The underlying causes of biodiversity loss can be numerous and difficult to identify. Now evidence suggests that disease outbreaks triggered by warming oceans are a primary cause of the disappearance of Caribbean coral reefs.
Where they dominate coastlines, seagrass beds are thought to have a fundamental role in maintaining populations of exploited species. Thus, Mediterranean seagrass beds are afforded protection, yet no attempt to determine the contribution of these areas to both commercial fisheries landings and recreational fisheries expenditure has been made. There is evidence that seagrass extent continues to decline, but there is little understanding of the potential impacts of this decline. We used a seagrass residency index, that was trait and evidence based, to estimate the proportion of Mediterranean commercial fishery landings values and recreation fisheries total expenditure that can be attributed to seagrass during different life stages. The index was calculated as a weighted sum of the averages of the estimated residence time in seagrass (compared with other habitats) at each life stage of the fishery species found in seagrass. Seagrass-associated species were estimated to contribute 30%–40% to the value of commercial fisheries landings and approximately 29% to recreational fisheries expenditure. These species predominantly rely on seagrass to survive juvenile stages. Seagrass beds had an estimated direct annual contribution during residency of €58–91 million (4% of commercial landing values) and €112 million (6% of recreation expenditure) to commercial and recreational fisheries, respectively, despite covering <2% of the area. These results suggest there is a clear cost of seagrass degradation associated with ineffective management of seagrass beds and that policy to manage both fisheries and seagrass beds should take into account the socioeconomic implications of seagrass loss to recreational and commercial fisheries.
Foreign fisheries massively harvest waters off West Africa, plundering local marine economies and threatening African food security. Here we warn that these fisheries might affect both juvenile and adult European seabirds during their autumn migration and at their wintering grounds. Using miniaturised GPS, satellite transmitters and geolocators, we tracked the migratory movements of 64 adult and juvenile Northern gannets (Morus bassanus) and Scopoli’s shearwaters (Calonectris diomedea) after their breeding season in the eastern Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea, respectively. It was the first time ever that the movements of gannet fledglings were tracked with GPS accuracy. During winter (October to March) birds made extensive use of marine areas within the exclusive economic zones of Morocco, Western Sahara, Mauritania and Senegal. These juvenile and adult European seabirds are therefore dependent upon African marine resources and at risk from competition with fisheries, as well as intentional and incidental mortality by fishing gear. Those threats occur additionally to detrimental seabird–fishery interactions in Europe. There is an urgent need for improved marine conservation off West Africa, and our data demonstrating connectivity between specific European breeding colonies and African wintering areas are a major step towards stakeholder involvement.
Western North Pacific gray whales (WGWs), once considered extinct, are critically endangered with unknown migratory routes and reproductive areas. We attached satellite-monitored tags to seven WGWs on their primary feeding ground off Sakhalin Island, Russia, three of which subsequently migrated to regions occupied by non-endangered eastern gray whales (EGWs). A female with the longest-lasting tag visited all three major EGW reproductive areas off Baja California, Mexico, before returning to Sakhalin Island the following spring. Her 22 511 km round-trip is the longest documented mammal migration and strongly suggests that some presumed WGWs are actually EGWs foraging in areas historically attributed to WGWs. The observed migration routes provide evidence of navigational skills across open water that break the near-shore north–south migratory paradigm of EGWs. Despite evidence of genetic differentiation, these tagging data indicate that the population identity of whales off Sakhalin Island needs further evaluation.