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Relationship between Chlorophyll a Concentration, Light Attenuation and Diving Depth of the Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina

Citation Information: Jaud T, Dragon A-C, Garcia JV, Guinet C (2012) Relationship between Chlorophyll a Concentration, Light Attenuation and Diving Depth of the Southern Elephant Seal Mirounga leonina. PLoS ONE 7(10): e47444. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0047444

Abstract: Recently, a number of Antarctic marine environmental studies have used oceanographic parameters collected from instrumented top predators for ecological and physical information. Phytoplankton concentration is generally quantified through active measurement of chlorophyll fluorescence. In this study, light absorption coefficient (K0.75) was used as an indicator of phytoplankton concentration. This measurement, easy to obtain and requiring low electric power, allows for assessing of the fine scale horizontal structuring of phytoplankton. As part of this study, Southern elephant seals (SES) were simultaneously equipped with a fluorometer and a light logger. Along the SES tracks, variations in K0.75 were strongly correlated with chlorophyll, a concentration measured by the fluorometer within the euphotic layer. With regards to SES foraging behaviour, bottom depth of the seal’s dive was highly dependent on light intensity at 150 m, indicating that the vertical distribution of SES’s prey such as myctophids is tightly related to light level. Therefore, change in phytoplankton concentration may not only have a direct effect on SES’s prey abundance but may also determine their vertical accessibility with likely consequences on SES foraging efficiency.

Mapping cumulative noise from shipping to inform marine spatial planning

Citation Information: J. Acoust. Soc. Am. Volume 132, Issue 5, pp. EL423-EL428 (2012); (6 pages)

Authors: Christine Erbe, Alexander MacGillivray, and Rob Williams

Abstract: Including ocean noise in marine spatial planning requires predictions of noise levels on large spatiotemporal scales. Based on a simple sound transmission model and ship track data (Automatic Identification System, AIS), cumulative underwater acoustic energy from shipping was mapped throughout 2008 in the west Canadian Exclusive Economic Zone, showing high noise levels in critical habitats for endangered resident killer whales, exceeding limits of “good conservation status” under the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive. Error analysis proved that rough calculations of noise occurrence and propagation can form a basis for management processes, because spending resources on unnecessary detail is wasteful and delays remedial action.

Impacts of partial marine protected areas on coastal fish communities exploited by recreational angling

Citation Information: Fisheries Research; Volume 137, January 2013, Pages 88–96

Authors: Josep Alós and Robert Arlinghaus

Abstract: The usefulness of partial marine protected areas (MPA) that implement some form of fisheries-management regulations, but do not ban fishing and the take of fish entirely, has been questioned due its perceived limited conservation benefits. Here, we provide empirical data demonstrating fish conservation benefits of partial MPA when the stocks in question are mainly exploited by recreational angling. We studied a multi-species recreational fishery from the Balearic Islands (Mediterranean Sea) comparing three kinds of spatially close managed areas. The implementation of a partial MPA decreased the fishing pressure attracted, and the protected areas hosted greater abundances and larger-sized fish compared to areas of open access. Possibly the greatest conservation benefit of partial MPA resulted from the reduced fishing effort attracted, likely as a result of aversion of anglers to use areas where some form of management is affecting the recreational experience. In addition, the constraints on artisanal fishing may also have contributed to the conservation benefits we found. Depending on the right social and ecological context, partial MPA may therefore work as expected. Our study is observational and therefore cause-and-effect cannot be conclusively provided. However, our positive data suggest that more empirical data from other recreational fisheries and stocks should be collected before discarding the use of partial MPA in terms of providing a suitable compromise between conservation objectives and securing access to resources.

Fish avoidance of research vessels and the efficacy of noise-reduced vessels: a review

Citation Information: De Robertis, A. and Handegard, N. O. Fish avoidance of research vessels and the efficacy of noise-reduced vessels: a review – ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fss155.

Abstract: It has long been recognized that fish can avoid approaching vessels and that these behaviours can bias fishery surveys. Underwater noise is considered the primary stimulus, and standards for research vessel noise have been established to minimize fish reactions. We review the literature on fish reactions to vessels appearing since these recommendations were made, focusing on acoustic surveys, and compare how fish react to noise-reduced and conventional vessels. Reactions to approaching vessels are variable and difficult to predict. However, the behaviour can bias acoustic abundance measurements, and should be considered when performing acoustic surveys. The few comparisons of acoustic abundance measurements from noise-reduced and conventional vessels are contradictory, but demonstrate that the sound pressure level, on which the noise-reduction criterion is based, is insufficient to explain how fish react to survey vessels. Further research is needed to identify the stimuli fish perceive from approaching vessels and the factors affecting whether fish perceiving these stimuli will react before further recommendations to reduce vessel-avoidance reactions can be made. In the interim, measurement of the biases introduced by fish avoidance reactions during surveys, and timing of surveys when fish are in a less reactive state, may reduce errors introduced by vessel avoidance.

Conservation on the High Seas: Developing the Concept of the High Seas Marine Protected Areas

Citation Information: The International Journal of Marine and Coastal Law, Volume 27, Number 4, 2012 , pp. 849-857(9)

Author: Scott, Karen N.

Abstract: This article explores developments in connection with marine protected areas (MPAs) on the high seas, beginning with a brief survey of existing high seas MPAs, recent initiatives such as the designation of the South Orkney Islands MPA, the creation of a network of OSPAR MPAs and the work undertaken by the UN General Assembly on developing a framework for oceans governance in areas beyond national jurisdiction. It considers: the absence of a clear legal basis for the creation of MPAs on the high seas; the relationship between MPA designation and traditional high seas freedoms; and the complex jurisdictional arrangements that govern activities on and in the high seas.

Movements and site fidelity of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in Kattegat, Denmark, with implications for the epidemiology of the phocine distemper virus

Citation Information: Dietz, R., Teilmann, J., Andersen S. M. Rigét, F., and Olsen, M. T. 2012. Movements and site fidelity of harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) in Kattegat, Denmark, with implications for the epidemiology of the phocine distemper virus – ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fss144.

Abstract: Twenty-seven harbour seals were caught and tagged at the island of Anholt in central Kattegat, Denmark, the epicentre of the phocine distemper virus (PDV) outbreaks in 1988 and 2002 that killed 50–60% of the populations. The satellite tagging shows that harbour seals from Anholt moved widely across Kattegat with a maximum distance of 249 km from the tagging haul-out site. Overall, females travelled over a wider area compared with males [90% kernel home range (KHR) females, 5189 km2; males, 3293 km2). KHR calculated for yearlings (6414 km2) is larger than for subadults (2534 km2), which again is larger than for adult seals (1713 km2), showing a strong site fidelity, indicating limited gene flow between haul-out sites. Distances moved and home range sizes increased across autumn, peaked in February–March, and decreased through spring. During the breeding season in spring, all seals were very stationary around Anholt. The onset of the PDV epizootics in 1988 and 2002 took place when the Anholt harbour seals congregate on the Island during April. Anholt seal were also documented to have contact with infected seal locations at Hesselø, Læsø, and the Swedish west coast, although this contact takes place during winter prior to the documented summer outbreaks.

Effects of a large-scale and offshore marine protected area on the demersal fish assemblage in the Southwest Atlantic

Citation Information: Alemany, D., Iribarne, O. O., and Acha, E. M. Effects of a large-scale and offshore marine protected area on the demersal fish assemblage in the Southwest Atlantic. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi.10.1093/icesjms/fss166.

Abstract: There are few extensive and offshore located marine protected areas (MPAs) in the world oceans and their performance is still being debated. We evaluated the effects of a large-scale offshore MPA located on the Southwest Atlantic Patagonian Shelf (43°S 63°W) on the demersal fish assemblage. Compliance of the Patagonian MPA was assessed by analysing eight years of satellite vessel monitoring system (VMS; 2000–2008) data, which showed compliance and fishing effort concentrated near the protection boundaries. MPA effects were studied by employing a five year database collected by a scientific research vessel in protected and fishing locations, before and after the MPA establishment. We assessed 152 scientific trawling stations using multivariate analysis of fish assemblage structure, fish abundance (discriminating target and non-target species), and mean size and proportion of juveniles of the target species (Argentine hake, Merluccius hubbsi). The identified MPA effects were a trend towards increasing abundance of the demersal fish assemblage, the target and non-target fish species, and hake juvenile size, and a higher proportion of juveniles aged 2+ inside the MPA. These positive trends support the case for offshore, large-scale MPAs.

Seascape ecology of coastal biogenic habitats: advances, gaps and challenges

Citation Information: MEPS 427:191-217 (2011)

DOI: 10.3354/meps09051

Authors: Christoffer Boström, Simon J. Pittman, Charles Simenstad, Ronald T. Kneib

Abstract: We review the progress made in the emerging field of coastal seascape ecology, i.e. the application of landscape ecology concepts and techniques to the coastal marine environment. Since the early 1990s, the landscape ecology approach has been applied in several coastal subtidal and intertidal biogenic habitats across a range of spatial scales. Emerging evidence indicates that animals in these seascapes respond to the structure of patches and patch mosaics in different ways and at different spatial scales, yet we still know very little about the ecological significance of these relationships and the consequences of change in seascape patterning for ecosystem functioning and overall biodiversity. Ecological interactions that occur within patches and among different types of patches (or seascapes) are likely to be critically important in maintaining primary and secondary production, trophic transfer, biodiversity, coastal protection, and supporting a wealth of ecosystem goods and services. We review faunal responses to patch and seascape structure, including effects of fragmentation on 5 focal habitats: seagrass meadows, salt marshes, coral reefs, mangrove forests, and oyster reefs. Extrapolating and ­generalizing spatial relationships between ecological patterns and processes across scales remains a significant challenge, and we show that there are major gaps in our understanding of these relationships. Filling these gaps will be crucial for managing and responding to an inevitably changing coastal environment. We show that critical ecological thresholds exist in the structural patterning of biogenic ecosystems that, when exceeded, cause abrupt shifts in the distribution and abundance of organisms. A better understanding of faunal–seascape relationships, including the identifications of threshold effects, is ­urgently needed to support the development of more effective and holistic management actions in restoration, site prioritization, and forecasting the impacts of environmental change.

Linking Cetaceans to their Environment: Spatial Data Acquisition, Digital Processingand Predictive Modeling for Marine Spatial Planning in the Northwest Atlantic

Citation Information: Pittman SJ & Costa B (2010) Chapter 21: Linking cetaceans to their environment: spatially explicit data acquisition, digital data processing and predictive modeling for marine spatial planning in the Northwest Atlantic. pp 387-408. In (Cushman, S. & Huettmann, F eds.) Spatial Complexity, Informatics, and Wildlife Conservation. Springer, Tokyo.

DOI: 10.1007/978-4-431-87771-4_21 

Abstract: In this chapter, we describe a predictive modeling approach that involves the integration of historical cetacean sightings data from multiple survey programs for the southern Gulf of Maine (USA). These datasets were spatially and temporally referenced, effort corrected and then statistically linked to 29 spatially continuous environmental variables including data on geographical setting, prey distributions,surficial sea conditions, bathymetric features, water depth and water stratification.Data were either archived on internet servers or available by written request to the data providers. A Geographic Information System (GIS) was used to visualize and process the data on cetacean abundance patterns and environmental variables.Predictive models were developed using two complementary nonlinear modeling techniques: CART (Classification and Regression Trees), a recursive partitioning technique, and MARS (Multivariate Adaptive Regression Splines), a regression technique that is capable of incorporating multiple interactions between predictors.

Special thanks to OpenChannels member SJPittman for providing this content! 

Seagrass ecosystems as a globally significant carbon stock

Citation Information: Nature Geoscience, 5, 505–509 (2012)

DOI: 10.1038/ngeo1477

Authors: James W. Fourqurean, Carlos M. Duarte, Hilary Kennedy, Núria Marbà, Marianne Holmer, Miguel Angel Mateo, Eugenia T. Apostolaki, Gary A. Kendrick, Dorte Krause-Jensen, Karen J. McGlathery & Oscar Serrano

Abstract: The protection of organic carbon stored in forests is considered as an important method for mitigating climate change. Like terrestrial ecosystems, coastal ecosystems store large amounts of carbon, and there are initiatives to protect these ‘blue carbon’ stores. Organic carbon stocks in tidal salt marshes and mangroves have been estimated, but uncertainties in the stores of seagrass meadows—some of the most productive ecosystems on Earth—hinder the application of marine carbon conservation schemes. Here, we compile published and unpublished measurements of the organic carbon content of living seagrass biomass and underlying soils in 946 distinct seagrass meadows across the globe. Using only data from sites for which full inventories exist, we estimate that, globally, seagrass ecosystems could store as much as 19.9 Pg organic carbon; according to a more conservative approach, in which we incorporate more data from surface soils and depth-dependent declines in soil carbon stocks, we estimate that the seagrass carbon pool lies between 4.2 and 8.4 Pg carbon. We estimate that present rates of seagrass loss could result in the release of up to 299 Tg carbon per year, assuming that all of the organic carbon in seagrass biomass and the top metre of soils is remineralized.

Improving integration for integrated coastal zone management: An eight country study

Citation Information: Science of The Total Environment; Volume 439, 15 November 2012, Pages 194–201

Authors: M.E. Portman, L.S. Esteves, X.Q. Lec, A.Z. Khan

Abstract: Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) is a widely accepted approach for sustainable management of the coastal environment. ICZM emphasizes integration across sectors, levels of government, uses, stakeholders, and spatial and temporal scales. While improving integration is central to progress in ICZM, the role of and the achievement of integration remain understudied. To further study these two points, our research analyzes the performance of specific mechanisms used to support ICZM in eight countries (Belgium, India, Israel, Italy, Portugal, Sweden, UK, and Vietnam). The assessment is based on a qualitative comparative analysis conducted through the use of two surveys. It focuses on five ICZM mechanisms (environmental impact assessment; planning hierarchy; setback lines; marine spatial planning, and regulatory commission) and their role in improving integration. Our findings indicate that certain mechanisms enhance specific types of integration more effectively than others. Environmental impact assessment enhances science–policy integration and can be useful to integrate knowledge across sectors. Planning hierarchy and regulatory commissions are effective mechanisms to integrate policies across government levels, with the latter also promoting public–government integration. Setback lines can be applied to enhance integration across landscape units. Marine spatial planning is a multi-faceted mechanism with the potential to promote all types of integration. Policy-makers should adopt the mechanisms that are suited to the type of integration needed. Results of this study also contribute to evidence-based coastal management by identifying the most common impediments related to the mechanisms of integration in the eight studied countries.

Application of Qualitative Risk Assessment Methodology to Prioritise Issues for Fisheries Management

Citation Information: ICES J. Mar. Sci. (2005) 62 (8): 1576-1587

DOI: 10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.06.005

Author: W.J. Fletcher

Abstract: Implementing more holistic forms of fisheries management (e.g. Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD), Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management) usually increases the number and scope of impacts requiring assessment. This study examined the effectiveness of a qualitative risk assessment process, developed as part of a National ESD framework, for prioritizing issues across the seven most valuable Western Australian commercial fisheries. Structured stakeholder workshops were used to identify issues across three ecological areas: retained species (i.e. target and by-product), non-retained (i.e. discarded and protected) species, and the broader ecosystem for each fishery. The risk associated with each issue was assessed using one of five sets of consequence criteria specifically developed to cover fishery-related impacts. The risk scores, for which suitably detailed justifications were written, determined the level of reporting and management required for each issue. Despite an additional 96 “non-target species issues” being identified at the workshops from a total of 115 issues, of the 27 issues requiring explicit management actions, just six new issues were added by this process. In addition, it identified where modifications of some of the existing arrangements were necessary. Finally, the system significantly improved stakeholder involvement and therefore acceptance of the outcomes. Given this success, risk assessment has now been applied to all Western Australia's export fisheries and to the development or review of many other systems, thereby improving the entire management process.

Participation, process quality, and performance of marine protected areas in the wider Caribbean

Citation Information: Environmental Management; Volume 49, Number 6 (2012), 1224-1237

DOI: 10.1007/s00267-012-9855-0

Authors: Tracey Dalton, Graham Forrester and Richard Pollnac

Abstract: Throughout the wider Caribbean, marine protected areas (MPAs) are rapidly gaining momentum as a conservation tool, but management performance of existing MPAs is considered low. To enhance MPA management performance, stakeholders are increasingly being invited to discuss, debate, and develop rules about how people should interact with marine ecosystems. Using social and ecological data from a rapid assessment of 31 MPAs and their associated communities in the wider Caribbean, this study investigates stakeholder participation in MPA planning and management, and how participants' views of process quality relate to MPA performance. Findings indicate that (1) participants tended to be male, resource users, participate in community organizations, and have lived fewer years in the community associated with an MPA than non-participants; (2) simply participating was not associated with perceptions of the social and ecological performance of MPAs, however, perceptions of process quality were positively related to views of performance; and (3) resource users' perceptions of an MPA's ecological performance were likely shaped by a variety of factors. Conservation practitioners should be aware that participatory MPA processes are complex and require careful planning if they are to contribute positively to marine conservation efforts.

Demersal fish and invertebrate biomass in relation to an offshore hypoxic zone along the US West Coast

Citation Information: Fisheries Oceanography; Volume 19, Issue 1, pages 76–87, January 2010

DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2419.2009.00529.x

Authors: AIMEE A. KELLER, VICTOR SIMON, FRANCIS CHAN, W. W. WAKEFIELD, M. E. CLARKE, JOHN A. BARTH, DAN KAMIKAWA, ERICA L. FRUH

Abstract: In August 2007, as part of the NOAA National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) West Coast Groundfish Bottom Trawl Survey, we examined the biomass of demersal organisms in a known hypoxic area off the Oregon coast. Although observed each summer, the intensity of hypoxia has varied annually (2002–2007) with the greatest temporal and spatial extent noted in 2006. In 2007 we identified the geographic extent of the hypoxic zone and sampled 17 stations along two depth contours (50 and 70 m) within the area. A Sea-Bird SBE 19plus equipped with a dissolved oxygen (DO) sensor was attached to the bottom trawl to monitor oxygen concentration during each tow. Bottom DO concentrations at all stations were hypoxic with means along the tow tracts ranging from 0.43 to 1.27 mL L−1. Total catch per unit effort (ln CPUE, kg hectare−1) and species diversity (number of species, N) were significantly and positively related to oxygen concentration along the hypoxic gradient. In addition, CPUE (natural log-transformed) for eight fish species and five benthic invertebrate species were significantly and positively related to bottom oxygen concentration within the hypoxic region. Condition factors for five fish species, as well as Dungeness crab (Cancer magister) increased with increased bottom oxygen levels along the hypoxic gradient. Historical catch (2003–2006) within the hypoxic zone indicates that biomass was significantly lower in 2006, the year with the lowest bottom DO levels, relative to other years.

Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Maine

Citation Information: HALE, S. S. AND M. Westhead. Ecosystem Services in the Gulf of Maine. Chapter 1, Advancing an Ecosystem Approach in the Gulf of Maine. American Fisheries Society Symposium. American Fisheries Society, Bethesda, MD, 79:1-8, (2012). 

Description: The primary goal of ecosystem-based management (EBM) is to sustain the long-term capacity of the natural world to provide ecosystem services. A technical workshop was held with the object of moving toward identifying, mapping, quantifying, and valuing ecosystem services in the Gulf of Maine. Ecosystem services are the benefits humans derive from ecosystems—the things we need and care about that we get from Nature. Making the benefits of biodiversity and ecosystem services more visible to environmental managers and society is necessary to pave the way for more efficient policy and management. Ecosystem services can provide a framework for assessing and resolving trade-offs among potentially conflicting human activities. Many of the scientific and technical elements necessary to move forward with ecosystem services approaches and EBM in the Gulf of Maine are already in place and have been applied in other areas. Currently what is lacking is a policy and regulatory framework. Outstanding research questions include a more complete understanding of all ecosystem services, how they can be valued, and how the links within and among social-ecological systems influence their delivery. To implement ecosystem services and EBM in the Gulf of Maine, we need a clear vision, institutions with clear mandates, EBM science infrastructure, and integrative and interdisciplinary partnerships. Infrastructure for US-Canada science coordination is in place through the Gulf of Maine Council and the Regional Association for Research on the Gulf of Maine (RARGOM). However, management issues are more difficult because we have bi-lateral agreements only on fish stock management and need formal agreements to work together on broader ecosystem elements.

Incorporating Ecological Principles into California Ocean and Coastal Management: Examples from Practice

Citation Information: Center for Ocean Solutions. 2012. Incorporating Ecological Principles into California Ocean and Coastal Management: Examples from Practice. Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment, Stanford University, California.

Authors: Ashley L. Erickson, Melissa M. Foley, Erin E. Prahler, Margaret R. Caldwell

Description: California’s coast and ocean are iconic. With the largest ocean economy in the nation, Californians’ quality of life and economic wellbeing are tied to the health of our ocean and coastal resources and the services—food, tourism, recreation, trade, wildlife habitat—they provide. State and federal agencies are entrusted with maintaining the health and productivity of our coast and ocean for all Californians. A wide range of legal mandates guide agency decision making to ensure sustainability in the face of a growing number of human activities along the coast and in the ocean. This Guide is designed to serve as a practical tool for California agency staff to both fulfill their legal mandates and protect California’s invaluable ocean and coastal resources for generations to come.

This Guide provides new and innovative information to improve the effectiveness of coastal and ocean decision making. It demonstrates how agency staff and applicants alike can apply four science-based guidelines—called ecosystem principles - to existing decision-making processes. These principles were developed by a team of leading scientists to help resource managers incorporate the best available scientific information about how to maintain and restore healthy ecosystems.

The Guide also includes a thorough analysis of the scientific basis behind the ecosystem principles, as well as a series of case studies that demonstrate how the principles can be practically applied to day-to-day agency decision making. The Guide is designed for use by agency staff charged with analyzing regulatory and permitting decisions that affect ocean and coastal resources.

Contents of the Guide:

Chapter 1 – The first section of the Guide offers a brief introduction to the ecological principles and ecosystem vulnerability in the context of ocean and coastal management.

Choosing a fishery’s governance structure using data poor methods

Citation Information: Marine Policy; Volume 37, January 2013, Pages 123–131; Social and cultural impacts of marine fisheries

Authors: Catherine Mary Dichmont, Sean Pascoe, Edward Jebreen, Rachel Pears, Kate Brooks, Pascal Perez

Abstract: Multi-species fisheries are complex to manage and the ability to develop an appropriate governance structure is often seriously impeded because trading between sustainability objectives at the species level, economic objectives at the fleet level, and social objectives at the community scale, is complex. Many of these fisheries also tend to have a mix of information, with stock assessments available for some species and almost no information on other species. The fleets themselves comprise fishers from small family enterprises to large vertically integrated businesses. The Queensland trawl fishery in Australia is used as a case study for this kind of fishery. It has the added complexity that a large part of the fishery is within a World Heritage Area, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, which is managed by an agency of the Australian Commonwealth Government whereas the fishery itself is managed by the Queensland State Government. A stakeholder elicitation process was used to develop social, governance, economic and ecological objectives, and then weight the relative importance of these. An expert group was used to develop different governance strawmen (or management strategies) and these were assessed by a group of industry stakeholders and experts using multi-criteria decision analysis techniques against the different objectives. One strawman clearly provided the best overall set of outcomes given the multiple objectives, but was not optimal in terms of every objective, demonstrating that even the “best” strawman may be less than perfect.

Monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas: A generic framework for implementation of ecosystem based marine management and its application

Citation Information: Marine Policy; Volume 37, January 2013, Pages 149–164; Social and cultural impacts of marine fisheries

Authors: Vanessa Stelzenmüller, Patricia Breen, Tammy Stamford, Frank Thomsen, Fabio Badalamenti, Ángel Borja, Lene Buhl-Mortensen, Julia Carlstöm, Giovanni D’Anna, Norbert Dankers, Steven Degraer, Mike Dujin, Fabio Fiorentino, Ibon Galparsoro, Sylvaine Giakoumi, Michele Gristina, Kate Johnson, Peter J.S. Jones, Stelios Katsanevakis, Leyla Knittweis, Zacharoula Kyriazi, Carlo Pipitone, Joanna Piwowarczyk, Marijn Rabaut, Thomas K. Sørensen, Jan van Dalfsen, Vassiliki Vassilopoulou, Tomás Vega Fernández, Magda Vincx, Sandra Vöge, Anke Weber, Nicklas Wijkmark, Robbert Jak, Wanfei Qiu, Remment ter Hofstede

Abstract: This study introduces a framework for the monitoring and evaluation of spatially managed areas (SMAs), which is currently being tested by nine European case studies. The framework provides guidance on the selection, mapping, and assessment of ecosystem components and human pressures, the evaluation of management effectiveness and potential adaptations to management. Moreover, it provides a structured approach with advice on spatially explicit tools for practical tasks like the assessment of cumulative impacts of human pressures or pressure-state relationships. The case studies revealed emerging challenges, such as the lack of operational objectives within SMAs, particularly for transnational cases, data access, and stakeholder involvement. Furthermore, the emerging challenges of integrating the framework assessment using scientific information with a structured governance research analysis based mainly on qualitative information are addressed. The lessons learned will provide a better insight into the full range of methods and approaches required to support the implementation of the ecosystem approach to marine spatial management in Europe and elsewhere.

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