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.
Frequent upwelling of deep, cold water, rich in dissolved inorganic nutrients and carbon dioxide but low in oxygen concentrations and pH, is well documented in eastern boundary systems. As a consequence, waters in vast areas of the continental shelf can turn corrosive to the mineral aragonite, vital to a number of marine organisms. This phenomenon is projected to become more severe with ongoing ocean acidification. Although upwelling is also known to occur in western boundary systems, the impact on present day aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) is virtually unknown, let alone for the decades to come. Here we identified 32 events during 18 weeks of continuous measurements in Cape Byron Marine Park, Australia, with prolonged drops in ocean temperature of up to 5°C, oxygen concentrations by 34%, pH by 0.12 and Ωarag by 0.9 in a matter of hours. Temperature, salinity and oxygen saturation during these events hint at a water mass from 200 to 250 m depth off the Central East Australian shelf. Extrapolating present day upwelling to a preindustrial setting shows that ongoing ocean acidification has already lead to the crossing of a number of biological and geochemical Ωarag thresholds. The future intensity of these events critically depends on carbon dioxide emission scenario, and might be even more pronounced in the Great Barrier Reef where current day shelf associated waters carry a stronger deep water signal (based on oxygen levels) than at the study location. Finally, the proposed use of artificially upwelled water to cool increasingly temperature-stressed coral reef communities will need to take its unique carbonate chemistry properties into account.
Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, and the production of plastic continues to rise steadily. Plastic represents a diverse array of commonly used synthetic polymers that are extremely useful as durable, economically beneficial alternatives to other materials; however, despite the wide-ranging utility of plastic, the increasing accumulation of plastic waste in the environment has had numerous detrimental impacts. In particular, plastic marine debris can transport invasive species, entangle marine organisms, and cause toxic chemical bioaccumulation in the marine food web. The negative impacts of plastic waste have motivated research on new ways to reduce and eliminate plastic. One unique approach to tackle the plastic waste problem is to turn to nature’s solutions for degrading polymers by leveraging the biology of naturally occurring organisms to degrade plastic. Advances in metagenomics, next generation sequencing, and bioengineering have provided new insights and new opportunities to identify and optimize organisms for use in plastic bioremediation. In this review, we discuss the plastic waste problem and possible solutions, with a focus on potential mechanisms for plastic bioremediation. We pinpoint two key habitats to identify plastic-biodegrading organisms: (1) habitats with distinct enrichment of plastic waste, such as those near processing or disposal sites, and (2) habitats with naturally occurring polymers, such as cutin, lignin, and wax. Finally, we identify directions of future research for the isolation and optimization of these methods for widespread bioremediation applications.
Fisheries are constrained by ecosystem productivity and management effectiveness. Climate change is already producing impacts on marine ecosystems through overall changes in habitats, productivity and increased variability of environmental conditions. The way how these will affect fisheries is under debate and, also there is uncertainty on the best course of action to mitigate climate change impacts on fisheries. Harvest control rules are sets of pre-agreed rules that can be used to determine catch limits periodically and describe how harvest is automatically controlled by management in relation to the state of some indicator of stock status. In 2017, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas adopted a harvest control rule for North Atlantic albacore. This harvest control rule was evaluated using Management Strategy Evaluation against the main sources of uncertainty inherent to this fishery. Here, we used the same framework to evaluate the robustness of the adopted rule against two types of potential climate change impacts on North Atlantic albacore dynamics. First, we evaluated how the control rule would perform in the event of overall changes in productivity in the North Atlantic and second, against increases in climate driven recruitment variability. Overall, our results suggest that the adopted harvest control rule is robust to these climate driven impacts and also suggests bounds at which the current management framework would be vulnerable to climate change. Throughout the manuscript we also discuss the potential of harvest control rules and harvest strategies to adapt fisheries management to a changing environment. Our main conclusion is that despite the many uncertainties on climate impacts on fisheries, efficient fisheries management and HCRs will be critical to ensure the sustainability of fisheries in the future.
- A holistic approach to stakeholder participation is emerging where youth are increasingly being recognized as core stakeholders in community‐based conservation efforts.
- A growing number of youth‐focused marine conservation initiatives and representation at international marine conservation conventions demonstrate that youth are taking an active role in marine conservation worldwide.
- This paper surveys current best practices in youth engagement in marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada, across 10 different engagement strategies. These are: facilitate learning through experiential education; include studies of MPAs in academic and community programmes; utilize multimedia opportunities, including social media, film, website, and apps; provide meaningful volunteer opportunities; deliver professional development sessions for youth initiative building; create youth councils to assist organizations in an advisory role; hire youth for employment in internships, co‐ops and junior positions within organizations; showcase young people as Youth Ambassadors of MPAs; share opportunities through effective outreach and promotion; and, integrate under‐represented perspectives in MPAs.
- Recommendations are drawn from the case studies within each engagement strategy. Collectively, they offer insight into the variety of ways the international community can support, highlight and advance youth participation in MPAs.
- The Government of Canada has committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, which includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
- Aichi Target 11 indicates that countries are to conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, by 2020.
- In 2015 Canada affirmed its commitment to the 10% target, and also committed to an interim target to protect 5% of coastal and marine areas by the end of 2017. The interim target was met in October 2017 through a combination of federal and provincial marine protected areas (MPAs) and fisheries area closures that qualify as other effective area‐based conservation measures (OECMs), which are referred to domestically as marine refuges.
- In 2016 the Government of Canada set out a five‐point plan for achieving its marine conservation targets, which includes finishing what was started, protecting large offshore areas, protecting areas under pressure, advancing OECMs and establishing MPAs faster.
- Key challenges that the Government of Canada faces in meeting its 2020 marine conservation target include balancing socio‐economic impacts with the need to conserve biodiversity and sustain ecosystem health and ensuring meaningful engagement with partners and stakeholders in a short period of time.
- Once Canada has met its 2020 marine conservation target it will continue to advance ongoing marine conservation initiatives, most notably the development of a national conservation network, and seek to ensure effective long‐term conservation through the management, monitoring and enforcement of established MPAs and OECMs.
- Marine protected areas face numerous conflicts associated with the implementation of conservation measures. These conflicts generate costs, prevent progress, make cooperation between stakeholders difficult and create risks of ineffectiveness.
- Although they are often concealed or circumvented, they also offer opportunities for new connections and collective innovation. Rather than leaving them to these kinds of avoidance strategies, conflicts were the subject of a Knowledge Café event at the Fourth International Marine Protected Area Congress to compare the perspectives of managers, decision‐makers and scientists on dealing with conflict.
- This contribution presents the conceptual framework for discussions during and after the Fourth International Marine Protected Area Congress and the operational and research avenues they open up.
- Cross‐referencing the results of this collective approach and research contributions makes it possible to characterize the diversity and complexity of conflicts in marine protected areas and the driving forces behind them and analyse resolution strategies. Instead of avoidance strategies, the causes and consequences of the idea of understanding and valuing conflicts is explored, along with operational approaches to achieving this.
- The expansion of surfing as a multibillion‐dollar industry and sport has, on the one hand, increased awareness about threats posed to marine and coastal environments, but has also brought growing acknowledgement of the environmental, cultural and economic value that surfing provides. This has been accompanied by a growing movement of surfers and related stakeholders (e.g. communities and manufacturers that rely on the surf tourism and industry for income) that seek to protect surf breaks. This paper argues that certain emblematic surf breaks should be protected not only for their value to surfers, but also for the ecosystem services they provide and other benefits for marine conservation.
- Through a series of case studies from Peru, Chile and the USA, the paper discusses how, in areas where there is significant biodiversity or iconic seascapes, surf breaks can be integrated with marine conservation. Suggestions are given regarding the International Union for Conservation of Nature categories of protected areas that are most appropriate for such cases.
- The paper also explores how, in certain cases, several existing surf‐break protection mechanisms could qualify as other effective area‐based conservation measures, including Chile's proposed TURF–surf model, the international World Surfing Reserves, and Peru's Ley de Rompientes. In this way, certain surf‐break protection mechanisms could help contribute to countries' progress towards achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11.
- Overall benefits of marine conservation groups and surfers joining forces are discussed, including how this can help reduce negative impacts of the sport on natural ecosystems.
- Ancient Hawaiians developed sophisticated natural resource management systems that included various forms of spatial management.
- The state of Hawaiʻi established its first legislated marine protected area (MPA) in 1953, and today there exists a patchwork of spatial marine management strategies along a range of sizes, with varying levels of governance, enforcement, and effectiveness.
- Approximately 12% of waters within the 50 m depth contour and 5% of waters within state jurisdiction (≤3 nmi) have some form of marine management. No‐take areas make up <0.5% of nearshore waters, and combined with highly protected areas account for 3.4% of this habitat. Most of the existing MPAs are small, with a median area of 1.2 km2 (confidence interval 0.2–8.1).
- Twenty‐five datasets, representing 1,031 individual surveys conducted throughout Hawaiʻi since 2000, were used to compare fish assemblage characteristics amongst a subset of MPAs using a regulation‐based protection classification scheme.
- Fully and highly protected areas had significantly greater resource fish biomass than areas with intermediate or low protection did. High human population density adjacent to MPAs had a negative influence on fish trophic structure within MPAs, whereas remote MPAs harboured higher fish biomass. Complex and heterogeneous habitats were important contributors to MPA effectiveness.
- Long‐term monitoring of select MPAs showed mixed and complex trajectories. Resource fish biomass increased after the establishment of the Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District in 1967 but plateaued after ~15 years, followed by changes in assemblage structure from fish feeding and invasive species. The Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, established in 1983, was expanded sevenfold in 2003 and showed dramatic increases in resource fish biomass following increased protection.
- This information is critical to improving effectiveness of existing MPAs, helping inform ongoing efforts to implement a network of MPAs statewide, and aiding in the development of comprehensive statewide marine spatial planning.