This paper explores the impact of fishing low trophic level “forage” species on higher trophic level marine predators including other fish, birds and marine mammals. We show that existing analyses using trophic models have generally ignored a number of important factors including (1) the high level of natural variability of forage fish, (2) the weak relationship between forage fish spawning stock size and recruitment and the role of environmental productivity regimes, (3) the size distribution of forage fish, their predators and subsequent size selective predation (4) the changes in spatial distribution of the forage fish as it influences the reproductive success of predators. We show that taking account of these factors generally tends to make the impact of fishing forage fish on their predators less than estimated from trophic models. We also explore the empirical relationship between forage fish abundance and predator abundance for a range of U.S. fisheries and show that there is little evidence for a strong connection between forage fish abundance and the rate of change in the abundance of their predators. We suggest that any evaluation of harvest policies for forage fish needs to include these issues, and that models tailored for individual species and ecosystems are needed to guide fisheries management policy.
As ecosystem engineers, oysters create and maintain structured habitat and can influence trophodynamics and benthic-pelagic coupling in the surrounding landscape. The physical reef structure and associated biotic parameters can affect the availability of food resources for oysters. Oysters and potential composite food sources — suspended particulate organic matter (SPOM) and surface sediment organic matter (SSOM) — were assessed using a dual stable isotope (δ13C, δ15N) approach at three reef types (natural, restored, and unconsolidated) seasonally for two years to determine if changes in physical and/or biotic parameters affected the relative availability and/or use of food resources by oysters. SPOM was more depleted in 13C (−24.2 ± 0.6‰, mean ± SD) than SSOM (−21.2 ± 0.8‰). SPOM composition is likely dominated by autochthonous phytoplankton production, while SSOM includes trapped phytoplankton and benthic microalgae. SSOM was used by oysters in increasing proportions relative to SPOM over time at all reef types. This temporal trend is likely due to increased oyster biomass over time, promoting enhanced microphytobenthos growth through feedback effects related to oyster biodeposits. Structural differences between reef types observed in this study had no effect on food resource availability and use by oysters, indicating strong bentho-pelagic coupling likely due to shallow depths as well as strong and consistent winds. This study provides insights for restoration of oyster reefs as it highlights that food resources used by oysters remain similar among reef types despite changes in abiotic and biotic parameters among habitats and over time.
Tourism is a financing mechanism considered by many donor-funded marine conservation initiatives. Here we assess the potential role of visitor entry fees, in generating the necessary revenue to manage a marine protected area (MPA), established through a Global Environmental Facility Grant, in a temperate region of Chile. We assess tourists’ willingness to pay (WTP) for an entry fee associated to management and protection of the MPA. Results show 97 % of respondents were willing to pay an entrance fee. WTP predictors included the type of tourist, tourists’ sensitivity to crowding, education, and understanding of ecological benefits of the MPA. Nature-based tourists state median WTP values of US$ 4.38 and Sun-sea-sand tourists US$ 3.77. Overall, entry fees could account for 10–13 % of MPA running costs. In Chile, where funding for conservation runs among the weakest in the world, visitor entry fees are no panacea in the short term and other mechanisms, including direct state/government support, should be considered.
his guide describes over 30 mechanisms for financing the conservation of marine biodiversity, both within and outside of MP As. Its main purpose is to familiarize conservation professionals i.e., the managers and staff of government conservation agencies, international donors, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs)-with a menu of options for financing the conservation of marine and coastal biodiversity. A number of economic incentive mechanisms for marine conservation (as contrasted with revenue-raising mechanisms) are also presented in section 5 (on Real Estate and Development Rights) and section 6 (on Fishing Industry Revenues).
Each section provides a description of the financing mechanism and examples showing how the mechanism has been used to finance marine conservation. In some cases, even though a mechanism may have only been used to finance terrestrial conservation, it has been included in this guide because of its potential to also serve as a new source of funding for marine conservation. This guide is not intended to provide detailed instructions on how to establish and implement each of the different conservation financing mechanisms. Instead references are provided at the end of each section for sources of additional information about each of the mechanisms described. Citations to specific references are also included in the text in parentheses.
Over the past two years, discussions on Protected Area (PA) finance have formed a key agenda item during global deliberations on biodiversity conservation. Both the Vth IUCN World Parks Congress (Durban, September 2003) and the seventh Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (Kuala Lumpur, February 2004) observed that insufficient investment is being made in biodiversity conservation in general and protected areas in particular. Both meetings called for innovative approaches to generate the additional funding required to ensure that biodiversity of global, national and local significance is conserved. A recent international meeting on biodiversity science and governance, hosted by UNESCO and the government of France (Paris, January 2005), likewise identified finance as one of several critical issues to be addressed if the world is to meet the CBD/WSSD 2010 Biodiversity Target. A particular concern in all of these processes has been the level and types of funding available for PAs, which lie at the core of global efforts to conserve biodiversity.
In the aquatic environment, Microplastic (MP; < 5 mm) is a cause of concern due to its persistence and potential adverse effects on biota. Studies on microlitter impacts are mostly based on virgin and spherical polymer particles as model MP. However, in pelagic and benthic environments, surfaces are always colonized by microorganisms forming so-called biofilms. The influence of such biofilms on the fate and potential effects of MP presents a current knowledge gap. Here, we review the physical interactions of early microbial colonization on plastic surfaces and their reciprocal influence on the weathering processes and vertical transport as well as sorption and release of contaminants by MP. Possible ecological consequences of biofilm formation on MP, such as trophic transfer of MP particles and potential adverse effects of MP, are virtually unknown. However, the evidence is accumulating that by modifying the physical properties of the particles, the biofilm-plastic interactions have the capacity to influence the fate and impacts MP may have. There is an urgent research need to better understand these interactions and increase ecological relevance of current laboratory testing by simulating field conditions where microbial life is a key driver of the biogeochemical processes.
The sustainable management of aquatic ecosystems requires better coordination between policies span-ning freshwater, coastal and marine environments. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been promoted as a holistic and integrative approach for the safekeeping and protection of aquatic biodiversity. The paper assesses the degree to which key European environmental policies for the aquatic environment, namely the Birds and Habitats Directives, Water Framework Directive and Marine Strategy Framework Directive, individually support EBM and can work synergistically to implement EBM. This assessment is based on a review of legal texts, EU guidance and implementation documents. The paper concludes that EBM can be made operational by implementing these key environmental directives. Opportunities for improving the integration of EU environmental policies are highlighted.
As shellfish aquaculture activities grow in the US, researchers, practitioners, resource users, and others have questioned how much development can be accommodated by natural and social systems. In a unique application of the normative evaluation approach to shellfish aquaculture development, this study uses data from a mail survey to (1) examine Rhode Islanders’ support for aquaculture in general and in RI waters; (2) investigate how different features of an aquaculture farm influence normative evaluations; and (3) explore areas of agreement and disagreement among stakeholder groups for social carrying capacities associated with aquaculture in RI coastal waters. Findings demonstrate that respondents do not strictly support or oppose aquaculture development; instead support depends on the waterbody where the aquaculture is occurring, the amount of area used for aquaculture, and ways in which aquaculture is conducted. Social norm curves show that levels of acceptabilities for shellfish aquaculture development in two RI waterbodies decline with increasing levels of aquaculture activities. Comparisons among sub-sets of respondents highlight disagreement among groups on the level beyond which shellfish aquaculture development is no longer acceptable (social carrying capacity). Results from normative evaluation studies can be used in combination with physical, ecological, and biological carrying capacities; management goals and objectives; other resource uses and values; and desired social and ecological conditions to inform policy discussions about shellfish aquaculture development in coastal waters.
The impact of marine ecotourism on reef predators is poorly understood and there is growing concern that overcrowding in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) may disturb the species that these areas were established to protect. To improve our understanding of this issue, we used acoustic telemetry to examine the relationship between human activity at the Molokini Marine Life Conservation District (MLCD) and the habitat use of five reef-associated predators (Caranx melampygus, Caranx ignobilis, Triaenodon obesus, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, and Aprion virscens). During peak hours of human use, there was a negative relationship (R2 = 0.77, P < 0.001) between the presence of bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus) and vessels in subzone A. No other species showed strong evidence of this relationship. However, our results suggest that during this time, the natural ecosystem function that the reserve was established to protect may be compromised and overcrowding should be considered when managing MPAs.
The improvement of fishing technology has been detrimental to the sustainability of fisheries, which is particularly clear for the bottom trawl fishery. Reducing its environmental impact is a key point for the development of a more sustainable fishery. The present work analyzed different possibilities to mitigate the impact of gears on the seabed and to increase the efficiency of the bottom trawl fishery of the Western Mediterranean. The analysis of three experiments showed that innovative technical and regulation measures can lead to benefits such as the reduction of fishing effort, the improvement of the cost-benefit relation and the reduction of the direct impact on the seabed and the indirect effect on the ecosystems through reduce discards and the emission of CO2 into the atmosphere. After years of studies focused on improving the sustainability of this fishery, it's about time to turn this improvement into reality.
In countries like Sierra Leone, where stock assessments based on fisheries-independent data and complex population models are financially and technically challenging, catch statistics may be used to infer fluctuations in fish stocks where more precise data are not available. However, FAO FishStat, the most widely-used time-series data on global fisheries ‘catches’ (actually ‘landings’), does not account for Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated (IUU) catches and relies on statistics provided by the national agencies of each member country. As such, reported FishStat data is vulnerable to changes in monitoring capacity, governmental transitions, and budgetary constraints, and may substantially underestimate the measure of extracted marine resources. In this report, Sierra Leone's total catches by all marine fishing sectors were estimated for the period 1950–2015, using a catch reconstruction approach incorporating national data, expert knowledge, and both peer-reviewed and grey literature. Results demonstrate that a substantial amount of marine resource exploitation is not represented in official statistics, and reconstructed catches represent more than 2.25 times the recorded FAO Fishstat values. Notably, foreign fleets take the vast majority of industrial catch in Sierra Leone's EEZ, indicating that most of the resource catch and revenue is diverted to foreign companies and export markets. While foreign actors dominate the industrial sector, the small-scale sector represents the majority of domestic catch. Illegal fishing is also a substantial challenge in Sierra Leone, and extracts a large amount of the country's marine fish resources. Reconstructing catches in Sierra Leone also highlights the impacts of various historical events such as Sierra Leone's civil war and post-war reconstruction on the development of the fisheries sector. The results found in the reconstruction present a large discrepancy from FishStat data, with considerable implications for assessment of stocks and management of Sierra Leone's marine resources.
Shellfish aquaculture production in the world, especially in China, has expanded rapidly in recent years. However, understanding of potential impacts of shellfish aquaculture on the trophic structure of ecosystem remains limited. Using an Ecopath with Ecosim model, we compared various shellfish aquaculture intensity scenarios to evaluate impacts of shellfish aquaculture on a semi-closed marine ecosystem, located in Jiaozhou Bay, China. This study showed that the Jiaozhou Bay ecosystem could be strongly impacted by the shellfish aquaculture as illustrated by the ecosystem indices such as total system throughout (TST), Finn’s cycle index (FCI), and System omnivory index (SOI). The existence of shellfish aquaculture program led to shifts of major energy sources of Jiaozhou Bay ecosystem from detritus to phytoplankton. Contribution of phytoplankton to the ecosystem energy flow could drop from 75% to 46% if the current shellfish aquaculture program was removed. Intensive shellfish aquaculture could also improve the transfer efficiency of the ecosystem and simplify the food web. In addition, consumption of phytoplankton by cultured shellfish consisted of 90% of total phytoplankton consumption in this ecosystem, indicating that cultured shellfish could exert strong top-down control on phytoplankton in the Jiaozhou Bay ecosystem. Our results demonstrated that intensive cultured shellfish program shifted Jiaozhou Bay ecosystem from a natural-organism-dominated food web into an aquaculture dominated food web. Given these caveats, cultured shellfish is not only economically efficient, but also ecologically efficient. This study suggests that it is informative and necessary to conduct holistic and integrated ecosystem analyses to improve our understanding of potential impacts of shellfish aquaculture on the ecosystem dynamics.
The Arctic region is composed of unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that provide a range of services to local and global populations. However, Arctic sea-ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening many of these ecosystems and the services they provide. This short communication provides a preliminary assessment of the quantity, distribution and economic value of key ecosystem services as well as geological resources such as oil and minerals provided by Arctic ecosystems to beneficiaries in the Arctic region and globally. Using biophysical and economic data from existing studies, preliminary estimates indicate that the Arctic currently provides about $281 billion per year (in 2016 US$) in terms of food, mineral extraction, oil production, tourism, hunting, existence values and climate regulation. However, given predictions of ice-free summers by 2037, many of the ecosystem services may be lost. We hope that this communication stimulates discussion among policy-makers regarding the value of ecosystem services and such geological resources as minerals and oil provided by the Arctic region, and the potential ecosystem losses resulting from Arctic melt, so as to motivate decisions vis a vis climate change mitigation before Arctic ice disappears completely.
"Coastal grab" refers to the contested appropriation of coastal (shore and inshore) space and resources by outside interests. This paper explores the phenomenon of coastal grabbing and the effects of such appropriation on community-based conservation of local resources and environment. The approach combines social-ecological systems analysis with socio-legal property rights studies. Evidence of coastal grab is provided from four country settings (Canada, Brazil, India and South Africa), distinguishing the identity of the 'grabbers' (industry, government) and 'victims', the scale and intensity of the process, and the resultant 'booty'. The paper also considers the responses of the communities. While emphasizing the scale of coastal grab and its deleterious consequences for local communities and their conservation efforts, the paper also recognizes the strength of community responses, and the alliances/partnerships with academia and civil society, which assist in countering some of the negative effects.
Coastal Louisiana has experienced catastrophic rates of wetland loss over the past century, equivalent in area to the state of Delaware. Land subsidence in the absence of rapid accretion is one of the key drivers of wetland loss. Accurate subsidence data should therefore form the basis for estimates of and adaptations to Louisiana’s future. Recently, Jankowski et al. (2017) determined subsidence rates at 274 sites along the Louisiana coast. Based on these data we present a new subsidence map and calculate that, on average, coastal Louisiana is subsiding at 9 ± 1 mm yr−1.
Some of the most pristine marine ecosystems remaining on earth are in remote areas far from human population centers, both within national jurisdiction or beyond, on the high seas* . Unfortunately even these areas are under pressure from the effects of human activities. Recognizing this, many countries have begun to manage activities in remote maritime areas as well as seeking to conserve areas of high ecological value through the establishment of marine protected areas. In recent years some very large offshore protected areas have been established within national EEZs and in addition some are now also being established on the high seas, through the efforts of several international organizations. Without effective enforcement however, these remote managed areas will remain no more than paper management plans and paper parks.
Surveillance and enforcement is more challenging in large, remote areas than for near-shore MPAs as they are often far from populated land, and therefore difficult to reach with traditional manned patrols, radar or other short-range monitoring tools. Advanced technologies have been used successfully for surveillance of large areas, and there is great potential for expansion; however an associated response by law enforcement personnel is still essential to confirm and prosecute violations. Combining surveillance technologies into a single enforcement package has considerable cost-saving potential and is emphasized throughout this report. Additionally, the obvious and targeted presence of law enforcement reduces attempted infractions since there is a perceived significant risk of being caught.
This document reviews and evaluates a range of existing technological options for the surveillance of remote marine managed areas. Some of these technologies are currently in use by fisheries management agencies; some are currently the purview of groups like the military or security agencies; and others have hitherto been unexplored for such purposes. As commercial fishing (regulated or otherwise) is the single greatest pressure to most remote marine ecosystems, followed by vessel-based pollution, we pay particular attention to technologies for the monitoring of such activities. The paper initially discusses surveillance technologies for cooperative vessels; that is, those that are participating in a managed activity where monitoring systems are obligatory. The majority of the paper however describes the range of sensors and platforms that can be applied to the more challenging task of monitoring non-cooperative vessels.
Surveillance technologies alone are insufficient to ensure compliance, but they are a necessary component. This first paper in the series does not look at questions of integrating surveillance technologies into an enforcement regime; neither does it consider issues improving compliance. These are clearly key issues, and we anticipate giving these issues the space they deserve in subsequent publications.
As the sampling frequency and resolution of Earth observation imagery increase, there are growing opportunities for novel applications in population monitoring. New methods are required to apply established analytical approaches to data collected from new observation platforms (e.g., satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles). Here, we present a method that estimates regional seasonal abundances for an understudied and growing population of gray seals (Halichoerus grypus) in southeastern Massachusetts, using opportunistic observations in Google Earth imagery. Abundance estimates are derived from digital aerial survey counts by adapting established correction-based analyses with telemetry behavioral observation to quantify survey biases. The result is a first regional understanding of gray seal abundance in the northeast US through opportunistic Earth observation imagery and repurposed animal telemetry data. As species observation data from Earth observation imagery become more ubiquitous, such methods provide a robust, adaptable, and cost-effective solution to monitoring animal colonies and understanding species abundances.
Fishers worldwide operate in an environment of uncertainty and constant change. Their ability to manage risk associated with such uncertainty and subsequently adapt to change is largely a function of individual circumstances, including their access to different fisheries. However, explicit attention to the heterogeneity of fishers’ connections to fisheries at the level of the individual has been largely ignored. We illustrate the ubiquitous nature of these connections by constructing a typology of commercial fishers in the state of Maine based on the different fisheries that fishers rely on to sustain their livelihoods and find that there are over 600 combinations. We evaluate the adaptive potential of each strategy, using a set of attributes identified by fisheries experts in the state, and find that only 12% of fishers can be classified as being well positioned to adapt in the face of changing socioeconomic and ecological conditions. Sensitivity to the uneven and heterogeneous capacity of fishers to manage risk and adapt to change is critical to devising effective management strategies that broadly support fishers. This will require greater attention to the social-ecological connectivity of fishers across different jurisdictions.
The ocean is the largest ecosystem on our planet, regulating change and variability in the climate system and supporting the global economy, nutrition, health and wellbeing, water supply and energy. The coastal zone is home to the majority of the world population; dependency on the ecosystem services provided by the ocean is likely to increase with population growth. The ocean was once thought to be a vast and indefinitely resilient compartment of the Earth system, able to absorb practically all pressures of the human population, from resource exploitation to fisheries and aquaculture development to marine transport. However, according to the First World Ocean Assessment, 1 our civilization is running out of time to avoid the detrimental cycle of decline in ocean health that will have dramatic repercussions on the ability of the ocean to keep providing the support we need. To achieve global sustainability and adequate stewardship of the ocean, as called for in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), ocean science is crucial to understand and monitor the ocean, predict its health status and support decision-making to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 14 (SDG 14) “Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.
The IOC-UNESCO Global Ocean Science Report (GOSR) aims to provide a status report on ocean science. It identifies and quantifies the elements that drive the productivity and performance of ocean science, including workforce, infrastructure, resources, networks and outputs. The report is intended to facilitate international ocean science cooperation and collaboration. It helps to identify gaps in science organization and capacity and develop options to optimize the use of scientific resources and advance ocean science and technology by sharing expertise and facilities, promoting capacity building and transferring marine technology. As the first consolidated assessment of global ocean science, the GOSR assists the science-policy interface and supports managers, policy-makers, governments and donors, as well as scientists beyond the ocean community. The GOSR offers decision-makers an unprecedented tool to identify gaps and opportunities to advance international collaboration in ocean science and technology and harness its potential to meet societal needs, address global challenges and drive sustainable development for all.
There is no commonly accepted definition of ocean science; the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea does not provide a definition of marine scientific research. For the purpose of this report, ocean science is considered to be a combination of disciplines classified into eight categories that cover integrative and interdisciplinary strategic research areas often recognized as high-level themes in national and international research strategies and policies (Figure ES1). This classification enables global comparisons and interdisciplinary analyses in line with the 2030 Agenda.
The report draws on a range of information sources. In addition to tailored questionnaires developed for the GOSR, ocean science output data (bibliometrics) by Science-Metrix and supplementary resources (e.g. web-based assessments and reports produced by intergovernmental organizations) were compiled to form the data set for the GOSR analysis.
The South China Sea Large Marine Ecosystem is one of the world’s richest marine biodiversity areas. The sea area is however the site of increasing tensions between its ten coastal States, six of which have competing claims in the South China Sea. The expanding populations and economies of the coastal States have also resulted in the growing depletion of the Sea’s rich marine resources. Coordinated approaches are needed to protect the unique biodiversity and natural resources of the South China Sea at the appropriate ecological scale. The continuation of sovereignty disputes are detrimental to all coastal states as well as international economic interests of non-claimant states which arise as a result of the Sea’s status as a globally important trade route. This paper urges coastal states to adopt a far-sighted outlook which ensures long-term sustainable ecosystems, livelihoods and economies of the region. To do this, a shift in approach which emphasises collaborative management of marine ecosystems is required instead of a scramble for sovereignty to exclusively exploit living and non-living resources. This paper therefore explores how the shared governance arrangement of a condominium could facilitate the exercise of sovereignty for the shared benefit of all coastal States. The paper argues that the condominium approach would enable State parties to put aside thorny sovereignty disputes in favour of collaboration to protect the area’s important and unique biodiversity.