The siting of protected areas to achieve management and conservation objectives draws heavily on biogeographic concepts of the spatial distribution and connectivity of species. However, the marine protected area (MPA) literature rarely acknowledges how biogeographic theories underpin MPA and MPA network design. We review which theories from biogeography have been incorporated into marine spatial planning and which relevant concepts have yet to be translated to inform the next generation of design principles. This biogeographic perspective will only become more relevant as climate change amplifies these spatial and temporal dynamics, and as species begin to shift in and out of existing MPAs. The scale of climate velocities predicted for the 21st century dwarfs all but the largest MPAs currently in place, raising the possibility that in coming decades many MPAs will no longer contain the species or assemblages they were established to protect. We present a number of design elements that could improve the success of MPAs and MPA networks in light of biogeographic processes and climate change. Biogeographically informed MPA networks of the future may resemble the habitat corridors currently being considered for many terrestrial regions.
Offshore wind farms (OWF) form an important part of many countries strategy for responding to the threat of climate change, their development can conflict with other offshore activities. Static gear fisheries targeting sedentary benthic species are particularly affected by spatial management that involves exclusion of fishers. Here we investigate the ecological effect of a short-term closure of a European lobster (Homarus gammarus (L.)) fishing ground, facilitated by the development of the Westermost Rough OWF located on the north-east coast of the United Kingdom. We also investigate the effects on the population when the site is reopened on completion of the construction. We find that temporary closure offers some respite for adult animals and leads to increases in abundance and size of the target species in that area. Reopening of the site to fishing exploitation saw a decrease in catch rates and size structure, this did not reach levels below that of the surrounding area. Opening the site to exploitation allows the fishery to recuperate some of the economic loss during the closure. We suggest that our results may indicate that temporary closures of selected areas may be beneficial and offer a management option for lobster fisheries.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is defined as an integrated and comprehensive approach to ocean governance. Planning has the potential to ensure ecosystem and biodiversity conservation and establish rational use of marine space, combining activities relating to extraction industries, maritime transport, fisheries and related services and infrastructure. This article looks at what part transnational and national marine spatial planning can play in the Arctic. There is no international convention on marine spatial planning, and there are no requirements under international law that marine plans, as such, should be prescribed by law. MSP-regulation in different jurisdictions is diversified. It is difficult to claim that the international rights and obligations of a state under UNCLOS, CBD or regional instruments such as OSPAR, need to be fulfilled through the instrument of marine spatial planning. The comprehensive EU approach to marine planning is thus of particular interest. The EU members Denmark, Finland and Sweden do not have coastlines bordering the Arctic. EU has no direct influence over the regulation of marine spatial planning in Arctic marine areas through its relationship to Greenland or Norway, states with a close connection to the EU. The status of marine spatial planning in the European Arctic is thus dependent on the policies of Norway, Greenland and Russia. It is an open question whether spatial planning will be used for preventive and precautionary purposes in the Arctic, before the area is overwhelmed by marine activities and spatial conflicts.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) can serve as effective tools for the management and conservation of exploited marine species. The Gilbert Bay MPA in coastal Labrador was created to protect a genetically distinct population of Atlantic Cod (Gadus morhua); however, decreases in abundance continue to occur potentially due to exploitation outside the MPA. We developed a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) panel to identify Gilbert Bay cod in areas outside MPA boundaries where mixing with offshore cod occurs. In total, 361 individuals from Gilbert Bay, surrounding areas, and offshore were genotyped for 10,913 SNPs. Using FST rankings and guided regularized random forest, we selected 23 SNPs that together generate 100% accuracy in individual assignment and accurately estimate the proportion of Gilbert Bay cod in fishery samples from sites outside MPA boundaries: on average, fishery samples included 17.3% Gilbert Bay cod. Estimates of effective population size for the Gilbert Bay population ranged from 655 to 1,114. Our findings demonstrate the power of using genomic approaches for management of an exploited marine species and enhancing the design of MPAs.
In remote and data-limited situations such as encountered in Arctic regions, traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) is an important and valuable information source. TEK from local fishers (fishers knowledge, FK) is highly relevant to fisheries management. The integration of FK in fisheries assessments remains complicated by the lack of tools to combine scientific and FK observations. This study implements a productivity-susceptibility analysis (PSA) for assessing the risk from fishing to fish stocks and incorporate FK in the assessment process. The PSA method consists of scoring productivity attributes of fish populations and susceptibility attributes affecting fisheries exposure and intensity. The method can be adapted to incorporate FK on two levels: (1) in the validation of biological data (indirect inclusion); and (2) in the definition and scoring of independent FK attributes (direct inclusion). Risk scores measured along the productivity-susceptibility gradient serve to identify areas and populations most vulnerable to fishing activities and formulate science advice for prioritisation and management. We apply the method to small-scale fisheries for Arctic char Salvelinus alpinus in Cumberland Sound, Baffin Island, Nunavut. These fisheries are key to food security and economic growth in Canada's Arctic territories, yet management remains complicated by data paucity; by the widespread distribution and biological complexity of Arctic char stocks; and by growing uncertainties related to climate change impacts on Arctic fish and ecosystems. This paper demonstrates the usefulness of the method for combining science and FK information to improve management advice for Arctic char stocks, and applicability to other small-scale, data-limited fisheries.
Coastal urbanization has led to large-scale transformation of estuaries, with artificial structures now commonplace. Boat moorings are known to reduce seagrass cover, but little is known about their effect on fish communities. We used underwater video to quantify abundance, diversity, composition and feeding behaviour of fish assemblages on two scales: with increasing distance from moorings on fine scales, and among locations where moorings were present or absent. Fish were less abundant in close proximity to boat moorings, and the species composition varied on fine scales, leading to lower predation pressure near moorings. There was no relationship at the location with seagrass. On larger scales, we detected no differences in abundance or community composition among locations where moorings were present or absent. These findings show a clear impact of moorings on fish and highlight the importance of fine-scale assessments over location-scale comparisons in the detection of the effects of artificial structures.
Sea-level rise and climatic change threaten the existence of atoll nations. Inundation and erosion are expected to render islands uninhabitable over the next century, forcing human migration. Here we present analysis of shoreline change in all 101 islands in the Pacific atoll nation of Tuvalu. Using remotely sensed data, change is analysed over the past four decades, a period when local sea level has risen at twice the global average (~3.90 ± 0.4 mm.yr−1). Results highlight a net increase in land area in Tuvalu of 73.5 ha (2.9%), despite sea-level rise, and land area increase in eight of nine atolls. Island change has lacked uniformity with 74% increasing and 27% decreasing in size. Results challenge perceptions of island loss, showing islands are dynamic features that will persist as sites for habitation over the next century, presenting alternate opportunities for adaptation that embrace the heterogeneity of island types and their dynamics.
Microplastic pollution can impact filter-feeding marine megafauna, namely mobulid rays, filter-feeding sharks, and baleen whales. Emerging research on these flagship species highlights potential exposure to microplastic contamination and plastic-associated toxins. Research and its wide communication are needed to understand the magnitude of the issue and improve marine stewardship.
This study sought to develop a simple index for ranking birds' environmental sensitivity to oil in which birds are used as biological indicators. The study area consisted of both the Santos Estuarine System (SES), and the Laje de Santos Marine State Park (LSMSP), located in Southeastern Brazil. Information on the bird species and their feeding and nesting behaviors were obtained from the literature and were the basis of the sensitivity index created. The SES had a higher number of species, but only about 30% were found to be highly sensitive. The LSMSP presented a much lower number of species, but all of them were considered to be highly sensitive to oil. Due to its simplicity, this index can be employed worldwide as a decision-making tool that may be integrated into other management tools, particularly when robust information on the biology of birds is lacking.
Marine litter, in particular plastic debris, poses a serious threat to marine life, human health and the economy. In order to reduce its impact, marine litter collections such as beach clean-ups are frequently conducted. This paper presents a systematic review of temporal developments, geographical distribution, quantities and waste treatment pathways of collected marine litter. Results from over 130 studies and projects highlight the worldwide increase in collection efforts. Many of these are in wealthy countries that do not primarily contribute to the problem. Over 250 thousand tonnes, have already been removed, but there is little or no information available regarding how this waste is treated or used post collection. This paper highlights the need for a whole-system quantitative assessment for the collection and waste treatment of marine litter, and identifies the challenges associated with utilising this waste in the future.