The Hawaiian Islands are home to a complex and dynamic marine ecosystem that serves as a backbone to the state's economy and society's well-being. The marine ecosystem currently faces numerous threats that undermine ecosystem integrity and compromise socially valuable ecosystem services. The socio-economic and ecological complexity of the region invokes a clear need for ecosystem-based management (EBM) strategies. To support EBM development, participatory methods were used to gather expert and place-based knowledge from resource managers, scientists, and community members. Methods elicited local values, fostered diverse relationships, and increased community engagement in resource management. Using information collected, Conceptual ecosystemmodels were developed guided by the Driver-Pressure-State-Impact-Response framework that identify and quantify the strength of socio-economic and ecological interactions. The resulting models illustrate the complexity of system dynamics, highlighting connectivity between pressures and the ecosystem, with direct implications for ecosystem services. Importantly, many identified pressures occur at the local scale, presenting an opportunity for local resource management to directly affect ecosystem status. This study also found that many of the strongly impacted ecosystem services were cultural ecosystem services, which are critical to human well-being but lack integration into resource management. These models support an Integrated Ecosystem Assessment of the region by informing ecosystem-based strategies, facilitating the selection of ecosystem monitoring indicators, and emphasizing human dimensions.
Coastal marine environments are contaminated globally with a vast quantity of unexploded ordnance and munitions from intentional disposal. These munitions contain organic explosive compounds as well as a variety of metals, and represent point sources of chemical pollution to marine waters. Most underwater munitions originate from World Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century, and metal munitions housings have been impacted by extensive corrosion over the course of the following decades. As a result, the risk of munitions-related contaminant release to the water column is increasing. The behavior of munitions compounds is well-characterized in terrestrial systems and groundwater, but is only poorly understood in marine systems. Organic explosive compounds, primarily nitroaromatics and nitramines, can be degraded or transformed by a variety of biotic and abiotic mechanisms. These reaction products exhibit a range in biogeochemical characteristics such as sorption by particles and sediments, and variable environmental behavior as a result. The reaction products often exhibit increased toxicity to biological receptors and geochemical controls like sorption can limit this exposure. Environmental samples typically show low concentrations of munitions compounds in water and sediments (on the order of ng/L and μg/kg, respectively), and ecological risk appears generally low. Nonetheless, recent work demonstrates the possibility of sub-lethal genetic and metabolic effects. This review evaluates the state of knowledge on the occurrence, fate, and effect of munition-related chemical contaminants in the marine environment. There remain a number of knowledge gaps that limit our understanding of munitions-related contaminant spread and effect, and the need for additional work is made all the more urgent by increasing risk of release to the environment.
North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are highly endangered and frequently exposed to a myriad of human activities and stressors in their industrialized habitat. Entanglements in fixed fishing gear represent a particularly pervasive and often drawn-out source of anthropogenic morbidity and mortality to the species. To better understand both the physiological response to entanglement, and to determine fundamental parameters such as acquisition, duration, and severity of entanglement, we measured a suite of biogeochemical markers in the baleen of an adult female that died from a well-documented chronic entanglement in 2005 (whale Eg2301). Steroid hormones (cortisol, corticosterone, estradiol, and progesterone), thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)), and stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) were all measured in a longitudinally sampled baleen plate. This yielded an 8-year profile of foraging and migration behavior, stress response, and reproduction. Stable isotopes cycled in annual patterns that reflect the animal's north-south migration behavior and seasonally abundant zooplankton diet. A progesterone peak, lasting approximately 23 months, was associated with the single known calving event (in 2002) for this female. Estradiol, cortisol, corticosterone, T3, and T4 were also elevated, although variably so, during the progesterone peak. This whale was initially sighted with a fishing gear entanglement in September 2004, but the hormone panel suggests that the animal first interacted with the gear as early as June 2004. Elevated δ15N, T3, and T4 indicate that Eg2301 potentially experienced increased energy expenditure, significant lipid catabolism, and thermal stress approximately 3 months before the initial sighting with fishing gear. All hormones in the panel (except cortisol) were elevated above baseline by September 2004. This novel study illustrates the value of using baleen to reconstruct recent temporal profiles and as a comparative matrix in which key physiological indicators of individual whales can be used to understand the impacts of anthropogenic activity on threatened whale populations.
In Greenland, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are nutritional, economic, and cultural subsistence resources for Inuit. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) collected from subsistence hunters can provide important insights and improve management decisions when collected systematically. We report on the results of a TEK survey of subsistence polar bear hunters living in the areas around Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit, East Greenland. Twenty-five full-time polar bear hunters were interviewed between December 2014 and March 2015 in a conversation-style interview, where a local interviewer fluent in the East Greenlandic dialect asked a series of 55 predetermined questions. The primary goals were to (1) gather Inuit perspectives on polar bear subsistence quotas and hunting strategies, (2) understand how climate change is affecting the polar bear subsistence hunt, and (3) document observed changes in polar bear distribution, abundance, and biology. Approximately 40% of the Tasiilaq respondents had caught between 10 and 19 polar bears in their lifetime, while 67% of Ittoqqortoormiit respondents reported lifetime catches of ≥20 bears. In both areas, polar bears were most commonly hunted between February and April. Hunters noted large changes to the climate in the areas where they hunt polar bears. Most hunters reported loss of sea ice, receding glaciers, unstable weather, and warmer temperatures. In Tasiilaq 73% of the hunters said climate changes had affected the polar bear hunt and in Ittoqqortoormiit about 88% of respondents reported the same. Hunters indicated that sea ice loss has created more areas of open water so dog sledges have become unsafe for hunting transportation compared to 10–15 years ago (reported by 100% of hunters in Tasiilaq and 80% in Ittoqqortoormiit). In Ittoqqortoormiit, the distance traveled during polar bear hunting trips has decreased dramatically. In both areas hunters noted that more polar bears are coming into their communities compared to 10–15 years ago (81% of Tasiilaq hunters and 78% of Ittoqqortoormiit hunters) and pointed to the introduction of quotas and loss of sea ice as potential reasons. This study provides an important perspective on the East Greenland subpopulation of polar bears that can be used to direct science questions and inform management.
In March 2018, Brazil’s government announced two sets of large marine protected areas (MPAs) in the open ocean (about 400,000 km2 each). According to the government’s ambitious plan (1), the total coverage of MPAs under Brazilian national jurisdiction will rise sharply from 1.5 to 25%, in line with an emerging global trend in designation of large MPAs (2). Although these new MPAs presented an opportunity to make progress toward biological priorities, the decision-making process instead reflected uninformed opportunism (3). Rather than meeting conservation goals, the proposed MPAs exemplify poor adherence to best practices in MPA planning in three ways.
This paper investigates the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) approach through looking at developments and challenges of community-based marine resource management over time, with a particular focus on Fiji in the South Pacific region. A diachronic perspective, based on two multi-method empirical studies, is used to exemplify the social complexities of the implementation of this LMMA approach in a specific island setting. This perspective connects local stakeholders' establishment and management of a LMMA covering their entire customary fishing rights area (iqoliqoli) with the national context articulated around the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network, as well as with regional networking and international conservation dynamics. It especially explores the impacts of a small-scale marine closure (so-called tabu area) on the harvesting patterns in a portion of this LMMA, related aspects of formal and informal enforcement, and villagers' views of the health of their reef fishery. This case study reveals a lack of consensus on the current management of this closure as a conditionally-opened no-take area, whose temporary openings (re)produce social tensions, as well as a lack of consensus on the effects of this closure on the reef fishery, which is subject to poaching. The paper highlights that the articulation between conservation and extraction of marine resources, as well as between short-term and longer-term objectives of the community-based marine resource management in place, is a complex sociopolitical process even at the most local level. The discussion also points out that local observations and interpretations of coastal resource dynamics, and of the interplay between fishery and community changes, might be instrumental in addressing the limits of the area-based system of management inherent in the LMMA approach. These insights into both the development process of the LMMA approach and the challenges of its local implementation and maintenance efforts can be useful to consider the adjustments necessary for Fiji's achievement of its national coastal fisheries management strategy and its international ocean governance commitments.
The paper first briefly describes the negotiation process of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Then it examines China's changing position towards the establishment of a Ross Sea MPA, as proposed by the United States and New Zealand in the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Finally, the paper explores how China's position towards or against Southern Ocean MPAs implies China's future role in Antarctic governance.
This viewpoint emphasizes gendered perspectives and reflects on gender roles for sustainability-focused governance. It argues that when considering gender in this context, not only equity, or power-plays between genders are at stake; in addition, for effective ocean governance, an irreducible contribution of female voices is necessary. Some key contributions of women in the field of ocean governance-related research are described as examples. If women, for instance, are not included in fisheries management, we miss the complete picture of social-ecological linkages of marine ecosystems. Overall, women are often regarded as major actors driving sustainable development because of their inclusiveness and collaborative roles. Similarly, women have advocated for the common good in marine conservation, raising important (and often neglected) concerns. In maritime industries, women enlarge the talent pool for innovation and smart growth. Besides the manifold possibilities for promoting the involvement of women in ocean governance and policy-making, this viewpoint highlights how gendered biases still influence our interactions with the ocean. It is necessary to reduce the structural, and systemically-embedded hurdles that continue to lead to gendered decision-taking with regard to the ocean.
Plastic is an increasingly pervasive marine pollutant. Concomitantly, the number of studies documenting plastic ingestion in wildlife is accelerating. Many of these studies aim to provide a baseline against which future levels of plastic ingestion can be compared, and are motivated by an underlying interest in the conservation of their study species and ecosystems. Although this research has helped to raise the profile of plastic as a pollutant of emerging concern, there is a disconnect between research examining plastic pollution and wildlife conservation. We present ideas to further discussion about how plastic ingestion research could benefit wildlife conservation by prioritising studies that elucidates the significance of plastic pollution as a population-level threat, identifies vulnerable populations, and evaluates strategies for mitigating impacts. The benefit of plastic ingestion research to marine wildlife can be improved by establishing a clearer understanding of how discoveries will be integrated into conservation and policy actions.
Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people as well as harbour some of the highest regions of biodiversity in the ocean. However, overexploitation, land‐use change and other local anthropogenic threats to coral reefs have left many degraded. Additionally, coral reefs are faced with the dual emerging threats of ocean warming and acidification due to rising CO2 emissions, with dire predictions that they will not survive the century. This review evaluates the impacts of climate change on coral reef organisms, communities and ecosystems, focusing on the interactions between climate change factors and local anthropogenic stressors. It then explores the shortcomings of existing management and the move towards ecosystem‐based management and resilience thinking, before highlighting the need for climate change‐ready marine protected areas (MPAs), reduction in local anthropogenic stressors, novel approaches such as human‐assisted evolution and the importance of sustainable socialecological systems. It concludes that designation of climate change‐ready MPAs, integrated with other management strategies involving stakeholders and participation at multiple scales such as marine spatial planning, will be required to maximise coral reef resilience under climate change. However, efforts to reduce carbon emissions are critical if the long‐term efficacy of local management actions is to be maintained and coral reefs are to survive.