A number of hugely valuable natural resources fall outside of the borders of any nation state. We can legitimately expect political theory to make a contribution to thinking through questions about the future of these extraterritorial resources. However, the debate on the proper allocation of rights over these resources remains relatively embryonic. This paper will bring together what have often been rather scattered discussions of rights over extraterritorial resources. It will first sketch some early modern contributions to thinking through rights over the ocean. It then discusses the guidance available within more contemporary contributions to debates on resources beyond the state. Finally, it concludes by emphasising the key questions with which future work on this topic must engage.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is the frontrunner in fisheries certification, receiving both extensive support and strong criticisms. The increasing uptake by fisheries and markets (almost 10% of world fisheries tonnage engaged by the end of 2014) has been followed by a widening pool of stakeholders interacting with the MSC. However, the applicability of the MSC approach for fisheries in the developing world (DW) remains doubtful, reinforced by a worldwide uptake skewed towards developed world fisheries. Here, a group of MSC stakeholders, with the aid of an ad-hoc questionnaire survey, reviews constraints to MSC certification in DW fisheries, evaluates solutions put forward by the MSC, and recommends actions to improve MSC uptake by DW fisheries. Recommendations to the MSC include researching and benchmarking suitable data-limited assessment methods, systematizing and making readily available the experiences of certified fisheries worldwide and constructing specific fisheries capacity-building for regional leaders. The MSC can further review the certification cost, especially for small-scale fisheries and, in partnership with other institutions, mobilize a fund to support specific DW fishery types. This fund could also support the development of market opportunities and infrastructures likely to satisfy local conditions and needs. For wider market intervention, the MSC should consider embarking on some form of vertical differentiation. Finally, for fisheries that may never move towards certification, the group identifies tools and experiences available at MSC that can improve environmental performance and governance bearing.
The impact that microplastics (<5 mm) have on scleractinian coral is largely unknown. This study investigated calcification effects, size limits, and retention times of microbeads and microfibers in two Caribbean species, Montastraea cavernosa and Orbicella faveolata, in a series of three experiments. No calcification effects were seen in the two-day exposure to a microbead concentration of 30 mg L−1. M. cavernosa and O. faveolata actively ingested microbeads ranging in size from 425 μm–2.8 mm, however, a 212–250 μm size class did not elicit a feeding response. The majority of microbeads were expelled within 48 h of ingestion. There was no difference in ingestion or retention times of 425–500 μm microbeads versus 3–5 mm long microfibers. M. cavernosa and O. faveolata have the ability to recognize and reject indigestible material, yet, there is still a need to study effects of energetics and microplastic contamination as a result of ingestion and egestion.
The prevalence of marine debris in global oceans is negatively impacting the marine environment. In Australia, marine debris has been an increasing concern for sensitive marine environments, such as coral reefs. Citizen science can contribute data to explore patterns of subtidal marine debris loads. This study uses data from Reef Check Australia to describe patterns of debris abundance on reef tourism sites in two Queensland regions, the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Southeast Queensland (SEQ). Debris was categorized into three groups, fishing line, fishing net, and general rubbish. Overall, debris abundance across reefs was relatively low (average 0.5–3.3 items per survey (400 m2)), but not absent on remote reefs surveyed in the GBR region. Highest debris loads were recorded in SEQ near cities and high use areas. These results indicate the presence of marine debris on remote and urban reefs, and the applicability of using citizen science to monitor debris abundance.
Shark-diving tourism has become a global phenomenon and is widely promoted to contribute to pro-conservation attitudes by dispelling myths and exposing tourists to sharks in their natural habitat. It has also resulted in a stimulating scientific literature identifying pros and cons of practices, elucidating potential biological effects on associated species, and evaluating social implications. With the worldwide popularization of shark tourism in recent years, a set of new challenges facing shark-diving tourism is starting to emerge. Here, we offer our thoughts on four topics that have developed into challenges for shark-related wildlife tourism: animal welfare, ecological interactions, fitness and bioenergetics, and public safety. Our discussion primarily involves perspectives on white shark operations, and, to a lesser extent, whale shark tourism. We contend that our opinions do not necessarily reflect the most important issues to shark-diving tourism; instead, we suggest that they are timely and that this paper should be considered an ‘open letter’ to researchers and policy-makers. Consideration of emerging challenges to any field are important for adaptive management and as such will be of interest to operators and resource managers tasked with ensuring sustainable practices.
As human activities increasingly threaten biodiversity [1, 2], areas devoid of intense human impacts are vital refugia . These wilderness areas contain high genetic diversity, unique functional traits, and endemic species [4, 5, 6, 7]; maintain high levels of ecological and evolutionary connectivity [8, 9, 10]; and may be well placed to resist and recover from the impacts of climate change [11, 12, 13]. On land, rapid declines in wilderness  have led to urgent calls for its protection [3, 14]. In contrast, little is known about the extent and protection of marine wilderness [4, 5]. Here we systematically map marine wilderness globally by identifying areas that have both very little impact (lowest 10%) from 15 anthropogenic stressors and also a very low combined cumulative impact from these stressors. We discover that ∼13% of the ocean meets this definition of global wilderness, with most being located in the high seas. Recognizing that human influence differs across ocean regions, we repeat the analysis within each of the 16 ocean realms . Realm-specific wilderness extent varies considerably, with >16 million km2 (8.6%) in the Warm Indo-Pacific, down to <2,000 km2 (0.5%) in Temperate Southern Africa. We also show that the marine protected area estate holds only 4.9% of global wilderness and 4.1% of realm-specific wilderness, very little of which is in biodiverse ecosystems such as coral reefs. Proactive retention of marine wilderness should now be incorporated into global strategies aimed at conserving biodiversity and ensuring that large-scale ecological and evolutionary processes continue.
This chapter shows the influence and potential impacts of decadal climate variability on Mexico’s coastal biodiversity, fishery, and agricultural production, using the temporal structure of several modes of climate variability relevant for the northern hemisphere, the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), as well as climatic variables time series (precipitation, maximum, and minimum temperature). An evaluation of the historical and potential effects of this natural climate variability is presented for the 17 Mexican coastal states. The results show a clear influence of the climatic variables and the different modes of climatic variability on the agricultural production in all coastal states, with the highest positive correlation between AMO and lemon production in Colima state (r = 0.87) and maximum negative between NAO and sorghum production in Tamaulipas state (r = −076); an influence on forestry production for some coastal regions – like Oaxaca state; as well as its impact on the natural vegetation cover changes and consequently on biodiversity. The need for systematic, regular, and long-term monitoring processes of climatic variables, coastal resources of economic value, and biodiversity are key elements for generating knowledge and establishing adaptation and mitigation measures for climatic phenomena of the order of decades and larger time scales.
Phytoplankton cells living in the surface waters of oceans are experiencing alterations in environmental conditions associated with global change. Given their importance in global primary productivity, it is of considerable concern to know how these organisms will perform physiologically under the changing levels of pH, temperatures, and nutrients predicted for future oceanic ecosystems. Here we show that the model diatom, Thalassiosira pseudonana, when grown at different temperatures (20 or 24 °C), pCO2 (400 or 1000 µatm), and nitrate concentrations (2.5 or 102.5 µmol l−1), displayed contrasting performance in its physiology. Elevated pCO2 (and hence seawater acidification) under the nitrate-limited conditions led to decreases in specific growth rate, cell size, pigment content, photochemical quantum yield of PSII, and photosynthetic carbon fixation. Furthermore, increasing the temperature exacerbated the negative effects of the seawater acidification associated with elevated pCO2 on specific growth rate and chlorophyll content under the N-limited conditions. These results imply that a reduced upward transport of nutrients due to enhanced stratification associated with ocean warming might act synergistically to reduce growth and carbon fixation by diatoms under progressive ocean acidification, with important ramifications for ocean productivity and the strength of the biological CO2 pump.
Few studies have focused so far on plastic ingestion by sharks in the Mediterranean Sea. The aim of this paper was to determine, for the first time, the plastic litter ingested by blue sharks (Prionace glauca), categorized as “Critically Endangered” in the Mediterranean Sea by IUCN, caught in the Pelagos Sanctuary SPAMI (North-Western Mediterranean Sea). The analysis of the stomach contents was performed following the MSFD Descriptor 10 standard protocol implemented with FT-IR spectroscopy technique. The results showed that 25.26% of sharks ingested plastic debris of wide scale of sizes from microplastics (<5 mm) to macroplastics (>25 mm). The polyethylene sheetlike user plastics, widely used as packaging material, are the most ingested debris. This research raises a warning alarm on the impact of plastic debris on a threatened species, with a key role in the food web, and adds important information for futures mitigation actions.
Assessing the stocks and flows of ecosystem services valued by society is crucial to ensure the sustainable management of marine ecosystems, as required by the European Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD; EC, 2008). The mapping of these ecosystem services enhances the flow of information from researchers to practitioners, contributing to a better management of ecosystem services. The objective of this paper is twofold. First, a screening and evaluation of available open source spatial databases was conducted to assess their usefulness to map European coastal and marine ecosystem services. Second, these spatial databases were classified according to the DPSIR (Drivers, Pressures, Status, Impacts, Responses) framework and the MSFD descriptors to assess how this information can inform decision-makers. The supply of explicit spatial information was used as main screening criteria and allowed to identify 581 existing databases. These databases were then categorised according to a set of criteria (including data collection methods and updating frequency) related with their usefulness to be applied to map ecosystem services. The databases that did not meet the selected criteria (e.g. no explicit spatial information) were discarded. This process allowed to identify 329 spatial databases useful for coastal and marine ecosystem services mapping in Europe. The databases were then distinguished based on the ability to work the data on a GIS software, identifying 193 databases that allowed further analysis (hereafter applicable), and 136 databases that do not allow the extraction of data (hereafter non-applicable). The applicable spatial databases were further linked to the i) CICES framework for ecosystem services classification, ii) DPSIR framework and iii) descriptors considered in the MSFD. The obtained results showed that 42% of the spatial databases can be useful to map regulation services, followed by provision (33%) and cultural (21%) services. Considering the DPSIR framework, more than half can be used as proxies to evaluate coastal and marine ecosystems status (66%), followed by proxies of pressures (18%), drivers (8%), responses (4%), and finally impacts (4%). The available databases represent in a better way MSFD descriptors related to Hydrogeological conditions (D7), Eutrophication (D5), and Biodiversity (D1), being the non-indigenous species (D2) and contaminants in seafood (D9) descriptors somehow underrepresented. The obtained findings highlight the spatial open data limitations and challenges when mapping coastal and marine ecosystem services and contribute to the identification of spatial data gaps and opportunities when aiming for the sustainable management of marine ecosystems.