This chapter provides an overview of the various actors and institutions that play a role in the protection of the marine environment. These actors and institutions can be classified into three categories, namely (1) those that are established and operate within the law of the sea regime, (2) those that operate under the auspices of the United Nations and effectuate marine environmental objectives, and (3) those that operate within other specific regimes that interrelate with the oceans and send impulses which guide the direction of marine environmental governance. This chapter aspires to identify the various roles played by these diverse actors and institutions and examine how they interact with each other in striving to protect the marine environment.
Floating plastic debris, such as bottles and fishing gear, is a shelter for different species in the oceans. Litter may therefore help the spread of non-indigenous species (NIS). Here we have challenged the idea of using the abundance of marine litter present in a zone to estimate the risk of NIS introduction. To test this, a targeted sampling of plastic bottles and fishing gear (ropes and nets) was performed along 22 beaches from the Cantabrian coast where ports have been reported as a source of biological invasions. All items with attached organisms were collected and recorded. Genetic barcoding was used to ascertain the species and identify NIS. In total 17 species attached to plastic bottles and fishing gears were identified. Three of them, found on the two types of items, are catalogued as invasive species: Austrominius modestus; Magallana gigas; and, Amphibalanus amphitrite. Prevalence and mean intensity of non-indigenous biota on plastic bottles and fishing gear were not significantly different. The abundance of barnacles in litter was significantly correlated with that found from ports in the same region. The results suggest that ropes are able to transport different marine organisms and NIS as plastic bottles do. Monitoring biota on marine litter could serve as an additional tool for NIS detection.
This article contributes to a special issue examining SDG 14 and other international policy instruments for effective implementation of the Goal. This article focuses on island ocean states (IOS), or ‘small island developing states’ (SIDS), which are characterized by limited land and oceanic remoteness, creating local and international dependencies for food, livelihoods, trade and transport. While IOS contribute less than 1% to global green-house gases, they are directly impacted by extreme weather and climate change, in particular sea level rise. Near-shore marine ecosystems (mangroves, seagrasses and coral reefs) provide critical coastal protection and other benefits (e.g. fisheries), yet continue to be degraded from coastal development. Given their importance, restoration is needed where ecosystem function has declined, in concert with conservation of healthy sites. The overall restoration goals for IOS are to: i) enhance ecological integrity, ii) inspire local capacity building, and iii) accelerate climate change adaptation. This article examines the scope for such restoration through the UN SDGs, the Biodiversity Convention, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the Paris Agreement. Practical considerations of near-shore restoration are reviewed, emphasizing local and traditional knowledge regarding past and future perspectives. The article concludes with policy recommendations to integrate near-shore marine restoration across climate adaptation, conservation and planning processes to achieve synergies in effectiveness, essential to IOS settings. The UN SDGs provide a timely platform for IOS to align international processes with local needs to address their own goals in balancing population growth, economic development, food security and climate security.
Coastal-erosion management actions require a knowledge of sediment behaviour and interchange in all related offshore, shore and inland environments. Approaches to managing erosion include hard/soft protection measures (hold/advance the line), accommodation, managed retreat, use of ecosystems and sacrifice (do nothing). In reshaping these options, an essential addition is the most attractive but usually the least used strategy: Intervention Concerning the Erosion Causes (ICEC). Minimizing erosion via ICEC not only means specific local actions, but certainly also involves the restoration of natural protective habitats, and even the removal of anthropogenic structures that block sediment production and its flow to and through coastal systems. The spatial and temporal environmental, physical and social knowledge related to the area of interest forms the core of the ICEC approach to solve or at least minimize coastal erosion.
Mariculture is the cultivation of marine species for human-benefit. Mariculture is a rapidly growing sector and is making an increasingly important contribution to global supplies of high-quality food. Mariculture can be divided into high- and low-input categories depending on the extent to which feed and medicines are a core part of the operation. Examples of high- and low-input mariculture operations include the cultivation of salmon and mussels respectively. Mariculture has a number of impacts on the marine environment. These impacts include the spread of non-native species, genetic modification of sympatrics, negative-interaction with predators, local-scale organic enrichment and habitat modification, effects of chemotheraputants on non-target organisms and the transfer of parasites/disease to native stocks. Some impacts of mariculture are relatively well understood, at least in some locations, but research is very much ongoing as new mariculture challenges, demands and opportunities arise. Regulation of mariculture varies widely between nations and there remain questions about the spatial extent, and nature, of unacceptable changes attributable to mariculture and how to incorporate mariculture into marine spatial planning.
This chapter provides an outlook on the future of sustainable ocean governance with a particular focus on environmental protection. It identifies fragmentation, knowledge gaps, lack of international cooperation and coordination, as well as ineffective enforcement as some of the pressing challenges. These will likely increase both quantitatively and qualitatively in the future, as new and emerging ocean uses will be added to the list of stressors. This chapter discusses a number of options for the improvement of marine environmental governance into the future.
Over the last decade the issue of underwater noise pollution has received increased attention from scientific bodies, the media, NGOs, and institutions at the national, supranational and international levels. This in turn, has led to the development of several regulatory initiatives that seek to mitigate the negative impact of this source of pollution. This article outlines and analyses existing legislation and management regimes that govern marine activities that generate noise. Best practices and specific mitigation measures are also addressed and assessed.
This study evaluates the frameworks of 12 Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs) against 28 criteria to assess whether these organizations can effectively respond to resource fluctuations brought about by climate change. RFMOs are assessed on breadth of management frameworks and inclusion of best available science in policy frameworks. The assessment method builds upon a previously published framework, but is expanded to capture organizational attributes associated with an effective response to climate change. The results of the RFMO assessment suggest that generally, RFMO policy frameworks are comprehensive, and seem to possess most elements required to achieve resource management goals under climate change. The study hypothesizes that the legal (i.e. issues of compliance and enforcement, sovereignty, decision-making rules) and political factors (i.e. factors intrinsic to common-pool resources) characterising the management of transboundary and high seas fisheries are predominately responsible for this achievement gap rather than RFMO management framework comprehensiveness. To further promote effective resource management and desired outcomes during climate change, the study makes four recommendations: (1) prioritize performance evaluation from a climate change perspective, (2) continue enhancement of enforcement and monitoring strategies, (3) increase the designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) and (4) include political analysis of decision-making processes in RFMOs. The complex governance and political factors affecting high seas and transboundary fisheries management under climate change underscores the importance of the upcoming Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdictions (BBNJ) treaty for its potential to support the conservation of high seas marine living resources in parallel with RFMOs.
Global climate change and localized anthropogenic stressors are driving rapid declines in coral reef health. In vitro experiments have been fundamental in providing insight into how reef organisms will potentially respond to future climates. However, such experiments are inevitably limited in their ability to reproduce the complex interactions that govern reef systems. Studies examining coral communities that already persist under naturally-occurring extreme and marginal physicochemical conditions have therefore become increasingly popular to advance ecosystem scale predictions of future reef form and function, although no single site provides a perfect analog to future reefs. Here we review the current state of knowledge that exists on the distribution of corals in marginal and extreme environments, and geographic sites at the latitudinal extremes of reef growth, as well as a variety of shallow reef systems and reef-neighboring environments (including upwelling and CO2 vent sites). We also conduct a synthesis of the abiotic data that have been collected at these systems, to provide the first collective assessment on the range of extreme conditions under which corals currently persist. We use the review and data synthesis to increase our understanding of the biological and ecological mechanisms that facilitate survival and success under sub-optimal physicochemical conditions. This comprehensive assessment can begin to: (i) highlight the extent of extreme abiotic scenarios under which corals can persist, (ii) explore whether there are commonalities in coral taxa able to persist in such extremes, (iii) provide evidence for key mechanisms required to support survival and/or persistence under sub-optimal environmental conditions, and (iv) evaluate the potential of current sub-optimal coral environments to act as potential refugia under changing environmental conditions. Such a collective approach is critical to better understand the future survival of corals in our changing environment. We finally outline priority areas for future research on extreme and marginal coral environments, and discuss the additional management options they may provide for corals through refuge or by providing genetic stocks of stress tolerant corals to support proactive management strategies.
Climatically extreme weather events often drive long-term ecological responses of ecosystems. By disrupting the important symbiosis with zooxanthellae, Marine Cold Spells (MCS) can cause bleaching and mortality in tropical and subtropical scleractinian corals. Here we report on the effects of a severe MCS on high latitude corals, where we expected to find bleaching and mortality. The MCS took place off the coast of Perth (32°S), Western Australia in 2016. Bleaching was assessed before (2014) and after (2017) the MCS from surveys of permanent plots, and with timed bleaching searches. Temperature data was recorded with in situ loggers. During the MCS temperatures dipped to the coldest recorded in ten years (15.3°C) and periods of <17°C lasted for up to 19 days. Only 4.3% of the surveyed coral colonies showed signs of bleaching. Bleaching was observed in 8 species where those most affected were Plesiastrea versipora and Montipora mollis. These findings suggest that high latitude corals in this area are tolerant of cold stress and are not persisting near a lethal temperature minimum. It has not been established whether other environmental conditions are limiting these species, and if so, what the implications are for coral performance on these reefs in a warmer future.
Benthic cyanobacteria have commonly been a small but integral component of coral reef ecosystems, fulfilling the critical function of introducing bioavailable nitrogen to an inherently oligotrophic environment. Though surveys may have previously neglected benthic cyanobacteria, or grouped them with more conspicuous benthic groups, emerging evidence strongly indicates that they are becoming increasingly prevalent on reefs worldwide. Some species can form mats comprised by a diverse microbial consortium which allows them to exist across a wide range of environmental conditions. This review evaluates the putative driving factors of increasing benthic cyanobacterial mats, including climate change, declining coastal water quality, iron input, and overexploitation of key consumer and ecosystem engineer species. Ongoing global environmental change can increase growth rates and toxin production of physiologically plastic benthic cyanobacterial mats, placing them at a considerable competitive advantage against reef-building corals. Once established, strong ecological feedbacks [e.g., inhibition of coral recruitment, release of dissolved organic carbon (DOC)] reinforce reef degradation. The review also highlights previously overlooked implications of mat proliferation, which can extend beyond reef health and affect human health and welfare. Though identifying (opportunistic) consumers of mats remains a priority, their perceived low palatability implies that herbivore management alone may be insufficient to control their proliferation and must be accompanied by local measures to improve water quality and watershed management.
Coastal communities in tropical environments are at increasing risk from both environmental degradation and climate change and require urgent local adaptation action. Evidences show coral reefs play a critical role in wave attenuation but relatively little direct connection has been drawn between these effects and impacts on shorelines. Reefs are rarely assessed for their coastal protection service and thus not managed for their infrastructure benefits, while widespread damage and degradation continues. This paper presents a systematic approach to assess the protective role of coral reefs and to examine solutions based on the reef's influence on wave propagation patterns. Portions of the shoreline of Grenville Bay, Grenada, have seen acute shoreline erosion and coastal flooding. This paper (i) analyzes the historical changes in the shoreline and the local marine, (ii) assess the role of coral reefs in shoreline positioning through a shoreline equilibrium model first applied to coral reef environments, and (iii) design and begin implementation of a reef-based solution to reduce erosion and flooding. Coastline changes in the bay over the past 6 decades are analyzed from bathymetry and benthic surveys, historical imagery, historical wave and sea level data and modeling of wave dynamics. The analysis shows that, at present, the healthy and well-developed coral reefs system in the southern bay keeps the shoreline in equilibrium and stable, whereas reef degradation in the northern bay is linked with severe coastal erosion. A comparison of wave energy modeling for past bathymetry indicates that degradation of the coral reefs better explains erosion than changes in climate and historical sea level rise. Using this knowledge on how reefs affect the hydrodynamics, a reef restoration solution is designed and studied to ameliorate the coastal erosion and flooding. A characteristic design provides a modular design that can meet specific engineering, ecological and implementation criteria. Four pilot units were implemented in 2015 and are currently being field-tested. This paper presents one of the few existing examples available to date of a reef restoration project designed and engineered to deliver risk reduction benefits. The case study shows how engineering and ecology can work together in community-based adaptation. Our findings are particularly important for Small Island States on the front lines of climate change, who have the most to gain from protecting and managing coral reefs as coastal infrastructure.
Climate change is fundamentally altering habitats, with complex consequences for species across the globe. The Arctic has warmed 2–3 times faster than the global average, and unprecedented sea ice loss can have multiple outcomes for ice-associated marine predators. Our goal was to assess impacts of sea ice loss on population-specific habitat and behaviour of a migratory Arctic cetacean.
Using satellite telemetry data collected during summer-fall from sympatric beluga whale (Delphinapterus leucas) populations (“Chukchi” and “Beaufort” belugas), we applied generalized estimating equations to evaluate shifts in sea ice habitat associations and diving behaviour during two periods: 1993–2002 (“early”) and 2004–2012 (“late”). We used resource selection functions to assess changes in sea ice selection as well as predict trends in habitat selection and “optimal” habitat, based on satellite-derived sea ice data from 1990 to 2014.
Sea ice cover declined substantially between periods, and Chukchi belugas specifically used significantly lower sea ice concentrations during the late than early period. Use of bathymetric features did not change between periods for either population. Population-specific sea ice selection, predicted habitat and the amount of optimal habitat also generally did not change during 1990–2014. Chukchi belugas tracked during 2007–2012 made significantly more long-duration and deeper dives than those tracked during 1998–2002.
Taken together, our results suggest bathymetric parameters are consistent predictors of summer-fall beluga habitat rather than selection for specific sea ice conditions during recent sea ice loss. Beluga whales were able to mediate habitat change despite their sea ice associations. However, trends towards prolonged and deeper diving possibly indicate shifting foraging opportunities associated with ecological changes that occur in concert with sea ice loss. Our results highlight that responses by some Arctic marine wildlife can be indirect and variable among populations, which could be included in predictions for the future.
MPAs enhance some of the Ecosystem Services (ES) provided by coral reefs and clear, robust valuations of these impacts may help to improve stakeholder support and better inform decision-makers. Pursuant to this goal, Cost-Benefit Analyses (CBA) of MPAs in 2 different contexts were analysed: a community based MPA with low tourism pressure in Vanuatu, and a government managed MPA with relatively high tourism pressure, in Saint Martin. Assessments were made on six ES: fish biomass, scenic beauty, protection against coastal erosion, bequest and existence values, social capital and CO2sequestration, which were quantified via different approaches that included experimental fishery, surveys and benefit transfer. Total operating costs for each MPA were collected and the benefit-cost ratio and return on investment based on 25-year discounted projections computed. Sensitivity analyses were conducted on MPA impacts, and discount rates (5%, 7% and 10%). The investment indicators all showed positive results with the impact on the tourism ES being the largest estimated for all MPAs, highlighting the importance of this relationship. The study also demonstrated a relatively high sensitivity of the results to different levels of impacts on ES, which highlights the need for reducing scientific knowledge gaps.
Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are increasingly used in marine wildlife research. As technological developments rapidly advance the versatility and functionality of affordable UAVs, their potential as a marine aerial survey tool is quickly gaining attention. Currently, there is significant interest in whether cost-effective UAVs can outperform manned aircraft in aerial surveys of marine fauna at sea, although few empirical studies have compared relative sampling efficiency, accuracy and precision. Civil aviation restrictions, and subsequent available civilian technologies, make it unlikely that UAVs will currently be more effective than manned aircraft for large area marine surveys. UAVs do, however, have the capacity to fill a niche for intensive smaller spatial scale sampling and for undertaking aerial surveys in isolated locations. Improvements in UAV sensor resolutions and alternative sensor types, such as multispectral cameras, may increase area coverage, reduce perception error, and increase water penetration for sightability. Additionally, the further development of auto-detection software will rapidly improve image processing and further reduce human observer error inherent in manned aerial surveys. As UAV technologies and associated methodology is further developed and becomes more affordable, these aircraft will be increasingly adopted as a marine aerial survey tool in place of traditional methods using manned aircraft.
Knowing movement and structure of fish populations is a prerequisite for effective spatial fisheries management. The study evaluates migration patterns and connectivity of two groups of cod (Gadus morhua) associated with offshore feeding and nursery grounds. This was achieved by investigating (i) migration pathways of cod tagged at the feeding areas, (ii) immigration of cod to the areas based on mark-recapture data covering a period of two decades, and (iii) depth and temperature data from data storage tags (DSTs). Despite undertaking long-distance migrations after attaining sexual maturity, the cod aggregations in the two study areas appear to be largely separated from each other. This conclusion is supported by DSTs, indicating that mature fish associated with the two areas occupy different thermal-bathymetric niches. Low levels of connectivity suggest that effective spatial management in the two study areas would preserve fish of different origin. For the highly migratory adults, however, spatial management would need to focus on migration pathways and the areas where the fish are particularly vulnerable to fishing.
Commercial fisheries and oil and gas extraction are both spatially extensive industries in the North Sea (NS), and inevitably there is physical interaction where the two activities coincide. Regular contact between fishing gear and pipelines may risk pipeline integrity and could lead to gear snagging. It is also known, anecdotally, that some vessels target pipelines, potentially benefiting from local artificial reef effects. The impacts of pipeline decommissioning options (removal vs. in situ) on commercial fisheries must be evaluated as part of the consenting process, but the degree of interaction between the two is presently unknown in the NS. Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) data for the Scottish demersal fleet were analysed with spatial data on pipelines. Approximately one-third (36.1%) of trips fished within 200 m of a pipeline over a 5-year period, suggesting that pipelines are subjected to regular interaction with fishing gear. The fishing effort (in hours) associated with pipelines was 2.52% of the total effort, compared to 1.33% in an equivalent area of seabed 1 km away, implying modest aggregation of fishing around pipelines. Only a small percentage (0.93%) of fishing trips actively targeted pipelines as fishing grounds. The highest level of fishing around pipelines occurred in the northeast NS. Pipeline sections with >100 h of fishing were typically larger diameter pipelines. The results suggest that pipeline decommissioning may have both negative (displacement of aggregated effort) and positive (reduced snagging potential) outcomes for commercial fisheries. It is recommended that where there is little or no fishing activity associated with pipelines, receptors other than fishing should be prioritized when selecting decommissioning strategies. Additionally, the intensity of fishing around pipelines should be used to inform the frequency of post-decommissioning integrity monitoring for any pipelines left in situ.
Ecosystem services have become an important component of planning discussions at local, state, national and international levels. These services have also more recently figured into discussions of community resilience to hazard events. For the majority of ecosystem services, some contribution of human capital inputs, which we term Enabling Economic Inputs (EEIs) in this paper, are necessary to convert the raw ecosystem service flow into an ecosystem service benefit obtained by people. This paper evaluates a subset of EEIs related to coastal ecosystem services associated with (1) fishing and shellfishing; (2) recreational boating; and (3) recreational beach use. After developing a conceptual approach for EEIs, this research develops a methodology for spatially evaluating EEIs. Using a hot-spot analysis of establishments based on the North American Industrial Classification System codes, nodes in the supply chain for ecosystem services within the Long Island region are identified and analyzed. The paper concludes with an evaluation of how information on the supply chain of ecosystem services may assist in resiliency planning in coastal communities. Further research is needed to fully evaluate the conveyance system that translocates ecosystem services from supply areas to demand areas, and this research is an initial step in that direction.
Ocean governance frameworks are aimed at achieving sustainable use of the marine environment and its finite resources. They are increasingly being developed and implemented worldwide. Although the importance of evaluating the success of integrated ocean management initiatives is widely recognized, so is its complexity, and there is still limited knowledge or empirical experience on how to actually carry out such an evaluation. This research aims to develop a framework to evaluate the performance of marine spatial planning (MSP) (focusing on the tangible outcomes of such initiatives). Portugal’s maritime area totals c. 3,800,000 km2. As one of the world’s largest maritime nations, and with its ocean governance framework finalised in 2015, Portugal emerges as a relevant case study for the development of a mechanism to evaluate performance of its MSP system. A step-by-step participatory approach was designed to develop a set of indicators that could constitute the core of an evaluation mechanism of the performance of the Portuguese MSP system. The resulting fifteen indicators cover all aspects of an IPOO framework (inputs, process, outputs, outcomes) relevant in an MSP context (data and information base, transparency, aspects related to conflict, and to economic activities such as levels of investment and jobs), while including contextual indicators related to the state of the marine environment. These indicators thus simultaneously allow an assessment of the economic, social, and environmental effects of MSP, including some integrative high-level indicators such as well-being. This research demonstrates the interest and usefulness of using a participatory approach to the development of a comprehensive performance evaluation mechanism of Portuguese MSP. It exemplifies a shift towards a new, participatory, approach to the monitoring and evaluation stages of the MSP cycle, which may constitute a useful tool in the emerging field of MSP evaluation in Europe and beyond.
In the last 15 years considerable progress has been made regarding the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) and the implementation of a worldwide MPA network, despite of great regional differences and the long way still to go to reach the targeted 10% coverage of world’s oceans by MPAs set by CBD for 2020 for all seas.
This article gives an overview of the latest developments within MPA networks, the state of play on global level, some examples stemming from Regional Sea Conventions and a national case study of the establishment of MPAs.
Most promising advances in global MPA establishment are the current “UN Prep Com-Process” that may lead to a stronger commitment of the United Nations within the framework of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) and, possibly even more “fruitful”, the achievements of the global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The CBD has established a process to identify so-called “Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas” (EBSA) in the global oceans in 2008 to inform states and international institutions. In the meantime these efforts have covered a high percentage of the global ocean and a total number of 280 EBSAs could already be identified and globally agreed by 2017. These are situated both in international waters as well as waters under the jurisdiction of individual states. At the same time very promising MPA activities are conducted by a large number of nations and under several Regional Sea Conventions, one of which, the Helsinki-Convention for the Baltic Sea, has already met the 10% MPA-coverage target.