Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) have the potential to be an important tool providing low-cost but sufficiently precise mapping products to support environmental management. In this study, we present possible applications of UAVs to map and monitor three representative coastal tropical habitats: mangroves, rocky shores and coral reefs. We conducted UAVs surveys in a Marine Protected Area (MPA) of the tropical eastern Pacific region to investigate the suitability and usefulness of using this tool in a remote area for a variety of management and monitoring purposes. For mangrove ecosystems, we evaluated the potential of UAV-derived data to estimate canopy cover. On an intertidal rocky shore, we evaluated the potential of UAVs to obtain a detailed relative topographic position index that can be used to correlate the distribution patterns of resident and transient fauna. Finally, we compared the standard diver-based coral reef mapping approach used at the MPA with the use of a map produced with the UAV. Our results suggest that the use of UAVs by conservation practitioners in MPAs with diverse habitats, such as in the tropics, is likely to improve the knowledge of the MPAs environments and provide highly detailed information for monitoring helping to understand the nursery function of these inter-connected tropical habitats, at a reduced cost. This tool, therefore, has the potential to support conservation measures in a more effective way.
Mangrove degradation threatens the capacity of these important ecosystems to provide goods and services that contribute to human wellbeing. This study uses a deliberative choice experiment to value non-market mangrove ecosystem services (ES) at Mida Creek, Kenya. The attributes assessed include “shoreline erosion protection”, “biodiversity richness and abundance”, “nursery and breeding ground for fish”, and “education and research”. Unpaid labour (volunteer time) for mangroves conservation was used as the payment mechanism to estimate willingness to pay (WTP). Results suggest that respondents were willing to volunteer: 5.82 h/month for preserving the mangrove nursery and breeding ground functions to gain an additional metric ton of fish; 21.16 h/month for increasing biodiversity richness and abundance; 10.81 h/month for reducing shoreline erosion by 1 m over 25 years; and 0.14 h/month for gaining 100 student/researcher visits/month. The estimation of WTP for mangrove ES provides valuable insights into the awareness of local communities about the contribution of mangrove forests to ES delivery. This knowledge could assist decision-making for the management and conservation of mangroves in Mida Creek and its environs.
The high degree of marine habitat degradation and the depletion of marine resources has led to numerous calls and initiatives to increase the coverage of marine protected areas (MPAs). Currently, marine reserves (no-take areas) cover approximately 2.2% of the world's oceans whilst most calls and targets suggest protection levels should be between 20% and 30% in order to achieve both conservation and resource management objectives. In this study a systematic conservation planning framework was developed using ecological and socio-economic data. This framework was used to test different protection scenarios in Portugal. The current situation in mainland Portugal is alarming, with 0.2% of the waters under national jurisdiction included in MPAs and only 0.002% being marine reserves. Moreover, ecologically important habitats, such as seagrass beds and mäerl beds, have less than 10% of their area protected. The solutions provided by Marxan, and subsequently improved with MinPatch, revealed that there is a need to considerably increase the area under protection. However, adequate protection could be achieved with a number of MPAs (between 5 and 14) similar to the number of already existing MPAs (n = 8). Different stakeholders (artisanal fisheries, industrial fisheries, and other human uses such as oil and gas, and offshore aquaculture) were considered in different scenarios, with the results of the multivariate analysis indicating that there are several solutions that satisfy all stakeholders. Therefore, the results of this study are a valuable starting point for the ongoing implementation process of an MPA network in Portugal since they integrate the most important stakeholders whilst also taking in consideration the ecological aspects. This framework can be applied elsewhere and can be easily amended whenever new information is available.
Beach loss and shoreline retreat caused by sea level rise (SLR) is considered one of the most worldwide significant issues. The Mediterranean coastline of Egypt (approximately 1066 km) is likely to face beach erosion, particularly in the low-lying and sandy coastal areas in the future as a direct response to SLR. Consequently, the projection of future shoreline recession and corresponding beach loss due to SLR using the Bruun rule were investigated to assess the proper impacts of SLR on the shoreline recession and beach loss. In addition, the uncertainties ratios associated with SLR scenarios and sediment sizes were assessed. Furthermore, this study investigated the influence of local land subsidence in combination with SLR scenarios on the shoreline recession and associated beach loss along the Nile Delta coastline. The ensemble-mean regional SLR data included representative concentration pathway (RCP) scenarios and 21 models of the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5 (CMIP5). The projected shoreline retreats and associated average beach loss in the future 2081–2100 were ranged from 12.6 m and 11.3 km2 to 41.9 m and 19.2 km2 for the ensemble-mean SLR RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. The uncertainty caused by the sediment size of 0.15 to 0.35 mm ranged from 17% to 30% for RCP2.6 and RCP8.5, respectively. The projected annual shoreline retreats ranged from 0.36 to 0.65 m/yr for the ensemble-mean SLR in combination with local land subsidence for RCP2.6 and 0.48 to 0.85 m/yr for RCP8.5, respectively. Highly vulnerable areas to shoreline recession for SLR and local land subsidence were detected from EL-Manzala lake to Port Said coastlines, Abo Qir bay, from Rosetta to Damietta promontories, and Alexandria coastline. Thus, shoreline retreat and associated beach loss due to SLR is an urgent issue that should be addressed through the integrated coastal zone management strategies of Egypt.
In a nutshell,
- We used an insurance industry catastrophe model from RMS to quantify the flood reduction benefits of mangroves across Florida
- Annually, across multiple storms, mangroves reduce flood damages by 25.5% to properties behind them in Collier County
- During Hurricane Irma, over 626,000 people living behind mangrove forests saw reduced flooding in census tracts across Florida
- During Hurricane Irma, mangroves averted $1.5 billion in surge-related flood damages to properties; which represents a 25% savings in counties with mangroves
- Every hectare of mangroves with properties behind them provided, on average, $7,500 in risk reduction benefits during Hurricane Irma
The concept of ecosystem‐based fisheries management (EBFM) has been subjected to debate since it was introduced in the late 1990s. The development of the concept seems to follow two separate but simultaneous trajectories of increased popularity but also sustained critique. This paper offers an analysis of potential mechanisms behind these disparate trajectories by drawing on a theoretical framework from science and technology studies (STS) centred around "black box" and actor‐network theory. To support our analysis, we perform an exploratory literature review of how the EBFM concept has been used in a selection of high impact fisheries research papers. We find that the popularity of EBFM does not guarantee its integrity, usefulness or analytical insight, but also that persistent critique of how the concept is used seems to be driving some change. We think that a continued trajectory of increased understanding, contextualization and discernibility of EBFM can help overcome the considerable ambiguity associated with the concept and make it increasingly useful to fisheries management. This means moving away from routine use of the term towards a practicable and tangible approach to improve fisheries sustainability.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are the preferred tool for preventing marine biodiversity loss, as reflected in international protected area targets. Concerns have been raised that opposition from resource users is driving MPAs into low‐pressure areas while high‐use areas remain unprotected, with serious implications for biodiversity conservation. We apply a novel test of the spatial relationships between different pressures on marine biodiversity and protection in the world's MPAs. We find that as pressures from pelagic and artisanal fishing, shipping and introductions of invasive species by ship increase, the likelihood of protection decreases, and this relationship persists under even the most relaxed categories of protection. In contrast, as pressures from dispersed, diffusive sources such as pollution and ocean acidification increase, so does the likelihood of protection. We conclude that MPAs are systematically established in areas where there is low political opposition, limiting the capacity of existing MPAs to manage key drivers of biodiversity loss. We suggest that conservation efforts should focus on biodiversity outcomes rather than prescribing area‐based targets and that alternative approaches to conservation are needed in areas where protection is not feasible.
One of the most robust metrics for assessing the effectiveness of protected areas is the temporal trend in the abundance of the species they are designed to protect. We surveyed coral-reef fish and living hard coral in and adjacent to a sanctuary zone (SZ: where all forms of fishing are prohibited) in the World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Marine Park during a 10-year period. There were generally more individuals and greater biomass of many fish taxa (especially emperors and parrotfish) in the SZ than the adjacent recreation zone (RZ: where recreational fishing is allowed) — so log response ratios of abundance were usually positive in each year. However, despite this, there was an overall decrease in both SZ and RZ in absolute abundance of some taxa by up to 22% per year, including taxa that are explicitly targeted (emperors) by fishers and taxa that are neither targeted nor frequently captured (most wrasses and butterflyfish). A concomitant decline in the abundance (measured as percentage cover) of living hard coral of 1–7% per year is a plausible explanation for the declining abundance of butterflyfish, but declines in emperors might be more plausibly due to fishing. Our study highlights that information on temporal trends in absolute abundance is needed to assess whether the goals of protected areas are being met: in our study, patterns in absolute abundance across ten years of surveys revealed trends that simple ratios of abundance did not.
Fusilier (Pisces: Caesionidae) gillnet, called jaring lalosi, have been used since decades by fishers from Assilulu village, meanwhile its scientific information is limited. The aim of this study is to learn the reef fish species selectivity of jaring lalosi and to assess its bycatch using productivity and susceptibility assessment (PSA). This study was conducted at Pulau Tiga waters, Central Maluku Regency, for 3 months observation: October 2017, February and April 2018. Jaring lalosi which means fusilier gillnet, caught dark-banded fusilier, Pterocaesio tile, 94.4% of the total catch. The rest of the catch we represented as by-catch of jaring lalosi. As a high resilience and low vulnerability species, the sustainability of dark-banded fusilier fisheries is unlikely to be fully concerned. As high mobility schooling species, dark-banded fusilier was caught at different communities of reef fishes. MDS analysis showed discrepancy of species selectivity of fusilier gillnet by monthly catch rate. The PSA for bycatch resulted 2 reef species are least likely to be sustainable, 12 reef species are most likely to be sustainable on the criteria of recovery axis and 3 pelagic species are the most sustainable species. We concluded that the practiced of jaring lalosi has low impacts on reef fish community and tendency to overfishing is almost none as long as there is no increasing on fishing pressure. For the implementation of fisheries management based on ecosystem approach (EAFM), bycatch assessment should be applied to other fishing gears.
The deepening of ocean measurement work requires higher transmission bandwidth and information calculation efficiency, which provides an opportunity for fog computing. Compared to cloud computing, fog computing shows distribution because it concentrates data, processing, and application on devices at the edge of the network. In this paper, the Ocean of Things (OoT) framework is designed for marine environment monitoring based on IoT technology. The OoT is divided into three layers, including data acquisition layer, fog layer, and cloud layer. In the fog layer, in order to complete the quality control of the sensor measurement data, we use the numerical gradient based method to process the original acquisition data. And improved D-S algorithm is designed for multi-sensor information fusion, reducing data capacity and improving data quality. In the cloud layer, we build ocean information change models based on fog layer data to predict the dynamic ocean environment. The designed fog layer is evaluated based on marine multi-sensor information. The results have shown that fog-based multi-sensor data processing shows low time consumption and high reliability. Moreover, this paper uses the real temperature datasets to evaluate the prediction accuracy of the cloud model. Finally, we tested the performance of the designed OoT framework with multiple datasets. The simulation results show that the framework can improve the efficiency of data utilization at sea and improve the efficiency of information utilization.
Tracking data have led to evidence-based conservation of marine megafauna, but a disconnect remains between the many 1000s of individual animals that have been tracked and the use of these data in conservation and management actions. Furthermore, the focus of most conservation efforts is within Exclusive Economic Zones despite the ability of these species to move 1000s of kilometers across multiple national jurisdictions. To assist the goal of the United Nations General Assembly’s recent effort to negotiate a global treaty to conserve biodiversity on the high seas, we propose the development of a new frontier in dynamic marine spatial management. We argue that a global approach combining tracked movements of marine megafauna and human activities at-sea, and using existing and emerging technologies (e.g., through new tracking devices and big data approaches) can be applied to deliver near real-time diagnostics on existing risks and threats to mitigate global risks for marine megafauna. With technology developments over the next decade expected to catalyze the potential to survey marine animals and human activities in ever more detail and at global scales, the development of dynamic predictive tools based on near real-time tracking and environmental data will become crucial to address increasing risks. Such global tools for dynamic spatial and temporal management will, however, require extensive synoptic data updates and will be dependent on a shift to a culture of data sharing and open access. We propose a global mechanism to store and make such data available in near real-time, enabling a holistic view of space use by marine megafauna and humans that would significantly accelerate efforts to mitigate impacts and improve conservation and management of marine megafauna.
Capabilities of remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) have increased substantially in the last decade, and mini-ROV designs are now able to conduct visual research frequently conducted by snorkellers or divers in shallow marine environments. There are logistical, financial and experimental benefits of using mini-ROVs over snorkellers or divers, yet the adoption of mini-ROVs for common shallow underwater research tasks has not been widespread. To assess the capabilities of mini-ROVs to sample fish communities we compared the results produced by a mini-ROV to that of snorkellers for performing two of the most common marine video-based research activities (1) underwater visual fish census and (2) observing and tracking fish behaviour. Results of both activities suggested that the fish community observed by the mini-ROV was not distinguishable to that observed by the snorkellers, however, the mini-ROV detected significantly more fish (39% higher abundance) and greater diversity (24% higher). When tracking butterflyfish behaviour, video obtained from the mini-mini-ROV was as efficient as a snorkeller at finding and tracking individuals. Video from the mini-ROV produced comparable responses to that from snorkellers with hand-held GoPros, although over the course of tracks the response between the two methods differed, with a decrease in refuge time for snorkeller video and an increase in tailbeat rate for the mini-ROV video. Our study shows that video obtained from mini-ROVs can be used for research in shallow marine environments when direct manipulations are not required. We predict the research capabilities of mini-ROVs to increase substantially in the coming years, which should cement the use of this tool for research across all marine environments.
This study explores how geographic information technologies – or geo-technologies – are used in spatial planning processes, and more specifically, marine spatial planning (MSP) processes. MSP has the double advantage of being both fertile ground for a lively epistemological debate on positivism and associated with a unique space (maritime space) that is frequently reduced to a simple planar space. We investigate the role of geo-technologies in MSP processes and in particular, their capacity to reinforce power relationships by aligning spatial representation norms with dominant interests, which are then expressed through zoning. To do this, we have decided to look at the different cases involving fishing activities, given that they are resistant to zoning and infrequently regarded as a priority in MSP. This has required us to propose a method which draws on the actor-network theory and the field of critical cartography. On this basis, we perform an initial analysis of the fishery “inscriptions” produced by geo-technologies, by examining the content of 43 current marine spatial plans from around the globe. We conclude that fisheries are generally not inscribed, or incorrectly inscribed (i.e., data and representation methods are unsuitable), and as a result, fisheries align themselves more often than not “by default”. We go on to discuss the results and suggest a few ways in which dominated interests, including fisheries, can be taken into account more effectively. Aside from fisheries, dominated interests more generally include interests that are either not inscribed or incorrectly inscribed, such as non-commercial “uses” of maritime space, non-use, itinerant activities, or elements not considered as a priority for conservation objectives.
Population studies of marine mammals are costly and time-consuming. Nevertheless, many people are happy to use their own resources to apply similar procedures to those necessary to evaluate dolphin populations in dolphin watching tourism. This offers a unique opportunity to collect sufficient data on dolphins to allow for conservation status evaluation by means of Citizen Science, a trending method. Here we crossed information on which species are targeted by tourism and which were lacking important population and ecology data, returning a list of 16 dolphin species which could benefit from dolphin watching tourism to assemble population data with conservation value. We make the case for engaging tourists and tourism agencies in a citizen science effort to raise data on dolphin species. For that, we offer suggestions for dolphin population analyses applicable by non-scientist personal.
Environmental DNA is increasingly being used in marine invasive species surveillance despite the inability to discriminate between contemporary intracellular (i.e., living) and extracellularly persistent (i.e., legacy) DNA fragments. Environmental RNA is emerging as a powerful alternative when distinguishing the living portion of a community is essential. A positive relationship between DNA and RNA signals may justify the use of DNA only for more rapid and cost-effective detections. In this study environmental DNA and RNA were co-extracted from settlement plates and water samples collected in an Auckland harbor, New Zealand. Samples were analyzed using a specific droplet digital PCR assay for the invasive Mediterranean fanworm (Sabella spallanzanii), combined with metabarcoding of metazoan communities (Cytochrome c oxidase subunit I). The number and magnitude of S. spallanzanii detections was higher in DNA compared to RNA, and in water samples. An assessment of detection sensitivity and specificity using a Receiver Operator Characteristics (ROC) analysis supported a relationship between the magnitude of DNA signal and the likelihood of RNA detection for both sampled matrices. A prediction threshold of 400 COI copies in DNA samples provides an indicator for the detection of eRNA, hence the putative presence of living S. spallanzanii population under the conditions tested in this study. Metabarcoding community analysis revealed the taxonomic composition of the water samples to be more diverse than the plate samples which were largely dominated by mollusks. There was a strong association between mollusks and presumed extracellular droplet digital PCR signals. Nevertheless, droplet digital PCR detection signals based on environmental DNA were negatively correlated with metabarcoding diversity indices on plates. This highlights complex interactions between environmental DNA and RNA detections and environmental matrices that can affect targeted approaches. These interactions need to be considered when designing surveillance programs.
Fresh submarine groundwater discharge (fresh SGD), the efflux of terrestrial groundwater directly into the ocean, is a ubiquitous pathway for nutrient-rich freshwater to coastal ecosystems, altering their hydrography, hydrochemistry, and primary productivity. Yet only little is known about the effects of fresh SGD on the fitness of higher trophic levels such as teleost fish. Otolith analysis revealed that somatic growth rates were significantly higher and settlement to reef habitat took place significantly earlier in juvenile gray demoiselle Chrysiptera glauca exposed to fresh SGD as compared to strictly marine conditions. Contrary to expectations, feeding conditions were comparable in both habitats. We propose that physiologically beneficial environmental conditions brought about by the submarine influx of cold acidic freshwater enabled juvenile fish to exhibit elevated growth rates, thereby increasing their survival potential. This effect would directly link changes in groundwater on land to variations in marine primary and secondary consumer biomass at the coast.
In 2013, South Australia experienced unusually high and variable water temperatures (5°C above the historic average), with a peak sea surface temperature of approximately 27°C over a wide geographic area covering both gulfs and shelf waters. Over the same period and similar geographic area, a prolonged and widespread marine mortality event occurred. From January to May 2013, low level rates of incidental morbidity and mortality of abalone (Haliotis rubra and H. laevigata) and at least 29 fish species were observed. Mortalities were geographically extensive from Port MacDonnell on the South Coast of South Australia to Point Drummond on Eyre Peninsula, and including two gulf systems, spanning approximately 2,900 km of coastline. Mortalities were investigated using gross pathology, histopathology, bacterial culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. Water samples were collected to assess water column nutrient status and phytoplankton biomass levels and community composition. High nutrient concentrations were suggestive of high phytoplankton productivity, with conditions conducive to diatom blooms. A harmful (abrasive) diatom, Chaetoceros coarctatus, was observed in higher concentrations than the historical average. Observed fish mortalities were restricted to a small proportion of the populations and primarily comprised of temperate small-bodied benthic inshore species. Fish histopathology was suggestive of prolonged stress (melanomacrophage aggregation in spleens and kidneys), physical gill damage (focal gill lesions likely caused by C. coarctatus) and lethal bacterial septicaemia. Infectious and notifiable diseases were ruled out in all fish and abalone samples. Abalone mortalities were also restricted to a small proportion of the population with thermal stress a likely contributing factor that resulted in terminal secondary bacterial infections. A marine heatwave event, which promoted blooms of algae, including C. coarctatus, was likely the primary cause of widespread marine mortalities throughout South Australia in 2013. With marine heatwaves projected to increase in frequency, duration and spatial extent, this investigation demonstrated that most at risk will be temperate species in shallow water habitats already at their upper thermal tolerance limits, particularly those with high site fidelity. This should be considered in future climate proofing strategies, including risk and impact assessments underpinning the management of marine resources, fisheries, aquaculture and ecotourism.
The papers in this special issue provide new insights into ongoing research to value coastal and marine ecosystem services, and offer meaningful information for policymakers and resource managers about the economic significance of coastal resources for planning, restoration, and damage assessment. Study areas encompass a broad geographic scope from the Gulf of Mexico in the United States, to the Caribbean, the European Union, Australia, and Southeast Asia. The focus of these papers ranges from theoretical perspectives on linkages between ecosystem services and resource management, to the actual integration of valuation information in coastal and marine resource policy decisions, and to the application of economic valuation methods to specific coastal and marine resource management problems. We hope readers will appreciate these new contributions to the growing literature on coastal and marine resource ecosystem services valuation.
- 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.