This paper reviews the provisions and efforts to implement the 1946 International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling (ICRW) and the 1980 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). It illustrates progress and continuing challenges to stopping the overexploitation of living resources in high seas areas beyond national jurisdictions. Progress includes recognition that living organisms interact with each other and the environment in complex ways and that single-species management to attain maximum sustainable yield (MSY) fails to account for these interactions. Continuing challenges include data limitations that allow differing views concerning the adequacy and interpretation of the available data, and decision-makingthat allows a minority of the decision-makers to block adoption of regulatory measures that the majority believe necessary to meet the intent and provisions of the regulatory agreements. The provisions and continuing challenges to meeting the objectives of these two conventions should be considered in the formulation of future international high seas regulatory agreements such as the regime to govern fisheries in the central Arctic Ocean as envisioned in the 16 year ban on commercial fishing there agreed in October 2018 by Canada, Denmark (for Greenland), Iceland, Russia, Norway, the United States, the European Union, Japan, China, and South Korea.
Although a necessary approach in many cases, implementing Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) reveals discrepancies between theory and practice. These discrepancies include the major importance given to technical issues along with the role and meaning ascribed to the “spatial” dimension at the expense of the “strategic” one. This gives rise to questions especially from the point of view of fisheries that invite to develop a more in-depth critical analysis of MSP. Far from considering the technical and political dimensions in opposition, the goal is to find out whether the reasoning used can be turned around, or in other words, whether the potential of a mapping instrument can be used to give greater importance and more visibility to strategic questions in MSP processes. Our reflection is based on methods used to map fisheries. It is also enhanced by notions such as empowerment and asserting the value of non-scientific knowledge in-situ. To test the strengths and shortcomings of this idea, it was applied in the context of an ongoing 2010 experiment between scientists (geographers and statisticians), fishers and fishers' representatives in metropolitan France. They have been working together for several years and have gradually expanded their scope to now include almost three-quarters of French metropolitan fleets (around 3250 vessels). This experiment shows that fishers and their representatives are not only able to generate spatial data using robust methods (almost 6000 surveys have already been conducted), but more importantly that they are also able to draw on this knowledge and participate in debates in a more effective manner, taking on the role of “real actors”. This has enabled a more political alternative to take shape, full of promise and giving rise to new questions.
The Baltic Sea is one of the most eutrophied seas in the world, facing challenges with both hypoxia and algae blooms. In this study we analyse the effect of using different fishery policy instruments to reduce nutrient loads by removing fish biomass from the ecosystem. The study covers Danish, Finnish and Swedish pelagic fisheries. We distinguish between a private optimum maximising the net present value from fishing and a social optimum including the positive externality of removing nutrients. A dynamic bio-economic model, FishRent, is used to estimate the effect of three policy scenarios: Fisheries regulation using individual transferable quotas (ITQ); Economic compensation provided to fishers for reducing nutrients; and Environmental regulation maximising sustainable catches. The results show that the highest social welfare gain is achieved by maximising catch volumes while having a flexible system for quota trade within the fishing sector. The social welfare gain from the positive externality of the extra fish landed in this case outweighs the private loss of not fishing at the optimal individual level (maximum economic yield).
Sound-sensitive organisms are abundant on coral reefs. Accordingly, experiments suggest that boat noise could elicit adverse effects on coral reef organisms. Yet, there are few data quantifying boat noise prevalence on coral reefs. We use long-term passive acoustic recordings at nine coral reefs and one sandy comparison site in a marine protected area to quantify spatio-temporal variation in boat noise and its effect on the soundscape. Boat noise was most common at reefs with high coral cover and fish density, and temporal patterns reflected patterns of human activity. Boat noise significantly increased low-frequency sound levels at the monitored sites. With boat noise present, the peak frequencies of the natural soundscape shifted from higher frequencies to the lower frequencies frequently used in fish communication. Taken together, the spectral overlap between boat noise and fish communication and the elevated boat detections on reefs with biological densities raises concern for coral reef organisms.
The literature has identified significant barriers to sustainable management of coastal resources due to lack of integration between science, policy and practice. The social and biophysical sciences are an important information source but are often neglected in policy and practice. The literature has identified the science, policy practice gaps as significant barriers to sustainable management of coastal resources. However, there is lack of research specifically covering the interactions between the three domains. This paper aims to: a) review the literature to identify gaps and related factors or themes contributing to the science-policy-practice disconnect; and b) propose a conceptual integrated model to address those gaps and to increase the uptake of science into policy and practice in coastal systems. The results confirm that there are gaps in the two way-links between science and policy and practice. Most research (64%) is published in the science to policy area, 32% in the policy and practice area, and only four % of the research is published in the science-policy-practice area. Effective integration is inhibited by issues of knowledge, uncertainty, communication, political and cultural issues and institutions or rules and a clear mechanism for linking science, policy and practice is needed. Frameworks may help alleviate the problem but may not be holistic or flexible enough to facilitate interactions across science-policy-practice. There needs to be a clear mechanism for integrating science, policy and practice. To address this a conceptual model of the interactions between science and policy and practice is proposed. The model includes two-way connections between science-policy-practice, mediated by both internal and external factors including key drivers, facilitators, inhibitors and barriers. The model is applied to three case studies, namely: implementing international level blue carbon policy at a local level; an historical perspective on mangrove damage and restoration at an Australian state level; and an Australian example of long-term interactions between science, policy and practice, illustrating how multiple connections and interactions can occur as projects proceed.
Healthy river ecosystems can provide fundamental ecological services for human survival and social development. However, previous studies that have sought to assess river ecosystem health have primarily focused on individual biological communities rather than on all aquatic communities and have been based on a single-index assessment method, thereby leading to large uncertainties in the results. In this study, we developed a new framework for the integrated assessment of aquatic ecosystem health based on the principal communities of fish, zoobenthos, phytoplankton, and zooplankton in rivers. An index of biotic integrity was used to evaluate the health of fish and zoobenthos communities, and a diversity index was used to evaluate the health of zooplankton and phytoplankton communities. To integrate the health assessment results from these four communities, a quantile normalization method was developed, where uncertainties in assessments obtained using the diversity index were well compensated for by the assessments obtained using the biotic integrity index. The framework was then applied to a pilot city, which is being constructed as a civilized freshwater ecological city in China. The results were then compared with those previously obtained based on the single-community method. Using this new framework, we found that the aquatic ecosystem health changed regularly in space and over time. Large differences were detected among the assessments of the four individual communities based on the single-community method, with the health score determined using phytoplankton being the highest, followed by that of zoobenthos, zooplankton, and fish, which made it difficult to reach a definitive conclusion regarding aquatic health status. The integrated assessment framework presented in this study successfully overcame the narrow perspective of the single-community method, thereby reducing uncertainties in the assessments based only on a single diversity index, and instead provides a comprehensive view of the status of aquatic ecosystem health. Thus, this integrated framework could assist river managers and stakeholders in developing comprehensive strategies for ecological restoration and water resource management and could become a key research tool for the health assessment and rehabilitation of aquatic ecosystems globally.
Numerous conservation initiatives have been undertaken to protect large marine animals by legal protection and implementing marine protected areas (MPAs). Despite these efforts, many marine animals are still threatened, partly due to lack of compliance with conservation regulations. Meanwhile, research suggests that conservation efforts which also take socio-economic factors such as fishermen's livelihoods into account during planning and implementation are more likely to succeed. This study examined the compliance and socio-economic situation of local fishing communities at three sites in Indonesia (Nusa Penida, Tanjung Luar and Komodo National Park) where shark and manta ray conservation efforts have been implemented. 59 local residents were interviewed. The results showed that 49% of those residents had experienced a deterioration and 37% an improvement in their economic situation since conservation efforts in the form of species protection or MPAs were implemented in their area. The economic situation of the residents was associated with their access to alternative livelihoods, access to information on conservation rules, and relationship with conservation authorities. Particularly, interviewees with easier access to alternative income and a positive relationship with conservation authorities also experienced an increase in their economy. In addition, compliance with conservation efforts was positively related to improved economic situation, access to alternative livelihoods and information on conservation rules. These factors all differed among the three study sites, leading to different compliance levels between sites. The results of this study indicate the importance of considering socio-economic factors and of involving local communities when planning and implementing conservation efforts.
Climate change, observed as warming sea surface temperatures, is expected to impact the Eastern coast of Canada at a rate higher than the global average. Changes in marine abiotic conditions will impact the growth and performance of economically important bivalve species, creating an increasingly uncertain future for the bivalve aquaculture industry. Site-selection for new farms, and the management of extant ones could mitigate these potential impacts, but the implementation of this planning process is dependent on stakeholder support and engagement. Recognizing the importance of stakeholder input in management decisions, this research analyzed the perspectives of farmers, researchers, and managers from Nova Scotia (NS) and Prince Edward Island (PEI) on the relationship between climate change and bivalve aquaculture. Stakeholder perspectives were analyzed using a semi-quantitative interview method (Q methodology). These perspectives indicated the need for a higher level of integration both between stakeholder groups, namely farmers and managers, and management tools and climate change. Increased understanding between farmers and managers could be achieved through the use of researchers as knowledge brokers, collaborating and communicating with both groups. Making use of management tools, such as the ecosystem approach to aquaculture, required insurance, and adaptive management, governmental bodies on both a federal and provincial level can act as channels by which uncertainty generated by climate change can be further reduced. In summary, stakeholder perception can be used by marine planners to adapt to these foreseen changes, and to promote the expansion of this industry.
Skin marks occur frequently in many cetacean species across the globe revealing a broad spectrum of causes, including social interactions, infectious diseases and injuries produced by anthropogenic factors. The current study used photo-id data from 2005–2014 to estimate the skin mark pattern on resident bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) from the Aeolian Archipelago (Italy). Thirteen skin mark types were identified and their origin, prevalence and permanence time were examined. The pattern of skin marks was assessed for the abundance, richness, distribution and severity in six body regions and compared among age classes, sex and degree of dolphins’ interaction with trammel nets (DIN). Our results showed higher prevalence, abundance, richness and distribution of skin marks in adults than in the younger age classes, with the exception of black marks and white ring lesions. The prevalence and abundance of skin marks were higher in males than females, with the exception of scratches and white patches. Moreover, gunshot wounds, mutilations and irregular dorsal fin edges were found only on adult males. Since males showed higher DIN than females and, in dolphins with higher DIN, skin marks were more abundant and frequently distributed in different body regions, the skin mark pattern in regard to DIN seems to be sex-related. The more severe marks were observed on adults, males and dolphins with higher DIN, namely skin disorder, tooth rake marks, small shallow indentations, deep indentations and mutilations. On the contrary, the severity of scratches, white patches and dark ring lesions was higher in females than males, but not significantly related to DIN and age of the individuals. Our results showed that photo-id data provide an efficient and cost-effective approach to document the occurrence of skin marks in free-ranging bottlenose dolphin populations, a critical step toward understanding the cause and supporting the conservation strategies.
Animals are central to numerous ecological processes that shape the structure and function of ecosystems. It follows that species that are strongly linked to specific functions can represent these functions spatially and hence be useful in conservation planning. Here we test this notion of ‘functional species surrogacy’ for the conservation of seagrass meadows that have been impacted by stressors. We measured algal herbivory and herbivorous fish assemblages across a range of seagrass meadows in the Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland, Australia. We determined the suitability of herbivorous fish to act as a surrogate for the function of algal herbivory and modelled the abundance of this surrogate, and thus herbivory, in seagrass meadows to compare the spatial distribution of this function within existing reserves. We used underwater video systems to determine the abundance of all herbivorous fish species in seagrass meadows. The abundance of the dusky rabbitfish (Siganus fuscescens) was the best predictor of algal herbivory in seagrass meadows, supporting the suitability of this species as a functional surrogate. The distribution of dusky rabbitfish, and therefore the ecological function of herbivory, was not well represented in the Moreton Bay Marine Park protected areas. Only 7% of the equivalent area of seagrass meadows protected in marine reserves were found to have high abundances of dusky rabbitfish. We demonstrate that the abundance of functionally important herbivores can be suitable as a surrogate for herbivory in seagrass conservation. Our findings show that data on the spatial distribution of ecological functions can alter priorities for reserve design, and we suggest that our functional approach to species surrogacy is likely to improve conservation performance in seagrass ecosystems.