With the level of industrial activities increasing in Arctic areas it is crucial to assure that dedicated oil spill response capabilities and strategies are available for deployment in this region. To further build on existing research and improve technologies and methodologies for Arctic oil spill response, nine oil and gas companies established the Arctic Response Technology Joint Industry Program (ART-JIP) in 2012 with the goal to advance Arctic oil spill response strategies and equipment as well as to increase understanding of potential impacts of oil on the Arctic marine environment. As part of the environmental effects research program of the ART-JIP a comprehensive review of the environmental impacts arising from both the oil spill itself and the countermeasures activities was executed. A number of research activities were identified to improve the knowledge base for using a Net Environmental Benefit Analysis (NEBA) in the Arctic. As a follow-up of the review modelling-, laboratory- and field studies were conducted. The data collected from the review and the additional studies have been organized in an information tool to support tool Arctic NEBA. Results from the studies have improved the understanding of what happens to oil once frozen into ice, how the microbe communities are reacting to oil in ice and what the exposure potential and effects are on the marine organisms that live in association with the ice. This output from the ART-JIP will help managing oil spill impacts and will assist in the definition of a response strategy that minimizes effects to the environment.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established across all marine environments, though their coherence and effectiveness in protecting umbrella species remains unclear. We used a multi-model ensemble forecasting approach, on 8 years of at-sea censuses of 30 seabird species to identify candidate MPAs in the Portuguese coast, prioritizing important areas for their conservation based on their occurrence and distribution. We overlapped the outputs generated by the Ensemble Ecological Niche Models (EENMs) with layers representing important environmental stressors (fishing intensity, ship density and oil pollution risk), and calculated loss in conservation value using them as cost layers. Three key marine areas were identified along the Portuguese coast: For breeders, there was a key marine area encompassing the Tagus and Sado estuaries and Berlengas archipelago; for non-breeders and migratory species two important areas were identified in the Northern and Southern coast. The key marine area identified in the Northern coast is characterized by high productivity and biodiversity, and can be affected by oil pollution from the refineries and the intensive ship traffic in this area. Also, the area identified in the Southern coast of Portugal for migratory seabirds overlaps extensively with areas of high fishing activity. Our results show that the Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (IBAs) established along the Portuguese coast protect more than a third of the areas that we prioritized for breeding species and the official MPAs near 65% of the same areas. In contrast, current IBAs and national legislation protect less than 4% of the coastal areas that we prioritize for non-breeding species in this study. Our study, combining multi-species distribution with environmental constraints induced by human activities, allowed us to assess the coherence of the Portuguese marine planning and identify candidate areas to join the Portuguese network of marine protected areas. Our results, employing data from annual at-sea surveys together with the human stressors known to affect the Portuguese coast, proved to be an extremely useful strategy to identify spatial conservation areas along the Portuguese coast as well as to access the adequacy and consistency of those areas. Despite the constraints of this demanding approach, we are confident that our study provides a reliable strategy to inform marine conservation efforts and management planning in similar coastal environments elsewhere, characterized by strong coastal upwelling movements.
Despite marine fish being an important food resource for coastal communities, the amount of fish caught by small-scale fisheries is unsustainable at many locations. Fish consumers have a critical role in species conservation because they can choose responsibly and avoid consuming overexploited or endangered species. In this study, local human consumption patterns and local knowledge about groupers and sharks caught by small-scale local fisheries were investigated in a Brazilian coral reef complex. Fish consumers were interviewed in a fish market setting regarding their monthly fish consumption, knowledge of endangered species, and strategies they do to consume fish responsibly. Of the 126 local fish consumers, 94% and 76% reported to buying sharks and groupers, respectively, on a monthly basis. The main strategies they used to consume fish responsibly were 1) getting fishmonger's advice and 2) buying fish on reliable fish markets. Our findings are important to understanding fish consumption preferences, which can contribute to the implementation of educational initiatives aiming to raise consumers’ awareness regarding responsible consumption.
Coastal areas are under increasing pressure from rapid human population growth, yet empirical research on the effect of migration on coastal and marine resources is scarce. We contribute to this understudied literature by conducting an original household survey in a coastal region of Southeastern Ghana. This study employs two proxies for pro-environmental behavior that have not, to our knowledge, been used in the context of coastal migration, to explicitly compare migrant and non-migrant populations. Environmental attitudes toward coastal resources and individual extraction behavior in common-pool resource (CPR) experiments have shown broad relevance in the literature to understand natural resource decision making. We found that migrants in general did not differ significantly from non-migrants in relation to their environmental attitudes or their extraction behavior in the CPR game. However, when focusing on migrant fishers only, results suggested that this subgroup was less concerned about the utilization of coastal resources than non-migrant fishers and behaved less cooperatively in the CPR experiment. These findings, though, held true only for the subgroup of fishers, and could not be found for other occupational groups. Therefore, we conclude that migrants do not per se value coastal resources less or cooperate less in CPR situations, but that socioeconomic characteristics, and particularly their occupational status and their relation to the resource, matter.
Compliance is critical for effective conservation, and non-compliance regularly negates the desired outcomes of the world's marine protected areas. To increase compliance, practitioners must understand why resource users are breaking the rules, why these behaviours continue to occur, and how to effectively confront non-compliance. This study interviewed 682 recreational fishers of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) to examine the social components of compliance management. These components included fisher's perceptions of non-compliance, or poaching (defined here as fishing in no-take zones), as well as the beliefs, attitudes, normative influences, consumptive orientation and perceived behavioural controls that may influence fisher's decisions to poach. Encouragingly, most fishers had high perceptions of the legitimacy of management agencies and thought poaching was socially and personally unacceptable. However, these findings suggest that four (mis)perceptions or mechanisms are likely operative and at least partially responsible for continued non-compliance by fishers. These included pluralistic ignorance, false consensus, social learning, and a perceived lack of deterrence. Numerous tools can be used to address and correct these perceptions, including social norms and influence approaches, strengthened coercive deterrence measures, fear-arousing communications, and social outreach. If properly implemented, these tools and approaches should not only increase compliance but also reduce support (whether active or passive) for a culture of non-compliance.
The ocean is increasingly facing direct and indirect threats from multiple human activities that alter marine ecosystems worldwide. Mitigating these threats requires a global shift in the way people perceive and interact with the marine environment. Marine public perceptions research has emerged as a useful tool to understand public awareness and attitudes towards the sea. This study compares available surveys of public perceptions of marine threats and protection involving >32,000 respondents across 21 countries. Results indicate that 70% of respondents believe the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and 45% believe the threat is high or very high. Yet when asked about the ocean's health, only 15% thought it was poor or threatened. Respondents consistently ranked pollution issues as the highest threat, followed by fishing, habitat alteration and climate change. With respect to ocean protection, 73% of respondents support marine protected areas in their region. Most respondents overestimated the area of ocean currently protected, and would like to see much larger areas protected in the future. Overall, a clear picture emerged of the perceived threats and support for protection which can inform marine managers, policy makers, conservation practitioners and educators to improve marine management and conservation programs.