Anthropogenic noise is a known threat to marine mammals. Decades of research have shown that harbor porpoises are particularly sensitive to anthropogenic noise, and geographic displacement is a common impact from noise exposure. Small, localized populations may be particularly vulnerable to impacts associated with displacement, as animals that are excluded from their primary habitat may have reduced foraging success and survival, or be exposed to increased threats of predation or bycatch. Seal bombs are underwater explosives used in purse seine fisheries to deter marine mammals during fishery operations. Pinnipeds are believed to be the primary target for seal bomb use, however there may be indirect impacts on harbor porpoises. Active purse seine fishing using seal bombs in the greater Monterey Bay area may, at times, span the entire range of the Monterey Bay harbor porpoise stock, which may lead to negative impacts for this population. In this contribution, we review anthropogenic noise as a threat to harbor porpoises, with a focus on the potential for impacts from seal bomb noise exposure in the Monterey Bay region.
Local availability of yellowfin tuna, Thunnus albacares, is a key economic, dietary and cultural concern for Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI) communities and insular fisheries. Consequently, interactions of inshore vs. offshore fisheries and connectivity to yellowfin elsewhere in the Pacific remain important scientific management questions. Local fisheries target adult tuna during the summer months, but subsequent tuna movements, presumably away from the islands after reproduction ceases, remain undocumented. From 2014 to 2016, we partnered with local fishermen to catch and release nineteen yellowfin tuna (41–91 kg, estimated whole weight) off Kaua'i, with popup satellite archival tags programmed for 9–12-month missions. Although data collection periods did not exceed 59 days mainly because of tag hardware failures and predator interactions, short tracks revealed diverse patterns: local residency for some individuals, and rapid, long-distance (>800 km) dispersals in multiple directions for others. Adult yellowfin tuna frequenting the MHI have more complex movements than previously assumed. Despite being a nursery area, whether the assemblage is entirely produced and retained in the region is not resolved. However, attaining 1-year migration records requires tag performance that was not achieved by the deployed tags. It remains a prerequisite for greater understanding of yellowfin in the Main Hawaiian Islands and Central North Pacific, including assessment of their spatial connectivity, impacts of climate change, and shifting ecosystems.
Evaluating how wildlife conservation laws are implemented is critical for safeguarding biodiversity. Two agencies, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service (FWS and NMFS; Services collectively), are responsible for implementing the U.S. Endangered Species Act (ESA), which requires federal protection for threatened and endangered species. FWS and NMFS’ comparable role for terrestrial and marine taxa, respectively, provides the opportunity to examine how implementation of the same law varies between agencies. We analyzed how the Services implement a core component of the ESA, section 7 consultations, by objectively assessing the contents of >120 consultations on sea turtle species against the requirements in the Services’ consultation handbook, supplemented with in-person observations from Service biologists. Our results showed that NMFS consultations were 1.40 times as likely to have higher completeness scores than FWS consultations given the standard in the handbook. Consultations tiered from an FWS programmatic consultation inherited higher quality scores of generally more thorough programmatic consultations, indicating that programmatic consultations could increase the quality of consultations while improving efficiency. Both agencies commonly neglected to account for the effects of previous consultations and the potential for compounded effects on species. From these results, we recommend actions that can improve quality of consultation, including the use of a single database to track and integrate previously authorized harm in new analyses and the careful but more widespread use of programmatic consultations. Our study reveals several critical shortfalls in the current process of conducting ESA section 7 consultations that the Services could address to better safeguard North America’s most imperiled species.
Knowledge of people's understanding of environmental problems is vital for the effective implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine management. This is especially relevant when conservation goals are aimed at ecosystems in the deep-sea that are remote to the consciousness of most people. This study explores public perceptions of the deep-sea environment among the Scottish and Norwegian public. It further analyses the relationships between respondents' pro-environmental concerns toward the marine environment and personal characteristics using a multiple indicators multiple causes model. The results show that public knowledge of the deep-sea environment is low for Scottish and moderate for Norwegians. Awareness of cold-water corals was high for the Lofoten case study area amongst the Norwegian public and low for the Mingulay reef complex in the Scottish case. These differences might arise because Norway is known to host the world's largest cold-water corals in the Lofoten area; a fact that has been well-publicized. We find that most people think changes in the deep-sea have at least some effect on them. On average, the public perceive the deep-sea condition to be at most “fairly good” but are dissatisfied with the management of it with approximately only one third or less thinking it is well-managed. Generally, the public perception from both countries show ecocentric attitudes toward the marine environment implying that they recognize the value of ecosystem services, the current ecological crisis and the need for sustainable management.
Most Atlantic salmon mariculture operations use open sea cages for the grow out phase. The ultimate fate and effects of the effluents and the possibilities of disease transfer between fish farms are major concerns for farmers, governance and the general public alike. Numerical model systems applied to studying and managing effluents and disease transfer in mariculture must realistically resolve the hydrodynamics in the vicinity of the fish farms. In the present study, the effects of the aquaculture structures on the current patterns were introduced in the ocean model system SINMOD. The drag parameters for the ocean model were determined by comparing the simulation results from the ANSYS Fluent ® software suite and SINMOD in an idealized channel setting with uniform currents. The model was run for a number of realistic scenarios in high horizontal resolution (∼30 m) with sea cages influencing the flow field. Comparisons between extensive current measurements and the simulation results showed that the model system reproduced the current local current field well. By running simulation scenarios with and without the effects of the sea cages on the flow field, it was possible to assess the importance of such effects for numerical dispersal models and aquaculture environment interactions simulations and hence for assessment of environmental impacts.
Coral reefs are biologically diverse and structurally complex ecosystems, which have been severally affected by human actions. Consequently, there is a need for rapid ecological assessment of coral reefs, but current approaches require time consuming manual analysis, either during a dive survey or on images collected during a survey. Reef structural complexity is essential for ecological function but is challenging to measure and often relegated to simple metrics such as rugosity. Recent advances in computer vision and machine learning offer the potential to alleviate some of these limitations. We developed an approach to automatically classify 3D reconstructions of reef sections and assessed the accuracy of this approach. 3D reconstructions of reef sections were generated using commercial Structure-from-Motion software with images extracted from video surveys. To generate a 3D classified map, locations on the 3D reconstruction were mapped back into the original images to extract multiple views of the location. Several approaches were tested to merge information from multiple views of a point into a single classification, all of which used convolutional neural networks to classify or extract features from the images, but differ in the strategy employed for merging information. Approaches to merging information entailed voting, probability averaging, and a learned neural-network layer. All approaches performed similarly achieving overall classification accuracies of ~96% and >90% accuracy on most classes. With this high classification accuracy, these approaches are suitable for many ecological applications.
Globally, groupers (Epinephelidae) that form fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) are highly vulnerable to overfishing and often require site-specific approaches to management. Over 5-years (2009–2013), we conducted underwater visual censuses (UVC) at a well-known spawning site at Njari Island, Gizo, Western Province, Solomon Islands, that supports aggregations of squaretail coralgrouper (Plectropomus areolatus), camouflage grouper (Epinephelus polyphekadion) and brown-marbled grouper (E. fuscoguttatus). Findings show that while there were species-specific variations in the duration and timing of the spawning season, aggregation densities peaked from March to June, representing the main spawning season for all three species. For P. areolatus, gonad analysis from samples taken from 2008 to 2011 confirmed reproductive activity in support of density trends observed through UVC. Over the 5-year UVC monitoring period, FSA densities declined for P. areolatus and E. polyphekadion. Conversely, following the first year of monitoring, E. fuscoguttatus densities increased. These inter-specific differences may reflect variable responses to fishing as shown elsewhere, or for example, differences in recruitment success. In response to known declines in FSAs of these species, in 2018 the Solomon Islands government placed a nationwide ban on these species’ harvest and sale between October and January. As this study shows, this ban does not encompass the peak aggregation period at Njari and will offer limited protection to other FSAs of these species that are known to vary in reproductive seasonality across the Solomon Islands. A more biologically meaningful and practical management strategy would be to implement a nationwide ban on the harvest and sale of these groupers each month between full and new moons when these FSAs form consistently throughout the country. Since effective management of FSAs typically requires a combined approach, spatial management that protects both spawning sites and reproductive migratory corridors is warranted.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) metabarcoding is an increasingly popular method for rapid biodiversity assessment. As with any ecological survey, false negatives can arise during sampling and, if unaccounted for, lead to biased results and potentially misdiagnosed environmental assessments. We developed a multi-scale, multi-species occupancy model for the analysis of community biodiversity data resulting from eDNA metabarcoding; this model accounts for imperfect detection and additional sources of environmental and experimental variation. We present methods for model assessment and model comparison and demonstrate how these tools improve the inferential power of eDNA metabarcoding data using a case study in a coastal, marine environment. Using occupancy models to account for factors often overlooked in the analysis of eDNA metabarcoding data will dramatically improve ecological inference, sampling design, and methodologies, empowering practitioners with an approach to wield the high-resolution biodiversity data of next-generation sequencing platforms.
Hurricanes pose an increasing threat to coastal environments as the intensity and severity of hurricanes are predicted to increase under the changing climate. Coastal wetlands are effective nature-based defenses of coastal cities against storms. However, the ecosystems themselves are also susceptible to the impacts of hurricanes, which are highly complex and not fully understood. Here we utilize multi-decadal satellite data archives (Landsat 1984–2014 and MODIS 2005–2015) and long-term coast-wide field-based environmental data (1978–2018) to investigate the impacts of hurricanes Katrina (2005), Gustav (2008), and Isaac (2012) on the coastal marshes in Louisiana, USA, where the hurricanes made landfall. While the hurricanes had immediate impacts on the marshes’ biomass and area at an ecosystem scale, general recovery was observed in the next one and two years. We also found that the most severe damage always occurred in the intermediate and brackish marshes of the Breton Sound basin, where the nitrogen concentration in the water was significantly higher compared to areas with less damage (P < 0.01). Because excess nutrient can reduce the marshes' root growth and degrade their root mat, we posit that the long-term nutrient enrichment in the area, which resulted from the diverted Mississippi River water, has increased the marshes’ susceptibility to hurricanes. The results highlight the resilience of coastal marsh ecosystems against hurricanes, but also underline the profound synergistic effects of climatic and anthropogenic factors on the sustainability of coastal ecosystems, which have important implications for coastal management under the current climate trend.
Fisheries management should account for the tradeoffs associated with regulatory options to minimize unintended consequences and undue impacts on stakeholder communities. Importantly, these assessments necessitate the inclusion of the perceptions of resource users to help anticipate consequences. While stakeholder involvement is a central tenet in federal fisheries management, managers are faced with many challenges such as those associated with collecting perspectives from diverse groups and the potential biases associated with public testimony. Here we demonstrate the strength of a collaborative approach to generating social information from a commercial fishing cooperative (i.e., an association) by partnering with the Pollock Conservation Cooperative, a fishing cooperative for the Bering Sea pollock Catcher/Processor fleet in Alaska. To understand how the fleet may respond to hypothetical regulatory and environmental changes, we collaboratively designed a survey and applied a novel participant-selection strategy that focused on personnel involved in decision-making at the corporate and vessel levels. Our findings revealed that respondents from separate companies and with different performance histories had different perceptions, suggesting that broad fleet-level analyses are critical for management strategy evaluations that seek to understand the impacts of environmental change and regulatory decisions on a fishery. As such, establishing lines of applied sociological research could benefit from a collaborative approach that accounts for the fishery's organizational structure.
Fisheries industries produce wastewater as by-product. Based on preliminary surveys, there is no integrated wastewater management in the Southern Coast of Jember Regency where the centre fisheries industry was taken place. This study aims to find areas that are potentially polluted by fisheries industries wastewater and offer the information for planning integrated wastewater management in the coastal area of Jember Regency. We collected primary and secondary data about fish processing production and the impact of wastewater for environment. The results were analysed descriptively and potentially polluted areas were mapped with Arc-Gis software. The study area involves two sub-districts, Puger and Ambulu sub-district. Surveys conducted to 16 fisheries industries showed that 81.25% of them discharged the untreated wastewater into the stream directly. Wastewater disposal into the stream not only cause pollution in water bodies but also cause pollution in the Indian Ocean.
Ecosystem-based management requires an assessment of the cumulative effects of human pressures and environmental change. The operationalization and integration of cumulative effects assessments (CEA) into decision-making processes often lacks a comprehensive and transparent framework. A risk-based CEA framework that divides a CEA in risk identification, risk analysis and risk evaluation, could structure such complex analyses and facilitate the establishment of direct science-policy links. Here, we examine carefully the operationalization of such a risk-based CEA framework with the help of eleven contrasting case studies located in Europe, French Polynesia, and Canada. We show that the CEA framework used at local, sub-regional, and regional scales allowed for a consistent, coherent, and transparent comparison of complex assessments. From our analysis, we pinpoint four emerging issues that, if accurately addressed, can improve the take up of CEA outcomes by management: 1) framing of the CEA context and defining risk criteria; 2) describing the roles of scientists and decision-makers; 3) reducing and structuring complexity; and 4) communicating uncertainty. Moreover, with a set of customized tools we describe and analyze for each case study the nature and location of uncertainty as well as trade-offs regarding available knowledge and data used for the CEA. Ultimately, these tools aid decision-makers to recognize potential caveats and repercussions of management decisions. One key recommendation is to differentiate CEA processes and their context in relation to governance advice, marine spatial planning or regulatory advice. We conclude that future research needs to evaluate how effective management measures are in reducing the risk of cumulative effects. Changing governance structures takes time and is often difficult, but we postulate that well-framed and structured CEA can function as a strategic tool to integrate ecosystem considerations across multiple sectorial policies.
The ingestion of plastics appears to be widespread throughout the animal kingdom with risks to individuals, ecosystems and human health. Despite growing information on the location, abundance and size distribution of plastics in the environment, it cannot be assumed that any given animal will ingest all sizes of plastic encountered. Here, we use published data to develop an allometric relationship between plastic consumption and animal size to estimate the size distribution of plastics feasibly ingested by animals. Based on more than 2000 gut content analyses from animals ranging over three orders of magnitude in size (lengths 9 mm to 10 m), body length alone accounts for 42% of the variance in the length of plastic an animal may ingest and indicates a size ratio of roughly 20:1 between animal body length and the largest plastic the animal may ingest. We expect this work to improve global assessments of plastic pollution risk by introducing a quantifiable link between animals and the plastics they can ingest.
Decompression sickness (DCS) was first diagnosed in marine turtles in 2014. After capture in net fisheries, animals typically start showing clinical evidence of DCS hours after being hauled on-board, often dying if untreated. These turtles are normally immediately released without any understanding of subsequent clinical problems or outcome. The objectives of this study were to describe early occurrence and severity of gaseous embolism (GE) and DCS in marine turtles after incidental capture in trawl gear, and to provide estimates of on-board and post-release mortality. Twenty-eight marine turtles were examined on-board fishing vessels. All 20 turtles assessed by ultrasound and/or post-mortem examination developed GE, independent of season, depth and duration of trawl and ascent speed. Gas emboli were obvious by ultrasound within 15 minutes after surfacing and worsened over the course of 2 hours. Blood data were consistent with extreme lactic acidosis, reduced glomerular filtration, and stress. Twelve of 28 (43%) animals died on-board, and 3 of 15 (20%) active turtles released with satellite tags died within 6 days. This is the first empirically-based estimate of on-board and post-release mortality of bycaught marine turtles that has until now been unaccounted for in trawl fisheries not equipped with turtle excluder devices.
Coastal flood risks are rising rapidly. We provide high resolution estimates of the economic value of mangroves forests for flood risk reduction every 20 km worldwide. We develop a probabilistic, process-based valuation of the effects of mangroves on averting damages to people and property. We couple spatially-explicit 2-D hydrodynamic analyses with economic models, and find that mangroves provide flood protection benefits exceeding $US 65 billion per year. If mangroves were lost, 15 million more people would be flooded annually across the world. Some of the nations that receive the greatest economic benefits include the USA, China, India and Mexico. Vietnam, India and Bangladesh receive the greatest benefits in terms of people protected. Many (>45) 20-km coastal stretches particularly those near cities receive more than $US 250 million annually in flood protection benefits from mangroves. These results demonstrate the value of mangroves as natural coastal defenses at global, national and local scales, which can inform incentives for mangrove conservation and restoration in development, climate adaptation, disaster risk reduction and insurance.
In this white paper, we seek to clarify the definition and role of conservation finance to show how important its mechanisms and strategies are for addressing the underlying causes of nature loss as well as contributing to increasing sustainable funding flows to nature conservation. This white paper is intended to improve understanding of the opportunities and challenges posed by the field of conservation finance. The paper emphasizes a holistic approach to conservation finance and seeks to support a more harmonized comprehension going forward. Secondly, the white paper provides several conceptual frameworks to facilitate an understanding of the various concepts associated with conservation finance. Finally, the white paper presents a taxonomy of conservation finance strategies and mechanisms.
The white paper defines conservation finance as “mechanisms and strategies that generate, manage, and deploy financial resources and align incentives to achieve nature conservation outcomes.”
Reef organisms influence microorganisms within the surrounding seawater, yet the spatial and temporal dynamics of seawater microbial communities located in proximity to corals are rarely investigated. To better understand reef seawater microbial community dynamics over time and space, we collected small-volume seawater samples during the day and night over a 72 hour period from three locations that differed in spatial distance from 5 Porites astreoides coral colonies on a shallow reef in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands: near-coral (sampled 5 cm horizontally from each colony), reef-depth (sampled 2 m above each colony) and surface seawater (sampled 1 m from the seawater surface). At all time points and locations, we quantified abundances of microbial cells, sequenced small subunit rRNA genes of bacterial and archaeal communities, and measured inorganic nutrient concentrations. Prochlorococcus and Synechococcus cells were consistently elevated at night compared to day and these abundances changed over time, corresponding with temperature, nitrite, and silicate concentrations. During the day, bacterial and archaeal alpha diversity was significantly higher in reef-depth and near-coral seawater compared to the surface seawater, signifying that the reef influences the diversity of the seawater microorganisms. At night, alpha diversity decreased across all samples, suggesting that photosynthesis may favor a more taxonomically diverse community. While Prochlorococcus exhibited consistent temporal rhythmicity, additional taxa were enriched in reef seawater at night compared to day or in reef-depth compared to surface seawater based on their normalized sequence counts. There were some significant differences in nutrient concentrations and cell abundances between reef-depth and near-coral seawater but no clear trends. This study demonstrates that temporal variation supersedes small-scale spatial variation in proximity to corals in reef seawater microbial communities. As coral reefs continue to change in benthic composition worldwide, monitoring microbial composition in response to temporal changes and environmental fluctuations will help discern normal variability from longer lasting changes attributed to anthropogenic stressors and global climate change.
After 20+ years as a research scientist, I recently made a career change to a scientific administrator in NOAA Fisheries. Part of the NOAA Fisheries mission is to provide scientific advice for fisheries using ecosystem based approaches to management. Where I used to see fisheries science as a relatively straightforward discipline, I now recognize fisheries as a complex socio-ecological system that spans natural and social sciences. With this recognition has come an appreciation for the concept of wicked problems and for the incremental approach to policy-making. Here I describe my perspectives before and after this recognition and present 10 lessons for myself as a guide to providing science in support of fisheries management.
Although climate change is altering the productivity and distribution of marine fisheries, climate-adaptive fisheries management could mitigate many of the negative impacts on human society. We forecast global fisheries biomass, catch, and profits to 2100 under three climate scenarios (RCPs 4.5, 6.0, 8.5) and five levels of management reform to (1) determine the impact of climate change on national fisheries and (2) quantify the national-scale benefits of implementing climate-adaptive fisheries reforms. Management reforms accounting for shifting productivity and shifting distributions would yield higher catch and profits in the future relative to today for 60–65% of countries under the two least severe climate scenarios but for only 35% of countries under the most severe scenario. Furthermore, these management reforms would yield higher cumulative catch and profits than business-as-usual management for nearly all countries under the two least severe climate scenarios but would yield lower cumulative catch for 40% of countries under the most severe scenario. Fortunately, perfect fisheries management is not necessary to achieve these benefits: transboundary cooperation with 5-year intervals between adaptive interventions would result in comparable outcomes. However, the ability for realistic management reforms to offset the negative impacts of climate change is bounded by changes in underlying biological productivity. Although realistic reforms could generate higher catch and profits for 23–50% of countries experiencing reductions in productivity, the remaining countries would need to develop, expand, and reform aquaculture and other food production sectors to offset losses in capture fisheries. Still, climate-adaptive management is more profitable than business-as-usual management in all countries and we provide guidance on implementing–and achieving the benefits of–climate-adaptive fisheries reform along a gradient of scientific, management, and enforcement capacities.
Under climate change, species composition and abundances in high-latitude waters are expected to substantially reconfigure with consequences for trophic relationships and ecosystem services. Outcomes are challenging to project at national scales, despite their importance for management decisions. Using an ensemble of six global marine ecosystem models we analyzed marine ecosystem responses to climate change from 1971 to 2099 in Canada’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) under four standardized emissions scenarios. By 2099, under business-as-usual emissions (RCP8.5) projected marine animal biomass declined by an average of −7.7% (±29.5%) within the Canadian EEZ, dominated by declines in the Pacific (−24% ± 24.5%) and Atlantic (−25.5% ± 9.5%) areas; these were partially compensated by increases in the Canadian Arctic (+26.2% ± 38.4%). Lower emissions scenarios projected successively smaller biomass changes, highlighting the benefits of stronger mitigation targets. Individual model projections were most consistent in the Atlantic and Pacific, but highly variable in the Arctic due to model uncertainties in polar regions. Different trajectories of future marine biomass changes will require regional-specific responses in conservation and management strategies, such as adaptive planning of marine protected areas and species-specific management plans, to enhance resilience and rebuilding of Canada’s marine ecosystems and commercial fish stocks.