As “ecosystem engineers,” framework-forming scleractinian cold-water corals (CWC) build reefs that are unique biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea. Studies using common biological techniques such as correlating the spatial occurrence of the most common CWC species with modeled environmental conditions have revealed the ecological requirements and tolerances of these species. However, limited field observations and poorly understood geographical distribution patterns of the CWC restrict the application of existing knowledge toward assessing their fate (e.g., local extinction, newly established populations) under ongoing global change. Hence, the risk to cross ecological tipping points causing the demise (or establishment) of entire CWC reefs remains unclear. A major challenge is to identify the key environmental parameters (or stressors) having the potential to control CWC vitality by providing such tipping points. This is largely hampered by the overall lack of present-day observations of such tipping point crossings. However, evidence for such events is frequently preserved in geological records revealing that entire CWC ecosystems vanished or returned at specific moments in the past. Here, a geological approach is presented that by correlating geological CWC records with paleoceanographic data describing past environmental changes allows to identify a set of key environmental drivers that directly or indirectly control CWC vitality. Thus, by combining such a geological approach with common biological techniques (see above) to describe the ecological tolerance of the most important reef-building CWC has a great potential to better assess their future spatial distribution in times of accelerating global change and to improve the sustainable management of the important deep-sea ecosystems formed by CWC.
Modeling tools that can demonstrate possible consequences of strategies designed to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) should be able to address tradeoffs over a wide suite of considerations representing the scope of marine management objectives. Coupled ecological-economic modeling, where models for ecological and economic subsystems are linked through their inputs and outputs, allows for quantification of such tradeoffs. Here, we link the harvest output from fishery management scenarios implemented in an end-to-end ecosystem model (Atlantis) to an input–output regional economic model for the Northeast United States to calculate changes in socio-economic indicators, including the consequences of management action for regional sales, wages, and employment. We implement three simple scenarios (maintain, decrease, or increase current fishing effort), and compare model-projected values for systematic and sector-specific indicators. Systematic indicators revealed different ecological and economic outcomes, with large ecological responses and clear tradeoffs among the catch and biomass of species groups. Economic indicators for the region responded similarly to fishery yield; however, changes in total sales did not match those in landed catch. Under increased fishing effort, a lower proportional increase in sales relative to total landed catch arose due to increased yield from lower value species groups. Average fisheries income changed little among scenarios, but was highest when effort was maintained at current levels, likely a reflection of fleet and catch stability. Our results serve to demonstrate that consequences of management may be felt disproportionately among species through the region and across different fisheries sectors. With our coupled modeling approach of passing Atlantis ecosystem model outputs to an input–output economic model, we were able to assess effects of fisheries management across a broader suite of indicators that have relevance for policymakers across multiple objectives.
Time of Emergence (ToE) is the time when a signal emerges from the noise of natural variability. Commonly used in climate science for the detection of anthropogenic forcing, this concept has recently been applied to geochemical variables, to assess the emerging times of anthropogenic ocean acidification (OA), mostly in the open ocean using global climate and Earth System Models. Yet studies of OA variables are scarce within costal margins, due to limited multidecadal time-series observations of carbon parameters. ToE provides important information for decision making regarding the strategic configuration of observing assets, to ensure they are optimally positioned either for signal detection and/or process elicitation and to identify the most suitable variables in discerning OA-related changes. Herein, we present a short overview of ToE estimates on an OA variable, CO2fugacity f(CO2,sw), in the North American ocean margins, using coastal data from the Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) V5. ToE suggests an average theoretical timeframe for an OA signal to emerge, of 23(±13) years, but with considerable spatial variability. Most coastal areas are experiencing additional secular and/or multi-decadal forcing(s) that modifies the OA signal, and such forcing may not be sufficiently resolved by current observations. We provide recommendations, which will help scientists and decision makers design and implement OA monitoring systems in the next decade, to address the objectives of OceanObs19 (http://www.oceanobs19.net) in support of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) (https://en.unesco.org/ocean-decade) and the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14.3 (https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdg14) target to “Minimize and address the impacts of OA.”
Comprehensive and objective evaluation of all observing assets, tools, and services within an ocean observing system is essential to maximize effectiveness and efficiency; yet, it often eludes programs due to the complexity of such robust evaluation. In order to address this need, the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System (PacIOOS) transformed an evaluation matrix developed for the energy sector to one suitable for ocean observing. The resulting innovation is a decision analysis methodology that factors in multiple attributes (market, risk, and performance factors) and allows for selective weighting of attributes based on system maturity, external forcing, and consumer demand. This evaluation process is coupled with an annual review of priorities with respect to stakeholder needs and the program’s 5-year strategic framework in order to assess the system’s components. The results provide information needed to assess the effectiveness, efficiency, and impact of each component within the system, and informs a decision-making process that determines additional investment, refinement, sustainment, or retirement of individual observing assets, services, or component groups. Regularly evaluating, and taking action to improve, modify, or terminate weak system components allows for the continuous improvement of PacIOOS services by ensuring resources are directed to the priorities of the stakeholder community. The methodology described herein is presented as an innovative opportunity for others looking for a systematic approach to evaluate their observing systems to inform program-level decision-making as they develop, refine, and distribute data and information products.
Sustained ocean observations benefit many users and societal goals but could benefit many more. Such information is critical for using ocean resources responsibly and sustainably as the ocean becomes increasingly important to society. The contributions of many nations cooperating to develop the Global Ocean Observing System has resulted in a strong base of global and regional ocean observing networks. However, enhancement of the existing observation system has been constrained by flat funding and limited cooperation among present and potential users. At the same time, a variety of actors are seeking new deployments in remote and newly ice-free regions and new observing capabilities, including biological and biogeochemical sensors. Can these new needs be met? In this paper, a vision for how to sustain ocean observing in the future is presented. A key evolution will be to grow the pool of users, engaging end users across society. Users with shared values need to be brought together with commitment to sustainable use of the ocean in the broadest sense. Present planning for sustained observations builds on the development of the Global Ocean Observing System which has primarily targeted increased scientific understanding of ocean processes and of the ocean's role in climate. We must build on that foundation to develop an Ocean Partnership for Sustained Observing that will incorporate the growing needs of a broad constituency of users beyond climate and make the case for new resources. To be most effective this new Partnership should incorporate the principles of a collective impact organization, enabling closer engagement with the private sector, philanthropies, governments, NGOs, and other groups. Steps toward achieving this new Partnership are outlined in this paper, with the intent of establishing it early in the UN Decade of Ocean Science.
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) remain a largely under-assessed and overlooked sector by governments and researchers, despite contributing approximately 50% to global fish landings and providing food and income for millions of people. The multi-species, multi-gear and data-poor nature of SSF makes implementation of traditional single-species management approaches – like catch-quotas or size limits – particularly challenging and insufficient. A more holistic approach is thus required, which demands assessment of ecological impacts. Here we carried out an estimation of selected ecological indicators of the impact of fisheries (mean length, maximum body size, mean trophic level, trophic and spatial guilds, threatened species and landed by-catch) based on the nominal catch of different gears in three representative SSF along the Colombian Pacific using landings data collected in multiple years (2011–2017). Results showed that taxonomic, size-based, functional and conservation features of the nominal catch vary greatly with geographical location and gear type used. Overall, handlines and longlines tend to select larger sizes and higher trophic levels than nets, but they also catch a higher proportion of intrinsically vulnerable species and species of conservation concern. This challenges the idea that more selective gears have overall lower ecological impacts. In contrast, nets target a wider size range – although focusing on small or medium sized fish – and include a higher diversity of trophic and spatial guilds, which could arguably be considered a more “balanced harvest” type of fishing that retains ecosystem structure and functionality. Bottom trawls, though, exhibited a relatively high percentage of landed by-catch, an undesirable feature for any fisheries in terms of sustainability. We propose that the assessment of a suite of ecological indicators, like those implemented here, should be included as part of periodic evaluations of multi-gear and multi-species SSF in tropical coastal areas, as a practical step toward ecosystem-based fisheries management.
As changes in climate, governance, and organization reshape the dynamics of small-scale fisheries around the globe, the persistence of many local livelihoods appears contingent upon the ability of resource users to respond and adapt. Though significant scholarship has considered the limiting roles of resources and infrastructure, recent research has highlighted the importance of local learning and knowledge. Rather than being driven by forces exogenous to local communities, it is increasingly recognized that adaptation may be limited by perceptions and processes within them. Here, we explore knowledge production and adaptive response within a small-scale fishery in the central Gulf of California following system perturbation. Using mixed methods from the natural and social sciences, we (1) identify local drivers of social-ecological change, (2) document knowledge concerning their causes and consequences across a diverse group of small-scale fishermen, and (3) identify patterns of intracultural agreement and disagreement associated with divergent adaptive response. Results indicate that perceptions of social-ecological change were heterogeneous and that gear ownership and target species diversification were critical factors in determining the cultural models through which fishermen understood and responded to changes in the resource system. Unlike other user groups, owner-operator fishermen pursuing generalist livelihood strategies held consensus beliefs regarding changes to system structure and function and demonstrated increased ability to modify fishing tactics with the best practices for sustainable use. Our findings highlight how local knowledge can be used to assess the proximate impacts of external drivers of change and provide insight into the cultural models influencing in situ decision-making and adaptive response within modern fishery systems.
Cultivation of kelp has been well established throughout Asia, and there is now growing interest in the cultivation of macroalgae in Europe to meet future resource needs. If this industry is to become established throughout Europe, then balancing the associated environmental risks with potential benefits will be necessary to ensure the carrying capacity of the receiving environments are not exceeded and conservation objects are not undermined. This is a systematic review of the ecosystem changes likely to be associated with a developing seaweed aquaculture industry. Monitoring recommendations are made by risk ranking environmental changes, highlighting the current knowledge gaps and providing research priorities to address them. Environmental changes of greatest concern were identified to include: facilitation of disease, alteration of population genetics and wider alterations to the local physiochemical environment. Current high levels of uncertainty surrounding the true extent of some environmental changes mean conservative risk rankings are given. Recommended monitoring options are discussed that aim to address uncertainty and facilitate informed decision-making. Whilst current small-scale cultivation projects are considered ‘low risk,’ an expansion of the industry that includes ‘large-scale’ cultivation will necessitate a more complete understanding of the scale dependent changes in order to balance environmental risks with the benefits that seaweed cultivation projects can offer.
In developing countries where data and resources are lacking, the practical relevance of local ecological knowledge (LEK) to expand our understanding of the environment, has been highlighted. The potential roles of the LEK varies from direct applications such as gathering environmental information to a more participative involvement of the community in the management of resources they depend on. Fishers’ LEK could therefore be useful in order to obtain information on how to advance management of coastal fisheries. Many targeted fish species migrate between habitats to feed, spawn or recruit, connecting important habitats within the seascape. LEK could help provide answers to questions related to this connectivity and the identification of fish habitat use, and migrations for species and areas where such knowledge is scarce. Here we assess fishers’ LEK on connectivity between multiple habitats within a tropical seascape, investigate the differences in LEK among fisher groups and the coherence between LEK and conventional scientific knowledge (CSK). The study was conducted in 2017 in Zanzibar, Tanzania, a tropical developing country. One hundred and thirty-five semi-structured interviews were conducted in six different locations focusing on fish migrations, and matching photos of fish and habitats. Differences between fisher groups were found, where fishers traveling further, exposed to multiple habitats, and who fish with multiple gears had a greater knowledge of connectivity patterns within the seascape than those that fish locally, in single habitats and with just one type of gear. A high degree of overlap in LEK and CSK was found, highlighting the potential benefits of a collaboration between scientists and fishers, and the use of LEK as complementary information in the management of small-scale fisheries.
Trophic models of the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) type and local ecological knowledge (LEK) have widely been applied to fisheries assessment and management. However, there are no specific methodologies describing how LEK from local fishers can be incorporated with the scientific data from the models in the context of ecosystem-based fisheries management. To our knowledge this is the first contribution exploring a systematic integration of LEK with EwE modeled output. An EwE food web model of the Nicoya Gulf ecosystem constructed 20 years ago and recently revisited by the authors and collaborators, was used in workshops to stimulate discussion among local stakeholders regarding changes in the marine ecosystem. For this study, 58 artisanal fishers were recruited to eight workshops. To assess the LEK, we documented the discussions, and the qualitative data were analyzed with quantitative frequency of responses to identify trends. Next, we systematically compared the changes in the fishery over time through an analysis of similar, complementary, and contradictory information across knowledge systems. In general, the analysis across systems reflected changes in species composition of the catches, paralleled by a harvest reduction in high-trophic-level species, as well as economic losses due to a shift in harvesting low-value species and due to an increase in operational costs. Particularly, we identified (1) similar pieces of information that delivered the same message, providing robust evidence of changes in the social–ecological system; (2) information complementary to each other, which together provided a broader picture (descriptors and attributes) of the changes of some fishing resources; and (3) conflicting pieces of information that indicated mismatches between sources of knowledge, which might suggest the cause of management problems. This study demonstrated how integrating knowledge systems can enhance our understanding of the state and changes in ecosystems, helping to improve fisheries management. We also found that an EwE model can be an effective communication tool to be used with fishers and to promote discussion and engagement. Our aspiration is to bring new and replicable tools to the policy interface in Latin-American fisheries, based on both stakeholder participation (including LEK) and the best scientific information available.