The annual sea surface temperature increased at a rate of 0.038 to 0.074 °C/year in recent decade, and pH decreased at a rate of 0.012–0.014/year in two coastal waters of the South China Sea. Therefore, a culture experiment was conducted to study the effects of acidification and warming on coral calcification rates. The calcification of three coral species were significantly reduced during the exposure to elevated CO2, while other three coral species were not significantly affected. The reef coral Pocillopora damicornis was resistant to high CO2, but was not able to survive during the exposure to 33 °C in our culture experiments. Our findings suggested that some corals might not survive in tropical areas if coral could not adapt to warming rapidly, and subtropical coastal waters with temperature of <30 °C will serve as refugia for the corals resistant to high CO2 at the end of this century.
Life cycle and reproduction of Calanus hyperboreus were studied during a year of record low ice cover in the southeastern Beaufort Sea. Stages CIV, adult females and CV dominated the overwintering population, suggesting a 2- to 3-year life cycle. Within two spring-summer months in the upper water column females filled their energy reserves before initiating their downward seasonal migration. From February to March, vigorous reproduction (20–65 eggs f−1 d−1) delivered numerous eggs (29 000 eggs m−2) at depth and nauplii N1-N3 (17 000 ind. m−2) in the water column. However, CI copepodite recruitment in May, coincident with the phytoplankton bloom, was modest in Amundsen Gulf compared to sites outside the gulf. Consequently, C. hyperboreus abundance and biomass stagnated throughout summer in Amundsen Gulf. As a mismatch between the first-feeding stages and food was unlikely under the favourable feeding conditions of April-May 2008, predation on the egg and larval stages in late winter presumably limited subsequent recruitment and population growth. Particularly abundant in Amundsen Gulf, the copepods Metridia longa and C. glacialis were likely important consumers of C. hyperboreus eggs and nauplii. With the ongoing climate-driven lengthening of the ice-free season, intensification of top-down control of C. hyperboreus recruitment by thriving populations of mesopelagic omnivores and carnivores like M. longa may counteract the potential benefits of increased primary production over the Arctic shelves margins for this key prey of pelagic fish, seabirds and the bowhead whale.
Fiji's National Government has committed to using Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect its marine environment. As Fiji is in the process of reforming its marine law, now is an opportune time to develop statutory mechanisms for establishing and regulating MPAs. This article considers the regulation of MPAs in Fiji's coastal waters—where the intersection of statutory and customary law poses particular challenges. ‘Customary MPAs’ already exist in Fiji's coastal environments, taking the form of tabu areas and ‘Locally Managed Marine Areas’ (LMMAs). Both of these are important mechanisms that any new statutory framework should incorporate and strengthen. In 2010, the draft Inshore Fisheries Decree (draft Inshore Decree) was prepared. Although the draft Inshore Decree appears to have stalled, it may yet be progressed to a final bill. Alternatively, some of the measures in it may be incorporated into another law. This article assesses one mechanism in the draft Inshore Decree that could be used to formalize customary MPAs—Community Fisheries Management and Development Plans (CFMDPs). It finds that CFMDPs demonstrate a number of strengths, in particular by supporting legal recognition of existing marine management measures. However, there are also weaknesses. Nevertheless, with refinement CFMDPs may be a useful tool for regulating Fiji's coastal MPAs.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has emerged as an important paradigm in fisheries management, yet implementation of EBFM has lagged. Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have emerged as a means to implement EBFM. Here, a critical, in depth analysis of the FEP for the U.S. west coast is conducted, with the goal of highlighting lessons learned, and to further develop the FEP framework. This was accomplished by first benchmarking the contents of the FEP against recent guidance from the Lenfest Ocean Program entitled “Building Effective Fishery Ecosystem Plans: A Report from the Lenfest Fishery Ecosystem Task Force”. Subsequently, to gain a deeper understanding of the FEP's successes and challenges, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants involved either in the creation of the FEP or its subsequent use. Results from the benchmarking show that this FEP has been successful in providing a strong conceptual foundation for EBFM, but, generally, is weaker in areas that promote the movement of knowledge to action. In contrast, our interviews revealed a general sense of success. Underlying this result is a strong focus of the FEP on process-oriented objectives that have established institutional processes that are a precursor of the transition from conventional to ecosystem-based fisheries management. Given the substantial repercussions regarding human and ecological well-being that fisheries actions can have, the incremental processes employed in this region may, in the long-term, facilitate the implementation of EBFM in this region.
Seagrasses, flowering marine plants that form underwater meadows, play a significant global role in supporting food security, mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity. Although progress is being made to conserve seagrass meadows in select areas, most meadows remain under significant pressure resulting in a decline in meadow condition and loss of function. Effective management strategies need to be implemented to reverse seagrass loss and enhance their fundamental role in coastal ocean habitats. Here we propose that seagrass meadows globally face a series of significant common challenges that must be addressed from a multifaceted and interdisciplinary perspective in order to achieve global conservation of seagrass meadows. The six main global challenges to seagrass conservation are (1) a lack of awareness of what seagrasses are and a limited societal recognition of the importance of seagrasses in coastal systems; (2) the status of many seagrass meadows are unknown, and up-to-date information on status and condition is essential; (3) understanding threatening activities at local scales is required to target management actions accordingly; (4) expanding our understanding of interactions between the socio-economic and ecological elements of seagrass systems is essential to balance the needs of people and the planet; (5) seagrass research should be expanded to generate scientific inquiries that support conservation actions; (6) increased understanding of the linkages between seagrass and climate change is required to adapt conservation accordingly. We also explicitly outline a series of proposed policy actions that will enable the scientific and conservation community to rise to these challenges. We urge the seagrass conservation community to engage stakeholders from local resource users to international policy-makers to address the challenges outlined here, in order to secure the future of the world’s seagrass ecosystems and maintain the vital services which they supply.
Deep seabed mining is a major new intersection of human enterprise and deep-ocean ecosystems. This paper reviews the concept and process for a holistic approach to planning environmental management in the deep sea based on Strategic Environmental Goals and Objectives. Strategic planning around the environment can establish a vision for the future condition of the ocean floor for which the International Seabed Authority (ISA) can draw on a wealth of precedents and experience. By engaging stakeholders and applying current knowledge of deep ecosystems, the ISA can build meaningful strategic environmental goals and objectives that give guidance to its own operation and those of its contractors. This framework builds understanding of the organization’s aspirations at global, regional and contractor levels. Herein, some examples are suggested, but we focus on the process. To operationalize these goals and objectives, progress must be measurable; thus, targets are set, reports are assessed, and appropriate responses are awarded. Many management tools and actions are applicable for achieving environmental goals. To date, the ISA has considered marine spatial planning largely around the current exploration contract blocks. Other elements of environmental management, including the requirements for baseline studies, impact assessment, post-impact monitoring and the treatment of harmful effects and serious harm need to be implemented to support well-defined environmental goals and objectives. We suggest that this planning be executed for scales larger than individual blocks, through a Strategic Environmental Management Plan, to ensure sustainable use of ocean resources across the Area.
Modern ecosystem-based forms of marine management such as Marine Spatial Planning(MSP) deal with various complex systems and often with huge amounts of data. Software-based simulative and analytical tools are therefore frequently mentioned in the scientific literature on marine management approaches. But in addition to the evolution of management approaches, the requirements for more integrated tools are also progressing. MSP, for instance, comes with different spatial resolutions, an increased need to consider multiple interdepencies, and increased requirements for validity than most of the previous marine management questions. We reviewed seven well-known Decision Support Tools (DSTs) by asking 59 MSP practitioners from at least 25 countries worldwide about their experience with these tools. The results revealed that, while respondents were mostly positive about the use of DSTs in MSP processes, DSTs are still mainly used in the academic realm and have not yet found their way into everyday MSP practice. There is a broad range of reasons for not using DSTs, including the complexity of these tools, the resources required to operate them, low stakeholder confidence in DST outcomes, and the lack of additional value in using DSTs.
Marine plant communities such as kelp forests produce significant amounts of detritus, most of which is exported to areas where it can constitute an important trophic subsidy or potentially be sequestered in marine sediments. Knowing the vertical transport speed of detrital particles is critical to understanding the potential magnitude and spatial extent of these linkages. We measured sinking speeds for Laminaria hyperborea detritus ranging from whole plants to small fragments and sea urchin faecal pellets, capturing the entire range of particulate organic matter produced by kelp forests. Under typical current conditions, we determined that this organic material can be transported 10 s of m to 10 s of km. We show how the conversion of kelp fragments to sea urchin faeces, one of the most pervasive processes in kelp forests globally, increases the dispersal potential of detritus by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. Kelp detritus sinking speeds were also faster than equivalent phytoplankton, highlighting its potential for rapid delivery of carbon to deep areas. Our findings support arguments for a significant contribution from kelp forests to subsidizing deep sea communities and the global carbon sink.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a World-known, iconic environmental asset whose complex functioning is largely ascribed to its outstanding biodiversity, ranging from genes to plants, animals and entire ecosystems. Biodiversity has been key to its resilience over the past millennia. However, the combined effects of climate change, water quality degradation and coastal development are threatening the GBR’s resilience. There is a crucial need to better understand the value of biodiversity in that region to encourage sustainable policy-making.
Different approaches have been suggested in the literature to value biodiversity. First, we review the use of a Total Economic Value framework to look into all dimensions of biodiversity values. Second, we describe an approach relying on ecosystem services. The suitability of these two approaches to value biodiversity in the GBR is assessed. Next, we review 23 finance mechanisms and discuss the possibility to use them to alleviate pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity in the GBR. We conclude by stressing the importance of biodiversity valuation in the GBR, highlight some of the remaining challenges and provide recommendations for future research avenues.
The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) is subject to moderate to high levels of fishing, mining and numerous other human pressures, all of which are set to intensify through current socio-economic development initiatives in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. There is, however, minimal spatial protection of marine and coastal ecosystems in the region, potentially reducing the sustainability of the planned development and the likelihood of achieving Sustainable Development Goals. As a precursor to Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) processes in the three countries, and to guide establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), this study aimed to: assess two headline indicators of ecosystem status, namely their potential threat status and current spatial protection levels; and to use Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) to prioritise specific areas for protection to achieve networks of MPAs that are representative of national and regional biodiversity. Two hundred and forty eight ecosystem types in the coastal (n = 134), offshore benthic (n = 86) and pelagic (n = 28) zones of the BCLME were classified, mapped and assessed. Overall, 35% of all ecosystem types in the study domain were threatened, with more threatened coastal (37%) and offshore benthic (37%) ecosystem types compared to pelagic ecosystem types (14%), although the same pattern was not necessarily evident within each country. Nearly two thirds (59%) of the BCLME ecosystem types were not protected in MPAs, and most of those that were well (19%) or moderately protected (14%) were coastal types that are within a single extensive MPA in Namibia. Notwithstanding, there was still a sufficient area of most ecosystem types that was assessed to be in good ecological condition in all three countries and that could be prioritised for representative protection of the region's biodiversity. A portfolio of priority conservation areas was identified from Marxan selection-frequency outputs, providing a spatial vision for protected areas in the BCLME that includes coastal, inshore and offshore areas in all three countries. This first assessment of marine ecosystem threat and protection status for an entire LME demonstrates a rapid science-based approach that can inform integrated ocean management and multiple development goals. The study provides a basis for identifying Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, potential sites for MPAs or other spatial management in the region, and demonstrates the contribution of SCP and spatial management to MSP.