Reef ecosystems are amply distributed and ecologically relevant in Mexico, however, there is not an integrated inventory of these ecosystems, and information about uses and pressures is disperse. With the aim of generating updated information that allows to know the presence and distribution of the different types of reefs (coral, rocky-coral, rocky, and rocky with Macrocystis pyrifera), as well as to know the uses and pressures to which they are subjected. In this article we present an inventory of the 755 reef ecosystems known in Mexico based in a literature review of 194 documents and validated by informal interviews to key Mexican experts. Mexican reefs are distributed in seven regions identified for reef management purposes, according to the combination of eight maritime regionalization proposals of the Mexican seas. The main uses of reef ecosystems are fishing, tourism, nautical, and mining, which produce eight main pressures: pollution, habitat fragmentation, coral bleaching, overfishing, exotic species introduction, sedimentation, coral mortality, and coral diseases. These uses and pressures are distributed heterogeneously in the seven reef regions. The main conservation tool used by Mexican Federal Government to protect these reefs are the Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Almost 45% of the listed reefs are within one of the 30 Mexican MPAs, being the coral reefs the ones that predominate in this protection scheme. In this research we present relevant information for the management of the reef ecosystems of Mexico, which support the debate on the analysis of public policies for their conservation.
The release of classified documents in the past years have offered a rare glimpse into the opaque world of tax havens and their role in the global economy. Although the political, economic and social implications related to these financial secrecy jurisdictions are known, their role in supporting economic activities with potentially detrimental environmental consequences have until now been largely ignored. Here, we combine quantitative analysis with case descriptions to elaborate and quantify the connections between tax havens and the environment, both in global fisheries and the Brazilian Amazon. We show that while only 4% of all registered fishing vessels are currently flagged in a tax haven, 70% of the known vessels implicated in illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing are, or have been, flagged under a tax haven jurisdiction. We also find that between October 2000 and August 2011, 68% of all investigated foreign capital to nine focal companies in the soy and beef sectors in the Brazilian Amazon was transferred through one, or several, known tax havens. This represents as much as 90–100% of foreign capital for some companies investigated. We highlight key research challenges for the academic community that emerge from our findings and present a set of proposed actions for policy that would put tax havens on the global sustainability agenda.
The courts have played a central role in climate policy, including the landmark Supreme Court case that led to the mandatory regulation of greenhouse gases by the United States. A wide variety of litigants have used the courts to affect policy outcomes at all scales. Therefore, to understand how the court addresses climate change is critical. Here we constructed and analysed a database of all the United State domestic climate lawsuits 1990–2016 (873), and collected qualitative data in the form of 78 in-depth interviews with litigants, involved scientists and advocates. We find proregulation litigants tend to win renewable energy and energy efficiency cases, and more frequently lose coal-fired power plant cases. Strategies such as the use of climate science and other science as well as collaboration in specific types of coalitions affect the outcomes of cases. Efforts to affect climate policy should consider these trends and outcomes.
Because mangroves store greater amounts of carbon (C) per area than any other terrestrial ecosystem, conservation of mangrove forests on a global scale represents a potentially meaningful strategy for mitigating atmospheric greenhouse‐gas (GHG) emissions. However, analyses of how coastal ecosystems influence the global C cycle also require the mapping of ecosystem area across the Earth's surface to estimate C storage and flux (movement) in order to compare how different ecosystem types may mitigate GHG enrichment in the atmosphere. In this paper, we propose a new framework based on diverse coastal morphology (that is, different coastal environmental settings resulting from how rivers, tides, waves, and climate have shaped coastal landforms) to explain global variations in mangrove C storage, using soil organic carbon (SOC) as a model to more accurately determine mangrove contributions to global C dynamics. We present, to the best of our knowledge, the first global mangrove area estimate occupying distinct coastal environmental settings, comparing the role of terrigenous and carbonate settings as global “blue carbon” hotspots. C storage in deltaic settings has been overestimated, while SOC stocks in carbonate settings have been underestimated by up to 50%. We encourage the scientific community, which has largely focused on blue carbon estimates, to incorporate coastal environmental settings into their evaluations of C stocks, to obtain more robust estimates of global C stocks.
Blue carbon policy supports carbon sequestration whilst also conserving our remaining seagrass meadows. The complex biogeochemical processes within the sediment of seagrass meadows are responsible for the longevity of the stored carbon. Carbon stock and accumulation rates are controlled by the interaction of hydrodynamic, geochemical and biotic processes unique to each meadow. Carbon content (stock and flux) of a meadow must be quantified for inclusion in carbon accounting, whether for market trading or national greenhouse gas accounting. Management of seagrass blue carbon also requires estimates of additionality, leakage, permanence, conversion and emission factors.
Highly productive coastal wetlands play an essential role in storing blue carbon as one of their ecosystem services, but they are increasingly jeopardized by intensive reclamation activities to facilitate rapid population growth and urbanization. Coastal reclamation causes the destruction and severe degradation of wetland ecosystems, which may affect their abilities to store blue carbon. To assist with international accords on blue carbon, we evaluated the dynamics of blue carbon storage in coastal wetlands under coastal reclamation in China. By integrating carbon density data collected from field measurement experiments and from the literature, an InVEST model, Carbon Storage and Sequestration was used to estimate carbon storage across the reclamation area between 1990 and 2015. The result is the first map capable of informing about blue carbon storage in coastal reclamation areas on a national scale. We found that more than 380,000 hectares of coastal wetlands were affected by reclamation, which resulted in the release of ca. 20.7 Tg of blue carbon. The carbon loss from natural wetlands to artificial wetlands accounted for 72.5% of total carbon loss, which highlights the major task in managing coastal sustainability. In addition, the top 20% of coastal wetlands in carbon storage loss covered 4.2% of the total reclamation area, which can be applied as critical information for coastal redline planning. We conclude that the release of blue carbon due to the conversion of natural wetlands exceeded the total carbon emission from energy consumption within the reclamation area. Implementing the Redline policy could guide the management of coastal areas resulting in greater resiliency regarding carbon emission and sustained ecosystem services.
The human-mediated introduction of marine non-indigenous species is a centuries- if not millennia-old phenomenon, but was only recently acknowledged as a potent driver of change in the sea. We provide a synopsis of key historical milestones for marine bioinvasions, including timelines of (a) discovery and understanding of the invasion process, focusing on transfer mechanisms and outcomes, (b) methodologies used for detection and monitoring, (c) approaches to ecological impacts research, and (d) management and policy responses. Early (until the mid-1900s) marine bioinvasions were given little attention, and in a number of cases actively and routinely facilitated. Beginning in the second half of the 20th century, several conspicuous non-indigenous species outbreaks with strong environmental, economic, and public health impacts raised widespread concerns and initiated shifts in public and scientific perceptions. These high-profile invasions led to policy documents and strategies to reduce the introduction and spread of non-indigenous species, although with significant time lags and limited success and focused on only a subset of transfer mechanisms. Integrated, multi-vector management within an ecosystem-based marine management context is urgently needed to address the complex interactions of natural and human pressures that drive invasions in marine ecosystems.
Seagrasses form one of the most ecologically important and productive three-dimensional habitats in coastal seas. Knowing the global distribution of seagrass meadows is essential for conservation and blue carbon estimates. Here, we modelled the global distribution of seagrass using 43,037 occurrence records and 13 environmental variables within the modelling software MaxEnt at 30 arc sec resolution (c. 1 km at the equator). We found that sea surface temperature and distance from land contributed most in predicting seagrass distribution globally. Comparison of summing models for individual species, genera, and families found that a model combining all species occurrence records best fitted the known geographic distribution. In addition, this model fills geographic gaps in previous maps. We predicted the seagrass biome may occupy 1,646,788 km2, more than double previous global estimates. Applications for this dataset include blue carbon estimates, spatial planning such as for designing Marine Protected Areas, environmental sensitivity mapping, and monitoring of change in biome cover.
There are growing calls for the articulation and consideration of different value systems and emotions in shaping conservation and natural resource management decisions and participatory resource governance. This requires recognition of the socio-cultural relations attached to landscape and seascape in marine conservation policy. Taking into account the relationship between the socio-natural environment and socio-political institutions and processes complicates conservation. Making human values and assumptions explicit within the conservation discourse reveals the inadequacy of conservation that is focused on a biodiversity that is framed only as other-than-human nature. This paper considers how the perceived separation between nature and culture underpinning conservation policy and practice exacerbated a conflict between members of a small Scottish island community and the Scottish Government around the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) off the coast of the island. A rich maritime heritage and a distinctive way of knowing the sea suggested the presence of embedded values that appeared to be colliding with values driving the MPA designation process. Social, historical and cultural forces have shaped the perceptions of landscape and seascape of many of the islanders and can help to explain the local resistance to the MPA. Visual participatory methods were used to explore local understandings of the meaning of conservation. The case-study offers insights into different ways in which marine spaces are conceptualised and how this relates to marine resource governance. It contributes to a more complete understanding of human relations with the marine environment in the context of a marine conservation conflict.
The development of the Marine Renewable Energy (MRE) industry is part of the EC Blue Growth Strategy. It brings together a range of relationships across people, sea, and energy, from developers to local communities and policymakers. This calls for diverse approaches, moving beyond an oppositional mindset to one that can establish an inclusive community around MRE development. Ownership of the marine environment is a legal issue, but MRE devices operate within a cultural and emotional sense of place. Early, sustained community engagement and advocacy is crucial to developing an industry whose impacts are likely to be felt before its social benefits materialise. Crucially, local communities could be supported by Social Sciences and Humanities (SSH) research in creating new mythologies and imaginaries through which MRE technologies become an integral part of their culture, as well as part of their biophysical environment. A complex physical, political, and legal environment provides the context for these new marine energy technologies, and its development provides opportunities for SSH research to address issues around the sea and to integrate into the design of new marine energy seascapes.