The so-called blue growth is gaining importance in European policy making since it is expanding its relevance beyond traditional economic sectors to new and rapidly developing ones that present significant potential of innovation. This paper seeks to identify the most important factors that can be driving forces of blue growth, taking the example of Greece that being currently in a post-memorandum era, is obliged, in order to meet its engagements, to accelerate with economic growth in general, by untapping also local and regional blue growth potentials and by using MSP to facilitate the growth of its maritime economy. With the aim to put forward concrete policy proposals to boost and make operational blue growth in Greece in a multi-actor perspective, a field survey was designed and conducted with participating representatives of 24 “development companies” operating at local and regional level, all over the country. The method used was the one of environmental scanning (SWOT analysis, etc.). The survey highlighted the strengths and weaknesses as well as the opportunities, the risks and the many challenges that outline prospects and practical aspects of blue growth in the Greek regional space. The results and key findings of the primary research are discussed, highlighting the most important areas of strategy for promoting blue growth at a local level by the development companies including balancing he protection of the marine environment (ecosystem-based management) and economic growth, safeguarding maritime jobs, promoting entrepreneurial discovery through the Regional Strategy for Smart Specialisation, enforcement of maritime law, promoting biotechnology research and the creation of maritime clusters. Finally, policy proposals are presented to support blue entrepreneurship, which may be one of the cutting edges of the country’s new development model.
Fisheries are complex adaptive social-ecological systems (SES) that consist of interlinked human and ecosystems. They have mainly been studied by the natural sciences and focused on the ecosystem. However, rising concerns about sustainability and increasing complexity of societal challenges often require an understanding of fisheries in a SES context. For this purpose, the study of the human system should be expanded within fisheries science. Models are currently the most common method used in the field and these need to include the human dimension, alongside the ecosystem, when addressing fisheries systems as SES. The human dimension is an umbrella term for the complex web of human processes and it is captured by disciplines from the social sciences and the humanities. Consequently, capturing and synthesizing the variety of disciplines involved in the human dimension, and integrating them into fisheries models, requires an interdisciplinary approach. This study attempts to assess the presence of the human dimension in fisheries models applied to a European Union context and to evaluate interdisciplinarity within modeled human dimension aspects through a systematic review and qualitative analysis. Within 31 modeling publications, 20 different human dimension aspects could be identified within the categories of social phenomena, social processes, and individual attributes. Most of the human dimension aspects were modeled in an interdisciplinary manner in mathematical, statistical, simulation, or conceptual models. Yet, predominantly through the use of economic and environmental variables. We conclude that there is potential for the expansion of the human dimension and interdisciplinarity in fisheries models. To reach this potential, one should consider early involvement of all relevant disciplines in the formulation of theories, identification of data, and in the model development. We provide recommendations for interdisciplinary model development, communication, and documentation to increase our understanding of fisheries as SES.
Strikes between vessels and cetaceans have significantly increased worldwide in the last decades. The Canary Islands archipelago is a geographical area with an important overlap of high cetacean diversity and maritime traffic, including high-speed ferries. Sperm whales (Physeter macrocephalus), currently listed as a vulnerable species, are severely impacted by ship strikes. Nearly 60% of sperm whales’ deaths are due to ship strikes in the Canary Islands. In such cases, subcutaneous, muscular and visceral extensive hemorrhages and hematomas, indicate unequivocal antemortem trauma. However, when carcasses are highly autolyzed, it is challenging to distinguish whether the trauma occurred ante- or post-mortem. The presence of fat emboli within the lung microvasculature is used to determine a severe “in vivo” trauma in other species. We hypothesized fat emboli detection could be a feasible, reliable and accurate forensic tool to determine ante-mortem ship strikes in stranded sperm whales, even in decomposed carcasses. In this study, we evaluated the presence of fat emboli by using an osmium tetroxide (OsO4)-based histochemical technique in lung tissue of 24 sperm whales, 16 of them with evidence of ship strike, stranded and necropsied in the Canaries between 2000 and 2017. About 70% of them presented an advanced autolysis. Histological examination revealed the presence of OsO4-positive fat emboli in 13 out of the 16 sperm whales with signs of ship strike, and two out of eight of the “control” group, with varying degrees of abundance and distribution. A classification and regression tree was developed to assess the cut off of fat emboli area determining the high or low probability for diagnosing ship-strikes, with a sensitivity of 89% and a specificity of 100%. The results demonstrated: (1) the usefulness of fat detection as a diagnostic tool for “in vivo” trauma, even in decomposed tissues kept in formaldehyde for long periods of time; and (2) that, during this 18-year period, at least, 81% of the sperm whales with signs of ship strike were alive at the moment of the strike and died subsequently. This information is highly valuable in order to implement proper mitigation measures in this area.
The Mediterranean Sea is now recognized as a hotspot of global change, ranking among the fastest warming ocean regions. In order to project future plausible scenarios of marine biodiversity at the scale of the whole Mediterranean basin, the current challenge is to develop an explicit representation of the multispecies spatial dynamics under the combined influence of fishing pressure and climate change. Notwithstanding the advanced state-of-the-art modeling of food webs in the region, no previous studies have projected the consequences of climate change on marine ecosystems in an integrated way, considering changes in ocean dynamics, in phyto- and zoo-plankton productions, shifts in Mediterranean species distributions and their trophic interactions at the whole basin scale. We used an integrated modeling chain including a high-resolution regional climate model, a regional biogeochemistry model and a food web model OSMOSE to project the potential effects of climate change on biomass and catches for a wide array of species in the Mediterranean Sea. We showed that projected climate change would have large consequences for marine biodiversity by the end of the 21st century under a business-as-usual scenario (RCP8.5 with current fishing mortality). The total biomass of high trophic level species (fish and macroinvertebrates) is projected to increase by 5 and 22% while total catch is projected to increase by 0.3 and 7% by 2021–2050 and 2071–2100, respectively. However, these global increases masked strong spatial and inter-species contrasts. The bulk of increase in catch and biomass would be located in the southeastern part of the basin while total catch could decrease by up to 23% in the western part. Winner species would mainly belong to the pelagic group, are thermophilic and/or exotic, of smaller size and of low trophic level while loser species are generally large-sized, some of them of great commercial interest, and could suffer from a spatial mismatch with potential prey subsequent to a contraction or shift of their geographic range. Given the already poor conditions of exploited resources, our results suggest the need for fisheries management to adapt to future changes and to incorporate climate change impacts in future management strategy evaluation.
There are millions of small-scale fishers worldwide that rely on coral reefs for their livelihood. Yields from many of these coral reef fisheries, however, have been declining. In Indonesia and other coral reefs worldwide, management approaches are dominated by marine protected areas but other options including gear-restrictions may be feasible and more adaptive to local ecological and social conditions. Yet, there is little data on the impacts and selectivity of fishing gears for coral reef fisheries. In this paper, we present results from a case study on the island of Lombok, where we examine the selectivity and overlap in catch composition of the two main fishing gear types: spearguns and handlines. The catch per unit effort (CPUE) was greater in handlines than spearguns, 10.8 and 9.97 kg trip-1, respectively. The two gears targeted different fish communities with little overlap in dominant species, suggesting a partitioning of resources; handlines targeted piscivores, whereas spearguns targeted mostly herbivores. Mean trophic level was 3.6 for the handline catch and 2.8 for spearguns, where it was inversely related to CPUE. Spearguns captured more species overall and the number of species increased as the CPUE increased. Length parameters of maturity indicated that neither gear showed signs of (growth) overfishing and fishing grounds dominated by speargun fishers had catches associated with younger ages at first maturity than handlines. Our findings provide local baseline data on the potential utility of gear restrictions as a management tool. Specifically, managers could monitor reefs and reduce handlines when piscivorous fishes are low and on spearguns when species diversity is low or algal abundance is high. Should it become more desirable to implement ecosystem approaches to management that are adaptive to changing ecological and social conditions, these indicators may be used as starting points along with local management preferences of fishers.
The Indian Ocean is warming faster than any of the global oceans and its climate is uniquely driven by the presence of a landmass at low latitudes, which causes monsoonal winds and reversing currents. The food, water, and energy security in the Indian Ocean rim countries and islands are intrinsically tied to its climate, with marine environmental goods and services, as well as trade within the basin, underpinning their economies. Hence, there are a range of societal needs for Indian Ocean observation arising from the influence of regional phenomena and climate change on, for instance, marine ecosystems, monsoon rains, and sea-level. The Indian Ocean Observing System (IndOOS), is a sustained observing system that monitors basin-scale ocean-atmosphere conditions, while providing flexibility in terms of emerging technologies and scientificand societal needs, and a framework for more regional and coastal monitoring. This paper reviews the societal and scientific motivations, current status, and future directions of IndOOS, while also discussing the need for enhanced coastal, shelf, and regional observations. The challenges of sustainability and implementation are also addressed, including capacity building, best practices, and integration of resources. The utility of IndOOS ultimately depends on the identification of, and engagement with, end-users and decision-makers and on the practical accessibility and transparency of data for a range of products and for decision-making processes. Therefore we highlight current progress, issues and challenges related to end user engagement with IndOOS, as well as the needs of the data assimilation and modeling communities. Knowledge of the status of the Indian Ocean climate and ecosystems and predictability of its future, depends on a wide range of socio-economic and environmental data, a significant part of which is provided by IndOOS.
Developing the ocean literacy of individuals of all ages from all countries, cultures, and economic backgrounds is essential to inform choices for sustainable living in the future, but how we reach and represent diverse voices is a challenge. Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) offer a possible tool to achieve this goal, as they can potentially reach large numbers of people including those from lower and middle income regions. The number of MOOCs themed around ocean science and/or literacy is growing rapidly, and here we share experience of developing and delivering a MOOC entitled “Exploring Our Oceans,” which has run ten times in the past 4 years with around 40,000 participants worldwide. The “Exploring Our Oceans” MOOC incorporates a blend of online teaching techniques grounded in both instructivist and constructivist theories, thereby emphasizing contributions from a global community of learners and encouraging individual, independent action in relation to ocean citizenship. The impacts of this MOOC include evidence of changed awareness and attitudes to ocean issues; increased applications and participation in undergraduate and postgraduate programs; development of communication and outreach skills in the postgraduate community and partnership building with Nelson Mandela University, South Africa. These impacts, and vignettes of learner experiences in the course, are discussed in the context of the effectiveness of MOOCs in developing global ocean literacy.
The sea turtle (Caretta caretta) is the most common sea turtle in the Mediterranean, where incidental catches due to fishing activities are considered the main threat to its conservation. Over 50,000 capture events and likely over 10,000 deaths are estimated to occur in the Italian waters alone. However, current knowledge on the interaction of sea turtles with fishing gears and the implementation of mitigation measures are still poor to hinder the decline of turtle populations in the Mediterranean. In this basin, where fisheries are multispecies, multi-gears and multinational, making demersal fishing activities profitable while preserving sea turtles is a challenge. This study aimed to develop bycatch reducer devices (BRDs) and alternative fishing gears to mitigate the impact of demersal fishing gears on sea turtles: (a) hard and flexible turtle excluder devices (TEDs) were tested in bottom trawling to immediately exclude turtles from the net; (b) visual deterrents (ultraviolet LEDs) were used to illuminate set nets and to alter turtle visual cues, avoiding entanglement during depredation activity. The results showed the different devices did not affect the commercial catch, while bycatch reduction was instead evident. Thus, the study highlights that introducing mitigation measures to reduce sea turtle bycatch in the Mediterranean, where the bycatch of vulnerable species seems as a global issue, can be possible at least in certain areas and periods. Considering fishermen reticence to change the gear traditionally used, determining the optimal gear configuration to minimize commercial loss while reducing bycatch, is the main issue while introducing new technologies. Therefore, a global effort should be done to introduce BRDs in different areas and fisheries of the Mediterranean.
Ocean Literacy (OL) has multiple aspects or dimensions: from knowledge about how the oceans work and our impact on them, to attitudes toward topics such as sustainable fisheries, and our behaviour as consumers, tourists, policy makers, fishermen, etc. The myriad ways in which individuals, society and the oceans interact result in complex dynamic systems, composed of multiple interlinked chains of cause and effect. To influence our understanding of these systems, and thereby increase our OL, means to increase our knowledge of our own and others’ place and role in the web of interactions. Systems Thinking has a potentially important role to play in helping us to understand, explain and manage problems in the human-ocean relationship. Leaders in the OL field have recommended taking a systems approach in order to deal with the complexity of the human-ocean relationship. They contend that the inclusion of modelling and simulation will improve the effectiveness of educational initiatives. In this paper we describe a pilot study centred on a browser-based Simulation-Based Learning Environment (SBLE) designed for a general audience that uses System Dynamics simulation to introduce and reinforce systems-based OL learning. It uses a storytelling approach, by explaining the dynamics of coastal tourism through a System Dynamics model revealed in stages, supported by fact panels, pictures, simulation-based tasks, causal loop diagrams and quiz questions. Participants in the pilot study were mainly postgraduate students. A facilitator was available to participants at all times, as needed. The model is based on a freely available normalised coastal tourism model by Hartmut Bossel, converted to XMILE format. Through the identification and use of systems archetypes and general systems features such as feedback loops, we also tested for the acquisition of transferable skills and the ability to identify, apply or create sustainable solutions. Levels of OL were measured before and after interaction with the tool using pre- and post-survey questionnaires and interviews. Results showed moderate to very large positive effects on all the OL dimensions, which are also shown to be associated with predictors of behaviour change. These results provide motivation for further research.
Private standard setting by non‐State actors has gained increasing attention and has expanded to regulating various activities. Maritime activities are no exception. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) sets private standards to govern maritime activities in cooperation with the International Maritime Organization. These ISO standards are incorporated in the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea system and will likely play a more important role in the future. However, the relationship between these standards and the law of the sea has not yet been analysed. This article therefore examines the contribution of private standards, especially those set by the ISO, to ocean governance and evaluates this contribution from a global administrative law perspective. Since the ISO is the largest entity that sets private standards, it can serve as a model for other non‐State actors that set private standards to govern maritime activities.