The adoption of risk-based methodologies is considered essential for the successful implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries and broader aquatic management. To assist with these initiatives, one of the qualitative risk assessment methods adapted for fisheries management over a decade ago has been reviewed. This method was updated to ensure compliance with the revised international standards for risk management (ISO 31000) and to enable consideration of ecological, economic, social, and governance risks. The review also addressed the difficulties that have been encountered in stakeholder understanding of the underlying concepts and to increase the discipline in its application. The updates include simplifying the number of consequence and likelihood levels, adopting graphical techniques to represent different consequence levels, and discussing how changes in uncertainty can affect risk scores. Adopting an explicit “weight of evidence” approach has also assisted with determining which consequence scenarios are considered plausible and, where relevant, their specific likelihoods. The revised methods therefore incorporate the conceptual elements from a number of qualitative and quantitative approaches increasing their reliability and enabling a more seamless transition along this spectrum as more lines of evidence are collected. It is expected that with continued application of these methods, further refinements will be identified.
Greenland halibut in the Northeast Atlantic currently have two separate management units: the Northeast Arctic (NEA) stock and the West Nordic (WN) stock. The biological basis for this separation is weak, and while the NEA stock has a well-described nursery area in the waters around the Svalbard archipelago, no such major nursery area is known for the WN stock. To examine the linkages between these two stocks, a tagging experiment was conducted in the Svalbard nursery area, which is the only known large nursery area for Greenland halibut in the Northeast Atlantic. A total of 25 149 juvenile Greenland halibut were tagged and released in the period 2005–2008, and as of January 2014, there were 155 recaptures: 92% were caught more than 170 km from the tagging site, while 59% had travelled more than 1500 km. During the first 2 years after tagging, recaptures were reported only from the fishing grounds in the NEA management area. Subsequently, the number of recaptures decreased in the NEA management area, while recaptures were beginning to be reported from the WN management area, which by 2014 accounted for 61% of the total number of reported recaptures. It was concluded that the stocks in the two management areas for Greenland halibut in the Northeast Atlantic have a common nursery ground, and that a recruitment index based on data from the nursery around Svalbard would reflect possible recruitment to the stocks of both management units. The lack of recaptures on the Southeast Greenland shelf suggests a stock boundary west of Iceland. It is suggested to further explore the stock delineation in these areas and that future stock assessments should explore the potential advantage of using a combined assessment model for the two current management units.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is promoted as the solution for sustainable use. An ecosystem-wide assessment methodology is therefore required. In this paper, we present an approach to assess the risk to ecosystem components from human activities common to marine and coastal ecosystems. We build on: (i) a linkage framework that describes how human activities can impact the ecosystem through pressures, and (ii) a qualitative expert judgement assessment of impact chains describing the exposure and sensitivity of ecological components to those activities. Using case study examples applied at European regional sea scale, we evaluate the risk of an adverse ecological impact from current human activities to a suite of ecological components and, once impacted, the time required for recovery to pre-impact conditions should those activities subside. Grouping impact chains by sectors, pressure type, or ecological components enabled impact risks and recovery times to be identified, supporting resource managers in their efforts to prioritize threats for management, identify most at-risk components, and generate time frames for ecosystem recovery.
Understanding trawling impacts on the benthic ecosystem depends to a large extent on the ability to estimate trawling activity at the appropriate scale. Several studies have assessed trawling at fine spatial scales yearly, largely ignoring temporal patterns. In this study, we analysed these temporal patterns in beam trawl effort intensity at 90 stations of the Dutch continental shelf of the North Sea for a period of 10 years, at a fine temporal (weekly) and spatial (110 × 70 m) scale using Vessel Monitoring by Satellite (VMS) data. Our results show that trawling is aggregated in time and shows clear seasonality, related to the behavior of the fleet and migration patterns of the target fish species. The temporal patterns affect the overall impact on and the recovery of the benthic community, as is illustrated with a benthic population model. Our results imply that trawling impact studies using high-resolution data like VMS should take account of the possibility of temporal aggregation and seasonality in trawling to improve the assessment of the impact of trawling on the population dynamics of benthos.
Implementing marine ecosystem-based management at regional and small spatial scales is challenging due to the complexity of ecosystems, human activities, their interactions and multilayered governance. Ecological risk assessments (ERAs) of marine biodiversity are often used to prioirtise issues but only give broad guidance of how issues might be addressed in the form of strategies. However, at small and regional spatial scales marine natural resource managers have to make decisions within these strategies about how to manage specific interactions between human uses and ecological components. By using the transition between risk characterization and risk treatment in ERA for marine biodiversity tractable ways through the complexity can be found. This paper will argue that specific management and research actions relevant to smaller spatial scales can be developed by using the linkage between risk factors and risk treatment in ERA. Many risk factors require risk treatments that extend beyond the boundary of local agencies or sector responsibilities. The risk factor-treatment platform provides a practical way that these boundaries can be opened up by providing a scientifically based and transparent process to engage all actors who need to be involved in addressing the issues raised by an ERA. First, the principles of the mechanism will be described. Second, how the mechanism is constructed will be introduced using examples from an urban estuary. Application of the mechanism reveals three different types of risk factors (stressor, ecological, and knowledge gap) that can be used to develop specific management and research actions to treat risks. The systematic approach enables the dual complexities of marine ecosystems and multiple human pressures to be unravelled to identify and target issues effectively. The risk factor treatment linkage provides a platform to negotiate and develop effective management and research actions across jurisdictional, disciplinary, community and stakeholder boundaries.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are increasingly used to address multiple marine management needs, and the incorporation of stakeholders into the MPA planning and designation processes is considered vital for success. Commercial fishers are often the stakeholder group most directly affected by spatial restrictions associated with MPAs, and the success of MPAs often depends, at least in part, on the behaviours and attitudes of fishers. MPA planning processes that incorporate fishers, and minimize the negative impact of MPA designation on the fishing community, should therefore have a greater chance of success. Here, the incorporation of both quantitative and qualitative fisher-derived data in MPA planning is investigated using strategic conservation planning software and multi-scenario analysis. We demonstrate the use of spatial access priority data as a cost layer, and suggest a process for incorporating fishers' MPA suggestions into planning scenarios in a transparent, but flexible, way. Results show that incorporating fisher-derived data, both quantitative and qualitative, can significantly reduce the cost of MPA planning solutions: enabling the development of MPA network designs that meet conservation targets with less detrimental impact to fishing community. Incorporating fishers and fisher-derived data in MPA planning processes can improve both the efficiency and defensibility of planning outcomes, as well as contribute to reducing potential conflicts between biodiversity conservation and the fishing industry.
- Well-designed marine protected area (MPA) networks can deliver a range of ecological, economic and social benefits, and so a great deal of research has focused on developing spatial conservation prioritization tools to help identify important areas.
- However, whilst these software tools are designed to identify MPA networks that both represent biodiversity and minimize impacts on stakeholders, they do not consider complex ecological processes. Thus, it is difficult to determine the impacts that proposed MPAs could have on marine ecosystem health, fisheries and fisheries sustainability.
- Using the eastern English Channel as a case study, this paper explores an approach to address these issues by identifying a series of MPA networks using the Marxan and Marxan with Zones conservation planning software and linking them with a spatially explicit ecosystem model developed in Ecopath with Ecosim. We then use these to investigate potential trade-offs associated with adopting different MPA management strategies.
- Limited-take MPAs, which restrict the use of some fishing gears, could have positive benefits for conservation and fisheries in the eastern English Channel, even though they generally receive far less attention in research on MPA network design.
- Our findings, however, also clearly indicate that no-take MPAs should form an integral component of proposed MPA networks in the eastern English Channel, as they not only result in substantial increases in ecosystem biomass, fisheries catches and the biomass of commercially valuable target species, but are fundamental to maintaining the sustainability of the fisheries.
- Synthesis and applications. Using the existing software tools Marxan with Zones and Ecopath with Ecosim in combination provides a powerful policy-screening approach. This could help inform marine spatial planning by identifying potential conflicts and by designing new regulations that better balance conservation objectives and stakeholder interests. In addition, it highlights that appropriate combinations of no-take and limited-take marine protected areas might be the most effective when making trade-offs between long-term ecological benefits and short-term political acceptability.
Coral reefs are in rapid decline on a global scale due to human activities and a changing climate. Shallow water reefs depend on the obligatory symbiosis between the habitat forming coral host and its algal symbiont from the genus Symbiodinium (zooxanthellae). This association is highly sensitive to thermal perturbations and temperatures as little as 1°C above the average summer maxima can cause the breakdown of this symbiosis, termed coral bleaching. Predicting the capacity of corals to survive the expected increase in seawater temperatures depends strongly on our understanding of the thermal tolerance of the symbiotic algae. Here we use molecular phylogenetic analysis of four genetic markers to describe Symbiodinium thermophilum, sp. nov. from the Persian/Arabian Gulf, a thermally tolerant coral symbiont. Phylogenetic inference using the non-coding region of the chloroplast psbA gene resolves S. thermophilum as a monophyletic lineage with large genetic distances from any other ITS2 C3 type found outside the Gulf. Through the characterisation of Symbiodinium associations of 6 species (5 genera) of Gulf corals, we demonstrate that S. thermophilum is the prevalent symbiont all year round in the world's hottest sea, the southern Persian/Arabian Gulf.
Here we discuss how different life history strategies may affect the feasibility of achieving the three requirements for effective long-term conservation (self-seeding, connectivity, and protection). While sedentary organisms with a pelagic larval phase (most reef fishes and invertebrates), readily achieve this trinity (Planes et al., 2009), animals where dispersal only occurs as adults inevitably fail to meet all three requirements simultaneously (Figure 1). Here we propose a potential solution focusing on incorporating information on how habitat shapes adult dispersal to increase connectivity within networks of MPAs.
The implementation of effective no-take marine reserves or marine protected areas (MPAs) is a central goal of modern fisheries science. Accordingly, a number of studies have been conducted to understand broad rules for the creation of MPAs and have tested the effects of marine reserves for specific regions of interest. However, there still exist many challenges for implementing effective MPAs. Deducing theoretical conditions guaranteeing that the introduction of MPAs will increase fishing yields in age-structured population dynamics is one such challenge. To derive such conditions, a simple mathematical model is developed that follows the metapopulation dynamics of a sedentary species. The obtained results suggest that moderate recruitment success of an individual's eggs is a necessary condition for an MPA plan to increase biomass yields. Furthermore, numerical simulations of the optimal fishing regime with MPAs aiming at maximizing the fishing yields suggest that biomass yields monotonically decrease with the fraction of the MPAs. The optimal fishing mortality rate suddenly jumps to a very high value, leading to a sudden decline in the population biomass, to a lower level than in a fishing regime with a constant fishing mortality rate. The decline in the population biomass is never observed in the fishing regime with a constant fishing mortality.
Prioritizing social indicators of wellbeing and linking them to specific marine resource management contexts requires ongoing consideration of local community values, social change drivers and dynamic governance goals and objectives. As coastal communities undertake new initiatives to develop marine spatial plans, anticipate renewable energy development projects or examine ecosystem service trade-offs in the context of fishery declines or climate change, this study provides timely insight into the full complexity, political nature, and institutionalized constraints of social assessment integration. Using a qualitative case study of Pacific Fishery Management Council briefing books to assess the Council's current use of socioeconomic data as well as a quantitative survey of other integrated human wellbeing assessment projects from around the world, this study 1) compares the priority domains of wellbeing being promoted in different socio-ecological system governance contexts, 2) outlines a preferred methodology for selecting human and social wellbeing metrics that are reflective of community needs, and 3) makes suggestions for improving the integration of human wellbeing research in U.S. Fishery Management Council processes.
There are many islands in the ocean surrounding Taiwan which can provide rich resources for the people such as fisheries. However, Taiwan is facing environmental issues from increasing human activities and the functions of natural systems that are weakened large anthropogenic disturbances. The concept of resilience is introduced to explain the unbalanced interactions and feedbacks between social and ecological system would impede recovery in the natural process and negatively impact on the social system. This study examines the Social Ecological System（SES）approach as a tool, which gives the decision maker a holistic picture of the complexity of the interactions between the human system and the natural environment system regarding the Marine Protected Areas (MPA) designation. To apply this idea to a real world case, this research examines three case studies in Taiwan, i.e., the Green Island case as a failure in establishing a MPA; the Dongsha Atoll National Park as a successful case of marine national park establishment in Taiwan. By reviewing these two examples, this study applies lessons two cases to the proposed Four Islands of Southern Penghu National Park. Among the key factors that affect the Marine Protected Area (MPA) designation in Taiwan, stakeholder engagement is the focus of this study. Stakeholder analysis is a main method to clarify different perspectives of stakeholders toward the MPA development because stakeholder support was critical in defeating the Green Island proposal but important in the success of Dongsha National Park. Stakeholder interviews are performed to better understand the conflicts among different parties and how they are involved in the designation processes. The results are mainly based on discussion of the stakeholders' perspectives and engagement in the case of the Four Island of Southern Penghu National Park. In the end, the conclusions show the importance of the enhancing adaptive capacity of the government, including stakeholder engagement in the designation process, and the Socio-Ecological System (SES) framework application in the context of MPA designation.
In the Portuguese Economic Exclusive Zone (EEZ) (NE Atlantic), little survey effort dedicated to cetacean species has been carried out in offshore waters. As a consequence, data on their occurrence, distribution and habitat preferences is scarce. In this area, 48 sea surveys along fixed transects within Continental Portugal and Madeira Island were performed in 2012 and 2013, from July to October, using platforms of opportunity. We used an environmental envelope approach and GAM habitat models to identify the role of oceanographic, topographic and geographical variables in shaping cetacean distribution. Results demonstrate the richness of offshore waters in this area as in 10,668 nmi sampled, we recorded 218 sightings from at least nine cetacean species, resulting in an overall ER of 2.04 sightings/100 nmi. The interaction of topographic and oceanographic features was shown to influence the distribution of the species/groups along the routes. Among the sighted species, only common dolphin showed a preference for coastal waters, while for all the other species high seas proved to be determinant. This result reinforces the need to address conservation issues in open ocean. This preliminary assessment showed the importance of the entire area for the distribution of different cetacean species and allowed the identification of several species/group specific potential suitable habitats.
Considering the Habitats Directive resolutions, ACCOBAMS priorities, EEZ extension for the area and Maritime Spatial Planning Directive, and the urgent need for management plans, we suggest that the sampling strategy here presented is a cost-effective method to gather valuable data, to be used to improve cetacean habitat models in the area.
This paper provides a comprehensive review of the current state of the art of the economics and socio-economics of ocean renewable energy (ORE); the many ways in which the viability and impacts of an ORE project are assessed, and an analysis of the current weaknesses, issues or inappropriateness of the metrics and methodologies used in their definition and presentation. The outcomes of this paper are anticipated to benefit the ORE and wider renewable sector as a whole. The review revealed that, for the most part, the current study of economics and socio-economics of ORE remain separate and discrete areas of research. The economic methods utilised appear to be comprehensive but are limited to project (or private investor) level. The methods identified for socioeconomic assessment fall between traditional, and now routine, environmental assessment approaches and more novel holistic approaches such as ecosystem services and life cycle assessment. The novel section of the paper explored the connectivity between the economics and socio-economics of ORE in relation to project developments and policy/planning. A visualisation method was created of concentric rings intersected by related axis of economic, socio-economic and environment, and enabled the examination of the benefits arising from the connectivity between the two spheres. The concept of sustainable development process and the integration of environmental assessment for ORE was also explored and how it responds to differing stakeholder aspirations and interpretations. The analysis revealed that there was a divergence between public and private economic and socioeconomic assessments for ORE: environmental assessment is primarily a public responsibility but with significant inputs from the private developer involved while economic assessments are conducted primarily by the developer and/or investor at their own behest. However, the two spheres of economic and socio-economic for ORE are highly connected and synergistic and must be examined in a holistic manner.
Bayesian Belief Networks (BBNs) are being increasingly used to develop a range of predictive models and risk assessments for ecological systems. Ecological BBNs can be applied to complex catchment and water quality issues, integrating multiple spatial and temporal variables within social, economic and environmental decision making processes. This paper reviews the essential components required for ecologists to design a best-practice predictive BBN in an ecological risk assessment (ERA) framework for aquatic ecosystems, outlining: (1) how to create a BBN for an aquatic ERA?; (2) what are the challenges for aquatic ecologists in adopting the best-practice applications of BBNs to ERAs?; and (3) how can BBNs in ERAs influence the science/management interface into the future? The aims of this paper are achieved using three approaches. The first is to demonstrate the best-practice development of BBNs in aquatic sciences using a simple nutrient model. The second is to discuss the limitations and challenges aquatic ecologists encounter when applying BBNs to ERAs. The third is to provide a framework for integrating best-practice BBNs into ERAs and the management of aquatic ecosystems. A quantitative review of the application and development of BBNs in aquatic science from 2002 to 2014 was conducted to identify areas where continued best-practice development is required. We outline a best-practice framework for the integration of BBNs into ERAs and study of complex aquatic systems.
One of the challenges of offshore wind energy farms lies in their reduced availability relative to onshore facilities. In effect, with wave heights over 1.5 m impeding workboats access, sea conditions often cause delays to operation & maintenance tasks, and thereby impact on the availability for power production of the farm. The most immediate consequence is larger non-operational periods, which could translate into lower power production and, therefore, a reduction of their economic viability. By deploying wave energy converters along the periphery of the wind farm, wave height within the park can be reduced, and the accessibility for operation & maintenance tasks improved. The aim of this work is to analyse this synergy between wave and wind energy through the comparison of four case studies, and more specifically, to investigate how this synergy can be materialised under different conditions in terms of: (i) location (depth and distance from the coast), (ii) sea climate, and (iii) wind farm layout. It was found that the combination of wave and offshore wind energy results in enhanced accessibility for operation & maintenance tasks in all the cases considered, with accessibility values of up to 82%.
Institutions matter within natural resource management. While there are many examples of analyses of the nature and influence of institutions within fisheries, there are fewer examples of how institutions inform the practice and outcomes of co-management. This article reports on analysis of institutions and fisheries co-management in East African and Malawi inland fisheries informed by Critical Institutionalism. It concludes that relations between fisheries departments and local co-management structures, and between local government/traditional authorities and local co-management structures, and social, power, and gender relations within and beyond fisheries communities, particularly impact on the practice and outcomes of co-management.
Like most coastlines the world over, Ghana's coast has been receding, requiring management interventions to protect coastal communities and assets of national importance. In order to adopt sound management interventions that would have a long lasting positive impact on the coastal zone, an understanding of the historic pattern of coastline change and coastal dynamics is required. This paper presents an analysis of the historic trends in coastline changes along the Elmina, Cape Coast and Moree area of Ghana using three shoreline data that spans a period of 38 years using ArcGIS and Digital Shoreline Analysis System tools. The study found that the Elmina, Cape Coast and Moree area had been eroding at a rate of 1.22 m/year ± 0.16 m from 1974 to 2012. It was identified that the widespread practice of beach sand mining in the area has significantly contributed to the erosion of several sections of the coastline. The study also identified the lack of an existing coastline management plan for Ghana's coast as the reason for the poor coastal erosion management techniques often used by coastal managers in response to the threat of coastal erosion, which eventually causes an acceleration of local erosion rates. The study finally makes a case for the adoption of a proactive and coordinated coastline management plan for Ghana's coast similar to that of the United Kingdom shoreline management plans because of the numerous known advantages.
Good governance is paramount to the sustainability of fisheries, and inclusiveness of stakeholder groups has become the centerpiece in the ethos of managing small-scale fisheries. Understanding the effect of governance network structures on fishery sustainability can help guide governance to achieve desired outcomes. Data on resource users, fishing methods, governance networks and classifications of stock health were compiled for 17 sea cucumber fisheries in the Indian Ocean. The subjective influence of the actors and the complexity of governance networks on the health of wild stocks were analyzed. The fisheries differed widely in their resource users, fishing methods and governance networks. Little correspondence was found between the number of nodes in the governance networks and the health (exploitation status) of wild stocks. Government entities dominated the networks but neither their relative influence in the networks nor their proportionate contribution to the number of entities in the networks greatly affected stock health. These findings do not refute the benefits of inclusive governance, but rather suggest that multiple other factors (e.g. inadequate regulations, weak enforcement, high number of fishers) are also likely to play a role in influencing sea cucumber fishery sustainability. These factors must be tackled in tandem with good governance.
Previous studies have helped define what good ocean planning (also known as maritime or marine spatial planning) looks like, effective stakeholder engagement, possible conservation and community benefits, and how ocean plans could theoretically cut costs and create economic value. But little evidence has yet been compiled showing the actual results of ocean plans, and whether or not they have delivered on their promise to balance competing interests through a collaborative process that considers environmental concerns. This paper presents an empirical study of five government-approved ocean plans, all of which resulted in broadly shared net benefits. Economically, these five ocean plans delivered on average $60 million per year in value from new industries and retained value in existing industries, although some stakeholders bore losses and government spending did not decrease. Environmentally, planning increased marine protection, ensured industrial uses avoided sensitive habitat, cut carbon emissions, and reduced the risk of oil spills. Socially, marine planning increased broad stakeholder engagement (thus improving design and administration of plans), while building trust that will likely improve sustainable future use of ocean space.