The South Pacific Regional Fisheries Management Organisation (SPRFMO) Convention includes specific provisions to protect vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). The SPRFMO Commission has determined that the interim measures put in place to protect VMEs should be replaced by an improved system of fishable and closed areas. We used the conservation planning tool Zonation to examine the utility of a decision-support tool to develop spatial management options that balance the protection of VMEs with utilisation of high value areas for fishing. Input data included: habitat suitability maps for VME indicator taxa, and uncertainties associated with these model predictions, for an area of the high seas around New Zealand; naturalness condition, represented by two proxy variables using New Zealand trawl effort data; and value to the New Zealand fishery using trawl catch data for two gear types and three time-periods. Running scenario analyses with these data allowed for an understanding of the effect of varying the input data on the spatial prioritisation of areas for VME conservation. The analyses also allowed for the cost to fishing to be determined, in terms of the amount of the trawl catch footprint (normalised to the catch) lost if high priority areas for VME indicator taxa are protected. In most scenarios, the cost to fishing was low given the relatively high proportion of suitable habitat for VME indicator taxa that could be protected. The main outcome of the present study is a demonstration of the practical utility of using available data, including modelled data, and the Zonation decision-support tool to develop future options for the spatial management of the SPRFMO area. Suggestions are also made for improvements in input data for future analyses.
Bangladesh is host to a major cetacean habitat. The country declared its first marine protected area, namely, the Swatch-of-No-Ground Marine Protected Area, for conservation of some species of dolphins, porpoises, whales and sharks. However, this declaration has not been supported with an effective and robust legal, policy and institutional framework. Against this backdrop, this article critically examines the existing legal and institutional framework for management of this marine protected area. A study on the existing legal framework shows the absence of a robust national legal system for prevention of marine pollution and protection of marine biodiversity. This lack of national legal framework will have a significant impact on the future success of the Marine Protected Area. Moreover, an analysis of the relevant national institutions shows that they are not fully capable of enforcing the law and policy in the marine protected area. Through this analysis, this paper proposes that preparation of a management plan, provision of adequate resources to the relevant agencies, ensuring interagency cooperation, engagement of stakeholders and implementation of international marine environmental law are crucial for the future success of this marine protected area.
We are currently in what might be termed a “third phase” of ocean enclosures around the world. This phase has involved an unprecedented intensity of map-making that supports an emerging regime of ocean governance where resources are geocoded, multiple and disparate marine uses are weighed against each other, spatial tradeoffs are made, and exclusive rights to spaces and resources are established. The discourse and practice of marine spatial planning inform the contours of this emerging regime. This paper examines the infrastructure of marine spatial planning via two ocean data portals recently created to support marine spatial planning on the East Coast of the United States. Applying theories of ontological politics, critical cartography, and a critical conceptualization of “care,” we examine portal performances in order to link their organization and imaging practices with the ideological and ontological work these infrastructures do, particularly in relation to environmental and human community actors. We further examine how ocean ontologies may be made durable through portal use and repetition, but also how such performances can “slip,” thereby creating openings for enacting marine spatial planning differently. Our analysis reveals how portal infrastructures assemble, edit, and visualize data, and how it matters to the success of particular performances of marine spatial planning.
Quality of environmental impact assessments (EIAs) has been criticized, in part due to a lack of accounting in these tools for differing spatial and temporal scales inherent in ecological data. In the United States, leases of outer continental shelf blocks for offshore wind projects and their construction and operation plans require EIAs in accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 and the 1978 Council on Environmental QualityRegulations for Implementing the Procedural Provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act. This study evaluated consideration of spatiotemporal scales of stressors, receptors (specifically cetaceans), and effects in eight federal offshore wind energy EIAs against 26 criteria extracted from federal regulations. The criteria analysis determined that EIAs do not consistently or comprehensively address spatiotemporal scales with respect to federal requirements. Deficiencies in addressing spatiotemporal scales may result from imprecise regulations, intent to simplify encyclopedic documents, or lack of data resulting in incomplete assessments, inappropriate mitigation actions, and projects delays. Recommendations to improve compliance with federal regulations include making federal guidance binding, focusing on non-trivial impacts of species, tiering information, and incorporating outcomes of marine spatial planning.
Cetacean Morbillivirus, the most relevant pathogen impacting the health and conservation of cetaceans worldwide, has shown in recent years an increased tendency to cross “interspecies barriers”, thereby giving rise to disease and mortality outbreaks in free-ranging dolphins and whales. This "Personal View" deals with the evolutionary “trajectories” of this viral pathogen, likely originating from Rinderpest Virus, along with its "journey" from land to sea (and viceversa), mimicking that of cetaceans' terrestrial ancestors.
Many animals reproduce in large aggregations, which can vary in size from dozens to millions of individuals across species, time and space. The size of breeding colonies is a complex trade-off between multiple costs and benefits to an individual’s fitness, but the mechanisms by which colony size affects fitness are still poorly understood. One important cost of breeding in a large colony is the spatial constraint in resource use due to the need to regularly return to a central location. Large aggregations, like seabird breeding colonies, may therefore deplete food resources near the colony, forcing individuals to travel farther to find food, which may ultimately limit their reproductive output and population size. This hypothesis, proposed in 1963 by Ashmole for tropical oceanic islands, has so far not been tested at tropical seabird colonies, where food availability is less predictable than in colder waters. We compare the foraging distribution of a common tropical seabird, the masked booby Sula dactylatra, breeding on two islands in the South Atlantic that differ in the size of the breeding seabird community by 2 orders of magnitude, but are surrounded by similar oligotrophic waters. Foraging trips from the island with the smaller colony were on average 221 km (61 %) and 18.0 h (75 %) shorter because birds from the smaller colony rarely spent the night at sea and foraged on average 64 km (46 %) closer to the colony. Energy expenditure was significantly lower, and nest survival higher (47 vs. 37 %, n = 371) on the island with the smaller colony. These results are fully consistent with the predictions from Ashmole’s hypothesis and indicate that competition for food around tropical oceanic seabird colonies may indeed be a limiting factor for populations. Identifying important feeding areas for seabirds based on their foraging range may need to account for colony size of both the target and potential competitor species.
Knowledge about the spatial distribution of seabirds at sea is important for conservation. During marine conservation planning, logistical constraints preclude seabird surveys covering the complete area of interest and spatial distribution of seabirds is frequently inferred from predictive statistical models. Increasingly complex models are available to relate the distribution and abundance of pelagic seabirds to environmental variables, but a comparison of their usefulness for delineating protected areas for seabirds is lacking. Here we compare the performance of five modelling techniques (generalised linear models, generalised additive models, Random Forest, boosted regression trees, and maximum entropy) to predict the distribution of Balearic Shearwaters (Puffinus mauretanicus) along the coast of the western Iberian Peninsula. We used ship transect data from 2004 to 2009 and 13 environmental variables to predict occurrence and density, and evaluated predictive performance of all models using spatially segregated test data. Predicted distribution varied among the different models, although predictive performance varied little. An ensemble prediction that combined results from all five techniques was robust and confirmed the existence of marine important bird areas for Balearic Shearwaters in Portugal and Spain. Our predictions suggested additional areas that would be of high priority for conservation and could be proposed as protected areas. Abundance data were extremely difficult to predict, and none of five modelling techniques provided a reliable prediction of spatial patterns. We advocate the use of ensemble modelling that combines the output of several methods to predict the spatial distribution of seabirds, and use these predictions to target separate surveys assessing the abundance of seabirds in areas of regular use.
No-take marine reserves (NTRs), i.e. areas with total fishing restrictions, have been established worldwide aiming to promote biodiversity and ecosystem conservation. Brazil has 3.3% of its exclusive economic zone protected by 73 different NTRs, however, most of them currently lack scientific knowledge and understanding of their ecological role, particularly regarding rocky reefs in subtropical regions. In this context, this study aimed to contrast a network of NTRs with comparable fished sites across a coastal biogeographic gradient to investigate the effect of fishing and habitat variability on the abundance and body size of rocky reef fish. We used Baited Remote Underwater stereo-Video (stereo-BRUVs) and Diver Operated stereo-Video (stereo-DOVs) systems to simultaneously sample reef fish and habitat. Model selection and results identified habitat and biogeographic variables, such as distance from shore, as important predictor variables, explaining several aspects of the fish assemblage. The effect of protection was important in determining the abundance and body size of targeted species, in particular for epinephelids and carangids. Conversely, species richness was correlated with habitat complexity but not with protection status. This is the first study using these survey methods in the Southwestern Atlantic, demonstrating how a network of NTRs can provide benchmarks for biodiversity conservation and fisheries management.
The Ecosystem Approach in Ocean Planning and Governance takes stock of the challenges associated with implementing an ecosystem approach in ocean governance. In addition to theorizing the notion of Ecosystem Approach and its multifaceted implications, the book provides in depth analyses of lessons learned and remaining challenges associated with making the Ecosystem Approach fully relevant and operational in different marine policy fields, including marine spatial planning, fisheries, and biodiversity protection. In doing so, it adds much needed legal and social science perspectives to the existing literature on the Ecosystem Approach in relation to the marine environment. While focusing predominantly on the European context, the perspective is enriched by analyses from other jurisdictions, including the USA.