North East Atlantic and the Mediterranean Sea fisheries are governed by the European Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). Despite the fact that both areas are managed under the same broad fishery management system, a large discrepancy in management performance occurs, with recent considerable improvement of stock status witnessed in the North East Atlantic and a rapidly deteriorating situation in the Mediterranean Sea. The control of fishing effort combined with specific technical measures, such as gear regulation, establishment of a minimum conservation reference size, and selective closure of areas and seasons, is the main management strategy adopted by Mediterranean Sea EU countries. On the other hand TAC (Total Allowable Catches) is the major regulatory mechanisms in the North East Atlantic. Here, we analyzed all available stock assessment and effort data for the most important commercial species and fleets in the Mediterranean Sea since 2003. The analysis shows that there is no apparent relationship between nominal effort and fishing mortality for all species. Fishing mortality has remained stable during the last decade, for most species, with a significant decline observed only for red mullet and giant red shrimp but an increase for sardine stocks. Also, current F is larger or much larger than FMSY for all species. Despite catch advice are produced by STECF each year, the realized catches have usually been much larger than the scientific advice. A recent analysis argued that this dichotomy might be due to several factors, such as the better enforcement of monitoring control and surveillance in North East Atlantic, the more complex socio-economic situation and the less effective management governance in the Mediterranean Sea. Here we argue instead that major reasons for the alarming situation of Mediterranean Sea stocks can be found in the ineffectiveness of the current effort system to control F, the continuous non-adherence to the scientific advice and inadequacies of existing national management plans as a key management measure. It is therefore undoubted that alternatives management measures as a TAC based system are necessary if Europe is willing to achieve the objectives of the CFP before 2020 in the Mediterranean Sea.
This chapter provides a brief overview of the latest insights from climate change research, including expected impacts and implications of uncertainty, with a focus on sea-level rise and adaptation.
Climate change will affect Antarctic krill Euphausia superba, krill-dependent predators, and fisheries in the Southern Ocean as areas typically covered by sea ice become ice-free in some winters. Research cruises conducted around the South Shetland Islands of the Antarctic Peninsula during winters with contrasting ice conditions provide the first acoustic estimates of krill biomass, habitat use, and association with top predators to examine potential interactions with the krill fishery. Krill abundance was very low in offshore waters during all winters. In Bransfield Strait, median krill abundance was an order of magnitude higher (8 krill m-2) compared to summer (0.25 krill m-2), and this pattern was observed in all winters regardless of ice cover. Acoustic estimates of krill biomass were also an order of magnitude higher (~5500000 metric tons [t] in 2014) than a 15 yr summer average (520000 t). Looking at krill-dependent predators, during winter, crabeater seals Lobodon carcinophagus were concentrated in Bransfield Strait where ice provided habitat, while Antarctic fur seals Arctocephalus gazella were more broadly distributed. Krill overwinter in coastal basin environments independent of ice and primary production and in an area that is becoming more frequently ice-free. While long-term projections of climate change have focused on changing krill habitat and productivity declines, more immediate impacts of ongoing climate change include increased risks of negative fishery-krill-predator interactions, alteration of upper trophic level community structure, and changes in the pelagic ecology of this system. Development of management strategies to mitigate the increased risk to krill populations and their dependent predators over management timescales will be necessary to minimize the impacts of long-term climate change.
Long-term environmental sampling provided information on catch and near-bottom oxygen levels across a range of depths and conditions from the upper to the lower limit of the oxygen minimum zone and shoreward across the continental shelf of the US west coast (US-Canada to US-Mexico). During 2008 to 2014, near-bottom dissolved oxygen (DO) concentrations ranged from 0.02 to 5.5 ml l-1 with 63.2% of sites experiencing hypoxia (DO < 1.43 ml l-1). The relationship between catch per unit effort (CPUE) and DO was estimated for 34 demersal fish species in 5 subgroups by life history category (roundfishes, flatfishes, shelf rockfishes, slope rockfishes and thornyheads) using generalized additive models (GAMs). Models included terms for position, time, near-bottom environmental measurements (salinity, temperature, oxygen) and bottom depth. Significant positive relationships between CPUE and DO occurred for 19 of 34 groundfish species within hypoxic bottom waters. Community effects (total CPUE and species richness for demersal fishes) also exhibited significant and positive relationships with low near-bottom oxygen levels. GAM analysis revealed an apparent threshold effect at lower oxygen levels, where small changes in oxygen produced large changes in catch for several species, as well as total catch and species richness. An additional 7 species displayed negative trends. Based on Akaike’s information criterion values, near-bottom oxygen played a major role in the distribution of flatfishes, roundfishes and thornyheads. By examining similarities and differences in the response of various subgroups of commercially important groundfish species to low DO levels, we uncovered ecological inferences of potential value to future ecosystem-based management.
Municipalities are important actors in the field of local climate change adaptation. Stakeholders need scientifically sound information tailored to their needs to make local assessment of climate change effects. To provide tailored data to support municipal decision-making, climate scientists must know the state of municipal climate change adaptation, and the climate parameters relevant to decisions about such adaptation. The results of an empirical study in municipalities in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg in Southwestern Germany showed that adaptation is a relatively new topic, but one of increasing importance. Therefore, past weather events that caused problems in a municipality can be a starting point in adaptation considerations. Deduction of tailored climate parameters has shown that, for decisions on the implementation of specific adaptation measures, it also is necessary to have information on specific parameters not yet evaluated in climate model simulations. We recommend intensifying the professional exchange between climate scientists and stakeholders in collaborative projects with the dual goals of making practical adaptation experience and knowledge accessible to climate science, and providing municipalities with tailored information about climate change and its effects.
Case studies of the Canada Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO), Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO), and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) highlighted factors influencing scientific communication that are contingent on the characteristics of the many dynamic and iterative science-policy interfaces among decision-makers, scientists, and other stakeholders. Direct observations of 15 scientific and management meetings coupled with interviews with 78 scientists and managers revealed aspects of the information pathways, i.e., production, communication, and use of scientific information in these organizations. Unique features of decision-making and information use enable the production of credible, relevant, and legitimate information in each organization, including trade-offs in these attributes to support fisheries governance objectives. For instance, defined processes for producing scientific advice embedded in fisheries management authorities, such as DFO and NAFO, ensure uptake of information in decision-making. As a boundary organization, FAO bridges science and policy-making groups among its member countries. The demand for scientific advice, policy development, and trade aspects are primary drivers in the information pathways. However, organizational aspects such as dispersed units and inadequate communication persist as barriers to information flow. Across the geographic scales of the three organizations, stakeholders apart from government scientists and policy-makers, e.g., the fishing industry, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and the public, are increasingly involved in the information pathways. Insights about the information pathways can equip the organizations to evaluate or modify practices to increase the uptake of information in decision-making as fisheries management issues and considerations become more complex.
Effective coastal conservation requires a better understanding of how human activities on land may directly and indirectly affect adjacent marine communities. However, the relationship between terrestrial and marine systems has rarely been considered in terrestrial and marine reserve design. Seagrasses are affected by land-based activities due to their proximity to terrestrial systems and sensitivity to fluxes of terrestrially-derived organic and inorganic material. Our study examines how land use patterns adjacent to seagrass meadows influence the ecological integrity of seagrass using a suite of seagrass condition metrics on a landscape level across the Philippine archipelago. Using canonical correlation analysis, we measured the association between environmental variables (land use and seagrass abiotic conditions) with biotic variables (seagrass species richness and abundance). Terrestrial protection adjacent to seagrass meadows, defined as the absence of various anthropogenic land use perturbations, had significant positive effects on seagrass condition. The watershed area, and area of farmland and human development, had the most negative effect on seagrass condition. Using analysis of covariance and regression, we examined how marine protected area (MPA) establishment, size, and age, affected seagrass biotic conditions while holding environmental conditions constant. The relationship between biological and environmental canonical factors did not vary as a function of an MPA. This study provides evidence that land use is more important than marine protection for tropical seagrass condition. Our results demonstrate the complementary connection between land and sea, justifying the ‘ridge-to-reef’ approach in coastal conservation. Proper management of seagrasses should account for stewardship of the adjacent watersheds.
Marine protected areas are being implemented at an accelerating pace, and hold promise for restoring damaged ecosystems. But glaring shortfalls in staffing and funding often lead to suboptimal outcomes.
Behavioural ecology is an evolutionary-based discipline that attempts to predict how animals will behave in a given set of environmental circumstances and how those behavioural decisions will impact population growth and community structure. Given the rapidly changing state of the ocean environment it seems that this approach should be a beneficial tool for marine conservation, but its promise has not been fully realized. Since many conservation issues involve alterations to an animal’s habitat, I focus on how habitat selection models developed by behavioural ecologists may be useful in thinking about these sorts of problems, and mitigating them. I then briefly consider some other potential applications of behavioural ecology to marine conservation. Finally, I emphasize that the strength of a functional approach like behavioural ecology is that it allows predictions, from first principles, of responses to environmental changes outside the range of conditions already experienced and studied, and its models may be broadly generalizable across species and ecosystems.
This study investigated the effectiveness of mangrove planting initiatives in Sri Lanka. All the lagoons and estuaries in Sri Lanka were included in the study. We documented all agencies and locations, involved in mangrove planting efforts, along with the major drivers of these planting initiatives, their extents, and the possible causes of the success or failure of planting. An adapted three-step framework and a field survey consisting of vegetation and soil surveys and questionnaires were used to evaluate the objectives. We found that about 1,000–1,200 ha of mangroves, representing 23 project sites with 67 planting efforts, have been under restoration with the participation of several governmental and nongovernmental organizations. However, about 200–220 ha showed successful mangrove restoration. Nine out of 23 project sites (i.e. 36/67 planting efforts) showed no surviving plants. The level of survival of the restoration project sites ranged from 0 to 78% and only three sites, that is, Kalpitiya, Pambala, and Negombo, showed a level of survival higher than 50%. Survival rates were significantly correlated with post-care. Planting mangrove seedlings at the incorrect topography often entails inappropriate soil conditions for mangroves. Survival rates showed significant correlations with a range of soil parameters except soil pH. Disturbance and stress caused by cattle trampling, browsing, algal accumulation, and insect attacks, factors that may themselves relate to choosing sites with inappropriate topography and hydrology, were common to most sites. The findings are a stark illustration of the frequent mismatch between the purported aims of restoration initiatives and the realities on the ground.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) should assist managers in guiding human activities toward sustainable practices and in minimizing user conflicts in our oceans. A necessary first step is to quantify spatial patterns of marine assemblages in order to understand the ecosystem's structure, function, and services. However, the large spatial scale, high economic value, and density of human activities in nearshore habitats often makes quantifying this component of marine ecosystems especially daunting. To address this challenge, we developed an assessment method that employs abiotic proxies to rapidly characterize marine assemblages in nearshore benthic environments with relatively high resolution. We evaluated this assessment method along 300 km of the State of Maine's coastal shelf (<100 m depth), a zone where high densities of buoyed lobster traps typically preclude extensive surveys by towed sampling gear (i.e., otter trawls). During the summer months of 2010–2013, we implemented a stratified-random survey using a small remotely operated vehicle that allowed us to work around lobster buoys and to quantify all benthic megafauna to species. Stratifying by substrate, depth, and coastal water masses, we found that abiotic variables explained a significant portion of variance (37–59%) in benthic species composition, diversity, biomass, and economic value. Generally, the density, diversity, and biomass of assemblages significantly increased with the substrate complexity (i.e., from sand-mud to ledge). The diversity, biomass, and economic value of assemblages also decreased significantly with increasing depth. Last, demersal fish densities, sessile invertebrate densities, species diversity, and assemblage biomass increased from east to west, while the abundance of mobile invertebrates and economic value decreased, corresponding mainly to the contrasting water mass characteristics of the Maine Coastal Current system (i.e., summertime current direction, speed, and temperature). Integrating modeled predictions with existing GIS layers for abiotic conditions allowed us to scale up important assemblage attributes to define key foundational ecological principles of MSP and to find priority regions where some bottom-disturbing activities would have minimal impact to benthic assemblages. We conclude that abiotic proxies can be strong forcing functions for the assembly of marine communities and therefore useful tools for spatial extrapolations of marine assemblages in congested (heavily used) nearshore habitats.
Most animal eyes feature an opaque pigmented eyecup to assure that light can enter from one direction only. We challenge this dogma by describing a previously unknown form of eyeshine resulting from light that enters the eye through the top of the head and optic nerve, eventually emanating through the pupil as a narrow beam: the Optic-Nerve-Transmitted (ONT) eyeshine. We characterize ONT eyeshine in the triplefin blenny Tripterygion delaisi (Tripterygiidae) in comparison to three other teleost species, using behavioural and anatomical observations, spectrophotometry, histology, and magnetic resonance imaging. The study’s aim is to identify the factors that determine ONT eyeshine occurrence and intensity, and whether these are specifically adapted for that purpose.
ONT eyeshine intensity benefits from locally reduced head pigmentation, a thin skull, the gap between eyes and forebrain, the potential light-guiding properties of the optic nerve, and, most importantly, a short distance between the head surface and the optic nerves.
The generality of these factors and the lack of specifically adapted features implies that ONT eyeshine is widespread among small fish species. Nevertheless, its intensity varies considerably, depending on the specific combination and varying expression of common anatomical features. We discuss whether ONT eyeshine might affect visual performance, and speculate about possible functions such as predator detection, camouflage, and intraspecific communication.
There is international recognition for greater inclusion of recreational fisheries catch data in species, fisheries and ecosystem assessments. Recreational charter fisheries provide important social services and contribute to total species catches. This study compares and validates industry logbook catch and effort data (1,357 trips) against observer data (154 trips) across six ports in a recreational charter fishery in eastern Australia. The mean numbers of clients and fishing effort (hours) per trip varied inconsistently between data sources and among ports. Logbooks did not adequately report released catches, and the mean number of species retained per trip was consistently underestimated in logbooks compared to observer data. For both data sources, catch rates of total individuals and key species displayed similar trends across different units of effort; catch per hour, client, client/hour and trip. The mean catch rates of total individuals and most key species, except those retained for bait, were similar across data sources, as were estimates of total fleet harvests. The length compositions of retained catches of some key species displayed truncation of larger organisms in the observer data whereas other species did not. Despite the shortcomings of the logbook data, future fishery and species monitoring strategies could include industry and observer data sources.
Wetlands are commonly assessed for ecological condition and biological integrity using a three-tiered framework of landscape-scale assessment, rapid assessment protocols, and intensive biological and physiochemical measurements. However, increased inundation resulting from accelerated sea level rise (SLR) is negatively impacting tidal marsh ecosystem functions for US Northeast coastal wetlands, yet relative vulnerability to this stressor is not incorporated in condition assessments. This article assesses tools available to measure coastal wetland vulnerability to SLR, including measurements made as part of traditional rapid condition assessments (e.g., vegetation communities, soil strength), field and remote sensing-based measurements of elevation, VDatum, and Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) model outputs. A vulnerability metric that incorporates these tools was calibrated and validated using recent rates of marsh vegetation losses (1972–2011) as a surrogate for future vulnerability. The metric includes complementary measures of elevation capital, including the percentage of high vs. low marsh vegetation, Spartina alterniflora height, elevation measurements, and SLAMM outputs that collectively explained 62% of the variability in recent rates of marsh vegetation loss. Stepwise regression revealed that all three elements (elevation, vegetation measures, and SLAMM outputs) explained significant and largely unique components of vulnerability to SLR, with the greatest level of overlap found between SLAMM outputs and elevation metrics. While soil strength varied predictably with habitat zone, it did not contribute significantly to the vulnerability metric. Despite the importance of determining wetland elevation above key tidal datums of mean sea level and mean high water, we caution that VDatum was found to perform poorly in back-barrier estuaries. This factor makes it difficult to compare elevation capital among marshes that differ in tidal range and poses accuracy problems for broad-scale modeling efforts that require accurate tidal datums. Given the pervasive pattern of coastal wetland drowning occurring in the Northeastern USA and elsewhere, we advocate that compilation of regional data on marsh habitats and vulnerability to SLR is crucial as it permits agencies to target adaptation to sites based on their vulnerability or mixture of habitats, it helps match sites to appropriate interventions, and it provides a broader regional context to site-specific management actions. Without such data, adaptation actions may be implemented where action is not necessary and to the disadvantage of vulnerable sites where opportunities for successful adaptation will be missed.
People’s livelihoods in tropical small-island developing states are greatly dependent on marine ecosystem services. Yet services such as fisheries and coastal buffering are being degraded at an alarming rate, thus making people increasing vulnerable to protracted and sudden environmental changes. In the context of the occurrences of extreme events such as earthquakes and tsunamis, it is vital to uncover the processes that make people in these island states resilient, or not, to environmental disruptions. This paper compares people’s perceptions of social and environmental impacts after an extreme event in the Western Solomon Islands (11 different villages on 8 different islands) to better understand how knowledge systems influence the coupling of human and natural systems. We examine the factors that contributed to perceptions of respective recovery in the environmental versus the social domains across communities with different traditional governance and modernization characteristics in a tsunami impact gradient. First, we separately assessed, at the community and individual level, the potential determinants of perceived recovery in the environmental and social domains. At the community level, the average values of the perceived environmental and social recovery were calculated for each community (1 year after the tsunami), and at the individual level, normally distributed environmental and social recovery variables (based on the difference in perceptions immediately and 1 year after the tsunami) were used as dependent variables in two General Linear Models. Results suggest that environmental and social resilience are not always coupled correspondingly and, less unexpectedly, that asymmetries during recovery can occur as a result of the underlying social and ecological context and existing adaptive capacity. More generally, the study shows how by evaluating post-disturbance perceptional data in tsunami-affected communities, we can better understand how subjective perceptions of change can affect the (de)-coupling of human and natural systems.
This study aimed to assess the suitability of the Berkowitz' (2005) social norms approach (SNA) for improving compliance behaviour amongst recreational fishers. A total of 138 recreational shore anglers were interviewed in Eastern Cape, South Africa and asked about their compliance, attitudes towards compliance, perceptions of compliance and the attitudes of other anglers. Results indicate that angler compliance for individual regulations was relatively high (75%–90%). Attitudes of anglers towards compliance was positive, with >80% feeling that “breaking any regulation is wrong.” Yet, as predicted by the SNA, interviewees often overestimated the non-compliance and negative attitudes of other anglers, particularly as their social proximity decreased. Interviewees with the greatest misperceptions were also less compliant. The social norms present in the Eastern Cape rock and surf fishery fulfil the criteria required for the application of the SNA, suggesting that this approach may provide a suitable normative intervention for improving compliance to be used in conjunction with instrumental approaches in recreational fisheries.
Ecological restoration is widely practiced as a means of rehabilitating ecosystems and habitats that have been degraded or impaired through human use or other causes. Restoration practices now are confronted by climate change, which has the potential to influence long-term restoration outcomes. Concepts and attributes from the resilience literature can help improve restoration and monitoring efforts under changing climate conditions. We systematically examined the published literature on ecological resilience to identify biological, chemical, and physical attributes that confer resilience to climate change. We identified 45 attributes explicitly related to climate change and classified them as individual- (9), population- (6), community- (7), ecosystem- (7), or process-level attributes (16). Individual studies defined resilience as resistance to change or recovery from disturbance, and only a few studies explicitly included both concepts in their definition of resilience. We found that individual and population attributes generally are suited to species- or habitat-specific restoration actions and applicable at the population scale. Community attributes are better suited to habitat-specific restoration at the site scale, or system-wide restoration at the ecosystem scale. Ecosystem and process attributes vary considerably in their type and applicability. We summarize these relationships in a decision support table and provide three example applications to illustrate how these classifications can be used to prioritize climate change resilience attributes for specific restoration actions. We suggest that (1) including resilience as an explicit planning objective could increase the success of restoration projects, (2) considering the ecological context and focal scale of a restoration action is essential in choosing appropriate resilience attributes, and (3) certain ecological attributes, such as diversity and connectivity, are more commonly considered to confer resilience because they apply to a wide variety of species and ecosystems. We propose that identifying sources of ecological resilience is a critical step in restoring ecosystems in a changing climate.
Biological invasions are a major threat to the world's biota and are considered a major cause of biodiversity loss. Therefore, world marine policy has recognized the need for more marine protected areas (MPAs) as a major tool for biodiversity conservation. The present work experimentally evaluated how protected communities from an offshore island can face the settlement and/or expansion of nonindigenous species (NIS). First, NIS colonization success in marine protected and marina communities was compared by deploying PVC settling plates at the Garajau MPA and Funchal marina (SW Madeira Island). Then, the settling plates from the MPA were transferred to Funchal marina to test their resistance to NIS invasion under high levels of NIS pressure. Results indicated that the structure and composition of fouling communities from the MPA differed from those collected in the marina. Interestingly, communities from the protected area showed lower NIS colonization success, suggesting some degree of biotic resistance against NIS invasion.
The coasts hold great potential for ‘Blue Growth’, and major industrial and infrastructural developments are already happening there. Such growth, however, comes with risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Competition for space and resources intensifies, turning the coast into an area of social and political conflict, including contestation about knowledge. I argue that there is a need for institutional innovation that allows knowledge integration and conflict resolution to be more interactive and synergistic. The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. This is followed by a discussion of multiple governance paths and their different combinations of resources and forms of expert and local social and ecological knowledge so as to see how they can help resolve conflicts, and enhance governability within maritime spatial planning (MSP) in a way that also serves to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A particular focus will be on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is the lest powerful stakeholder and the most vulnerable to external pressures. Will MSP help to empower or further marginalize small-scale fishers and fisheries communities?
The protection of species requires an understanding of their habitat requirements and how habitat characteristics affect their distribution, survival and growth. This need is especially important in areas where anthropogenic pressures can not only have a significant direct impact on the survival of the species but also damage their habitat. The Firth of Clyde in southwestern Scotland was an important commercial fishing area for a variety of demersal fish species up until 1973. However, stocks rapidly declined thereafter and the catch of targeted species ceased in 2005, despite fisheries measures put in place to aid recovery. Changes in the availability and quality of fish habitat are possible explanations for this lack of recovery. Here, we report on stereo baited remote underwater video surveys in the Firth of Clyde between June and September in 2013 and 2014 to determine the habitat of juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus and whiting Merlangius merlangus. Habitat predictor variables explored included substratum type, depth, wave fetch, and epibenthic and demersal fauna diversity. G. morhua were most abundant in shallow, sheltered areas composed of gravel-pebble containing maerl. M. aeglefinus and M. merlangus predominated over deeper sand and mud. Ontogenetic shifts in all 3 species were also observed. Relative abundances of G. morhua and M. merlangus were positively related to the diversity of epibenthic and demersal fauna. Our results indicate that spatial conservation measures to benefit demersal fish should be advised by patterns of epibenthic and demersal fauna diversity as well as physical substratum types.