Climate change is a significant global risk that is predicted to be particularly devastating to coastal communities. Climate change adaptation and mitigation have been hindered by many factors, including psychological barriers, ineffective outreach and communication, and knowledge gaps. This qualitative study compares an expert model of climate change risks to county administrators' “mental” models of climate change and related coastal environmental hazards in Crystal River, Florida, USA. There were 24 common nodes in the expert and the combined non-expert models, mainly related to hurricanes, property damage, and economic concerns. Seven nodes mentioned by non-experts fit within, but were not a part of, the expert model, primarily related to ecological concerns about water quality. The findings suggest that effective climate outreach and communication could focus on compatible parts of the models and incorporate local concerns to find less controversial ways to discuss climate-related hazards.
Changes in ecosystems structure and function due to high impacts of human pressure on oceans have led to the increasing numbers of Marine Protected Areas (AMP) as tools for conservation and fisheries management. Habitat recovery, increases in density, size and biomass of organisms within MPA and beyond their limits have often been found. However, MPA effectiveness is compromised by the interaction of several factors, such as the inadequate conduction of planning and management processes and the lack of appropriate scientific datasets to support decisions. In order to contribute to MPA effectiveness, several approaches to cope with data scarcity and low accuracy were developed and then applied to different case studies. Data analyses were mainly based in published studies and official datasets. Geographic information systems and multivariate statistical analyses were the main methods applied. Cumulative effects of human activities on the Portuguese coast were assessed and showed that implemented MPA are usually under high human impacts from different sources (e.g. fisheries, land-based activities). Small-scale fisheries are often the main economic activity occurring in MPA and a new monitoring method combining data on spatial distribution of fishing effort, on-board observations and official landings records revealed to be an effective approach to the assessment of MPA impacts on small scale fisheries. A framework based on fish life history and habitats used was developed and showed this approach can indicate areas that would potentially increase the effectiveness of protection measures. Finally, the status of marine conservation in SW Europe and the factors mostly contributing to their effectiveness were assessed and showed that high MPA effectiveness is usually related with strong stakeholders support, with suitable goals, management and enforcement. Overall, this thesis results highlighted that the investment in strategies aiming at maximizing MPA performance is urgent and crucial in a context of increasing MPA coverage.
As a signatory to the Convention on Biological Diversity, Canada has committed to establishing a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) that effectively conserves at least 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Research shows that the most effective MPAs are large, well enforced, no-take, and designed as part of a network. Canada's Pacific MPAs, designated site-by-site, cover approximately 3% of Canadian Pacific waters. We investigated how these MPAs could effectively contribute to Canada's national network by analyzing the implementation of management intent through the application of fisheries closures and conducting a preliminary assessment of their size and spacing relative to scientific guidelines. Fisheries closures outside of MPAs were similarly assessed. Results showed that 90% of existing MPAs were intended to exclude commercial fishing, yet only 2.5% fully or partially met this goal, therefore management intent was not achieved. Further, existing MPAs were small, 75% less than 10 km2 in size, but were reasonably spaced, from one to 50 km apart. While a suite of fisheries closures may be better suited to effectively contribute to a network than MPAs without fisheries closures, they would require permanent designations and management plans to meet network inclusion criteria.
The drive to increase renewable electricity production in many parts of Europe has led to an increasing concentration of location of new sites at sea. This results in a range of environmental impacts which should be taken into account in a benefit-cost analysis of such proposal. In this paper, we use choice modelling to investigate the relative gains and losses from siting new windfarms off the coast of Estonia, relative to the option of creating a new marine protected area. Methodologically, the paper makes a contribution by showing the ability of the latent class mixed logit model to represent both within-and between-class preference heterogeneity, and thus its power to provide a more sophisticated representation of preference heterogeneity than latent class or mixed logit approaches. The paper is also the first to use the latent class mixed logit in willingness-to-pay space for environmental goods.
Severe environmental problems documented in the Baltic Sea in the 1960s led to the 1974 creation of the Helsinki Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the Baltic Sea Area. We introduce this special issue by briefly summarizing successes and failures of Baltic environmental management in the following 40 years. The loads of many polluting substances have been greatly reduced, but legacy pollution slows recovery. Top predator populations have recovered, and human exposure to potential toxins has been reduced. The cod stock has partially recovered. Nutrient loads are decreasing, but deep-water anoxia and cyanobacterial blooms remain extensive, and climate change threatens the advances made. Ecosystem-based management is the agreed principle, but in practice the various environmental problems are still handled separately, since we still lack both basic ecological knowledge and appropriate governance structures for managing them together, in a true ecosystem approach.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of law in the management of the Baltic Sea, with focus on eutrophication. It aims to identify legal instruments or structures realizing an ecosystem approach. This also includes a discussion of the prerequisites of law as contributor to ecosystem-based management (EBM), as well as evaluation of current legal instruments. While ecosystem approach to environmental management is central to contemporary environmental management policy, it is still unclear what such an approach entails in concrete legal terms. The scope of the analysis stretches from international and EU legal regimes, to implementation and regulation within the national legal systems. A conclusion is that the management structures need further development to properly realize EBM, for example, through concretization of management measures, and clarification of duties and responsibilities for their realization.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has emerged as the generally agreed strategy for managing ecosystems, with humans as integral parts of the managed system. Human activities have substantial effects on marine ecosystems, through overfishing, eutrophication, toxic pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. It is important to advance the scientific knowledge of the cumulative, integrative, and interacting effects of these diverse activities, to support effective implementation of EBM. Based on contributions to this special issue of AMBIO, we synthesize the scientific findings into four components: pollution and legal frameworks, ecosystem processes, scale-dependent effects, and innovative tools and methods. We conclude with challenges for the future, and identify the next steps needed for successful implementation of EBM in general and specifically for the Baltic Sea.
Marine protected areas are aimed to protect and conserve key ecosystems for the provision of a number of ecosystem services that are the basis for numerous economic activities. Among the several services that these areas provide, the capacity of sequestering (capturing and storing) organic carbon is a regulating service, provided mainly by mangroves and seagrasses, that gains importance as alternatives for mitigating global warming become a priority in the international agenda. The objective of this study is to value the services associated with the capture and storage of oceanic carbon, known as Blue Carbon, provided by a new network of marine protected areas in Colombia. We approach the monetary value associated to these services through the simulation of a hypothetical market for oceanic carbon. To do that, we construct a benefit function that considers the capacity of mangroves and seagrasses for capturing and storing blue carbon, and simulate scenarios for the variation of key variables such as the market carbon price, the discount rate, the natural rate of loss of the ecosystems, and the expectations about the post-Kyoto negotiations. The results indicate that the expected benefits associated to carbon capture and storage provided by these ecosystems are substantial but highly dependent on the expectations in terms of the negotiations surrounding the extension of the Kyoto Protocol and the dynamics of the carbon credit’s demand and supply. We also find that the natural loss rate of these ecosystems does not seem to have a significant effect on the annual value of the benefits. This approach constitutes one of the first attempts to value blue carbon as one of the services provided by conservation.
The marbled murrelet (Brachyramphus marmoratus) is a seabird in the family Alcidae that forages in nearshore waters of the Pacific Northwest, and nests in adjacent older-forest conifers within 80 km offshore. The species is of conservation concern due to habitat loss and declining numbers, and is listed as Threatened in British Columbia, Canada and in the United States portion of its range south of Canada. Recent monitoring in the United States indicated that murrelet numbers continued to decline there, especially in the waters of Washington State. To better understand this decline, and to inform conservation planning for the species, we evaluated how terrestrial and marine factors influence the distribution and abundance of the murrelet in coastal waters, including whether at-sea hotspots of murrelet abundance exist. Murrelet at-sea abundance and distribution were determined by surveys conducted annually from 2000 to 2012 in coastal waters from the United States–Canada border south to San Francisco Bay. We summarized mean and variance of murrelet density at the scale of 5-km segments of coastal waters throughout this area. We used a boosted regression tree analysis to investigate the contributions of a suite of marine and terrestrial attributes to at-sea murrelet abundance in each segment. We observed several regional hotspots of higher murrelet abundance at sea. Terrestrial attributes made the strongest contribution, especially the amount and cohesiveness of suitable nesting habitat in proximity to each segment, whereas marine attributes explained less of the spatial and temporal variations in murrelet abundance. At-sea hotspots of murrelet abundance therefore reflect not only suitable marine foraging habitat but primarily the proximity of suitable inland nesting habitat.
The purpose of the North Vancouver Island (NVI) Marine Plan (the Plan) is to provide spatial and nonspatial recommendations for achieving ecosystem-based marine management that maintains social and cultural wellbeing and economic development based on healthy ecosystems within the Plan Area over the long term. The Plan includes recommendations for developing and maintaining resilient marine ecosystems and sustainable economies for NVI communities. It focuses on providing direction for managing marine areas, uses and activities within provincial government jurisdiction.