Recent studies show that ocean acidification impairs sensory functions and alters the behavior of teleost fishes. If sharks and other elasmobranchs are similarly affected, this could have significant consequences for marine ecosystems globally. Here, we show that projected future CO2 levels impair odor tracking behavior of the smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis). Adult M. canis were held for 5 days in a current-day control (405 ± 26 μatm) and mid (741 ± 22 μatm) or high CO2 (1064 ± 17 μatm) treatments consistent with the projections for the year 2100 on a ‘business as usual’ scenario. Both control and mid CO2-treated individuals maintained normal odor tracking behavior, whereas high CO2-treated sharks significantly avoided the odor cues indicative of food. Control sharks spent >60% of their time in the water stream containing the food stimulus, but this value fell below 15% in high CO2-treated sharks. In addition, sharks treated under mid and high CO2 conditions reduced attack behavior compared to the control individuals. Our findings show that shark feeding could be affected by changes in seawater chemistry projected for the end of this century. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification on critical behaviors, such as prey tracking in large predators, can help determine the potential impacts of future ocean acidification on ecosystem function.
While scientific studies may help conflicting stakeholders come to agreement on a best management option or policy, often they do not. We review the factors affecting trust in the efficacy and objectivity of scientific studies in an analytical-deliberative process where conflict is present, and show how they may be incorporated in an extension to the traditional Bayesian decision model. The extended framework considers stakeholders who differ in their prior beliefs regarding the probability of possible outcomes (in particular, whether a proposed technology is hazardous), differ in their valuations of these outcomes, and differ in their assessment of the ability of a proposed study to resolve the uncertainty in the outcomes and their hazards—as measured by their perceived false positive and false negative rates for the study. The Bayesian model predicts stakeholder-specific preposterior probabilities of consensus, as well as pathways for increasing these probabilities, providing important insights into the value of scientific information in an analytic-deliberative decision process where agreement is sought. It also helps to identify the interactions among perceived risk and benefit allocations, scientific beliefs, and trust in proposed scientific studies when determining whether a consensus can be achieved. The article provides examples to illustrate the method, including an adaptation of a recent decision analysis for managing the health risks of electromagnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines.
El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most dominant interannual signal of climate variability and has a strong influence on climate over large parts of the world. In turn, it strongly influences many natural hazards (such as hurricanes and droughts) and their resulting socioeconomic impacts, including economic damage and loss of life. However, although ENSO is known to influence hydrology in many regions of the world, little is known about its influence on the socioeconomic impacts of floods (i.e., flood risk). To address this, we developed a modeling framework to assess ENSO’s influence on flood risk at the global scale, expressed in terms of affected population and gross domestic product and economic damages. We show that ENSO exerts strong and widespread influences on both flood hazard and risk. Reliable anomalies of flood risk exist during El Niño or La Niña years, or both, in basins spanning almost half (44%) of Earth’s land surface. Our results show that climate variability, especially from ENSO, should be incorporated into disaster-risk analyses and policies. Because ENSO has some predictive skill with lead times of several seasons, the findings suggest the possibility to develop probabilistic flood-risk projections, which could be used for improved disaster planning. The findings are also relevant in the context of climate change. If the frequency and/or magnitude of ENSO events were to change in the future, this finding could imply changes in flood-risk variations across almost half of the world’s terrestrial regions.
Dispersal during juvenile life stages drives the life-history evolution and dynamics of many marine vertebrate populations. However, the movements of juvenile organisms, too small to track using conventional satellite telemetry devices, remain enigmatic. For sea turtles, this led to the paradigm of the ‘lost years' since hatchlings disperse widely with ocean currents. Recently, advances in the miniaturization of tracking technology have permitted the application of nano-tags to track cryptic organisms. Here, the novel use of acoustic nano-tags on neonate loggerhead turtle hatchlings enabled us to witness first-hand their dispersal and behaviour during their first day at sea. We tracked hatchlings distances of up to 15 km and documented their rapid transport (up to 60 m min−1) with surface current flows passing their natal areas. Tracking was complemented with laboratory observations to monitor swimming behaviours over longer periods which highlighted (i) a positive correlation between swimming activity levels and body size and (ii) population-specific swimming behaviours (e.g. nocturnal inactivity) suggesting local oceanic conditions drive the evolution of innate swimming behaviours. Knowledge of the swimming behaviours of small organisms is crucial to improve the accuracy of ocean model simulations used to predict the fate of these organisms and determine resultant population-level implications into adulthood.
Historically, many scientists considered marine fishes too fecund and wide-ranging to go extinct. Indeed, this view sometimes persists, not least at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where the few decisions to control export of marine fishes—including the recent restrictions on sharks and rays—have been hard won (1). Increasingly, however, there is recognition that the metrics for overfishing and conservation threat largely agree (2) and that remedial action is urgently needed. Given today's unprecedented threats to marine species, it is critical that rapid action be taken to conserve ocean wildlife.
Maritime and marine. Are they this, are they that, or are they something in between? Does it matter what we call them, or important what we mean?
Two words we use so loosely, in meaning and intent; marine implies protection, while maritime pays in rent. We find their use exchangeable, with understanding being bent.
Maritime, marine, it’s not as simple as it seems. Are these terms just synonyms, or is there more there yet to glean? Shall we accept our shared ambivalence, or discover what we mean?
We come from different backgrounds, in training and degree; one thinks in two dimensions, the other thinks in three. Marine regards the ocean, its rhythm and its rhyme, while maritime conducts its business, to be there just in time.
We see the sea in maritime, its profits being prime, while marine sees wealth in nature, its existence for all time. One views the sea as partner, in the world economy; one knows the natural wonder that gives us gifts for free.
We share the cause to protect our seas and certainly not abuse, we act on insults readily, not tolerate or excuse. The worlds that work together, nature and humankind, receive the gifts presented and protect them for all time.
Who is maritime, who is marine? Can we find a common language, in this anthropocene?
Climate change impacts on marine environments have been somewhat neglected in climate change research, particularly with regard to their social dimensions and implications. This paper contributes to addressing this gap through presenting a UK focused mixed-method study of how publics frame, understand and respond to marine climate change-related issues. It draws on data from a large national survey of UK publics (N = 1,001), undertaken in January 2011 as part of a wider European survey, in conjunction with in-depth qualitative insights from a citizens’ panel with participants from the East Anglia region, UK. This reveals that discrete marine climate change impacts, as often framed in technical or institutional terms, were not the most immediate or significant issues for most respondents. Study participants tended to view these climate impacts ‘in context’, in situated ways, and as entangled with other issues relating to marine environments and their everyday lives. Whilst making connections with scientific knowledge on the subject, public understandings of marine climate impacts were mainly shaped by personal experience, the visibility and proximity of impacts, sense of personal risk and moral or equity-based arguments. In terms of responses, study participants prioritised climate change mitigation measures over adaptation, even in high-risk areas. We consider the implications of these insights for research and practices of public engagement on marine climate impacts specifically, and climate change more generally.
As recently reinforced in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), knowledge on the location and intensity of human impacts on marine ecosystems is critical for effective marine management and conservation. Human interaction with ecosystems has to be accounted for in order to efficiently implement marine management strategies. In the present study, the main human activities occurring along the mainland Portuguese coast were identified and mapped. The cumulative impact of these activities was calculated in order to assess impacts in different zones, namely in Marine Protected Areas (MPA) and their boundaries. Higher impact values were obtained near the coast, where all the analysed MPAs are located. Furthermore, most MPAs are sorrounded by areas with very high impacts, near the largest urban settlements and the most industrialized coastal sections. These results are the first assessment of cumulative human pressures in this study area as a whole (and with this level of resolution) and might be of great usefulness to overcome the current challenges of sustainable management in marine ecosystems. Knowledge provided by this study strengthens the need for a more integrative approach to design and manage MPAs and can be useful to support the requirements of the MSFD. The approach here developed is also a powerful tool to apply in several contexts of sustainable marine management and can be developed in any geographic area.
This paper uses the choice experiment methodology to estimate the value of the non-market benefits associated with the achievement of good (marine) environmental status (GES) as specified in the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). The MSFD requires that the ‘costs of degradation’ (the benefits foregone if GES is not achieved) be considered within a broader ‘Economic and Social Assessment’ of the marine environment by EU member states. Assessing the costs of degradation as defined by the MSFD implies that changes in marine ecosystem services provided in each State should be analysed. The results show that there are high values attached with changes to the state of the marine environment by the Irish general public. The results of a random parameters logit model also demonstrate that preferences are heterogeneous, with changes in certain marine attributes generating both positive and negative utilities.
In 2010, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted a conservation and management measure (CMM) for North Pacific striped marlin (Kajikia audax). A 2012 stock assessment indicated that the limits in this CMM were insufficient to prevent overfishing of this stock. I used a survey employing Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), demographic and short answer questions to collect information on stakeholder opinions on select criteria and management options if a new CMM were to be developed. Management options with the highest ratings were circle hooks and catch limits while the lowest ratings were for a retention ban. Respondents had varied opinions on the need to manage striped marlin and additional research could bolster support for further management. An Ecopath with Ecosim model was then used to evaluate how implementation of different management measures for North Pacific striped marlin would impact biomasses of striped marlin and other groups. Increases in fishing effort had the greatest impact on relative biomass, with declines in most of the higher level trophic groups and increases in many of the mid-level trophic groups. The use of circle hooks and the elimination of the shallowest hooks from deep longline sets led to increases in striped marlin biomass, and effects to other species were limited. Recovery of striped marlin was greatest if measures were implemented to all fleets; conservation measures adopted unilaterally by the United States would have a minimal impact on biomass recovery for this species. Lastly, I discussed the benefits and costs of broader retention policies for purse seine and longline tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). Using bycatch data from observers and logbooks from the U.S. purse seine and longline fleets operating in the WCPO, this dissertation documents the types and magnitude of fish discarded. Expanding retention policies beyond the target tunas and to other gear types would further reduce discarding and possibly provide stronger incentives to develop and use more selective techniques. Beyond impacts to the ecosystem and fisher behavior, adopting broader retention policies may have other implications, and this dissertation explored those implications on vessels, processors, and communities.
Marine protected areas (MPAs), such as marine parks and reserves, contain natural resources of immense value to the environment and mankind. Since MPAs may be situated in close proximity to urbanized areas and influenced by anthropogenic activities (e.g. continuous discharges of contaminated waters), the marine organisms contained in such waters are probably at risk. This study aimed at developing an integrated environmental risk assessment and management (IERAM) framework for enhancing the sustainability of such MPAs. The IERAM framework integrates conventional environmental risk assessment methods with a multi-layer-DPSIR (Driver–Pressure–State–Impact–Response) conceptual approach, which can simplify the complex issues embraced by environmental management strategies and provide logical and concise management information. The IERAM process can generate a useful database, offer timely update on the status of MPAs, and assist in the prioritization of management options. We use the Cape d'Aguilar Marine Reserve in Hong Kong as an example to illustrate the IERAM framework. A comprehensive set of indicators were selected, aggregated and analyzed using this framework. Effects of management practices and programs were also assessed by comparing the temporal distributions of these indicators over a certain timeframe. Based on the obtained results, we have identified the most significant components for safeguarding the integrity of the marine reserve, and indicated the existing information gaps concerned with the management of the reserve. Apart from assessing the MPA's present condition, a successful implementation of the IERAM framework as evocated here would also facilitate better-informed decision-making and, hence, indirectly enhance the protection and conservation of the MPA's marine biodiversity.
One of the reasons for the failure of some Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is the lack of respect for their boundaries and regulations, which intensifies the need to assess the attitudes of stakeholders affected by MPAs. To this end, it is necessary to know the perception and behavior of resource users in these areas in relation to the management process. This study addressed the perception of different groups of fishermen in three MPAs that allow sustainable use of resources on the Brazilian northeastern coast. The perception analysis was based on four aspects: biodiversity conservation, flexibility and adaptability of fishermen, participation in management and opinions about the MPA. The interviewed fishermen (n=100) were classified into natives or immigrants,≥than 40 years old or <40, predominant use of selective or nonselective fishing gear and part or full time fishermen. The results showed that younger fishermen and the ones who use selective fishing gear presented a more conservation prone perception; nonselective fishermen and part-time fishermen were more flexible and adaptable to changes; and younger fishermen tended to agree more with the establishment of the MPAs. Taking these differences in perceptions among fishermen into account could serve as a basis for improvements in the management and conservation of fishing resources, besides helping predict possible future behavior due to changes in management policies.
In the last decades, a number of studies based on historical records revealed the diversity loss in the oceans and human-induced changes to marine ecosystems. These studies have improved our understanding of the human impacts in the oceans. They also drew attention to the shifting baseline syndrome and the importance of assessing appropriate sources of data in order to build the most reliable environmental baseline. Here we amassed information from artisanal fishermen's local ecological knowledge, fisheries landing data and underwater visual census to assess the decline of fish species in Southeastern Brazil. Interviews with 214 fishermen from line, beach seine and spearfishing revealed a sharp decline in abundance of the bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix, the groupers Epinephelus marginatus, Mycteroperca acutirostris, M. bonaci and M. microlepis, and large parrotfishes in the past six decades. Fisheries landing data from a 16-year period support the decline of bluefish as pointed by fishermen's local knowledge, while underwater visual census campaigns show reductions in groupers' abundance and a sharp population decline of the Brazilian endemic parrotfish Scarus trispinosus. Despite the marked decline of these fisheries, younger and less experienced fishermen recognized fewer species as overexploited and fishing sites as depleted than older and more experienced fishermen, indicating the occurrence of the shifting baseline syndrome. Here we show both the decline of multigear fisheries catches – combining anecdotal and scientific data – as well as changes in environmental perceptions over generations of fishermen. Managing ocean resources requires looking into the past, and into traditional knowledge, bringing historical baselines to the present and improving public awareness.
Secondary (i.e., heterotrophic or animal) production is a main pathway of energy flow through an ecosystem as it makes energy available to consumers, including humans. Its estimation can play a valuable role in the examination of linkages between ecosystem functions and services. We found that oil and gas platforms off the coast of California have the highest secondary fish production per unit area of seafloor of any marine habitat that has been studied, about an order of magnitude higher than fish communities from other marine ecosystems. Most previous estimates have come from estuarine environments, generally regarded as one of the most productive ecosystems globally. High rates of fish production on these platforms ultimately result from high levels of recruitment and the subsequent growth of primarily rockfish (genus Sebastes) larvae and pelagic juveniles to the substantial amount of complex hardscape habitat created by the platform structure distributed throughout the water column. The platforms have a high ratio of structural surface area to seafloor surface area, resulting in large amounts of habitat for juvenile and adult demersal fishes over a relatively small footprint of seafloor. Understanding the biological implications of these structures will inform policy related to the decommissioning of existing (e.g., oil and gas platforms) and implementation of emerging (e.g., wind, marine hydrokinetic) energy technologies.
Coral cover has declined rapidly on Caribbean reefs since the early 1980s, reducing carbonate production and reef growth. Using a cross-regional dataset, we show that widespread reductions in bioerosion rates—a key carbonate cycling process—have accompanied carbonate production declines. Bioerosion by parrotfish, urchins, endolithic sponges and microendoliths collectively averages 2 G (where G = kg CaCO3 m−2 yr−1) (range 0.96–3.67 G). This rate is at least 75% lower than that reported from Caribbean reefs prior to their shift towards their present degraded state. Despite chronic overfishing, parrotfish are the dominant bioeroders, but erosion rates are reduced from averages of approximately 4 to 1.6 G. Urchin erosion rates have declined further and are functionally irrelevant to bioerosion on most reefs. These changes demonstrate a fundamental shift in Caribbean reef carbonate budget dynamics. To-date, reduced bioerosion rates have partially offset carbonate production declines, limiting the extent to which more widespread transitions to negative budget states have occurred. However, given the poor prognosis for coral recovery in the Caribbean and reported shifts to coral community states dominated by slower calcifying taxa, a continued transition from production to bioerosion-controlled budget states, which will increasingly threaten reef growth, is predicted.
Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) are taken as bycatch in the Bering Sea pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus) fishery, with recently revised management measures in place to limit the overall Chinook salmon catch. Historical impact of the bycatch on regional salmon stocks is made difficult because, until recently, sampling for the stock composition of the bycatch was patchy and diverse in approaches. In this study, extensive observer data on the biological attributes (size and age composition) of the bycatch were used to estimate the impact on specific regional stock groups (RSGs), as defined given available genetic stock identification estimates. Our model provides estimates of the impact on Chinook salmon RSGs, given seasonal and spatial variability in the bycatch, and accounts for observed in-river age compositions, uncertainty in age-specific oceanic natural mortality of Chinook salmon, and between-year variability in genetic information. The upper Yukon River stock is transboundary and subject to heightened management interest and international management agreements on escapement goals. Our study updates results from an earlier analysis used to develop the management regulations that went into place in 2011. It shows that the new data result in slight changes in previous estimates, and that the lower overall Chinook salmon bycatch since 2008 has resulted in lower impacts to the main western Alaskan RSGs.
Marine spatial management is an important step in regulating the sustainable use of marine resources and preserving habitats and species. The systematic conservation planning software “Marxan” was used to analyse the effect of different conservation objectives and targets on the design of a network of marine protected areas around two islands of the Azores archipelago, Northeast Atlantic. The analyses integrated spatial patterns of the abundance and reproductive potential of multispecies, the vulnerability of fish to fishing, habitat type, algae biotopes, and socio-economic costs and benefits (including fishing effort and recreational activities). Three scenarios focused on fisheries-related objectives (“fisheries scenarios”, FSs) and three on multiple-use and biodiversity conservation objectives (“biodiversity scenarios”, BSs), respectively. Three different protection targets were compared for each set, the existing, minimum, and maximum levels of protection, whereas conservation features were weighted according to their biologically/ecologically functioning. Results provided contrasting solutions for site selection and identified potential gaps in the existing design. The influence of the conservation objective on site selection was most evident when minimum target levels were applied. Otherwise, solutions for FSs and BSs were very similar and mostly shaped by the protection level. More important, BSs that considered opportunity cost and benefits achieved conservation targets more cost-efficiently. The presented systematic approach ensures that targets for habitats with high fish abundance, fecundity, and vulnerability are achieved efficiently. It should be of high applicability for adaptive management processes to improve the effectiveness of existing spatial management practices, in particular when fishing and leisure activities coexist, and suggest that decision-makers should account for multiple users’ costs and benefits when designing and implementing marine reserve networks.
Table of Contents
- From the Director
- Resilience: One Louisiana Community’s Comeback from a Two-Hurricane Punch
- Massachusetts Ocean Plan Gets High Marks Following First Approved Project
- West Maui Initiative Connects the Dots between Everyday Actions and Coral Reef Health
- Smart Devices are Helping Create Estuarine-Smart Kids in Florida
- Online Atlas Documents Coastal Land Cover Changes over Time
- End Note
This document presents a comprehensive overview of results from more than a decade of work by the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Biogeography Branch and the Department of the Interior National Park Service (NPS) to assess status and trends within and around federally managed marine protected areas (MPAs) of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
The report provides: (1) an overview of the history of MPAs, types of MPAs and associated regulations, and a list of all MPAs in the USVI; (2) an ecological performance report for three intensively surveyed MPA units managed by NPS, including 20 biological metrics for fish and benthic habitat; (3) sightings of large-bodied fishes with moderate to high vulnerability to fishing; and (4) synthesis, summary and recommendations for management.
This report is the first time that an assessment of ecological performance has been conducted for MPAs in the USVI. A decade of underwater surveys was analyzed to detect trends on coral reefs inside MPAs and for a similar range of habitats outside of MPAs. The information, data synthesis, interpretation and recommendations are intended to help focus management actions and goal setting, inform outreach products and adjust expectations regarding ecological performance for MPAs in the region. The data presented here provide important baselines required for tracking MPA performance through future monitoring efforts.
In Palk Bay (India), fishing is intrinsically tied to a complex and dynamic geo-political situation. The trawl fishers from India are finding it increasingly difficult to operate in the bay due to the strict enforcement of the International Maritime Boundary Line (IMBL) by the Sri Lanka Navy and the increasing animosity of the small scale gill netters of Northern Sri Lanka, who accuse the Indian trawlers of encroaching and destroying their livelihood. In the multi-scalar nature of this conflict, it is easy for policy makers and researchers to get distracted by processes happening at different scales (regional, national) thereby ignoring the local processes that shape everyday fishing. By analysing the everyday lives and lived places of the fishers in the two trawl centres of Rameswaram and Mandapam, this article exclusively focusses on the scale of the local. A closer look at these centres, located in close proximity to each other, reveals substantial differences in the way fisheries are managed. The objective of this paper is to understand how one of these centres is able to manage its fleet better (better price for fishes, lower discards and higher compliance) than the other, increasing understanding of the dynamics of resource usage in Palk Bay to give clues for possible solutions. Through the ethnographic method, the research uses the concept of relational place making in analysing local fishery resource usage. By dialectically analysing the various social, political and economic processes both on land and at sea in each these centres, I conclude that the differences in management between them are an outcome of a series of complex interactions between several processes. Based on my analysis, I argue that the mismanagement of the Rameswaram fleet and the better managed Mandapam fleet cannot be attributed only to the relative strength of the institutional set up on land but should also take into consideration the conditions at sea. Thus, managing a complex fishery system requires a better understanding of the interaction of various processes that happen at different places of concern to the everyday lives of the fishers, moving beyond the limited narrow focus of several place based studies which focus on a singular place, social group and scale.