Blue carbon initiatives require accurate monitoring of carbon stocks. We examined sources of variability in seagrass organic carbon (Corg) stocks, contrasting spatial with short temporal scales. Seagrass morphology and sediment Corg stocks were measured from biomass and shallow sediment cores collected in Moreton Bay, Australia. Samples were collected between 2012 and 2013, from a total of 77 sites that spanned a gradient of water turbidity. Environmental measures of water quality between 2000 and 2013 revealed strong seasonal fluctuations from summer to winter, yet seagrass biomass exhibited no temporal variation. There was no temporal variability in Corg stocks, other than below ground biomass stocks were slightly higher in June 2013. Seagrass locations were grouped into riverine, coastal, and seagrass loss locations and short temporal variability of Corg stocks was analysed within these categories to provide clearer insights into temporal patterns. Above ground Corg stocks were similar between coastal and riverine meadows. Below ground Corg stocks were highest in coastal meadows, followed by riverine meadows. Sediment Corg stocks within riverine meadows were much higher than at coastal meadows and areas of seagrass loss, with no difference in sediment Corg stocks between these last two categories. Riverine seagrass meadows, of higher turbidity, had greater total Corg stocks than meadows in offshore areas irrespective of time. We suggest that Corg stock assessment should prioritise sampling over spatial gradients, but repeated monitoring over short time scales is less likely to be warranted if environmental conditions remain stable.
The ratio of stable isotopes of carbon (δ13C) is commonly used to track the flow of energy among individuals and ecosystems, including in mangrove forests. Effective use of this technique requires understanding of the spatial variability in δ13C among primary producer(s) as well as quantification of the isotopic fractionations that occur as C moves within and among ecosystem components. In this experiment, we assessed δ13C variation in the cosmopolitan mangrove Avicennia marina across four sites of varying physico-chemical conditions across two estuaries. We also compared the isotopic values of five distinct tissue types (leaves, woody stems, cable roots, pneumatophores and fine roots) in individual plants.
We found a significant site effect (F3, 36 = 15.78; P < 0.001) with mean leaf δ13C values 2.0‰ more depleted at the lowest salinity site compared to the other locations. There was a larger within-plant fractionation effect, however, with leaf samples (mean ± SE = −29.1 ± 0.2) more depleted in 13C than stem samples (−27.1 ± 0.1), while cable root (−25. 8 ± 0.1), pneumatophores (−25.7 ± 0.1) and fine roots (−26.0 ± 0.2) were more enriched in 13C relative to both aboveground tissue types (F4, 36 = 223.45; P < 0.001).
The within-plant δ13C fractionation we report for A. marina is greater than that reported in most other ecosystems. This has implications for studies of estuarine carbon cycling. The consistent and large size of the fractionation from leaf to woody stem (∼2.0‰) and mostly consistent fractionation from leaf to root tissues (>3.0‰) means that it may now be possible to partition the individual contributions of various mangrove tissues to estuarine food webs. Similarly, the contributions of mangrove leaves, woody debris and belowground sources to blue carbon stocks might also be quantified. Above all, however, our results emphasize the importance of considering appropriate mangrove tissue types when using δ13C to trace carbon cycling in estuarine systems.
The Australian continent spans coastal wetland settings ranging from extensive mangrove forest and sabkha plains occupying in the tropical north, to the southern half of the continent, where high wave energy constrains wetlands within numerous barrier-fronted estuaries, drowned river valleys and coastal embayments. Only on the island of Tasmania are mangroves absent; elsewhere mangroves, Casuarina, Melaleuca and saltmarsh interact in ways illustrative of the effects of ongoing climate, tidal and sea-level change. Observations over several decades have suggested that recent anthropogenic climate change may already be impacting Australian coastal wetlands in important ways. A period of accelerating sea-level rise has been associated with saline intrusion, mangrove encroachment and Melaleuca dieback in the tropical north, punctuated by widespread mangrove mortality in drought periods. The consistent trend of mangrove encroachment and replacement of saltmarsh in the south, is associated with an “accretion deficit” in saltmarsh during contemporary sea-level rise. We review the ecological and cultural implications of these changes, including impacts on habitat provision for migratory birds, fisheries values, carbon sequestration and Indigenous cultural values. Current legislative and policy protections may not be sufficient to meet the increasingly dynamic impacts of climate change in altering wetland boundaries, composition and function.
Although there is no fishing activity within the central Arctic Ocean at present, commercial fishing activity does occur in the high seas areas of the North Atlantic and North Pacific, and within the exclusive economic zone of the Arctic coastal States. Climate change will most probably lead to an increase in fishing activity, through the reduction in sea ice, opening up new areas of the Arctic to fisheries, including the Central Arctic Ocean. This prospect has fuelled intensive negotiations—still ongoing—for the signing of a legally binding agreement to prevent unregulated fisheries therein. What seems missing, though, from both the ongoing negotiations on this agreement and the scholarly literature is reference to fisheries enforcement in the Arctic. Accordingly, this article identifies the most effective tools that could be employed for fisheries enforcement purposes, including port and flag State measures, and addresses their potential application in the Arctic.
Climate change effects have the potential of affecting both ocean and atmospheric processes. These changes pose serious threats to the millions of people that live by the coast. Thus, the objective of the present review is to discuss how climate change is altering (and will continue to alter) atmospheric and oceanic processes, what are the main implications of these alterations along the coastline, and which are the ecosystem-based management (EBM) strategies that have been proposed and applied to address these issues. While ocean warming, ocean acidification and increasing sea level have been more extensively studied, investigations on the effects of climate change to wind and wave climates are less frequent. Coastal ecosystems and their respective natural resources will respond differently according to location, environmental drivers and coastal processes. EBM strategies have mostly concentrated on improving ecosystem services, which can be used to assist in mitigating climate change effects. The main challenge for developing nations regards gaps in information and scarcity of resources. Thus, for effective management and adaptive EBM strategies to be developed worldwide, information at a local level is greatly needed.
Reductions in global fishing pressure are needed to end overfishing of target species and maximize the value of fisheries. We ask whether such reductions would also be sufficient to protect non–target species threatened as bycatch. We compare changes in fishing pressure needed to maximize profits from 4713 target fish stocks—accounting for >75% of global catch—to changes in fishing pressure needed to reverse ongoing declines of 20 marine mammal, sea turtle, and seabird populations threatened as bycatch. We project that maximizing fishery profits would halt or reverse declines of approximately half of these threatened populations. Recovering the other populations would require substantially greater effort reductions or targeting improvements. Improving commercial fishery management could thus yield important collateral benefits for threatened bycatch species globally.
Sea turtles inhabiting coastal environments routinely encounter anthropogenic hazards, including fisheries, vessel traffic, pollution, dredging, and drilling. To support mitigation of potential threats, it is important to understand fine-scale sea turtle behaviors in a variety of habitats. Recent advancements in autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) now make it possible to directly observe and study the subsurface behaviors and habitats of marine megafauna, including sea turtles. Here, we describe a “smart” AUV capability developed to study free-swimming marine animals, and demonstrate the utility of this technology in a pilot study investigating the behaviors and habitat of leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriacea). We used a Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS (REMUS-100) AUV, designated “TurtleCam,” that was modified to locate, follow and film tagged turtles for up to 8 h while simultaneously collecting environmental data. The TurtleCam system consists of a 100-m depth rated vehicle outfitted with a circular Ultra-Short BaseLine receiver array for omni-directional tracking of a tagged animal via a custom transponder tag that we attached to the turtle with two suction cups. The AUV collects video with six high-definition cameras (five mounted in the vehicle nose and one mounted aft) and we added a camera to the animal-borne transponder tag to record behavior from the turtle's perspective. Since behavior is likely a response to habitat factors, we collected concurrent in situ oceanographic data (bathymetry, temperature, salinity, chlorophyll-a, turbidity, currents) along the turtle's track. We tested the TurtleCam system during 2016 and 2017 in a densely populated coastal region off Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA, where foraging leatherbacks overlap with fixed fishing gear and concentrated commercial and recreational vessel traffic. Here we present example data from one leatherback turtle to demonstrate the utility of TurtleCam. The concurrent video, localization, depth and environmental data allowed us to characterize leatherback diving behavior, foraging ecology, and habitat use, and to assess how turtle behavior mediates risk to impacts from anthropogenic activities. Our study demonstrates that an AUV can successfully track and image leatherback turtles feeding in a coastal environment, resulting in novel observations of three-dimensional subsurface behaviors and habitat use, with implications for sea turtle management and conservation.
International interest in increasing marine protected area (MPA) coverage reflects broad recognition of the MPA as a key tool for marine ecosystems and fisheries management. Nevertheless, effective management remains a significant challenge. The present study contributes to enriching an understanding of best practices for MPA management through analysis of archived community survey data collected in the Philippines by the Learning Project (LP), a collaboration with United States Coral Triangle Initiative (USCTI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and partners. We evaluate stakeholder participation and social ecological interactions among resource users in MPA programs in the Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, and Batangas provinces in the Philippines. Analysis indicates that a complex suite of social ecological factors, including demographics, conservation beliefs, and scientifically correct knowledge influence participation, which in turn is related to perceived MPA performance. Findings indicate positive feedbacks within the system that have potential to strengthen perceptions of MPA success. The results of this evaluation provide empirical reinforcement to current inquiries concerning the role of participation in influencing MPA performance.
Ocean- and coastal-based economic activities are increasingly recognised as key drivers for supporting global economies. This move towards the “blue economy” is becoming globally widespread, with the recognition that if ocean-based activities are to be sustainable, they will need to move beyond solely extractive and exploitative endeavours, aligning more closely with marine conservation and effective marine spatial planning. In this paper we define the “blue economy” as a “platform for strategic, integrated and participatory coastal and ocean development and protection that incorporates a low carbon economy, the ecosystem approach and human well-being through advancing regional industries, services and activities”. In Peru, while the seas contribute greatly to the national economy, the full potential of the blue economy has yet to be realised. This paper presents the findings of an early career scientist workshop in Lima, Peru, in March 2016. The workshop “Advancing Green Growth in Peru” brought together researchers to identify challenges and opportunities for green growth across three Peruvian economic sectors—tourism, transport and the blue economy with this paper exploring in detail the priorities generated from the “blue economy” stream. These priorities include themes such as marine spatial planning, detailed evaluations of existing maritime industries (e.g. guano collection and fisheries), development of an effective MPA network, support for sustainable coastal tourism, and better inclusion of social science disciplines in understanding societal and political support for a Peruvian blue economy. In addition, the paper discusses the research requirements associated with these priorities. While not a comprehensive list, these priorities provide a starting point for future dialogue on a co-ordinated scientific platform supporting the blue growth agenda in Peru, and in other regions working towards a successful “blue economy”.
Marine plastic pollution is present in all oceans, including remote oceanic islands. Despite the increasing number of articles on plastic pollution in the last years, there is still a lack of studies in islands, that are biodiversity hotspots when compared to the surrounding ocean, and even other recognized highly biodiverse marine environments. Articles published in the peer reviewed literature (N = 20) were analysed according to the presence of macro (>5 mm) and microplastics (<5 mm) on beaches and the marine habitats immediately adjacent to 31 islands of the Atlantic Ocean and Caribbean Sea. The first articles date from the 1980s, but most were published in the 2000s. Articles on macroplastics were predominant in this review (N = 12). Beaches were the most studied environment, possibly due to easy access. The main focus of most articles was the spatial distribution of plastics associated with variables such as position of the beach in relation to wind and currents. Very few studies have analysed plastics colonization by organisms or the identification of persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Islands of the North/South Atlantic and Caribbean Sea were influenced by different sources of macroplastics, being marine-based sources (i.e., fishing activities) predominant in the Atlantic Ocean basin. On the other hand, in the Caribbean Sea, land-based sources were more common.