2015-04-29

Establishing a Baseline and Assessing Initial Spatial and Economic Change in the California South Coast Commercial Fisheries

Chen C, Weiss L, Hesselgrave T, Steinback C, Sheeran K, Lyman N, Crowther D. Establishing a Baseline and Assessing Initial Spatial and Economic Change in the California South Coast Commercial Fisheries. La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The primary goal of this project was to inform long-term marine protected area (MPA) monitoring efforts by gathering up-to-date socioeconomic information to illustrate historical trends, establish a post MPA baseline, and assess initial changes since MPA implementation for the commercial fishing fleet in the South Coast region of California. To accomplish this goal our research team conducted extensive community outreach and engagement in the region and conducted in-person interviews with 114 commercial fishermen to gather post MPA baseline socioeconomic data and spatial fishing data for the year 2012. In it important to note that the interview data gathered is self-reported data and thus as with all self-reported data may be subject to recall error or under/over-reporting. Additional to the interview data gathered, we summarized commercial fishing landings data from 1992 to 2012 obtained from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) to explore historical economic trends and initial changes in South Coast commercial fisheries.

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 MPA monitoring effort, this report provides three sets of primary findings:

  1. A baseline characterization of spatial fishing patterns and socioeconomic status of commercial fishermen in the South Coast region;

  2. An assessment of initial spatial and economic changes following MPA implementation; and

  3. A qualitative investigation into the impact of MPAs on commercial fishermen and the specific MPAs impacting commercial fisheries at the port and region scale.

Use of Estuarine, Intertidal, and Subtidal Habitats by Seabirds Within the MLPA South Coast Study Region

Robinette DP, Howar J, Elliott ML, Jahncke J. Use of Estuarine, Intertidal, and Subtidal Habitats by Seabirds Within the MLPA South Coast Study Region. La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

MPAs can benefit seabird populations both directly and indirectly. Direct benefits include reduced disturbance to breeding and roosting sites and decreased human interaction (e.g., bycatch, light attraction, gear entanglement) at feeding sites. Indirect benefits include reduced competition with humans for food resources and greater prey supplies resulting from increased prey production.

The overarching goal of the Baseline Characterization of Nearshore and Estuarine Seabirds study was to determine how seabirds are using coastal habitats inside and outside of newly established MPAs in the South Coast region. Researchers focused monitoring efforts on pelagic cormorants, Brandt’s cormorants, western gulls, black oystercatchers, pigeon guillemots, California least terns, and California brown pelicans because of their dependence on nearshore habitats and their susceptibility to human disturbances.

In this project, researchers from Point Blue Conservation Science evaluated seabird use of nearshore habitats for breeding, roosting, and foraging. The study examined foraging in estuarine and nearshore habitats, use of rocky coastlines for roosting, breeding population size and productivity, and disturbance at breeding and roosting sites. The results of this study provide a baseline to aid in future adaptive management of South Coast MPAs.

Baseline Characterization of the Shallow Rocky Reef and Kelp Forest Ecosystems of the South Coast Study Region

Pondella DJ, Caselle JE, Claisse JT, Williams JP, Davis K, Williams CM, Zahn LA. Baseline Characterization of the Shallow Rocky Reef and Kelp Forest Ecosystems of the South Coast Study Region. La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Baseline Characterization of Kelp and Shallow Rock Ecosystems project is a collaboration between researchers at Vantuna Research Group at Occidental College and the Partnership for Interdisciplinary Studies of Coastal Oceans (PISCO) at the University of California Santa Barbara. In this project, researchers characterized kelp and shallow rock ecosystems inside and outside MPAs in the South Coast region. The baseline surveys, together with historical and future data, are enabling scientists to measure changes in species and communities over both short and long time scales.

From 2011-2013, SCUBA divers surveyed kelp forests and associated reference sites to estimate fish, kelp and benthic invertebrate densities, fish size distributions, and percent cover of invertebrates and algae to produce a quantitative baseline characterization of the structure of kelp and shallow rock ecosystems in the South Coast. Kelp and shallow rock ecosystems inside the MPAs were compared with associated reference areas outside MPAs.

Surveys were conducted using methods developed by PISCO and the Cooperative Research and Assessment of Nearshore Ecosystems (CRANE) program, which allowed integration of historical, long-term datasets into this analysis. As part of this project, researchers also worked to develop easily interpretable ecosystem indicators for assessing the state of kelp forests and made recommendations for future monitoring.

South Coast Marine Protected Areas Baseline Characterization and Monitoring of Mid-Depth Rocky and Soft-Bottom Ecosystems (20-350m)

Lindholm J, Knight A, Moye F, Cramer AN, Smith J, Bolton H, Esgro M, Finstad S, McCollough R, Fredle M, et al. South Coast Marine Protected Areas Baseline Characterization and Monitoring of Mid-Depth Rocky and Soft-Bottom Ecosystems (20-350m). La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Baseline ROV Surveys of Subtidal Ecosystems project is a collaboration between researchers at the Institute for Applied Marine Ecology (IfAME) at California State University Monterey Bay, Marine Applied Research and Exploration (MARE), and Moss Landing Marine Laboratories. In this project, researchers used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to “fly” half a meter above the seafloor at depths ranging from 20 – 500 meters. The ROV took video and still images that were used to characterize these deep-sea communities.

Researchers identified, counted, and sized fishes and invertebrates in both soft-bottom and rocky habitats. On-going analyses of the data collected during the baseline period include the vertical distribution of fishes and invertebrates in the La Jolla Canyons, the interaction of depth and substrate in structuring communities on the continental shelf across the region, and the habitat associations of spot and ridgeback prawns. The data collected as part of this project provides a baseline characterization of selected MPAs and reference sites, an assessment of initial changes following MPA implementation, and recommendations for future monitoring efforts in the region.

Baseline Characterization of Sandy Beach Ecosystems Along the South Coast of California

Dugan JE, Hubbard DM, Nielsen KJ, Altstatt J, Bursek J. Baseline Characterization of Sandy Beach Ecosystems Along the South Coast of California. La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

Sandy beaches and their adjacent surf zones provide important habitat and prey resources for birds, wildlife and fish that feed on the abundant intertidal and subtidal invertebrates in the beach food web.  Beach ecosystem functions also include water filtering, nutrient cycling, and accumulating and storing sand that can buffer the impacts of storm waves and surges. Beach ecosystems are also highly valued and intensively used for recreation including beachcombing, jogging, sunbathing, surfing, swimming, birding and wildlife viewing, picnicking, dog-walking, and volleyball, frisbee and other sports, as well as shore-based fishing, clamming and bait collection.

Sandy beach ecosystems are strongly linked with other nearshore ecosystems. For example, beach food webs rely largely on subsidies from adjacent ecosystems, thus the amount of wrack and plankton delivered to these food webs is dynamically linked to the features of adjacent ecosystems and nearshore ocean characteristics. The condition of beach ecosystems can in turn affect the reproductive success of beach-nesting fishes and birds. Measuring and monitoring these trophic linkages on sandy beaches will help us assess direct and indirect effects of MPAs in the south coast region.

The Baseline Characterization of Sandy Beach Ecosystems project was led by scientists at the Marine Science Institute at the University of California Santa Barbara with collaborators from Sonoma State University, Romberg Tiburon Center at San Francisco State University, and Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. In this project, scientists identified and measured important linkages between sandy beaches and other nearshore ecosystems to produce a comprehensive baseline characterization of sandy beach ecosystems in the South Coast region. This quantitative baseline will be used to evaluate future changes in important ecological features of sandy beaches and linkages with other nearshore ecosystems.

The project team surveyed a number of pairs of MPAs and adjacent reference beaches on the mainland coast from Gaviota to San Diego over 2 years.  These results were used to investigate potential indicators of ecosystem conditions that can be applied to increase our understanding of how the condition of sandy beach ecosystems may provide insights on the condition and functioning of MPAs in the South Coast MPA network. The project team also developed and tested new protocols for potential use in long-term monitoring of beach ecosystem features involving citizen-scientists.

Baseline Characterization of the Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems of the South Coast Study Region

Blanchette CA, Raimondi PT, Gaddam R, Burnaford J, Smith J, Hubbard DM, Dugan JE, Altstatt J, Bursek J. Baseline Characterization of the Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems of the South Coast Study Region. La Jolla, CA: California Sea Grant; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

The Baseline Characterization of Rocky Intertidal Ecosystems project is a collaboration between researchers at UC Santa Barbara and UC Santa Cruz, California State University Fullerton, Cal Poly Pomona, and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.

The goals of this project were to:

  • produce a quantitative baseline characterization of the structure of rocky intertidal ecosystems in all of the South Coast MPAs that have accessible rocky intertidal; and
  • provide a quantitative comparison between the rocky intertidal ecosystems in these MPAs and associated reference areas in the South coast region using a combination of biodiversity surveys and targeted species sampling.

Researchers analytically explored the baseline characterizations for potential indicators of the state of the rocky intertidal ecosystems using newly collected data along with historical and contextual data from the region; evaluated the suitability of proposed draft metrics and other metrics for long term monitoring; and assessed initial changes in size and abundance of targeted species across newly created MPAs, existing MPAs and reference areas.

Reef Check California: Citizen Scientist monitoring of rocky reefs and kelp forests: Creating a baseline for California’s South Coast

Freiwald J, Wisniewski C. Reef Check California: Citizen Scientist monitoring of rocky reefs and kelp forests: Creating a baseline for California’s South Coast. Pacific Palisades, CA : Reef Check Foundation; 2015. Available from: https://caseagrant.ucsd.edu/news/summaries-of-projects-selected-for-funding-through-the-south-coast-mpa-baseline-program
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Report

In the Citizen Science SCUBA baseline project, citizen scientists and staff in the Reef Check California Program conducted SCUBA‐based surveys of the South Coast MPAs and reference sites to provide a quantitative assessment of rocky reefs and kelp forests.

Divers estimated density, population size, diversity, trophic structure, and biological habitat availability for key fish, invertebrate, and algae species. Researchers also drew on Reef Check California’s existing dataset to provide historical context for ongoing data collection. Data collected as part of this project were used to make recommendations for long-term monitoring. The project also built capacity for cost-effective long-term monitoring through a community network of citizen scientists.

Opportunities and barriers for fisheries diversification: Consumer choice in New England

Witkin T, Dissanayake STM, McClenachan L. Opportunities and barriers for fisheries diversification: Consumer choice in New England. Fisheries Research [Internet]. 2015 ;168:56 - 62. Available from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165783615001095
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Diversification has been defined as one goal of sustainable fisheries. However, the role of consumer choice in successfully achieving this goal is unknown. We use a choice experiment survey to quantify consumer preferences for locally abundant and underutilized fish relative to more familiar and overfished species, as well as in the context of other common sustainability characteristics (locally sourced and eco-labeled fish). We find that while respondents valued local seafood and avoided seafood labeled as “unsustainable”, even well-informed consumers placed a high value on familiar species. However, consumers that had previously purchased underutilized fish were willing to pay significantly more for these species. These results demonstrate that fisheries diversification faces challenges, but that consumer preferences may be malleable, suggesting a long-term potential to shift demand away from unsustainable stocks and meet larger conservation goals, provided consumer education occurs. Ultimately, these efforts have the potential to increase both the ecological and economic sustainability of marine fisheries.

Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages

Boaden AE, Kingsford MJ. Predators drive community structure in coral reef fish assemblages. Ecosphere [Internet]. 2015 ;6(4):art46. Available from: http://www.esajournals.org/doi/10.1890/ES14-00292.1
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The importance of top-down effects in structuring ecological communities has been widely debated by ecologists. One way in which to examine these processes is to study the secondary effects of predator removal on communities. This study examined the role of predatory fishes in structuring communities of coral reef fishes, by using a network of marine reserves (the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park) as a natural experiment. We hypothesized that reefs with high densities of piscivores (marine reserves) would have distinct fish communities from those where piscivores have been depleted through fishing, due to variation in predation pressure. We predicted that predator depletion would result in “prey release”, and a corresponding increase in prey densities along a gradient of fishing intensity, causing a change in the community composition of reef fishes. To address this, fish counts and habitat surveys were conducted at four locations on the Great Barrier Reef. At each location, comparisons were made amongst three marine park zones that varied in their exposure to fishing practices; no- take marine reserves, limited fishing areas, and open fishing areas.

The density and biomass of predators varied consistently among zones at each location. Furthermore, we found strong evidence for prey release at all four locations, resulting in distinct fish assemblages amongst zones. Reefs open to fishing had much lower densities of piscivores, and higher densities of prey and herbivorous fishes compared to marine reserves. This broad pattern was consistent amongst locations, and persisted at the level of species, trophic groups, families and communities. Habitat characteristics did not vary significantly amongst zones in a consistent manner amongst locations. Although habitat relationships were strong for specialist species such as butterflyfishes, densities of predators were stronger predictors of prey density for most species, and the trophic composition of reef fish communities differed significantly amongst zones at all locations. Results from this study support the concept that top-down effects can be strong divers of prey populations and influence community structure in highly diverse systems. These data emphasize the vital role of predators, and reinforce the importance of preserving and restoring top-down trophic interactions in ecological systems.

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