Low Elevation Coastal Zones (LECZ) are located at less than 10 m above sea level. Because of human encroachment, combined with sea level rise and increased storminess, LECZ are at an increasing risk of flooding and erosion. In consequence, there is a growing need for shoreline protection. Traditionally, hard infrastructure was used, with positive local results, but negative regional impacts when flows were not maintained. Therefore, ecosystem-based coastal protection has been considered as an alternative. We explored the scientific literature to look for evidence that proves the effectiveness of natural ecosystems for protection against flooding and erosion, when these events are a problem to society. We found that although the protective role of vegetation has been mentioned for over 50 years, most of the studies date from the last decade and have been performed in the USA and the Netherlands. Mangroves, saltmarshes and coastal dunes are the ecosystems most frequently studied. The evidence we found includes anecdotal observations, experimental tests, mathematical analyses, models and projections, economic valuations and field observations. Although mostly effective, there are limitations of an ecosystem-based approach and probably, different strategies can be combined so that protection is improved while additional ecosystem services are maintained. We conclude that, besides improving coastal protection strategies, it is fundamental to reduce human pressure by mobilizing populations inland (or at least promoting new developments further inland), and minimizing the negative impact of human activities. We need to be better prepared to deal with the climate change challenges that will affect LECZ in the not very distant future.
This study presents an economic valuation survey to estimate the social demand of a convenience sample for undertaking forest management measures aimed at reducing the negative impact of forest fires on terrestrial and marine ecosystems. The paper spans the traditional focus in forest economics by considering also the negative effects caused by forest fires in coastal areas, highlighting this way how the externalities go beyond the terrestrial area and can also affect marine ecosystems. Results from a willingness to pay in space modelling approach show that people are sensitive to the biodiversity losses produced by forest fires and are willing to pay (work on a voluntary basis) to undertake activities that reduce their impact. The main negative externalities are concerned to the terrestrial wildlife (animals and vegetation), following by the erosion and marine biodiversity losses and the pests and diseases prevention.
As the levels of radioactivity in seafood have fallen back into the safe range, Fukushima fisheries are considering reopening. However, even if seafood from the Fukushima area were sufficiently safe to distribute to seafood markets, its value may be undermined because of the damage done to its reputation by the Fukushima disaster. We quantified consumers’ preferences for seafood from Fukushima and adjacent prefectures to examine the extent of the reputational damage to Fukushima seafood. We conducted a choice experiment to measure consumers’ willingness to pay for seafood from the Fukushima area. We also measured the impact of displaying ecolabels [Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) and Marine Eco-label Japan (MEL)] on Fukushima products. The results indicated that Fukushima products are considerably discounted compared with products displayed as domestic; even products from adjacent prefectures are substantially discounted. By contrast, consumers positively evaluated locally labeled products. We also found that demersal fish are discounted more than pelagic fish that inhabit the ocean surface off the shore of Fukushima.
The degradation of coral reefs is widely reported, yet there is a poor understanding of the adaptability of reef fishes to cope with benthic change. We tested the effects of coral reef degradation on the feeding plasticity of four reef fish species. We used isotopic niche sizes and mean δ15N and δ13C values of each species in two coral reefs that differed in benthic condition. The species chosen have contrasting feeding strategies; Chaetodon lunulatus (corallivore), Chrysiptera rollandi (zooplanktivore), Halichoeres melanurus (invertivore) and Zebrasoma velifer (herbivore). We predicted that the corallivore would have a lower mean δ15N value and a smaller isotopic niche size in the degraded reef, that the herbivore and the invertivore might have a larger isotopic niche size and/or a different mean δ13C value, whereas the zooplanktivore might be indifferent since the species is not linked to coral degradation. Some results matched our predictions; C. lunulatus had a smaller niche size on the degraded reef, but no difference in mean δ15N and δ13C values, and H. melanurus displayed an increase in niche size and a lower mean δ15N value on the degraded reef. Some other results were contrary to our predictions; whereas Z. velifer and C. rollandi had smaller mean δ13C values but no difference in niche size. Our findings suggest there may be feeding plasticity to maintain a similar diet despite contrasting habitat characteristics, with different amplitude depending on species. Such findings suggest that certain species guilds would probably adapt to changes linked to habitat degradation.
For Pacific Island communities, social change has always been a part of their socio-political lives, while environmental changes were always transient and reversible, so that they understood and engaged with their ocean as a provider for food, culture and life. However, recent unprecedented and irreversible changes brought on by global climate change challenge this norm and alter their lagoons and adjacent oceans into unfamiliar territories. Climate change already is affecting, and has been projected to continue to disproportionately impact, Pacific Island Countries and Territories (PICTs) through rising temperatures, sea-level rise, saltwater intrusion of freshwater resources, coastal erosion, an increase in extreme weather events, altered rainfall patterns, coral reef bleaching, and ocean acidification. While knowledge is building about potential impacts on ecosystems and some target stocks, there is little information available for communities, governments and regional institutions on how to respond to these changes and adapt. What are the consequences for marine conservation, fisheries management and coastal planning at local, national and regional scales? What strategies and policies can best support and enable responses to these challenges across different scales? What opportunities exist to finance necessary climate change adaptation and mitigation measures? To consider these urgent issues, this paper synthesises innovative research methods, and studies many of the looming scientific, policy and governance challenges from a diversity of perspectives and disciplines.
Spatial planning has to deal with trade-offs between various stakeholders’ wishes and needs as part of planning and management of landscapes, natural resources and/or biodiversity. To make ecosystem services (ES) trade-off research more relevant for spatial planning, we propose an analytical framework, which puts stakeholders, their land-use/management choices, their impact on ES and responses at the centre. Based on 24 cases from around the world, we used this framing to analyse the appearance and diversity of real-world ES trade-offs. They cover a wide range of trade-offs related to ecosystem use, including: land-use change, management regimes, technical versus nature-based solutions, natural resource use, and management of species. The ES trade-offs studied featured a complexity that was far greater than what is often described in the ES literature. Influential users and context setters are at the core of the trade-off decision-making, but most of the impact is felt by non-influential users. Provisioning and cultural ES were the most targeted in the studied trade-offs, but regulating ES were the most impacted. Stakeholders’ characteristics, such as influence, impact faced, and concerns can partially explain their position and response in relation to trade-offs. Based on the research findings, we formulate recommendations for spatial planning.
Antarctica's status as a unparalleled place of international scientific collaboration was entrenched in the Antarctic Treaty 1959, and its designation as a “natural reserve, devoted to peace and science” formally referenced in the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty (PEPAT) 1991 (PEPAT 1991, Article 2). The continent's importance for maintenance of the global ecosphere has more recently been confirmed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (Anisimov et al., 2007). However, the expanded scale and scope of commercial tourism in Antarctica over the last quarter century raises issues about whether the laissez-faire approach to tourism management that has been taken under the auspices of Antarctic Treaty System (ATS) governance is sufficient to protect the Antarctic environment and its “wilderness” values from the negative impacts of tourism (PEPAT, Article 3(1)). This is an subject that has occupied a number of the Antarctic Treaty Consultative Parties (ATCPs), who form the decision-making group within the ATS, and resulted in a recent question by The Netherlands to fellow ATCPs as to whether “a system of obligatory or voluntary payments by individual tourists or tourist organizations (as a payment for ‘ecosystem services’)?” should be established within the ATS (The Netherlands, ATCM XI, 2012).
This paper considers the Dutch question about payment for ecosystem services in Antarctica as a potential tourism regulatory tool. It also examines the legal and related political issues that a proposal for introduction of ecosystem services would generate in an area of the earth which, de facto, is treated as an international commons, but is also the site of continuing contestation and challenge over abeyant claims to sovereignty by seven states within the ATCP group. Issues canvassed in this context include: the different political-philosophical approaches to tourism and the environment evinced by the ATCPs; the limited number of states signatory to the Treaty and the increase in non-state actor activity in the Southern Ocean and Antarctic waters, and concomitant difficulties of monitoring and compliance in a geographically expansive and remote area of the earth; and the potential of ecosystem services in Antarctica to help realise some of the United Nations’ post-2015 Sustainable Development Goals.
A spatially and temporally stratified scientific observer program was used to examine variation in the diversity and composition of retained and discarded catches in a coastal charter-vessel line fishery. The 181 observed trips yielded 126 species and 13,357 individuals. Overall, 88 and 92 species were retained and discarded, respectively, with 34 and 38 species either solely retained or discarded. The 10 most numerous species accounted for 75% of total individuals, with 40 species encountered only once. Regional-scale differences in retained and discarded catch compositions and diversity were consistent across seasons, with species diversity being greatest in the northern region that encompassed the convergence zone of tropical and temperate waters. Within-region port-related differences in catch compositions were driven by particular species being captured in different quantities and frequencies from vessels at one port compared to the other, and together with the high level of trip-to-trip variation in catches, were the result of localised and often vessel-specific differences in fishing practices, grounds and habitats fished, and client/operator preferences. Habitat-related differences in catch compositions were greatest between bare sand and structured reef and reef/gravel substrata. Discarding patterns varied among regions, with 25–52% of individuals with a prescribed legal length limit, and 14–72% of individuals with no length limit, being discarded. Discarding was due to a combination of compliance with length-based and no-take regulations, as well as client and operator preferences for particular species and sizes, and not the result of catch quotas. The results show that assessments and management of charter fisheries need to consider the human dimensions, as well as the ecological, aspects of catch variation.
Planning frameworks such as Ecosystem-Based Marine Spatial Planning are based on socio-ecological systems and require effective design of management goals and objectives, a task often overlooked in conservation and resource planning. This paper discusses research undertaken in a coastal council of Australia, to assess the significance of well-defined goals and objectives as drivers of management plans. SMART criteria and Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation approaches were integrated into a framework to examine management scope of existing plans; assess the quality of stated goals and objectives; analyse the use of natural and socio-economic targets; and provide recommendations for the development of future plans. Findings provided no indication of organizational learning through revision of previous plans, revealing an ongoing planning cycle with ad-hoc reviews frequently driven by policy changes. Main weaknesses identified included linguistics ambiguity; unclear planning hierarchy; lack of clear time-frames; and adoption of highly ambitious plans. The absence of measurable and time-bounded goals and objectives was noted. Additionally, poor definition of targets resulted in goals not meeting the impact-oriented criteria, and objectives were not outcome-oriented. Recommendations drawn in support of mainstreaming the Ecosystem Based Approach in future coastal and marine plans include: explicit definition of societal values; developing complementary cross-realm management goals and objectives; increasing commitment to produce ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes progressively within each planning period; a greater use of pro-active management measures; and providing an economic context to the plans, fostering alignment of financial resources and future investments with the vision developed by the council.
Flagship species are widely used in conservation to raise awareness and funds, and recent observational research suggests that less popular species can be marketed to increase support for their conservation. Using two species groups, sharks and dolphins, this paper experimentally investigates whether stated conservation preferences can shift from more charismatic species to those not typically considered as flagship species. Although universal appeal is considered a desirable trait for flagship species, there are individual differences in preferences for species. Therefore, this paper also investigates the role of individual demographic and attitudinal differences on choices, as these may impact the success of conservation marketing. Using discrete choice experiments, six forced choice sets of two species were presented to 168 participants, with species shown and the amount of information presented about each one varied. Demographic differences between participants was found to affect donating behavior: individuals with more positive attitudes to sharks were more likely to donate to shark conservation, as are individuals with a biology background. However, it was found that individual choices can also be shifted through the provision of additional information. Participants chose to conserve species with more information, whether the two species in the choice set were both sharks, both dolphins, or a shark and a dolphin. When equal amounts of information were provided about two species, potential donors preferred the more endangered species. This research suggests that by selecting appropriate populations to target for marketing, even less charismatic species can be used as flagship species and attract potential donors.
The impact of changing climate on terrestrial and underwater archaeological sites, historic buildings, and cultural landscapes can be examined through quantitatively-based analyses encompassing large data samples and broad geographic and temporal scales. The Digital Index of North American Archaeology (DINAA) is a multi-institutional collaboration that allows researchers online access to linked heritage data from multiple sources and data sets. The effects of sea-level rise and concomitant human population relocation is examined using a sample from nine states encompassing much of the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the southeastern United States. A 1 m rise in sea-level will result in the loss of over >13,000 recorded historic and prehistoric archaeological sites, as well as over 1000 locations currently eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP), encompassing archaeological sites, standing structures, and other cultural properties. These numbers increase substantially with each additional 1 m rise in sea level, with >32,000 archaeological sites and >2400 NRHP properties lost should a 5 m rise occur. Many more unrecorded archaeological and historic sites will also be lost as large areas of the landscape are flooded. The displacement of millions of people due to rising seas will cause additional impacts where these populations resettle. Sea level rise will thus result in the loss of much of the record of human habitation of the coastal margin in the Southeast within the next one to two centuries, and the numbers indicate the magnitude of the impact on the archaeological record globally. Construction of large linked data sets is essential to developing procedures for sampling, triage, and mitigation of these impacts.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) can offer significant benefits in terms of economic conservation strategies, optimizing spatial planning and minimizing the impact on the environment. In this paper, we focused on the application of multi-criteria evaluation (MCE) technique for co-locating offshore wind farms and open-water mussel cultivation. An index of co-location sustainability (SI) was developed based on the application of MCE technique constructed with physical and biological parameters on the basis of remote sensing data. The relevant physical factors considered were wind velocity, depth range, concerning the site location for energy production, and sea surface temperature anomaly. The biological variables used were Chlorofill-a (as a measurement of the productivity) and Particle Organic Carbon (POC) concentration, in order to assess their influence on the probable benefits and complete the requirements of this management framework. This SI can be easily implemented to do a first order selection of the most promising areas to be more specifically studied in a second order approach based on local field data
Increasingly, natural resource managers see the marine protected areas that they are responsible for as linked social-ecological systems. This requires an equal focus on managing for both natural and human dimensions of the protected estate. Consequently, identification of indicators that represent the human dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) such as the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is critical if these values are to be properly considered as part of standard management practice. Assessment and monitoring of the human dimensions of LSMPAs requires a replicable, collaborative process, rolled out at local scales but comparable across vast, socially and geographically diverse areas. This paper explores the application of a process for the development, assessment, and monitoring of the GBR's human dimensions. The process includes (a) development of a conceptual framework that links indicator sets to the desired state of the GBR's human dimensions; and (b) a collaborative approach including ten practical steps to implement assessment, monitoring, and benchmarking of the human dimensions of an LSMPA. We conclude with examination of challenges and opportunities for implementing this process in the GBR context, specifically with respect to the targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
Understanding how people are dependent on Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) is important for understanding how people might be sensitive to changes that affect these seascapes. We review how resource dependency is conceptualized and propose that it be broadened to include cultural values such as pride in resource status, scientific heritage, appreciation of aesthetics, biodiversity, and lifestyle opportunities. We provide an overview of how local residents (n = 3,181 face-to-face surveys), commercial fishers (n = 210, telephone surveys), and tourism operators (n = 119 telephone surveys) are potentially dependent on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), a region currently experiencing significant environmental, social, and economic change. We found that commercial fishers and tourism operators were dependent not only financially on the GBR, but also because of their age, years in the industry and region, lack of education, and the number of dependents. These stakeholders lacked flexibility to secure alternative employment. All stakeholder groups, regardless of economic imperatives, were dependent on the GBR because of their cultural connections. We propose that resource dependency also provides an umbrella concept to describe the cultural services provided by an ecosystem, which can be described through place-based dependence and place-identity.
With the increase in development of large marine protected areas (LMPAs) worldwide, there have been calls from social scientists to gather better empirical information about the human dimensions of LMPAs. Of the social research done on LMPAs to date, most has focused on the perceptions of stakeholders closely connected to their implementation, and little research has explored the general public's response. This paper presents the results of a phone survey conducted in the US territories of Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to assess residents' knowledge, attitudes, and perceptions of the Marianas Trench Marine National Monument—a LMPA designated offshore in 2009. The survey was administered in 2012 to 500 randomly-selected residents from each territory. Findings suggest: (1) public awareness of the Monument prior to the survey was low; (2) residents generally supported designation of the Monument; (3) most residents did not believe that the Monument would affect them or their community; and (4) knowledge and perceptions of the Monument varied between fishing and non-fishing households. This research illustrates that awareness and views differ between stakeholders and those of the general public, which should be used to inform social research on LMPAs and outreach for LMPA managers.
Australia’s iconic Great Barrier Reef (GBR) continues to suffer from repeated impacts of cyclones, coral bleaching, and outbreaks of the coral-eating crown-of-thorns starfish (COTS), losing much of its coral cover in the process. This raises the question of the ecosystem’s systemic resilience and its ability to rebound after large-scale population loss. Here, we reveal that around 100 reefs of the GBR, or around 3%, have the ideal properties to facilitate recovery of disturbed areas, thereby imparting a level of systemic resilience and aiding its continued recovery. These reefs (1) are highly connected by ocean currents to the wider reef network, (2) have a relatively low risk of exposure to disturbances so that they are likely to provide replenishment when other reefs are depleted, and (3) have an ability to promote recovery of desirable species but are unlikely to either experience or spread COTS outbreaks. The great replenishment potential of these ‘robust source reefs’, which may supply 47% of the ecosystem in a single dispersal event, emerges from the interaction between oceanographic conditions and geographic location, a process that is likely to be repeated in other reef systems. Such natural resilience of reef systems will become increasingly important as the frequency of disturbances accelerates under climate change.
Establishing marine protected areas (MPAs) is one of the most significant measures governments can take to halt the degradation of marine ecosystems and fisheries overexploitation. Although MPAs can be created with the support of current stakeholders, mainly fishers, implementation of spatial restrictions and of no-take zones in particular, force adjustments to the existing fisheries in the area. The Llevant de Mallorca-Cala Rajada MPA (Spain, Western Mediterranean) was created in 2007 under the patronage of the artisanal fishermen association of Cala Rajada. This study uses onboard observer data of the existing artisanal fisheries practices (métiers), their seasonality and spatial distribution of effort in the area before (2003–2007) and after (2008–2012) MPA designation, to illustrate how fishing restrictions and regulations have changed the structure and dynamics of local fishery métiers, with inshore fishing effort partially reallocated to offshore fishing grounds farther from port. Unforeseen effects of MPA restrictions concerned coastal artisanal métiers – impinging on the smaller boats and the oldest and most knowledgeable fishers – and the expansion of métiers that use newer boats and manned by younger, less experienced fishermen. Studies like this are needed to inform the design of future fisheries spatial management measures for Mediterranean artisanal fisheries that take into account foreseeable socio-economic outcomes and loss of knowledge.
Recent research has suggested that decision makers may misunderstand public attitudes regarding natural resource use. Using research on Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) in six European countries, we illustrate one case in which this is true. We describe two studies: one revealing stakeholders’ beliefs about the environmental sustainability of IMTA in addition to their beliefs regarding public perceptions of the same; and a second investigating perceptions held by the public. In comparing the studies, we identified a gap between what decision-makers believe the public perceives and what the public actually perceives. There is reason to believe that this phenomenon is not sector-specific because policy and planning mechanisms for incorporating the views of stakeholders and the larger public tend to be the similar, regardless of sector. This may cause a dilemma for developing natural-resource based industries, as well as public policy. For this reason, we suggest, as an alternative to over-reliance on citizens’ initiative, making greater use of mechanisms that actively elicit opinions, such as deliberative consultation/engagement models that both inform and elicit pReferences
Over the past decades, a number of national policies and international conventions have been implemented to promote the expansion of the world’s protected area network, leading to a diversification of protected area strategies, types and designations. As a result, many areas are protected by more than one convention, legal instrument, or other effective means which may result in a lack of clarity around the governance and management regimes of particular locations. We assess the degree to which different designations overlap at global, regional and national levels to understand the extent of this phenomenon at different scales. We then compare the distribution and coverage of these multi-designated areas in the terrestrial and marine realms at the global level and among different regions, and we present the percentage of each county’s protected area extent that is under more than one designation. Our findings show that almost a quarter of the world’s protected area network is protected through more than one designation. In fact, we have documented up to eight overlapping designations. These overlaps in protected area designations occur in every region of the world, both in the terrestrial and marine realms, but are more common in the terrestrial realm and in some regions, notably Europe. In the terrestrial realm, the most common overlap is between one national and one international designation. In the marine realm, the most common overlap is between any two national designations. Multi-designations are therefore a widespread phenomenon but its implications are not well understood. This analysis identifies, for the first time, multi-designated areas across all designation types. This is a key step to understand how these areas are managed and governed to then move towards integrated and collaborative approaches that consider the different management and conservation objectives of each designation.
To establish an estimation procedure for reliable catch amount of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing, light-gathering fishing operations in the northwestern Pacific were analyzed based on the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) day/night band (DNB) data provided by the Suomi National Polar Partnership (SNPP) satellite. The estimated fishing activities were compared with the navigation tracks of vessels obtained from the automatic identification system (AIS). As a model case, the fishing activities of Chinese fishing boats using fish aggregation lights outside the Japanese EEZ in the northwestern Pacific were analyzed from mid-June to early-September 2016. Integration analyses of VIIRS DNB data and AIS information provided reliable data for estimating the fishing activities of Chinese fishing boats and suggested the importance of estimating fish carrier ship movements. The total amount of the chub mackerel (Scomber japonicus) catch during this period was independently estimated from three angles: 1) the fishing capacity of the fishing boats, 2) the freezing capacity of refrigeration factory ships ;and 3) the fish hold capacity of the fish carrier ships, based on information obtained from interviews with Chinese fisheries companies. These estimates indicated that the total amount of mackerel catch by Chinese fisheries was more than 80% of the allowable biological catch (ABC) of Japan in this area in 2016. This suggests that Pacific high seas fishing has a significant impact on the future of fish abundance. Our proposed procedure raises the possibility of evaluating the fishing impact of some forms of IUU fisheries independently from conventional statistical reports.