Marine and coastal environments provide extensive and essential ecosystem services upon which much of humanity relies, yet the incorporation of human dimensions into marine and coastal policy and management has historically been lacking. As efforts to address the substantial and diverse challenges facing marine and coastal environments continue, recent years have seen a growing call for greater consideration of people, how they interact with the marine environment, and the resultant implications for developing effective policy and management. Indeed, in recent times recognition of the importance of marine social science research, data, evidence and expertise has undergone an upward trajectory. Despite this growing level of awareness of the value of social science to the wider marine and coastal management agenda, effective and meaningful inclusion of marine social science into research and practice has remained a challenge. Here we approach this global challenge as an opportunity to bring the community together to set a forward-looking international research agenda, recognising the role of multiple approaches and diverse methods understanding the relationship between society and the sea, galvanising the research and practice community across marine social sciences and beyond. Furthermore, by bringing together this increasingly active community, we can identify mechanisms of change and pathways to enable inclusion of marine social sciences within global ocean policy. This paper draws on the views of researchers and practitioners from across the marine social science disciplines, brought together through an expert workshop held at the MARE 2019 conference (June 2019) and representing a range of geographical regions and perspectives. Through the workshop, delegates identified a number of priorities for the ongoing development of the marine social science community, including the need to improve capacity for marine social science research globally, the importance of nurturing an inclusive and equitable marine social science research community and the role of networks to continue to raise the profile of marine social science data and evidence for global ocean policy and management. Additionally, the discussions provided valuable insight into existing knowledge gaps and potential research priorities for the future. Finally, the paper presents a future vision and recommendations for an international and interdisciplinary marine social science agenda, calling for collaborative and strategic thinking on marine social sciences from across the marine science and policy interface. Critically, we show how social science needs to be embedded in all aspects of marine and coastal management in order to create truly sustainable solutions to the pervasive environmental challenges we face.
Invasive species pose a significant threat to a primary objective of marine conservation, protecting native biodiversity. To-date, research quantifying invasion risk to marine protected areas (MPAs) is limited despite potential negative consequences. As a first step towards identifying invasion risk to MPAs via vessel ballast or biofouling, we evaluated vessel traffic patterns by applying graph-theoretic concepts for 1346 vessels that connected invaded areas (‘invasion nodes’) along the Northeast Pacific coast to MPAs within Canadian waters in 2016. We found that 29% of MPAs overlapped with invasion nodes and 70% were connected to invasion nodes via vessel traffic. Recreational vessels were most prevalent within invasion and MPA nodes, made the most connections between invasion nodes and MPAs, and spent the most time within nodes. Vessel connections increased in summer and with spatial extent and dock area at invasion and MPA nodes, as well as for MPAs with minimal regulatory protection. Results from this work highlight risk posed by vessels as a vector for nonindigenous species spread and present an opportunity to develop improved management measures to help protect MPAs. Such an approach can be applied to vector interactions with protected areas across biomes for targeted invasion management.
Plastics, owing to their various beneficial properties (durability, flexibility and lightweight nature), are widely regarded as the workhorse material of our modern society. Being ubiquitously and increasingly present over the past 60 years, they provide various benefits to the global economy. However, inappropriate and/or uncontrolled disposal practices, poor waste management infrastructure, and application of insufficient recycling technologies, coupled with a lack of public awareness and incentives, have rendered plastic waste (PW) omnipresent, littering both the marine and the terrestrial environment with multifaceted impacts. The plastic marine litter issue has received much attention, especially in the past decade. There is a plethora of articles and reports released on an annual basis, as well as a lot of ongoing research, which render the issue either to be overexposured or misconstrued. In addition, there are several misinterpretations that surround the presence and environmental impact of plastics in the oceans and, consequently, human health, that require much more critical and scientific thinking. This short communication aims at unveiling any existing misconceptions and attempts to place this global challenge within its real magnitude, based either on scientific facts or nuances.
Plastic marine pollution in the Arctic today illustrates the global distribution of plastic waste of all sizes traveling by wind and waves, entering food chains, and presenting challenges to management and mitigation. While currents move plastics from lower latitudes into the Arctic, significant waste is also generated by remote communities, as well as maritime activities, such as shipping, fishing and tourism, which are increasing their activities as seasonal sea ice diminishes. Mitigation strategies may include monitoring programs of plastic waste abundance and distribution, improved waste management in Arctic communities, Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR) to reverse the transport of waste plastics and packaging from remote communities, incentivized gear recovery of abandoned, lost and discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), gear tagging and tracking, and restricting tourism and employing “leave no trace” policies. Here we report how these mitigation strategies are employed in the Arctic to minimize plastic waste impacts, and move Arctic communities toward better materials management and circular economic practices. The evidence of harm from waste plastics exacerbated by the ubiquity of plastic marine pollution in all biomes, and the rapid reporting of ecological and social costs, together suggest that we know enough to act quickly to manage and mitigate plastics from all sources to the Arctic.
Predicting the bleaching responses of corals is crucial in light of frequent heat stress events to manage further losses of biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, especially for reefs impacted by urbanisation. We examined if the coral cover and community at various Singapore sites changed during the 2016 global coral bleaching event. Bleaching prevalence varied widely among sites in June 2016, and was best explained by site and coral species. While some sites were minimally impacted, others registered significant decreases in coral cover and community changes persisting till March 2017, when normal colouration was mostly regained by corals. Bleaching susceptibility was associated with larger corallites in hermaphrodites and smaller corallites in gonochores (probably due to the cost of maintaining dual sexual functions in hermaphrodites), and with increasing proximity between polyps (likely because thermal damage would be less contained among polyps with greater physiological integration). However, bleaching resilience—the capacity to regain baseline pigmentation—was poorly explained by the traits studied. Our findings suggest that the interplay between local conditions and species composition strongly affects bleaching outcomes on urbanised reefs, and underscore the utility of coral traits for predicting bleaching responses to help in formulating appropriate management strategies.
Successful recruitment of new individuals is essential for recovery of degraded coral reefs. Enhancing supply of coral larvae increases initial settlement, however post-settlement survival can be influenced by density-dependent processes. We investigated the influence of larval density on settlement, colony abundance and growth to 24 months for Acropora tenuis in the north-western Philippines, to determine whether larval supply can be optimised to maximise successful recruitment. Thirty different densities of coral larvae were enclosed for five days around settlement tiles and highest total settlement occurred on tiles with highest larval densities. After 12 months, however, colony abundance and coral cover was lower on high density tiles (supplied with ~2,500–5,000 larvae) than tiles supplied with ~1,000–2,000 larvae. Coral cover at 24 months remained highest on tiles supplied with ~1,000–2,500 larvae. Larval density influenced larval substratum selection, with proportionally fewer larvae settling in typically preferred locations as density increased. We conclude that larval density can influence post-settlement colony abundance and coral cover to 12 months, with coral cover trends persisting to 24 months. We show that optimising larval densities can maximise coral recruitment and growth, however oversupply of larvae at very high densities can have negative outcomes for larval restoration.
The viability of Mediterranean marine fisheries is increasingly under threat due to the low biological productivity of overexploited stocks, low economic performance of the fishing units, and offer of unattractive jobs, among other. This has resulted in a decrease of 30% in the number of fishing units active in European Union Mediterranean fisheries over the period 1995–2016. The detailed causes for this decline are investigated here based on an analysis of the entry/exit dynamics of the entire fleet having operated in Catalonia (NW Mediterranean) as a case study. The decision made by owner-operators, in terms of entering, remaining or exiting the fishery, of 1195 fishing units in the period 2000–2018 was analysed. The results show that fishing vessels have a high probability (95%) of remaining in the fishery and very low probability of entering (<1%). The exit rate was estimated at 4.5% annually, resulting in a reduction of 42% of the fleet size over the study period, from 894 active vessels at the beginning of 2000 to 518 at the end of 2018. A statistical analysis of the factors conditioning the entry/exit dynamics by means of a multinomial choice model showed that the age of the vessel, the value of landings, the amount of decommission aid offered by the local fisheries management administration and a proxy variable for fuel costs were significant explanatory variables. The study concludes that the fleet is likely to continue to shrink, without immediate stock or ecosystem conservation benefits, unless bold steps to reformulate fisheries management in the Mediterranean are taken.
Over the last three decades corals have declined precipitously in the Florida Keys. Their population decline has prompted restoration effort. Yet, little effort has been invested in understanding the contemporary niche spaces of coral species, which could assist in prioritizing conservation habitats. We sought to predict the probability of occurrence of 23 coral species, including the critically endangered Acropora cervicornis, using observations at 985 sites from 2011–2015. We ran boosted regression trees to evaluate the relationship between the presence of these corals and eight potential environmental predictors: (i) bathymetry (m), (ii) mean of daily sea surface temperature (SST) (°C), (iii) variance of SST (°C), (iv) range of SST (°C), (v) chlorophyll-a concentration (mg m3), (vi) turbidity (m-1), (vii) wave energy (kJ m-2), and (viii) distance from coast (km). The Marquesas and the lower and upper Florida Keys were predicted to support the most suitable habitats for the 23 coral species examined. A. cervicornis had one of the smallest areas of suitable habitat, which was limited to the lower and upper Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas, and nearshore Broward-Miami reefs. The best environmental predictors of site occupancy of A. cervicornis were SST range (4–5°C) and turbidity (K490 between 0.15–0.25 m-1). Historically A. cervicornis was reported in clear oligotrophic waters, although the present results find the coral species surviving in nearshore turbid conditions. Nearshore, turbid reefs may shade corals during high-temperature events, and therefore nearshore reefs in south Florida may become important refuges for corals as the ocean temperatures continue to increase.
Anecdotal evidence from philanthropic fundraisers shows that virtual reality (VR) technology increases empathy and can influence people toward pro-environmental behavior. Non-profit organizations are increasingly marketing their causes using virtual reality and they report increased donations when VR technology is employed. In VR, users are immersed in situations intended to feel more like the real world through technology, such as 360° video viewed through 3D headsets that block out visual and auditory distractions. The framing of the message as either positive or negative has long shown to have an effect on behavior, although consensus on the impact of framing has not been reached in relation to encouraging contributions to public goods. This paper focuses on field experiments used to investigate the effects of varying degrees of visual immersion and positive versus negative message framing on respondents’ contributions to a conservation charity. Participants were exposed to a five-minute underwater film about coral reefs and the importance of protecting them. We employed a 2x2 experimental design using 3D head-mounted displays comparing 360° film footage vs. unidirectional film and a positive message vs. a negative message. After watching the film, each participant completed a short questionnaire and had the opportunity to donate to a marine conservation charity. In addition, we tested a control treatment where no video was observed. The video was filmed in Indonesia which is host to some of the world’s most biodiverse reefs that are under great threat from human activity. We also conducted the study in Indonesia, sampling a total of 1006 participants from the Bogor city area and tourists on the island of Gili Trawangan—which is popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. We find significant differences in observed behavior and reported emotions between all treatments compared to the control condition. Among the tourist sample, we find significant differences between the 360° film with a negative message which garnered significantly larger average donation amounts compared to the unidirectional film with both positive and negative framing. Overall, we can infer from these studies that virtual reality is an effective way to raise awareness of environmental threats and encourage behavioral action, especially when tailored to target groups. New technology, such as the VR head-mounted display, is highly effective at attracting interest which is an important point to encourage organizations to invest in new technologies.
Spatial conservation prioritization concerns trade-offs between marine conservation and resource exploitation. This approach has been increasingly used to devise spatial management strategies for fisheries because of its simplicity in the optimization model and less data requirement compared to complex dynamic models. However, most of the prioritization is based on static models or algorithms; whose solutions need to be evaluated in a dynamic approach, considering the high uncertainty and opportunity costs associated with their implementation. We developed a framework that integrates species distribution models, spatial conservation prioritization tools and a general grid-based dynamic model (Grid-DM) to support evaluation of ecological and economic trade-offs of candidate conservation plans. The Grid-DM is spatially explicit and has a tactical management focus on single species. We applied the Grid-DM to small yellow croaker (Larimichthys polyactis) in Haizhou Bay, China and validated its spatial and temporal performances against historical observations. It was linked to a spatial conservation prioritization tool Marxan to illustrate how the model can be used for conservation strategy evaluation. The simulation model demonstrated effectiveness in capturing the spatio-temporal dynamics of the target fishery as well as the socio-ecological effects of conservation measures. We conclude that the model has the capability and flexibility to address various forms of uncertainties, simulate the dynamics of a targeted fishery, and to evaluate biological and socioeconomic impacts of management plans. The modelling platform can further inform scientists and policy makers of management alternatives screening and adaptive conservation planning.
Voluntary Sustainability Standards and ecolabels are market-based mechanisms used to encourage producers and consumers toward environmental sustainability. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) aims to improve ocean health and promote a sustainable seafood market. There is growing interest in the program’s impacts (direct and indirect) from changes to fisheries management and consumer awareness to market access and the reputation of fisheries. To better understand what is known about the program’s impacts and the quality of evidence available, this map collates and describes articles on the environmental, social, institutional and economic effects of the MSC, identifying the methods used to determine impacts, and highlighting knowledge gaps and clusters.
Following an a priori protocol, systematic searches of peer-reviewed literature were conducted in Web of Science, SCOPUS and AGRIS. Grey literature was gathered from Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, and three subject-specific websites. A total of 771 articles were retrieved, 271 of which were screened at full-text. 28 articles met all inclusion criteria and a further 37 met all the criteria but did not have a comparator. Additionally, 108 articles that describe the MSC but do not investigate its impacts (thus failing on ‘comparator’ and ‘outcome’ inclusion criteria) were included in the narrative report. This provides an overview of MSC topics that are of general interest to researchers in comparison to articles that investigate MSC’s impact.
Evidence of the impact of MSC certification fall in the following topic categories: economic (38%), environmental (25%), governance (29%) and social (8%). These articles documented diverse outcomes related to MSC certification. The most common are price premiums, market access, changes in stock health, ecosystem impacts and fisheries management changes. A key knowledge gap are articles on the effects of the MSC’s Chain of Custody Standard and its effects on the supply chain. Generally, literature focused on European and North American fisheries with little focus on fisheries situated in lower-income countries.
Research interest in the MSC has grown over the last two decades, however, little research uses study designs and evidence that can robustly detect or attribute change to the MSC. Greater focus on conducting robust quasi-experimental designs would help to better understand the program effects. Comparing areas of interest in the general literature (which, for example, shows greater focus on the governance aspects of the programme than found in literature using comparators) suggests that this is partly due to lack of resources, data access and the challenge of obtaining counterfactuals. Nevertheless, some topics were absent in all areas, such as the social and economic dynamics that link harvesters and supply chain actors. It is important to fill the identified knowledge gaps as the behaviours of certified harvesters, supply chain actors and other stakeholders are the key through which the public influence sustainability, market inclusion/exclusion operates, and inequality is generated. Understanding these processes can have wider relevance in the field, informing the design of other sustainability interventions.
Two of the largest protected areas on earth are U.S. National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Numerous claims have been made about the impacts of these protected areas on the fishing industry, but there has been no ex post empirical evaluation of their effects. We use administrative data documenting individual fishing events to evaluate the economic impact of the expansion of these two monuments on the Hawaii longline fishing fleet. Surprisingly, catch and catch-per-unit-effort are higher since the expansions began. To disentangle the causal effect of the expansions from confounding factors, we use unaffected control fisheries to perform a difference-in-differences analysis. We find that the monument expansions had little, if any, negative impacts on the fishing industry, corroborating ecological models that have predicted minimal impacts from closing large parts of the Pacific Ocean to fishing.
Aquaculture is among the industries growing at the fastest rate in the world. This industry has been recognized to play a critical role in food production for a continuously expanding world population. However, despite various technological innovations and improvements in production techniques, this sector is still associated with misperceptions and negative opinions hampering its implementation and wide consumption of its products. The integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) concept was developed as a way to increase the sustainability of intensive aquaculture systems, using an ecosystem-based approach. In this study, following this sustainable aquaculture concept, a closed recirculation IMTA system, at laboratorial scale, was developed and tested with the simultaneous production of fish, sea urchin and seaweed for 70 days. Based on this proof of concept, a hands-on experimental activity was developed to teach and communicate recent scientific advances in environmental sustainability and value of aquaculture products to young students and the general public. This experimental activity was tested and evaluated with students (n = 60) of basic and high-school (secondary) learning cycles. A quantitative assessment was carried out through a short questionnaire provided to the students before and after the experimental activity. After the experimental activity, a qualitative assessment was also performed through questions expressed without preconceived categories or hypotheses. Results indicated that the overall frequency of students who consider the ocean to be “very important” and “extremely important” increased from 68 to 81% after performing the experimental activity. Moreover, the percentages of correct answers to the questions related to IMTA concepts also increased significantly after the experimental activity. In the discussion of the experimental activity results, the students stated that they appreciated the opportunity to develop a hands-on experimental activity, which allowed them to increase their knowledge and obtain information on aquaculture and the quality of its products.
Norway, the world's leader in the production and export of farmed Atlantic salmon, recently established a new management regime with a view to promoting substantial long-term growth in the industry. The government stated plainly, however, that the industry would have to be environmentally sustainable. The determination would be made through the use of indicators, but only one indicator would go into effect as the new regime was instituted: the amount of salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on wild salmon. This paper asks why this one, lone variable was selected. Using policy documents, the draft white paper outlining the new management plan sent out for comment by the government and the responses made by key stakeholders to the draft plan, this paper argues that the selection of this one indicator was overdetermined. Many factors contributed to the selection, including the government's fundamental decision to expand production, the momentum of Norwegian policy development, how the draft white paper defined and discussed environmental sustainability, the criteria established for acceptable indicators and the specifics of the proposed management plan. These had a political effect: For these reasons and more, no solid block of stakeholders emerged to press unambiguously for additional indicators at the start of the scheme, merited or not. This study also demonstrates the difficulties presented by a public debate on a management plan such as this.
China is one of the most important marine fishery countries, yet little is known about its small-scale fisheries (SSFs). This paper uses Hainan Province of China as a case study to examine the present situation, predicaments, and future changes of the country's SSFs during a process of transition from extensive to green development. In doing so, we follow the social-ecological system (SES) framework to present Hainan's SSF-related settings, and study its resource systems, governance systems and actors through reviewing national and local policies, surveying and interviewing SSF stakeholders. Marine fisheries in Hainan is SSF-dominated, experienced dramatic increase in terms of yield and jobs since 1978, and became the main source of most fishermen's livelihood. Fish community structure and fishing targets have shifted from a mix of large-bodied demersals and pelagics to smaller-bodied pelagics with high growth rates and fecundity levels. This degradation puts stress on China's central and local governments to enhance the preservation of marine ecosystems. Effort controls failed to reduce fishing power due to subsidies, a series of measures were introduced in 2015 to correct these problems, including obligatory targets with accountability, subsidy reductions, buyback program, and further reductions of fishing vessels and allowable catch implemented in 2017. Hainan has explored different development directions for SSFs. First, providing policies and funds to reduce small fishing boats and construct larger vessels to support offshore and distant-water fisheries. Second, enhancing fishery value by integrating the development of fishery-related primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. Third, developing existing SSFs in a sustainable manner through standardizing SSF vessel types, delineating operating areas, developing fishing port economy, and building beautiful fishing villages. These practices illustrate that China's centralized government can likely command transformational changes in ecological and socio-economic outcomes according to policy objectives. Also, a broadened perspective that considers the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of SSFs as whole is also crucial. Moreover, the integration of fishery policies with other related socioeconomic policies, and the interdepartmental cooperation is needed to achieve policy consistency across local governments.
In Norway, the world's largest salmon-producing country, reducing sea-lice levels in fish farms has been an overarching goal of government policy since 2013. However, industry innovation has not yet succeeded in significantly reducing the sea lice problem.
We identify two main types of radical environmental innovation that could potentially resolve the sea-lice problem: in-shore closed-cage production technology, and a genetically lice-resistant salmon. Furthermore, we provide an analytical framework that shows how radical environmental innovations with a “public good” character are least likely to receive private R&D funds. This leads us to conclude that neither in-shore closed cage technology nor targeted breeding towards lice-resistance will succeed in the market unless backed by targeted government intervention.
Closer examination shows that these two types of innovation have been less prioritized, if at all, in recent policy interventions. First, the government has geared most of financial support towards relieving the risk of investment in offshore innovation projects, although inshore projects might be better suited for accommodating public and environmental needs. Second, this study underscores the need and potential for stimulating sustainable innovation through the genetic route—a point overlooked in Norway's current policy mix.
Rapid urbanization leads to an accelerating decline of seagrass beds. The status of seagrass beds along the entire coastline of a rapidly urbanizing area, Guangdong Province, was examined to document the change in seagrass beds and to explore the determinants of seagrasses characteristics and their plasticity. Thirteen seagrass beds were newly discovered with a total area as 679.04 ha, whereas eleven known seagrass beds have decreased from 972.55 ha to 858.67 ha with seven of them having disappeared in recent decade primarily due to exacerbated construction of artificial shorelines and beach dams, increased nutrient inputs from fish caging and shrimp pond culture, oyster culture, mangrove planting and shellfish collection. The leaf nitrogen content of Halophila ovalis, which dominated the largest beds, increased from (2.09 ± 0.24)% in 2011 to (3.39 ± 0.18)% in 2017, indicating enhanced eutrophication. The optimum seawater dissolved inorganic nitrogen and dissolved inorganic phosphorus levels for Halophila beccarii were 40 μmol/L and 2.5 μmol/L, respectively. The standing stock and plant dimensions of H. beccarii were positively correlated with sediment mud content. Longer, wider leaves, and greater aboveground and belowground biomass were observed at lower salinities, indicating that H. beccarii prefers hyposaline habitats. High shoot density could induce intraspecific competition followed by self-thinning in H. beccarii, leading to reduced leaf area, aboveground and belowground biomass, and root length. Thus, long-term monitoring of seagrass beds along the rapidly urbanizing coastline of Guangdong Province is needed to unravel the mechanisms of decline and to develop effective management strategies.
Satellite remote sensing data are critical for assessing ecosystem state and evaluating long-term trends and shifts in ecosystem components. Many operational tools rely on continuous streams of remote sensing data, and when a satellite sensor reaches the end of its designed lifespan, these tools must be transferred to a more reliable data stream. Transferring between data streams can produce discontinuities in tool products, and it is important to quantify these downstream impacts and understand the mechanisms that cause discontinuity. To illustrate the complexities of tool transfer, we compare five products for ocean chlorophyll-a, which is a proxy for phytoplankton biomass and an important input for tools that monitor marine biophysical processes. The five chlorophyll-a products included three blended products and two single sensor products from MODIS and VIIRS. We explored the downstream impacts of tool transfer using EcoCast: an operational dynamic ocean management tool that combines real-time predictions from target and bycatch species distribution models to produce integrated surfaces of fishing suitability. EcoCast was operationalized using MODIS chlorophyll-a, and we quantify the impacts of transferring to the intended replacement of MODIS, VIIRS, and test if impacts can be minimized by using a blended chlorophyll-a product instead. Differences between chlorophyll products did not linearly propagate through to the species model predictions and the integrated fishing suitability surfaces. Instead, differences in species model predictions were determined by the shape of chlorophyll-a response curves in the species models relative to chlorophyll-a differences between sensors. However, differences in the integrated fishing suitability surfaces were reduced by canceling of differences from individual species model predictions. Differences in the integrated fishing suitability surfaces were not reduced by transferring to a blended product, highlighting the complexity of transferring operational tools between different remote sensing data products. These results contribute to our general understanding of the mechanisms by which transferring between data streams impacts downstream products. To aid decision-making regarding tool transfer, we developed an interactive web application that allows end-users to explore differences in chlorophyll products within times period and regions of interest.
The mismatch between the conceptual understanding of the Ecosystem Services (ES) in science, and their practical application, remains. Among the many issues under discussion is the link between knowledge and implementation. Base knowledge built over cases studies exist, but their usefulness for site-specific management purposes is limited. The goal of this work is to illustrate how gap analysis at the local level may contribute to the development of ES research and knowledge transfer. A review of coastal ES was performed, based on peer-reviewed journals, grey literature and other sources, allocating the information per European Nature Information System aquatic habitat coupled with the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services. Then, a multicriteria decision-making approach was applied to find ES research hotspots, i.e., habitats for which ES research should be prioritized. Three criteria were used: abundance of ES, evidence for the supply of ES, and strength of evidence. The criteria were considered suitable for coastal areas where profound gaps in ES research exist. The Atlantic coastal region adjacent to the Mondego River was used as case study. 231 current and potential ES were listed and mapped for 21 coastal habitats. Cultural services arose as the dominant category. Saltworks emerged as the most recommended habitat for ES research. Results are in accordance with local decision-makers trends of management; we consider the approach to be appropriate as a first step towards the operationalization of the ES concept and flexible enough to be readapted to focus on critical questions that characterize ES research.
The red sea urchin fishery has a long harvest and management history along the Northeastern Pacific coast. In Mexico, it has been commercially harvested since 1972, and although it is one of the most important fisheries in Baja California, efforts to assess the condition and dynamics of harvestable stocks have been focused on certain harvested areas with scarce fisheries independent data. Additionally, the analysis of yearly information for small geographic areas has obscured the actual status of harvested populations. This study aims to re-assess population trends, fishing effort, and catches, incorporating all available information from the last 19 years. Information was grouped based on 14 landing sites along Baja California’s Pacific coast. Length based virtual population analysis (LVPA) was implemented to estimate site-specific catch rates and densities. Red sea urchin catches/landings varied widely within and between areas. Population density was below 1 urchin m–2 in most of the sites, and was composed of higher recruits and juvenile densities that may partially mitigate for fishery removals. LVPA produced biomass estimations that double previous estimates. We suggest that the model parameters used in previous estimations might not reflect key biological traits of the red sea urchin, failing to reproduce population trends accurately. Results from this study allowed identifying the specific sites where population attributes (biomass, densities), fishery data (catch, effort), and the combination of both (Kobe plots), suggest that urchin populations may need attention. New management measures must be adopted: maximum legal size of 110 mm, improvement on fishery logs and analysis, continuous fishery independent surveys to track changes in the population that might not be so apparent when observing only catch/biomass data. Reinforce the under legal size management strategy, since results suggest that sites with high abundances of small urchins can support higher catches.