2018-05-02

Protection alone may not promote natural recovery of biogenic habitats of high biodiversity damaged by mobile fishing gears

Fariñas-Franco JM, A. Allcock L, Roberts D. Protection alone may not promote natural recovery of biogenic habitats of high biodiversity damaged by mobile fishing gears. Marine Environmental Research [Internet]. 2018 ;135:18 - 28. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0141113617304658
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
Yes
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

The horse mussel Modiolus modiolus (L.) is a large marine bivalve that aggregates to create complex habitats of high biodiversity. As a keystone species, M. modiolusis of great importance for the functioning of marine benthic ecosystems, forming biogenic habitats used to designate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The present study investigates the condition of M. modiolus beds historically subjected to intense scallop fishing using mobile fishing gears. The study, conducted seven years after the introduction of legislation banning all forms of fishing, aimed to establish whether natural habitat recovery occurs after protection measures are put in place.

Lower biodiversity and up to 80% decline in densities of M. modiolus were recorded across the current distributional range of the species in Strangford Lough, Northern Ireland. The decline in biodiversity in most areas surveyed was consistent with that observed in biogenic reefs impacted by mobile fishing gears elsewhere. Epifauna, including sponges, hydroids and tunicates, experienced the most substantial decline in biodiversity, with up to 64% fewer taxa recorded in 2010 compared with 2003. Higher variability in community composition and a shift towards faunal assemblages dominated by opportunistic infaunal species typical of softer substrata were also detected. Based on these observations we suggest that, for biogenic habitats, the designation of MPAs and the introduction of fishing bans alone may not be sufficient to reverse or halt the negative effects caused by past anthropogenic impacts. Direct intervention, including habitat restoration based on translocation of native keystone species, should be considered as part of management strategies for MPAs which host similar biogenic reef habitats where condition and natural recovery have been compromised.

Accumulation of marine microplastics along a trophic gradient as determined by an agent-based model

Griffin RL, Green I, Stafford R. Accumulation of marine microplastics along a trophic gradient as determined by an agent-based model. Ecological Informatics [Internet]. 2018 ;45:81 - 84. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1574954116301492
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $39.95
Type: Journal Article

Microplastics are ubiquitous in the marine environment and are now consistently found in almost all marine animals. This study examines the rate of accumulation in a modelled filter feeder (mussels) both from direct uptake of microplastics and from direct uptake in addition to trophic uptake (via consuming plankton which have consumed microplastic themselves). We show that trophic uptake plays an important role in increasing plastic present in filter feeders, especially when consumption of the plastic does not reduce its overall abundance in the water column (e.g. in areas with high water flow such as estuaries). However, we also show that trophic transfer increases microplastic uptake, even if the amount of plastic is limited and depleted, as long as plankton are able to reproduce (for example, as would happen during a plankton bloom). If both plankton and plastic are limited and reduced in concentration by filter feeding, then no increase in microplastic by trophic transfer occurs, but microplastic still enters the filter feeders. The results have important implications for large filter feeders such as baleen whales, basking and whale sharks, as these animals concentrate their feeding on zooplankton blooms and as a result are likely to consume more plastic than previous studies have predicted.

Assessing real progress towards effective ocean protection

Sala E, Lubchenco J, Grorud-Colvert K, Novelli C, Roberts C, U. Sumaila R. Assessing real progress towards effective ocean protection. Marine Policy [Internet]. 2018 ;91:11 - 13. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0308597X17307686
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

The United Nations’ target for global ocean protection is 10% of the ocean in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) by 2020. There has been remarkable progress in the last decade, and some organizations claim that 7% of the ocean is already protected and that we will exceed the 10% target by 2020. However, currently only 3.6% of the ocean is in implemented MPAs, and only 2% is in implemented strongly or fully protected areas. Here we argue that current protection has been overestimated because it includes areas that are not yet protected, and that areas that allow significant extractive activities such as fishing should not count as ‘protected.’ The most rigorous projections suggest that we will not achieve the 10% target in truly protected areas by 2020. Strongly or fully protected areas are the only ones achieving the goal of protecting biodiversity; hence they should be the MPA of choice to achieve global ocean conservation targets.

System level indicators of changing marine connectivity

Condie SA, Herzfeld M, Hock K, Andrewartha JR, Gorton R, Brinkman R, Schultz M. System level indicators of changing marine connectivity. Ecological Indicators [Internet]. 2018 ;91:531 - 541. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1470160X18302899
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Spatial connectivity has long been recognized as a key process for sustaining healthy ecosystems and robust ecosystem services. However, system-level metrics that capture environmentally significant aspects of connectivity at appropriate temporal and spatial scales have not previously been identified. Using a major industrial harbour adjacent to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef as a test case, we developed a consistent and comprehensive set of connectivity indicators associated with waterborne dispersal that transparently relate to water quality, spread of contaminants, and potential for recruitment of planktonic larvae to nursery habitats. Results indicate all measures of connectivity are variable across management zones and likely to influence water quality and breeding success at these scales. Connectivity indicators also reveal environmental and ecological trade-offs. For example, while reduced flushing of creeks and estuaries may negatively impact local water quality, it can benefit ecological connectivity through more effective upstream transport of larvae to nursery habitats.

Ten inconvenient questions about plastics in the sea

Bonanno G, Orlando-Bonaca M. Ten inconvenient questions about plastics in the sea. Environmental Science & Policy [Internet]. 2018 ;85:146 - 154. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1462901118302442
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

This paper aims to investigate some of the hottest issues that concern the increasing presence of plastics in the sea. In an attempt to identify the main knowledge gaps and to suggest future research, we discuss priority topics on marine plastic pollution through ten thought-provoking questions on the current knowledge of multiple consequences of plastics on the marine ecosystem. Our investigation found that the majority of knowledge gaps include not only intrinsic aspects of plastics (e.g. quantification, typology, fate), but also biological, ecological and legislative implications (e.g. ingestion rate by wildlife, biomagnification across food webs, spread of alien species, consequences for human nutrition, mitigation measures). The current scenario shows that science is still far from assessing the real magnitude of the impact that plastics have on the sea. In particular, the transfer of plastics across marine trophic levels emerged as one of the most critical knowledge gaps. Current regulations seem not sufficient to tackle the massive release of plastics into the sea. Within this complex picture, a positive note is the ever-increasing public awareness. The release of plastics into the sea is certainly a serious environmental issue that can be effectively addressed only through the combined efforts of the three main stakeholders: ordinary citizens through more eco-friendly behaviours, scientists by filling knowledge gaps, and policymakers by passing conservation laws relying on prevention and scientific evidence.

Untangling the drivers of community cohesion in small-scale fisheries

Alexander SM, Bodin Ö, Barnes ML. Untangling the drivers of community cohesion in small-scale fisheries. International Journal of the Commons [Internet]. 2018 ;12(1):519 - 547. Available from: https://www.thecommonsjournal.org/articles/10.18352/ijc.843
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Sustainable fisheries require strong management and effective governance. However, small-scale fisheries (SFF) often lack formal institutions, leaving management in the hands of local users in the form of various governance approaches (e.g., local, traditional, or co-management). The effectiveness of these approaches inherently relies upon some level of cohesion among resource users to facilitate agreement on common policies and practices regarding common pool fishery resources. Understanding the factors driving the formation and maintenance of community cohesion in SSF is therefore critical if we are to devise more effective participatory governance approaches and encourage and empower decentralized, localized, and community-based resource management approaches. Here, we adopt a social relational network perspective to propose a suite of hypothesized drivers that lead to the establishment of social ties among fishers that build the foundation for community cohesion. We then draw on detailed data from Jamaica’s small-scale fishery to empirically test these drivers by employing a set of nested exponential random graph models (ERGMs) based on specific structural building blocks (i.e., network configurations) theorized to influence the establishment of social ties. Our results demonstrate that multiple drivers are at play, but that collectively, gear-based homophily, geographic proximity, and leadership play particularly important roles. We discuss the extent to which these drivers help explain previous experiences, as well as their implications for future and sustained collective action in SSF in Jamaica and elsewhere.

Protecting and preserving the marine environment in disputed areas: seismic noise and provisional measures of protection

Yiallourides C. Protecting and preserving the marine environment in disputed areas: seismic noise and provisional measures of protection. Journal of Energy & Natural Resources Law [Internet]. 2018 ;36(2):141 - 161. Available from: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/02646811.2017.1403741?scroll=top&needAccess=true
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $42.50
Type: Journal Article

This paper is the first to address the environmental legal issues that could arise from the conduct of unilateral seismic operations in disputed maritime areas. And that should be surprising: such operations are ongoing in many places across the globe as states seek to enhance their domestic natural resource potentials and establish their sovereign control in the areas under dispute. But, the lack of previous legal scholarship on the topic is even more surprising when one realises the serious and multifaceted risks posed by seismic surveys on the marine environment. As this paper discusses, there are known environmental risks that include permanent injuries to marine organisms or even immediate death. Other effects may include temporary injuries that may or may not directly result in death but that may make marine organisms less fit, resulting in lower chances of survival. These risks are in addition to less well understood but nonetheless plausible risks to marine ecosystems, such as the potential for noise-derived behavioural disturbance. This could have an impact on animals’ feeding, movement and reproduction, and might also have short- or long-term effects on catch success rates. The paper examines the possible application of provisional measures of protection under Article 290 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). This provision enables a court or tribunal exercising jurisdiction under UNCLOS to prescribe provisional measures not only to preserve the rights of the disputants, but also, or even solely, to prevent serious harm to the marine environment. The analysis explores the foreseeable risks posed by unilateral seismic surveys and examines if Article 290 of UNCLOS provides adequate protection to the complainant state against such operations, pending the final settlement of the dispute. The paper reviews the existing environmental jurisprudence of the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea (ITLOS) on provisional measures and comments on the potential to respond meaningfully to unilateral seismic exploration activities in disputed maritime areas through recourse to provisional measures of protection.

Opening a new ocean: Arctic Ocean fisheries regime as a (potential) turning point for Canada’s Arctic policy

Landriault M. Opening a new ocean: Arctic Ocean fisheries regime as a (potential) turning point for Canada’s Arctic policy. International Journal: Canada's Journal of Global Policy Analysis [Internet]. 2018 ;73(1):158 - 165. Available from: http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0020702018764753
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

This policy brief focuses on the opening of the Central Arctic Ocean and the subsequent questions this poses to regional governance. This change has the potential to radically alter the nature of Arctic governance as non-Arctic states will have to play a significant role in the rules that will apply in the Arctic high seas. Talks about a regional fisheries regime will define the future of this region. The creation of a coordinating agreement would have the benefit of not challenging Arctic states too fundamentally while at the same time incorporating non-Arctic states in a meaningful way in the regional governance infrastructure.

Arctic sea ice is an important temporal sink and means of transport for microplastic

Peeken I, Primpke S, Beyer B, Gütermann J, Katlein C, Krumpen T, Bergmann M, Hehemann L, Gerdts G. Arctic sea ice is an important temporal sink and means of transport for microplastic. Nature Communications [Internet]. 2018 ;9(1). Available from: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41467-018-03825-5
Freely available?: 
Yes
Summary available?: 
No
Type: Journal Article

Microplastics (MP) are recognized as a growing environmental hazard and have been identified as far as the remote Polar Regions, with particularly high concentrations of microplastics in sea ice. Little is known regarding the horizontal variability of MP within sea ice and how the underlying water body affects MP composition during sea ice growth. Here we show that sea ice MP has no uniform polymer composition and that, depending on the growth region and drift paths of the sea ice, unique MP patterns can be observed in different sea ice horizons. Thus even in remote regions such as the Arctic Ocean, certain MP indicate the presence of localized sources. Increasing exploitation of Arctic resources will likely lead to a higher MP load in the Arctic sea ice and will enhance the release of MP in the areas of strong seasonal sea ice melt and the outflow gateways.

Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure

Reichert J, Schellenberg J, Schubert P, Wilke T. Responses of reef building corals to microplastic exposure. Environmental Pollution [Internet]. 2018 ;237:955 - 960. Available from: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0269749117329536
Freely available?: 
No
Summary available?: 
No
Approximate cost to purchase or rent this item from the publisher: 
US $35.95
Type: Journal Article

Pollution of marine environments with microplastic particles (i.e. plastic fragments <5 mm) has increased rapidly during the last decades. As these particles are mainly of terrestrial origin, coastal ecosystems such as coral reefs are particularly threatened. Recent studies revealed that microplastic ingestion can have adverse effects on marine invertebrates. However, little is known about its effects on small-polyp stony corals that are the main framework builders in coral reefs. The goal of this study is to characterise how different coral species I) respond to microplastic particles and whether the exposure might II) lead to health effects. Therefore, six small-polyp stony coral species belonging to the genera Acropora, Pocillopora, and Porites were exposed to microplastics (polyethylene, size 37–163 μm, concentration ca. 4000 particles L−1) over four weeks, and responses and effects on health were documented.

The study showed that the corals responded differentially to microplastics. Cleaning mechanisms (direct interaction, mucus production) but also feeding interactions (i.e. interaction with mesenterial filaments, ingestion, and egestion) were observed. Additionally, passive contact through overgrowth was documented. In five of the six studied species, negative effects on health (i.e. bleaching and tissue necrosis) were reported.

We here provide preliminary knowledge about coral-microplastic-interactions. The results call for further investigations of the effects of realistic microplastic concentrations on growth, reproduction, and survival of stony corals. This might lead to a better understanding of resilience capacities in coral reef ecosystems.

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