Toxic chemicals within and adsorbed to microplastics (0.05–5 mm) have the potential to biomagnify in food webs. However, microplastic concentrations in highly productive, coastal habitats are not well understood. Therefore, we quantified the presence of microplastics in a benthic community and surrounding environment of a remote marine reserve on the open coast of California, USA. Concentrations of microplastic particles in seawater were 36.59 plastics/L and in sediments were 0.227 ± 0.135 plastics/g. Densities of microplastics on the surfaces of two morphologically distinct species of macroalgae were 2.34 ± 2.19 plastics/g (Pelvetiopsis limitata) and 8.65 ± 6.44 plastics/g (Endocladia muricata). Densities were highest in the herbivorous snail, Tegula funebralis, at 9.91 ± 6.31 plastics/g, potentially due to bioaccumulation. This study highlights the need for further investigations of the prevalence and potential harm of microplastics in benthic communities at remote locations as well as human population centers.
Functional ecosystems depend on biotic and abiotic connections among different environmental realms, including terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats. Accounting for such connections is increasingly recognized as critical for conservation of ecosystems, especially given growing understanding of the way in which anthropogenic landscape disturbances can degrade both freshwater and marine habitats. This need may be paramount in conservation planning for tropical island ecosystems, as habitats across realms are often in close proximity, and because endemic organisms utilize multiple habitats to complete life histories. In this study, we used Marxan analysis to develop conservation planning scenarios across the five largest islands of Hawaii, in one instance accounting for and in another excluding habitat connectivity between inland and coastal habitats. Native vegetation, perennial streams, and areas of biological significance along the coast were used as conservation targets in analysis. Cost, or the amount of effort required for conservation, was estimated using an index that integrated degree and intensity of anthropogenic landscape disturbances. Our results showed that when connectivity is accounted for among terrestrial, freshwater, and marine habitats, areas identified as having high conservation value are substantially different compared to results when connectivity across realms is not considered. We also showed that the trade-off of planning conservation across realms was minimal and that cross-realm planning had the unexpected benefit of selecting areas with less habitat degradation, suggesting less effort for conservation. Our cross-realm planning approach considers biophysical interactions and complexity within and across ecosystems, as well as anthropogenic factors that may influence habitats outside of their physical boundaries, and we recommend implementing similar approaches to achieve integrated conservation efforts.
The use of mangroves as a travel and tourism destination has not received much attention, but provides a high-value, low impact use of these important ecosystems. This work quantifies and maps the distribution of mangrove visitation at global scales using keyword searches on user-generated content of the popular travel website, TripAdvisor. It further explores the use of user-generated content to uncover information about facilities, activities and wildlife in mangrove tourism locations world-wide. Some 3945 mangrove “attractions” are identified in 93 countries and territories. Boating is the most widespread activity, recorded in 82% of English-language sites. Birdlife is recorded by visitors in 28% of sites, with manatees/dugongs and crocodiles/alligators also widely reported. It is likely that mangrove tourism attracts tens to hundreds of millions of visitors annually and is a multi-billion dollar industry.
Renewable energy and sustainable food production are high on the international agenda, as is the prospect of expanding activity northwards to Arctic waters. In this article, we review core elements of the marine governance systems for aquaculture facilities and offshore wind farms in Norway and Scotland. Management of these sectors through strategic planning, marine spatial planning and licensing systems furthers rule of law values such as stability and predictability, making investment less risky. The review illustrates how the governance systems also facilitate flexibility and adaptability, balancing predictability considerations against the need to adapt management to natural and economic changes and innovative technologies, or even effective multi-use. This article discusses what endeavours have been made to strike a balance between predictability and adaptability in these sectors in Norway and Scotland. This study of marine management regimes in the Arctic and northern parts of the Temperate Northern Atlantic, and the values underpinning these regimes, provides lessons for the future of the Arctic.
The presence and effects of plastic debris is increasingly investigated. The majority of studies focuses on microplastics (MPs), but few reports suggest that plastic fragments in the <100 nm size range, referred to as nanoplastics (NPs), may also be formed in the aquatic environment and further to humans. This paper provides a review on routes of human exposure and potential effects of MPs and NPs to human health. MPs/NPs could potentially induce: physical damages through particles itself, and biological stress through MPs/NPs alone or leaching of additives (inorganic and organic). Future research should evaluate trophic transfer of MPs/NPs with their associated chemicals through the marine food web.
There is a controversy in the literature on marine protected areas (MPAs) over the way their outcomes are portrayed in terms of winners and losers. On the one hand, many analysts have portrayed MPAs as win-win solutions, resulting in both increased biodiversity and improved livelihoods. On the other hand, some analysts have argued that win-win outcomes are mythical, and in practice, MPAs invariably result in trade-offs between ecological and economic objectives. This study seeks to test which of these two hypotheses fits the Cabo de Palos Islas Hormigas marine protected area (CPH-MPA) in southeast Spain. However, it does so not by analysing directly the tension between the two objectives of ecological and economic goals, but by analysing the tensions between four groups of stakeholders—fishers, divers, community residents, and administrators—which map on to the tension between the two goals. The study is based on 111 interviews of key informants conducted in 2013–2014 to discover the perceptions of stakeholders on the issue of who are the winners and who are the losers as a result of the MPA. The main findings of this study on the CPH-MPA are that winning and losing are very complex and ambiguous categories; that there is no objective way of determining who are winners or losers; that the situation of winners and losers is due to human intervention rather than a natural and inevitable process; that win-win outcomes are implausible because trade-offs between wins and losses are inevitable; and that political authorities have to decide who will be the winners and who will be the losers.
Coastal human ecology (CHE) is a mixture of different theoretical and thematic approaches straddling between the humanities and social and natural sciences which studies human and coastal/marine interactions at the local-scale and through intense fieldwork. Topics of interest include human coastal adaptations past and present; the historical ecology of fisheries and future implications; local forms of marine governance and economic systems; local food security and livelihoods, and indigenous/local ecological knowledge systems among many research themes. In this paper, I explore different strands of CHE in the study of tribal, artisanal, and small-scale industrial fisheries from the mid-90s onward that can contribute to the foundational knowledge necessary for designing and implementing successful coastal fisheries management and conservation programs. Marine conservation has often failed due to a lack of understanding of the fine grained marine human-environmental interactions at the local scale. In this context, I also examine developing and future research directions in CHE, and discuss their potential contribution for filling the gap in existing approaches to actionable scholarship in marine conservation. The strength of many CHE approaches lies in their potential for bridging humanism and natural science, and thus CHE approaches are well equipped to address many of the challenges faced by marine conservation practitioners today.
The aspirations for natural capital and ecosystem service approaches to support environmental decision-making have not been fully realised in terms of their actual application in policy and management contexts. Application of the natural capital approach requires a range of methods, which as yet have not been fully tested in the context of decision making for the marine environment. It is unlikely that existing methodologies, which were developed for terrestrial systems and are based on land cover assessment approaches, will ever be feasible in the marine context at the national scale. Land cover approaches are also fundamentally insufficient for the marine environment because they do not take account of the water column, the significant interconnections between spatially disparate components, or the highly dynamic nature of the marine ecosystem, for example the high spatial mobility of many species. Data gaps have been a significant impediment to progress, so alternative methods that use proxies for quality information as well as the opportunities for remote sensing should be explored further. Greater effort to develop methodologies specifically for the marine environment is required, which should be interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral, coherent across policy areas, and applicable across a range of contexts.
The most recently revised CFP Regulation, adopted in 2013, includes a number of significant changes with the aim to make fisheries more in tune with concept of the ecosystem approach and to avoid unsustainable exploitation of marine biological resources, including fish, as a natural resource. As part of that the CFP Regulation introduced the landing obligation, an obligation to land all catches as opposed to previous praxis where fisheries have been relying on a system of discarding fish and other marine biological resources in order to optimize their catch. One aim with the landing obligation is to push for new adaptive fishing methods and in a way to implement an ecosystem approach since the fishing strategies are meant to be adjusted to ecosystem factors. To be effective, the system for controlling implementation must be adjusted to take different aspects of the ecosystem approach into account. The paper presents some reflections on the required balance between adaptive approaches connected to the ecosystem approach and the strictness established by principles of rule of law in relation to the so called EU CFP landing obligation. It is concluded that the best way to create a control system adjusted to these factors seems to be by giving more influence to the industry itself. Involving those concerned at all levels, and thus applying all aspects of the regulatory governance under an ecosystem approach, would create an effective adaptive system where the rule of law is also safe-guarded.