Cumulative effects in the marine environment increase the risk of environmental, economic or social collapse because the combined effects of new and existing marine industries, climate change and other stressors are often not accounted for in the determination of environmental capacity. Ecosystem-based management and the development of tools that translate complex social-ecological processes into dynamic, adaptable management strategies are needed to avoid these pitfalls. Previous work has highlighted disconnects between how cumulative effects are interpreted and assessed by science agencies, funding agencies, and management agencies, but has largely missed how investors are interpreting them. These social-ecological boundary and threshold issues illuminate the pivotal challenge of institutional change and agency behaviors that are needed to address cumulative effects. Using scenario planning techniques, a team of researchers from the Sustainable Seas National Science Challenge in Aotearoa New Zealand engaged key decision makers and stakeholders in creative thinking and constructive conversation aimed at bridging some of these institutional and behavioral disconnects. A range of different strategies regarding how to address cumulative effects were proposed by the assembled participants, but the need for collaborative networks that enable collective thought and action across boundaries was emphasized throughout the day. This paper explores the themes that emerged and some of the barriers that must be addressed to facilitate bold action on the topic of cumulative effects.
The setting up of marine and coastal protected areas, one of most significant strategies of coastal management employed worldwide to maintain ecosystem services and mitigate biodiversity loss, has to be accompanied by an impact evaluation to guide decision-makers, practitioners and the relevant population. This paper presents a counterfactual approach of fishing households' profitability and vulnerability after the setting up of a marine and coastal protected area (MPA). By using the DID method (Difference-in-Differences), this approach is a comparison of average change in outcome over time for the treated group (fishing households with a main fishing ground adjacent to the MPA) and for the control group (fishing households with a main fishing ground remote from the MPA). From a dataset made up of 183 fishing households in Betenti Islands (Saloum, Delta, Senegal) surveyed twice (one year before the MPA's setting up and six years after it) and divided in two geographical strata, the main result is the applicability and confirmation of the value of a counterfactual approach to assess the positive effect of proximity with a MPA on fishing households' income and vulnerability, independently of fishing productive assets and conditions, and of any change that have affected them during the period taken in consideration. This counterfactual assessment should help to calibrate the necessary investments and to adapt the functioning of a MPA but also to target adequate mitigation and compensation measures for the non-beneficiary households.
Adequate response to risks affecting coasts requires an integrated and coordinated multi-risk governance system, with ongoing evaluation of statutory planning documents and responsible stakeholders. Traditionally, such analyses have been carried out using mainly qualitative approaches. This paper adopts a more systemic and quantitative perspective on assessing planning systems and stakeholder relationships in connection with coastal risk. We apply network analysis to the Catalan coast (Northwestern Mediterranean Basin), paying special attention to the level of climate change integration in the planning system, as an aggravating factor of current risk dynamics. Our results demonstrate and quantify the complexity of Catalan coastal risk planning, which requires dealings with multi-level legal and administrative frameworks. Also highlighted is dissimilar management traditions according to risk type: the perspective on flooding risk is more unified and multi-risk focused, whereas coastal erosion (a significant issue for the Catalan coast) is managed more sectorially from a centralized administrative level. Climate change, moreover, is weakly accounted for in current statutory planning. We also acknowledge the relevance of using qualitative information as an important complement in interpreting results and making policy recommendations.
Mapping techniques and spatial data management in coastal areas are still the subject of methodological and technological development, especially regarding systems for the organization and integration of data and information. The availability of integrated and comprehensive spatial information within the context of a multidisciplinary project is therefore an important step towards to defining methodological solutions to the characterization of coastal environment and their interrelations for management. The “Biota/Araçá Project” (Biodiversity and functioning of a subtropical coastal ecosystem: subsidies for integrated management) is a multi-disciplinary program of biodiversity assessment of a small bay in Sao Paulo coast (Brazil). This paper discuss the issues involved in establishing a local spatial data infrastructure (SDI) developed to allow access, model and sharing of spatial data within such collaborative and multidisciplinary research project context.
Urban development along the coastal zone involves land use changes that directly affect coastal ecosystems and services. The Bay of Cádiz, a metropolitan area in the south of Spain, is a study case in which the urban coastal occupation is clearly reflected, with the consequent loss of certain services that the ecosystems offer to the population. The research analyses urban changes in land uses and their impacts for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) proposals.
The methodology used in the research leads with the definition of the Bay of Cádiz as a Social-Ecological System, where natural and geographical characteristics converge with those social, economic and administrative, for delimiting the study area with an integrated perspective. The study of land uses evolution in the Social-Ecological System of the Bay of Cádiz, as well as the analysis of every ecosystem and their services, allows to obtain those impacts on human well-being that happen from pressures exerted. This analysis is developed through DPSIWR method, in which human well-being is incorporated to obtain ICZM responses.
Results show that land use changes in the Bay of Cádiz involves the loss of those ecosystems that offer the most important services to the population, such as tidal saltmarshes. In this sense, management responses should be focused on the conservation of these threatened services, with the coordination and cooperation among different public administrations.
Pelagic ecosystems are dynamic ocean regions whose immense natural capital is affected by climate change, pollution, and commercial fisheries. Trophic level–based indicators derived from fishery catch data may reveal the food web status of these systems, but the utility of these metrics has been debated because of targeting bias in fisheries catch. We analyze a unique, fishery-independent data set of North Pacific seabird tissues to inform ecosystem trends over 13 decades (1890s to 2010s). Trophic position declined broadly in five of eight species sampled, indicating a long-term shift from higher–trophic level to lower–trophic level prey. No species increased their trophic position. Given species prey preferences, Bayesian diet reconstructions suggest a shift from fishes to squids, a result consistent with both catch reports and ecosystem models. Machine learning models further reveal that trophic position trends have a complex set of drivers including climate, commercial fisheries, and ecomorphology. Our results show that multiple species of fish-consuming seabirds may track the complex changes occurring in marine ecosystems.
In recent years very large marine protected areas (VLMPAs) have become the dominant form of spatial protection in the marine environment. Whilst seen as a holistic and geopolitically achievable approach to conservation, there is currently a mismatch between the size of VLMPAs, and the data available to underpin their establishment and inform on their management. Habitat mapping has increasingly been adopted as a means of addressing paucity in biological data, through use of environmental proxies to estimate species and community distribution. Small-scale studies have demonstrated environmental-biological links in marine systems. Such links, however, are rarely demonstrated across larger spatial scales in the benthic environment. As such, the utility of habitat mapping as an effective approach to the ecosystem-based management of VLMPAs remains, thus far, largely undetermined.
The aim of this study was to assess the ecological relevance of broadscale landscape mapping. Specifically we test the relationship between broad-scale marine landscapes and the structure of their benthic faunal communities. We focussed our work at the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, site of one of the largest MPAs in the world. We demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between environmentally derived landscape mapping clusters, and the composition of presence-only species data from the region. To demonstrate this relationship required specific re-sampling of historical species occurrence data to balance biological rarity, biological cosmopolitism, range-restricted sampling and fine-scale heterogeneity between sampling stations. The relationship reveals a distinct biological signature in the faunal composition of individual landscapes, attributing ecological relevance to South Georgia's environmentally derived marine landscape map. We argue therefore, that landscape mapping represents an effective framework for ensuring representative protection of habitats in management plans. Such scientific underpinning of marine spatial planning is critical in balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders whilst maximising conservation payoff.
External oceanographic conditions rather than anthropogenic influence are shown to cause the 3-dimensional distribution of anthropogenic microparticles (MP, 0.5–5 mm) within the body of sandy beaches of a non-tidal sea with strong wind/wave climate and seasonal sea level variations (the Baltic Sea). A patchy structure is confirmed in all three dimensions, with background concentrations of several tens of MP items per kg of dry sample weight versus peaking spots with several hundreds of items per kg dry weight. The background MP concentrations are of the same order of magnitude for the beach surface, beach body, and sands of underwater coastal slopes, highlighting that the contaminated by MPs sand cover of the entire sea coastal zone is one single entity, repeatedly re-distributed between its underwater and beach parts by every next storm. Peaking concentrations are related to stormy events and places with stronger water dynamics, and are associated with locations of coarser sands within the beach body and wracklines at the beach surface. This suggests that marine waters are the source of anthropogenic microparticles for the beach, and not vice versa. The prevalence of wave-driven over wind-driven beaching mechanism for MPs extracted from the beach samples is confirmed by the flotation tests. Size distribution of the extracted MPs is found to be similar to that obtained for plastics floating at the ocean surface. Such a coherency for different oceanic environments speaks in favor of independence of general fragmentation processes on the particular external conditions, shifting the attention to the fragmentation process and material properties of synthetic particles in marine environment.
Mangrove forests provide critical services around the globe to both human populations and the ecosystems they occupy. However, losses of mangrove habitat of more than 50% have been recorded in some parts of the world, and these losses are largely attributable to human activities. The importance of mangroves and the threats to their persistence have long been recognized, leading to actions taken locally, by national governments, and through international agreements for their protection. In this review, we explore the status of mangrove forests as well as efforts to protect them. We examine threats to the persistence of mangroves, consequences, and potential solutions for effective conservation. We present case studies from disparate regions of the world, showing that the integration of human livelihood needs in a manner that balances conservation goals can present solutions that could lead to long-term sustainability of mangrove forests throughout the world.
This review traces an almost 25-year history of implementing cornerstones of integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) and climate change adaption into the regulatory planning and decision-making in Queensland, Australia. It illustrates the seesawing changes between ICZM and the general planning policy and statutory framework to accommodate the political struggle of incorporating key climate change adaptation measures in sought after and economically important coastal areas. The result of this process is mixed. It could be best described as an almost total integration of ICZM into, rather than with, other legislation; and this has been accompanied by an ever-diminishing political focus on coastal management in favour of mostly project specific, generic risk and hazard assessment processes. This leaves local authorities with an even greater need of reliable and yet affordable scientific and legal tools, to effectively deal with these risks. The broader implication of the Queensland ICZM history certainly raises the question about the extent of integration that is desirable for coastal zone management, notably in conjunction with the ongoing debate about climate change adaptation. Although the State government has recently introduced a new climate change adaptation strategy and is financially supporting coastal local government in developing long-term adaptation plans, the concept of ICZM in Queensland should be revisited. In other words, there is still a need for practical approaches of implementing ICZM into existing regulatory planning, pollution control, natural resource management and biodiversity conservation frameworks.