The Ecosystem Approach in Ocean Planning and Governance takes stock of the challenges associated with implementing an ecosystem approach in ocean governance. In addition to theorizing the notion of Ecosystem Approach and its multifaceted implications, the book provides in depth analyses of lessons learned and remaining challenges associated with making the Ecosystem Approach fully relevant and operational in different marine policy fields, including marine spatial planning, fisheries, and biodiversity protection. In doing so, it adds much needed legal and social science perspectives to the existing literature on the Ecosystem Approach in relation to the marine environment. While focusing predominantly on the European context, the perspective is enriched by analyses from other jurisdictions, including the USA.
Principal approaches to ecosystem-based ocean management in the United States include five major strands: Legislation for EBM, Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management, Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas. The presence of multiple strands of action is indicative of a lack of an agreed goal for what ecosystem-based management of the ocean is expected to achieve. It also leads to uncoordinated and sometimes competitive processes that are confusing to ocean users and observers. This paper identifies the principal evolving trends in ecosystem-based approaches in the federal arena in the United States in both sectoral and integrated regional approaches. How these emerging national policies work illustrates how such approaches are generally inadequate to implement EBM.
The Red Sea is a unique body of water, hosting some of the most productive and diverse coral reefs. Human populations along coasts of the Red Sea were initially sparse due to the hot and arid climate surrounding it, but this is changing with improved desalination techniques, accessible energy, and increased economic interest in coastal areas. In addition to increasing pressure on reefs from coastal development, global drivers, primarily ocean acidification and seawater warming, are threatening coral reefs of the region. While reefs in southern sections of the Red Sea live near or above their maximum temperature tolerance and have experienced bleaching events in the recent past, coral reefs in northern sections are considered a coral reef refugia from global warming and acidification, at least for the coming decades. Such differential sensitivities along the latitudinal gradient of the Red Sea require differential solutions and management. In an effort to identify the appropriate solutions to conserve and maintain resilience of these reefs along a latitudinal gradient, we used a SWOT analysis (strengths/weaknesses/opportunities/threats) to frame the present situation and to propose policy solutions as useful planning procedures. We highlight the need for immediate action to secure the northern sections of the Red Sea as a coral reef climate change refuge by management and removal of local stressors. There is a need to strengthen the scientific knowledge base for proper management and to encourage regional collaboration on environmental issues. Based on scientific data, solutions such as marine protected areas, fishing regulation, and reef restoration approaches were ranked for five distinct latitudinal sections in the Red Sea and levels of interventions are recommended.
Recent years have witnessed growing interest in applying ecosystem service (ES) frameworks to promote holistic decision-making and develop sustainable aquaculture. The goal of this review was to analyze the status quo of research on aquaculture ES and identify knowledge gaps and research priorities to better align ES with holistic decision-making. This study conducted a systematic review of the academic literature and analyzed the coverage of aquaculture ES across 94 publications. The research field has evolved substantially in the last ten years, reaching a multidisciplinary audience around the world. While research coverage included all major production environments (coastal marine, brackishwater, and freshwater) and cultured species groups (finfish, bivalves, crustaceans, and seaweeds), emphasis is currently limited towards certain types of aquaculture and study areas (namely, brackishwater shrimp farming). This review found a flexible but inconsistent application of ES concepts and methods to support multiple decision-contexts including policy, development, and conservation. This paper proposes a research agenda to address research gaps, adopt more holistic ES-driven research, and apply consistent and comparable ES measures through an aquaculture lens. Ultimately, this should be supported by a shift in thinking that frames aquaculture as ‘aqua-ecosystems’, recognizing aquaculture as fundamentally embedded within linked social and ecological systems.
Microplastics are commonly found in marine ecosystems, but their distribution, prevalence, and impacts on resident fauna are still not well understood. Microplastics in coastal sediments expose invertebrate infauna to the risk of ingestion of plastic debris and associated toxicants. We assessed the prevalence of microplastics in beach sediments and ingested by Pacific mole crabs (Emerita analoga) at sandy beaches spanning >900 km of the California coast. Microplastics were present in sediments of every one of 51 beaches sampled. At a subset of 38 beaches Pacific mole crabs were collected and crabs at every beach had ingested microplastics. Across all beaches sampled, an average of 35% of Pacific mole crabs examined had microplastics in their guts. Our study demonstrates that microplastics are ubiquitous in sediments on California beaches and they are frequently consumed by a filter-feeding crustacean that is a common prey item in the diet of a wide variety of taxa, including fishes and birds.
Dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) runoff from Great Barrier Reef (GBR) catchments is a threat to coral reef health. Several initiatives address this threat, including the Australian Government's Reef 2050 Plan. However, environmental decision makers face an unsolved prioritization challenge: determining the exposure of reefs to DIN from individual rivers. Here, we use virtual river tracers embedded within a GBR-wide hydrodynamic model to resolve the spatial and temporal dynamics of 16 individual river plumes during three wet seasons (2011−2013). We then used in-situ DIN observations to calibrate tracer values, allowing us to estimate the contribution of each river to reef-scale DIN exposure during each season. Results indicate that the Burdekin, Fitzroy, Tully and Daintree rivers pose the greatest DIN exposure risk to coral reefs during the three seasons examined. Results were used to demonstrate a decision support framework that combines reef exposure risk with river dominance (threat diversity).
Due to its dependence on fossil fuel combustion, emissions from the marine transport sector can significantly contribute to air pollution. This work aims to evaluate the impact of maritime transport emissions on air quality in Portugal using a numerical air quality modelling approach, with high-resolution emission data. Emissions from the European TNO inventory were compiled and pre-processed at hourly and high spatial (∼3 × 3 km2) resolutions. Scenarios with and without these maritime emissions were then simulated with the WRF-CHIMERE modelling system, extensively tested and validated for Portugal domain, in order to evaluate their impact on air quality. A simulation was performed for one year (2016) and the resulting differences were analysed in terms of spatial distribution, time series and deltas. The main deltas for NO2 and PM10 are located over international shipping routes and major ports, while O3 concentrations are impacted in a larger area. The modelling results also indicate that shipping emissions are responsible for deltas in the concentration of NO2higher than 20% over specific urban areas located in the west coast of Portugal, and less than 5% for PM10. For O3 the relative contribution is low (around 2%) but this contribution is also observed at locations more than 50 km from the coast.
Voluntary commitments by states, governmental or nongovernmental organizations, and other actors, aiming to deliver outcome-oriented activities, have become a well-recognized mechanism in international sustainability policy (1–3). For ocean governance, the calling for and pledging of voluntary commitments could become a game changer, with two major international processes harnessing such voluntary contributions in recent years: the Our Ocean conferences, an annual high-level series initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014, and the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, which took place for the first time in June 2017. Such calls and commitments provide opportunities to raise awareness, promote engagement, and catalyze political will for action on the part of states as well as public and private sectors. However, without effective and transparent review systems, it is difficult to link pledged commitments to actual implementation. Quality control and ensuring that commitments are effective and impactful will be difficult to achieve. A uniform global process is required to register and assess commitments, including consistent reporting and monitoring systems with clear targets, baselines, and review systems.
Courtship behaviour of the giant devil ray Mobula mobular is described from northern New Zealand, temperate southwest Pacific Ocean, for the first time. A mating train consisting of a full-term pregnant female and up to four males was observed over a period of 147 minutes. Their behaviour was similar to courtship behaviour observed in other large mobulids. Biting of the female was not observed, possibly due to the female’s use of the surface to prevent males positioning themselves above her. However, the lead male pressed the female’s abdomen and underside each time the female reached or stopped at the surface. The occurrence of pregnant females and mating behaviour off northern North Island confirms breeding occurs in New Zealand waters.
In recent years, there has been a health decrease in marine ecosystems. Due to this accelerated degradation, there is a more pressing need to investigate the effectiveness of MPAs in these degraded zones. In this work, we evaluate the effect of MPAs over species richness, biomass and size of reef fishes. The sampling was conducted in 31 sites in the north Pacific coast of Costa Rica in 2013 and 2014. We found a positive effect of MPAs on biomass and community structure, as almost all commercially important species were more abundant in MPAs. Apex predators, carnivores and herbivores showed higher biomasses in protected areas, while planktivorous were similar among sites. As well, target species of artisanal fisheries and dive-ornamental fisheries were larger in MPAs. Areas closed to fishing can contribute to keeping biomass high, improve species richness in the region, and help to recover ecosystem services in coral reefs, even in anthropogenic impacted areas. The improving of regulations in and out of MPAs will assure the ecosystem services and life quality of coastal populations.
Ocean acidification (OA) occurs when carbon dioxide (CO2) dissolves into oceans. OA and climate change are both caused by anthropogenic CO2 emissions, and many scientists consider them equally critical problems. We assess if preexisting beliefs, ideologies, value predispositions, and demographics affect OA perceptions among the U.S. public. Nearly 80% of respondents know little about OA, but concern increased following a message explaining OA and climate change, especially among females, liberals, and climate change believers. OA information seeking intentions and research support were also greater among females, liberals, and climate change believers. We discuss implications for efforts to increase OA public awareness.
Sectoral management has long dominated the use of coastal zones in Taiwan. This approach addresses concerns faced by individual sectors. However, it fails to offer a holistic view to see the whole picture of interactions between various uses as well as a mechanism to engage in coordination among sectors and between levels of governments. In order to solve this failure, Taiwan's government stipulated a new dedicated law, the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA), in 2015 to supplement existing sectoral management and promote sustainable development of coastal zones in an integrated way. This paper aims to examine Taiwan's coastal management framework with an emphasis on the CZMA. It specifically illustrates the practical application of the CZMA on offshore wind farms, which have recently gained momentum in Taiwan's pursuit of renewable energy. Finally, while the paper argues that the CZMA is conducive to an enhanced coastal management framework, it identifies areas deserving attention and proposed recommendations, including: encouraging public participation, employing living shoreline installations wherever appropriate, enhancing human resource capacity and conducting a complete survey of coastal resources so as to make an overall coastal spatial plan.
The deployment of tidal energy arrays is gaining momentum to provide marine renewable energy (MRE) to the global market. However, there are concerns over the potential impacts underwater noise emissions from operational devices may have on marine fauna. Auditory masking (the interference of important biological signals by anthropogenic noise) is a highly pervasive impact to marine fauna. We used a relatively new approach to evaluate the effects of noise from operational tidal energy devices on the listening space of marine mammals. Here, listening space reductions (LSR) for harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) and harbour seals (Phoca vitulina) were assessed in winter and summer for two tidal energy devices of different designs. Results demonstrated that LSR was influenced by type of turbine, species, and season. For instance, LSRs for harbour seals were in excess of 80% within 60 m, whilst for harbour porpoises they were in excess of 55% within 10 m of the devices. For both species, LSRs were highest during winter, characterised by low ambient noise conditions. These findings highlight the importance of assessing masking over seasons, as masking effects are highly influenced by ambient noise conditions. Understanding the natural variation within seasons is also particularly relevant for tidal turbine noise assessments as devices are typically situated in highly dynamic environments. Since masking effects occur at the lower level of behavioural impacts in marine mammals, assessing the spatial extent of masking as part of environmental impact assessments is recommended. The listening space formula, which is largely based on measurable environmental factors (device and ambient noise), is transferable to any MRE device, or arrays, for any species (for which an audiogram can be assumed) and therefore provides an effective method to better inform MRE pre- and post-consenting processes.
Asia’s marine waters are divided into 13 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs), which together generate about 50% of the global marine fish catch of ~110 million tonnes annually. Here, I carry out a comparative analysis and valuation of these 13 LMEs with a focus on fish values even though marine ecosystem valuation is much broader than the valuation of fisheries. The following indicators were employed: Catch level, landed values, and subsidy intensity. These are key indicators of a fishery because (i) catch is an indicator of the amount of fish available in weight for food security purposes; (ii) landed value is the firsthand value from which wages, profits and economic impact originate; and (iii) fisheries subsidy is a policy instrument, which if used wrongly can lead to overcapacity and overfishing. In the second part of this contribution, I use the East and South China Sea LMEs to further illustrate the value of ocean fisheries and some of the threats they face. To carry out the comparative analysis, I extracted data from the Sea Around Us and Fisheries Economics Research Unit databases at the University of British Columbia. I also rely on the data and analysis of the OceanAsia project supported by the ADM Capital Foundation Ltd of Hong Kong. The analysis suggests that Asian LMEs are crucial in terms of food security, economic and social benefits to tens of millions of people in Asia and around the world; are under strong overfishing pressure; and that action is needed through effective management to stem the overfishing tide in order to ensure that these LMEs continue to sustain the delivery of goods and services through time.
Climate change is altering marine ecosystems worldwide and is most pronounced in the Arctic. Economic development is increasing leading to more disturbances and pressures on Arctic wildlife. Identifying areas that support higher levels of predator abundance and biodiversity is important for the implementation of targeted conservation measures across the Arctic.
Primarily Canadian Arctic marine waters but also parts of the United States, Greenland and Russia.
We compiled the largest data set of existing telemetry data for marine predators in the North American Arctic consisting of 1,283 individuals from 21 species. Data were arranged into four species groups: (a) cetaceans and pinnipeds, (b) polar bears Ursus maritimus (c) seabirds, and (d) fishes to address the following objectives: (a) to identify abundance hotspots for each species group in the summer–autumn and winter–spring; (b) to identify species diversity hotspots across all species groups and extent of overlap with exclusive economic zones; and (c) to perform a gap analysis that assesses amount of overlap between species diversity hotspots with existing protected areas.
Abundance and species diversity hotpots during summer–autumn and winter–spring were identified in Baffin Bay, Davis Strait, Hudson Bay, Hudson Strait, Amundsen Gulf, and the Beaufort, Chukchi and Bering seas both within and across species groups. Abundance and species diversity hotpots occurred within the continental slope in summer–autumn and offshore in areas of moving pack ice in winter–spring. Gap analysis revealed that the current level of conservation protection that overlaps species diversity hotspots is low covering only 5% (77,498 km2) in summer–autumn and 7% (83,202 km2) in winter–spring.
We identified several areas of potential importance for Arctic marine predators that could provide policymakers with a starting point for conservation measures given the multitude of threats facing the Arctic. These results are relevant to multilevel and multinational governance to protect this vulnerable ecosystem in our rapidly changing world.
Over the past decades, the nature of the management of marine fisheries in Galicia (NW Spain) has changed substantially. In addition to a powerful commercial fleet and high fisheries dependence of coastal communities, Galicia has a long and strong tradition in marine recreational fisheries, with 60 000 fishers and 4000 boats engaged in this activity in coastal waters. This paper analyses, for the first time, key changes in the management framework of marine recreational fisheries in Galicia by investigating past and current regulations and research initiatives developed so far. Three periods in the management of marine recreational fisheries (1963–1982; 1983–2000; and 2001-present) have been identified. The results show that the management of marine recreational fishing (MRF) moved from a poorly regulated and de facto open access system under the rule of the Spanish administration in the 1980's to a current highly regulated fishery under regional, national and European Union (EU) governments. EU regulations are being fundamental to promote the ecological and socioeconomic sustainability of MRF. However, the lack of scientific data, with only eight papers about MRF in Galicia published in international referred journals, the absence of experts in the field working in the fisheries administration and in research centers, and the lack of strong fishers' organizations are jeopardizing the sustainability of this complex socioecological system in the long term. The development of a strategic plan for MRF in Galicia is needed, including a diagnosis of its current status in relation to other sectors sharing coastal ecosystems, like commercial fisheries, and tourism. Co-management initiatives and adaptive policies favoring both the development of commercial fisheries and the promotion of MRF-based economies to offer new opportunities to local communities are encouraged.
Resilience underpins the sustainability of both ecological and social systems. Extensive loss of reef corals following recent mass bleaching events have challenged the notion that support of system resilience is a viable reef management strategy. While resilience-based management (RBM) cannot prevent the damaging effects of major disturbances, such as mass bleaching events, it can support natural processes that promote resistance and recovery. Here, we review the potential of RBM to help sustain coral reefs in the 21st century. We explore the scope for supporting resilience through existing management approaches and emerging technologies and discuss their opportunities and limitations in a changing climate. We argue that for RBM to be effective in a changing world, reef management strategies need to involve both existing and new interventions that together reduce stress, support the fitness of populations and species, and help people and economies to adapt to a highly altered ecosystem.
Pot fisheries occur worldwide with a significant proportion of the gear becoming derelict. Derelict pots induce detrimental ecological and economic impacts, and more recently were found to reduce blue crab harvests in the Chesapeake Bay commercial fishery. We simulated the presence of derelict pots near actively fished pots in seasonal field experiments to quantify the effect derelict pots have on blue crab harvest. Derelict pots reduced harvests by 30% during the summer, but not during the fall. Female blue crab capture rates were consistently lower when derelict pots were present; while capture rates of the less abundant males were not negatively affected by derelict pots. Variable responses to derelict pots may be due to seasonal differences in female and male blue crab behavior and movements. The costly effect that derelict pots have on harvest should be investigated in other pot fisheries to recognize the magnitude and mechanisms behind these impacts.
Effective site selection is a key component of maximising debris removal during coastal cleanup actions. We tested a GIS-based predictive model to identify marine litter hotspots in Lofoten, Norway based on shoreline gradient and shape. Litter density was recorded at 27 randomly selected locations with 5 transects sampled in each. Shoreline gradient was a limiting factor to litter accumulation when >35%. The curvature of the coastline correlated differently with litter density at different spatial scales. The greatest litter concentrations were in small coves located on larger headlands. A parsimonious model scoring sites on a scale of 1–5 based on shoreline slope and shape had the highest validation success. Sites unlikely to have high litter concentrations were successfully identified and could be avoided. The accuracy of hotspot identifications was more variable, and presumably more parameters influencing litter deposition, such as shoreline aspect relative to prevailing winds, should be incorporated.
Scientists active on sandy beach research were involved in a two-step process to depict the current status, highlighting critical points as well as strengths related to education on sandy beaches performed outside the academic environment. Firstly, an online questionnaire was submitted to the participants at the VIII International Sandy Beaches Symposium. The results were discussed and integrated by experiences at personal and institutional levels brought together by participants at the Symposium during a plenary workshop. Results highlighted a group of researchers engaged in education and outreach activities, willing to establish a dialogue which included the targets of education activities. Scientific literacy was seen as a necessary background for such a dialogue, in which specific gaps related to knowledge about sandy beaches could be addressed and rectified. A long-term vision and the establishment of a continuous path rather than one-off actions (as those related to specific, time-limited projects) was also seen as much needed for the implementation of effective actions. Main constraints preventing researchers from carrying out education activities outside academia were clearly identified as (in order of relevance): lack of recognition in terms of publications; lack of recognition in the academic environment; and lack of time. Considering these outcomes, the ideal dimension to establish effective solutions was identified at the national level. As a first step to counteract the constraints found, it is proposed to: target the collection of publishable data, e.g. basic indicators of success of education and outreach activities; and the use of “outreach” as an additional pillar for personnel evaluation. The provision of literacy principles should finally be the backbone of long-term actions.