Biological sampling in marine systems is often limited, and the cost of acquiring new data is high. We sought to assess whether systematic reserves designed using abiotic domains adequately conserve a comprehensive range of species in a tropical marine inter-reef system. We based our assessment on data from the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. We designed reserve systems aiming to conserve 30% of each species based on 4 abiotic surrogate types (abiotic domains; weighted abiotic domains; pre-defined bioregions; and random selection of areas). We evaluated each surrogate in scenarios with and without cost (cost to fishery) and clumping (size of conservation area) constraints. To measure the efficacy of each reserve system for conservation purposes, we evaluated how well 842 species collected at 1155 sites across the Great Barrier Reef seabed were represented in each reserve system. When reserve design included both cost and clumping constraints, the mean proportion of species reaching the conservation target was 20–27% higher for reserve systems that were biologically informed than reserves designed using unweighted environmental data. All domains performed substantially better than random, except when there were no spatial or economic constraints placed on the system design. Under the scenario with no constraints, the mean proportion of species reaching the conservation target ranged from 98.5% to 99.99% across all surrogate domains, whereas the range was 90–96% across all domains when both cost and clumping were considered. This proportion did not change considerably between scenarios where one constraint was imposed and scenarios where both cost and clumping constraints were considered. We conclude that representative reserve systems can be designed using abiotic domains; however, there are substantial benefits if some biological information is incorporated.
Coastal ecosystems provide numerous important ecological services, including maintenance of biodiversity and nursery grounds for many fish species of ecological and economic importance. However, human population growth has led to increased pollution, ocean warming, hypoxia, and habitat alteration that threaten ecosystem services. In this study, we used long-term datasets of fish abundance, water quality, and climatic factors to assess the threat of hypoxia and the regulating effects of climate on fish diversity and nursery conditions in Elkhorn Slough, a highly eutrophic estuary in central California (United States), which also serves as a biodiversity hot spot and critical nursery grounds for offshore fisheries in a broader region. We found that hypoxic conditions had strong negative effects on extent of suitable fish habitat, fish species richness, and abundance of the two most common flatfish species, English sole (Parophrys vetulus) and speckled sanddab (Citharichthys stigmaeus). The estuary serves as an important nursery ground for English sole, making this species vulnerable to anthropogenic threats. We determined that estuarine hypoxia was associated with significant declines in English sole nursery habitat, with cascading effects on recruitment to the offshore adult population and fishery, indicating that human land use activities can indirectly affect offshore fisheries. Estuarine hypoxic conditions varied spatially and temporally and were alleviated by strengthening of El Niño conditions through indirect pathways, a consistent result in most estuaries across the northeast Pacific. These results demonstrate that changes to coastal land use and climate can fundamentally alter the diversity and functioning of coastal nurseries and their adjacent ocean ecosystems.
A better understanding of the key ecological processes of marine organisms is fundamental to improving design and effective implementation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and marine biodiversity. The movement behavior of coral reef fish is a complex mechanism that is highly linked to species life-history traits, predation risk and food resources. We used passive acoustic telemetry to study monthly, daily and hourly movement patterns and space use in two species, Schoolmaster snapper (Lutjanus apodus) and Stoplight parrotfish (Sparisoma viride). We investigated the spatial overlap between the two species and compared intra-specific spatial overlap between day and night. Presence-absence models showed different diel presence and habitat use patterns between the two species. We constructed a spatial network of the movement patterns, which showed that for both species when fish were detected by the array of receivers most movements were made around the coral reef habitat while occasionally moving to silt habitats. Our results show that most individuals made predictable daily crepuscular migrations between different locations and habitat types, although individual behavioral changes were observed for some individuals across time. Our study also highlights the necessity to consider multiple species during MPA implementation and to take into account the specific biological and ecological traits of each species. The low number of fish detected within the receiver array, as well as the intraspecific variability observed in this study, highlight the need to compare results across species and individuals to be used for MPA management.
Improving public awareness about the ocean can benefit the environment, economy, and society. However, low levels of ‘ocean literacy’ have been identified in many countries and can be a barrier for citizens to engage in environmentally responsible behavior or consider ocean-related careers. This study assessed the level of ocean valuation, knowledge, interaction and interest of public school students grade 7–12 (ages 12–18) in Nova Scotia, Canada, a region with strong connections with the sea. A survey was used in 11 public schools, with a total of 723 students participating in a quiz and survey. Many quiz questions were aligned with the ‘Ocean Literacy Principles’ established by the Ocean Literacy Campaign in the United States. Although the average quiz score was below 50%, students reported a high valuation of the marine environment and diverse interest in the oceans, including jobs and careers. There was a distinct difference in knowledge of biology-related questions and abiotic-related questions, with students having more knowledge of and interest in topics concerning ocean life. A significant positive correlation between knowledge and value indicated that ocean-literate students might value the marine environment more strongly. Students reporting greater interaction with the ocean also demonstrated higher knowledge levels, and students with higher knowledge levels were more likely to be interested in ocean-related jobs and careers. Participants׳ high valuation of the marine environment and interest in ocean jobs and careers suggests important links between ocean literacy and environmental and economic benefit, respectively. Enhancing interactions with the ocean through experiential learning could be the most effective way of improving ocean literacy as well as marine citizen- and stewardship.
Worldwide fish stocks are of enormous importance to the global economy, livelihoods and food security, contributing about US$274 billion to global gross domestic product per annum. Fishing is particularly important in developing countries, where over half of the world fish catch originates. But almost 29 per cent of fish stocks are now estimated to be fished at a biologically unsustainable level.
Among the certification schemes offered as market-based incentives for sustainable fishing, the Marine Stewardship Council’s standard is the most extensive, representing nine per cent of global capture production. Yet only eight per cent of the world’s certified fisheries are from developing countries, and even fewer are small-scale. How can the MSC certification scheme be made more accessible to small-scale fisheries in developing countries? The benefits of certification are attractive, including access to markets in developed countries; but the process is costly and its requirements are often beyond the reach of small-scale fishers.
This report assesses barriers and drivers to certification for small-scale developing world fisheries, as well as the environmental and socio-economic impacts of MSC certification. It also outlines future research needed to understand what factors will allow more fisheries to overcome the challenges of achieving MSC certification.
Aquaculture is facing a new era of expansion in Europe. What are the environmental implications of this, and how can the sector expand sustainably? This Future Brief from Science for Environment Policy presents an overview of research into aquaculture’s impacts, and considers how it could develop in harmony with environmental goals.
Environmental Defense Fund has developed a user-friendly guide to help EU fishermen, fishery managers and Member State regulators find ways to successfully implement the CFP landing obligation requirements.
The manual is not prescriptive; rather, it discusses different tools that can be tailored to meet the specific needs and address the diversity in EU fisheries. The document is categorized by two key approaches, with the first outlining tools that help ensure Member States and quota managers use their available catch quota in the ‘smartest’ way possible through well-designed, robust quota management systems. The second focuses on changes in the day-to-day operation of the fishing industry, such as introducing avoidance measures and improving selectivity. These approaches are supplemented by a section on achieving full accountability to support successful implementation of the landing obligation.
This document was prepared by Jennifer Gee, FAOs new fisheries statistician for fishing fleet statistics, with the support of the Trust Fund of the Global Strategy- Improving Agricultural and Rural Statistics, funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Valuable input and comments were provided at different stages by the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) members of the Global Strategy, the staff of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Department and of the Statistics Division of the Economic and Social Development of FAO, as well as various national and international experts.
These Guidelines describe a method that can be employed to accurately capture the actual contribution of small-scale fisheries and aquaculture to rural communities. In principle, the basic structure of these survey stages follows the concepts adopted by the World Census of Agriculture, including the modular approach, to enhance utility and reduce implementation costs.
As global warming continues, reef-building corals could avoid local population declines through “genetic rescue” involving exchange of heat-tolerant genotypes across latitudes, but only if latitudinal variation in thermal tolerance is heritable. Here, we show an up–to–10-fold increase in odds of survival of coral larvae under heat stress when their parents come from a warmer lower-latitude location. Elevated thermal tolerance was associated with heritable differences in expression of oxidative, extracellular, transport, and mitochondrial functions that indicated a lack of prior stress. Moreover, two genomic regions strongly responded to selection for thermal tolerance in interlatitudinal crosses. These results demonstrate that variation in coral thermal tolerance across latitudes has a strong genetic basis and could serve as raw material for natural selection.
The management of the sea has increased exponentially in the last half-century, and different academic disciplines have been vital in shaping this management. Human geography, despite its explicit focus on the human–environment nexus, has so far had little impact on human relations with the sea. Based on empirical research conducted in England and Scotland, we argue that human geography is uniquely placed to offer effective solutions to marine resource management problems, and that geographers have the potential to offer key insights into how human populations can best interact with the living seas. Three of the most important current scholarly ‘imaginations’ of the sea, and the policies they inform (economics and market-based management, conservation biology and area based protection, and anthropology and community management), are outlined. A potential ‘geographical imagination’ of the sea, drawing on key themes in contemporary scholarship is then presented, and grounded in empirical research. It is argued that human–ocean relations should be a key feature of geographical research agendas.