Multilateral consensus forged among heads of states must be value-additive and relevant at the national level to facilitate on-ground implementation. Yet, despite general optimism and advances in policy understanding, multi-scale diffusion remains a challenge with little certainty in outcomes. This study focuses on examining intermediary dynamics occurring within national policy apparatus that can influence domestic uptake of policy innovation. We analyse the anticipated spread of two supranational policies on coastal fisheries in the Pacific region – the ‘Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines’ and ‘the New Song’ – in three countries: Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Our approach combines instrumental perspectives on ‘policy coherence’ with cognitive–normative perspectives on ‘policy image’. Accordingly, we use two methods: a document-based comparison of the policies produced at different levels and interviews with national government officers in charge of policy deliberation and delivery. We find supranational-to-national policy coherence across most prescribed policy themes, except for emergent social themes such as ‘gender’ and ‘human rights–based approaches’. The views of government managers substantiate, and further augment, this finding. Crucially, managers' images (encompassing judgements, aspirations and convictions) represent personal and practical attributes involved in policy interpretation and implementation. Multi-scale policy diffusion is thus a translational process mediated by national-level staff, and managers' policy images offer nuanced and dynamic insights into why some policies are slow to take root while others take different shape to their agreed meanings. Analysts and policymakers must consider and mobilise translational approaches and policy images in order to understand and facilitate successful domestic implementation of international agreements.
An important step in fishery management is to classify fishing vessels by their technical, power, range and impact capacities. This allows management improvement for environmental, social and economic purposes. Technical features are commonly used to classify vessels, but are inadequately addressed for small-scale fisheries (SSF), especially in estuaries. This study analyzed 685 small fishing vessels in order to determine the best way to classify them and suggest how this can improve estuarine SSF management. Technical features, target species, and the degree of urbanization and income of the community were considered. Estuarine-dependent vessels differ from coastal vessels. Their simpler technology increases overlaps of target species and fishing gear. Technical features commonly used to classify vessels (length, engine power and tonnage) are inappropriate for those with low technology. Instead, the degree of technical homogeneity, the number of fishing gears, and the overlap of target species should be considered. We suggest the classification of vessels in management units for estuarine small-scale vessels: a group of vessels operating in the same area, with very low technology, similar fishing range and fishing capacity, a multi-gear pattern, and high target species overlap. Vessels with different main fishing gear may represent the same management unit, because the simple technology required by each gear allows the same vessel to uses several types. The multi-gear and multi-species strategy impairs the use of traditional gear-based management, yet enables low-income fishermen to continue fishing. Vessels with lower technology were observed in less-urbanized communities and had lower income, and therefore these fishermen depend more on the estuarine fishery. Financial capacity stimulates technology and increases fishing capacity, range and gear specialization. Simple technology may help to improve food security and alleviate poverty by maximizing catch diversity. This study identified management units through a novel use of the features of small-scale vessels. We discuss important issues that influence the technological development of small-scale vessels and how this method may improve SSF management.
Fishery managers worldwide are evaluating methods for incorporating climate, habitat, ecological, social, and economic factors into current operations in order to implement Ecosystem Approaches to Fishery Management (EAFM). While this can seem overwhelming, it is possible to take practical steps toward EAFM implementation that make use of existing information and provide managers with valuable strategic advice. Here, we describe the process used by the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) to develop an ecosystem-level risk assessment, the initial step proposed in their recently adopted EAFM guidance document. The Council first defined five types of Risk Elements (ecological, economic, social, food production, management) and identified which management objectives aligned with each element. Based on an existing ecosystem status report for the region and other existing sources (including expert opinion), potential ecological, social, economic, and management indicators were identified for each risk element. Finally, low, low-moderate, moderate-high, and high risk criteria were defined for each indicator, and the indicator data were used to score each risk element using the criteria. The ultimate outcome is a ranked risk assessment in order to focus on the highest risk issues for further evaluation and mitigation. The risk assessment highlights certain species and certain management issues as posing higher cumulative risks to meeting Council management objectives when considering a broad range of ecological, social, and economic factors. Tabular color coded summaries of risk assessment results will be used by the Council to prioritize further EAFM analyses as well as research plans over the coming 5 years. As ecosystem reporting and operational EAFM continue to evolve in future years, the Council foresees integrating these efforts so that ecosystem indicators are refined to meet the needs of fishery managers in identifying and managing risks to achieving ecological, social, and economic fishery objectives. Overall, ecosystem indicator-based risk assessment is a method that can be adapted to a wide range of resource management systems and available information, and therefore represents a promising way forward in the implementation of EAFM.
As a response to increasing human pressures on marine ecosystems, the legislation aimed at improving the conservation and management of marine coastal areas in European and Contiguous Seas (ECS) underwent crucial advances. ECS, however, still remain largely affected by increasing threats leading to biodiversity loss. Here, by using emblematic case studies and expert knowledge, we review current conservation tools, comparing their application in different areas to assess their effectiveness, potential for synergies, and contradictions. Despite regional differences in their application, the existing legislative frameworks have the potential to regulate human activities and to protect marine biodiversity. However, four challenges remain to be addressed to fully achieve environmental policy goals: (1) Lack of shared vision representing a limitation in transboundary collaboration. Although all EU countries are committed to fulfil EU Directives and other binding international legislative acts, a remarkable heterogeneity exists among countries in the compliance with the common legislation on conservation and in their degree of implementation. (2) Lack of systematic procedures for the selection of protected marine sites. Regional and national approaches in designating Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated marine protected areas (MPAs) reflect varying conservation targets and importance of conservation issues in political agendas. (3) Lack of coherent ecological networks. Natura 2000 sites and other MPAs are still far from reaching the status of effective networks in all considered case studies. (4) Hotspot of conflicts with private economic interests prevailing over conservation aims. Recommendations are given to overcome the fragmented approach still characterizing the conservation and management of coastal marine environments. Holistic, integrated, ecosystem-based, cross-cutting approaches can avoid conflicts among institutions so as to provide effective and timely solutions to current and future challenges concerning the conservation and management of marine ecosystems and associated goods and services.
Marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP) aims to address conflicts between different sea uses and conflicts between such uses and marine environments. However, how to evaluate, particularly quantitatively evaluate, an MSP scheme on its performance of achieving the above objectives is still an issue. In this paper, an MSP scheme evaluation framework focusing on sea use compatibility and the protection degree of key ecological areas is put forward. First, the intensity of every sea use is graded on a scale of 1–10 based on its demand on marine resources and impacts on marine environments, and key ecological areas are identified based on scientific criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Then, a set of formulas are designed to calculate the conflict value among sea uses. The protection degree in a sea area is calculated through buffer zone tools and overlap analysis in Geographic Information System (GIS). The proposed method is applied to a case study of Xiamen, China, by comparing its marine spatial plans of version 2007 and version 2013. The results show that the sea use intensity increases from 3.51 to 4.20 on average in the Western Sea of Xiamen. The key ecological area protection value decreases from 0.59 to 0.45, and the sea use conflicts value decreases from 0.28 to 0.20. The results demonstrate that MSP is successful in reducing sea use conflicts in version 2013 in the context of an increasing sea use intensity. However, the protection degree of key ecological areas needs to be strengthened. Further statistical analysis of the results provides more information for the cause analysis of the performance changes. This information would inform potential revisions of the current marine spatial plan and future sea use management. The proposed method provides a feasible approach to analyse the MSP scheme in a quantitative way.
The ecosystem approach has become a common tool in environmental governance over the last decade. Within the EU context, this is most clearly accentuated through the adoption of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning, that both include requirements for Member States to apply the approach. This paper examines the organization of marine spatial planning (MSP) by the EU countries in the Baltic Sea Region in terms of management levels and geographic delimitations. The research shows that there is no consistent interpretation of what is the appropriate level of management, or ecosystem scale. These findings are used to inform a discussion on the application of the ecosystem approach in the countries around the Baltic Sea, and its effect on the potential of transboundary cooperation initiatives.
Population replenishment of marine life largely depends on successful dispersal of larvae to suitable adult habitat. Ocean acidification alters behavioural responses to physical and chemical cues in marine animals, including the maladaptive deterrence of settlement-stage larval fish to odours of preferred habitat and attraction to odours of non-preferred habitat. However, sensory compensation may allow fish to use alternative settlement cues such as sound. We show that future ocean acidification reverses the attraction of larval fish (barramundi) to their preferred settlement sounds (tropical estuarine mangroves). Instead, acidification instigates an attraction to unfamiliar sounds (temperate rocky reefs) as well as artificially generated sounds (white noise), both of which were ignored by fish living in current day conditions. This finding suggests that by the end of the century, following a business as usual CO2 emission scenario, these animals might avoid functional environmental cues and become attracted to cues that provide no adaptive advantage or are potentially deleterious. This maladaptation could disrupt population replenishment of this and other economically important species if animals fail to adapt to elevated CO2 conditions.