The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) is the European Commission's flagship initiative for the protection of the European Seas, and the first holistic approach to ensuring that European Seas reach and are maintained at what is called a ‘Good Environmental Status’ by the year 2020. Regional cooperation, especially between neighbouring countries, and involvement of all interested parties, are horizontal principles of the MSFD, and particularly apply to the definition of programmes of measures, the principal instrument through which each Member State will implement its marine strategy. This paper presents the results from a dedicated, participatory, structured decision-making process that was implemented within the framework of the ActionMed project, which aimed to bring experts and policy/decision-makers from Mediterranean neighbouring countries together, to discuss and agree upon common measures for implementation in their sub-regions. It shows that a participatory approach, supported by customised, case specific intelligent tools, that follows expertly facilitated, structured workshops can be a successful way to enhance sub-regional collaboration. The paper also presents the top ranking measures, selected by experts and decision-makers for common implementation in two Mediterranean sub-regions.
Spatial decision support systems (SDSS) represent a step forward in efforts to account for the spatial dimension in environmental decision-making. The aim of SDSS is to help policymakers and practitioners access, interpret and understand information from data, analyses and models, and guide them in identifying possible actions during a decision-making process. Researchers, however, report difficulties in up-take of SDSS by the intended users. Some suggest that this field would benefit from investigation of the social aspects involved in SDSS design, development, testing and use. Borrowing insights from the literature on science-policy interactions, we explore two key social processes: knowledge integration and learning. Using a sample of 36 scientific papers concerning SDSS in relation to environmental issues, we surveyed whether and how the selected papers reported on knowledge integration and learning. We found that while many of the papers mentioned communication and collaboration with prospective user groups or stakeholders, this was seldom underpinned by a coherent methodology for enabling knowledge integration and learning to surface. This appears to have hindered SDSS development and later adoption by intended users.
This article presents the first bottom-up analysis of the proportion of global marine fisheries subsidies to small-scale fisheries (SSF). Using existing data, the reported national subsidy amounts are split into the fraction that goes to small- and large-scale fishing sectors. Results reveal a major imbalance in subsidy distribution, with SSF receiving only about 16% of the total global fisheries subsidy amount of $35 billion in 2009. To bring this into perspective, a person engaged in large-scale fishing received around 4 times the amount of subsidies received by their SSF counterparts. Furthermore, almost 90% of capacity-enhancing subsidies, which are known to exacerbate overfishing go to large-scale fisheries, thus increasing the unfair competitive advantage that large-scale fisheries already have. The developmental, economic and social consequences of this inequity are huge and impair the economic viability of the already vulnerable small-scale fishing sector. Conclusions indicate that taxpayers' money should be used to support sustainable fishing practices and in turn ocean conservation, and not to foster the degradation of marine ecosystems, often a result of capacity-enhancing subsidies. Reducing capacity-enhancing subsidies will have minimal negative effects on SSF communities since they receive very little of these subsidies to begin with. Instead, it will help correct the existing inequality, enhance SSF economic viability, and promote global fisheries sustainability.
The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires member states to manage their marine ecosystems with the goal of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) of all European Seas by 2020. Member states assess GES according to 11 descriptors set out in the MSFD, and their associated indicators.
An ecosystem service approach is increasingly being advocated to ensure sustainable use of the environment, and sets of indicators have been defined for ecosystem service assessments. We considered whether a selection of GES indicators related to biological descriptors, D1 Biodiversity, D2 Non-indigenous species, D4 Food webs and D6 Seafloor integrity, may provide information relevant to ecosystem services, potentially allowing use of collected environmental data for more than one purpose. Published lists of indicators for seven selected marine ecosystem services were compared to 296 biodiversity-related indicators included within the DEVOTOOL catalogue, established for screening marine biodiversity indicators for the MSFD. We concluded that 64 of these biodiversity indicators are directly comparable to the ecosystem service indicators under consideration. All 296 biodiversity indicators were then reassessed objectively to decide which of them could be useful as ecosystem service indicators. To carry out this step in a consistent and transparent manner, guidelines were developed among the co-authors that helped the decision making process for each individual indicator. 247 biodiversity indicators were identified as potentially useful ecosystem service indicators. By highlighting the comparability between ecosystem service and biodiversity indicators it is hoped that future monitoring effort can be used not only to ensure that GES is attained, but also that ecosystem service provision is maximised. It is recommended that these indicators should be tested across EU regional seas to see if they are useful in practice, and if ecosystem service assessments are comparable across regional seas.
This paper examines the development and effects of a rapid livelihood transition on households, and reflects on how it fits within historic trends of livelihood change for people living in highly variable and vulnerable environments. It also discusses the implications of livelihood dynamism for local governance of natural resources. In recent decades, seaweed cultivation has expanded exponentially in coastal communities across the Asia-Pacific. A case study is presented of a remote small-island community in eastern Indonesia where over the last ten years a dramatic shift in livelihood focus has occurred. Previous dependence on diverse low-productivity livelihood activities transitioned to a predominant focus on seaweed farming. The case shows how social, economic and cultural environments co-develop as people move out of conditions of collective poverty and into more nuclear household-oriented livelihood activities. Specific attention is given to the influence on a marine resource co-management program operating on the island to illustrate how local livelihood dynamics relate to broader paradigm-driven conservation and rural development initiatives. While alternative livelihood programs seek to relieve pressure on resource stocks and provide opportunities for coastal people, this case study provides timely insights into the kinds of unintended effects, trends and impacts that are associated with rapid change in the way people make a living. This study argues that, in addition to achieving higher standards of income and well-being, livelihood improvement interventions need to adequately ensure that conditions under which new livelihood arrangements come to function can be maintained locally.
Coastal zones are exposed to natural hazards in the context of global change and the concentration of human activities, which justifies the interest in assessing at-risk territories. This paper proposes a reproducible method to identify the erosion risk territories on the basis of an exposure index creation. An assessment of the building exposure to shoreline retreat is conducted along 350 km of the Atlantic French coast (Pays de la Loire regional administrative division) including rocky coasts, coastal barriers and sand spits, estuaries, bays, and coasts with protection structures. The segmentation of a 100-m landward strip is carried out with 30*100 m boxes. Three geoindicators are computed within each box: (i) the shortest shoreline-building distance (ii) the building footprint of the first row (iii) the coastal erosion along sandy coasts. The aggregation of these geoindicators within each box leads to the creation of an exposure index. Thus, this spatial framework provides a reproducible method to improve the synthetic knowledge of the erosion risk in the Pays de la Loire Region. The whole of the risk situation is detected at 1/5000 scale, which is original and significant progress. The accuracy of this study is due to the generic data used and the 30*100 m segmentation. This spatial resolution leads to finer results than previous studies. This new method can detect all the exposures in order to anticipate crises management through the deployment of a real operational alert system.
Planning and management for marine and coastal areas is often contentious, with competing interests claiming their preferences are in the ‘public interest’. Defining the public interest for marine and coastal areas remains a wicked problem, however, resistant to resolution. A focus on more tangible ‘public values’ offers an alternative for policy and planning in specific contexts. However, ambiguity surrounds who or what constitutes the ‘public’, with stakeholder engagement often used as a proxy in marine and coastal research. In this study, the outcomes of participatory processes involving the public from diverse backgrounds and geographical locales were explored. A public participation GIS (PPGIS) survey was undertaken in the remote Kimberley region of Australia to identify the spatial values and management preferences for marine and coastal areas. Similarities and differences between the volunteer public (n = 372) and online panel respondents (n = 206); and for the volunteer public only, differences between residents (n = 118) and non-residents (n = 254) were assessed. Online panelists evidenced lesser quality mapping data and did not provide a reliable means of accessing ‘public’ values. Residents were more likely to map general recreational and recreational fishing values while non-locals were more likely to map biological/conservation and wilderness values. Overall, residents and non-residents were more alike than dissimilar in their mapping of values and management preferences, suggesting that the need to preference local views may be overstated, although there may be differences in policy priorities. Future research should focus on the breadth and representativeness of stakeholder interests to access the views of wider society and hence public values, rather than current approaches where local interests are often the primary focus of participatory stakeholder engagement.
A newly introduced regulation renders the discarding of certain commercially important species illegal within the European waters progressively until 2019 (Article 15, EC Regulation 1380/2013). Thorough research is required in order to understand fishers’ perceptions and to achieve effective implementation of the regulation, as it is possible that certain implications might arise within the fishing industry and the associated communities after the shift to the new management regime. In this paper, fishers’ socio-economic behaviour is analyzed in relation to discarding practices under the “discrete choice” framework. Specifically, a variety of socioeconomic attributes, in the form of principal components that may affect the choices of the Greek bottom trawl fishers on three key discards’ drivers are analyzed to identify possible links between these. Utilizing the same attributes, eight hypothetical management tools that can be adopted for a smoother implementation of the discard ban are examined and the main results are discussed afterwards. Consistent patterns were revealed regarding fishers’ behaviour. An association of vessels’ efficiency with the probability to discard due to market limitations was evident, along with the association of different socioeconomic factors, such as the fishers’ age and the vessel’s crew size, with the incentives proposed regarding the introduction of awareness seminars. It is important to study these patterns carefully to understand the drivers and fishers’ motivation towards discarding. Their preferences on management tools that can be adopted by the EU member will also be considered, which can lead to a successful introduction of the regulation and a meaningful contribution into an effective management framework within which stakeholders can behave sustainably.
Engaging local stakeholders is a central feature of many biodiversity conservation and natural resource management projects globally. Current literature on engagement predominantly focuses on individual case studies or specific geographical contexts, making general conclusions regarding the effect of these efforts on conservation outcomes difficult. We reviewed evidence from the peer-reviewed and grey literatures related to the role of stakeholder engagement (both externally-driven and self-organized engagement) in biodiversity conservation at the local scale using both quantitative and qualitative approaches. We critically appraised and extracted data using mixed methods for case studies (n = 82) and meta-analyses (n = 31) published from 2011 to 2015. We conducted an inductive thematic analysis on background literature references published from 2000 to 2016 (n = 283). The quantitative analysis assessed multiple variables, and yielded no significant results, but suggested a possible relationship between success in producing attitudinal change towards conservation and four engagement factors. Our qualitative analysis identified six dimensions of engagement processes that are critical for successful outcomes when a project is externally-driven, and suggests that understanding of governance and social-cultural context plays an important role in all types of stakeholder engagement efforts. Finally, we reflect on the effectiveness of relying primarily on evidence available from published literature to understand links between conservation and stakeholder engagement, in particular with regard to self-organized engagement.
Remaining lingering subsurface oil residues from the Exxon Valdez oil spill (EVOS) are, at present, patchily distributed across the geologically complex and spatially extensive shorelines of Prince William Sound and the Gulf of Alaska. We review and synthesize previous literature describing the causal geomorphic and physical mechanisms for persistence of oil in the intertidal subsurface sediments of these areas. We also summarize previous sampling and modeling efforts, and refine previously presented models with additional data to characterize the present-day linear and areal spatial extent, and quantity of lingering subsurface oil. In the weeks after the spill in March of 1989, approximately 17,750 t of oil were stranded along impacted shorelines, and by October of 1992, only ~2% of the mass of spilled oil was estimated to remain in intertidal areas. We estimate that lingering subsurface residues, generally between 5 and 20 cm thick and sequestered below 10–20 cm of clean sediment, are present over 30 ha of intertidal area, along 11.4 km of shoreline, and represent approximately 227 t or 0.6% of the total mass of spilled oil. These residues are typically located in finer-grained sand and gravel sediments, often under an armor of cobble- or boulder-sized clasts, in areas with limited groundwater flow and porosity. Persistence of these residues is correlated with heavy initial oil loading together with localized sheltering from physical disturbance such as wave energy within the beach face. While no longer generally bioavailable and increasingly chemically weathered, present removal rates for these remaining subsurface oil residues have slowed to nearly zero. The only remaining plausible removal mechanisms will operate over time scales of decades.
Ocean acidification (OA) research has matured into a sophisticated experimental and theoretical scientific discipline, which now utilizes multiple stressor, mesocosm experiments, and mathematical simulation models to predict the near-future effects of continued acidification on marine ecosystems. These advanced methodological approaches to OA research also include the study of inter-specific interactions that could be disrupted if participant species exhibit differential tolerances to stressors associated with OA. The host-parasite relationship is one of the most fundamental ecological interactions, alongside competition and predation, which can regulate individuals, populations, and communities. The recent integration of competition and predation into OA research has provided great insight into the potential effects of differential tolerances to acidified seawater, and there is no reason to believe that expanding OA research to include parasitology will be less fruitful. This essay outlines our current, limited understanding of how OA will affect parasitism as an ecological process, describes potential pitfalls for researchers who ignore parasites and the effects of infection, and suggests ways of developing parasitology as a sub-field of OA research.
- Following a shark attack, local governments often rapidly respond by implementing indiscriminate shark culls. These culls have been demonstrated to have substantial localized and adverse effects on a variety of marine organisms, and therefore there is an increasing need for an eco-friendly alternative that maximizes both beachgoer and marine organismal safety.
- In response to such culls, the novel magnetic barrier technology, the Sharksafe Barrier was developed and rigorously tested on a variety of sharks implicated in shark attacks (e.g. bull sharks – Carcharhinus leucas and white sharks – Carcharodon carcharias). Although these studies exhibited promise in shark swim pattern manipulation and C. leucas exclusion, research was lacking in assessing if the technology could serve as an alternative to shark nets, or more specifically, if it could exclude motivated C. carchariasfrom bait.
- Using a 13 m × 13 m square exclusion zone, this study aimed to test the C. carchariasexclusion capabilities of the Sharksafe Barrier while additionally assessing the long-term structural integrity of the system.
- After 34 trials and approximately 255 hours of total video collected over two years, data illustrate that all interacting C. carcharias were successfully excluded from the baited Sharksafe Barrier region, whereas teleosts and other small elasmobranch species were not. In addition, the long-term deployment potential of this barrier system held promise owing to its ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions.
- Therefore, with the successful exclusion of a second large shark species, C. carcharias, from a baited region, continued long-term research and implementation of this system at other locations should be considered to assess its viability and overall success as a bather and shark protection system.
A Bayesian approach to parameter estimation in fisheries stock assessment is often preferred over maximum likelihood estimates, and fisheries management guidelines also sometimes specify that one or the other paradigm be used. However, important issues remain unresolved for the Bayesian approach to stock assessment despite over 25 years of research, development, and application. Here, we explore the consequence of a common practice in Bayesian assessment models: assigning a uniform prior to the logarithm of the parameter representing population scale (log-carrying capacity for biomass-dynamics models, or log-unfished recruits for age-structured models). First, we explain why the value chosen for the upper bound of this prior will affect parameter estimates and fisheries management advice given two properties that are met for many data-poor stock assessment models. Next, we use three case studies and a simulation experiment to show a substantial impact of this decision for data-limited assessments off the US West Coast. We end by discussing four methods for generating an informative prior on the population scale parameter, but conclude that these will not be suitable for many assessments. In these cases, we advocate that maximum likelihood estimation is a simple way to avoid the use of Bayesian priors that are excessively informative.
An ecologically and economically disruptive harmful algal bloom (HAB) affected much of the northeast Pacific margin in 2015, during a prolonged oceanic warm anomaly. Caused by diatoms of the genus Pseudo-nitzschia, this HAB produced the highest particulate concentrations of the biotoxin domoic acid (DA) ever recorded in Monterey Bay, California. Bloom inception followed strong upwelling during the spring transition, which introduced nutrients and eliminated the warm anomaly locally. Subsequently, moderate and intermittent upwelling created favorable conditions for growth and accumulation of HAB biomass, which was dominated by a highly toxigenic species, P. australis. High cellular DA concentrations were associated with available nitrogen for DA synthesis coincident with silicate exhaustion. This nutrient influence resulted from two factors: (1) disproportionate depletion of silicate in upwelling source waters during the warm anomaly, the most severe depletion observed in 24 years, and (2) silicate uptake by the dense diatom bloom.
The increasing anthropogenic disturbance on coastal ecosystems has threatened ecological interactions and ecosystems functioning. To investigate if human pressure affects the trophic structure of sandy beaches, mass-balanced models were applied on two Brazilian sandy beaches with distinct human impact degree. The food web models included detritus, phytoplankton, macroinvertebrates, fish and seabirds. Macroinvertebrates in non-urbanized sectors represented the highest production fraction consumed by predators. The energy transfer and the cycling indicator were more efficient in the non-urbanized sectors than urbanized ones. The results indicate that macroinvertebrates sensitive to direct human impact such as trampling are important to the trophic functioning of sandy beaches. Establishing a threshold for the number of beachgoers or dispersing recreational activities to avoid crowds may be tangible ways to mitigate the trampling impact on macroinvertebrates.
The interest of the general public, especially young people, in ocean and coastal issues is crucial, and yet high school students often do not consider scientific careers to be attractive. Raising student awareness of careers in marine science is not only a task for educators, but for scientists engaged in marine research as well. This paper summarises the experience of three years of international science camp organized for 15–19 year old students from countries of the Baltic Sea region (Europe) and discusses international science camps as a platform for encouraging interest in marine science.
The Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF-Guidelines) were agreed with extensive input from small-scale fishers themselves, and hold great promise for enhancing both small-scale fishers’ human rights and fisheries sustainability in a meaningful and context relevant manner. However, this promise will not be fulfilled without continued input from fishing communities as the SSF-Guidelines are implemented. This paper proposes that international conservation NGOs, with their extensive geographical and political networks, can act as a conduit for communication between small-scale fishing communities and other parties and thus catalyse implementation of the Guidelines. In order to do so, they will first need to demonstrate a genuine commitment to people-as-well-as-parks and the human rights based approach espoused in the SSF-Guidelines. This paper reviews current engagement of international conservation NGOs with human rights in fisheries; looks at their potential motivations for doing more; and identifies challenges in the way. It concludes with a proposal for how international conservation NGOs could play a critical part in catalysing the implementation of the SSF-Guidelines.
Plastics have outgrown most man-made materials and have long been under environmental scrutiny. However, robust global information, particularly about their end-of-life fate, is lacking. By identifying and synthesizing dispersed data on production, use, and end-of-life management of polymer resins, synthetic fibers, and additives, we present the first global analysis of all mass-produced plastics ever manufactured. We estimate that 8300 million metric tons (Mt) as of virgin plastics have been produced to date. As of 2015, approximately 6300 Mt of plastic waste had been generated, around 9% of which had been recycled, 12% was incinerated, and 79% was accumulated in landfills or the natural environment. If current production and waste management trends continue, roughly 12,000 Mt of plastic waste will be in landfills or in the natural environment by 2050.
The degree to which a stock is depleted is one of the most important quantities in fisheries management because it is used to quantify the success of management and to inform management responses. However, stock depletion is extremely difficult to estimate, particularly with limited data. Using the RAM Legacy database, we developed a boosted regression tree (BRT) model to correlate depletion with a range of predictors calculated from catch data, making the model usable for many fisheries worldwide. The most important predictors were found to be catch trends obtained from linear regressions of scaled catch on time, including regression coefficients for the whole catch time series, the subseries before and after the maximum catch, and in recent years. Eight predictors explain about 80% of variation in depletion. There is a correlation of .5 between measured levels of depletion and the predictions of the BRT model. Predictions are less biased when the stock is fished down below half of the carrying capacity. The BRT model outperforms comparable existing catch-based depletion estimators and could be used to provide priors for depletion for data-poor stock assessment methods, or used more directly to provide estimates of the probability that depletion is below a given threshold value.
Transboundary water systems cover a substantial area of the planet and provide critical ecosystem services for much of the global population. The International Waters (IW) Focal Area of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) aims to improve cooperation among countries in governance of transboundary water systems. There is the need to assess the outcomes, outputs and impacts of GEF IW initiatives. The current Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis/Strategic Action Programme approach of the GEF uses indicators in three categories – process, stress and state. A Transboundary Waters Governance Assessment Framework is proposed that incorporates the three above indicator categories and includes four new indicator categories: governance architecture, stakeholder engagement, social justice and human well-being. These additional categories are considered necessary to bring assessment of GEF IW initiatives in line with current governance thinking. The indicator categories are sequential, starting with governance architecture and ending with human well-being as the ultimate objective.