In this article, we track a relatively new term in global environmental governance: “blue economy.” Analyzing preparatory documentation and data collected at the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development (i.e., Rio + 20), we show how the term entered into use and how it was articulated within four competing discourses regarding human–ocean relations: (a) oceans as natural capital, (b) oceans as good business, (c) oceans as integral to Pacific Small Island Developing States, and (d) oceans as small-scale fisheries livelihoods. Blue economy was consistently invoked to connect oceans with Rio + 20’s “green economy” theme; however, different actors worked to further define the term in ways that prioritized particular oceans problems, solutions, and participants. It is not clear whether blue economy will eventually be understood singularly or as the domain of a particular actor or discourse. We explore possibilities as well as discuss discourse in global environmental governance as powerful and precarious.
While the global rush to control land resources is well established, ‘power-grabs’ in relation to marine and coastal resources are less well researched. Under the banner of ‘blue growth’, such power-grabs are taking shape through global policy processes that purportedly align the needs of the poor with profit interests and climate change concerns. This contribution critically interrogates these policy proposals and situates them within broader neoliberalization of nature debates. It is argued that the policy proposals fail on their own terms and are a form of ‘antipolitics’ that precludes more radical visions of addressing environmental and climate change issues. In an attempt to challenge this, small-scale fishers’ movements are increasingly framing their opposition in terms of the broader struggle for ‘food sovereignty’.
Marine fisheries are in crisis, requiring twice the fishing effort of the 1950s to catch the same quantity of fish, and with many fleets operating beyond economic or ecological sustainability. A possible consequence of diminishing returns in this race to fish is serious labour abuses, including modern slavery, which exploit vulnerable workers to reduce costs. Here, we use the Global Slavery Index (GSI), a national-level indicator, as a proxy for modern slavery and labour abuses in fisheries. GSI estimates and fisheries governance are correlated at the national level among the major fishing countries. Furthermore, countries having documented labour abuses at sea share key features, including higher levels of subsidised distant-water fishing and poor catch reporting. Further research into modern slavery in the fisheries sector is needed to better understand how the issue relates to overfishing and fisheries policy, as well as measures to reduce risk in these labour markets.
This article discusses the tendency within environmental communication to homogenise diverse situations. Utilising the case of whale conservation it describes how actors on both sides of the whaling debate utilise the ‘super-whale’ – a homogenised discursive construct. The article argues that there are pragmatic advantages to such framing of environmental situations but also costs. In the case of whale conservation, the super-whale maintains focus on whaling rather than other, arguably more pressing, threats to whale species. More generally, utilising such framing tactics arguably prevent the voicing of new narratives about the global social order.
High latitudes are considered particularly vulnerable to ocean acidification, since they are naturally low in carbonate ions. The edible mussel Mytilus chilensis is a common calcifier inhabiting marine ecosystems of the southern Chile, where culturing of this species is concentrated and where algal blooms produced by the toxic dinoflagellate A. catenella are becoming more frequent. Juvenile Mytilus chilensis were exposed to experimental conditions simulating two environmental phenomena: pCO2increase and the presence of paralytic shellfish toxins (PST) produced by the toxic dinoflagellate Alexandrium catenella. Individuals were exposed to two levels of pCO2: 380 μatm (control condition) and 1000 μatm (future conditions) over a period of 39 days (acclimation), followed by another period of 40 days exposure to a combination of pCO2 and PST. Both factors significantly affected most of the physiological variables measured (feeding, metabolism and scope for growth). However, these effects greatly varied over time, which can be explained by the high individual variability described for mussels exposed to different environmental conditions. Absorption efficiency was not affected by the independent effect of the toxic diet; however, the diet and pCO2 interaction affected it significantly. The inhibition of the physiological processes related with energy acquisition by diets containing PST, may negatively impact mussel fitness, which could have important consequences for both wild and cultured mussel populations, and thus, for socioeconomic development in southern Chile.
Misconceptions, lack of knowledge, and negative attitudes towards sharks act as barriers preventing actions required to tackle threats to shark populations, limiting the success of global shark conservation initiatives. Peru, a major player for the international trade of shark products, recently approved the ‘National Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras’ (PAN-Tib); a guiding document for conservation initiatives aimed at these fishes. Within PAN-Tib, the assessment of Peruvians’ current knowledge and attitudes towards sharks is listed as a research priority. Between June and October 2016, 2004 Peruvians were surveyed along the coast to characterize their (i) shark meat consumption patterns, and (ii) knowledge and attitudes towards sharks. Results suggest that shark meat consumption is extended, but not necessarily frequent, and higher in the northern regions of the country. However, 77.5% of shark meat consumers were unaware that they had eaten sharks. Although 57.6% of the participants recognized that sharks are present in Peruvian waters, only 19.4% of the surveyed population was capable of naming at least one local shark species. Moreover, Peruvians have very negative attitudes towards sharks. They fear them and view them as man-eaters, despite this, no shark attacks have ever been reported in the country. These results highlight the need to: (i) encourage sustainable shark meat consumption, and (ii) promote communication campaigns aimed at increasing knowledge about sharks, and their importance as a source of employment and food for coastal communities, as for the national economy.
Widespread shallow coral reef loss has led to calls for more holistic approaches to coral reef management, requiring inclusion of ecosystems interacting with shallow coral reefs in management plans. Yet, almost all current reef management is biased towards shallow reefs, and overlooks that coral reefs extend beyond shallow waters to mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; 30–150 m). We present the first detailed quantitative characterization of MCEs off Cozumel, Mexico, on the northern Mesoamerican Reef in the Mexican Caribbean, and provide insights into their general state. We documented MCE biodiversity, and assessed whether MCEs adjacent to a major town and port, where coastal development has caused shallow reef damage, have similar benthic and fish communities to MCEs within a National Park. Our results show that overall MCE communities are similar regardless of protection, though some taxa-specific differences exist in benthic communities between sites within the MPA and areas outside. Regardless of protection and location, and in contrast to shallow reefs, all observed Cozumel MCEs were continuous reefs with the main structural habitat complexity provided by calcareous macroalgae, sponges, gorgonians and black corals. Hard corals were present on MCEs, although at low abundance. We found that 42.5% of fish species recorded on Cozumel could be found on both shallow reefs and MCEs, including 39.6% of commercially valuable fish species. These results suggest that MCEs could play an important role in supporting fish populations. However, regardless of protection and depth, we found few large-body fishes (greater than 500 mm), which were nearly absent at all studied sites. Cozumel MCEs contain diverse benthic and fish assemblages, including commercially valuable fisheries species and ecosystem engineers, such as black corals. Because of their inherent biodiversity and identified threats, MCEs should be incorporated into shallow-reef-focused Cozumel National Park management plan.
Green and Blue Infrastructure (GBI) is a network designed and planned to deliver a wide range of ecosystem services and to protect biodiversity. Existing GBI designs lacked a systematic method to allocate restoration zones. This study proposes a novel approach for systematically selecting cost-effective areas for restoration on the basis of biodiversity, ecosystem services, and ecosystem condition to give an optimal spatial design of GBI. The approach was tested at a regional scale, in a transboundary setting encompassing the Intercontinental Biosphere Reserve of the Mediterranean in Andalusia (Spain) – Morocco (IBRM), across three aquatic ecosystems: freshwater, coastal and marine. We applied Marxan with Zones to stakeholder-defined scenarios of GBI in the IBRM. Specifically, we aimed to identify management zones within the GBl that addressed different conservation, restoration and exploitation objectives. Although almost all conservation targets were achieved, our results highlighted that the proportion of conservation features (i.e., biodiversity, ecosystem services) that would be compromised in the GBl, and the proportion of provisioning services that would be lost due to conservation (i.e., incidental representation) are potentially large, indicating that the probability of conflicts between conservation and exploitation goals in the area is high. The implementation of restoration zones improved connectivity across the GBI, and also achieved European and global policy targets. Our approach may help guide future applications of GBI to implement the flexible conservation management that aquatic environments require, considering many areas at different spatial scales, across multiple ecosystems, and in transboundary contexts.
Distribution of non-natural food (provisioning) to attract fish, though popular in coral reef tourism, has often been discouraged due to its assumed adverse effects on fish health and behavior. However, the effects of provisioning on community structure, anti-predator, and foraging behavior of teleost fishes, as well as their potential to indirectly affect benthic organisms, are not yet clear. Here, we compared fish composition, wariness, foraging behavior of herbivorous fishes, and the benthic cover between provisioned and control sites. We found significant differences in fish abundance, species number, and composition at some locations, but not all. Although most provisioned herbivorous fish did not reduce their biting rates of benthic algae, provisioned sites still had higher coverage of green macroalgae. Our results dispute widely held presumptions on the effects of tourism-based provisioning on the ecology and behavior of teleost fishes, as well as the benthic cover. These findings suggest that while regulation of provisioning is necessary to manage and mitigate any deleterious outcomes, when moderated and monitored, it could still provide an educationally beneficial tool for coral reef ecotourism.
In the Nerbioi estuary (North Spain), the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) constructed in 1990 resulted in an abrupt decrease in water pollution and an opportunity for improved recreational experiences in the three beaches on the estuary. The monetary value of these recreational benefits was estimated using the travel cost method and compared, via a partial cost-benefit analysis, with the costs of beach maintenance. The travel cost models reveal that summer recreational trips to the three Nerbioi beaches have a value of 5.99, 7.06, and 8.09 € trip-1, respectively. Visitor’s profile and social characteristics influenced the models, while the effects of these variables also varied across beaches. Following a conservative approach, the aggregate recreational value of the estuarine beaches was estimated to be more than 3.5 million year-1. This economic benefit, obtained from summer estimates and focusing on one ecosystem service (i.e., beach recreation) from the multiple ones offered by the estuary, is sufficient to cover 100% of annual beach maintenance costs and 12% of the annual sewerage system running costs. Our findings highlight that investing in water sanitation projects such as WWTPs are not only important for the ecological recovery of degraded coastal environments, but also produce additional human benefits that are able to cover (at least) part of the running cost of these large capital investments.
Land-based macroplastic is considered one of the major sources of marine plastic debris. However, estimations of plastic emission from rivers into the oceans remain scarce and uncertain, mainly due to a severe lack of standardized observations. To properly assess global plastic fluxes, detailed information on spatiotemporal variation in river plastic quantities and composition are urgently needed. In this paper, we present a new methodology to characterize riverine macroplastic dynamics. The proposed methodology was applied to estimate the plastic emission from the Saigon River, Vietnam. During a 2-week period, hourly cross-sectional profiles of plastic transport were made across the river width. Simultaneously, sub-hourly samples were taken to determine the weight, size and composition of riverine macroplastics (>5 cm). Finally, extrapolation of the observations based on available hydrological data yielded new estimates of daily, monthly and annual macroplastic emission into the ocean. Our results suggest that plastic emissions from the Saigon River are up to four times higher than previously estimated. Importantly, our flexible methodology can be adapted to local hydrological circumstances and data availability, thus enabling a consistent characterization of macroplastic dynamics in rivers worldwide. Such data will provide crucial knowledge for the optimization of future mediation and recycling efforts.
The existence and dilemmas of metropolitan fisheries have been overlooked in research on the resilience of coastal marine socio-ecological systems. Yet, they could produce a model of sustainable fisheries with significant global impact. To fill that research gap, this study investigates an inshore fishery population that has sustained itself within Hong Kong's rapid urban development, seeking to understand the reasons for its survival. The results indicate that the values of self-reliance and entrepreneurialism exacted by fishing enabled the fishers to make necessary adaptations and reposition themselves in mariculture and service industries. These new ventures, while retaining marine-based livelihoods, draw the fishers away from fishing activities. The paradox of this value-based resilience of a metropolitan fishery is discussed for its potential to generate policies to strengthen linkages among the fishers’ business activities and to create a sustainable fishery model useful in other contexts.
The complexity of current socio-environmental impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems has pushed scientific endeavors toward more participative and holistic approaches, such as the Post-Normal Science, Marine Ecosystem-Based Approach and Integrated Coastal Management. Knowledge integration is a key element of these approaches. Nevertheless, the development of integrated and interdisciplinary research still faces many obstacles. Here, we discuss the process of scientific knowledge production and integration among the diverse research areas of Oceanography and between science and society. Aiming to contribute to the development of future interdisciplinary scientific research and to improve science-policy interface in coastal zones, we conducted an analysis of an oceanographic research project in which an interdisciplinary and applied approach was adopted to understand the components, processes and importance of a coastal bay in Southeast Brazil. From interviews with project researchers, a documentary analysis and a social network analysis, we showed that interdisciplinarity was stronger (a) within groups from related research fields and (b) with specific management modules. Similarly, integration between the project and society was limited to specific research modules. In addition, it was possible to identify actions that would foster integration in future research projects, related to developing common research goals, concepts and methods, such as promoting opportunities for integration and investing in publications for lay people in addition to scientific publications. Despite not achieving the objectives of interdisciplinarity and integration with every project module, the project resulted in important legacies that have impacted the Araçá Bay community and local decision-making. This project can be considered to be a good example of integrated science in Brazil, especially regarding the under-explored potential of interdisciplinarity development within oceanographic projects.
This paper examines how the EU can best use its powers to establish marine protected areas (MPAs) in Antarctica. It first discusses the EU’s role in Antarctic governance and legal basis for the EU’s actions, with particular focus on the pending Joined Cases C-625/15 and C-659/16 at the Court of Justice of the European Union. Secondly, the paper analyses the negotiation process of the EU’s MPA proposals in the Southern Ocean within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Thirdly, it provides suggestions regarding the EU’s potential actions that might help achieve proposed Antarctic MPAs.
Many countries have made statutory commitments to ensure that underwater noise pollution is at levels which do not harm marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, coordinated action to manage cumulative noise levels is lacking, despite broad recognition of the risks to ecosystem health. We attribute this impasse to a lack of quantitative management targets—or “noise budgets”—which regulatory decision‐makers can work toward, and propose a framework of risk‐based noise exposure indicators which make such targets possible. These indicators employ novel noise exposure curves to quantify the proportion of a population or habitat exposed, and the associated exposure duration. This methodology facilitates both place‐based and ecosystem‐based approaches, enabling the integration of noise management into marine spatial planning, risk assessment of population‐level consequences, and cumulative effects assessment. Using data from the first international assessment of impulsive noise activity, we apply this approach to herring spawning and harbor porpoise in the North Sea.
This study provides monetary estimates of the benefits of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Finnish marine waters of the Baltic Sea. The designed contingent valuation study addresses the non-market benefits related to all descriptors defining GES in the Baltic Sea, and it is designed to conform to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive's request to estimate the national costs of the degradation of the marine environment. According to the results, Finns are willing to contribute annually €105–123 per person to achieve GES in the Finnish marine area. This indicates that the total monetary benefits of reaching GES are €432–509 million annually in Finland. The results also show that Finns value a healthy marine environment irrespective of how far from the coast they live and even if they do not use the sea themselves. They particularly want public funding to be allocated to reducing hazardous substances and eutrophication. Moreover, Finns place especially high importance on cultural ecosystem services related to the existence of habitats for species as well as on recreation and aesthetic values. This confirms that the public funds used for Baltic Sea protection measures seem to be largely accepted even by the population mainly benefiting from non-use values.
Worldwide the seafloor has been recognized as a major sink for microplastics. However, currently nothing is known about the sediment microplastic pollution in the North Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean. Here, we present the first record of microplastic contamination in the surface sediment from the northern Bering and Chukchi Seas. The microplastics were extracted by the density separation method from collected samples. Each particle was identified using the microscopic Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (μFTIR). The abundances of microplastics in sediments from all sites ranged from not detected (ND) to 68.78 items/kg dry weight (DW) of sediment. The highest level of microplastic contamination in the sediment was detected from the Chukchi Sea. A negative correlation between microplastic abundance and water depth was observed. Polypropylene (PP) accounted for the largest proportion (51.5%) of the identified microplastic particles, followed by polyethylene terephthalate (PET) (35.2%) and rayon (13.3%). Fibers constituted the most common shape of plastic particles. The range of polymer types, physical shapes and spatial distribution characteristics of the microplastics suggest that water masses from the Pacific and local coastal inputs are possible sources for the microplastics found in the study area. In overall, our results highlight the global distribution of these anthropogenic pollutants and the importance of management action to reduce marine debris worldwide.
Marine debris is dispersed worldwide and has a considerable impact on biodiversity. In this study, the effect of marine debris on the time needed for hatchling loggerheads to reach the ocean once they have emerged from the nest was investigated. After a preliminary census of marine debris on different beaches of Boa Vista Island, Cape Verde, a field test was carried out with four different scenarios: low density marine debris, medium density marine debris, high density marine debris, and a control scenario. The time that hatchlings required to cross the different scenarios was recorded (n = 232). The results showed that crawl times were affected by the different marine debris scenarios, with the “high density” scenario specifically showing a significant difference from the control, low density and medium density scenarios. This study provides information on the risks of marine debris for hatchling sea turtles and provides conservation recommendations to reduce this potential risk.
We assess the vulnerability to climate change of Korean aquaculture based on predicted changes in seawater temperature and salinity in adjacent sea areas of the Korean Peninsula according to representative concentration pathways (RCP) scenarios. Unlike previous studies that have been conducted mostly on a national scale, we classify 14 farming species in major production regions of the Republic of Korea, and assess their vulnerability for each region, using the indicator-based method and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's definition of vulnerability in order to overcome limitations in developing specific adaptation strategies within a country. First, for each exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity, specific and proper indicators are selected. Subsequently, these indicators are estimated and weighted to analyze vulnerability to climate change. The results show that the absolute level of vulnerability is high in a long-term period of RCP8.5 in which exposure becomes severe, whereas the relative vulnerability is similar among farming species and regions. Specifically, vulnerability is at the highest level in seaweed, such as laver and sea mustard, while fish, shrimp, and abalone are relatively less vulnerable to climate change.
Tidal lagoons are presented as an environmentally friendly alternative to tidal barrages. This does not mean that their environmental impacts can be overlooked. A UK government review recommended a pilot scheme lagoon go ahead, with careful environmental monitoring. Despite recent government rejection of a lagoon scheme, it is still more important than ever to consider environmental solution options for any future lagoon developments. There are no operating lagoons in the world and so their environmental impacts are not fully understood. However, there is a vast quantity of literature available from other industries addressing similar impacts in the coastal, ocean and river environments. This systematic review follows the PRISMA and CEE guidance. Using this methodology the available literature covering relevant solution options from other industries that could be applied to future lagoon developments was quantified. This presents an investigation into solution options only, giving a quantitative analysis of what resources are available, how this compares to industry understanding, where the expertise lies globally, what impacts are being addressed and how applicable the solutions are for lagoon application. This paper analyses the extent and relevance of this available research on solutions as a resource for the nascent lagoon industry. Over half of the solutions found in this review require only small shifts in development for them to be realistic solution options for the lagoon industry in the future. This review opens the door on a vast and valuable resource and justifies the need for further investigation into solutions for the lagoon industry.