Environmental education for children is one of the fundamental tools required to reverse the degradation of our environment and the biodiversity erosion. Currently coral reefs are part of the vulnerable ecosystems which are most threatened by human activities and climate change. Responding to these pressures demands decisions at multiple scales, based on solid knowledge of coral reefs but also on strengthened awareness to build adaptive management solutions. Here we evaluate the impact of an environmental awareness campaign for children using a teaching toolbox developed by scientists (MARECO “The Coral Reef In Our Hands”). To assess this impact before and after using the toolbox, we analyzed the evolution of children's representations of coral reefs through drawings. This study was carried out in New Caledonia, focusing on five elementary schools in different social and cultural contexts (urban, rural and coastal). Two hundred and forty-eight drawings were made by children. The drawings were analyzed quantitatively using multivariate statistical analyses which reveals a diversity of representations in children with diverse sociocultural profiles, but also between schools, emphasizing that relationships with nature and marine environment vary according to direct and indirect experiences related to reefs. Furthermore, our results pointed out relevant differences in coral reef representations before and after the use of MARECO, particularly regarding their knowledge of reef biodiversity associated with multicolored organisms and the connection of coral reef with environment, the number of colors being used as a proxy of this holistic vision developed by children. These results point out the performance of MARECO as a playful tool to transfer scientific knowledge to children. Coral reef conservation is intimately linked to an awareness in young generations of the environmental challenges of tomorrow. To be agents of change in a sustainable world, children must be engaged in a fun, rigorous, action-oriented and socially responsible learning process such as the ones developed in participatory approaches.
Key environmental challenges faced by the aquaculture sector demonstrate that aquaculture production is not isolated from the surrounding environment, and we see a policy shift towards area‐based approaches. However, without an understanding of the farmer's perspective, there is a danger of misrepresenting how farm‐level practices relate to area‐based approaches and to environmental risk management. This paper empirically examines how individual aquaculture farmers interpret and manage environmental risks and the extent to which they operate beyond the boundaries of their farms. The analysis is based on a comparison between intensive aquaculture farmers in Kung Krabaen Bay, Thailand, representing an area of closed production systems; and a mixture of integrated mangrove shrimp and extensive shrimp farmers in Kien Vang Forest, Vietnam, representing an area of open production systems. Data were collected through semi‐structured interviews and participatory mapping. The spatial configuration of environmental risk management in both areas demonstrated a focus on the farm. Though farmers did recognise off‐farm risks, this did not result in collectively practised risk management strategies at a broad landscape scale. These observations demonstrate the need to rethink the development of area‐based approaches for both closed and open systems. Instead of the designation of aquaculture zones or all‐encompassing integrated landscape models of area‐based management, the findings suggest an alternative model. This third way of conceptualising spatial models of area‐based aquaculture management is based on a nested set of areas within a landscape defined by the socio‐spatial extent of farmer networks within which the interpretation of risk is homogeneous.
Chemical pollution is considered a factor that may threaten marine protected areas (MPAs), and recent studies have found contamination and associated biological effects in some MPAs. However, organized data on this topic are lacking. This study reviewed the literature on pollution in MPAs in order to compile data, determine whether MPAs are influenced by pollution and, whenever possible, describe how they are being affected by contaminants. The results show that the pollution status is unknown in most MPAs worldwide. When any information is available, it is often insufficient to diagnose the threats to biodiversity or to support further actions. More robust and extensive information is available on a small number of MPAs, and much less information is available regarding the negative effects of pollution. More than 80% of the areas studied exhibited evidence of contamination at potentially toxic concentrations or were found to have a status that produced toxic effects on the biota. The scientific community is encouraged to study pollution in MPAs worldwide.
Between 2004 and 2007, Fisheries and Oceans Canada undertook a management action to conserve overfished populations of Inshore Rockfishes by designating 164 Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) closed to most recreational and commercial fishing. However, no research has yet assessed the effectiveness of the RCA network at promoting groundfish population recoveries. We surveyed the fish communities of 35 RCAs and adjacent unprotected areas in southern British Columbia using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) between 2009 and 2011. We investigated the effect of protection and habitat on fish densities for six species or species groups (Quillback, Yelloweye, Greenstriped Rockfish, Kelp Greenling, Lingcod and all Inshore Rockfish combined) on transects inside and outside of RCAs. Habitat features such as percent rocky substrates and depth influenced fish density while reserve status did not. Next, we calculated habitat-based average densities and used the mean log response ratio (RR) of the density inside to outside of RCAs to determine if the amount of fishing outside the RCA, previous fishing history, the age, area or perimeter to area ratio influenced population recovery. Few positive reserve effects were apparent for any species/group. No clear patterns of RR with age were found for the RCAs, which ranged from 3 to 7 years old at the time of sampling (mean = 4.6). In addition, the intensity of fishing, size, and perimeter-to-area ratio failed to explain RR for most species. There were also no differences in size structure (length) of fish between RCAs and unprotected areas. The results give little indication that demersal fish populations have recovered inside the RCA system. Ongoing monitoring is essential to assess population recovery over time and evaluate the RCAs in terms of criteria such as habitat quality, habitat isolation and the level of compliance in order to enhance their effectiveness.
Marine recreational fishing (MRF) benefits individuals and economies, but can also impact fish stocks and associated ecosystems. Fish are an important resource providing direct economic benefit through commercial and recreational exploitation, and more esoteric ecosystem services. It is important to consider recreational fishing in marine spatial planning, but spatial information on coastal utilisation for MRF is frequently lacking. Public sources of local knowledge were reviewed and the frequency of unique references to sites extracted. Sites were georeferenced using a gazetteer compiled from the Ordnance Survey and United Kingdom Hydrographic Office named sea features gazetteer and local knowledge sources. Recreational fishing site densities were calculated across 2700 km of coastline and this proxy indicator of coastal utilisation validated against two independent surveys using permutative Monte Carlo sampling to control for sparse and non-independent data. Site density had fair agreement with independent surveys, but standardization by shore length reduced this agreement. Applying a 3 by 3 box filter convolution to the spatial layers improved the agreement between local knowledge derived predictions of activity and those of directed surveys, and permutation testing showed that agreement did not arise as a result of the convolution itself. High and low activity areas were more accurately predicted than areas of intermediate activity. Site density derived from heterogeneous participant and local knowledge can produce qualitative predictions of where recreational fishers fish, and applying a convolution can improve the predictive power of data so derived. However, this approach will be subject to unquantifiable bias and may fail to identify areas highly valued by marine recreational fishers. Thus it should be used in conjunction with other information in decision making and may be best suited to inform the early stage sampling design of on-site surveys or to complement other data sets in mapping areas of importance to recreational fishers.
Cumulative effects assessments are a legal requirement in many jurisdictions and are key to informing marine policy. However, practice does not yet deliver fit-for-purpose assessments relative to sustainable development and environmental protection obligations. The complexity of cumulative effect questions, which are embedded in complex social-ecological systems, makes multiple, methodologically diverse assessments a necessity. Using the expansion of marine renewable energy developments in European Union waters as a case study, this paper explores how social-ecological systems thinking and cumulative effects assessment theory can combine to structure CEAs that better support the management and regulation of maritime activities at regional scales. A general perspective for cumulative effects assessment is proposed to remove ambiguity of intent and to orient assessments towards a common objective. Candidate principles for practice are presented for consideration. These principles are integrated into a stepped assessment approach that seeks to improve cumulative effects assessments of localised activities relative to the information needs of decision-makers implementing the ecosystem approach.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly implemented to conserve or restore coral reef biodiversity, yet evidence of their benefits for enhancing coral cover is limited and variable.
30 MPAs worldwide and nearby sites (within 10 km).
Cover of key functional groups for coral (total, branching, massive and tabular), and algae (total, filamentous, foliose) and total biomass of reef fish trophic groups (excavator, scraper, browser, higher carnivore).
We used a global dataset obtained using standardized survey methods at 465 sites associated with 30 MPAs in 28 ecoregions to test the effects of five key MPA attributes (>10 years old, well‐enforced, no‐take, large and isolated) on coral cover, algal cover and reef fish biomass. We also tested the direct (reducing disturbance by human activities) versus indirect pathways (increasing grazing potential through recovering populations of herbivorous fishes) by which MPAs can influence coral and algal cover.
Only well‐enforced, no‐take and old (>10 years) MPAs had higher total coral cover (response ratio 1.08–1.19×) than fished sites, mostly due to the increased cover of massive coral growth forms (1.34–2.06×). This effect arose through both the direct influence of protection and indirect benefits of depressed algal cover by recovering herbivorous fish biomass. Neither the direct (standardized coefficient = 0.06) nor indirect effects (standardized coefficient = 0.04) of no‐take protection on coral cover were particularly strong, likely reflecting regional differences in fishing gear, targeted species and trophic webs.
MPAs promote the persistence of some functional groups of corals, and thus represent an important management tool, globally.
Coral communities are found at high latitude on the East Coast subtropical reefs of South Africa. They are biodiverse, economically important, and afforded World Heritage Site status in the iSimangaliso Wetland Park where some are subjected to recreational use. While the Park's unique coral reefs have, to date, suffered little bleaching from climate change, they are susceptible to the phenomenon and provide a natural laboratory for the study of its effects at high latitude. This review covers recent advances in the regional oceanography; coral community dynamics and the underpinning reef processes, including minor bleaching events; the incidence of coral disease; and coral genetic connectivity. The effects of human activity (SCUBA diving, recreational fishing, pesticide use) were assessed, as well as the nursery benefits of Acropora austera, a coral which provides the reefs with much structure and is vulnerable to damage and climate change. The reefs were valued in terms of human use as well as services such as sediment generation and retention. The results have provided valuable information on relatively pristine, high-latitude reefs, their socio-economic benefits, and the anticipated effects of climate change.
Many analyses of fishery recovery have demonstrated the potential biological and economic benefits of management reform, but few have compared these to the associated costs of management upgrades, which can be substantial. This study aims to determine if the projected economic benefits of management reform outweigh the increases in management costs required to achieve those benefits. To answer this question, we developed a database of country-level fisheries management costs and use those to estimate the country-level costs of management changes. We use this framework to compare estimates of future costs of management upgrades against their economic benefits in terms of profit. Results indicate that for most nations, including the top 25 fishing nations, management upgrades outweigh their associated costs. This result is robust to a number of alternative assumptions about costs. Results also suggest that stronger reforms such as rights-based management, although sometimes more expensive to implement, can lead to greater net economic benefits compared to alternatives.
The effects of climate-driven ocean change on reef habitat-forming species are diverse1,2 and can be deleterious to the structure and functioning of seafloor communities3,4,5. Although responses of shallow coral- or seaweed-based reef communities to environmental changes are a focus of ecological research in the coastal zone1,4,5,6, the ecology of habitat-forming organisms on deeper mesophotic reefs remains poorly known. These reefs are typically highly biodiverse7,8 and productive as a result of massive nutrient recycling9. Based on seafloor imagery obtained from an autonomous underwater vehicle8, we related change in community composition on deep reefs (30–90 m) across a latitudinal gradient (25–45° S) in southeastern Australia to high-resolution environmental and oceanographic data, and predicted future changes using downscaled climate change projections for the 2060s10,11,12. This region is recognized as a global hotspot for ocean warming13. The models show an overall tropicalization trend in these deep temperate reef communities, but different functional groups associate differentially to environmental drivers and display a diversity of responses to projected ocean change. We predict the emergence of novel deep-reef assemblages by the 2060s that have no counterpart on reefs today, which is likely to underpin shifts in biodiversity and ecosystem functioning.