Mineral exploitation has spread from land to shallow coastal waters and is now planned for the offshore, deep seabed. Large seafloor areas are being approved for exploration for seafloor mineral deposits, creating an urgent need for regional environmental management plans. Networks of areas where mining and mining impacts are prohibited are key elements of these plans. We adapt marine reserve design principles to the distinctive biophysical environment of mid-ocean ridges, offer a framework for design and evaluation of these networks to support conservation of benthic ecosystems on mid-ocean ridges, and introduce projected climate-induced changes in the deep sea to the evaluation of reserve design. We enumerate a suite of metrics to measure network performance against conservation targets and network design criteria promulgated by the Convention on Biological Diversity. We apply these metrics to network scenarios on the northern and equatorial Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where contractors are exploring for seafloor massive sulfide (SMS) deposits. A latitudinally distributed network of areas performs well at (i) capturing ecologically important areas and 30 to 50% of the spreading ridge areas, (ii) replicating representative areas, (iii) maintaining along-ridge population connectivity, and (iv) protecting areas potentially less affected by climate-related changes. Critically, the network design is adaptive, allowing for refinement based on new knowledge and the location of mining sites, provided that design principles and conservation targets are maintained. This framework can be applied along the global mid-ocean ridge system as a precautionary measure to protect biodiversity and ecosystem function from impacts of SMS mining.
Many small-scale fisheries are multi-species, and the catch composition can vary according to available habitats, fishing modes, and fisher groups. Here, we applied novel analyses for understanding the factors affecting differences in catch composition among fishers, which should be useful for planning regulatory measures and fishery development initiatives. Interviews with 235 artisanal fishers in Fiji were used to analyse how fishers' catch composition of 22 species of sea cucumbers varied across geographic scales (locations and villages within locations), genders, and fishing modes. Venn diagrams illustrated that gleaning and SCUBA diving were practiced to varying extents among locations and genders, whereas fishers used breath-hold diving more uniformly across the fishery. Segmented bubble plots revealed spatial variations in catch composition across the fishery. A PERMANOVA analysis found that species catch composition varied most across the two geographic scales and, secondarily, among fishing modes and between men and women. Gendered differences in catch composition were variable from one village to another, and so should not be generalized. SIMPER analyses showed that gleaners and SCUBA divers caught significantly different suites of sea cucumber species. Species threatened with extinction were among those typifying catches of SCUBA divers. Our novel graphical techniques are useful for visualizing fishing modes and catches across other fisheries. Artisanal fisheries may exhibit strong heterogeneity in catches at multiple spatial scales. Planning of regulatory measures that limit certain fishing modes or species should take into account the likely differential impacts on different fishing communities and genders.
Flatfishes (order Pleuonectiformes) are important to fisheries and contribute substantially to seafood production and people's livelihood. However, the sustainability of flatfish fisheries is being challenged by climate change, in addition to other non-climatic human stressors. There is an urgent need to expand our understanding of the vulnerability and risk of impacts of flatfishes and their fisheries to climate change, and identify possible options to moderate such impacts. In this paper, firstly, we explain the importance of ocean temperature and thermal characteristics of flatfishes in determining their biogeography. Secondly, we discuss the biological vulnerability of flatfishes in the world to climate change as indicated by quantitative indices estimated from a fuzzy logic algorithm. Thirdly, by presenting projections of future distribution and potential catches of exploited flatfishes from computer simulation models, we highlight specific regions and species that are expected to be most impacted by climate change. Finally, we discuss potential human interventions that could help reduce such impacts, including the potential for mariculture. This paper underscores the need for immediate actions to integrate climate change into flatfish conservation and fisheries management measures.
The people of Oceania have long relied on the ocean for sustenance, commerce, and cultural identity, which promulgated a sophisticated understanding of the marine environment and its conservation. Global declines in ocean health now require innovative solutions that can benefit from customary knowledge and practices, which in the past led to sustainable marine resource use. The resurgence of local stewardship, which incorporates customary practices and governance, has shown promise in many locations throughout the Pacific, although a complete return to past practices is not fully implementable owing to the loss of traditional knowledge, centralized governmental structures, economic development, and globalization. Hybrid systems that incorporate elements of customary and contemporary management can overcome some of these limitations to implementation of successful local management, and lead to greater food security, social cohesion, and the creation of an adaptive system that can potentially mitigate the effects of climate change and other stressors.
Processes regulating population connectivity are complex, ranging from extrinsic environmental factors to intrinsic individual based features, and are a major force shaping the persistence of fish species and population responses to harvesting and environmental change. Here we developed an integrated assessment of demographic and genetic connectivity of European flounder Platichthys flesus in the northeast Atlantic (from the Norwegian to the Portuguese coast) and Baltic Sea. Specifically, we used a Bayesian infinite mixture model to infer the most likely number of natal sources of individuals based on otolith near core chemical composition. Simultaneously, we characterised genetic connectivity via microsatellite DNA markers, and evaluated how the combined use of natural tags informed individual movement and long-term population exchange rates. Individual markers provided different insights on movement, with otolith chemistry delineating Norwegian and Baltic Sea sources, whilst genetic markers showed a latitudinal pattern which distinguished southern peripheral populations along the Iberian coast. Overall, the integrated use of natural tags resulted in outcomes that were not readily anticipated by individual movement or gene flow markers alone. Our ecological and evolutionary approach provided a synergistic view on connectivity, which will be paramount to align biological and management units and safeguard species’ biocomplexity.
Trophic models were constructed to assess the systemic structure, organisation and health of coral ecosystems in three marine protected areas (MPAs) along the Mexican tropical Pacific Coast. Likewise, the degree of resistance of the model-systems and the compartments most sensitive after perturbations were also evaluated. The biomass of the Rhodophyta group was the most abundant compartment in Isla Isabel National Park (IINP) and Islas Marietas National Park (IMNP), whilst the Phytoplankton group had the highest biomass in Sanctuary of Islands and Islets of Bahía Chamela (SIIBC). Based on the magnitudes of Total System Throughput (TST), Ascendency (A), Overhead (Ov), Capacity(C), Average Mutual Information (AMI), Finn’s Cycling Index (FCI) and the Total Biomass/Total System Throughput (TB/TST) ratio, IINP was more mature, organised, developed and healthy than IMNP and SIIBC. Phytoplankton, Detritus and Zooplankton contributed >60% of the total Ascendency, whereas Jacks and Octopus sp. accounted for the complexity of the three MPA model systems. The outcomes of the propagated impacts, using Mixed Trophic Impacts (MTI) and short-term Ecosim simulations (under three levels of mortality: 10%, 30% and 50%), showed that the Groupers (i.e., exploited fish), Omnivorous Fish, Rhodophyta, Large Epifauna and Phytoplankton produced the highest impacts on the remaining compartments of the three model systems. The average System Recovery Time (SRT) suggested that SIIBC was less resilient to disturbances compared with IINP and IMNP. Based on the outcomes, we suggest that the marine zones adjacent to IINP should be included in the Mexican Management Program to create a buffer zone for these coral ecosystems. Likewise, IMNP and SIIBC should be candidates for a putative monitoring programme to assess the trajectory of the systemic health of coral ecosystems. Finally, the trajectories of exploited species should be monitored because they constitute compartments that have relevant roles in the structure and trophic functioning of the three MPAs.
Marine and coastal ecosystems provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities that are highly valued by society. For the purposes of conducting a meta-analysis we build an extensive global dataset of marine recreational ecosystem service values from the literature. Using this database we developed a number of meta-regression specifications with the objective of evaluating the study specific effects of location, ecosystem, valuation methodology and statistical estimation methods on the reported value estimates. Furthermore, the paper investigates if cultural differences between studies are an important determinant that should be considered in international (meta-analytical) value transfer. This was achieved by including a number of cultural parameters from previous societal studies and surveys into our meta-regression models. We found that accounting for differences in cultural dimensions across recreation valuation studies had a significant influence on value estimates. While a multi-level modelling approach that controls for study effects, proved to be a better fit than a standard one level specification, we found that the absolute in-sample transfer errors associated with the standard OLS model were slightly less on average based on the differences between the actual and predicted values in our meta-database.
- Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and networks of MPAs are being implemented globally as a spatial management tool for achieving conservation objectives. There has been considerable progress in reaching the prescribed 10% protected area target for 2020, outlined in the Convention on Biological Diversity Aichi Target 11 and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14.
- The application of MPA network design principles (e.g. Representative, ecological connectivity), which underpin ecological coherence, is still lacking or insufficient in many regions. Poor ecological coherence hinders the ecological performance of MPA networks, leading to dysfunction in the flow of ecosystem services and reduced ecosystem benefits, with potentially negative consequences for human well‐being.
- This paper presents four pivotal focus points for future progress that can bridge the gap between ecological and social systems. The aim is to shift the discourse of ‘ecological coherence’ further into the social sphere, and hence support the alignment of the process of designating ecologically coherent MPA networks with the ‘triple bottom line’ of economic development, environmental sustainability, and social inclusion, as described in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to achieve social–ecological coherence in MPA network design.
Aquaculture is among the fastest growing industries in the world and the fastest in the food production sector. However, not all aquaculture organisms are produced for human consumption. Indeed, an important fraction of aquaculture products target a wide variety of applications, from pharmaceutical, cosmeceutical, ornamental and nutraceutical applications, as well as biofuel production, conservation efforts and academic purposes, among others. Despite the increasing importance of aquaculture for non‐food purposes, a comprehensive review covering the state of the art of this topic, its latest developments and future trends is missing. Here, we review what marine organisms are produced for non‐food purposes, as well as why and how they are produced. Instead of providing a thorough methodological review, production protocols are briefly summarized and an updated guide to the most relevant literature is provided. We overview current developments driving the aquaculture of non‐food organisms, underpin their most significant applications and highlight future prospects for non‐food aquaculture.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a tool for managing and improving marine environments. The field is dominated by natural scientists and has not been commonly associated with planning. This research analyzes the MSP literature to explore how planners can contribute to MSP research and practice. We organize the literature into eight themes, focusing on how planners may be able to contribute to MSP research and practice: ocean zoning, defining boundaries, planning in dynamic environments, stakeholder involvement, information needs, integrating ocean and land-use management, managing multiple and conflicting uses, and transboundary institutional structures. We conclude that planners have a lot to contribute in these eight areas.