Nearshore fish populations are in decline in the main Hawaiian Islands, and effective, sustainable management is needed. There has been increasing emphasis on the value of ecosystem-based management and the conservation of essential fish habitat, but policy is encumbered by a lack of supporting information. This study uses science and technology to support traditional knowledge in identifying juvenile fish habitats, providing a basis for effective resource management in a rural Hawaiian community. Building on existing local knowledge of nearshore resources, we quantitatively assessed juvenile fish-habitat associations. We conducted fine-scale in situ ecological surveys of juvenile reef fishes and their habitats, and produced detailed benthic habitat maps using GIS and interpretation of satellite imagery, from which we extracted multi-scale seascape variables. Canonical correspondence analysis was used to assess fish-habitat relationships at multiple scales. Depth, coral cover, structural complexity, scattered rock and coral habitat, and distance to shore emerged as primary factors associated with juvenile reef fish abundance. We identified the habitat associations of 2 important food resource species in the study area of Hā‘ena, Kaua‘i: the convict tang Acanthurus triostegus sandvicensis, an endemic subspecies, and the redlip parrotfish Scarus rubroviolaceus. Results from this study played an important role in the successful approval of the Hā‘ena community-based fishery management plan by the state governing agency. We argue that an ecosystem-based co-management approach, informed by conventional survey methods, remote sensing technology, and traditional knowledge, can help to ensure the sustainability of fisheries worldwide.
We assessed the potential role played by two vital Northeastern Pacific Ocean forage fishes, the Pacific sand lance (Ammodytes personatus) and Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii), as conduits for the vertical transfer of microfibres in food webs. We quantified the number of microfibres found in the stomachs of 734 sand lance and 205 herring that had been captured by an abundant seabird, the rhinoceros auklet (Cerorhinca monocerata). Sampling took place on six widely-dispersed breeding colonies in British Columbia, Canada, and Washington State, USA, over one to eight years. The North Pacific Ocean is a global hotspot for pollution, yet few sand lance (1.5%) or herring (2.0%) had ingested microfibres. In addition, there was no systematic relationship between the prevalence of microplastics in the fish stomachs vs. in waters around three of our study colonies (measured in an earlier study). Sampling at a single site (Protection Island, WA) in a single year (2016) yielded most (sand lance) or all (herring) of the microfibres recovered over the 30 colony-years of sampling involved in this study, yet no microfibres had been recovered there, in either species, in the previous year. We thus found no evidence that sand lance and herring currently act as major food-web conduits for microfibres along British Columbia's outer coast, nor that the local at-sea density of plastic necessarily determines how much plastic enters marine food webs via zooplanktivores. Extensive urban development around the Salish Sea probably explains the elevated microfibre loads in fishes collected on Protection Island, but we cannot account for the between-year variation. Nonetheless, the existence of such marked interannual variation indicates the importance of measuring year-to-year variation in microfibre pollution both at sea and in marine biota.
This study examines the role of risk preferences in explaining the public's willingness to pay for marine turtle conservation in China. Respondents (n = 218) were randomly selected from eight districts in Beijing. They were interviewed in person and participated in a risk experiment. The results show that residents in Beijing had some knowledge about marine turtles. The typical respondent in Beijing is risk averse. We found that the risk preferences of individuals have significant effects on their willingness to pay for marine turtle conservation. Risk taking respondents are more likely to support the marine turtle conservation program. Results also indicate that increases in the bid value, household income levels, years of education and participation in public environmental issues have significant effects on the public's acceptance of marine turtle conservation. The findings of this study can help resource managers and/or policy makers to improve the conservation of marine turtles in China.
Population replenishment of marine life largely depends on successful dispersal of larvae to suitable adult habitat. Ocean acidification alters behavioural responses to physical and chemical cues in marine animals, including the maladaptive deterrence of settlement-stage larval fish to odours of preferred habitat and attraction to odours of non-preferred habitat. However, sensory compensation may allow fish to use alternative settlement cues such as sound. We show that future ocean acidification reverses the attraction of larval fish (barramundi) to their preferred settlement sounds (tropical estuarine mangroves). Instead, acidification instigates an attraction to unfamiliar sounds (temperate rocky reefs) as well as artificially generated sounds (white noise), both of which were ignored by fish living in current day conditions. This finding suggests that by the end of the century, following a business as usual CO2 emission scenario, these animals might avoid functional environmental cues and become attracted to cues that provide no adaptive advantage or are potentially deleterious. This maladaptation could disrupt population replenishment of this and other economically important species if animals fail to adapt to elevated CO2 conditions.
The efficacy of a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area (National Marine Park of Zakynthos – NMPZ, Ionian Sea, Greece) that implements a seasonal no-take zone as part of its management scheme was assessed using fish data collected in situ with underwater visual census. Sampling was conducted at two habitat types (Posidonia oceanica meadows and rocky reefs) that occur at sites of different protection level with respect to fisheries (high protection: seasonal no-take zone within the MPA; intermediate: zones within the MPA where small-scale fishing is allowed; none: areas outside the MPA, where all types of fishing are allowed, including trawlers, purse seiners, and recreational fishing). The data were used to examine the effects of protection level and habitat type on community parameters, trophic structure and functional diversity of fish populations that occupy the upper sublittoral zone. Overall, habitat type had a more pronounced effect than protection level on all investigated parameters. Biomass, density and number of fish species with low commercial value were higher in sites of intermediate protection, but no substantial fisheries-related ecological benefits were detected for targeted fish in the seasonal no-take zone. Conducted 8 years after the initial implementation of the seasonal no-take management scheme, our study suggests that existing fishing regulations in the NMPZ provide some measurable effects, but fall short of maintaining sufficient protection for the recovery of apex predators or other commercially important fish species. A revision of the existing zoning system to include permanent no-take zones, alongside the regulation of professional fishing and all extractive activities in the rest of the MPA, are strongly encouraged in order to enhance the effectiveness of fisheries management.
Anthropogenic noise pollution is recognized as a major global stressor of animals. While many studies have assessed the unimodal impacts of noise pollution with a focus on intraspecific acoustic communication, little is known about noise pollution on the perception of visual and chemical information. The ‘distracted prey hypothesis’ posits that processing noise interferes with processing other information in the brain. Here, we found evidence for such a cross-modal effect of noise on the antipredator behaviour of a freshwater prey fish, the fathead minnow, Pimephales promelas. In laboratory trials, exposure to noise from a motorboat caused the total absence of the classical fright reaction of minnows to conspecific alarm cues, whereas an ambient noise control had no such impact. In natural habitats, the impairment of such antipredator behaviour due to noise pollution could have major fitness consequences. We discuss how our findings translate to animal ecology and the need for future studies that target specific management decisions regarding noise pollution.
For thousands of years humankind has sought to explore our oceans. Evidence of this early intrigue dates back to 130,000 BCE, but the advent of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) in the 1950s introduced technology that has had significant impact on ocean exploration. Today, ROVs play a critical role in both military (e.g. retrieving torpedoes and mines) and salvage operations (e.g. locating historic shipwrecks such as the RMS Titanic), and are crucial for oil and gas (O&G) exploration and operations. Industrial ROVs collect millions of observations of our oceans each year, fueling scientific discoveries. Herein, we assembled a group of international ROV experts from both academia and industry to reflect on these discoveries and, more importantly, to identify key questions relating to our oceans that can be supported using industry ROVs. From a long list, we narrowed down to the 10 most important questions in ocean science that we feel can be supported (whole or in part) by increasing access to industry ROVs, and collaborations with the companies that use them. The questions covered opportunity (e.g. what is the resource value of the oceans?) to the impacts of global change (e.g. which marine ecosystems are most sensitive to anthropogenic impact?). Looking ahead, we provide recommendations for how data collected by ROVs can be maximised by higher levels of collaboration between academia and industry, resulting in win-win outcomes. What is clear from this work is that the potential of industrial ROV technology in unravelling the mysteries of our oceans is only just beginning to be realised. This is particularly important as the oceans are subject to increasing impacts from global change and industrial exploitation. The coming decades will represent an important time for scientists to partner with industry that use ROVs in order to make the most of these ‘eyes in the sea’.
During the last decades, increasing demands on marine resources and unsustainable activities taking place in the marine area compromise the future use of the marine environment. In July 2014 the European Parliament and Council established a Guideline Framework for marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP). MSP is a useful and cost-effective tool for sustainable development, together with regulation and protection of the marine environment. Within this context, Romania has started to proceed and incorporate it in the national legislation framework; in 2017, it has also established a competent authority for its implementation so that marine spatial plans can be enacted by 31 March 2021. In this study, a first approach for MSP framework in Romania was developed, enabling the mapping of all current human activities related to shipping, oil and gas exploitation, fisheries, tourism and environmental status, in order to identify overlaps or potential conflicts among users. This paper identifies key challenges and concerns anticipated to emerge from incorporation of MSP in the national spatial planning framework as it is currently organized: a) Romanian stakeholders have a relatively poor understanding of European, national and regional sea planning regulations, b) concerns related to MSP implementation at regulatory level, c) huge need for sharing of MSP-relevant information for a coherent planning, d) challenges of assessing the needs of interconnected ecosystems (including relevant EU and international legislation). In this context, our study covers highly actual aspects concerning the way the marine spatial planning process evolves and will contribute to deliver a coherent approach to reduce conflicts of the Romanian marine environment, a proper MSP implementation, as well as minimizing the pressures and impacts on the marine resources.
Among the various materials that make up marine debris, lumps of petroleum waxes such as paraffin and microcrystalline wax, are regularly found on beaches worldwide, although not included in the current definition of marine litter. Ingestion by marine organisms is occasionally documented in the scientific literature and mass beaching events are frequently reported along the European coasts, with obvious detrimental consequences to the local communities that have to manage the clean-up and disposal of this substance. According to Annex II of the MARPOL regulation, petroleum waxes are classified as “high viscosity, solidifying, and persistent floating products,” whose discharge at sea of tank-washing residues is strictly regulated, but currently permitted within certain limits. Starting from the description of a large stranding event occurred along the Italian coasts in 2017, we review the existing knowledge and regulatory framework and urge the relevant authorities to address this issue, showing that wax pollution is creating evident damages to the European coastal municipalities. Pending further investigations on the potential hazard that this kind of pollution is posing to marine ecosystems, we suggest a careful and more stringent revision of the policies regulating discharges of these products at sea.
Predatory open access (OA) journals can be defined as non-indexed journals that exploit the gold OA model for profit, often spamming academics with questionable e-mails promising rapid OA publication for a fee. In aquaculture—a rapidly growing and highly scrutinized field—the issue of such journals remains undocumented. We employed a quantitative approach to determine whether attributes of scientific quality and rigor differed between OA aquaculture journals not indexed in reputable databases and well-established, indexed journals. Using a Google search, we identified several non-indexed OA journals, gathered data on attributes of these journals and articles therein, and compared these data to well-established aquaculture journals indexed in quality-controlled bibliometric databases. We then used these data to determine if non-indexed journals were likely predatory OA journals and if they pose a potential threat to aquaculture research. On average, non-indexed OA journals published significantly fewer papers per year, had cheaper fees, and were more recently established than indexed journals. Articles in non-indexed journals were, on average, shorter, had fewer authors and references, and spent significantly less time in peer review than their indexed counterparts; the proportion of articles employing rigorous statistical analyses was also lower for non-indexed journals. Additionally, articles in non-indexed journals were more likely to be published by scientists from developing nations. Worryingly, non-indexed journals were more likely to be found using a Google search, and their articles superficially resembled those in indexed journals. These results suggest that the non-indexed aquaculture journals identified herein are likely predatory OA journals and pose a threat to aquaculture research and the public education and perception of aquaculture. Several points of reference from this study, in combination, may help scientists and the public more easily identify these possibly predatory journals, as these journals were typically established after 2010, publishing <20 papers per year, had fees <$1,000, and published articles <80 days after submission. Subsequently checking reputable and quality-controlled databases such as the Directory of Open Access Journals, Web of Science, Scopus, and Thompson Reuters can aid in confirming the legitimacy of non-indexed OA journals and can facilitate avoidance of predatory OA aquaculture journals.