The importance of stakeholder engagement in ocean observation and in particular the realization of economic and societal benefits is discussed, introducing a number of overarching principles such as the convergence on common goals, effective communication, co-production of information and knowledge and the need for innovation. A series of case studies examine the role of coordinating frameworks such as the United States’ Interagency Ocean Observing System (IOOS®), and the European Ocean Observing System (EOOS), public–private partnerships such as Project Azul and the Coastal Data Information Program (CDIP) and finally the role of the “third” or voluntary sector. The paper explores the value that stakeholder engagement can bring as well as making recommendations for the future.
Remote regions across Alaska are challenging environments for obtaining real-time, operational observations due to lack of power, easy road access, and robust communications. The Alaska Ocean Observing System partners with government agencies, universities, tribes and industry to evaluate innovative observing technologies, infrastructure and applications that address these challenges. These approaches support acquisition of ocean observing data necessary for forecasting and reporting conditions for safe navigation and response to emergencies and coastal hazards. Three applications are now delivering real-time surface current, sea ice, and water level data in areas not possible a mere 10 years ago. One particular challenge in Alaska is providing robust alternative power solutions for shore-based observing. Remote power options have been evolving alongside resilient technologies and are being designed for freeze-up conditions, making it possible to keep remotely deployed operational systems running and easy to maintain year-round. In this paper, three remote observing approaches are reviewed, including use of off-grid power to operate high-frequency (HF) radars for measuring surface currents, a real-time ice detection buoy that remains deployed throughout the freeze-up cycle, and a high-quality water level observing alternative to NOAA’s National Water Level Observing Network (NWLON) installations. These efforts are highly collaborative and require working partnerships and combined funding from other interested groups to make them a reality. Though they respond to Alaska’s needs including Arctic observing, these approaches also have broader applications to other remote coastal regions.
The democratization of ocean observation has the potential to add millions of observations every day. Though not a solution for all ocean monitoring needs, citizen scientists offer compelling examples showcasing their ability to augment and enhance traditional research and monitoring. Information they are providing is increasing the spatial and temporal frequency and duration of sampling, reducing time and labor costs for academic and government monitoring programs, providing hands-on STEM learning related to real-world issues and increasing public awareness and support for the scientific process. Examples provided here demonstrate the wide range of people who are already dramatically reducing gaps in our global observing network while at the same time providing unique opportunities to meaningfully engage in ocean observing and the research and conservation it supports. While there are still challenges to overcome before widespread inclusion in projects requiring scientific rigor, the growing organization of international citizen science associations is helping to reduce barriers. The case studies described support the idea that citizen scientists should be part of an effective global strategy for a sustained, multidisciplinary and integrated observing system.
A statistical evaluation of nearly 10 years of high-resolution surface seawater carbon dioxide partial pressure (pCO2) time-series data collected from coastal moorings around O’ahu, Hawai’i suggest that these coral reef ecosystems were largely a net source of CO2 to the atmosphere between 2008 and 2016. The largest air-sea flux (1.24 ± 0.33 mol m−2 yr−1) and the largest variability in seawater pCO2 (950 μatm overall range or 8x the open ocean range) were observed at the CRIMP-2 site, near a shallow barrier coral reef system in Kaneohe Bay O’ahu. Two south shore sites, Kilo Nalu and Ala Wai, also exhibited about twice the surface water pCO2 variability of the open ocean, but had net fluxes that were much closer to the open ocean than the strongly calcifying system at CRIMP-2. All mooring sites showed the opposite seasonal cycle from the atmosphere, with the highest values in the summer and lower values in the winter. Average coastal diurnal variabilities ranged from a high of 192 μatm/day to a low of 32 μatm/day at the CRIMP-2 and Kilo Nalu sites, respectively, which is one to two orders of magnitude greater than observed at the open ocean site. Here we examine the modes and drivers of variability at the different coastal sites. Although daily to seasonal variations in pCO2and air-sea CO2 fluxes are strongly affected by localized processes, basin-scale climate oscillations also affect the variability on interannual time scales.
Atoll islands’ alongshore sediment transport gradients depend on how island and reef morphology affect incident wave energy. It is unclear, though, how potential atoll morphologic configurations influence shoreline erosion and/or accretion patterns, and how these relationships will respond to future sea-level rise (SLR). Schematic atoll models with varying morphologies were used to evaluate the relative control of individual morphological parameters on alongshore transport gradients. Incident wave transformations were simulated using a physics-based numerical model and alongshore erosion and accretion was calculated using empirical formulae. The magnitude of the transport gradients increased with SLR: initial erosion or accretion patterns intensified. Modeled morphologic parameters that significantly influenced alongshore transport were the atoll diameter, reef flat width, reef flat depth, and island width. Modeled atolls with comparably small diameters, narrow and deep reef flats with narrow islands displayed greater magnitudes of erosion and/or accretion, especially with SLR. Windward island shorelines are projected to accrete toward the island’s longitudinal ends and lagoon due to SLR, whereas leeward islands erode along lagoon shorelines and extend toward the island ends. Oblique island, oriented parallel to the incident deepwater wave direction, shorelines are forecast to build out leeward along the reef rim and toward the lagoon while eroding along regions exposed to direct wave attack. These findings make it possible to evaluate the relative risk of alongshore erosion/accretion on atolls due to SLR in a rapid, first-order analysis.
Small-scale fisheries (SSF) have long been overshadowed by the concerns and perceived importance of the industrial sector in fisheries science and policy. Yet in recent decades, attention to SSF is on the rise, marked by a proliferation of scientific publications, the emergence of new global policy tools devoted to the small-scale sector, and concerted efforts to tally the size and impacts of SSF on a global scale. Given the rising tide of interest buoying SSF, it's pertinent to consider how the underlying definition shapes efforts to enumerate and scale up knowledge on the sector—indicating what dimensions of SSF count and consequently what gets counted. Existing studies assess how national fisheries policies define SSF, but to date, no studies systematically and empirically examine how the definition of SSF has been articulated in science, including whether and how definitions have changed over time. We systematically analyzed how SSF were defined in the peer-reviewed scientific literature drawing on a database of 1,723 articles published between 1960 and 2015. We coded a 25% random sample of articles (n = 434) from our database and found that nearly one-quarter did not define SSF. Among those that did proffer a definition, harvest technologies such as fishing boats and gear were the most common characteristics used. Comparing definitions over time, we identified two notable trends over the 65-year time period studied: a decreasing proportion of articles that defined SSF and an increasing reliance on technological dimensions like boats relative to sociocultural characteristics. Our results resonate with findings from similar research on the definition of SSF in national fisheries policies that also heavily rely on boat length. We call attention to several salient issues that are obscured by an overreliance on harvest technologies in definitions of SSF, including dynamics along the wider fisheries value chain and social relations such as gender. We discuss our findings considering new policies and emerging tools that could steer scientists and practitioners toward more encompassing, consistent, and relational means of defining SSF that circumvent some of the limitations of longstanding patterns in science and policy that impinge upon sustainable and just fisheries governance.
The mesopelagic community is important for downward oceanic carbon transportation and is a potential food source for humans. Estimates of global mesopelagic fish biomass vary substantially (between 1 and 20 Gt). Here, we develop a global mesopelagic fish biomass model using daytime 38 kHz acoustic backscatter from deep scattering layers. Model backscatter arises predominantly from fish and siphonophores but the relative proportions of siphonophores and fish, and several of the parameters in the model, are uncertain. We use simulations to estimate biomass and the variance of biomass determined across three different scenarios; S1, where all fish have gas-filled swimbladders, and S2 and S3, where a proportion of fish do not. Our estimates of biomass ranged from 1.8 to 16 Gt (25–75% quartile ranges), and median values of S1 to S3 were 3.8, 4.6, and 8.3 Gt, respectively. A sensitivity analysis shows that for any given quantity of fish backscatter, the fish swimbladder volume, its size distribution and its aspect ratio are the parameters that cause most variation (i.e. lead to greatest uncertainty) in the biomass estimate. Determination of these parameters should be prioritized in future studies, as should determining the proportion of backscatter due to siphonophores.
Climate change and biological invasions are rapidly reshuffling species distribution, restructuring the biological communities of many ecosystems worldwide. Tracking these transformations in the marine environment is crucial, but our understanding of climate change effects and invasive species dynamics is often hampered by the practical challenge of surveying large geographical areas. Here, we focus on the Mediterranean Sea, a hot spot for climate change and biological invasions to investigate recent spatiotemporal changes in fish abundances and distribution. To this end, we accessed the local ecological knowledge (LEK) of small‐scale and recreational fishers, reconstructing the dynamics of fish perceived as “new” or increasing in different fishing areas. Over 500 fishers across 95 locations and nine different countries were interviewed, and semiquantitative information on yearly changes in species abundance was collected. Overall, 75 species were mentioned by the respondents, mostly warm‐adapted species of both native and exotic origin. Respondents belonging to the same biogeographic sectors described coherent spatial and temporal patterns, and gradients along latitudinal and longitudinal axes were revealed. This information provides a more complete understanding of the shifting distribution of Mediterranean fishes and it also demonstrates that adequately structured LEK methodology might be applied successfully beyond the local scale, across national borders and jurisdictions. Acknowledging this potential through macroregional coordination could pave the way for future large‐scale aggregations of individual observations, increasing our potential for integrated monitoring and conservation planning at the regional or even global level. This might help local communities to better understand, manage, and adapt to the ongoing biotic transformations driven by climate change and biological invaders.
Coral reef restoration is an increasingly important part of tropical marine conservation. Information about what motivates coral reef restoration as well as its success and cost is not well understood but needed to inform restoration decisions. We systematically review and synthesise data from mostly scientific studies published in peer‐reviewed and grey literature on the motivations for coral reef restoration, the variables measured, outcomes reported, the cost per hectare of the restoration project, the survival of restored corals, the duration of the project and its overall spatial extent depending on the restoration technique employed. The main motivation to restore coral reefs for the projects assessed was to further our ecological knowledge and improve restoration techniques, with coral growth, productivity and survival being the main variables measured. The median project cost was 400,000 US$ ha‐1 (2010 US$), ranging from 6,000 US$ ha‐1 for the nursery phase of coral gardening to 4,000,000 US$ ha‐1 for substrate addition to build an artificial reef. Restoration projects were mostly of short duration (1‐2 years) and over small spatial extents (0.01 ha or 108 m2). Median reported survival of restored corals was 60.9%. Future research to survey practitioners who do not publish their discoveries would complement this work. Our findings and database provide critical data to inform future research in coral reef restoration.
In Southeast Asia, mangrove forest cover and biodiversity has shown a rapid decline in recent decades, despite extensive conservation efforts. Identifying and analysing discourses on biodiversity conservation improves our knowledge and understanding of stakeholder perspectives (including normative values and socially constructed viewpoints) on biodiversity conservation within a specific social-ecological context. Considering these perspectives in a decision-making context contributes to the long-term sustainability of resulting conservation approaches, thus contributing to continued biodiversity conservation efforts in the far future. We consider the urban City State of Singapore to identify and interpret stakeholder discourses -including values and socially constructed viewpoints-on (effective) mangrove biodiversity conservation and management in an urban context. Using the Q methodology, we: (i) delineate and describe mangrove conservation and management discourses in Singapore and (ii) extract consensual perspectives common to discourses as a basis for management recommendations. Areas of agreement and disagreement on motivation, prioritization and responsibilities related to mangrove conservation and management are described based on numerical (i.e. sorting of statements along an ordinal scale) and qualitative data (i.e. structured interviews). There was a large overlap between discourses, suggesting that disagreement between various stakeholders may not be a prominent inhibitor of future decision making regarding mangrove conservation and management. It seems stakeholders realise the urban context strongly limits the range of realistic conservation and management approaches of mangrove forests, resulting in the larger overlap between discourses. Generally, all participants agree no further loss of existing Singapore mangroves should be allowed. The most important recommendations to reach this ultimate objective include indefinite legal protection and increase of mangrove areas under national park and nature reserve status, as well as continued promotion of mangrove's cultural ecosystem services. The identified discourses can inform decision-making by deducing shared stakeholder objectives based on the consensus values and perspectives. These shared objectives can readily be incorporated in decision-making processes on mangrove conservation and management in an urban context.