The growth of global ocean noise recorded over the past decades is increasingly affecting marine species and requires assessment on the part of marine managers. We present a framework for the analysis of species' exposure to noise from shipping. Integrated into a set of geovisualization tools, our approach focuses on exposure hotspot mapping, on the computation of probabilistic levels of exposure, and on the identification of shipping routes that minimize exposure levels for Cetacean species. The framework was applied to estimate noise exposure for the Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) population, and for the exploration of possible ship traffic displacement scenarios in the Salish Sea, British Columbia. Four noise exposure hotspots were identified within the SRKW's core habitat. Exposure over these areas was mainly produced by six vessel classes, namely Ferries, Tugboats, Recreational Vessels, Vehicle Carriers, Containers, and Bulkers. Exposure levels showed variability across hotspots suggesting that a fine-scale spatial dimension should be included in the design of noise pollution mitigation strategies for the Salish Sea. The scenarios suggest that small changes in the current shipping lanes (3.4% increase in traveled distance) can lead to a 56% reduction of the overlap between vessel traffic and sensitive areas for SRKW.
Analysis that link hydrological processes with oceanographic dispersion offer a promising approach for assessing impacts of land-based activities on marine ecosystems. However, such an analysis has not yet been customised to quantify specific pressures from mining activities on marine biodiversity including those from spillages resulting from tailing dam failure. Here, using a Brazilian catchment in which a tailing dam collapsed (Doce river) as a case study, we provide a modelling approach to assess the impacts on key ecosystems and marine protected areas subjected to two exposure regimes: (i) a pulse disturbance event for the period 2015–2016, following the immediate release of sediments after dam burst, which witnessed an average increase of 88% in sediment exports; and (ii) a press disturbance phase for the period 2017–2029, when impacts are sustained over time by sediments along the river's course. We integrated four components into impact assessments: hydrological modelling, coastal-circulation modelling, ecosystem mapping, and biological sensitivities. The results showed that pulse disturbance causes sharp increases in the amount of sediments entering the coastal area, exposing key sensitive ecosystems to pollution (e.g. rhodolith beds), highlighting an urgent need for developing restoration strategies for these areas. The intensity of impacts will diminish over time but the total area of sensitive ecosystems at risk are predicted to be enlarged. We determined monitoring and restoration priorities by evaluating and comparing the extent to which sensitive ecosystems within marine protected areas were exposed to disturbances. The information obtained in this study will allow the optimization of recovery efforts in the marine area affected, and valuation of ecosystem services lost.
Ocean acidification (OA) is one of the largest emerging and significant environmental threats for the aquaculture industry, jeopardizing its role as an alternative for supporting food security. Moreover, market conditions, characterized by price volatility and low value-added products, could exacerbate the industry's vulnerability to OA. We use a literature review on the biological consequences of OA over marine commercial species attributes to inform the empirical assessment of consumers' preferences for those attributes affected by OA, and consumers' responses to a set of market adaptation strategies suggested by the industry. We found that OA will have a negative impact on consumers' welfare due to the effects on commercial attributes of mussels aquaculture products. However, the main concerns for the industry are the market conditions. Thus, the industry's current adaptation strategies are focused on increasing their market share by offering new product assortments (with more value-added), regardless of the effect of OA on consumers' welfare. Despite this fact, the industry's strategies could eventually contribute to cope with OA since some specific segments of the market are willing to pay for new product assortments. This new market composition highlights the role of public institutions' reputation in issues related to food safety.
This paper qualifies, quantifies and localizes seafloor marine debris (SMD) in the Moroccan portion of the Mediterranean Sea. Six scientific trawl surveys were conducted by the Moroccan Institute of Fisheries Research from 2012 to 2015 between Cape Spartel (5°W) and Saidia (2°W), during which a total of 497 kg of SMD has been collected. Statistical analysis show that the mean abundance differed between surveys, generally ranging from 26 ± 68 to 80 ± 133 kg/km2. A typology of SMD indicates that plastic represented 73% of the debris collected, followed by rubber (12%), textile (8%), metal (3%), glass (0.32%), and some unidentified materials (2.70%). Analysis of results shows that the abundance and the distribution of SMD were strongly influenced by the local anthropogenic activities and by rivers inputs. The movements and accumulations in the open sea were also shown to be influenced by the geomorphology and the hydrodynamics of the basin.
Given their capacity to adsorb chemical pollutants, microplastics represent a growing environmental concern in the oceans. The levels of 81 chemical compounds in two types of beached microplastic (pellets and fragments) were monitored across the Canary Islands (Spain). The highest concentrations were found for polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) (52.1–17,023.6 ng/g and 35.1–8725.8 ng/g for pooled pellets and fragments, respectively). The polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) concentrations were 0.9–2285.8 and 1.6–772.5 ng/g for pooled pellets and fragments, respectively, whereas organochlorine pesticides (OCP) ranged from 0.4–13,488.7 and 0.4–3778.8 ng/g, respectively. The sum of polychlorinated biphenyls and diphenyl-dichloro-ethane (DDT) metabolites was significantly higher in beaches on Gran Canaria, which is the most populated and industrialized island. The sum of ultraviolet filters (UV-filters) was higher in those beaches more frequented by tourists (Famara and Las Canteras), than in occasionally or very rarely visited beaches (Cuervitos and Lambra), with values ranging from 0 to 37,740.3 ng/g and 3.7–2169.3 ng/g for pellets and fragments, respectively. Furthermore, the sum of brominated diphenyl ethers (BDE) (0–180.58 ng/g for pooled pellets and 0.06–3923.9 ng/g for pooled fragments) and organophosphorus flame retardants (OPFR) (20.0–378.0 ng/g for pooled pellets, and 22.6–7013.9 ng/g for pooled fragments) was significantly higher in an urban beach (Las Canteras) than in the rest of the studied beaches. Finally, the concentrations of the pesticide chlorpyrifos were much higher on Gran Canaria beaches than in the rest. In this research we provide further evidence of the important role of plastic debris in the adsorption of a wide range of marine pollutants. The regional pattern of chemical contamination of plastics reveals that the sorption of many compounds probably occurs in coastal waters. Further investigation is necessary to understand the relationship between plastic types and adsorption of different pollutants, especially for emerging pollutants.
Fishers’ spatial behavior affects their incomes, livelihoods and ecological sustainability and is affected by establishment of protected areas, and the impacts of changing climate and weather patterns. An understanding of fishers’ spatial behavior is essential for evaluating catch trends or estimating per-area yields. Location choice by fishers has largely been understood through foraging models and empirical studies in large scale, developed country fisheries. This paper uses participatory mapping, logbooks and remotely sensed weather (wind speed) data to explore the influence of weather and capital on the spatial behavior and success of coastal Kenyan small-scale fishers. We test generalized foraging models of fisher behavior. A reef crest separates available fishing grounds in the study area between two distinct areas of dissimilar fish catches. Over half of the fishing trips accessed grounds outside the reef, particularly in the calmer northeast monsoon season. Trips across the reef were more successful both in terms of catch and value per fisher and price per kg. Access across the reef was determined primarily by season but was also affected by métier and daily wind speeds. Amongst a sample of non-motorised trips, crossing the reef was the most important variable for predicting Value Per Unit Effort (VPUE). Other things equal, more productive grounds ought to attract more effort, but access to the fishing grounds beyond the reef is constrained by fishers’ access to capital, fluctuations in weather and the interaction between these variables. Fishers with low levels of capital are more affected by daily weather that limits access to the more profitable fishing grounds. Fishers with more capital are able to access more productive grounds more freely, but at the expense of extra compensation for the capital needed. Thus while gross returns to offshore trips exceed similar returns for nearshore trips, net returns are likely to be more equal. In our study a stark exception to the pattern of higher returns from more capitalised gear is the relatively high VPUE achieved by spear fishers, making the assumption of free movement of labour between gears not valid. The study also adds a temporal complexity to this picture by showing the likelihood of accessing grounds beyond the reef crest varies temporally by season.
The sustainable use of global marine resources depends upon science-based decision processes and systems. Informing decisions with science is challenging for many reasons, including the nature of science and science-based institutions. The complexity of ecosystem-based management often requires the use of models, and model-based advice can be especially difficult to convert into policies or decisions. Here, we suggest five characteristics of model-based information and advice for successfully informing ocean management decision-making, based on the Ocean Modeling Forum framework. Illustrated by examples from two fisheries case studies, Pacific sardines Sardinops sagaxand Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, we argue that actionable model-based output should be aspirational, applicable, parsimonious, co-produced, and amplifying.
Mining impacts will affect local populations to different degrees. Impacts range from removal of habitats and possible energy sources to pollution and smaller-scale alterations in local habitats that, depending on the degree of disturbance, can lead to extinction of local communities. While there is a shortage or even lack of studies investigating impacts that resemble those caused by actual mining activity, the information available on the potential long-lasting impacts of seabed mining emphasise the need for effective environmental management plans. These plans should include efforts to mitigate deep-sea mining impact such as avoidance, minimisation and potentially restoration actions, to maintain or encourage reinstatement of a resilient ecosystem. A wide range of mitigation and restoration actions for deep-sea ecosystems at risk were addressed. From an ecological point of view, the designation of set-aside areas (refuges) is of utmost importance as it appears to be the most comprehensive and precautionary approach, both for well-known and lesser studied areas. Other actions range from the deployment of artificial substrates to enhance faunal colonisation and survival to habitat recreation, artificial eutrophication, but also spatial and temporal management of mining operations, as well as optimising mining machine construction to minimise plume size on the sea floor, toxicity of the return plume and sediment compression. No single action will suffice to allow an ecosystem to recover, instead combined mitigation/restoration actions need to be considered, which will depend on the specific characteristics of the different mining habitats and the resources hosted (polymetallic sulphides, polymetallic nodules and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts). However, there is a lack of practical experience regarding mitigation and restoration actions following mining impacts, which severely hamper their predictability and estimation of their possible effect and success. We propose an extensive list of actions that could be considered as recommendations for best environmental practice. The list is not restricted and, depending on the characteristics of the site, additional actions can be considered. For all actions presented here, further research is necessary to fully encompass their potential and contribution to possible mitigation or restoration of the ecosystem.
The offshore and deep-sea marine environment provides many ecosystem services (i.e., benefits to humans), for example: climate regulation, exploitable resources, processes that enable life on Earth, and waste removal. Unfortunately, the remote nature of this environment makes it difficult to estimate the values of these services. One service in particular, waste removal, was examined in the context of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil were released into the offshore Gulf of Mexico, and 14 billion dollars were spent removing about 25% of the oil spilled. Using values for oil spill cleanup efforts, which included capping the wellhead and collecting oil, surface combustion, and surface skimming, it was calculated that waste removal, i.e., natural removal of spilled oil, saved BP over $35 billion. This large amount demonstrates the costs of offshore disasters, the importance of the offshore environment to humans, as well as the large monetary values associated with ecosystem services provided.
The global oil and gas industry holds a vast archive of Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) inspection footage potentially containing useful long-term data on marine biological communities. With the upcoming era of decommissioning of oil and gas structures, it is timely to assess the usefulness of this footage for researching these communities. We used ROV inspection footage to characterize the sessile invertebrates and fishes associated with the Goodwyn Alpha Production Platform (GWA) on the North West Shelf of Australia between depths of 10 and 125 m during 2006 and 2008. Depth was a major driver of invertebrate assemblages, most likely due to specific requirements such as light, and differences between years were most likely from the physical detachment of species by cyclones and internal waves. Phototrophic species were mostly limited to the upper 50 m of the platform, including the hard coral Pocillopora sp. and the soft corals Nephthea sp. and Scleronephthya sp. In contrast, heterotrophic species including sponges, anemones, bryozoans, hydroids, bivalves such as Lopha folium and the hard coral Tubastrea spp., were distributed across all depths. We observed 1791 fish from at least 10 families and 19 species, including commercial species such as crimson seaperch (Lutjanus erythropterus), red emperor (L. sebae), saddle-tailed seaperch (L. malabaricus), mangrove jack (L. argentimaculatus) and trevally (Caranx spp.). Fish density increased significantly with depth during 2008, from a mean of 23 fish/50 m2 between 10 and 25 m to 3373 fish/50 m2 at 125 m, where small unidentified baitfish were abundant. The highest densities of commercial species occurred between 25 and 75 m depth, suggesting that mid-depth platform sections had high habitat value, a consideration when selecting decommissioning options. The greatest difficulties using the video were the poor lighting and resolution that inhibited our ability to identify sessile species with high taxonomic precision. However, the footage was useful for evaluating high-level biodiversity of the platform, understanding how fish and invertebrate communities changed with depth and comprehending the dynamic nature of the invertebrate community over time. Understanding the habitat value of structures will be necessary for making environmentally sound decommissioning decisions in the future.
Although ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been adopted by many management organisations in principle, operationalising EBM has been problematic. A mismatch in institutional arrangements, created by the traditional sectoral focus of marine environmental and resource management, may be one factor acting against EBM implementation. To investigate this potential issue, this study focused on ‘sectoral interplay’, the challenges and tensions that prevent ‘whole of government’ cooperation, political consensus among conflicting user and interest groups, and collaboration between government and stakeholders that preconditon implementation of EBM. Four key challenges/tensions to sectoral interplay in marine EBM were found, including: governance structures and mechanisms, communication and sharing, participation and exclusion and fragmentation. Several ways in which these challenges/tensions could be addressed are proposed such as creating co-ordinating structures which operate across sectors and clarifying mandates and precedence between decision-making agencies. There are myriad case study examples from which to learn how to manage, and how not to manage, sectoral interplay in marine governance, and this should be the focus of future research.
In this study, we develop an economic evaluation of the Boston Harbor Cleanup, a court-mandated action started in 1986, through a comparison of cleanup costs and relevant ecosystem service values. Our results suggest that the ecosystems in the study area provide services to society with a capitalized value ranging from $30 to $100 billion. The $4.7 billion cost of the Boston Harbor Cleanup is about 5–16% of the total asset value of ecosystem services. Although it is not clear what fraction of the ecosystem value is due to the cleanup, our results suggest that the cost of the cleanup may be justified by our high- or midpoint-estimates of the value of ecosystem services.
Commercial seabed mining seems imminent, highlighting the urgent need for coherent, effective policy to safeguard the marine environment. Reconciling seabed mining with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be difficult because minerals extraction will have irreversible consequences that could lead to the loss of habitats, species and ecosystems services. A dialog needs to take place around social, cultural, environmental and economic costs and benefits. Governance of human interactions with the seabed is fragmented and lacks transparency, with a heavy focus on facilitating exploitation rather than ensuring protection. In the light of high uncertainties and high stakes, we present a critical review of proposed policy options for the regulation of seabed mining activities, recommend actions to improve seabed governance and outline the alternatives to mining fragile deep-sea ecosystems.
The capacity of ecosystems to supply ecosystem services is decreasing. Sustaining this supply requires an understanding of the links between the impacts of pressures introduced by human activities and how this can lead to changes in the supply of services. Here, we apply a novel approach, assessing ‘risk to ecosystem service supply’ (RESS), across a range of aquatic ecosystems in seven case studies. We link aggregate impact risk from human activities on ecosystem components, with a relative score of their potential to supply services. The greatest RESS is found where an ecosystem component with a high potential to supply services is subject to high impact risk. In this context, we explore variability in RESS across 99 types of aquatic ecosystem component from 11 realms, ranging from oceanic to wetlands. We explore some causes of variability in the RESS observed, including assessment area, Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and population density. We found that Lakes, Rivers, Inlets and Coastal realms had some of the highest RESS, though this was highly dependent on location. We found a positive relationship between impact risk and service supply potential, indicating the ecosystem components we rely on most for services, are also those most at risk. However, variability in this relationship indicates that protecting the supply of ecosystem services alone will not protect all parts of the ecosystem at high risk. Broad socio-economic factors explained some of the variability found in RESS. For example, RESS was positively associated with GDP and artificial and agricultural land use in most realms, highlighting the need to achieve balance between increasing GDP and sustaining ecosystem health and human wellbeing more broadly. This approach can be used for sustainable management of ecosystem service use, to highlight the ecosystem components most critical to supplying services, and those most at risk.
Air-breathing marine animals, such as seals and seabirds, undertake a special form of central-place foraging as they must obtain their food at depth yet return to the surface to breathe. While telemetry technologies have advanced our understanding of the foraging behavior and physiology of these marine predators, the proximate and ultimate influences controlling the diving behavior of individuals are still poorly understood. Over time, a wide variety of analytical approaches have been developed for dive data obtained via telemetry, making comparative studies and syntheses difficult even amongst closely-related species. Here we review publications using dive telemetry for 24 species (marine mammals and seabirds) in the Southern Ocean in the last decade (2006–2016). We determine the key questions asked, and examine how through the deployment of data loggers these questions are able to be answered. As part of this process we describe the measured and derived dive variables that have been used to make inferences about diving behavior, foraging, and physiology. Adopting a question-driven orientation highlights the benefits of a standardized approach for comparative analyses and the development of models. Ultimately, this should promote robust treatment of increasingly complex data streams, improved alignment across diverse research groups, and also pave the way for more integrative multi-species meta-analyses. Finally, we discuss key emergent areas in which dive telemetry data are being upscaled and more quantitatively integrated with movement and demographic information to link to population level consequences.
Three decades following the onset of efforts to revert widespread eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, evidence of improvement of ecosystem status is growing. However, cumulative pressures have developed in parallel to eutrophication, including those associated with climate change, such as warming, deoxygenation, ocean acidification and increased runoff. These additional pressures risk countering efforts to mitigate eutrophication and arrest coastal ecosystems in a state of eutrophication despite the efforts and significant resources already invested to revert coastal eutrophication. Here we argue that the time has arrived for a broader, more comprehensive approach to intervening to control eutrophication. Options for interventions include multiple levers controlling major pathways of nutrient budgets of coastal ecosystems, i.e., nutrient inputs, which is the intervention most commonly deployed, nutrient export, sequestration in sediments, and emissions of nitrogen to the atmosphere as N2 gas (denitrification). The levers involve local-scale hydrological engineering to increase flushing and nutrient export from (semi)enclosed coastal systems, ecological engineering such as sustainable aquaculture of seaweeds and mussels to enhance nutrient export and restoration of benthic habitats to increase sequestration in sediments as well as denitrification, and geo-engineering approaches including, with much precaution, aluminum injections in sediments. These proposed supplementary management levers to reduce eutrophication involve ecosystem-scale intervention and should be complemented with policy actions to protect benthic ecosystem components.
This article takes the opportunity of the recent establishment of two large and remote marine protected areas (MPAs) in Brazilian jurisdictional waters to discuss the role played by large-scale MPAs and their impacts to achieve international goals. After the launching of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets in 2010, especially Target 11, which concerns marine areas, some coastal states have created large-scale MPAs as a way of attaining a numerical target, though not necessarily fulfilling other ecosystem commitments. Brazil is the most recent example of this strategy through the establishment of MPAs that seem primarily concerned with international goals rather than effective biodiversity protection. Since the management of these protected areas will be shared between a technical body (Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation) and the Navy, and only a small portion of which will have similar status to “no-take” zone, the new MPAs can hardly be identified as being strongly committed to the marine environment protection. The article ends with some suggestions for improving biodiversity conservation in the Brazilian large-scale MPAs.
Matrix approaches are useful for linking ecosystem services to habitats that underpin their delivery. Matrix applications in marine ecosystem services research have been primarily qualitative, focusing on 'habitat presence' without including other attributes that effect service potential. We developed an evidence-based matrix approach of Ecosystem Service Potential (ESP) for New Zealand benthic marine habitats, and used two marine reserves to demonstrate that integrating information on the spatial extent and quality of habitats improved ESP evaluation. The two case studies identified substantial spatio-temporal variability in ESP: within one reserve, specific ESP showed an approximately 1.5-fold increase in the 29 years following protection. A comparison of two reserves found that the spatial extent of habitats contributing to the medicinal resources and waste-water treatment were 5 and 53 times greater respectively in one relative to the other. Integrating habitat area and quality with the ESP matrix improves on previous marine matrix-based approaches, providing a better indication of service potential. The matrix approach helps to communicate the non-market value of supporting and regulating services and can be used by resource managers to identify and track the potential for benefits derived from benthic marine habitats within existing, or new, marine protected areas.
Global environmental change has the potential to disrupt well established species interactions, with impacts on nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. On coral reefs, fish living within the branches of coral colonies can promote coral performance, and it has been hypothesized that the enhanced water flow and nutrients provided by fish to corals could ameliorate coral bleaching. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of small, aggregating damselfish on the health of their host corals (physiology, recovery, and survival) before, during, and after a thermal-bleaching event. When comparing coral colonies with and without fish, those with resident fish exhibited higher Symbiodinium densities and chlorophyll in both field and experimentally-induced bleaching conditions, and higher protein concentrations in field colonies. Additionally, colonies with damselfish in aquaria exhibited both higher photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM) during bleaching stress and post-bleaching recovery, compared to uninhabited colonies. These results demonstrate that symbiotic damselfishes, and the services they provide, translate into measureable impacts on coral tissue, and can influence coral bleaching susceptibility/resilience and recovery. By mediating how external abiotic stressors influence coral colony health, damselfish can affect the functional responses of these interspecific interactions in a warming ocean.
Nesting sea turtles appear to avoid brightly lit beaches and often turn back to sea prematurely when exposed to artificial light. Observations and experiments have noted that nesting turtles prefer darker areas where buildings and high dunes act as light barriers. As a result, sea turtles often nest on darker beaches, creating spatial concentrations of nests. Artificial nighttime light, or light pollution, has been quantified using a variety of methods. However, it has proven challenging to make accurate measurements of ambient light at fine scales and on smaller nesting beaches. Additionally, light has traditionally been measured from stationary tripods perpendicular to beach vegetation, disregarding the point of view of a nesting sea turtle. In the present study, nighttime ambient light conditions were assessed on three beaches in central North Carolina: a developed coastline of a barrier island, a nearby State Park on the same barrier island comprised of protected and undeveloped land, and a completely uninhabited wilderness on an adjacent barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Using an autonomous terrestrial rover, high resolution light measurements (mag/arcsec2) were collected every minute with two ambient light sensors along transects on each beach. Spatial comparisons between ambient light and nesting density at and between these locations reveal that highest densities of nests occur in regions with lowest light levels, supporting the hypothesis that light pollution from coastal development may influence turtle nesting distribution. These results can be used to support ongoing management strategies to mitigate this pressing conservation issue.