The framework proposed by Ostrom (2009) has become one of the most utilized tools to address the complexity of social-ecological systems. Most cases use this framework to analyze the systems from the perspective of a single resource unit. However, the livelihoods in several coastal communities are diverse, so that the users interact with multiple common-pool resources, which makes their analysis difficult. In this sense, it is important to identify the key elements of management to achieve the sustainable use of the resources. In this study, we were able to do this in a coastal community where commercial fishing, ecotourism, and recreational fishing coexist. The system of interest, located in the state of Quintana Roo, Mexico, was subdivided by resource type using a multi-method approach to data collection including surveys, interviews, and records review. A conceptual map was developed that shows how the second-tier variables are integrated through the governance and actors with the biophysical system. The actors involved in lobster fishing achieved a more complex governance system, followed by the ecotourism and recreational fishing; the complexity of the governance was related with the equity level of the actors. The analysis revealed the research gaps to develop management strategies and improve the sustainability of the system.
Microplastic fibers represent a significant share of the global marine micrcroplastic pollution, particularly in coastal areas. In controlled laboratory experiments, we offered fluorescent microplastic fibers (40–4400 μm lengths, median 150 μm) and spherical microplastic beads (9.9 μm Ø) together with commercial fish food to the Atlantic ditch shrimp Palaemonetes varians. The shrimps ingested fibers and beads along with the food. Upon ingestion, the beads and the shortest fibers (up to 100 μm) passed from the stomach into the gut and were egested within the fecal strings. The longer fibers first remained in the stomach but were regurgitated, i.e. extruded through the esophagus, within 12–14 h. Regurgitation is an evolutionary adaptation of particular crustacean species and other invertebrates to remove large and indigestible food particles from the stomach. Accordingly, the process of regurgitation attained a new task nowadays, i.e. the elimination of anthropogenic filamentous microplastic debris from the stomach to avoid harm. This behavioral feature may represent a selective advantage in view of the continuously increasing environmental plastic pollution.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) has been put forward as a way to more comprehensively manage marine environments by balancing human demands and protecting areas that support ecosystem function. Given the recent motivations for countries to adopt large-scale marine spatial planning approaches, ensuring these plans are grounded in social-ecological resilience theories is essential for long-term success. Drawing upon recent academic attention from a range of disciplinary areas, this review explores current practices and applied examples of published case studies from around the world that have integrated social and ecological spatial information using GIS techniques. This review intended to use these case studies to guide directions of future MSP research that considers social-ecological resilience theories. Five overall themes were uncovered. First, extractive uses, such as fisheries, were often given priority in MSP processes, which even though important, may undermine the social resilience of coastal communities by not supporting the diversity of non-extractive economies. Second, the quality of ecological spatial data used in the studies varied greatly, often with little consideration of how ongoing human demands may influence long-term ecological resilience. Thrid, many GIS techniques were used to integrate social and ecological data including: descriptive maps, site prioritisation techniques, and predictive modelling. Lastly, only a small number of studies considered cross-ecosystem influences and only two incorporated potential climate change impacts on social institutions and marine ecosystems. Overall, there is a need for progressing GIS predictive modelling techniques to assess and link the responses of social and ecological systems to MSP solutions in order to support long-term social-ecological resilience.
Abandoned, lost and discarded (ALD) fishing gear causes economic losses and hazards to safety at-sea for fishers and marine fauna. Thirty-two lobster fishers and 5 individuals from fisheries management agencies were interviewed from the Bay of Fundy (BoF), Eastern Canada to determine how to mitigate risk to marine fauna from ALD fishing gear. Results show that fishers across four lobster fishing areas within the BoF regularly lost gear; gear that was often not retrieved. Although fishers informally notified each other of gear losses and sometimes returned retrieved gear to owners, they avoided retrieving old and unidentifiable gear, because possession of this gear is prohibited under their license conditions. Interviews identified specific reporting, regulatory and community-based solutions to help estimate, manage and mitigate ALD fishing gear. Legalizing gear retrievals and establishing waste management systems is required to manage and mitigate ALD gear at-sea.
Underwater visual census (UVC) is currently the primary tool used to survey shallow water fish assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea. However, the rapid development of digital technologies, such as underwater video cameras and photogrammetric techniques, are providing new sampling opportunities in marine ecosystems. In this study we compare two non-destructive sampling methods, UVC and diver operated stereo-video systems (stereo-DOVs), to characterize assemblages of targeted fish species. Surveys were undertaken in three zones with different levels of protection from fishing (MR, marine reserve; PP, partially protected reserve; NP, non-protected area) in the Montgrí, Medes Islands and Baix Ter Natural Park (NW Mediterranean Sea). There were no statistically significant differences between stereo-DOVs and UVC surveys in terms of species richness, relative abundance and biomass of targeted fish species across the three protection levels. Both methodologies found statistically significant differences between areas closed to fishing (MR) and areas where fishing is regulated (PP) or allowed (NP), whereby higher fish biomass, density, species richness and larger sizes were found in MR surveys. Length estimates of fish were comparable between methods albeit with some species-specific differences in the size-distribution, and a tendency for UVC to overestimate the size of larger fishes. Our results suggest that stereo-DOVs provide an equivalent and complementary technique to UVC to survey assemblages of targeted fish species. In addition to structural data (e.g., biomass, abundance, and length) recorded by UVC, stereo-DOVs provide a permanent visual record of a fish community and enable additional factors such as fish behaviour, precise distance and length, and benthic composition to be quantified. Stereo-DOVs may, therefore, facilitate the continuity and expansion of long-term monitoring programs of fish assemblages in the Mediterranean Sea.
The world's first deep-sea mining (DSM) project has witnessed the commercial development of plans to extract copper and gold from deposits 1600m deep in the waters of offshore Papua New Guinea (PNG). Viewed as ‘experimental’ and ‘uncertain’ by its critics, it has afforded both controversy and resistance. This paper critically analyses the multifarious strategies that the industry's apologists use in order to respond to environmental concerns and to manufacture consent. It draws upon extensive primary data conducted at the ‘Solwara 1’ DSM project in Papua New Guinea in order to highlight three different ways in which DSM is legitimised by its contractor, Nautilus Minerals. All of these draw upon the spatio-temporal materialities of the deep-sea. In the first instance, the corporation shifts its responsibility away from the ‘social’ realm, instead placing it on a ‘nature’ that is constructed as violent and unruly. Secondly, it emphasises both the relatively short life-span and areal footprint of its mining operations. Finally, Nautilus emphasises the ‘placelessness’ and remoteness of the deep-ocean by claiming that its operations ‘have no human impact’ despite the presence of proximate small island communities. These strategies are part of a corporate understanding that is aware, rather than ignorant, of contemporary geopolitical formations that include geologic and non-human actors and operate dynamically in space and time. Taken together, the paper shows the ways in which resource spatio-temporalities come to matter for the types of CSR practices and narratives that emerge in the context of deep-ocean space and time.
Human impacts on the marine environment threaten the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people. Marine environments are a common-pool resource (CPR) and one of their major management challenges is how to incorporate the value of ecosystem services to society in decision-making. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) relate to the often intangible benefits people receive from their interactions with the natural environment and contribute to individual and collective human wellbeing. Priority knowledge gaps include the need to better understand shared values regarding CES, and how to effectively integrate these values into decision-making. We filmed 40 Community Voice Method interviews with marine stakeholders in two areas of the UK to improve on the valuation of coastal and marine CES. Results show that cultural benefits including sense of place, aesthetic pleasure and cultural identity were bi-directional, contributed directly to a ‘fulfilled human life’ and were associated with charismatic marine life and biodiversity. Other-regarding self-transcendence values were salient underscoring a desire for sustainable marine management. We critically reflect on our analytical framework that integrates aspects of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and IPBES conceptual frameworks. The thematic codebook developed for this study could prove useful for future comparative studies in other marine CES contexts. We propose that values-led management could increase the efficacy of marine planning strategies.
Coastal tourism has been supported by the growth of middle-class tourist markets, promoted by governments who view it as an important avenue for economic growth and backed by environmental organisations who regard it as an alternative, more environmentally sustainable livelihood than capture fisheries. How policymakers and households in coastal areas negotiate the challenges and opportunities associated with growing tourism and declining capture fisheries is increasingly important. Drawing on extended ethnographic fieldwork from the Philippines between 2006 and 2018, this paper examines the transition from fishing to tourism and the consequences for one coastal community. I focus on land tenure as a key variable that shapes the effects and opportunities associated with livelihood transitions from fishing to tourism. While tourism has not been inherently positive or negative, the ability of local households to negotiate the boom and obtain the full benefits out of it is questionable. Many fishers have switched their primary livelihood activity to tourism, including the construction of tourist boats, working as tour guides or providing accommodation. However, the growth of tourism has prompted several attempts to evict the community, including from local elites who aimed to develop resorts on the coast and a recent push by the national administration to ‘clean up’ tourist sites around the country. I argue that land tenure in coastal communities should be more of a focus for researchers working in small-scale fisheries, as well as for researchers working on land rights.
Plastic pollution has become a major concern in Indonesian coast and marine environment today. It occurs because 14% of the solid waste (SW) components in this country is plastic, and the SW management (SWM) infrastructure and services are still limited. The objectives of this article are to discuss the improper SWM and its impact to plastic pollution in Indonesia. Ten plastic pollution studies concerning macroplastics (MaP) and microplastics (MP) were described. These studies covered 5 regions, namely Java, East Nusa Tenggara, East Kalimantan, South Sulawesi, North and Southwest Sumatera. The highest MP abundance of 37,440–38,790 particles/kg dry weight (DW) sediment was found in Jakarta Bay, followed by Wonorejo Coast in Surabaya City (414–590 MP particles/kg DW sediment). The MP has entered the food chain through bivalves and fish. Therefore, the plastic pollution which is related to population density, and inadequacy of SWM, needs urgent solution.
Nest predation is considered to be one of the most significant biotic threats to marine turtle populations globally. The introduction of feral predators to nesting beaches has dramatically increased nest predation, reaching near total egg loss in some regions. We monitored a 48 km stretch of beach along western Cape York Peninsula, Australia, from June – November 2018. We recorded a total of 360 nests comprising 117 flatback and 243 olive ridley nests. We installed plastic meshing (90 cm × 100 cm) on 110 olive ridley nests (45.2% of total olive ridley clutches laid) within the study area. We classified all nest predation attempts into three categories: complete, partial, or failed predation events. In total, 109 (30.2%) of all marine turtle nests were depredated by a variety of predators, including feral pigs, dingoes, goannas, and humans. The addition of plastic meshing reduced the likelihood of dingoes gaining access to eggs, but not goannas or feral pigs. Further, we found no difference in the proportion of hatchling emergence between meshed and un-meshed nests. Additionally, while hatchling emergence was reduced in nests that had been partially depredated, these nests still produced live hatchlings and contributed to recruitment. The success of particular predator control methods is often predator, and/or regionally, specific. Our findings highlight a thorough understanding of predator guilds and their relative impacts is required to deploy targeted and predator-specific strategies to maximize conservation results. We present a strong case for data-driven adaptive management that has implications for designing optimal predator management plans.
The trade in marine ornamental fishes is valued at over a billion dollars annually and comprises thousands of species. Historically, scientists have pointed out the importance of accurate trade statistics to monitor this trade. Today, there remains no global systems in place to monitor it. Europe is a major importer of coral reef fishes, and uses the Trade Control and Expert System (TRACES) to monitor trade in live animals for disease prevention. This database is not intended to record strict species-specific information on marine ornamental fishes, rather numbers of traded specimens and information on species to at least family level. Therefore, it is possible to estimate the volume of trade into Europe, which amounted to approximately 4 million marine ornamental fishes per year during 2014 and 2017. Susceptible species were identified using the number of traded specimens, trends in the trade volume, IUCN Red List conservation status, as well as vulnerability according to FishBase. After normalization of this data a score was created to produce a watchlist that establishes susceptibility to overexploitation of the species traded considering all parameters combined. Unfortunately, almost one third of all species is listed as data deficient or not evaluated by the IUCN Red List and could not be included in this calculation. Species on the watchlist should be given priority for further monitoring through the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). This study suggests that TRACES, subject to several modifications, could be used as a tool to monitor trade in marine ornamental fishes.
While marine protected areas are being expanded to meet international conservation targets and protect biodiversity from increasing anthropogenic threats, our understanding of the conservation impact of such interventions is limited. Hailed as a success globally, the rezoning of Australia's Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2004 was complex and controversial. Despite substantial research within the Marine park, little rigorous evaluation has been undertaken of the rezoning's biological impact - the difference increased protection has made to biodiversity relative to that expected without protection. We review available data of measures of biological impact from ‘new’ no-take zones established in the rezoning and those established under previous zoning. We found 48 studies reporting 782 measures of impact based on comparisons of biological indicators in no-take zones with fished areas. Overwhelmingly, impacts were neutral (57%) or positive (33%). Few data supported causal relationships between new no-take zones and improvements in biological indicators (48 of 159 impacts). The probability of a positive impact increased with time from establishment of no-take zones. Limited conclusions can be drawn from other data. We evaluated whether these measures of impact were robust based on analysis of six key principles of impact evaluation. Sampling was not designed to support causal inferences. Biological monitoring and evaluation designs were limited in providing evidence of the impact of protection. Improved methods that include credible counterfactual data can address limitations of current practice. We highlight ways of progressing impact evaluation techniques to support causal inferences of the impact of marine protected areas generally.
Threatened species are increasingly dependent on conservation investments for persistence and recovery. Information that resource managers could use to evaluate investments–such as the public benefits arising from alternative conservation designs–is typically scarce because conservation benefits arise outside of conventional markets. Moreover, existing studies that measure the public benefits of conserving threatened species often do not measure the benefits from partial gains in species abundance that fall short of official recovery, or the benefits from achieving gains in species abundance that happen earlier in time. We report on a stated preference choice experiment designed to quantify the non-market benefits for conservation investments aimed at threatened Pacific Coho salmon (Oncorhynchus kisutch) along the Oregon Coast (OC). Our results show that a program aimed at increasing numbers of returning salmon can generate sizable benefits of up to $518 million/y for an extra 100,000 returning fish, even if the species is not officially declared recovered. Moreover, while conservation investment strategies expected to achieve relatively rapid results are likely to have higher up-front costs, our results show that the public attaches substantial additional value of up to $277 million/y for achieving conservation goals quickly. Our results and approach can be used to price natural capital investments that lead to gains in returning salmon, and as inputs to evaluations of the benefits and costs from alternative conservation strategies.
Invasive lionfishes Pterois volitans and Pterois miles have spread throughout the tropical western Atlantic Ocean, Gulf of Mexico, and Greater Caribbean. Beyond these two invaders, additional species within the subfamily Pteroinae are regularly imported into the United States. We evaluated the trade of lionfishes as a surrogate measure for propagule pressure, an important component of invasion success. Proactive evaluation of marine ornamental fishes in trade is vital, particularly for those sharing characteristics with known invaders. We utilized one year of import records from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Law Enforcement Management Information System database and two domestic databases to capture the trade of all lionfishes in the US, the invasive complex in its invaded range in Florida, and two Hawaiian endemic lionfishes. Retail surveys were completed to assess lionfish availability across 10 coastal states. Compared to species diversity within the subfamily, the number of traded species was low and just two species were traded at moderate to high volume, including P. volitans and Dendrochirus zebra. At the retail level, fewer species are available to consumers. The trade in lionfishes is consolidated because most lionfishes originate from two Indo-Pacific countries and arrive through the port of Los Angeles. The volume and diversity of traded lionfishes presents some risk of introduction for lionfishes which are not established, and secondary introductions of the invasive P. volitans. In combination with rapid risk screening, this research can be applied to a proactive risk management framework to identify risky species prior to introduction and establishment.
Marine plastics pollution (MPP) is an alarming problem affecting many countries, particularly in the Asia-Pacific region, and generated mostly from land-based sources. Five Asian countries (i.e. China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Sri Lanka) have been identified as the largest sources of MPP globally. This article presents two cases studies focused on the two largest polluters: China and Indonesia. Both countries face similar challenges in dealing with plastic pollution. They have weak legal and institutional frameworks in place to deal with MPP. The two case studies also show that there have been more creative and effective measures taken at the domestic level by local governments and non-state actors, many of which involve partnerships among different stakeholders. This article argues that governance efforts to address MPP require an ‘all hands-on deck’ approach, involving multi-level and multi-actor strategies and targeted regulatory and non-regulatory measures. However, our findings also suggest that most efforts should be directed at the subnational level, from which the problem mainly originates. This article proposes a number of legal and policy recommendations, based on the lessons learned from the case studies, which can be instrumental in reducing the global MPP crisis.
This study reports on the deepest records (~ 24 m depth) of coral bleaching in a naturally temperature-stable environment (> 26 °C with an intra-annual variability of ~ 2 °C), which was recorded during a mass bleaching event in the locally dominant, massive scleractinian coral Siderastrea stellata in equatorial waters of Brazil (SW Atlantic). An inter-annual analysis (2002–2017) indicated that this bleaching event was related to anomalies in sea surface temperature (SST) that led to the warmest year (2010) in this century (1 to 1.7 °C above average). Such anomalies caused heat stress (28.5–29.5 °C) in this equatorial environment that resulted in a bleaching event. Our results suggest that the increase in SST, low turbidity, and weak winds may have acted together to affect these stress-tolerant corals in marginal reefs. The equatorial coastline of Brazil is characterized by low intra-annual and inter-annual variations in SST, which suggests that the S. stellata corals here may be acclimatized to these stable conditions and, consequently, have a lower bleaching threshold because of lower historical heat stress.
This research presents a governance analysis of an Indonesian marine protected area (MPA) during the early phases of its implementation – Nusa Penida District Marine Conservation Area. Attention is drawn to the importance of participatory and communication incentives in the design and implementation stages of the MPA, which were largely facilitated through the actions of overseas and domestic non-governmental organisations. Following the official designation of the MPA, management responsibility transferred to district government and state institutions, leading to a considerable reduction in the strength of incentives and uncertainty over leadership amongst local stakeholders. The implications of this situation are discussed and recommendations for future management are identified.
Climate change is increasing the frequency and severity of marine heatwaves. A recent extreme warming event (2014–2016) of unprecedented magnitude and duration in the California Current System allowed us to evaluate the response of the kelp forest community near its southern (warm) distribution limit. We obtained sea surface temperatures for the northern Pacific of Baja California, Mexico, and collected kelp forest community data at three islands, before and after the warming event. The warming was the most intense and persistent event observed to date, with low-pass anomalies 1°C warmer than the previous extremes during the 1982–1984 and 1997–1998 El Niños. The period between 2014 and 2017 accounted for ∼50% of marine heatwaves days in the past 37 years, with the highest maximum temperature intensities peaking at 5.9°C above average temperatures for the period. We found significant declines in the number of Macrocystis pyrifera individuals, except at the northernmost island, and corresponding declines in the number of fronds per kelp individual. We also found significant changes in the community structure associated with the kelp beds: half of the fish and invertebrate species disappeared after the marine heatwaves, species with warmer affinities appeared or increased their abundance, and introduced algae, previously absent, appeared at all islands. Changes in subcanopy and understory algal assemblages were also evident; however, the response varied among islands. These results suggest that the effect of global warming can be more apparent in sensitive species, such as sessile invertebrates, and that warming-related impacts have the potential to facilitate the establishment of tropical and invasive species.