Marine spatial planning (MSP) has become the most adopted approach for sustainable marine governance. While MSP has transformative capacity, evaluations of its implementation illustrate large gaps between how it is conceptualised and how it is practiced. We argue that these gaps arise from MSP being implemented through post-political processes. Although MSP has been explored through post-political lenses, these evaluations are incomplete and do not provide sufficient detail about the complex nature of the post-political condition. Drawing on seminal literature, we conceptualise the post-political as consisting of highly interconnected modalities of depoliticisation, including: neoliberalism; choreographed participation; path dependency; technocratic-managerialism; and the illusion of progressive change. Using these modalities as an analytical framework, we evaluate English MSP and find that it focuses on entrenching neoliberal logic through: tokenistic participation; wholescale adoption of path-dependent solutions; obstructionist deployment of inactive technological solutions; and promising progressive change. We do not, however, view the post-political condition as unresolvable and we develop a suite of suggestions for the re-politicisation of MSP which, collectively, could form the basis for more radical forms of MSP.
Small-scale fisheries constitute an important component of coastal human societies. The present study describes the small-scale net fisheries on Kalymnos Island (south-east Aegean Sea) that harbors the largest small-scale fleet in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In addition, this study aims to evaluate their characteristics and economics. Relevant métiers were identified through a multivariate analysis by inputting the main resources and fishing gear data that were recorded during landings. Four main practices were observed being used as fishing gears, gillnets and trammel nets, targeting the species Mullus barbatus, Boops boops, Mullus surmuletus, Scorpaena porcus, and Sepia officinalis. Further analysis, which incorporated data concerning the type of the gear used, revealed 11 distinct métiers. Most of these métiers are practiced by other Mediterranean small-scale fisheries as well, in terms of target species, gear and seasonality. However, the métier that had its target species as B.boops is not practiced in other Mediterranean small-scale fisheries. The seasonal rotation of métiers was determined by the availability of different species rather than their market price. The results revealed the difference in fishing practice used by the fishermen in the study area compared to other fishing practices in the Mediterranean Sea. In particular, the fishermen of this study area targeted more species (B.boops) with a very low market price. They also provided essential information for the development and implementation of management plans aiming at the sustainability of small-scale fisheries.
In the Anthropocene, marine ecosystems are rapidly shifting to new ecological states. Achieving effective conservation of marine biodiversity has become a fast-moving target because of both global climate change and continuous shifts in marine policies. How prepared are we to deal with this crisis? We examined EU Member States Programs of Measures designed for the implementation of EU marine policies, as well as recent European Marine Spatial Plans, and discovered that climate change is rarely considered operationally. Further, our analysis revealed that monitoring programs in marine protected areas are often insufficient to clearly distinguish between impacts of local and global stressors. Finally, we suggest that while the novel global Blue Growth approach may jeopardize previous marine conservation efforts, it can also provide conservation opportunities. Adaptive management is the way forward (e.g. preserving ecosystem functions in climate change hotspots, and identifying and targeting climate refugia areas for protection) using Marine Spatial Planning as a framework for action, especially given the push for Blue Growth.
Designing effective policy interventions to motivate mitigation actions requires more realistic assumptions about human decision-making based on empirical evidence from the behavioural sciences. We therefore need to consider behavioural rather than only economic costs and benefits in policy intervention designs.
Bioluminescence is a prominent functional trait used for visual communication. A recent quantification showed that in pelagic ecosystems more than 75% of individual macro-planktonic organisms are categorized as able to emit light. In benthic ecosystems, only a few censuses have been done, and were based on a limited number of observations. In this study, our dataset is based on observations from remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives conducted from 1991–2016, spanning 0–3,972 m depth. Data were collected in the greater Monterey Bay area in central California, USA and include 369,326 pelagic and 154,275 epibenthic observations at Davidson Seamount, Guide Seamount, Sur Ridge and Monterey Bay. Because direct observation of in situ bioluminescence remains a technical challenge, taxa from ROV observations were categorized based on knowledge gained from the literature to assess bioluminescence status. We found that between 30–41% of the individual observed benthic organisms were categorized as capable of emitting light, with a strong difference between benthic and pelagic ecosystems. We conclude that overall variability in the distribution of bioluminescent organisms is related to the major differences between benthic and pelagic habitats in the deep ocean. This study may serve as the basis of future investigations linking the optical properties of various habitats and the variability of bioluminescent organism distributions.
Numerical modeling efforts in support of restoration and protection activities in coastal Louisiana have traditionally been conducted externally to any stakeholder engagement processes. This separation has resulted in planning- and project-level models built solely on technical observation and analysis of natural processes. Despite its scientific rigor, this process often fails to account for the knowledge, values, and experiences of local stakeholders that often contextualizes a modeled system. To bridge this gap, a team of natural and social scientists worked directly with local residents and resource users to develop a participatory modeling approach to collect and utilize local knowledge about the Breton Sound Estuary in southeast Louisiana, USA. Knowledge capture was facilitated through application of a local knowledge mapping methodology designed to catalog local understanding of current and historical conditions within the estuary and identify desired ecological and hydrologic end states. The results of the mapping endeavor informed modeling activities designed to assess the applicability of the identified restoration solutions. This effort was aimed at increasing stakeholder buy-in surrounding the utility of numerical models for planning and designing coastal protection and restoration projects and included an ancillary outcome aimed at elevating stakeholder empowerment regarding the design of nature-based restoration solutions and modeling scenarios. This intersection of traditional science and modeling activities with the collection and analysis of traditional ecological knowledge proved useful in elevating the confidence that community members had in modeled restoration outcomes.
Aquaculture of bivalve shellfish and seaweed represents a global opportunity to simultaneously advance coastal ecosystem recovery and provide substantive benefits to humanity. To identify marine ecoregions with the greatest potential for development of shellfish and seaweed aquaculture to meet this opportunity, we conducted a global spatial analysis using key environmental (e.g., nutrient pollution status), socioeconomic (e.g., governance quality), and human health factors (e.g., wastewater treatment prevalence). We identify a substantial opportunity for strategic sector development, with the highest opportunity marine ecoregions for shellfish aquaculture centered on Oceania, North America, and portions of Asia, and the highest opportunity for seaweed aquaculture distributed throughout Europe, Asia, Oceania, and North and South America. This study provides insights into specific areas where governments, international development organizations, and investors should prioritize new efforts to drive changes in public policy, capacity-building, and business planning to realize the ecosystem and societal benefits of shellfish and seaweed aquaculture.
The outputs that result from the formal procedures of public policies are objective indicators that drive their progress. In this paper we have used four indicators of Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) that reflect the institutional capacity of each country: Policy, Regulations, Institutions and Instruments. The results are mostly heterogeneous in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC). Some countries have been working towards ICZM for several decades whereas others are lagging behind. In this article the 26 LAC countries have been grouped into four different levels of ICZM progress over the previous two decades: Pre-Initial, Initial, Transition and Development. The results from this classification exercise allow us to state that the majority of countries are in the two lowest levels, with only nine countries in a better situation.
The 2019 results have been compared with those obtained in a similar exercise done almost two decades ago. This comparison allows us to observe the progress, setbacks or stagnation of certain countries. Precisely because the situation detected is heterogeneous, the possibility of cooperation between more advanced and less advanced countries in LAC for ICZM can be considered. South-South cooperation also facilitates taking advantage of the regional fact that they are countries with a shared history, culture and language.
Geographic isolation is an important yet underappreciated factor affecting marine reserve performance. Isolation, in combination with other factors, may preclude recruit subsidies, thus slowing recovery when base populations are small and causing a mismatch between performance and stakeholder expectations. Mona Island is a small, oceanic island located within a partial biogeographic barrier—44 km from the Puerto Rico shelf. We investigated if Mona Island’s no-take zone (MNTZ), the largest in the U.S. Caribbean, was successful in increasing mean size and density of a suite of snapper and grouper species 14 years after designation. The La Parguera Natural Reserve (LPNR) was chosen for evaluation of temporal trends at a fished location. Despite indications of fishing within the no-take area, a reserve effect at Mona Island was evidenced from increasing mean sizes and densities of some taxa and mean total density 36% greater relative to 2005. However, the largest predatory species remained rare at Mona, preventing meaningful analysis of population trends. In the LPNR, most commercial species (e.g., Lutjanus synagris, Lutjanus apodus, Lutjanus mahogoni) did not change significantly in biomass or abundance, but some (Ocyurus chrysurus, Lachnolaimus maximus), increased in abundance owing to strong recent recruitment. This study documents slow recovery in the MNTZ that is limited to smaller sized species, highlighting both the need for better compliance and the substantial recovery time required by commercially valuable, coral reef fishes in isolated marine reserves.
Transboundary fish stocks complicate sustainable fishing strategies, particularly when stakeholders have diverse objectives and regulatory and governance frameworks. Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) in the California Current is shared by up to three fishing nations— Canada, the United States, and Mexico—and climate-driven abundance and distribution dynamics can complicate cooperative fisheries, leading to overfishing. This study builds on previous analyses by integrating ecosystem linkages into a game theory model of transboundary sardine fisheries under various climate scenarios. Cooperative fishing strategies that account for the ecosystem-wide value of sardine as forage for other species result in increased economic benefits compared to strategies that only account for the single-species value of sardine fisheries to a given fishing country. Total ecosystem landed value is maximized at a sardine fishing rate only somewhat lower than sardine FMSY, which is more precautionary but still allows the fishery to operate. Incorporating ecosystem dynamics into management-applicable models can highlight ways in which ecosystem-based fisheries management can improve both sustainability and profitability and help managers prioritize wider ecological research. Ecosystem-based management will be increasingly required to understand and adapt to the observed rapid shifts in species distributions due to climate change, and to design strategies to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries amidst changing ecosystems.
Large marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly being established to contribute to global conservation targets but present an immense challenge for managers as they seek to govern human interactions with the environment over a vast geographical expanse. These challenges are further compounded by the remote location of some MPAs, which magnify the costs of management activities. However, large size and remoteness alone may be insufficient to achieve conservation outcomes in the absence of critical management functions such as environmental monitoring and enforcement. The Australian subantarctic Heard Island and McDonald Islands (HIMI) Marine Reserve is among the world’s most remote MPAs with notoriously harsh oceanographic conditions, and yet the region’s rich mammal and fish resources have been exploited intermittently since the mid-1800s. More recently, the development of lucrative international markets for Patagonian toothfish, sold as Chilean seabass, led to the growth in both legal and illegal fishing. In 2002, to conserve the unique ecology and biodiversity in the area, Australia declared a 65,000 km2 MPA around HIMI. Worldwide, government agencies have, however, struggled to develop cost-effective institutional arrangements for conservation. This paper therefore draws upon the social-ecological systems meta-analysis database (SESMAD) to characterize the structure of conservation governance and outcomes in the HIMI Marine Reserve. The Marine Reserve has generally been successful in supporting a sustainable fishery while addressing threats to biodiversity. The remote and isolated nature of the Marine Reserve was critical to its success, but also benefited greatly from collaborations between managers and the fishing industry. Commercial fishers keep watch over the Reserve while fishing, report any observations of illegal fishing (none since 2006/07), and have at times been asked to verify remote observation of potential illegal fishing vessels. The industry also undertakes annual ecological surveys in the MPA, allowing managers to track environmental trends. The fishing industry itself highlights the importance of industry participation in conservation planning, strengthened by secure access to resources via statutory fishing rights, which provide critical incentives to invest in conservation. We therefore reflect on the potential application of this case to other remote large MPAs, highlighting potential directions for future research.
Spatiotemporal dynamics of ecosystems can challenge the pertinence of Marine Protected Area (MPA) planning. Seasonal environmental changes are extreme in polar regions, however MPA planning in East Antarctica relies mostly on species' summer distribution only. Thirteen Adélie penguins were tracked from Ile des Pétrels (Terre Adélie), and their seasonal distribution and behaviour were compared to the proposed “D'Urville Sea-Mertz” MPA. During the phase of high food-demand preceding moult, penguins used mostly (68.4%) this proposed area. However, following autumnal sea ice extension, penguins migrated north-westwards: overall, 73% of their locations were outside the MPA proposal, and this was up to >99% during winter (in July), the season when penguins maximized their dive depth and time (August and September, respectively). This study thus supports the proposal of implementing a “krill no-take zone” policy in this MPA, in line with the pre-moult foraging of these krill predators in this area. Further protection of the year-round habitats of migratory Adélie penguins could be achieved by inter-connecting the East Antarctic MPA proposals along the ice edge during winter, thereby mirroring the ecosystem's seasonal dynamics.
This paper addresses the question: to what extent do insights from smaller, nearshore marine protected areas (MPAs) regarding the importance of participatory processes apply to large and remote MPAs (LMPAs)? To date there has been little empirical research about stakeholder participation in LMPA designation processes outside of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park context. Through an analysis of documents and 90 interviews collected by two independent research projects, this paper examines the designation process of a U.S. LMPA, the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument (MTMNM), which was established in the waters of the U.S. territories of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (CNMI) and Guam through a presidential proclamation under the U.S. Antiquities Act in 2009. Results indicate that overall the designation process for the Monument did not cohere with recommendations from nearshore MPA research about the importance of participation and transparency. Despite widespread support for conservation in that space, the proposed Monument was highly controverial. Stakeholders on all sides of the issue – advocates and opponents alike – expressed criticisms of the designation process. Concerns were related to the speed and perceived top-down nature of the process, the involvement of external entities, and the appropriateness of the process design for the local CNMI context. Data collected showed that much of the opposition to the Monument stemmed from how the process was conducted, rather than opposition to conservation. These findings suggest that a more participatory, collaborative, transparent, and culturally appropriate designation process might have achieved a similar conservation outcome while reducing conflict and enduring resentment. We derive six lessons learned from the MTMNM designation process that may be useful for LMPAs globally. Results suggest that key lessons from conventional MPAs about effective consultation and participation processes can apply to LMPAs, but also that new guidance is needed to account for the unique features of LMPAs.
Cumulative anthropogenic activities in coastal regions are a major threat to their marine biodiversity. The consideration of coastal marine areas as social-ecological systems (CMSESs) can be useful for marine biodiversity conservation. This integrative approach incorporates social information that can link anthropogenic activities to marine biodiversity, providing opportunities for improving conservation policies tailored to the specific reality of the CMSESs. Here, we assessed the beta and alpha diversity of the shallow littoral fish communities present in the Andalusian CMSESs and explored how they relate to socioeconomic and marine environmental variables. We used underwater visual surveys to estimate the fish abundance data needed to calculate the alpha and beta diversity of the fish species. We quantified the species and functional beta diversity using abundance-based data. We also quantified species richness index as indicators of species alpha diversity, and functional evenness as indicators of functional alpha diversity. We found that the association of marine environmental and socioeconomic variables with biodiversity varied with CMSES. Empirical inclusion of biodiversity in social-ecological systems research of marine and coastal areas can provide insights on human-nature dynamics. This can contribute to design more effective marine biodiversity conservation programs that consider both the socioeconomic and marine environmental characteristics of each CMSES.
Microplastic pollution is a growing cause of concern for the marine environment, particularly in the Mediterranean Sea, which is considered to be one of the most polluted seas worldwide. In this study, the gastrointestinal tracts of 102 bogues (Boops boops), sampled from three areas off the Catalan coast (Spain) subject to different degrees of industrialization, were analysed to assess microplastic ingestion and thus estimate local levels of microplastic pollution. Microplastics were detected in 46% of samples analysed. As expected, the abundance and frequency of occurrence of ingested microplastics were higher off the most anthropized area of Barcelona. The majority of ingested microplastics were blue fragments ranging 0.1–0.5 mm, and the most common polymer type was polypropylene. The results of this study indicate the area off Barcelona as a possible area of concentration for microplastics, further supporting the use of B. boops as a bioindicator to assess microplastic pollution.
The Ocean Climate Indicators Project, developed for the Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS), yielded the first set of physical and biological ocean climate indicators specifically developed for the north-central California coast and ocean region, which extends from Point Arena to Point Año Nuevo and includes the ocean shorelines of the San Francisco metropolitan area. This case study produced a series of physical and biological indicator categories through a best professional judgment (BPJ) process with an interdisciplinary group of over 50 regional research scientists and marine resource managers from a wide range of state and federal agencies, NGOs, and universities. A working group of research scientists and marine resource managers used this set of ocean climate indicators to develop the Ocean Climate Indicators Monitoring Inventory and Plan. The Plan includes monitoring goals and objectives common for eight physical and four biological indicators; specific goals for each indicator; monitoring strategies and activities; an inventory of available monitoring data; opportunities for expanding or improving existing or new monitoring approaches; and case studies with specific examples of the indicators’ utility for natural resource management and basic scientific research. Beyond developing indicators that support effective science-based management decisions, this scalable process established and strengthened mutually beneficial connections between scientists and managers, resulting in indicators that had broad support of project participants, were quickly adopted by the GFNMS, and could be used by managers and scientists from this region and beyond.
The thermal microenvironments of corals is a topic of current interest given their relationship to coral bleaching. We present computational fluid dynamics (CFD) model of corals with both smooth and rugged polyp surface topographies for two species of massive corals (Leptastrea purpurea and Platygyra sinensis) in order to predict their microscale surface warming. This study explores whether variation in polyp depth (PD) may directly effect a coral overall surface area-to-volume (A/V) ratio and consequently its surface warming. Validation of our models was made against detailed laboratory measurements of coral surface warming and thermal boundary layer thickness. Our results suggested that while differences in surface warming exist between smooth surfaces and surfaces covered in micro-polyps (5 mm depth), the variation in terms of surface warming is small (∼0.18–0.19∘C) and it can be largely attributed to increasing A/V ratios. Our results demonstrated good agreement with measurements of surface temperatures on living corals and that ignoring the presence of polyps by modelling heat transfer associated with a smooth surface makes no material difference to the values obtained or the interpretation of the processes leading to surface warming.
This article describes a 10 year regional ocean reanalysis of the western Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from 2006-2015. Here we use the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) at 4 km resolution and EnOI (Ensemble Optimal Interpolation) data assimilation. We also account for river freshwater discharge at the coast using hydrological stream gauge observations. The system appears to constrain features of the deep ocean circulation that are important for cross-shelf exchanges such as the spatio-temporal locations of mesoscale eddies and boundary currents. Accuracy is evaluated with forecast innovation errors respecting available observations. A four-dimensional climatological atlas of water mass properties and currents, respresenting 10 years of synthesis between model and data is then presented. This illustrates seasonal and climatic processes driving changes in the region, such as the El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its influence on sea temperature and freshwater flux to the shelf from rivers. On the shelf where dense observation coverage is limited to satellite sea surface temperature (SST), we find where SST forecast errors are low and correlations between SST and bottom temperatures are significant and take this as a reliable predictor of bottom temperatures. Differences and correlations outside these parameters suggest areas where measurement of bottom temperature is likely to be important for a long-term and comprehensive monitoring and prediction system. The reanalysis provides a realistic physical and dynamic picture of the ocean at its given resolution that may be ammenable to a variety of marine and environmental studies.
Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing has been identified by the UN as one of the seven major threats to global maritime security; it causes loss of economic revenue, severe environmental damage, and far-reaching livelihood implications for coastal communities. Indonesia, by far the biggest archipelagic state, faces enormous challenges in all aspects of IUU fishing and addressing those is one of the current Indonesian Government's top priorities. This article addresses the under-researched dimension of how IUU fishing affects fishing communities. With the use of collage making focus groups with fishermen from different Indonesian fishing communities, the research highlights the interrelated environmental (depletion of resources), socio-economic (unbridled illegal activities at sea), cultural (favouritism) and political (weak marine governance) dimensions of IUU fishing as experienced at the local level. However, the research also indicates a strong will by fishermen to be seen as knowledge agents who can help solve the problem by better dissemination of information and cooperation between the local government(s) and the fishing communities. The article concludes by arguing for the involvement of local fishing communities in national and international policy making that addresses IUU fishing.
The historical lack of fishers’ participation in decision making had led to weak fishing management and explains the meagre results achieved so far in conserving marine resources. European Commission recommends greater participation by fishers in the decision-making process so that adopted measures will better reflect local circumstances. It should be easier to introduce co-management measures in fisheries that have a tradition of cooperative behaviour among groups of fishers, as is generally the case in the small-scale fishing sector. This paper studies how small-scale Galician fishers view greater participation in the decision-making process. The results show that fishermen are clearly in favour of increased participation—through their guilds and, to a lesser extent, alongside trade unions, producer organizations, and scientists. The results show that fishers also favour moving toward co-management on such issues as participating in the establishment of regulating mechanisms, monitoring compliance with fishing rules, and demarcating areas for sport fishing.