse stakeholder organizations and natural resource managers.
Developing and assessing alternatives is a key and central stage to Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA). However, research has repeatedly reported this stage as one of the most poorly undertaken aspects of the SEA process. Current practice limitations include belated consideration of reasonable alternatives, narrow scope of alternatives that often include unrealistic or retrofitted options, limited stakeholder and public involvement in their identification, assessment and selection, lack of systematic approaches to their assessment and comparison, and inadequate reporting of the ‘storyline’ on how they were identified, what the potential impacts are and why the preferred alternative was selected. These issues have resulted in objections and judicial reviews.
On the positive side, a number of good practice case studies enable extraction of key lessons and formulation of a set of general recommendations to advance practice in SEA alternatives. In this paper, practical guidance on the identification and development of alternatives, their assessment and comparison, selection of the preferred option, and documentation of the process and the reasons for selection is provided and discussed to frame good practice approaches.
The decline in available fossil fuel resources coupled with an ever increasing global demand for energy, have led to substantial interest in the development of renewable biofuels. Biofuels from microalgae, especially liquid fuels produced from saline microalgae lipids (oils), are seen as an important component of the future biofuels mix. In Australia, several companies and research groups are working on developing microalgal biofuels and whilst most are still in the research and development stage, recently constructed demonstration facilities highlight the potential for large-scale cultivation. Western Australia (WA) specifically, has several key advantages for large-scale microalgae for biofuel cultivation including abundant sunshine, extensive land area unsuitable for agriculture, an abundant water source in the Indian Ocean, existing infrastructure in several potential locations, high local demand for fuel and stable political conditions.
The purpose of this study was to identify capable geographic locations for constructing large-scale microalgae for biofuel cultivation facilities in WA. Through the development of the Australian Algal Cultivation–Spatial Location Model (AAC–SLM) an examination of site specific parameters such as irradiance, temperature, CO2 and nutrient availability, workability of soils, land-use and access to distribution infrastructure and a viable workforce, most capable locations for large-scale microalgae cultivation were identified in the state. Results indicate that large tracts of land along the central coast of Western Australia are ideal for cultivation development and could produce up to 11% of Australia’s annual automotive diesel needs across the most suitable locations. The end result provides a robust method that can be tailored to the specific requirements and data availability of other regions within Australia and in other nations as a tool to attract future development through the identification of capable cultivation locations.
Sturgeons (Acipenseridae) are one of the most threatened taxa worldwide, including species in North Carolina and South Carolina. Populations of Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus in the Carolinas have been significantly reduced from historical levels by a combination of intense fishing and habitat loss. There is a need for estimates of current abundance, to describe status, and for estimates of historical abundance in order to provide realistic recovery goals. In this study we used N-mixture and distance models with data acquired from side-scan sonar surveys to estimate abundance of sturgeon in six major sturgeon rivers in North Carolina and South Carolina. Estimated abundances of sturgeon greater than 1 m TL in the Carolina distinct population segment (DPS) were 2,031 using the count model and 1,912 via the distance model. The Pee Dee River had the highest overall abundance of any river at 1,944 (count model) or 1,823 (distance model). These estimates do not account for sturgeon less than 1 m TL or occurring in riverine reaches not surveyed or in marine waters. Comparing the two models, the N-mixture model produced similar estimates using less data than the distance model with only a slight reduction of estimated precision.
The recent introduction of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish species (Red Lionfish Pterois volitans and Devil Firefish P. miles, hereafter collectively referred to as lionfish) into the western Atlantic Ocean has been extensively documented in both the scientific literature and the media. Nevertheless, much of the information synthesized has been obtained via diver-based surveys and there is likely a depth-related bias to the understanding of the temporal and spatial dynamics of the lionfish invasion. Accordingly, we examined data from a broadscale fisheries-independent trawl survey of bare substrates and low-relief habitats that was initiated in 2008 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico. Lionfish were first observed in the survey in 2010, when two individuals were collected off southwestern Florida. The distribution of lionfish continued to expand northward through the Florida panhandle in 2011 and 2012, when 40 and 29 lionfish were collected, respectively. A dramatic increase in the abundance (391 individuals) and distribution of lionfish occurred in 2013. Evidence from this survey suggests that lionfish first colonized deeper (>30 m) low-relief habitats before populations expanded into shallower waters. The prevalence of lionfish on primarily nonreef habitats at depths beyond those frequented by recreational divers will likely have important implications for efforts to control or eradicate lionfish populations in the region. Moving forward, information from long-term, multispecies surveys such as this will continue to provide valuable insight into the spatial and temporal dynamics of the lionfish invasion and allow us to assess long-term ecological consequences of increasing lionfish abundances.
Population declines of Atlantic Sturgeon Acipenser oxyrinchus oxyrinchus prompted initial fisheries closures and an eventual endangered or threatened species listing across the U.S. portion of their range in 2012. Atlantic Sturgeon aggregations and migration routes along the coast of Long Island overlap with commercial fishing activities that may lead to incidental take in nondirected fisheries. Thus, understanding the distribution and movement of Atlantic Sturgeon in relation to commercial fisheries can help management agencies determine impacts and develop bycatch mitigation measures. Stratified random sampling and targeted bottom trawl surveys were used to identify the temporal and spatial use of marine habitat in New York waters. The majority of survey captures were restricted to depths of less than 15 m and known aggregation areas. During the aggregation periods (May, June, September, and October) in known aggregation areas, catches were an order of magnitude higher than in other areas and months of the year. Northeast Fisheries Observer Program bycatch data from 1989 to 2013 was analyzed for the New York region and suggested that bycatch occurs within two main gear types: otter bottom trawls and sink gill nets. Trawling bycatch contained primarily subadult Atlantic Sturgeon and is highest during the Summer Flounder Paralichthys dentatus fishery in New York State waters. Trawling overlaps spatially and temporally with identified Atlantic Sturgeon aggregation areas, while bycatch in gill nets targeted adult fish farther offshore in federal waters. Bycatch in these fisheries may be a regional threat to recovery, and spatial and temporal closures, gear modifications, or other bycatch reduction techniques are suggested to protect aggregating and migrating fish.
The Maine lobster Homarus americanus fishery is considered one of the most successful fisheries in the world due in part to its unique comanagement system, the conservation ethic of the harvesters, and the ability of the industry to respond to crises and solve collective-action problems. However, recent threats raise the question whether the industry will be able to respond to future threats as successfully as it has to ones in the past or whether it is now less resilient and can no longer adequately respond to threats. Through ethnographic research and oral histories with fishermen, we examined the current level of social resilience in the lobster fishery. We concentrated on recent threats to the industry and the ways in which it has responded to them, focusing on three situations: a price drop beginning in 2008, a recovery in 2010–2011, and a second collapse of prices in 2012. In addition, we considered other environmental and regulatory concerns identified by fishermen. We found that the industry is not responding effectively to recent threats and identified factors that might explain the level of social resilience in the fishery.
Many coastal communities throughout the world are threatened by local (or near-field) tsunamis that could inundate low-lying areas in a matter of minutes after generation. Although the hazard and sustainability literature often frames vulnerability conceptually as a multidimensional issue involving exposure, sensitivity, and resilience to a hazard, assessments often focus on one element or do not recognize the hazard context. We introduce an analytical framework for describing variations in population vulnerability to tsunami hazards that integrates (i) geospatial approaches to identify the number and characteristics of people in hazard zones, (ii) anisotropic path distance models to estimate evacuation travel times to safety, and (iii) cluster analysis to classify communities with similar vulnerability. We demonstrate this approach by classifying 49 incorporated cities, 7 tribal reservations, and 17 counties from northern California to northern Washington that are directly threatened by tsunami waves associated with a Cascadia subduction zone earthquake. Results suggest three primary community groups: (i) relatively low numbers of exposed populations with varied demographic sensitivities, (ii) high numbers of exposed populations but sufficient time to evacuate before wave arrival, and (iii) moderate numbers of exposed populations but insufficient time to evacuate. Results can be used to enhance general hazard-awareness efforts with targeted interventions, such as education and outreach tailored to local demographics, evacuation training, and/or vertical evacuation refuges.
Coral reefs around US- and US-affiliated Pacific islands and atolls span wide oceanographic gradients and levels of human impact. Here we examine the relative influence of these factors on coral reef fish biomass, using data from a consistent large-scale ecosystem monitoring program conducted by scientific divers over the course of >2,000 hours of underwater observation at 1,934 sites, across ~40 islands and atolls. Consistent with previous smaller-scale studies, our results show sharp declines in reef fish biomass at relatively low human population density, followed by more gradual declines as human population density increased further. Adjusting for other factors, the highest levels of oceanic productivity among our study locations were associated with more than double the biomass of reef fishes (including ~4 times the biomass of planktivores and piscivores) compared to islands with lowest oceanic productivity. Our results emphasize that coral reef areas do not all have equal ability to sustain large reef fish stocks, and that what is natural varies significantly amongst locations. Comparisons of biomass estimates derived from visual surveys with predicted biomass in the absence of humans indicated that total reef fish biomass was depleted by 61% to 69% at populated islands in the Mariana Archipelago; by 20% to 78% in the Main Hawaiian islands; and by 21% to 56% in American Samoa.
The fishery for spiny lobster Panulirus argus in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is well chronicled, but little information is available on the prevalence of lost or abandoned lobster traps. In 2007, towed-diver surveys were used to identify and count pieces of trap debris and any other marine debris encountered. Trap debris density (debris incidences/ha) in historic trap-use zones and in representative benthic habitats was estimated. Trap debris was not proportionally distributed with fishing effort. Coral habitats had the greatest density of trap debris despite trap fishers’ reported avoidance of coral reefs while fishing. The accumulation of trap debris on coral emphasizes the role of wind in redistributing traps and trap debris in the sanctuary. We estimated that 85,548±23,387 (mean±SD) ghost traps and 1,056,127±124,919 nonfishing traps or remnants of traps were present in the study area. Given the large numbers of traps in the fishery and the lack of effective measures for managing and controlling the loss of gear, the generation of trap debris will likely continue in proportion to the number of traps deployed in the fishery. Focused removal of submerged trap debris from especially vulnerable habitats such as reefs and hardbottom, where trap debris density is high, would mitigate key habitat issues but would not address ghost fishing or the cost of lost gear.