The Ecosystem Services (ES) concept highlights the varied contributions the environment provides to humans and there are a wide range of methods/tools available to assess ES. However, in real-world decision contexts a single tool is rarely sufficient and methods must be combined to meet practitioner needs. Here, results from the OpenNESS project are presented to illustrate the methods selected to meet the needs of 24 real-world case studies and better understand why and how methods are combined to meet practical needs. Results showed that within the cases methods were combined to: i) address a range of ES; ii) assess both supply and demand of ES; iii) assess a range of value types; iv) reach different stakeholder groups v) cover weaknesses in other methods used and vi) to meet specific decision context needs. Methods were linked in a variety of ways: i) as input–output chains of methods; ii) through learning; iii) through method development and iv) through comparison/triangulation of results. The paper synthesises these case study-based experiences to provide insight to others working in practical contexts as to where, and in what contexts, different methods can be combined and how this can add value to case study analyses.
Aquaculture production of finfish has seen rapid growth in production volume and economic yield over the last decades, and is today a key provider of seafood. As the scale of production increases, so does the likelihood that the industry will face emerging biological, economic and social challenges that may influence the ability to maintain ethically sound, productive and environmentally friendly production of fish. It is therefore important that the industry aspires to monitor and control the effects of these challenges to avoid also upscaling potential problems when upscaling production. We introduce the Precision Fish Farming (PFF) concept whose aim is to apply control-engineering principles to fish production, thereby improving the farmer's ability to monitor, control and document biological processes in fish farms. By adapting several core principles from Precision Livestock Farming (PLF), and accounting for the boundary conditions and possibilities that are particular to farming operations in the aquatic environment, PFF will contribute to moving commercial aquaculture from the traditional experience-based to a knowledge-based production regime. This can only be achieved through increased use of emerging technologies and automated systems. We have also reviewed existing technological solutions that could represent important components in future PFF applications. To illustrate the potential of such applications, we have defined four case studies aimed at solving specific challenges related to biomass monitoring, control of feed delivery, parasite monitoring and management of crowding operations.
Asymmetrical intraguild predation (AIGP), which combines both predation and competition between predator species, is pervasive in nature with relative strengths varying by prey availability. But with species redistributions associated with climate change, the response by endemic predators within an AIGP context to changing biotic–abiotic conditions over time (i.e. seasonal and decadal) has yet to be quantified. Furthermore, little is known on AIGP dynamics in ecosystems undergoing rapid directional change such as the Arctic. Here, we investigate the flexibility of AIGP among two predators in the same trophic guild: beluga (Delphinapterus leucas) and Greenland halibut (Reinhardtius hippoglossoides), by season and over 30 years in Cumberland Sound—a system where forage fish capelin (Mallotus villosus) have recently become more available. Using stable isotopes, we illustrate different predator responses to temporal shifts in forage fish availability. On a seasonal cycle, beluga consumed less Greenland halibut and increased consumption of forage fish during summer, contrasting a constant consumption rate of forage fish by Greenland halibut year-round leading to decreased AIGP pressure between predators. Over a decadal scale (1982–2012), annual consumption of forage fish by beluga increased with a concomitant decline in the consumption of Greenland halibut, thereby indicating decreased AIGP pressure between predators in concordance with increased forage fish availability. The long-term changes of AIGP pressure between endemic predators illustrated here highlights climate-driven environmental alterations to interspecific intraguild interactions in the Arctic.
The increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the last century has modified oceanic conditions, affecting marine ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide to society. Pacific Island countries and territories are highly vulnerable to these changes because of their strong dependence on ocean resources, high level of exposure to climate effects, and low adaptive capacity. Projections of mid-to-late 21st century changes in sea surface temperature (SST), dissolved oxygen, pH, and net primary productivity (NPP) were synthesized across the tropical Western Pacific under strong climate mitigation and business-as-usual scenarios. These projections were used to model impacts on marine biodiversity and potential fisheries catches. Results were consistent across three climate models, indicating that SST will rise by ≥ 3 °C, surface dissolved oxygen will decline by ≥ 0.01 ml L−1, pH will drop by ≥ 0.3, and NPP will decrease by 0.5 g m−2 d−1 across much of the region by 2100 under the business-as-usual scenario. These changes were associated with rates of local species extinction of > 50% in many regions as fishes and invertebratesdecreased in abundance or migrated to regions with conditions more suitable to their bio-climate envelope. Maximum potential catch (MCP) was projected to decrease by > 50% across many areas, with the largest impacts in the western Pacific warm pool. Climate change scenarios that included strong mitigation resulted in substantial reductions of MCP losses, with the area where MCP losses exceeded 50% reduced from 74.4% of the region under business-as-usual to 36.0% of the region under the strong mitigation scenario.
For sessile organisms such as reef-building corals, differences in the degree of dispersion of individuals across a landscape may result from important differences in life-history strategies or may reflect patterns of habitat availability. Descriptions of spatial patterns can thus be useful not only for the identification of key biological and physical mechanisms structuring an ecosystem, but also by providing the data necessary to generate and test ecological theory. Here, we used an in situ imaging technique to create large-area photomosaics of 16 plots at Palmyra Atoll, central Pacific, each covering 100 m2 of benthic habitat. We mapped the location of 44,008 coral colonies and identified each to the lowest taxonomic level possible. Using metrics of spatial dispersion, we tested for departures from spatial randomness. We also used targeted model fitting to explore candidate processes leading to differences in spatial patterns among taxa. Most taxa were clustered and the degree of clustering varied by taxon. A small number of taxa did not significantly depart from randomness and none revealed evidence of spatial uniformity. Importantly, taxa that readily fragment or tolerate stress through partial mortality were more clustered. With little exception, clustering patterns were consistent with models of fragmentation and dispersal limitation. In some taxa, dispersion was linearly related to abundance, suggesting density dependence of spatial patterning. The spatial patterns of stony corals are non-random and reflect fundamental life-history characteristics of the taxa, suggesting that the reef landscape may, in many cases, have important elements of spatial predictability.
In this article, we focus on the potential influence of a scientist’s advocacy position on the public’s perceived credibility of scientists as a whole. Further, we examine how the scientist’s solution position (information only, non-controversial, and controversial) affects the public’s perception of the scientist’s motivation for sharing information about specific issues (flu, marijuana, climate change, severe weather). Finally, we assess how perceived motivations mediate the relationship between solution position and credibility. Using data from a quota sample of American adults obtained by Qualtrics (n = 2,453), we found that in some conditions advocating for a solution positively predicted credibility, while in one condition, it negatively predicted scientist credibility. We also found that the influence of solution position on perceived credibility was mediated by several motivation perceptions; most notably through perception that the scientist was motivated to: (a) serve the public and (b) persuade the public. Further results and implications are discussed.
The Great Barrier Reef Marine Park (GBRMP) is the largest network of marine reserves in the world, yet little is known of the efficacy of no-fishing zones in the relatively lightly-exploited remote parts of the system (i.e., northern regions). Here, we find that the detection of reserve effects is challenging and that heterogeneity in benthic habitat composition, specifically branching coral cover, is one of the strongest driving forces of fish assemblages. As expected, the biomass of targeted fish species was generally greater (up to 5-fold) in no-take zones than in fished zones, but we found no differences between the two forms of no-take zone: ‘no-take’ versus ‘no-entry’. Strong effects of zoning were detected in the remote Far-North inshore reefs and more central outer reefs, but surprisingly fishing effects were absent in the less remote southern locations. Moreover, the biomass of highly targeted species was nearly 2-fold greater in fished areas of the Far-North than in any reserve (no-take or no-entry) further south. Despite high spatial variability in fish biomass, our results suggest that fishing pressure is greater in southern areas and that poaching within reserves may be common. Our results also suggest that fishers ‘fish the line’ as stock sizes in exploited areas decreased near larger no-take zones. Interestingly, an analysis of zoning effects on small, non-targeted fishes appeared to suggest a top-down effect from mesopredators, but was instead explained by variability in benthic composition. Thus, we demonstrate the importance of including appropriate covariates when testing for evidence of trophic cascades and reserve successes or failures.
There is growing awareness of the need for fishery management policies that are robust to changing environmental, social, and economic pressures. Here we use conventional bioeconomic theory to demonstrate that inherent biological constraints combined with nonlinear supply−demand relationships can generate threshold effects due to harvesting. As a result, increases in overall demand due to human population growth or improvement in real income would be expected to induce critical transitions from high-yield/low-price fisheries to low-yield/high-price fisheries, generating severe strains on social and economic systems as well as compromising resource conservation goals. As a proof of concept, we show that key predictions of the critical transition hypothesis are borne out in oceanic fisheries (cod and pollock) that have experienced substantial increase in fishing pressure over the past 60 y. A hump-shaped relationship between price and historical harvest returns, well demonstrated in these empirical examples, is particularly diagnostic of fishery degradation. Fortunately, the same heuristic can also be used to identify reliable targets for fishery restoration yielding optimal bioeconomic returns while safely conserving resource abundance.
The Representative Areas Program (RAP) was, at the time, the most comprehensive process of community involvement and participatory planning for any environmental issue in Australia. The RAP was a key component of the widely acclaimed rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, and although completed in 2003, many lessons learned are still relevant today. This paper provides an analysis of the comprehensive public participation program that significantly influenced the final planning outcome. It provides insights into a fundamental component of effective marine planning, assessing what worked well and what did not in terms of public engagement. Some aspects of the public participation program were innovative, and some were more effective than others. The outcome was one-third of the Marine Park was declared as highly protected no-take zones in 2004, with the remainder of the park also zoned to provide lower levels of protection. The methods used to engage the public and the 25 lessons discussed in this paper should be of interest for practitioners, policy makers and academics elsewhere aiming for “good practice” approaches to achieve environmental conservation.
As the world’s population grows to a projected 11.2 billion by 2100, the number of people living in low-lying areas exposed to coastal hazards is projected to increase. Critical infrastructure and valuable assets continue to be placed in vulnerable areas, and in recent years, millions of people have been displaced by natural hazards. Impacts from coastal hazards depend on the number of people, value of assets, and presence of critical resources in harm’s way. Risks related to natural hazards are determined by a complex interaction between physical hazards, the vulnerability of a society or social-ecological system and its exposure to such hazards. Moreover, these risks are amplified by challenging socioeconomic dynamics, including poorly planned urban development, income inequality, and poverty. This study employs a combination of machine learning clustering techniques (Self Organizing Maps and K-Means) and a spatial index, to assess coastal risks in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) on a comparative scale. The proposed method meets multiple objectives, including the identification of hotspots and key drivers of coastal risk, and the ability to process large-volume multidimensional and multivariate datasets, effectively reducing sixteen variables related to coastal hazards, geographic exposure, and socioeconomic vulnerability, into a single index. Our results demonstrate that in LAC, more than 500,000 people live in areas where coastal hazards, exposure (of people, assets and ecosystems) and poverty converge, creating the ideal conditions for a perfect storm. Hotspot locations of coastal risk, identified by the proposed Comparative Coastal Risk Index (CCRI), contain more than 300,00 people and include: El Oro, Ecuador; Sinaloa, Mexico; Usulutan, El Salvador; and Chiapas, Mexico. Our results provide important insights into potential adaptation alternatives that could reduce the impacts of future hazards. Effective adaptation options must not only focus on developing coastal defenses, but also on improving practices and policies related to urban development, agricultural land use, and conservation, as well as ameliorating socioeconomic conditions.
Management reform has the potential to rebuild fisheries and increase long-term harvest and profitability. But timing is critical: delaying reform implementation significantly reduces the potential socio-economic and biological benefits of improved management. This study models the costs of delaying reform in terms of annual biomass, harvest, and profit for 28 Mexican fisheries, parameterized using novel, fishery-specific data. Three types of reforms are examined: 1) harvest policy, 2) elimination of illegal fishing, and 3) implementation of rights-based fisheries management. The harvest policies examined in this analysis are status quo (no reform), FMSY, and economically optimal fishing mortality. The results show that prompt management reforms lead to improved annual aggregate biomass, harvest, and profit over time. However, delaying reform results in substantial costs. Just a 5-year delay of the implementation of comprehensive reform leads to a 51 million USD loss to average annual profits. Without reform, stock status can continue to decline, and the recovery of harvests and profits are further delayed. Over a given time-horizon, delayed reforms can dramatically reduce the number of healthy stocks. The results demonstrate that delayed reform can significantly diminish potential benefits that could be secured through improved management; this highlights the importance of prompt timing considerations during policy reform.
The rapid exploitation of coastal and marine ecosystemic capital is on course to reach a critical point. The difficulty of implementing Integrated and ecosystem based management models, taking into the account the great complexity of the marine socio-ecological systems, has resulted in a significant gap between theory and practice. The majority of authors emphasize difficulties in engaging and convincing private stakeholders and a number of economic sectors involved in these processes. This reticence is traditionally more pronounced in the port sector, despite their important role in the transformation of coastal and marine areas. This paper seeks to establish bridges between the Environmental Management systems and Tools (EMT) of economic sectors and the Integrated and Ecosystem Based Management models (IEBM). To achieve this goal, an effort has been made to rethink concepts and principles traditionally used in EMT to bring them into line with those of IEBM. A DPSIR adapted framework is proposed and applied in a conceptual model, where the necessary elements for environmental management tools and ecosystemic models coexist. The logic of ecosystem services has been included, with special attention to the variable of human behaviour. How the proposals fit into the reality of the maritime-port sector was analysed in a transversal way, seeking Socio-Ecological Port System (SEPS) perspectives. This made it possible to move from Environmental Management Systems to an Integrated and Ecosystem Based Port Environmental Management System (PEMS-IEB). From a managerial perspective, it was also suggested that an additional DPSIR framework should be applied to the “response” component, the management system itself, understood as a system with its own elements, processes and interrelations.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) offers the possibility of democratising management of the seas. MSP is, however, increasingly implemented as a form of post-political planning, dominated by the logic of neoliberalism, and a belief in the capacity of managerial-technological apparatuses to address complex socio-political problems, with little attention paid to issues of power and inequality. There is growing concern that MSP is not facilitating a paradigm shift towards publicly engaged marine management, and that it may simply repackage power dynamics in the rhetoric of participation to legitimise the agendas of dominant actors. This raises questions about the legitimacy and inclusivity of participatory MSP. Research on stakeholder engagement within MSP has predominately focused on assessing experiences of active MSP participants and has not evaluated the democratic or inclusive nature of these processes. Adopting the Northeast Ocean Planning initiative in the US as a case study, this paper provides the first study of exclusion and non-participation of stakeholders in an MSP process. Three major issues are found to have had an impact on exclusion and non-participation: poor communication and a perception that the process was deliberately exclusionary; issues arising from fragmented governance, territorialisation and scale; and lack of specificity regarding benefits or losses that might accrue from the process. To be effective, participatory MSP practice must: develop mechanisms that recognise the complexity of socio-spatial relationships in the marine environment; facilitate participation in meaningful spatial decision-making, rather than in post-ideological, objective-setting processes; and create space for debate about the very purpose of MSP processes.
With increasing stressors to coral reefs, defining tools that evaluate their dynamics and resilience is important to interpret system trajectories and direct conservation efforts. In this context, surveys must go beyond conventional monitoring approaches that focus on abundance and biomass of key groups and quantify metrics that better assess ecological processes and ecosystem trajectories. By measuring a variety of conventional (e.g. proportional cover of broad benthic groups, biomass of herbivorous fish) and complementary resilience-based metrics (e.g. algal turf height, coral recruitment rates, juvenile coral densities, herbivorous fish grazing rates), this study evaluated the ecosystem responses to community-based management in Fiji. The study was conducted across three paired tabuareas (periodically closed to fishing) and adjacent fished sites. Conventional metrics reflected no management effect on benthic or herbivorous fish assemblages. In contrast, the complementary metrics generally indicated positive effects of management, particularly within the benthos. Significant differences were observed for turf height (33% lower), coral recruitment rate (159% higher) and juvenile coral density (42% higher) within areas closed to fishing compared to adjacent open reefs. In addition, turf height was inversely related to coral recruitment and juvenile coral density, and longer turfs (≥5 mm) were more competitive in interaction with corals. These results emphasise that conventional metrics may overlook benefits of local management to inshore reefs, and that incorporating complementary resilience-based metrics such as turf height into reef survey protocols will strengthen their capacity to predict the plausible future condition of reefs and their responses to disturbances.
This manual is intended to help marine resource managers, agencies and organizations plan impactful awareness activities. It provides an overview of key concepts in communications, with examples to guide the reader through the development and implementation of community outreach programs.
Modern reef-building corals sustain a wide range of ecosystem services because of their ability to build calcium carbonate reef systems. The influence of environmental variables on coral calcification rates has been extensively studied, but our understanding of their relative importance is limited by the absence of in situ observations and the ability to decouple the interactions between different properties. We show that temperature is the primary driver of coral colony (Porites astreoides and Diploria labyrinthiformis) and reef-scale calcification rates over a 2-year monitoring period from the Bermuda coral reef. On the basis of multimodel climate simulations (Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5) and assuming sufficient coral nutrition, our results suggest that P. astreoides and D. labyrinthiformis coral calcification rates in Bermuda could increase throughout the 21st century as a result of gradual warming predicted under a minimum CO2 emissions pathway [representative concentration pathway (RCP) 2.6] with positive 21st-century calcification rates potentially maintained under a reduced CO2 emissions pathway (RCP 4.5). These results highlight the potential benefits of rapid reductions in global anthropogenic CO2 emissions for 21st-century Bermuda coral reefs and the ecosystem services they provide.
Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is located in Massachusetts Bay off the densely populated northeast coast of the United States; subsequently, the marine inhabitants of the area are exposed to elevated levels of anthropogenic underwater sound, particularly due to commercial shipping. The current study investigated the alteration of estimated effective communication spaces at three spawning locations for populations of the commercially and ecologically important fishes, Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) and haddock (Melanogrammus aeglefinus). Both the ambient sound pressure levels and the estimated effective vocalization radii, estimated through spherical spreading models, fluctuated dramatically during the three-month recording periods. Increases in sound pressure level appeared to be largely driven by large vessel activity, and accordingly exhibited a significant positive correlation with the number of Automatic Identification System tracked vessels at the two of the three sites. The near constant high levels of low frequency sound and consequential reduction in the communication space observed at these recording sites during times of high vocalization activity raises significant concerns that communication between conspecifics may be compromised during critical biological periods. This study takes the first steps in evaluating these animals’ communication spaces and alteration of these spaces due to anthropogenic underwater sound.
Access, defined as the ability to use and benefit from available marine resources or areas of the ocean or coast, is important for the well-being and sustainability of coastal communities. In Canada, access to marine resources and ocean spaces is a significant issue for many coastal and Indigenous communities due to intensifying activity and competition in the marine environment. The general trend of loss of access has implications for these communities, and for Canadian society. In this review and policy perspective, we argue that access for coastal and Indigenous communities should be a priority consideration in all policies and decision-making processes related to fisheries and the ocean in Canada. This paper reviews how access affects the well-being of coastal communities, factors that support or undermine access, and research priorities to inform policy. Recommended actions include: ensuring access is transparently considered in all ocean-related decisions; supporting research to fill knowledge gaps on access to enable effective responses; making data accessible and including communities in decision-making that grants or restricts access to adjacent marine resources and spaces; ensuring updated laws, policies and planning processes explicitly incorporate access considerations; and, identifying and prioritizing actions to maintain and increase access. Taking action now could reverse the current trend and ensure that coastal and Indigenous communities thrive in the future. This is not just a Canadian issue. Globally, the ability of coastal and Indigenous communities to access and benefit from the marine environment should be at the forefront in all deliberations related to the oceans.
Multiple dilemmas confound social-ecological modelling. This review paper focuses on two: a modeller's dilemma associated with determining appropriate levels of model simplification, and a dilemma of decision-making relating to the use of models that were never designed to predict. We analyse approaches for addressing these dilemmas as they relate to shallow coastal systems and conclude that wicked problems cannot be adequately addressed using traditional disciplinary or systems engineering modelling. Simplified inter- and trans-disciplinary models have the potential to identify directions of system change, challenge thinking in disciplinary silos, and ultimately confront the dilemmas of social-ecological modelling.
Ecosystem-based management involves the integration of ecosystem services and their human beneficiaries into decision making. This can occur at multiple scales; addressing global issues such as climate change down to local problems such as flood protection and maintaining water quality. At the local scale it can be challenging to achieve a consistent and sustainable outcome across multiple communities, particularly when they differ in resource availability and management priorities. A key requirement for consistent decision support at the community level is to identify common community objectives, as these can form the basis for readily transferable indices of ecosystem benefit and human well-being. We used a keyword-based approach to look for common terminology in community fundamental objectives as a basis for transferable indices of human well-being and then compared those commonalities to community demographics, location, and type. Analysis centered on strategic planning documents readily available from coastal communities in the conterminous United States. We examined strategic planning documents based on eight domains of human well-being, and found that Living Standards and Safety and Security were the most commonly addressed domains, and Health and Cultural Fulfillment were the least. In comparing communities, regional differences were observed in only one well-being domain, Safety and Security, while community type yielded significant differences in five of the eight domains examined. Community type differences followed an urban to rural trend with urban communities focusing on Education and Living Standards, and more rural communities focused on Social Cohesion and Leisure Time. Across all eight domains multivariate analysis suggested communities were distributed along two largely orthogonal gradients; one between Living Standards and Leisure Time and or Connection to Nature, and a second between Safety and Security and Social Priorities (Education/Health/Culture/Social Cohesion). Overall these findings demonstrate the use of automated keyword analysis for obtaining information from community strategic planning documents. Moreover, the results indicate measures and perceptions of well-being at the local scale differ by community type. This information could be used in management of ecosystem services and development of indices of community sustainability that are applicable to multiple communities with similar demographics, regional location, and type.