Under projections of global climate change and other stressors, significant changes in the ecology, structure and function of coral reefs are predicted. Current management strategies tend to look to the past to set goals, focusing on halting declines and restoring baseline conditions. Here, we explore a complementary approach to decision making that is based on the anticipation of future changes in ecosystem state, function and services. Reviewing the existing literature and utilizing a scenario planning approach, we explore how the structure of coral reef communities might change in the future in response to global climate change and overfishing. We incorporate uncertainties in our predictions by considering heterogeneity in reef types in relation to structural complexity and primary productivity. We examine 14 ecosystem services provided by reefs, and rate their sensitivity to a range of future scenarios and management options. Our predictions suggest that the efficacy of management is highly dependent on biophysical characteristics and reef state. Reserves are currently widely used and are predicted to remain effective for reefs with high structural complexity. However, when complexity is lost, maximizing service provision requires a broader portfolio of management approaches, including the provision of artificial complexity, coral restoration, fish aggregation devices and herbivore management. Increased use of such management tools will require capacity building and technique refinement and we therefore conclude that diversification of our management toolbox should be considered urgently to prepare for the challenges of managing reefs into the 21st century.
Region-wide assessments of coral cover typically rely on meta-analyses of small-scale ecological studies which have combined different coral reef habitats. This is particularly problematic on forereefs where at least 2 habitats can be found; coral-based bioherms and colonized hardgrounds (hereafter Orbicella reefs and gorgonian plains), each with very different structure and scleractinian coral cover. Here, we quantify the degree to which the failure to differentiate forereef zones dominated by framework building corals, mainly Orbicella spp. (hereafter Orbicella reefs) from gorgonian plains can lead to biased assessments of coral cover. We also provide a baseline of an extensive sample of Caribbean coral reefs in 2010-2012 for the 2 habitats within the forereef. Mean scleractinian coral cover (±SE) at Orbicella reefs was 24 ± 1.3%, more than double the coral cover found on the gorgonian plains (10 ± 1.6%). The difference in coral cover between habitats within the same geomorphological zone is consistent with those calculated from an independent dataset for the basin (Atlantic and Gulf Rapid Reef Assessment). Furthermore, the average coral cover calculated for Caribbean Orbicella reefs was more than double the values previously reported for entire reefs in the region a decade ago (10%), which integrated data from different habitats, depths, time periods and surveyors. Differentiating between forereef habitats has provided a meaningful baseline of coral state, which allows for realistic targets for management in the Caribbean basin.
The 2015 Report Card for the Mesoamerican Reef is based on a new study of 248 coral reef sites along 1000 km of the Caribbean coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, which were monitored for living coral cover, fleshy macroalgal cover, herbivorous fish biomass (parrots and surgeonfish) and commercially important fish biomass (snappers and groupers).
To gain insights into the effects of adaptive governance on natural capital, we compare three well-studied initiatives; a landscape in Southern Sweden, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and fisheries in the Southern Ocean. We assess changes in natural capital and ecosystem services related to these social–ecological governance approaches to ecosystem management and investigate their capacity to respond to change and new challenges. The adaptive governance initiatives are compared with other efforts aimed at conservation and sustainable use of natural capital: Natura 2000 in Europe, lobster fisheries in the Gulf of Maine, North America, and fisheries in Europe. In contrast to these efforts, we found that the adaptive governance cases developed capacity to perform ecosystem management, manage multiple ecosystem services, and monitor, communicate, and respond to ecosystem-wide changes at landscape and seascape levels with visible effects on natural capital. They enabled actors to collaborate across diverse interests, sectors, and institutional arrangements and detect opportunities and problems as they developed while nurturing adaptive capacity to deal with them. They all spanned local to international levels of decision making, thus representing multilevel governance systems for managing natural capital. As with any governance system, internal changes and external drivers of global impacts and demands will continue to challenge the long-term success of such initiatives.
The distribution and interactions of aquatic organisms across space and time structure our marine, freshwater, and estuarine ecosystems. Over the past decade, technological advances in telemetry have transformed our ability to observe aquatic animal behavior and movement. These advances are now providing unprecedented ecological insights by connecting animal movements with measures of their physiology and environment. These developments are revolutionizing the scope and scale of questions that can be asked about the causes and consequences of movement and are redefining how we view and manage individuals, populations, and entire ecosystems. The next advance in aquatic telemetry will be the development of a global collaborative effort to facilitate infrastructure and data sharing and management over scales not previously possible.
We set up a model that captures the spatial dimension of international fisheries in legal (i.e., internationally accessible high seas versus state-owned exclusive economic zones) and biological (i.e., various intensities of fish migration between zones) terms. We compare the success of regional fishery management organizations (RFMOs) for the first-best and two alternative management scenarios, related to restrictions regarding the scope and compatibility of measures. Whilst the performance of a given RFMO declines in the presence of these alternative management practices, participation might improve as free-riding becomes less attractive and the overall net effect may well be positive.
Recent increases in the number of high-speed, large-scale, and heavy-load vessels have made marine traffic more complex. Traffic situations are more difficult to manage as a result because of the rapid increase in the traffic density and the development of ship encounter situations. Here, we introduce a marine traffic complexity model to evaluate the status of traffic situation, use the complexity to investigate the degree of crowding and risk of collision, and support mariners and traffic controllers to get the traffic situation awareness. The traffic unit complexity model is constructed using pair-wise ship traffic characteristics such as the relative distance, relative speed, and intersecting trajectory. This model is extended to an area traffic complexity model through interpolation post-processing. We show that a higher complexity corresponds to more crowding and dangerous traffic in which the traffic situation should be carefully managed. Simulated data from the Shenzhen West Sea are employed to demonstrate the model and construct a map of the spatial distribution of the marine traffic complexity. The complexity model is shown to be effective in indicating different traffic situations.
This work examines the evolution of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) concepts implementation in the Italian North Adriatic Regions: Marche, Emilia Romagna, Veneto and Friuli Venezia Giulia between 2006 and 2011. In order to achieve such an objective a web-based survey has been realized and addressed to the different local and regional authorities that are competent, with different status and legal powers over coastal management. The study shows that in the considered area, although some improvements have been recorded, thanks to the transposition into the Italian legislative framework of EU provisions and above all, to local and regional efforts and initiatives, ICZM concepts are still far from being widely adopted. The weakest points reported are the fragmentation and poor coordination of the coastal management framework; the low attention given to economic data monitoring and stakeholders involvement. Furthermore, the lack of political support in the medium-long term and the availability of funds as well as the absence of monitoring and assessment strategies hinder the establishment of sustainable ICZM practices in the area. The findings of the study are then compared with other Countries, in order to draw conclusions on the barriers to ICZM implementation.
Measuring the ‘level of compliance’ has emerged as a key performance indicator for MPA success internationally. Accurate interpretation of quantitative and qualitative compliance data is critical for determining which compliance activities contribute to specific management outcomes. To demonstrate the value of enforcement data in effective MPA management, more than 5000 enforcement actions from 2007 to 2013 from five New South Wales (NSW) Marine Parks were analysed. Specifically, it was tested whether through time: (i) the number of enforcement actions standardised by surveillance effort declined-indicating that ‘general deterrence’ was being achieved; (ii) the number of repeat offenders decreased-indicating that ‘specific deterrence’ was being achieved; (iii) the number of ‘local community’ enforcement actions standardised by surveillance effort declined-indicating growing support for marine parks was being achieved at the community level; and (iv) the percentage of young offenders (<25 yr) had declined-indicating that education programs targeting young adults were successful. Results indicated that general deterrence was not being achieved, with offence rates being relatively stable between years. In contrast, compliance measures were achieving individual deterrence, with the percentage of repeat offenders being very low (0.13–0.83%). Although compliance strategies may be making some progress in improving local compliance in some marine parks, the overall offence rate of local communities was concerning. The data suggested that there were major differences in compliance rates among age groups of offenders over time, although the percentage of young offenders declined over time in three marine parks. Over the six-year data collection period, there was no discernable improvement in compliance rates in most NSW Marine Parks. Overall, the significant value of collecting and analysing information on enforcement activities for MPAs was demonstrated, an often neglected aspect of their management world-wide.
A rapid increase in maritime traffic together with challenging navigation conditions and a vulnerable ecosystem has evoked calls for improving maritime safety in the Gulf of Finland, the Baltic Sea. It is suggested that these improvements will be the result of adopting a regionally effective proactive approach to safety policy formulation and management. A proactive approach is grounded on a formal process of identifying, assessing and evaluating accident risks, and adjusting policies or management practices before accidents happen. Currently, maritime safety is globally regulated by internationally agreed prescriptive rules, which are usually revised in reaction to accidents. The proactive Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) is applied to risks common to a ship type or to a particular hazard, when deemed necessary, whereas regional FSA applications are rare. An extensive literature review was conducted in order to examine the opportunities for developing a framework for the GoF for handling regional risks at regional level. Best practices were sought from nuclear safety management and fisheries management, and from a particular case related to maritime risk management. A regional approach that sees maritime safety as a holistic system, and manages it by combining a scientific risk assessment with stakeholder input to identify risks and risk control options, and to evaluate risks is proposed. A regional risk governance framework can improve safety by focusing on actual regional risks, designing tailor-made safety measures to control them, enhancing a positive safety culture in the shipping industry, and by increasing trust among all involved.