Rising sea temperatures are likely to increase the frequency of disease outbreaks affecting reef-building corals through impacts on coral hosts and pathogens. We present and compare climate model projections of temperature conditions that will increase coral susceptibility to disease, pathogen abundance and pathogen virulence. Both moderate (RCP 4.5) and fossil fuel aggressive (RCP 8.5) emissions scenarios are examined. We also compare projections for the onset of disease-conducive conditions and severe annual coral bleaching, and produce a disease risk summary that combines climate stress with stress caused by local human activities. There is great spatial variation in the projections, both among and within the major ocean basins, in conditions favouring disease development. Our results indicate that disease is as likely to cause coral mortality as bleaching in the coming decades. These projections identify priority locations to reduce stress caused by local human activities and test management interventions to reduce disease impacts.
Understanding spatial and temporal habitat-use patterns to protect both foraging and breeding grounds of species of concern is crucial for successful conservation. Saona Island in Del Este National Park (DENP), south-eastern Dominican Republic (DR), hosts the only major hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata) nesting area in the DR (100 nests yr-1, SD = 8.4, range = 93-111), with the population having been critically reduced through hunting. We satellite tracked 9 female hawksbill turtles, and present analyses of their core-use areas with respect to Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in both their internesting and foraging areas. Kernel utilization distributions indicated that during the internesting period all turtles remained close to their nesting beaches in small home ranges in the territorial waters of the DR, mostly over the continental shelf (<200 m depth). Common core-use areas were located inside the DENP, and 82.7% of all locations were within the DENP. In foraging areas, only 23% of locations were inside MPAs, either in waters of the DR or in waters of the Bahamas, Nicaragua and Honduras. Our results highlight that the protected areas of the DR are vital for hawksbill conservation, and the enforcement of existing legislation governing protected areas in the country is crucial. The present study also corroborates that the waters off Nicaragua and Honduras are exceptionally important foraging areas for hawksbills in the Caribbean, showing the turtle’s vulnerability in these waters.
Coral reefs throughout the world are under severe challenges from acute and chronic environmental factors; these include high Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) that induce coral bleaching, ocean acidification, destructive fishing practices and overfishing, run off of pollutants from agriculture, rising sea levels, blooms of algae, increasing development of coastal resorts and fish farms, oil pollution, and cyclone and hurricane damage. Small modifications to environmental parameters (e.g. a change in temperature of just a few degrees) can cause significant (up to 50%) changes in coral growth rates. Often, environmental parameters influencing growth can be multifactorial, and result in complex cellular changes so that high energy and high sedimentation together can reduce growth, while changes in temperature, salinity, and sedimentation can influence not only growth but also diversity and abundance of corals.
The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s strategic plan advocates the use of environmental surrogates, such as ecosystems, as a basis for planning where new protected areas should be placed. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of this ecosystem-based planning approach to adequately capture threatened species in protected area networks is unknown. We tested the application of this approach in Australia according to the nation's CBD-inspired goals for expansion of the national protected area system. We set targets for ecosystems (10% of the extent of each ecosystem) and threatened species (variable extents based on persistence requirements for each species) and then measured the total land area required and opportunity cost of meeting those targets independently, sequentially and simultaneously. We discover that an ecosystem-based approach will not ensure the adequate representation of threatened species in protected areas. Planning simultaneously for species and ecosystem targets delivered the most efficient outcomes for both sets of targets, while planning first for ecosystems and then filling the gaps to meet species targets was the most inefficient conservation strategy. Our analysis highlights the pitfalls of pursuing goals for species and ecosystems non-cooperatively and has significant implications for nations aiming to meet their CBD mandated protected area obligations.
There is substantial evidence that natural infrastructure (i.e., healthy ecosystems) and combinations of natural and built infrastructure (“hybrid” approaches) enhance coastal resilience by providing important storm and coastal flooding protection, while also providing other benefits. There is growing interest in the U.S., as well as around the world, to use natural infrastructure to help coastal communities become more resilient to extreme events and reduce the risk of coastal flooding. Here we highlight strengths and weaknesses of the coastal protection benefits provided by built infrastructure, natural ecosystems, and the innovative opportunities to combine the two into hybrid approaches for coastal protection. We also examine some case studies where hybrid approaches are being implemented to improve coastal resilience as well as some of the policy challenges that can make implementation of these approaches more difficult. The case studies we examine are largely in the U.S. but also include a couple of international examples as well. Based on this analysis, we conclude that coastal communities and other decision makers need better information in order to incorporate ecosystem protection and restoration into coastal resilience planning efforts. As additional projects are developed, it is important to capitalize on every opportunity to learn more about the cost of natural and hybrid infrastructure projects, the value of the storm and erosion protection benefits provided, and the full suite of co-benefits provided by healthy coastal ecosystems. We highlight top priorities for research, investment in, and application of natural and hybrid approaches. These data are critical to facilitate adoption of these approaches in planning and decision-making at all levels to enhance the resilience of our coasts.
Overcapacity (OC) and excess capacity (EC) are serious obstacles affecting the sound management of commercial fisheries around the world. The use of individual fishing quotas (IFQs) has been proposed as a promising management tool to cope with these challenges. However, the empirical evidence on the efficacy of this instrument is scarce. Drawing on a stochastic distance frontier analysis, we investigate the impact of the US Gulf of Mexico red snapper IFQ program on fishing capacity, capacity utilisation (CU) and OC. The paper also offers an alternative approach to compute species-specific capacity measurements for multispecies fisheries. Our findings show that following the introduction of the IFQ program, fishing capacity decreased, primarily due to the exit of a large number of fishing vessels. CU increased marginally indicating modest decreases in EC. Conversely, we find that OC remains high. Our estimates suggest that about one-fifth of the actual fleet could harvest the entire quota.
The efficacy of protected areas varies, partly because socioeconomic factors are not sufficiently considered in planning and management. Although integrating socioeconomic factors into systematic conservation planning is increasingly advocated, research is needed to progress from recognition of these factors to incorporating them effectively in spatial prioritization of protected areas. We evaluated 2 key aspects of incorporating socioeconomic factors into spatial prioritization: treatment of socioeconomic factors as costs or objectives and treatment of stakeholders as a single group or multiple groups. Using as a case study the design of a system of no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in Kubulau, Fiji, we assessed how these aspects affected the configuration of no-take MPAs in terms of trade-offs between biodiversity objectives, fisheries objectives, and equity in catch losses among fisher stakeholder groups. The achievement of fisheries objectives and equity tended to trade-off concavely with increasing biodiversity objectives, indicating that it is possible to achieve low to mid-range biodiversity objectives with relatively small losses to fisheries and equity. Importantly, the extent of trade-offs depended on the method used to incorporate socioeconomic data and was least severe when objectives were set for each fisher stakeholder group explicitly. We found that using different methods to incorporate socioeconomic factors that require similar data and expertise can result in plans with very different impacts on local stakeholders.
Environmental governance is more effective when the scales of ecological processes are well matched with the human institutions charged with managing human–environment interactions. The social-ecological systems (SESs) framework provides guidance on how to assess the social and ecological dimensions that contribute to sustainable resource use and management, but rarely if ever has been operationalized for multiple localities in a spatially explicit, quantitative manner. Here, we use the case of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico, to identify distinct SES regions and test key aspects of coupled SESs theory. Regions that exhibit greater potential for social-ecological sustainability in one dimension do not necessarily exhibit it in others, highlighting the importance of integrative, coupled system analyses when implementing spatial planning and other ecosystem-based strategies.
This paper presents the complete Coastal Hazard Wheel (CHW) system, developed for multi-hazard-assessment and multi-hazard-management of coastal areas worldwide under a changing climate. The system is designed as a low-tech tool that can be used in areas with limited data availability and institutional capacity and is therefore especially suited for applications in developing countries. The CHW constitutes a key for determining the characteristics of a particular coastline, its hazard profile and possible management options, and the system can be used for local, regional and national hazard screening and management. The system is developed to assess the main coastal hazards in a single process and covers the hazards of ecosystem disruption, gradual inundation, salt water intrusion, erosion and flooding. The system was initially presented in 2012 and based on a range of test-applications and feedback from coastal experts, the system has been further refined and developed into a complete hazard management tool. This paper therefore covers the coastal classification system used by the CHW, a standardized assessment procedure for implementation of multi-hazard-assessments, technical guidance on hazard management options and project cost examples. The paper thereby aims at providing an introduction to the use of the CHW system for assessing and managing coastal hazards.
CHANGING OCEANS, HUMAN ACTIVITIES AT RISK
Between 1971 and 2010, the oceans have absorbed approximately 93% of the excess heat caused by global warming, leading to several major changes such as the increase in stratification, limitation in the circulation of nutrients from deep waters to the surface, and sea level rise. In addition, the oceans absorbed 26% of anthropogenic CO2 emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution, which resulted in ocean acidification. Together, these processes strongly affect marine and coastal species’ geographic distribution, abundance, migration patterns and phenology. As a consequence of these complex environmental changes, marine and coastal human sectors (i.e., fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism and health) are in turn at risk. This report provides an updated synthesis of what the science tells us about such a risk, based upon IPCC AR5 (2013- 2014) and published scientific articles and grey literature that have been published between July 2013 and April 2015.
POTENTIAL CASCADING IMPACTS ON COASTAL SOCIETIES
Although uncertainty remains strong, there is growing scientific evidence that ocean warming and acidification will affect key resources for societies through ecosystems services. For example, while AR5 indicated that coral reefs had little scope for adaptation, recent research has suggested that there may be some capacity for some coral species to recover from climatic hocks and bleaching events, and to acquire heat resistance through acclimatization. This will have huge implications on many coastal economies in the developing and developed countries. More generally, key sectors will be affected. For example, while the fish catch potential is expected to decrease at the global scale, it will show diversified trends at the regional scale as fish stocks have started shifting in latitudes or by depth. This will impact regional to local fisheries systems. Also, climate and acidification-related impacts to existing aquaculture are expected to be generally negative, with impacts varying by location, species, and aquaculture method. Such foresights however do not consider the potential for adaptation, which aims precisely to limit the impacts of changes in environmental conditions.