Current policy and management for marine water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in north-eastern Australia primarily focusses on sediment, nutrients and pesticides derived from diffuse source pollution related to agricultural land uses. In addition, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are known to be present in the marine environments of the GBR and the adjacent Torres Strait (TS). Current and projected agricultural, urban and industrial developments are likely to increase the sources and diversity of CECs being released into these marine ecosystems. In this review, we evaluate the sources, presence and potential effects of six different categories of CECs known to be present, or likely to be present, in the GBR and TS marine ecosystems. Specifically, we summarize available monitoring, source and effect information for antifouling paints; coal dust and particles; heavy/trace metals and metalloids; marine debris and microplastics; pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs); and petroleum hydrocarbons. Our study highlights the lack of (available) monitoring data for most of these CECs, and recommends: (i) the inclusion of all relevant environmental data into integrated databases for building marine baselines for the GBR and TS regions, and (ii) the implementation of local, targeted monitoring programs informed by predictive methods for risk prioritization. Further, our spatial representation of the known and likely sources of these CECs will contribute to future ecological risk assessments of CECs to the GBR and TS marine environments, including risks relative to those identified for sediment, nutrients and pesticides.
As ocean acidification (OA) sensor technology develops and improves, in situ deployment of such sensors is becoming more widespread. However, the scientific value of these data depends on the development and application of best practices for calibration, validation, and quality assurance as well as on further development and optimization of the measurement technologies themselves. Here, we summarize the results of a 2-day workshop on OA sensor best practices held in February 2018, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, drawing on the collective experience and perspectives of the participants. The workshop on in situ Sensors for OA Research was organized around three basic questions: 1) What are the factors limiting the precision, accuracy and reliability of sensor data? 2) What can we do to facilitate the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) process and optimize the utility of these data? and 3) What sort of data or metadata are needed for these data to be most useful to future users? A synthesis of the discussion of these questions among workshop participants and conclusions drawn is presented in this paper.
The increasing perception that public communication in science and technology is an important tool to create a knowledge society is encouraging numerous public engagement activities. However, too little is known about scientists’ opinions of and attitudes towards the public with whom they interact during these activities, especially in southern European countries such as Spain. If we want to establish an effective dialogue between science and society, we need to be aware of the opinions and perceptions that both parties have of each other. In this study, we address this issue by focusing on 1022 responses to a survey conducted among scientists in Spain to discover their views of the public, and we then compare these responses with data from other national surveys on the public’s understanding of science. The results show that approximately 75% of Spanish scientists think that the general public has a serious lack of knowledge and understanding of scientific reasoning, although scientists do recognize that science interests the public (73%). Scientists believe that the public values the scientific profession to a lesser extent than suggested by public surveys: on a scale of 1–5, survey respondents rate their valuation of the scientific profession at 4.22, whereas scientists rate the public's valuation of the profession at 3.12, on average. Significant differences were detected between scientists’ perceptions of how citizens are informed about science and what citizens report in surveys. The challenge for the future is to narrow this gap in order to help scientists gain a better understanding of the public and their interests and to make public engagement activities more effective.
A wetland is a complex ecosystem with high biodiversity; in some situations, the productivity of a wetland is comparable to those of a rain forest or coral reef. The stability of wetlands is under threat due to human activities. The study area of the work described here was Palo Laziale (Province of Rome), a characteristic Mediterranean woodland and wetland area in central Italy. Agricultural activities and urbanisation have considerably reduced this habitat. The first evidence of stress on the area’s tree species was detected at the end of 1995, and this stress has gradually resulted in the complete collapse of the woodland habitat, with the deaths of more than 4000 individual trees. Physicochemical data, 87Sr/86Sr isotope data and saturation indices have been used to explore the trends in the characteristics of the aquifer over 15 years. We compared geochemical data from 2002 with new data collected in 2010 and 2016, which confirmed the brackish nature of the aquifer. The similarity of the 2010 and 2016 datasets and a comparison of those datasets with the 2002 dataset show that the system is resilient—it strongly buffers modifications without presenting any major alterations in function. The results demonstrate that the application of a hydrogeochemical approach emphasises the strong relationship between the level of wetland exposure and the nature of the wetland area at the monitoring scale applied.
A new method consisting of enrichment factor (EF) determination, nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMS), and the geographic information system (GIS) technique was firstly developed to identify anthropogenic heavy metal sources in marine sediments of Hong Kong. Firstly, the EF was determined to differentiate between heavy metals originating from human and natural sources. Subsequently, NMS was applied to identify various source patterns of heavy metals, and the NMS score was calculated and spatially interpolated using GIS technology to evaluate the spatial influences of anthropogenic impacts in different areas. The concentrations of heavy metals in sediments of Hong Kong substantially exceeded their background values, demonstrating anthropogenic pollution. Two different types of human sources could be identified via NMS, one representing the industrial pollution discharges in the period from the 1960s to the 1980s before pollution control was introduced and one representing sewage discharge before the Tolo Harbour Action Plan in the mid-1980s.
Multi-scale social-ecological systems (SES) approaches to conservation and commons management are needed to address the complex challenges of the Anthropocene. Although SES approaches to monitoring and evaluation are advocated in global science and policy arenas, real-world applications remain scarce. Here, we describe the first operationalization and implementation of Ostrom’s influential SES framework for monitoring practice across multiple countries. Designed to inform management aimed at sustaining coral reefs and the people that depend on them, we developed our SES monitoring framework through a transdisciplinary process involving academics and practitioners with expertise in social and ecological sciences. We describe the SES monitroing framework, including how it operationalizes key insights from the SES and program evaluation literatures, and demonstrate how insights from its implementation in more than 85 communities in four countries (Fiji, Indonesia, Kenya and Madagascar) are informing decision-making at multiple levels. Responding to repeated calls for guidance on applying SES approaches to monitoring and management practice, we outline the key steps of the transdisciplinary development of the framework and lessons learnt. Therefore, our work contributes to bridging the gap between SES science and commons management practice through not only providing an SES monitoring framework that can be readily applied to coral reefs and other commons, but also through demonstrating how to operationalize SES approaches for real-world monitoring and management practice.
This study examined the carriage of antibiotic resistance in bacteria isolated from Food-related Marine Macroplastic Litter (FRMMPL) around the coastline of Northern Ireland. FRMMPL was collected from 18 coastal sites during November/December 2018 and the bacteria from the surface of the plastic examined for their susceptibility to 10 common human antibiotics. Ten bacterial genera and 13 species were identified from the plastic materials. Bacteria isolated from plastic material were most resistant to the beta-lactam antibiotics (ampicillin, ceftazidime and cefpodoxime) (98.1% resistant) and least resistant to the tetracycline group, minocycline (16.1% resistant). This study is significant as it highlights a new potential route of dispersal of such antibiotic-resistance in the environment, which may act as carriers of such bacteria by introducing them into new marine ecosystems, as well as potential pathways having impacts on animal and human health, until their final interaction with the human foodchain.
This paper investigates the livelihood situation of small-scale coastal fisherfolk in the Western Region of Ghana. This paper is one of the first studies focusing on coastal spatial mobility strategies to improve living standards adopted by fisherfolk in sub-Saharan Africa. It examines how fisherfolk livelihoods have been affected by the extraction and production of oil. The study further explores the various livelihood strategies deployed by fisherfolk to avoid decrease fish catch. A mixed- methods approach made up of 400 fisherfolk households survey and 42 interviews with stakeholders in the fisheries and the petroleum industries were conducted. The study shows that fisherfolk in the Western Region of Ghana are under high socioeconomic vulnerability because of decreased fish catch and declining coastal livelihoods. The spatial restriction of fishers’ mobility offshore, the destruction and confiscation of fishing gear, the presence of seaweed in the ocean, and the lack of land opportunities are some of the key petroleum-induced stressors on fisheries livelihoods. The various in situ marine-based adaptation strategies deployed by fisherfolk, especially illegal light fishing and fishing around oil rigs, are unsustainable and are counterproductive in the rebuilding of depleted marine fish stocks.
Sandstone reefs may be considered a unique geomorphologic feature within the subtropical Southwestern Atlantic Ocean region; however, biodiversity on these reefs has received little to no attention. Herein, we recorded the fish assemblage and benthic cover of sandstone reefs between 23 and 29 m depth in Southern Brazil and evidenced potential threats to habitat health. Video analysis and underwater censuses recorded 30 fish species. The unexpected high biomass of Epinephelus marginatus indicated that sandstone reefs may contain suitable habitats for the recovery of this endangered species. A rich benthic coverage including bryozoans, algae, hydrozoans, sponges, and octocorals increased local habitat structural complexity. However, a wide diversity of tangled fishing gear and broken sandstone slabs suggested that a valuable feature from Southern Brazil seascape is being lost by cumulative fishing impacts. An extensive mapping of sandstone reefs is urgently needed for better delineation of marine protected areas network in Southeast and Southern Brazil.
In the process of marine resource development and marine environmental protection, the government supervises the production behavior of enterprises; enterprises accept government supervision; and non-profit organizations supervise the process. On this basis, a conceptual model of the relationship between government, enterprises, and non-profit organizations is established, and the internal mechanism governing their interactions is analyzed. Using game theory, a simulation model of government, enterprises, and non-profit organizations is constructed, and a Nash equilibrium solution and strategy selection analysis are carried out. The correlation between the game participants and strategy selection is simulated and analyzed with MATLAB 7 software. Lastly, relevant countermeasures and suggestions are put forward to engender effective supervision by government departments, continuous environmental development and effective environmental protection of enterprises, and effective supervision by non-profit organizations. Studying the regulatory strategies of the government, enterprises, and non-profit organizations can provide a foundation for marine resource development and marine environmental protection policy in accordance with the current situation.
The sustainable management of flats fishing requires establishing limits on the number of boats as its demand continues to grow. This study integrated different techniques to determine the carrying capacity in a recreational fishery: optimum boating density, visual fish census, geographic information system, fishing guides interviews and decision theory. The optimum boating density was based on the effective fishing area (EFA) and on the optimum density. The EFA represented 36% of the bay and was calculated from 53 fishing trips tracked with GPS data loggers. The data were analyzed in a geographic information system that incorporated the effect of the winds on the fish behavior. The maximum number of boats was calculated under four scenarios: northern winds, eastern winds, south-eastern winds and calm winds. The optimum density (average = 1.2 Km2, SD = 0.5) was obtained from anglers' statements. The decision theory results showed that the maximum number of boats under wind variability could be up to 89 boats in the fishery.
Ice arches in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago (CAA) block the inflow of Arctic Ocean ice for the majority of the year. A 22‐year record (1997‐2018) of Arctic Ocean‐CAA ice exchange was used to investigate the effect of warming on CAA sea ice dynamics. Larger ice area flux values were associated with longer flow duration and faster ice speed facilitated by increased open water leeway from the CAA's transition to a younger and thinner ice regime, that together have contributed to a significant ice area flux increase (103 km2/year) from Arctic Ocean into the northern CAA from 1997‐2018. Remarkably, the 2016 Arctic Ocean ice area flux into the CAA (161x103 km2) was 7 times greater than the 1997‐2018 average (23x103 km2) and almost double the 2007 ice area flux into Nares Strait (87x103 km2). Continued warming may result in the CAA becoming a larger outlet for Arctic Ocean ice area loss.
The Protocol on Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty stipulates that the protection of the Antarctic environment and associated ecosystems be fundamentally considered in the planning and conducting of all activities in the Antarctic Treaty area. One of the key pollutants created by human activities in the Antarctic is noise, which is primarily caused by ship traffic (from tourism, fisheries, and research), but also by geophysical research (e.g., seismic surveys) and by research station support activities (including construction). Arguably, amongst the species most vulnerable to noise are marine mammals since they specialize in using sound for communication, navigation and foraging, and therefore have evolved the highest auditory sensitivity among marine organisms. Reported effects of noise on marine mammals in lower-latitude oceans include stress, behavioral changes such as avoidance, auditory masking, hearing threshold shifts, and—in extreme cases—death. Eight mysticete species, 10 odontocete species, and six pinniped species occur south of 60°S (i.e., in the Southern or Antarctic Ocean). For many of these, the Southern Ocean is a key area for foraging and reproduction. Yet, little is known about how these species are affected by noise. We review the current prevalence of anthropogenic noise and the distribution of marine mammals in the Southern Ocean, and the current research gaps that prevent us from accurately assessing noise impacts on Antarctic marine mammals. A questionnaire given to 29 international experts on marine mammals revealed a variety of research needs. Those that received the highest rankings were (1) improved data on abundance and distribution of Antarctic marine mammals, (2) hearing data for Antarctic marine mammals, in particular a mysticete audiogram, and (3) an assessment of the effectiveness of various noise mitigation options. The management need with the highest score was a refinement of noise exposure criteria. Environmental evaluations are a requirement before conducting activities in the Antarctic. Because of a lack of scientific data on impacts, requirements and noise thresholds often vary between countries that conduct these evaluations, leading to different standards across countries. Addressing the identified research needs will help to implement informed and reasonable thresholds for noise production in the Antarctic and help to protect the Antarctic environment.
The accumulation patterns of floating marine litter (FML) in the Black Sea and the stranding locations on coasts are studied by performing dedicated Lagrangian simulations using freely available ocean current and Stokes drift data from operational models. The low FML concentrations in the eastern and northern areas and the high concentrations along the western and southern coasts are due to the dominant northerlies and resulting Ekman and Stokes drift. No pronounced FML accumulation zones resembling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are observed at time scales from months to a year. The ratio of circulation intensity (measured by the sea level slope) to the rate of the temporal variability of sea level determines whether FML will compact. This ratio is low in the Black Sea, which is prohibitive for FML accumulation. It is demonstrated that the strong temporal variability of the velocity field (ageostrophic motion) acts as a mixing mechanism that opposes another ageostrophic constituent of the velocity field (spatial variability in sea level slope, or frontogenesis), the latter promoting the accumulation of particles. The conclusion is that not all ageostrophic ocean processes lead to clustering. The short characteristic stranding time of ∼20 days in this small and almost enclosed basin explains the large variability in the total amount of FML and the low FML concentration in the open ocean. The predominant stranding areas are determined by the cyclonic general circulation. The simulated distribution of stranded objects is supported by available coastal and near-coastal observations. It is shown that the areas that were the most at risk extend from the Kerch Strait to the western coast.
Worldwide fisheries management has been undergoing a paradigm shift from a single-species approach to ecosystem approaches. In the United States, NOAA has adopted a policy statement and Road Map to guide the development and implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). NOAA’s EBFM policy supports addressing the ecosystem interconnections to help maintain resilient and productive ecosystems, even as they respond to climate, habitat, ecological, and social and economic changes. Managing natural marine resources while taking into account their interactions with their environment and our human interactions with our resources and environment requires the support of ecosystem science, modeling, and analysis. Implementing EBFM will require using existing mandates and approaches that fit regional management structures and cultures. The primary mandate for managing marine fisheries in the United States is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Many tenets of the Act align well with the EBFM policy, however, incorporating ecosystem analysis and models into fisheries management processes has faced procedural challenges in many jurisdictions. In this paper, we review example cases where scientists have had success in using ecosystem analysis and modeling to inform management priorities, and identify practices that help bring new ecosystem science information into existing policy processes. A key to these successes is regular communication and collaborative discourse among modelers, stakeholders, and resource managers to tailor models and ensure they addressed the management needs as directly as possible.
Snapper and grouper are important fisheries resources, with high commercial value and an important role in the livelihoods and food security of many local communities worldwide. However, the status of many snapper and grouper fisheries is unknown, particularly in the cases of small-scale fisheries in developing countries. The main goals of this work are to provide an overview of the current status and trends of these resources and to find alternative sources of information that could be used to determine the status of snapper and grouper fisheries, as well as other data-limited fisheries. Several complementary approaches were explored, including determination of the status of snapper and grouper fisheries based on FAO assessment criteria, analysis of landings time-series trends, and investigation of whether other variables could be used as proxies for fishery status. About half of these fisheries were classified as overexploited, 30% as non-fully exploited and 19% as fully exploited. The FAO landings data indicated that the number of overexploited fisheries has been increasing over the years and that the majority of these fisheries are in transition between the fully exploited and overexploited statuses. The Human Development Index emerged as a potential proxy for the status of the biomass. The multinomial modeling approach explained about 44% of the variability observed in the biomass stock status classification data and indicated a high level of correspondence between original and estimated status, which makes this approach very attractive for application to other data-limited fisheries.
The increasing use of tracking devices, such as the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and the Automatic Identification System (AIS), have allowed, in the last decade, detailed spatial and temporal analyses of fishing footprints and of their effects on environments and resources. Nevertheless, tracking devices usually allow monitoring of the largest length classes composing different fleets, whereas fishing vessels below a regulatory threshold (i.e., 15 m in length-over-all) are not mandatorily equipped with these tools. This issue is critical, since 36% of the vessels in the European Union (EU) fleets belong to these “hidden” length classes. In this study, a model [namely, a cascaded multilayer perceptron network (CMPN)] is devised to predict the annual fishing footprints of vessels without tracking devices. This model uses information about fleet structures, environmental characteristics, human activities, and fishing effort patterns of vessels equipped with tracking devices. Furthermore, the model is able to take into account the interactions between different components of the fleets (e.g., fleet segments), which are characterized by different operating ranges and compete for the same marine space. The model shows good predictive performance and allows the extension of spatial analyses of fishing footprints to the relevant, although still unexplored, fleet segments.
Marine reserves are an important management tool for conserving local biodiversity and protecting fragile ecosystems such as seagrass that provide significant ecological functions and services to people and the marine environment. With humans placing ever-growing pressure on seagrass habitats, marine reserves also provide an important reference from which changes to seagrass and their ecological assemblages may be assessed. After eight years of protection of seagrass beds (Posidonia australis) in no-take marine reserves (Sanctuary Zones) within the Jervis Bay Marine Park (New South Wales, Australia; zoned in 2002), we aimed to assess what changes may have occurred and assess continuing change through time in fish assemblages within these seagrass meadows. Using baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs), we sampled seagrass fish assemblages at three locations in no-take zones and five locations in fished zones three times from 2010 to 2013. Overall, we observed a total of 2615 individuals from 40 fish species drawn from 24 families. We detected no differences in total fish abundance, diversity, or assemblage composition between management zones, although we observed a significant increase in Haletta semifasciata, a locally targeted fish species, in no-take marine reserves compared with fished areas. Fish assemblages in seagrass varied greatly amongst times and locations. Several species varied in relative abundance greatly over months and years, whilst others had consistently greater relative abundances at specific locations. We discuss the potential utility of marine reserves covering seagrass habitats and the value of baseline data from which future changes to seagrass fish populations may be measured.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have emerged as a valuable tool in biodiversity conservation and fisheries management. However, the effective use of MPAs depends upon the successful integration of social and ecological information. We investigated relationships between the social system structure of coastal communities alongside biological data describing the status and trends in fish communities around Yap, Micronesia. Traditional marine tenure made Yap an ideal place to investigate the underlying principles of social-ecological systems, as communities own and manage spatially-defined coastal resources. Analysis of social survey data revealed three social regimes, which were linked to corresponding gradients of ecological outcomes. Communities with decentralized decision-making and a preference for communal forms of fishing had the greatest ecological outcomes, while communities lacking any form of leadership were linked to poor ecological outcomes. Interestingly, communities with strong top-down leadership were shown to have variable ecological outcomes, depending on the presence of key groups or individuals. We last investigated whether social perception could successfully predict the status of fish assemblages within non-managed reefs. Several biological metrics of fish assemblages within non-managed areas were significantly predicted by a gradient of human access, suggesting social perception could not predict the growing human footprint over the study period. These findings highlight the potentially overlooked role that community-oriented decision-making structures and fishing methods could play in successful conservation efforts, and the limitations of perception data. Policies that promote communal marine resource use offer a novel approach to improve fisheries management and promote social-ecological resilience.
An assessment of quantity, composition and seasonal variation of fishing-related plastic debris was conducted in six beaches along the Kerala coast of India during 2017–2018. Plastic items were the most dominant type of waste constituting 73.8% by number and 59.9% by weight. In the total debris recorded, 5540 pieces (36%) weighing 198.4 kg (39.8%) were fishing related trash. On an average 14.4 ± 12 fishing related items/100 m2, corresponding to mean weight of 0.55 ± 0.7 kg/100 m2 was recorded from these beaches. Results indicated that the fishing-related plastic items were concentrated four times more in the beaches with higher fishing intensity, as compared to the other beaches. Also, the concentration of fishing-related plastic was recorded higher in the post-monsoon season compared to the lowest during monsoon, which was significant with p-value < 0.05. The results emphasize the role of fishing activities in the generation of marine litter.