Derelict fishing gear is a known stressor to rockfish populations in the Washington waters of the Salish Sea, including two species currently federally protected under the Endangered Species Act. In Washington and British Columbia, rockfish bycatch in actively fished (non-derelict) prawn traps has been documented in spot prawn test fisheries conducted by state and provincial government, and both live and dead rockfish have been found in derelict prawn traps encountered during derelict fishing gear removal operations in Washington. This study calculates rockfish bycatch rates in actively fishing prawn traps and provides preliminary trap loss rates for both commercial and recreational fisheries. Rockfish bycatch rates were determined through analysis of Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) Spot Prawn Test Fishery Data collected from 2004 to 2013. Data from WDFW creel surveys were used to update preliminary prawn trap loss rates. Interviews with WDFW marine enforcement officers were conducted to estimate the number of lost traps that are recovered before becoming derelict. The overall rockfish catch rates in Washington waters of the Salish Sea were 0.023 rockfish per trap drop, with considerable spatial and temporal variability. The lowest catch rates were consistently seen in Marine Area 7 (San Juan Islands and North Puget Sound); while the highest catch rates were seen in Marine Area 11 (south-central Puget Sound). The trap loss rate estimated for the recreational fishery is 2.33% of all traps fished. We estimate that over the years 2012 and 2013 an average of 653 recreational prawn traps became derelict each year. The accumulation of derelict prawn traps has a mostly unknown effect on benthic habitats of Puget Sound, which warrants additional research. While rockfish bycatch and prawn trap loss rates reported here are low, our findings support evaluating methods to reduce rockfish encounters with prawn traps.
Vessel slowdown may be an alternative mitigation option in regions where re-routing shipping corridors to avoid important marine mammal habitat is not possible. We investigated the potential relief in masking in marine mammals and fish from a 10 knot speed reduction of container and cruise ships. The mitigation effect from slower vessels was not equal between ambient sound conditions, species or vessel-type. Under quiet ambient conditions, a speed reduction from 25 to 15 knots resulted in smaller listening space reductions by 16–23%, 10–18%, 1–2%, 5–8% and 8% respectively for belugas, bowheads, bearded seals, ringed seals, and fish, depending on vessel-type. However, under noisy conditions, those savings were between 9 and 19% more, depending on the species. This was due to the differences in species' hearing sensitivities and the low ambient sound levels measured in the study region. Vessel slowdown could be an effective mitigation strategy for reducing masking.
There is great interest and rapid progress around the world in developing sets of indicators of marine ecosystem integrity for assessment and management. However, the complexity of coastal marine ecosystems can challenge such efforts. To address this challenge, an expert-based, hierarchical, and adaptive approach was developed with the objectives of healthy marine ecosystems and community partnerships in monitoring and management. Small sets of the top-ranked indicators of ecosystem integrity and associated human pressures were derived from expert-rankings of lists of identified candidate indicators of the status of, and pressures on, each of 17 ecosystem features, organized within 8 elements in turn within 3 overlapping aspects of ecosystem health. Over 200 experts played a role in rating the relative value of 1035 candidate indicators. A panel of topic experts was assigned to each of the 17 ecosystem features to apply 21 weighted indicator selection criteria. Selection criteria and candidate indicators were identified through literature reviews, expert panels, and surveys, and they were evaluated in terms of the experts' judgements of importance to the health of Canada's Pacific marine ecosystems. This produced a flexible, robust, and adaptable approach to identifying representative sets of indicators for any scale and for any management unit within Canada's Pacific. At the broadest scale, it produced a top 20 list of ecosystem state and pressure indicators. These top indicators, or other sets selected for smaller regions, can then guide the development of both regional and nested local monitoring programs in a way that maximizes continuity while including locally unique values. This hierarchical expert-based approach was designed to address challenges of complexity and scale and to enable efficient selection of useful and representative sets of indicators of ecosystem integrity while also enabling the participation of broad government and stakeholder communities.
Some studies published over the past several decades have concluded nourishment of oceanic beaches is a viable strategy to mitigate climate change. However, these were generally too limited in scope to accurately evaluate beach nourishment because each omit one or more of the following: (1) a realistic assessment of potential borrow area sand volume, (2) native beach compatibility, (3) construction costs, (4) all vulnerable geomorphic elements of the coastal zone, and (5) environmental impacts. When all of these parameters are considered, the results are markedly different. To demonstrate our point, we evaluated the recommendations of Houston (2017) using all five parameters. Contrary to Houston, we provide multiple lines of evidence that beach fill projects are not a sustainable strategy to protect or defend oceanic beaches of the Florida panhandle (USA), nor likely most of the world's developed coastlines at risk to the effects of climate change. The nourishment of oceanic beaches as historically constructed will surely continue over the next several decades. But, it must be done as an interim strategy during the formulation and implementation of a robust, long-term adaptive management strategy that incorporates managed withdrawal from the coastline.
This paper examines how the Harper Government of Canada (2006-2015) shut down both debate about threats and research into environmental risk, a strategy that Canadian scientists characterized as the “death of evidence.” Based on interviews with scientists who research risks to the marine environment, we explore the shifting relationship between science and the Canadian government by tracing the change in the mode of risk calculation supported by the Harper administration and the impact of this change. Five themes emerged from the interviews: erosion of science research capacity, resulting limitations in understanding risk, declining influence on policy and regulation, redirection of public science funds to support the private sector, and the need to broaden the science knowledge base. The Canadian death of evidence controversy represents a challenge to science and technology studies (STS) scholars who wish to maintain a critical and reflexive perspective on the scientific enterprise without supporting attacks on evidence. While subsequent Canadian governments may simply return science to an unreflexively privileged knowledge status, we view this as equally damaging to broad risk calculation and democratic science. We suggest instead that a broader gathering of matters of concern will always be essential to risk assessment.
Recent large-scale analyses suggest that local management actions may not protect coral reefs from climate change, yet most local threat-reduction strategies have not been tested experimentally. We show that removing coral predators is a common local action used by managers across the world, and that removing the corallivorous snail Coralliophila abbreviata from Caribbean brain corals (Pseudodiploria and Diploriaspecies) before a major warming event increased coral resilience by reducing bleaching severity (resistance) and post-bleaching tissue mortality (recovery). Our results highlight the need for increased evaluation and identification of local interventions that improve coral reef resilience.