- Deep‐sea marine protected areas (MPAs) present particular challenges for management. Their remote location means there is limited knowledge of species and habitat distribution, and rates and scales of change. Yet, evaluating the attainment of conservation objectives and managing the impact of human activities both require a quantitative understanding of natural variability in species composition/abundance and habitat conditions.
- Ocean Networks Canada (ONC) and Fisheries and Oceans Canada are collaborating in the development of remote monitoring tools for the Endeavour Hydrothermal Vents MPA in the north‐east Pacific. This 98.5 km2 MPA, located 250 km offshore Vancouver Island, encompasses five major fields of hydrothermal vents, at depths of 2200–2400 m. A real‐time cabled observatory was installed at the Endeavour site in 2010.
- Scientific research for the conservation, protection and understanding of the area is permitted within the MPA and is the primary activity impacting the area. Research activities require the use of submersibles for sampling, surveying and observatory infrastructure maintenance. Data and imagery from remotely operated vehicle dives and fixed subsea observatory sensors are archived in real time using ONC's Oceans 2.0 software system, enabling evaluation of the spatial footprint of research activity in the MPA and the baseline level of natural ecosystem change.
- Recent examples of database queries that support MPA management include: (1) using ESRI ArcGIS spatial analysis tools to create kernel density ‘heat maps’ to quantify the intensity of sampling and survey activity within the MPA; and (2) quantifying high‐frequency variability in vent fauna and habitat using sensor and fixed camera data.
- Collaboration between researchers and MPA managers can help mitigate the logistical challenges of monitoring remote MPAs. Recognition at the policy level of the importance of such partnerships could facilitate the extension of scientific missions to support more formal monitoring programmes.
- The world's oceans are often perceived as barriers that separate countries. To counter these divisions and improve protection of ocean resources, marine protected area (MPA) managers have formed alliances that bridge jurisdictional boundaries to share strategies and resources with other protected areas.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has embraced this sister site approach to connect MPA management based on ecological and cultural links. Designed to strengthen the management of ecologically and culturally connected areas, these relationships between protected areas serve as catalysts for effective stewardship of the ocean's biological resources and show the important benefits of transnational cooperation.
- This paper summarizes the lessons from over a decade of sister site partnerships, including case studies from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and four sites in the Caribbean working together to protect a shared population of humpback whales; the Gulf of Mexico Sister Site Network being developed by the USA, Mexico, and Cuba; Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Rapa Nui in Chile; and broader collaboration among MPAs in the USA and Chile on the Pacific coast.
- Important marine mammal areas (IMMAs) are discrete portions of habitat, important to marine mammal species, that have the potential to be delineated and managed for conservation. Although IMMAs are not a blueprint for marine protected areas or other conservation designations, they are useful for providing a foundation for marine spatial planning and systematic conservation planning that can then lead to protected areas or special spatial regulations. To be most useful for supporting management and conservation, however, the information coming out of IMMAs needs to reflect current conditions.
- An ‘early warning system’ is proposed with a generic set of indicators to flag when marine mammal species in IMMAs require management interventions due to changing distributions or decreasing populations. Rather than signifying that quantitative thresholds have been reached, these indicators comprise alerting information derived from visual or acoustic census, satellite imagery analysis, whale‐watching logs, or increases in mortality reported by stranding networks that can trigger additional targeted research.
- Although it is possible that in some regions data will be sufficient to provide quantifiable indicators, the system is meant to rely on existing data sources, and be adaptable to the circumstances of each region.
- Regional expert groups can utilize early warning system information and feed it into IMMA‐related spatial planning in two ways: by nominating additional areas of interest, and by providing a scientific rationale for revising IMMA boundaries, to be considered at the next decadal IMMA regional expert workshop.
- IMMA‐driven consolidation of information that is as current as possible will prove valuable for enhancing regional cooperation to conserve marine mammals, and will be useful as countries implement new protected areas to conserve marine mammals and other marine biodiversity.
- For more than 40 years, marine zoning has played a key role while evolving as part of the adaptive management of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) Marine Park. The statutory zoning plan provides the primary integrating component that prohibits many threatening activities and manages the impacts of allowed human activities and competing uses by means of various zones, special management areas and other spatial management tools.
- How zoning is applied, however, has changed considerably since the first zoning plan was finalized in 1981. Today, zoning is applied in combination with other layers of marine spatial planning; the effective combination of these management tools provides the integrated approach, considered one of the best for managing a large marine protected area.
- The zoning plan provides the foundation for management of the GBR and is the fundamental component of the integrated marine spatial planning approach ensuring high levels of protection for significant areas of the GBR, while also allowing ecologically sustainable use.
- The paper outlines the legal and managerial contexts of zoning, providing 38 lessons that may be useful for marine zoning and ecosystem‐based management elsewhere. It outlines aspects of zoning that have worked well in the GBR Marine Park and what has changed in the light of experience and changing contexts, and seeks to clarify various misconceptions about zoning and marine spatial planning.
- The integrated management approach in the GBR utilizes a variety of spatial planning tools, which complement the underlying zoning; some of these comprise statutory management layers (e.g. designated shipping areas, special management areas, plans of management, fishery management arrangements, Traditional Owner agreements, defence training areas); other layers are non‐statutory (e.g. site plans).
- This paper is written for planners, managers and decision‐makers considering the use of zoning to achieve effective marine conservation, protection and ecologically sustainable use.
Tuna Regional Fisheries Management Organizations have committed to adopting an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM). Yet their progress has been relatively slow and patchy, lacking a long-term vision and a formalized plan to prescribe how fisheries will be managed from an ecosystem perspective. We argue that one of the impediments in this process has been the lack of well-defined spatial management units that are ecologically meaningful, as well as practical for fisheries management, to guide ecosystem-based planning, research and indicator assessments, to ultimately produce better integrated management advice. In this study, we propose seven potential ecoregions within the convention area of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). The boundaries of the ecoregions rest on three pillars of information: the existing knowledge of biogeographic classifications of the pelagic environment, the spatial distribution of tuna and billfish species, and the spatial dynamics of the main fishing fleets targeting them. Each ecoregion is characterized by a set of ecologically meaningful biogeographic and oceanographic characteristics, tuna and billfish communities and fishing fleet patterns. The pelagic ecoregions proposed here aim to focus species- and fisheries-specific management of the tuna and billfish fisheries on specified regions. The proposed ecoregions represent an optimal, ecologically sound starting point, based on the best science available, to foster debate and consultative process in ICCAT for moving forward the implementation of the EAFM.
Multiple-use Marine Protected Areas are typically predominantly zoned for partial protection, allowing ‘acceptable’ exploitation activities. However, biotic responses to Partially Protected Areas (PPAs) are varied, and the effectiveness of this approach in relation to management objectives can be ambiguous. Few studies have compared different levels of partial protection to provide insight into this issue. Using remote underwater video methods (stereo baited video, drop-camera) we compared fish and invertebrate assemblages between two PPA types with differing levels of protection (Habitat Protection - HP; and General Use - GU) on unconsolidated substrata in the subtropical Solitary Islands Marine Park, Australia. While both Management Types are fished, trawling is only allowed in GU. Despite high levels of spatial variation across the scales of investigation, we found fish and invertebrate assemblages differed significantly between the two Management Types. The abundance of two fish taxa and low-mobility and sessile benthic macro-invertebrates, and the mean size of the commercially targeted bluespotted flathead Platycephalus caeruleopunctatus, were each significantly greater in the un-trawled HP. Contrary to expectations, abundance of a conspicuous habitat former (pennatulacean seapens) and elasmobranchs did not differ significantly between Management Types. While unconsolidated sedimentary habitats are more homogenous than reef, our study revealed high assemblage diversity at a range of scales. Although assemblages and some individual taxa benefitted from a higher level of partial protection, the broader merit of this management approach remains unclear. Globally, PPA benefits likely depend on social, regulatory, environmental, and site-specific ecological factors.
• Non-state community actors play a proactive role in discharging the fishery management functions.
• The fishers in South Kerala, India make collective decisions through a Church-mediated community fishery management system.
• Kadakkody, a non-state system prevalent in North Kerala serves several parallel legal functions within the fishing community.
The response of a coastal region to sea-level rise depends on the local physical features, which should therefore be evaluated locally to provide an accurate vulnerability assessment. In this study, we conducted comprehensive analyses of the potential impacts of sea-level rise on the Pearl River Estuary (PRE), China with the aid of a fully calibrated three-dimensional hydrodynamic model. We found that in general, the salinity, stratification and tidal range will increase as the sea-level rises. Clear spatial variations were apparent in the response of these parameters, with different patterns occurring in different seasons. The strongest salinity increase was mostly at the front of the PRE, where freshwater and saltwater meets. In Lingding Bay (LDB), the rate of increase in stratification in response to the sea-level rise was found to be higher during high-flow conditions than that during low-flow conditions. The increases of tidal range and tidal current were amplified in the upstream direction, with the largest increase occurring in the upper tributaries. The change of vertical transport process in the PRE is not prominent and only in the upper LDB the vertical transport time increased for approximately two days. The upstream transport process was strengthened during the typical wet season and weakened during the typical dry season. The downstream transport slowed in both wet and dry seasons as the sea level rose. For a sea-level rise of 1 m, the dry season residence time increased by 8.5 days, while the wet season residence time showed only minor changes. It was also found that the fluvial input remained in the PRE for a longer time after the sea level rose, which would increase the retention time of dissolved substances and thus effect biogeochemical processes.
Shallow rocky reef fish assemblages were studied in sites of low versus high fishing pressure (FP) across the Aegean Sea, in order to assess community structure at a large scale and investigate spatial variability in relation to FP, depth, and geographic location. A total of 15 pairs of high and low FP sites were selected (18 sites in North Aegean, 12 in South Aegean). The level of FP was defined based on a fishing pressure index specifically developed for coastal small-scale fisheries in the region. In each site, fish communities were investigated at two depth zones (5 and 15 m). Number of species, fish size (Total Length; TL) and abundance were recorded along strip transects through underwater visual surveys. Abundance and TL were used to estimate biomass, and fish species were assigned to distinct trophic and commercial status groups. An 8-fold range in fish density and a 14-fold range in fish biomass were detected, while community structure was affected by all variables considered (FP, depth, geographic location). The N Aegean sites scored higher in number of species and biomass of carnivorous fish, whereas the S Aegean had a higher biomass of several allochthonous and thermophilous species. Abundance and biomass estimates were higher in low FP sites, and primarily at the 15 m depth zone, where low FP sites had the double abundance and 2.8 times higher biomass. Biomass of carnivores was generally very low, except at deep sites of low FP. Given that sites of lower FP represent areas of lower conflicting interests for fisheries whilst providing enhanced biomass levels, they should be included in future marine conservation planning schemes, as they could contribute to the replenishment of fisheries and the boosting of conservation benefits provided by MPAs, once properly managed.
The number of marine watercraft is on the rise—from private boats in coastal areas to commercial ships crossing oceans. A concomitant increase in underwater noise has been reported in several regions around the globe. Given the important role sound plays in the life functions of marine mammals, research on the potential effects of vessel noise has grown—in particular since the year 2000. We provide an overview of this literature, showing that studies have been patchy in terms of their coverage of species, habitats, vessel types, and types of impact investigated. The documented effects include behavioral and acoustic responses, auditory masking, and stress. We identify knowledge gaps: There appears a bias to more easily accessible species (i.e., bottlenose dolphins and humpback whales), whereas there is a paucity of literature addressing vessel noise impacts on river dolphins, even though some of these species experience chronic noise from boats. Similarly, little is known about the potential effects of ship noise on pelagic and deep-diving marine mammals, even though ship noise is focused in a downward direction, reaching great depth at little acoustic loss and potentially coupling into sound propagation channels in which sound may transmit over long ranges. We explain the fundamental concepts involved in the generation and propagation of vessel noise and point out common problems with both physics and biology: Recordings of ship noise might be affected by unidentified artifacts, and noise exposure can be both under- and over-estimated by tens of decibel if the local sound propagation conditions are not considered. The lack of anthropogenic (e.g., different vessel types), environmental (e.g., different sea states or presence/absence of prey), and biological (e.g., different demographics) controls is a common problem, as is a lack of understanding what constitutes the ‘normal’ range of behaviors. Last but not least, the biological significance of observed responses is mostly unknown. Moving forward, standards on study design, data analysis, and reporting are badly needed so that results are comparable (across space and time) and so that data can be synthesized to address the grand unknowns: the role of context and the consequences of chronic exposures.
Estimating the potential environmental risks of worldwide coastal recreational navigation on water quality is an important step towards designing a sustainable global market. This study proposes the creation of a global atlas of the environmental risk of marinas on water quality by applying the Marina Environmental Risk Assessment (MERA) procedure. Calculations integrate three main risk factors: Pressure, State and Response. Applying the MERA approach to 105 globally distributed marinas has confirmed the utility, versatility and adaptability of this procedure as a novel tool to compare the environmental risks within and among regions (i.e. for area-based management), to identify the world's best practices (i.e. to optimize existing management) and to understand and adjust global risks in future development (i.e. improved planning).
Many coastal areas host rich marine ecosystems and are also centers of economic activities, including fishing, shipping and recreation. Due to the socioeconomic and ecological importance of these areas, predicting relevant indicators of the ecosystem state on sub-seasonal to interannual timescales is gaining increasing attention. Depending on the application, forecasts may be sought for variables and indicators spanning physics (e.g., sea level, temperature, currents), chemistry (e.g., nutrients, oxygen, pH), and biology (from viruses to top predators). Many components of the marine ecosystem are known to be influenced by leading modes of climate variability, which provide a physical basis for predictability. However, prediction capabilities remain limited by the lack of a clear understanding of the physical and biological processes involved, as well as by insufficient observations for forecast initialization and verification. The situation is further complicated by the influence of climate change on ocean conditions along coastal areas, including sea level rise, increased stratification, and shoaling of oxygen minimum zones. Observations are thus vital to all aspects of marine forecasting: statistical and/or dynamical model development, forecast initialization, and forecast validation, each of which has different observational requirements, which may be also specific to the study region. Here, we use examples from United States (U.S.) coastal applications to identify and describe the key requirements for an observational network that is needed to facilitate improved process understanding, as well as for sustaining operational ecosystem forecasting. We also describe new holistic observational approaches, e.g., approaches based on acoustics, inspired by Tara Oceans or by landscape ecology, which have the potential to support and expand ecosystem modeling and forecasting activities by bridging global and local observations.
The Yellow Sea is one of the most productive continental shelves in the world. This large marine ecosystem is experiencing an epochal change in water temperature, stratification, nutrients, and subsequently in ecological diversity. Research-oriented monitoring of these changes requires a sustainable, multi-disciplinary approach. For this purpose, the Korea Institute of Ocean Science and Technology (KIOST) constructed the Socheongcho Ocean Research Station (S-ORS), a steel-framed tower-type platform, in the central Yellow Sea about 50 km off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula. This station is equipped with about forty sensors for interdisciplinary oceanographic observations. Since its construction in 2014, this station has continuously conducted scientific observations and provided qualified time series: physical oceanographic variables such as temperature, salinity, sea level pressure, wave, and current; biogeochemical variables such as chlorophyll-a, photosynthetically active radiation, and total suspended particles; atmospheric variables including air temperature, wind, greenhouse gasses, and air particles including black carbon. A prime advantage is that this platform has provided stable facilities including a wet lab where scientists can stay and experiment on in situ water samples. Several studies are in process to understand and characterize the evolution of environmental signals, including air-sea interaction, marine ecosystems, wave detection, and total suspended particles in the central Yellow Sea. This paper provides an overview of the research facilities, maintenance, observations, scientific achievements, and next steps of the S-ORS with highlighting this station as an open lab for interdisciplinary collaboration on multiscale process studies.
With the ongoing, exponential increase in ocean data from autonomous platforms, satellites, models, and in particular, the growing field of quantitative imaging, there arises a need for scalable and cost-efficient visualization tools to interpret these large volumes of data. With the recent proliferation of consumer grade head-mounted displays, the emerging field of virtual reality (VR) has demonstrated its benefit in numerous disciplines, ranging from medicine to archeology. However, these benefits have not received as much attention in the ocean sciences. Here, we summarize some of the ways that virtual reality has been applied to this field. We highlight a few examples in which we (the authors) demonstrate the utility of VR as a tool for ocean scientists. For oceanic datasets that are well-suited for three-dimensional visualization, virtual reality has the potential to enhance the practice of ocean science.
Since 2011, when the first European ocean literacy (OL) project was launched in Portugal, the number of initiatives about this topic in Europe has increased notoriously and their scope has largely widened. These initiatives have drawn from the seven “OL Principles” that were developed by the College of Exploration OL Network in 2005. They represent a source of inspiration for the many endeavors that are aiming to achieve a society that fully understands the influence of themselves – as individuals and as a population – on the ocean and the influence of the ocean on them. OL initiatives throughout the past years, globally, have resulted in the production of countless didactic and communication resources that represent a valuable legacy for new activities. The OL research community recognizes the need to build up the scope of OL by reaching the wider Blue Economy actors such as the maritime industrial sector. It is hoped that building OL in this sector will contribute to the long-term sustainable development of maritime activities. The ERASMUS+ project “MATES” aims to address the maritime industries’ skills shortages and contribute to a more resilient labor market. MATES’ hypothesis is that through building OL in educational, professional and industrial environments, it is possible to build a labor force that matches the skills demand in these sectors and increases their capacity to uptake new knowledge. The MATES partnership will explicitly combine OL and knowledge transfer by applying the “COLUMBUS Knowledge Transfer Methodology” as developed by the H2020-funded COLUMBUS project.
In areas beyond national jurisdiction, there are ten regional fisheries bodies (RFBs) responsible for the management of bottom fisheries (ABNJ). Eight of these organizations are further termed “Regional Fisheries Management Organisations” (RFMOs) and have a legal mandate to regulate the sustainable use of marine living resources on the high seas. The remaining two, both in the equatorial Atlantic, are limited to advisory roles. Here we present comparisons between these organizations’ management of deep-water demersal fisheries, with particular respect to how they have respectively, adopted the suite of available measures for the mitigation of significant adverse impacts (SAIs) upon vulnerable marine ecosystems (VMEs). Each organization was scored against 99 performance criteria that either related to their capacity to implement management measures (“Capacity”); the number and effectiveness of measures they have implemented (“Action”); and the intensity and spatial extent of the activities they regulate (“Need”). For most organizations, action and need scores were proportional, as the more actions an organization takes to reduce risk to VMEs, the more it reduces the scope for improvement. However, comparisons between capacity and action scores indicate that, in some organizations, there remain several aspects of VME impact mitigation that could be improved. In the case of RFBs, or recently established RFMOs, capacity gaps are still considerable, suggesting that these organizations receive additional scientific, technical, legal, and financial support, to ensure that they are able to meet current and future objectives. Further, there is little evidence of significant cooperation between adjacent or overlapping organizations in the development and application of conservation measures, highlighting the need for an agreement on the management of biodiversity, rather than sectors, in ABNJ.
With growing complex and systemic challenges facing the ocean, there is an urgent need to increase the scale and effectiveness of approaches to marine conservation, including protecting and recognizing the value of all of its services. Stronger multi-sector networks of organizations are needed, sharing knowledge and working in unison to create a common narrative for the ocean and the solutions to its protection. In an innovative experiment, the Marine CoLABoration (CoLAB) brings together nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to explore collaboratively how to communicate more effectively. The CoLAB hypothesizes that communicating the full value of the ocean in all its rich diversity connects with people’s deeply held, personal values and leads to more impactful ocean conservation. Through horizon scanning with the wider sector, the CoLAB determines experiment themes to test this hypothesis. These are based predominantly in the United Kingdom and include #OneLess, Agents of Change and We are Ocean. The CoLAB’s work demonstrates that by effectively building and promoting an understanding of the full value of the ocean, it is possible to trigger a wider range of human values to catalyze engagement with marine conservation issues. A joined up, interdisciplinary approach to communicating why the ocean matters, engaging a wide range of actors will be crucial in effecting long term, systemic change for the ocean. The need for greater United Kingdom ocean literacy has also been highlighted across the CoLAB and its experiments and presents an opportunity for further work.
Game theory has been an effective tool to generate solutions for decision making in fisheries involving multiple countries and fleets. Here, we use a coupled bio-economic model based on a Baltic Sea dynamic multispecies food web model called BALMAR and, we compare non-cooperative (NC) and cooperative game (grand coalition: GC) solutions. Applications of game theory based on a food web model under climate change have not been studied before and the present study aims to fill this gap in the literature. The study focuses on the effects of climate variability on the biological, harvest and economic output of the game models by examining two different climate scenarios, a first scenario characterized by low temperature and high salinity and a second scenario by high temperature and low salinity. Our results showed that in the first scenario sprat spawning stock biomass (SSB) and harvest dropped dramatically both in the NC and the GC cases whereas, herring and cod SSBs and harvests were higher compared to a base scenario (BS) keeping temperature and salinity at mean historical levels. In the second scenario, the sprat SSB and the harvest was higher for both GC and NC cases while the cod and the herring SSBs and harvests were lower. The total GC payoffs clearly outperformed the NC payoffs across all scenarios. Likewise, the first and second scenario GC payoffs for countries were higher except for Poland. The findings suggested the climate vulnerability of Baltic Sea multi-species fisheries and these results would support future decision-making processes of Baltic Sea fisheries.
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) emerges as strategic to explain the influences that the ocean, and in particular coastal ecosystems, have on us and how we influence them back. Despite being a term coined several decades ago and being already wide-spread in the scientific community and among policy-makers, the ES concept still lacks recognition among citizens and educators. There is therefore a need to mainstream this concept in formal education and through Ocean Literacy resources. Although important developments in OL were done in the United States, particularly through the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), this concept was only recently introduced in Europe. In Portugal, several informal OL education programs were developed in the last years, yet formal education on OL and, in particular, on ES is still very deficient. To address this limitation, the “Environmental Education Network for Ecosystem Services” (REASE), founded in 2017 in the Algarve region by a consortium of educational, environmental and scientific institutions, aims to increase OL through the dissemination of the perspective of how ES provided by coastal vegetation may contribute to the human well-being. The projects and activities implemented by REASE focus mostly on formal-education of school children and include: (1) capacity building for K-12 teachers, (2) educational programs to support and develop ES projects in schools, including a citizen science project to evaluate blue carbon stocks in the Algarve, (3) the publication of a children’s book about the ES provided by the local Ria Formosa coastal lagoon, with a community-based participatory design (illustrations made by schoolchildren) and (4) a diverse array of informal education activities to raise awareness on the importance of coastal ecosystems on human well-being. REASE challenges are being successfully addressed by identifying threats to local coastal ecosystems that people worry about, and highlighting solutions to improve and maintain their health.
The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals have articulated sustainable development requirements at the international level. SDG14: life below water, has in particular, provided a future pathway for sustainable development of the ocean environment. With the establishment of this global perspective has come a renewed emphasis on the need for global ocean knowledge production. The 2015 First World Ocean Assessment (FWOA), which was produced by the first cycle of the United Nations’ Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, is widely viewed as a primary tool to guiding action on SDG14. This research investigates how effective the FWOA has been at supporting these efforts toward sustainable development of the ocean environment. We use a combination of approaches, including document mining, an internationally distributed survey and semi-structured interviews to better understand the impact of the FWOA as well as the interrelated functioning of the Regular Process’ first cycle. While the FWOA was successful in compiling well accepted and credible ocean information, it was unable to generate the impact on sustainable ocean management activities that had originally been expected of it. Funding restrictions, participation issues and political anxieties seemed to derail the first cycle of the Regular Process from initial recommendations and directed the process into unorthodox operations and substantial political control. With the Second World Ocean Assessment (SWOA) well underway, it is imperative that trust is built and social learning is encouraged between participants in the Regular Process.