The impacts of plastic debris on the marine environment have gained the attention of the global community. Although the plastic debris problem presents in the oceans, the failure to control land-based plastic waste is the primary cause of these marine environmental impacts. Plastics in the ocean are mainly a land policy issue, yet the regulation of marine plastic debris from land-based sources is a substantial gap within the international policy framework. Regulating different plastics at the final product level is difficult to implement. Instead, the Montreal Protocol may serve as a model to protect the global ocean common, by reducing the production of virgin material within the plastics industry and by regulating both the polymers and chemical additives as controlled substances at a global level. Similar to the Montreal Protocol, national production and consumption of this virgin content can be calculated, providing an opportunity for the introduction of phased targets to reduce and eliminate the agreed substances to be controlled. The international trade of feedstock materials that do not meet the agreed minimum standards can be restricted. The aim of such an agreement would be to encourage private investment in the collection, sorting and recycling of post-consumer material for reuse as feedstock, thereby contributing to the circular economy. The proposed model is not without its challenges, particularly when calculating costs and benefits, but is worthy of further consideration by the international community in the face of the global threats posed to the ocean by plastics.
Coral reefs are severely threatened and a principal strategy for their conservation is marine protected areas (MPAs). However the drivers of MPA performance are complex and there are likely to be trade-offs between different types of performance (e.g. conservation or welfare related outcomes). We compiled a global dataset from expert knowledge for 76 coral reef MPAs in 33 countries and identified a set of performance measures reflecting ecological and socio-economic outcomes, achievement of aims and reduction of threats, using spatial or temporal comparisons wherever possible. We wanted to test the extent to which distinct types of performance occurred simultaneously, understood as win-win outcomes. Although certain performance measures were correlated, most were not, suggesting trade-offs that limit the usefulness of composite performance scores. Hypotheses were generated as to the impact of MPA features, aims, location, management and contextual variables on MPA performance from the literature. A multivariate analysis was used to test hypotheses as to the relative importance of these “drivers” on eight uncorrelated performance measures. The analysis supported some hypotheses (e.g. benefit provision for the local community improved performance), but not others (e.g. higher overall budget and more research activity did not). Factors endogenous to the MPA (such as size of the no-take area) were generally more significant drivers of performance than exogenous ones (such as national GDP). Different types of performance were associated with different drivers, exposing the trade-offs inherent in management decisions. The study suggests that managers are able to influence MPA performance in spite of external threats and could inform adaptive management by providing an approach to test for the effects of MPA features and management actions in different contexts and so to inform decisions for allocation of effort or funds to achieve specific goals.
The status of main fisheries along the Mexican portion of the Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem (GoM-LME) was assessed considering the resources’ most relevant aspects, the fisheries fleet, the fisheries market and the problems that they currently face, with the aim of increasing the stakeholders knowledge, to move towards the implementation of an ecosystem management approach in the region. Several recommendations are made for improving the recovery and sustainability of GoM-LME fisheries. With regard to the tuna fishery, the fishery status is completely exploited. Northern brown shrimp and Atlantic seabob fisheries are within the maximum sustainable yield level, whereas the status of northern pink, red-spotted shrimp and brown rock shrimp fisheries are considered as deteriorated. Striped and white mullet fisheries are completely exploited as well as that of shark and skates. The snook fishery is exploited to the maximum sustainable level. Several initiatives are presented based on an ecosystem approach that has been generated to reinforce traditional management plans in order to avoid further deterioration of these resources. Some economic alternatives are identified to increase the profitability of the fisheries of the GoM-LME along the Mexican coast.
Large Marine Ecosystems located around the margins of the continents provide a countless number of goods and services that sustain and fulfill human life and activities: seafood; habitats; energy sources; nutrient cycling and primary production; weather and climate regulation; coastal protection; water detoxification; sediments trapping; and cultural and economic services, among others. Of 66 Large Marine Ecosystems, ten LMEs are located along the coasts of Latin America – California Current, Gulf of California, Gulf of Mexico, Pacific Central American Coastal, Caribbean Sea, Humboldt Current, Patagonian Shelf, South Brazil Shelf, East Brazil Shelf and North Brazil Shelf. Each one possesses different characteristics that make it unique and essential for local populations. Unfortunately, these Large Marine Ecosystems are threatened by several factors such as coastal population growth, pollution, overexploitation and climate change, but most of all poor governance practice. The concept of Ecosystem Based Management aims to consider ecosystems health and importance in all aspects of the recovery and sustainability of LME goods and services. This chapter introduces a general description of the Large Marine Ecosystem approach to sustainable development of coastal ocean resources, presents the concept of Ecosystem Based Management, describes some goods and services provided by Large Marine Ecosystems and draws a picture of each Latin American Large Marine Ecosystem.
The Peru-Chile GEF-UNDP-Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem Project successfully completed its first five-year phase. It included the delivery of ten thematic reports (TR), a Causal Chain Analysis (CCA), Ecosystem Diagnostic Analyses (EDA)(one each for Chile and Peru), a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) and a Strategic Action Program (SAP). The transboundary problems affecting the state of goods and services provided by the Humboldt Current Large Marine Ecosystem (HCLME) are: (1) non optimal use of fishing resources with socio-economic consequences; (2) anthropogenic disturbance of marine habitats after an increase in pollution levels within the HCLME; and (3) high incidental by-catch and associated fauna destruction and discards as a common problem for the two countries. Governance aspects developed during the past five years (2011-16) included, a “bottom-up” process in Peru and Chile linked to the establishment of new fishing and aquaculture acts, Marine Protected Areas and territorial use rights for artisanal fisheries, new methods for fish stock assessment, and ecolabelling of fisheries, among others. Management plans have been designed for pilot sites: the Juan Fernandez Archipelago in Chile; and Lobos de Tierra Island, Ballestas Islands and San Juan cape in Peru.
A first Total Economic Value calculation of the goods and services provided by the HCLME in 2015 indicates a delivery of US$19.45 billion per annum. This value comprises 58% from Chile (US$ 11.28 billion) and 42% from Peru (US$ 8.17 billion). Additionally, the area of direct influence of the Humboldt Current System generates 77% (US$ 14.97 billion) of the value produced by the HCLME, where the tropical area of Peru and the southern area of Chile added 2% (US$ 0.45 billion) and 21% (US$ 4.03 billion), respectively.
Possible scenarios of climate change in the HCLME were focused on the changes of biogeochemical alterations and forcing on the productivity and abundance-distribution of key species. Currently, high ocean productivity is an expression of the relatively high biomass of pelagic fish like anchovy, pacific jack mackerel and sardine, also other fishing resources like demersal fish (hake), cephalopod molluscs (squid), crustaceans (shrimp) have important contributions. Nevertheless, a deeper analysis of the impacts of climate on the fisheries and coastal areas of the HCLME is needed.
Marine mammals attract human interest – sometimes this interest is benign or positive – whale watching, conservation programmes for whales, seals, otters, and efforts to clear beaches of marine debris are seen as proactive steps to support these animals. However, there are many forces operating to affect adversely the lives of whales, seals, manatees, otters and polar bears – and this book explores how the welfare of marine mammals has been affected and how they have adapted, moved, responded and sometimes suffered as a result of the changing marine and human world around them. Marine mammal welfare addresses the welfare effects of marine debris, of human traffic in the oceans, of noise, of hunting, of whale watching and tourism, and of some of the less obvious impacts on marine mammals – on their social structures, on their behaviours and migration, and also of the effects on captivity for animals kept in zoos and aquaria. There is much to think and talk about – how marine mammals respond in a world dramatically influenced by man, how are their social structures affected and how is their welfare impacted?
Sharks, rays, and chimaeras (Class Chondrichthyes; herein 'sharks') are the earliest extant jawed vertebrates and exhibit some of the greatest functional diversity of all vertebrates. Ecologically, they influence energy transfer vertically through trophic levels and sometimes trophic cascades via direct consumption and predation risk. Through movements and migrations, they connect horizontally and temporally across habitats and ecosystems, integrating energy flows at large spatial scales and across time. This connectivity flows from ontogenetic growth in size and spatial movements, which in turn underpins their relatively low reproductive rates compared with other exploited ocean fishes. Sharks are also ecologically and demographically diverse and are taken in a wide variety of fisheries for multiple products (e.g. meat, fins, teeth, and gills). Consequently, a range of fisheries management measures are generally preferable to 'silver bullet' and 'one size fits all' conservation actions. Some species with extremely low annual reproductive output can easily become endangered and hence require strict protections to minimize mortality. Other, more prolific species can withstand fishing over the long term if catches are subject to effective catch limits throughout the species' range. We identify, based on the IUCN Red List status, 64 endangered species in particular need of new or stricter protections and 514 species in need of improvements to fisheries management. We designate priority countries for such actions, recognizing the widely differing fishing pressures and conservation capacity. We hope that this analysis assists efforts to ensure this group of ecologically important and evolutionarily distinct animals can support both ocean ecosystems and human activities in the future.
Knowledge of the extent and intensity of fishing activities is critical to inform management in relation to fishing impacts on marine conservation features. Such information can also provide insight into the potential socio-economic impacts of closures (or other restrictions) of fishing grounds that could occur through the future designation of Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs). We assessed the accuracy and validity of fishing effort data (spatial extent and relative effort) obtained from Fishers’ Local Knowledge (LK) data compared to that derived from Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data for a high-value shellfish fishery, the king scallop (Pecten maximus L.) dredge fishery in the English Channel. The spatial distribution of fishing effort from LK significantly correlated with VMS data and the correlation increased with increasing grid cell resolution. Using a larger grid cell size for data aggregation increases the estimation of the total area of seabed impacted by the fishery. In the absence of historical VMS data for vessels ≤15 m LOA (Length Overall), LK data for the inshore fleet provided important insights into the relative effort of the inshore (<6 NM from land) king scallop fishing fleet in the English Channel. The LK data provided a good representation of the spatial extent of inshore fishing activity, whereas representation of the offshore fishery was more precautionary in terms of defining total impact. Significantly, the data highlighted frequently fished areas of particular importance to the inshore fleet. In the absence of independent sources of geospatial information, the use of LK can inform the development of marine planning in relation to both sustainable fishing and conservation objectives, and has application in both developed and developing countries where VMS technology is not utilised in fisheries management.
The Convention on Biological Diversity mandates the establishment of Marine Protected Area (MPA) networks worldwide, with recommendations stating the importance of ‘ecological coherence,’ a responsibility to support and perpetuate the existing ecosystem, implying the need to sustain population connectivity. While recommendations exist for integrating connectivity data into MPA planning, little advice exists on how to assess the connectivity of existing networks. This study makes use of recently observed larval characteristics and freely available models to demonstrate how such an assessment could be undertaken. The cold water coral (CWC) Lophelia pertusa (Linnaeus, 1758) is used as a model species, as much of the NE Atlantic MPA network has been designated for CWC reef protection, but the ecological coherence of the network has yet to be assessed. Simulations are run for different behavioural null models allowing a comparison of ‘passive’ (current driven) and ‘active’ (currents + vertical migration) dispersal, while an average prediction is used for MPA assessment. This model suggests that the network may support widespread larval exchange and has good local retention rates but still has room for improvement. The best performing MPAs were large and central to the network facilitating transport across local dispersal barriers. On average, passive and active dispersal simulations gave statistically similar results, providing encouragement to future local dispersal assessments where active characteristics are unknown.
In July 2015, Scotland became one of the first countries to sign up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, unlike their forerunner the Millennium Development Goals, are not restricted to developing nations. Their respective targets should drive policy decisions for Scottish fisheries, in keeping with the universal intent of the new goals. This paper explores the relevance of SDG 14 to the Scottish fishing industry, noting that there are a number of linkages with other goals and targets that should be considered within management frameworks. Scottish fishing has a long history, but the size of the inshore fleet has seen decline in recent decades, particularly of small-scale fishers in rural communities. Available literature was reviewed and a survey of active Scottish fishers conducted to explore the current availability and equality of distribution of benefits from ecosystem services to Scottish fisheries, and the factors that affect them. The findings suggest that benefits may not currently be equally distributed across Scottish fisheries; this is largely sector dependent and driven by market forces, but also relates to gaps in current management and monitoring systems. Furthermore, the potential benefits to fisheries of marine protected areas (MPAs) established for conservation purposes are not adequately assessed as part of their design, which may result in less support from fisheries stakeholders and reduce the benefit to ecosystem services. It concludes with some recommendations for consideration by decision-makers to improve how fishing businesses and communities could benefit more from ecosystem services whilst operating within environmental limits.