This study provides an overview of 11 lagoons in North Africa, from the Atlantic to the Eastern Mediterranean. Lagoons are complex, transitional, coastal zones providing valuable ecosystem services that contribute to the welfare of the human population. The main economic sectors in the lagoons included fishing, shellfish harvesting, and salt and sand extraction, as well as maritime transport. Economic sectors in the areas around the lagoons and in the watershed included agriculture, tourism, recreation, industrial, and urban development. Changes were also identified in land use from reclamation, changes in hydrology, changes in sedimentology from damming, inlet modifications, and coastal engineering. The human activities in and around the lagoons exert multiple pressures on these ecosystems and result in changes in the environment, affecting salinity, dissolved oxygen, and erosion; changes in the ecology, such as loss of biodiversity; and changes in the delivery of valuable ecosystem services. Loss of ecosystem services such as coastal protection and seafood affect human populations that live around the lagoons and depend on them for their livelihood. Adaptive management frameworks for social–ecological systems provide options that support decision makers with science-based knowledge to deliver sustainable development for ecosystems. The framework used to support the decision makers for environmental management of these 11 lagoons is Drivers–Activities–Pressures–State Change–Impact (on Welfare)–Responses (as Measures).
Coral reefs worldwide are suffering mass mortalities from marine heat waves. With the aim of enhancing coral bleaching tolerance, we evolved 10 clonal strains of a common coral microalgal endosymbiont at elevated temperatures (31°C) for 4 years in the laboratory. All 10 heat-evolved strains had expanded their thermal tolerance in vitro following laboratory evolution. After reintroduction into coral host larvae, 3 of the 10 heat-evolved endosymbionts also increased the holobionts’ bleaching tolerance. Although lower levels of secreted reactive oxygen species (ROS) accompanied thermal tolerance of the heat-evolved algae, reduced ROS secretion alone did not predict thermal tolerance in symbiosis. The more tolerant symbiosis exhibited additional higher constitutive expression of algal carbon fixation genes and coral heat tolerance genes. These findings demonstrate that coral stock with enhanced climate resilience can be developed through ex hospite laboratory evolution of their microalgal endosymbionts.
Tropical coastal marine ecosystems (TCMEs) are rich in biodiversity and provide many ecosystem services, including carbon storage, shoreline protection, and food. Coastal areas are home to increasing numbers of people and population growth is expected to continue, putting TCMEs under pressure from development as well as broader environmental changes associated with climate change, e.g. sea level rise and ocean acidification. Attention to TCMEs by conservation organizations has increased and although a variety of interventions to promote conservation and sustainable development of TCMEs have been implemented, evidence regarding the outcomes of these—for people or ecosystems—is scattered and unclear. This study takes a systematic mapping approach to identify articles that examine the ecological and social outcomes associated with conservation interventions in TCMEs; specifically in coral reef, mangrove, and seagrass habitats.
We developed a comprehensive framework of conservation interventions and outcomes, drawing on existing frameworks and related evidence synthesis projects, as well as interviews with marine conservation practitioners. We modified existing frameworks to: (i) include features of TCME that are not fully captured in existing frameworks; and (ii) further specify and/or regroup existing interventions or outcomes. We developed a search string informed by habitat, geography, interventions, and outcomes of interest, to search the peer-reviewed primary literature in four bibliographic databases and the grey literature on relevant institutional websites. All searches will be conducted in English. We will screen returned articles at the title and abstract level. Included articles will be screened at full text level and data coding will follow. Number of articles and reasons for excluding at full text level screening will be recorded. At each phase (title and abstract screening, full text screening, data coding), articles will be assessed independently by two members of the review team. Coded data will be reported in a narrative review and a database accessible through an open access, searchable data portal. We will summarize trends in the evidence base, identify interventions and outcomes where evidence can be further assessed in subsequent systematic reviews and where gaps in the literature exist, and discuss the implications of research gaps and gluts for TCME conservation policy, practice, and future research.
As conservation has limited funds, numerous studies have identified aesthetic characteristics of successful flagship species which generate donations and conservation. However, prior information about species can also impact human preferences, and may covary with animal appearance, leading to different conclusions about which species will be most effective. To separate these two factors, we use images of imaginary animals as a novel paradigm to investigate preferences for animal appearance in conservation donors. Using discrete choice experiments, we show that potential conservation donors prefer larger imaginary animals which are multicolored and cooler toned. We found no effect of eye position or fur, which we used as a proxy for mammalian species. Furthermore, we demonstrate that these preferences can predict the number of donations received by species‐specific conservation charities. These results suggest coloring, and particularly number of colors, is an overlooked aspect of animal appeal, and an important aesthetic characteristic for identifying future flagship species.
Southern right whales (Eubalaena australis) migrate between Austral-winter calving and socialising grounds to offshore mid- to high latitude Austral-summer feeding grounds. In Australasia, winter calving grounds used by southern right whales extend from Western Australia across southern Australia to the New Zealand sub-Antarctic Islands. During the Austral-summer these whales are thought to migrate away from coastal waters to feed, but the location of these feeding grounds is only inferred from historical whaling data. We present new information on the satellite derived offshore migratory movements of six southern right whales from Australasian wintering grounds. Two whales were tagged at the Auckland Islands, New Zealand, and the remaining four at Australian wintering grounds, one at Pirates Bay, Tasmania, and three at Head of Bight, South Australia. The six whales were tracked for an average of 78.5 days (range: 29 to 150) with average individual distance of 38 km per day (range: 20 to 61 km). The length of individually derived tracks ranged from 645–6,381 km. Three likely foraging grounds were identified: south-west Western Australia, the Subtropical Front, and Antarctic waters, with the Subtropical Front appearing to be a feeding ground for both New Zealand and Australian southern right whales. In contrast, the individual tagged in Tasmania, from a sub-population that is not showing evidence of post-whaling recovery, displayed a distinct movement pattern to much higher latitude waters, potentially reflecting a different foraging strategy. Variable population growth rates between wintering grounds in Australasia could reflect fidelity to different quality feeding grounds. Unlike some species of baleen whale populations that show movement along migratory corridors, the new satellite tracking data presented here indicate variability in the migratory pathways taken by southern right whales from Australia and New Zealand, as well as differences in potential Austral summer foraging grounds.
Effective sampling of marine communities is essential to provide robust estimates of species richness and abundance. Baited Remote Underwater Video Stations (BRUVS) are a useful tool in assessment of fish assemblages, but research on the optimal sampling period required to record common and rare elasmobranch species is limited. An appropriate ‘soak time’ (time elapsed between settlement of the BRUVS on the seabed and when it is hauled off the seabed) requires consideration, since longer soak times may be required to record species rare in occurrence, or sightings in areas of generally low elasmobranch abundance. We analysed 5352 BRUVS deployments with a range of soak times across 21 countries in the Coral Triangle and Pacific Ocean, to determine the optimal soak time required for sampling reef-associated elasmobranchs, considering species rarity, and community abundance at each site. Species were categorised into 4 ‘rarity’ groups (very rare to common), by their relative occurrence in the dataset, defined simply by the proportion of BRUVS on which they occurred. Individual BRUVS were categorised into 3 ‘abundance’ groups (low to high) by overall relative elasmobranch abundance, defined as total number of all elasmobranchs sighted per unit of sampling effort. The effects of BRUVS soak times, and levels of rarity and abundance groupings, on the time to first sighting (TFS) and time to maximum number of elasmobranchs observed (tMaxN) were examined. We found that TFS occurred earlier for species groups with high occurrence, and on BRUVS with high elasmobranch abundance, yet longer soak times were not essential to observe rarer species. Our models indicated an optimum of 95% of both sighting event types (TFS, tMaxN) was recorded within 63–77 minutes, and a soak time of 60 minutes recorded 78–94% of the elasmobranch sighting events recorded (78–94% of TFS events and 82–90% of tMaxN events), when species rarity and abundance on BRUVS was accounted for. Our study shows that deployments of ~ 77 minutes are optimal for recording all species we observed, although 60 minutes soak time effectively samples the majority of elasmobranch species in shallow coral reef habitats using BRUVS.
Broad scale sampling methods for microplastic monitoring in the open ocean waters remain a challenge in oceanography. A large number of samples is required to understand the distribution, abundance and fate of microplastic particles in the environment. Despite more than a decade of widespread study, there is currently no established time series of microplastic measurements and the research community is yet to establish a standardised set of methods that will allow data to be collected in a quick, affordable and interoperable way. We present a sampling technique involving the connection of a custom-built microplastic sampling device to the pump-underway ship intake system of a research vessel (RV) as an unexploited opportunity for oceanic monitoring needs concerning microplastic abundance and distribution. The method is cost effective, highly versatile and accurate, and is able to sample particles down to 50μm from opportunity platforms, thus contributing to an emerging area of study, and in particular helping to increase the monitoring reporting of data, and thereby serving as a valuable aid for the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). Sampling was performed during three consecutive oceanographic cruises in the subtropical NE Atlantic over a year, sampling subsurface waters (4 m depth) during navigation and while on coastal and oceanic stations. Microplastic particles were found in all stations and transects sampled. Fibres (64.42%) were predominant over fragments (35.58%), with the concentration values falling within the ranges of data reported for other areas of the Atlantic.
Global plastic litter pollution has been increasing alongside demand since plastic products gained commercial popularity in the 1930’s. Current plastic pollutant research has generally assumed that once plastics enter the ocean they are there to stay, retained permanently within the ocean currents, biota or sediment until eventual deposition on the sea floor or become washed up onto the beach. In contrast to this, we suggest it appears that some plastic particles could be leaving the sea and entering the atmosphere along with sea salt, bacteria, virus’ and algae. This occurs via the process of bubble burst ejection and wave action, for example from strong wind or sea state turbulence. In this manuscript we review evidence from the existing literature which is relevant to this theory and follow this with a pilot study which analyses microplastics (MP) in sea spray. Here we show first evidence of MP particles, analysed by μRaman, in marine boundary layer air samples on the French Atlantic coast during both onshore (average of 2.9MP/m3) and offshore (average of 9.6MP/m3) winds. Notably, during sampling, the convergence of sea breeze meant our samples were dominated by sea spray, increasing our capacity to sample MPs if they were released from the sea. Our results indicate a potential for MPs to be released from the marine environment into the atmosphere by sea-spray giving a globally extrapolated figure of 136000 ton/yr blowing on shore.
Ocean acidification (OA) is a global problem with profoundly negative environmental, social and economic consequences. From a governance perspective, there is a need to ensure a coordinated effort to directly address it. This study reviews 90 legislative documents from 17 countries from the European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK that primarily border the sea. The primary finding from this study is that the European national policies and legislation addressing OA is at best uncoordinated. Although OA is acknowledged at the higher levels of governance, its status as an environmental challenge is greatly diluted at the European Union Member State level. As a notable exception within the EEA, Norway seems to have a proactive approach towards legislative frameworks and research aimed towards further understanding OA. On the other hand, there was a complete lack of, or inadequate reporting in the Marine Strategy Framework Directive by the majority of the EU Member States, with the exception of Italy and the Netherlands. We argue that the problems associated with OA and the solutions needed to address it are unique and cannot be bundled together with traditional climate change responses and measures. Therefore, European OA-related policy and legislation must reflect this and tailor their actions to mitigate OA to safeguard marine ecosystems and societies. A stronger and more coordinated approach is needed to build environmental, economic and social resilience of the observed and anticipated changes to the coastal marine systems.
A 2012 Expert Panel Report on marine biodiversity by the Royal Society of Canada (RSC) concluded that Canada faced significant challenges in achieving sustainable fisheries, regulating aquaculture, and accounting for climate change. Relative to many countries, progress by Canada in fulfilling international obligations to sustain biodiversity was deemed poor. To track progress by Canada since 2012, the RSC struck a committee to track policy and statutory developments on matters pertaining to marine biodiversity and to identify policy challenges, and leading options for implementation that lie ahead. The report by the Policy Briefing Committee is presented here. It concluded that Canada has made moderate to good progress in some areas, such as prioritization of oceans stewardship and strengthening of the evidentiary use of science in decision-making. Key statutes were strengthened through amendments, including requirements to rebuild depleted fisheries (Fisheries Act) and new means of creating marine protected areas (Oceans Act) that allowed Canada to exceed its international obligation to protect 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. Public release of mandate letters has strengthened ministerial accountability. However, little or no progress has been made in reducing regulatory conflict with Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO), decreasing ministerial discretion under the Fisheries Act, clarifying the role of science in sustainable fisheries policy, and accounting for climate change. Five future policy challenges are identified: (1) Ensure climate change impacts and projections are incorporated into ocean-related decision making and planning processes; (2) Resolve DFO’s regulatory conflict to conserve and exploit biodiversity; (3) Limit ministerial discretionary power in fisheries management decisions; (4) Clarify ambiguities in how the Precautionary Approach is applied in sustainable fisheries policy; and (5) Advance and implement marine spatial planning. Since 2012, there has been progress in recovering and sustaining the health of Canada’s oceans. Failure to further strengthen biodiversity conservation threatens the capacity of Canada’s oceans to provide ecosystem services that contribute to the resilience of marine life and the well-being of humankind. Unprecedented and enduring changes in the ocean caused by climate change have made the achievement of meaningful progress all the more urgent.
The great anthropogenic alterations occurring to carbon availability in the oceans necessitate an understanding of the energy requirements of species and how changes in energy availability may impact biodiversity. The deep-sea floor is characterized naturally by extremely low availability of chemical energy and is particularly vulnerable to changes in carbon flux from surface waters. Because the energetic requirements of organisms impact nearly every aspect of their ecology and evolution, we hypothesize that species are adapted to specific levels of carbon availability and occupy a particular metabolic niche. We test this hypothesis in deep-sea, benthic invertebrates specifically examining how energetic demand, axes of the metabolic niche, and geographic range size vary over gradients of chemical energy availability. We find that benthic invertebrates with higher energetic expenditures, and ecologies associated with high energy demand, are located in areas with higher chemical energy availability. In addition, we find that range size and location of deep-sea, benthic species is determined by geographic patterns in chemical energy availability. Our findings indicate that species may be adapted to specific energy regimes, and the metabolic niche can potentially link scales from individuals to ecosystems as well as adaptation to patterns in biogeography and biodiversity.
Half of the Arctic Ocean is deep sea (>1000 m), and this area is currently transitioning from being permanently ice-covered to being seasonally ice-free. Despite these drastic changes, it remains unclear how organisms are distributed in the deep Arctic basins, and particularly what feeds them. Here, we summarize data on auto- and heterotrophic organisms in the benthic, pelagic, and sympagic realm of the Arctic Ocean basins from the past three decades and put together an organic carbon budget for this region. Based on the budget, we investigate whether our current understanding of primary and secondary production and vertical carbon flux are balanced by the current estimates of the carbon demand by deep-sea benthos. At first glance, our budget identifies a mismatch between the carbon supply by primary production (3–46 g C m−2 yr−1), the carbon demand of organisms living in the pelagic (7–17 g C m−2) and the benthic realm (< 5 g C m−2 yr−1) versus the low vertical carbon export (at 200 m: 0.1–1.5 g C m−2 yr−1, at 3000–4000 m: 0.01–0.73 g C m−2 yr−1). To close the budget, we suggest that episodic events of large, fast sinking ice algae aggregates, export of dead zooplankton, as well as large food falls need to be quantified and included. This work emphasizes the clear need for a better understanding of the quantity, phenology, and the regionality of carbon supply and demand in the deep Arctic basins, which will allow us to evaluate how the ecosystem may change in the future.
Circulation patterns in the North Atlantic Ocean have changed and re-organized multiple times over millions of years, influencing the biodiversity, distribution, and connectivity patterns of deep-sea species and ecosystems. In this study, we review the effects of the water mass properties (temperature, salinity, food supply, carbonate chemistry, and oxygen) on deep-sea benthic megafauna (from species to community level) and discussed in future scenarios of climate change. We focus on the key oceanic controls on deep-sea megafauna biodiversity and biogeography patterns. We place particular attention on cold-water corals and sponges, as these are ecosystem-engineering organisms that constitute vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) with high associated biodiversity. Besides documenting the current state of the knowledge on this topic, a future scenario for water mass properties in the deep North Atlantic basin was predicted. The pace and severity of climate change in the deep-sea will vary across regions. However, predicted water mass properties showed that all regions in the North Atlantic will be exposed to multiple stressors by 2100, experiencing at least one critical change in water temperature (+2°C), organic carbon fluxes (reduced up to 50%), ocean acidification (pH reduced up to 0.3), aragonite saturation horizon (shoaling above 1000 m) and/or reduction in dissolved oxygen (>5%). The northernmost regions of the North Atlantic will suffer the greatest impacts. Warmer and more acidic oceans will drastically reduce the suitable habitat for ecosystem-engineers, with severe consequences such as declines in population densities, even compromising their long-term survival, loss of biodiversity and reduced biogeographic distribution that might compromise connectivity at large scales. These effects can be aggravated by reductions in carbon fluxes, particularly in areas where food availability is already limited. Declines in benthic biomass and biodiversity will diminish ecosystem services such as habitat provision, nutrient cycling, etc. This study shows that the deep-sea VME affected by contemporary anthropogenic impacts and with the ongoing climate change impacts are unlikely to withstand additional pressures from more intrusive human activities. This study serves also as a warning to protect these ecosystems through regulations and by tempering the ongoing socio-political drivers for increasing exploitation of marine resources.
Transient fish spawning aggregations (FSAs) are critical life‐cycle events for many commercially important species, in which fish congregate in huge numbers to spawn at predictable times and places. This behavior makes them exceptionally vulnerable to fishing. The “illusion of plenty” and poor access to monitoring tools and techniques has resulted in some FSAs being overfished or unwittingly eliminated. We present a co‐conservation network, formally linking site‐focused partners who cooperatively monitor and actively manage multispecies FSAs. FSA sites and networks offer great potential as conservation bright spots to replenish fished populations, rehabilitate marine ecosystems, and ensure the flow of ecosystem services to the millions of people that rely upon them for their wellbeing. We call for urgent global recognition of FSAs as effective spatial nexus for addressing multiple interconnected global policy targets for a sustainable ocean.
Future climate impacts and their consequences are increasingly being explored using multi-model ensembles that average across individual model projections. Here we develop a statistical framework that integrates projections from coupled ecosystem and earth-system models to evaluate significance and uncertainty in marine animal biomass changes over the 21st century in relation to socioeconomic indicators at national to global scales. Significant biomass changes are projected in 40%–57% of the global ocean, with 68%–84% of these areas exhibiting declining trends under low and high emission scenarios, respectively. Given unabated emissions, maritime nations with poor socioeconomic statuses such as low nutrition, wealth, and ocean health will experience the greatest projected losses. These findings suggest that climate-driven biomass changes will widen existing equity gaps and disproportionally affect populations that contributed least to global CO2 emissions. However, our analysis also suggests that such deleterious outcomes are largely preventable by achieving negative emissions (RCP 2.6).
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is advanced by its champions as an impartial and rational process that can address complex management issues. We argue that MSP is not innately rational and that it problematises marine issues in specific ways, often reflecting hegemonic agendas. The illusion of impartial rationality in MSP is derived from governmentalities that appear progressive but serve elite interests. By understanding the creation of governmentalities, we can design more equitable planning processes. We conceptualise governmentalities as consisting of problematisations, rationalities and governance technologies, and assess England’s first marine plans to understand how specific governmentalities de-radicalise MSP. We find that progressive framings of MSP outcomes, such as enhanced well-being, are deployed by the government to garner early support for MSP. These elements, however, become regressively problematised in later planning phases, where they are framed by the government as being difficult to achieve and are pushed into future iterations of the process. Eviscerating progressive elements from the planning process clears the way for the government to focus on implementing a neoliberal form of MSP. Efforts to foster radical MSP must pay attention to the emergence of governmentalities, how they travel through time/space and be cognisant of where difference can be inserted into planning processes. Achieving progressive MSP will require the creation of a political frontier early in the process, which cannot be passed until pathways for progressive socio-environmental outcomes have been established; advocacy for disenfranchised groups; broadening MSP evaluations to account for unintended impacts; and the monitoring of progressive objectives.
With the concept of marine spatial planning (MSP) firmly established in the UK with its own legislation, policies and plans underway, this paper critically revisits MSP as part of the wider debate associated with the social reconstruction of the marine environment, as first discussed by Peel and Lloyd’s seminal paper in 2004. We propose that their identified ‘marine problem’ remains and indeed has exacerbated. We ascertain that there has been much change in the governance of the marine environment that has both positively and negatively altered the way that society has (re)constructed solutions to that marine problem. We revisit Hannigan’s (1995) social constructionist framework, showing the degree to which the prerequisites have been satisfied, by providing an overview of how the marine problem has intensified in the preceding 15 years and how the marine problem has now captured the wider public’s attention. We then look at the how the response to the marine problem has evolved by examining at the current marine planning arrangements across the UK. We conclude by stating that the whence of MSP is clear, culminating with the formal introduction of MSP in the UK which has positively altered the way in which the marine environment is socially reconstructed. The whither is much more unclear. With a continually rapidly moving agenda of change, there is much more to be done for us to say that the marine problem has been successfully socially reconstructed.
Climate change and its impact on fisheries is a key issue for fishing nations, particularly the Philippines. The Philippines is highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change on fisheries and it can lead to economic shock on the nation's economy. This paper examines the impact of climate change on marine capture fisheries in the Philippines using a computable general equilibrium (CGE) model to elaborate and project impacts on the national economy. In the simulation, one baseline scenario and two climate change scenarios based on greenhouse gas concentration—RCP 2.6 and RCP 8.5—were considered. The model focuses on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and income distribution by region, which can represent economic conditions in terms of economic growth and distribution. Results show that there will be a negative change on both the fisheries and economic variables where more extreme changes in climate occur.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) sets a standard by which sustainable fisheries can be assessed and eco-certified. It is one of the oldest and most well-known fisheries certifications, and an estimated 15% of global fish catch is MSC-certified. While the MSC is increasingly recognized by decision-makers as an indicator for fishery success, it is also criticized for weak standards and overly-lenient third-party certifiers. This gap between the standard’s reputation and its actual implementation could be a result of how the MSC markets and promotes its brand. Here we classify MSC-certified fisheries by gear type (i.e. active vs. passive) as well as by length of the vessels involved (i.e. large scale vs. small scale; with the division between the two occurring at 12 m in overall length). We compared the MSC-certified fisheries (until 31 December 2017) to 399 photographs the MSC used in promotional materials since 2009. Results show that fisheries involving small-scale vessels and passive gears were disproportionately represented in promotional materials: 64% of promotional photographs were of passive gears, although only 40% of MSC-certified fisheries and 17% of the overall catch were caught by passive gears from 2009–2017. Similarly, 49% of the photographs featured small-scale vessels, although just 20% of MSC-certified fisheries and 7% of the overall MSC-certified catch used small-scale vessels from 2009 to 2017. The MSC disproportionately features photographs of small-scale fisheries although the catch it certifies is overwhelmingly from industrial fisheries.
This study was implemented to assess the Sessile Bioindicators in Permanent Quadrats (SBPQ) underwater environmental alert method. The SBPQ is a non-invasive and low-cost protocol; it uses sessile target species (indicators) to detect environmental alterations (natural or anthropic) at either the local or global (i.e., climate change) scale and the intrusion of invasive species. The SBPQ focuses on the monitoring of preselected sessile and sensitive benthic species associated with rocky coralligenous habitats using permanent quadrats in underwater sentinel stations. The selected target species have been well documented as bioindicators that disappear in the absence of environmental stability. However, whether these species are good indicators of stability or, in contrast, suffer variations in long-term coverage has not been verified. The purpose of this study was to assess the part of the method based on the hypothesis that, over a long temporal series in a highly structured and biodiverse coralligenous assemblage, the cover of sensitive sessile species does not change over time if the environmental stability characterising the habitat is not altered. Over a ten-year period (2005–2014), the sublittoral sessile biota in the Straits of Gibraltar Natural Park on the southern Iberian Peninsula was monitored at a 28 m-deep underwater sentinel stations. Analyses of the coverages of target indicator species (i.e., Paramuricea clavata and Astroides calycularis) together with other accompanying sessile organisms based on the periodic superimposition of gridded images from horizontal and vertical rocky surfaces allowed us to assess the effectiveness of the method. We conclude that no alterations occurred during the study period; only minimal fluctuations in cover were detected, and the method is reliable for detecting biological changes in ecosystems found in other geographical areas containing the chosen indicator species at similar dominance levels.