During 2011, massive quantities of pelagic sargassum occurred throughout the Caribbean, impacting aquatic resources, fisheries, shorelines, waterways, and tourism. A similar event occurred in 2014 and continues in 2015. This Fact Sheet seeks to share the state of knowledge about the sargassum influx and to promote the adoption of best management practices.
A workshop under the theme 'How can marine spatial planning lead to a thriving natural marine environment in Scotland?' was held on 12th February 2015, organised by Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Taskforce1. The event was attended by approximately 60 participants representing a range of interests in marine and terrestrial planning, including local authorities, national Government, academic researchers, environmental law experts, non-Government organisations (environmental charities), and independent consultants. The workshop had the following objectives:
- To raise awareness of national and regional marine planning and their scope for marine ecosystem enhancement across a wider national forum
- To explore current understanding of the importance and relevance of marine planning
- To facilitate productive discussion on the challenges of marine planning still to be resolved and how to address them on a local, national and international scale
- To help inform the on-going agenda for marine planning in Scotland and the wider UK
This report summarises two presentations delivered by keynote speakers considered experts in the fields of marine planning and environmental law, and key points of discussion from the workshop session, which focused on 3 questions:
- What aspect of the planning system on land works well/best?
- Bearing in mind lessons from Q1, how can marine planning lead to a flourishing natural marine environment?
- What are the requirements to be able to deliver environmental enhancement through marine spatial planning?
This report also presents the results of a short questionnaire answered by participants designed to assess their perceptions of marine spatial planning.
Posidonia oceanica (L.) Delile meadows are recognized as priority habitat for conservation by the EU Habitats Directive. The La Maddalena Archipelago National Park (Mediterranean Sea) P. oceanica meadow, the dominant coastal habitat of the area, is mostly threatened by boat anchoring. 12 years after the establishment of mooring fields and anchoring restrictions, a study was conducted to measure their effectiveness on the conservation of seagrass and the mitigation of anchoring damage. We found that: (i) the condition of P. oceanica was disturbed, both in the mooring fields and in control locations; (ii) mooring fields and anchoring restrictions did not show to be an efficient system for the protection of seagrass, in fact anchor scars increased after the tourist season; (iii) the mooring systems had an impact on the surrounding area of the meadow, probably due to their misuse. On the basis of these results, management recommendations for marine parks are proposed.
The connectivity between reef areas in the East Continental Shelf (ECS) of Brazil was investigated with a hydrodynamic model (ROMS) and an Individual Based Model (IBM - Ichthyop), using groupers (genus Mycteroperca) as functional group. The hydrodynamic outputs from ROMS used as physical forcings by Ichthyop was compared with satellite data and showed good agreement. IBM experiments were realized releasing eggs from April to September along six years (2002 - 2007) in five groups of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the ECS. An intra-annual variability of recruitment and self-recruitment of grouper larvae was observed, as well as a negative correlation between these population parameters with total Kinetic Energy (KE) in the region. Higher KE is related to higher larval advection to offshore regions and a lower total recruitment and connectivity on coastal MPAs. Our results suggest a high and directional connectivity between MPAs, occurring from north to south with potential influence of Brazil Current which flows in this direction. Some MPAs act predominantly as “sink” areas, and others as “source” areas.
Biological invasions have the potential to cause extensive ecological and economic damage. Maritime trade facilitates biological invasions by transferring species in ballast water, and on ships' hulls. With volumes of maritime trade increasing globally, efforts to prevent these biological invasions are of significant importance. Both the International Maritime Organization and the Australian government have developed policy seeking to reduce the risk of these invasions. In this study, we constructed models for the transfer of ballast water into Australian waters, based on historic ballast survey data. We used these models to hindcast ballast water discharge over all vessels that arrived in Australian waters between 1999 and 2012. We used models for propagule survival to compare the risk of ballast-mediated propagule transport between ecoregions. We found that total annual ballast discharge volume into Australia more than doubled over the study period, with the vast majority of ballast water discharge and propagule pressure associated with bulk carrier traffic. As such, the ecoregions suffering the greatest risk are those associated with the export of mining commodities. As global marine trade continues to increase, effective monitoring and biosecurity policy will remain necessary to combat the risk of future marine invasion events.
Accelerated contamination of habitats with debris has caused increased effort to determine ecological impacts. Strikingly, most work on organisms focuses on sublethal responses to plastic debris. This is controversial because (i) researchers have ignored medical insights about the mechanisms that link effects of debris across lower levels of biological organization to disease and mortality, and (ii) debris is considered non-hazardous by policy-makers, possibly because individuals can be injured or removed from populations and assemblages without ecological impacts. We reviewed the mechanisms that link effects of debris across lower levels of biological organization to assemblages and populations. Using plastic, we show microplastics reduce the ‘health’, feeding, growth and survival of ecosystem engineers. Larger debris alters assemblages because fishing-gear and tyres kill animals and damage habitat-forming plants, and because floating bottles facilitate recruitment and survival of novel taxa. Where ecological linkages are not known, we show how to establish hypothetical links by synthesizing studies to assess the likelihood of impacts. We also consider how population models examine ecological linkages and guide management of ecological impacts. We show that by focusing on linkages to ecological impacts rather than the presence of debris and its sublethal impacts, we could reduce threats posed by debris.
The invasion of the northwestern Atlantic by the Indo-Pacific lionfish has developed extraordinarily fast, and is expected to cause one of the most negative ecological impacts among all marine invasions. In less than 30 years, lionfish have dramatically expanded their distribution range to an area encompassing the eastern coast of the USA, Bermuda, the entire Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico. The rapidity of the lionfish spread has raised concerns in other parts of the Atlantic that may be under the reach of the invasion. Despite the anticipation that lionfish would eventually extend their range throughout most of the eastern coast of South America, it had not been recorded in Brazil until now. Here we report the first lionfish appearance for the Brazilian coast and show that the individual collected by us is genetically linked to the invasive Caribbean population. Since small-range endemics are found in several locations in Brazil and are among the species that are most vulnerable to extinction, we recommend urgent control, management and education measures aimed at minimizing the effects of this impending invasion.
In the Nearshore Substrate Mapping Using Multi-Spectral Aerial Imagery project, researchers from Ocean Imaging created high-resolution maps for shallow subtidal and intertidal benthic habitats in the South Coast region.
The maps developed in this project depict features such as surfgrass meadows, kelp canopy, algal-covered rock and bare rock habitats. Researchers validated substrate classifications with field data provided by collaborating research teams and new sampling specifically for this project.
The primary goal of this project was to inform long-term MPA monitoring efforts by summarizing up-to- date information to illustrate historical trends, establish a MPA baseline, and assess initial changes since MPA implementation for the commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) fleet in the South Coast region of California. To do so we utilized CPFV logbooks data from 2000 to 2012 obtained under a non- disclosure agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This study is a part of the baseline marine protected area monitoring effort to characterize the ecological and socioeconomic conditions and changes within the South Coast Region since MPA implementation. As part of the baseline marine protected area monitoring effort, this report provides two sets of primary findings:
A baseline characterization of the spatial fishing patterns and economic status of commercial passenger fishing vessel fleet in the South Coast region; and
An assessment of historical economic trends and initial economic changes in the commercial passenger fishing vessel fleet following MPA implementation.
This study is a part of a larger baseline marine protected areas monitoring effort, entitled the South Coast MPA Baseline Program, tasked with characterizing the ecological and socioeconomic conditions and changes within the South Coast region since MPA implementation. To investigate coastal recreation patterns in the South Coast region, we utilized a standing internet panel hosted by Knowledge Networks (KN) designed to be demographically representative and surveyed 4,492 individuals in select South Coast region counties. The data collected established a baseline characterization of coastal visitation and recreation statistics and a spatial baseline of coastal recreation use patterns in the region.