The mission of Australia’s Integrated Marine Observing System (IMOS), established under the Federal Government’s national collaborative research infrastructure program, is to deliver ocean observations to the marine and climate science community. However, the observations have many uses, ranging from real-time operational forecasting to understanding of processes and policy decision making. Observations need to be provided in a format that fits the purpose of the intended application. Turning observations into usable data, time series, gridded products and analyses broadens the use of such observations. Value adding by developing products that are relevant to end-user needs and easily accessible to non-scientists is also required as a strategic response to new and emerging socioeconomic, legal and policy priorities. This paper describes some of the pathways on which IMOS observations are being delivered and used in Australia, demonstrating the value that ocean observations have for society.
The complexity and scale of the sources, types and environmental impacts of persistent solid waste pollution (PSWP) continue to overwhelm the capabilities of government and private efforts to control it. Global cumulative production of virgin plastics is expected to quadruple by 2050 with a concomitant doubling of plastic waste. All nations must take significant steps to realize eventual mitigation of PSWP. These will include adopting a long-term PSWP elimination policy, creating an overarching authority to lead and coordinate a comprehensive national solid waste management program, and creating an International Convention for the Prevention of PSWP to enable global solutions for this global pollution. Initiating these changes will necessitate major, coordinated efforts on the part of environmental organizations, their supporting foundations and concerned citizens.
One role of Marine Protected Areas is to protect biodiversity; however, illegal fishing activity can reduce the effectiveness of protection. Quantifying illegal fishing effort within no-take MPAs is difficult and the impacts of illegal fishing on biodiversity are poorly understood. To provide an assessment of illegal fishing activity, a surveillance camera was deployed at the Seal Rocks no-take area within the Port Stephens-Great Lakes Marine Park from April 2017-March 2018. To assess impacts of illegal fishing activity in the no-take area, Baited Remote Underwater Video Systems (BRUVs) were used to quantify abundance and size of snapper Chrysophrys auratusfrom 2011–2017. BRUVs were also deployed at two nearby fished locations and two other no-take areas to allow comparison. Over 12 months of camera surveillance, a total of 108 recreational vessels were observed illegally fishing within the no-take area (avg 9.0 ± 0.9 per month). The greatest number of vessels detected in a single month was 14 and the longest a vessel was observed fishing was ~ 6 hours. From 2011–2017, the abundance of C. auratuswithin the Seal Rocks no-take area significantly declined by 55%, whilst the abundance within the other fished areas and no-take areas did not significantly decline over the same period. Lengths of C. auratus in the Seal Rocks no-take area were significantly smaller in 2017 compared to 2013 which was driven by a decline in the number of legal sized fish over 30 cm. Based on mean number of illegal fishers per vessel recorded in the no-take area, and an allowable bag limit of 10 C. auratus per person, it is possible that more than 2,000 C. auratusare removed annually from this no-take area. There is a strong likelihood that illegal recreational fishing is causing a reduction on a fishery targeted species within a no-take MPA and measures need to be implemented to reduce the ongoing illegal fishing pressure.
Fisheries and marine ecosystem-based management requires a holistic understanding of the dynamics of fish communities and their responses to changes in environmental conditions. Environmental conditions can simultaneously shape the spatial distribution and the temporal dynamics of a population, which together can trigger changes in the functional structure of communities. Here, we developed a comprehensive framework based on complementary multivariate statistical methodologies to simultaneously investigate the effects of environmental conditions on the spatial, temporal and functional dynamics of species assemblages. The framework is tested using survey data collected during more than 4000 fisheries hauls over the Baltic Sea between 2001 and 2016. The approach revealed the Baltic fish community to be structured into three sub-assemblages along a strong and temporally stable salinity gradient decreasing from West to the East. Additionally, we highlight a mismatch between species and functional richness associated with a lower functional redundancy in the Baltic Proper compared with other sub-areas, suggesting an ecosystem more susceptible to external pressures. Based on a large dataset of community data analysed in an innovative and comprehensive way, we could disentangle the effects of environmental changes on the structure of biotic communities—key information for the management and conservation of ecosystems.
Human use of marine and coastal areas is increasing worldwide, resulting in conflicts between different interests for marine space, overexploitation of marine resources, and environmental degradation. In this study we developed a methodology that combines assessments of marine environmental vulnerability and cumulative human pressures to support the processes of ecosystem-based adaptive maritime spatial planning. The methodology is built on the spatially explicit marine environmental vulnerability profile (EVP) that is an aggregated product of the distribution of essential nature values (habitat-forming benthic macroalgal and invertebrate species, benthic species richness, birds and seals as top marine predators) and their sensitivities to disturbances. The marine environmental cumulative risk profile (ERP) combines the EVP and the HELCOM Baltic Sea Pressure Index (BSPI), the latter representing the spatial distribution of intensities of cumulative anthropogenic pressures. The ERP identifies areas where environmental risks are the highest due to both long recoveries of the biota and high intensities of human pressures. This methodology can be used in any other sea areas by modifying the list of nature values, their sensitivity to disturbances, and the intensities of human pressure.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries are responsible for the stewardship of the US living marine resources and their habitat and for providing productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and healthy ecosystems to the nation. Their approach to conservation requires, by legislative mandates, that management be informed by science. It has evolved into a four-step approach to providing this advice: (i) the national framework for conservation science, (ii) region specific implementation, (iii) development of unbiased, scientific advice as required by the framework, and (iv) scientists acting, as appropriate, as advocates and science communicators. This approach has been a conservation success where, e.g. 92% of known managed fish stocks are no longer being overfished and 84% of known stocks are at healthy levels, with the latter including 43 stocks rebuilt from depleted levels. In a changing marine climate, it is all the more important that marine conservation decisions be driven by science.
Scientists have advocated for local interventions, such as creating marine protected areas and implementing fishery restrictions, as ways to mitigate local stressors to limit the effects of climate change on reef-building corals. However, in a literature review, we find little empirical support for the notion of managed resilience. We outline some reasons for why marine protected areas and the protection of herbivorous fish (especially parrotfish) have had little effect on coral resilience. One key explanation is that the impacts of local stressors (e.g., pollution and fishing) are often swamped by the much greater effect of ocean warming on corals. Another is the sheer complexity (including numerous context dependencies) of the five cascading links assumed by the managed-resilience hypothesis. If reefs cannot be saved by local actions alone, then it is time to face reef degradation head-on, by directly addressing anthropogenic climate change—the root cause of global coral decline.
We present the design and preliminary results from ocean deployments of Zooglider, a new autonomous zooplankton‐sensing glider. Zooglider is a modified Spray glider that includes a low‐power camera (Zoocam) with telecentric lens and a custom dual frequency Zonar (200 and 1000 kHz). The Zoocam quantifies zooplankton and marine snow as they flow through a defined volume inside a sampling tunnel. Images are acquired on average every 5 cm from a maximum operating depth of ~ 400 m to the sea surface. Biofouling is mitigated using a dual approach: an ultraviolet light‐emitting diode and a mechanical wiper. The Zonar permits differentiation of large and small acoustic backscatterers in larger volumes than can be sampled optically. Other sensors include a pumped conductivity, temperature, and depth unit and chlorophyll a fluorometer. Zoogliderenables fully autonomous in situ measurements of mesozooplankton distributions, together with the three‐dimensional orientation of organisms and marine snow in relation to other biotic and physical properties of the ocean water column. It is well suited to resolve thin layers and microscale ocean patchiness. Battery capacity supports 50 d of operations. Zooglider includes two‐way communications via Iridium, permitting near‐real–time transmission of data from each dive profile, as well as interactive instrument control from remote locations for adaptive sampling.
Environmental non‐governmental organizations (ENGOs) largely select flagship species for conservation marketing based on their aesthetic appeal. However, little is known about the fundraising effectiveness of this approach or how it compares to ecosystem conservation campaigns that use habitat types as flagships. By performing a willingness to donate (WTD) survey of potential online donors from Finland, we identified which motivations and donor characteristics influence their preferences for a range of different flagship species and ecosystems. Using the contingent valuation method and the payment card approach, we found the combined funding for eight mammal flagship species was 29% higher funding than for eight bird flagship species. Furthermore, the aesthetically more appealing species, as well as the species and ecosystems that are native to Finland, attracted the most funding. We then used ordinal logistic regression to identify the factors influencing a donor's WTD, finding that knowledge of biodiversity conservation and familiarity with the flagship was associated with an increased WTD to birds and ecosystems, and people with higher education levels had an increased WTD to ecosystems. Surprisingly, species aesthetic appeal was not related to an increased WTD, although “need of conservation” was, suggesting that highlighting the plight of these less appealing threatened species or ecosystems could raise money. Our results suggest that the factors driving donating to mammals, birds or ecosystems differ, and so underline the importance of considering the diverse motivations behind donation behaviour in fundraising campaigns. They also provide new evidence of the motivations of online donors, an under‐studied group who are likely to become an increasingly important source of conservation funding.
This study primarily attempts to understand people's beliefs toward marine protected areas considering as a case study the National Marine Park of Alonissos, Northern Sporades in Greece in order to achieve its sustainability. Specifically, it aims to identify people's opinion about the utility of the park investigating also their beliefs in relation to socioeconomic characteristics. For this reason, a face‐to‐face survey of 200 randomly selected residents and visitors of the area was carried out. The research was structured according to the principles of the contingent valuation method. According to the empirical findings, the majority of respondents recognized the contribution of the park to preserve the monk seal and the natural environment. Moreover, they want the maintenance of the park and more specialized protection measures in the area.