Catch share management was implemented in the bottom trawl sector of the West Coast Groundfish fishery in 2011 to address a range of issues including high bycatch and discard rates. The catch share program was designed to remove the incentives to discard through full catch accounting, tradeable quotas, increased flexibility in fishing, and penalties for catch overages. We assess the effectiveness of the program in meeting its environmental objectives by comparing discard weights, proportions, and variability from 2004–2010 with 2011–2016. We analyzed these metrics for species managed using quota, including historically overfished stocks, as well as for non-quota species caught in the fishery. Discard amounts decreased over time for all species and declined to historic lows after the implementation of the program, remaining low through 2016 with much less inter-annual variability. Mean annual discards of two highly-targeted quota species, sablefish and Dover sole, showed the greatest decreases, falling by 97 and 86%, respectively. The discard proportion of overfished quota species fell by 50% on average. The unanticipated decline in discards of non-quota species as well as the decreased variability in discard amounts for all species indicate that the incentives produced by catch share management provided additional ecosystem benefits.
Increasing global energy demands have led to the ongoing intensification of hydrocarbon extraction from marine areas. Hydrocarbon extractive activities pose threats to native marine biodiversity, such as noise, light, and chemical pollution, physical changes to the sea floor, invasive species, and greenhouse gas emissions. Here, we assessed at a global scale the spatial overlap between offshore hydrocarbon activities and marine biodiversity (>25,000 species, nine major ecosystems, and marine protected areas), and quantify the changes over time. We discovered that two‐thirds of global offshore hydrocarbon activities occur in areas within the top 10% for species richness, range rarity, and proportional range rarity values globally. Thus, while hydrocarbon activities are undertaken in less than one percent of the ocean's area, they overlap with approximately 85% of all assessed species. Of conservation concern, 4% of species with the largest proportion of their range overlapping hydrocarbon activities are range restricted, potentially increasing their vulnerability to localized threats such as oil spills. While hydrocarbon activities have extended to greater depths since the mid‐1990s, we found that the largest overlap is with coastal ecosystems, particularly estuaries, saltmarshes, and mangroves. Furthermore, in most countries where offshore hydrocarbon exploration licensing blocks have been delineated, they do not overlap with marine protected areas (MPAs). Although this is positive in principle, many countries have far more licensing block areas than protected areas, and in some instances, MPA coverage is minimal. These findings suggest the need for marine spatial prioritisation to help limit future spatial overlap between marine conservation priorities and hydrocarbon activities. Such prioritisation can be informed by the spatial and quantitative baseline information provided here. In increasingly shared seascapes, prioritising management actions that set both conservation and development targets could help minimize further declines of biodiversity and environmental changes at a global scale.
Diatoms are silicifying phytoplankton contributing about one quarter to primary production on Earth. Ocean acidification (OA) could alter the competitiveness of diatoms relative to other taxa and/or lead to shifts among diatom species. In spring 2016, we set up a plankton community experiment at the coast of Gran Canaria (Canary Islands, Spain) to investigate the response of subtropical diatom assemblages to elevated seawater pCO2. Therefore, natural plankton communities were enclosed for 32 days in in situ mesocosms (∼8 m3volume) with a pCO2 gradient ranging from 380 to 1140 μatm. Halfway through the study we added nutrients to all mesocosms (N, P, Si) to simulate injections through eddy-induced upwelling which frequently occurs in the region. We found that the total diatom biomass remained unaffected during oligotrophic conditions but was significantly positively affected by high CO2 after nutrient enrichment. The average cell volume and carbon content of the diatom community increased with CO2. CO2 effects on diatom biomass and species composition were weak during oligotrophic conditions but became quite strong above ∼620 μatm after the nutrient enrichment. We hypothesize that the proliferation of diatoms under high CO2 may have been caused by a fertilization effect on photosynthesis in combination with reduced grazing pressure. Our results suggest that OA in the subtropics may strengthen the competitiveness of (large) diatoms and cause changes in diatom community composition, mostly under conditions when nutrients are injected into oligotrophic systems.
Ocean climate drivers and phytoplankton life strategies interact in a complex dynamic to produce harmful algal blooms (HABs). This study aims to integrate historical biological data collected during “red tide” events along the Ecuadorian coast between 1997 and 2017 in relation to five ocean variables derived from satellite remote sensing data to explain the seasonal drivers of coastal processes associated with HABs dynamics. Seasonality of the occurrence of HABs was assessed in relation to oceanographic variables by applying multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) to the Ecuadorian central coast (Zone 1) and at the outer and inner Gulf of Guayaquil (Zone 2). Sixty-seven HABs events were registered between 1997 and 2017. From a total of 40 species of phytoplankton identified, 28 were identified as non-toxic and the remaining 12 are well known to produce toxins. Dinoflagellates were the taxonomic group most highly associated with potential HABs events along the entire Ecuadorian coast. HABs appear to be constrained by the Humboldt coastal upwelling, high precipitation, and associated coastal runoff, with higher biomass abundance in the Gulf of Guayaquil than in the central coast. Results from the MCA reveal that in the central Ecuadorian coast (oligotrophic system), toxic HABs occurred with low abundance of dinoflagellates, while in the Gulf of Guayaquil (eutrophic system), toxic HABs corresponded to a high abundance of dinoflagellates. In both cases, high values were found for sea surface temperature, precipitation, and irradiance—characteristic of wet seasons or El Niño years. Non-toxic HABs occurred with a high abundance of dinoflagellates, ciliates, and centric diatoms, corresponding to colder waters and low levels of precipitation and irradiance. These findings confirm that dinoflagellates display several strategies that enhance their productive capacity when ocean conditions are warmer, allowing them to produce toxins at high or at low concentrations. Considering that the Gulf of Guayaquil is essential to tourism, the shrimp industry, fisheries, and international shipping, these findings strongly suggest the need to establish an ecosystem health research program to monitor HABs and the development of a preventive policy for tourism and public health in Ecuador.
Some of the major challenges in seagrass restoration on exposed open coasts are the choice of transplant design that is optimal for coastlines periodically exposed to high water motion, and understanding the survival and dynamics of the transplanted areas on a long time-scale over many years. To contribute to a better understanding of these challenges, we describe here part of a large-scale seagrass restoration program conducted in a Marine Park in Portugal. The goal of this study was to infer if it was possible to recover seagrass habitat in this region, in order to restore its ecosystem functions. To infer which methods would produce better long term persistence to recover seagrass habitat, three factors were assessed: donor seagrass species, transplant season, source location. Monitoring was done three times a year for 8 years, in which areas and densities of the planted units were measured, to assess survival and growth. The best results were obtained with the species Zostera marina transplanted during spring and summer as compared to Zostera noltii and Cymodocea nodosa. Long-term persistence of established (well rooted) transplants was mainly affected by extreme winter storms but there was evidence of fish grazing effects also. Our results indicate that persistence assessments should be done in the long term, as all transplants were successful (survived and grew initially) in the short term, but were not resistant in the long term after a winter with exceptionally strong storms. The interesting observation that only the largest (11 m2) transplanted plot of Z. marina persisted over a long time, increasing to 103 m2 in 8 years, overcoming storms and grazing, raised the hypothesis that for a successful shift to a vegetated state it might be necessary to overpass a minimum critical size or tipping point. This hypothesis was therefore tested with replicates from two donor populations and results showed effects of size and donor population, as only the larger planting units (PUs) from one donor population persisted and expanded. It is recommended that in future habitat restoration efforts large PUs are considered.
Ocean data assimilation is increasingly recognized as crucial for the accuracy of real-time ocean prediction systems and historical re-analyses. The current status of ocean data assimilation in support of the operational demands of analysis, forecasting and reanalysis is reviewed, focusing on methods currently adopted in operational and real-time prediction systems. Significant challenges associated with the most commonly employed approaches are identified and discussed. Overarching issues faced by ocean data assimilation are also addressed, and important future directions in response to scientific advances, evolving and forthcoming ocean observing systems and the needs of stakeholders and downstream applications are discussed.
Indicators are effective tools for summarizing and communicating key aspects of ecosystem state and have a long record of use in marine pollution and fisheries management. The application of biodiversity indicators to assess the status of species, habitats, and functional diversity in marine conservation and policy, however, is still developing and multiple indicator roles and features are emerging. For example, some operational biodiversity indicators trigger management action when a threshold is reached, while others play an interpretive, or surveillance, role in informing management. Links between biodiversity indicators and the pressures affecting them are frequently unclear as links can be obscured by environmental change, data limitations, food web dynamics, or the cumulative effects of multiple pressures. In practice, the application of biodiversity indicators to meet marine conservation policy and management demands is developing rapidly in the management realm, with a lag before academic publication detailing indicator development. Making best use of biodiversity indicators depends on sharing and synthesizing cutting-edge knowledge and experience. Using lessons learned from the application of biodiversity indicators in policy and management from around the globe, we define the concept of ‘biodiversity indicators,’ explore barriers to their use and potential solutions, and outline strategies for their effective communication to decision-makers.
The progressive elimination of fish discards established by the European Union Council in 2013 has stimulated the valorization of flesh from discarded high-quality species with good protein functional properties but which frequently have excessive fish-bones, fat, strange flavours, soft texture, etc. The present study therefore focuses on valorization of the extracted muscle (minced muscle), from several fish species frequently discarded in north-western Spanish fisheries (Atlantic Ocean): Blue whiting (Micromesistius poutassou), Mackerel (Scomber scombrus), Red scorpionfish (Scorpaena scrofa), Pouting (Trisoreptus luscus) and Gurnard (Trigla spp.). Valorization of these discarded fish resources is a key objective for the survival of the fishery sector in this area. In this regard present study was planned to examine the behaviour of the mince during 6 months of frozen storage by means of physicochemical and sensory analyses, and to test consumer acceptance of three technologically different products (burgers, nuggets and structured fingers) prepared with fish mince from different species. Results indicated that protein aggregation started at the outset of frozen storage but progressed very slowly, with the exception of non-washed blue whiting and red scorpionfish minces. Moreover, during frozen storage lipid oxidation increased in all samples; the increase was with two objectives highest in minced mackerel, a fatty fish, but no rancid flavour was detected. All mince samples presented acceptable physicochemical properties and good sensory acceptability after 6 months of frozen storage. Acceptability of final products made with these minces was high in all cases. Burgers were more acceptable for consumers aged over 40 and fingers and nuggets more for younger people.
Coral reef managers currently face the challenge of mitigating global stressors by enhancing local ecological resilience in a changing climate. Effective herbivore management is one tool that managers can use in order to maintain resilience in the midst of severe and frequent bleaching events. One recommended approach is to establish networks of herbivore management areas (HMAs), which prohibit the take of herbivorous reef fishes. However, there is a need to develop design principles to guide planning and implementation of these HMAs as a resilience-building tool. We refine available guidance from fully protected marine protected area (MPA) networks and developed a set of 11 biophysical design principles specifically for HMAs. We then provide a case study of how to apply these principles using the main Hawaiian Islands. We address site-specific considerations in terms of protecting habitats, including ecologically critical areas, incorporating connectivity, and addressing climate and local threats. This synthesis integrates core marine spatial planning concepts with resilience-based management and provides actionable guidance on the design of HMAs. When combined with social considerations, these principles will support spatial planning in Hawai‘i and could guide the future design of HMA networks globally.
In this paper we aim to establish a conceptual and practical framework for investigating sense of place as a category of cultural ecosystem services, drawing upon transdisciplinary research on assessing cultural value and ecosystem change in the Irish Sea. We examine sense of place as a material phenomenon, embedded in and expressive of the relationship between determining ecological conditions of particular locations and the determining social and cultural conditions of human habitation. Our emphasis on sense of place as a material phenomenon contrasts with the prevailing tendency in ecosystem services literature to treat cultural ecosystem services as ‘non-material’, ‘immaterial’, or ‘intangible’, and builds on a call to conceptualize cultural ecosystem services in ‘a more theoretically nuanced approach’ which yields practical means of researching and assessing cultural benefits (Fish et al., 2016a, p. 215). The paper emerges from a transdisciplinary project on ‘The Cultural Value of Coastlines’, which seeks to define a mechanism for integrating materialist research on cultural benefits into the ecosystem services framework. We demonstrate the need for a more significant role for sense of place as a category of cultural ecosystem services, and for research practices which can account for the material and socially-produced nature of sense of place.