The potential for imminent abyssal polymetallic nodule exploitation has raised considerable scientific attention. The interface between the targeted nodule resource and sediment in this unusual mosaic habitat promotes the development of some of the most biologically diverse communities in the abyss. However, the ecology of these remote ecosystems is still poorly understood, so it is unclear to what extent and timescale these ecosystems will be affected by, and could recover from, mining disturbance. Using data inferred from seafloor photo-mosaics, we show that the effects of simulated mining impacts, induced during the “DISturbance and reCOLonization experiment” (DISCOL) conducted in 1989, were still evident in the megabenthos of the Peru Basin after 26 years. Suspension-feeder presence remained significantly reduced in disturbed areas, while deposit-feeders showed no diminished presence in disturbed areas, for the first time since the experiment began. Nevertheless, we found significantly lower heterogeneity diversity in disturbed areas and markedly distinct faunal compositions along different disturbance levels. If the results of this experiment at DISCOL can be extrapolated to the Clarion-Clipperton Zone, the impacts of polymetallic nodule mining there may be greater than expected, and could potentially lead to an irreversible loss of some ecosystem functions, especially in directly disturbed areas.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are a group of 209 persistent and bio-accumulative toxic pollutants present as complex mixtures in human and animal tissues. Harbor porpoises accumulate some of the highest levels of PCBs because they are long-lived mammals that feed at a high trophic level. Studies typically use the sum of a suite of individual chlorobiphenyl congeners (CBs) to investigate PCBs in wildlife. However, toxic effects and thresholds of CB congeners differ, therefore population health risks of exposure may be under or over-estimated dependent on the congener profiles present. In this study, we found congener profiles varied with age, sex and location, particularly between adult females and juveniles. We found that adult females had the highest proportions of octa-chlorinated congeners whilst juveniles had the highest proportions of tri- and tetra-chlorinated congeners. This is likely to be a consequence of pollutant offloading between mothers and calves during lactation. Analysis of the individual congener toxicities found that juveniles were exposed to a more neurotoxic CB mixture at a time when they were most vulnerable to its effects. These findings are an important contribution towards our understanding of variation in congener profiles and the potential effects and threats of PCB exposure in cetaceans.
Strategies aimed to conserve and manage rare species are often hindered by the lack of data needed for their effective design. Incomplete and inaccurate data on habitat associations and current species distributions pose a barrier to effective conservation and management for several species of endemic sea snakes in Western Australia that are thought to be in decline. Here we used a correlative modelling approach to understand habitat associations and identify suitable habitats for five of these species (Aipysurus apraefrontalis, A. foliosquama, A. fuscus, A. l. pooleorum and A. tenuis). We modelled species-specific habitat suitability across 804,244 km2 of coastal waters along the North-west Shelf of Western Australia, to prioritise future survey regions to locate unknown populations of these rare species. Model projections were also used to quantify the effectiveness of current spatial management strategies (Marine Protected Areas) in conserving important habitats for these species. Species-specific models matched well with the records on which they were trained, and identified additional regions of suitability without records. Subsequent field validation of the model projections uncovered a previously unknown locality for A. fuscus within the mid-shelf shoal region, outside its currently recognised global range. Defining accurate geographic distributions for rare species is a vital first step in defining more robust extent of species occurrence and range overlap with threatening processes.
Global mean sea level budget is rigorously adjusted during the period 2005–2015. The emphasis is to provide the best estimates for the linear rates of changes (trends) of the global mean sea level budget components during this period subject to the constraint: Earth's hydrosphere conserves water. The newly simultaneously adjusted trends of the budget components suggest a larger correction for the global mean sea level trend implicated by the other budget components' trends under the budget constraint. The simultaneous estimation of the linear trends of the budget components subject to the constraint for closure improves their uncertainties and enables a holistic assessment of the global mean sea budget, which has implications for future sea level science studies, including the future Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports, and the US Climate Assessment Reports.
As human use of the oceans increases, marine spatial planning (MSP) is being more widely adopted to achieve improved environmental, economic, and social outcomes. However, there is a lack of practical guidance for stakeholder driven, scientifically informed MSP processes in small island and data‐limited contexts. Here, we present an overview of MSP on the Caribbean island of Montserrat, with a focus on the scientific and technical input that helped inform the process. Montserrat presents an interesting case study of MSP in the small island context as it has ocean uses that are common to many islands, namely small‐scale fisheries and tourism, but the marine environment has been heavily impacted due to volcanic activity. We detail the methods for data collection and analysis and the decision‐making process that contributed to a marine spatial plan. We highlight aspects of the process that may be useful for other small islands embarking on MSP, and lessons learned regarding scientific support, including the need for on‐site scientific support and guidance throughout MSP, the importance of setting clear objectives, working within data limitations and making data accessible, and choosing and using appropriate decision support tools.
Oyster reef ecosystems used to form significant components of many temperate and subtropical inshore coastal systems but have suffered declines globally, with a concurrent loss of services. The early timing of many of these changes makes it difficult to determine restoration targets which consider interdecadal timeframes, community values and shifted baselines. On the Australian continent, however, the transition from Indigenous (Aboriginal) to Westernized resource use and management occurred relatively recently, allowing us to map social-ecological changes in detail. In this study, we reconstruct the transformations in the Sydney rock oyster (Saccostrea glomerata) wild commercial industry of central and southeast Queensland, and by extension its reef ecosystems, as well as the changing societal and cultural values related to the presence and use of the rock oyster through time. By integrating data from the archaeological, anthropological and fisheries literature, government and media accounts, we explore these transformations over the last two centuries. Before the 1870s, there was a relative equilibrium. Aboriginal peoples featured as sole traders to Europeans, supplying oysters and becoming a substantial component of the industry's labour pool. Effectively, Australia's commercial oyster industry arose from Aboriginal-European trade. During this initial phase, there was still a relative abundance of wild oyster, with subtidal oyster reef structures present in regions where oysters are today absent or scarce. By contrast, these reefs declined by the late 19th century, despite production of oysters increasing due to continued large-scale oyster recruitment and the expansion of oyster cultivation in intertidal areas. Production peaked in 1891, with successive peaks observed in regions further north. During the 1890s, flood events coupled with land-use changes introduced large quantities of silt into the system, which likely facilitated an increase in oyster pests and diseases, ultimately decreasing the carrying capacity of the system. Today oyster production in this region is less than one-tenth of historical peak production. Many cultural heritage components have also been lost. Indigenous management is now very minor due to the massive decimation of Aboriginal populations and their respective practices. Yet, we found strong cultural attachment to midden remains and oyster production continues within Indigenous communities, with considerable broader community support. This study highlights the value of conducting thorough analysis of early media accounts as a means for reconstructing historical resource decline and management. It further demonstrates the application of historical information and context for contemporary management, protection and restoration of much-altered coastal social-ecological systems.
Coastal ecosystems provide a broad range of ecosystem services, which can be used to justify habitat conservation. The cultural ecosystem services of coastal ecosystems are generally underappreciated, and this is particularly the case when quantifying their scientific value. We created a tiered set of indicators to quantify scientific value spatially, and tested them using the case study of the island nation of Singapore. We conducted a systematic review of research papers, book chapters, conference reports and academic theses produced across 10 coastal ecosystems in Singapore, including mangroves, seagrasses, coral reefs, beaches and artificial coastal structures. At least 656 articles have been produced on Singapore’s coastal zone, with 2201 unique observations, showing that scientific value is spatially variable along Singapore’s coastline. Novel indicators such as the Site Impact Factor are able to differentiate scientific value between sites. This method has shed light on an under-recognised, but important cultural ecosystem service, and is applicable to other spatially-bounded coastal, marine and terrestrial landscapes.
Substantial perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs) production still occurs in China, and the consumption of aquatic products is a critical exposure pathway of PFAAs in humans. In this study, specimens of 16 freshwater and 40 marine species were collected in the river-estuary-sea environment affected by a mega fluorochemical industry park in China in 2015, and the edible tissues of these organisms were analyzed for PFAA levels. Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) was the dominating contaminant with an overall contribution of more than 90%, and concentrations as high as 2161 ng/g wet weight (measured in the freshwater winkle). All species with the greatest PFOA levels were benthic. The trophic magnification factor (TMF) of PFOA was 1.10 for freshwater species and 1.28 for marine species, indicating that PFOA was slightly magnifying. Analysis of carbon source indicated that freshwater species were more benthic feeding, while marine species were more pelagic feeding. Aquatic food consumption screening values of PFOA were modified according to estimated daily intake (EDI) values, which generated recommendations for limited meal categories and the do-not-eat category. Thus, this study provides recommendations for mitigating the health risks of PFAA-contaminated aquatic food, ranging from food selection to consumption frequency and proper food processing.
This study focused on the distribution, combined pollution, potential source and risk assessment of 17 antibiotics in an aquaculture ecosystem surrounding the Yellow sea, North China. Antibiotics were detected in various matrices (seawater, sediment/biofilm, organism and feed) in different aquaculture modes (greenhouse and outdoor aquaculture) during the wet and dry seasons in coastal areas of Shandong province. The innovation points of the study were as follows: (1) To the best of our knowledge, this study was one of the few to investigate the occurrence and distribution of antibiotics in mariculture environments along the Yellow Sea coast; (2) Biofilms, a focus of the study, might act as a sink for antibiotics in the aquaculture ecosystem; and (3) The correlation of heavy metals and antibiotic concentrations was proved, which could correspondingly be used as an indicator for antibiotic concentrations in the studied area.
The levels of antibiotics in water were observed to be relatively low, at the ng/L level. Trimethoprim was the most prevalent antibiotic, and was detected in all water samples. Oxytetracycline was detected at high concentrations in biofilms (up to 1478.29 ng/g). Moreover, biofilms exhibited a higher antibiotic accumulation capacity compared to sediments. Concentrations of oxytetracycline and doxycycline were high in feed, while other antibiotics were almost undetected. Tetracycline was widely detected and the concentration of enrofloxacin was highest in organisms.
Correlation analysis demonstrated that environmental parameters and other coexisting contaminants (e.g. heavy metals) significantly affected antibiotic concentrations. In addition, the concentration of Zn was significantly correlated with the total antibiotic concentration and was proportional to several antibiotics in water and sediment (biofilm) samples (p < 0.01). High Mn concentrations were closely related to total and individual (e.g. sulfadiazine, sulfamethazine and enrofloxacin) antibiotic levels, which may result in the combined contamination of the environment. Antibiotics in estuaries and groundwater generally originated from aquaculture wastewater and untreated/treated domestic sewage. Most of the detected antibiotics posed no risk to the environment. Ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin found in water may present high ecological and resistance risks, while the two antibiotics observed to accumulate in fish may pose a considerable risk to human health through diet consumption. All antibiotics detected in seafood were lower than the respective maximum residue limits. This study can act as a reference for the government for the determination of antibiotic discharge standards in aquaculture wastewater and the establishment of a standardized antibiotic monitoring and management system.
A natural experiment was conducted to determine effects of a fossil-fueled power plant on home ranges of east Pacific green turtles Chelonia mydas in an urban foraging ground. The power plant, located in south San Diego Bay, California, USA, co-existed with a resident foraging aggregation of ~60 green turtles for ~50 yr. It was decommissioned during a long-term green turtle monitoring study, thus providing a rare opportunity to evaluate how the cessation of warm-water effluent affected turtle movements and habitat use in the area. During pre- and post-decommissioning of the power plant, 7 and 23 green turtles, respectively, were equipped with GPS-enabled satellite transmitters. Useful data were obtained from 17 turtles (4 for pre- and 13 for post-decommissioning). Core use areas (50% utilization distribution [UD]) increased from 0.71 to 1.37 km2 after the power plant decommissioning. Increase in post-power plant 50% UD was greater during nighttime (0.52 to 1.44 km2) than daytime (1.32 to 1.43 km2). Furthermore, UDs moved from the effluent channel to an area closer to seagrass pastures, a presumed foraging habitat of the turtles. The observed expansion of green turtle home ranges may increase turtle-human interactions, such as boat strikes, within the foraging ground; this underscores how seemingly innocuous human actions contribute to inadvertent consequences to wildlife. Possible management and conservation actions include increasing awareness of the public regarding turtle presence in the area through signage and education as well as legislating for a reduction in boat speeds in select areas of the bay.
In Brazil, smallholder farmers living in rural settlements face poverty and food insecurity. To alleviate such problems, Brazilian government has used policy instruments to stimulate farmers to adopt fish production. It is expected that the adoption of fish production provides better nutrition for households and increase farmers’ income. However, the adoption rate is beyond governmental expectations. A possible explanation for the low adoption rate is that policy instruments overlook how farmers in rural settlements decide to adopt novel production activities, such as fishing. Theory of planned behavior was used to deeper the understanding of how farmers can be motivated to adopt fish production. The objectives were: to identify the impact of socio-psychological constructs (i.e. attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control and self-identity) on farmers’ intention to adopt fish production; and to identify the salient beliefs underlying farmers’ intention to adopt fish production. Results suggest that self-identity, attitude, and subjective norms impact on farmers’ intention to adopt fish production. Salient behavioral beliefs that represent possible outcomes of adopting fish production were: “having an increase on farm income”, “having an additional source of food for own consumption”, “having a better quality of life”. Salient normative beliefs that represent important others for farmers were based upon the opinion of “sons/daughters”, “spouse”, “friends”, “neighbors”, “rural cooperatives”, “farmers’ unions”, “farmers’ associations”, “governmental institutions”. Salient control beliefs that represent factors that would facilitate farmers to adopt fish production were: “having an easy way to sell fish production”, “having financial incentive from government”, “Having free technical assistance”, “Having more knowledge about fish production”, and “Having river water flowing in the rural lot”. From a policy perspective, our results highlight the importance of interventions targeted to prime an identity of fish farmers. Interventions will also benefit from strategies to develop more favorable attitude towards adoption of fish production and to increase social support.
Kelp forests are in decline globally and large-scale intervention could be required to halt the loss of these valuable ecosystems. To date kelp forest restoration has had limited success and been expensive and unable to address the increasing scale of ecosystem deterioration. Here we developed and tested a new approach: “green gravel”. Small rocks were seeded with kelp and reared in the laboratory until 2–3 cm, before out-planting to the field. The out-planted kelp had high survival and growth over 9 months, even when dropped from the surface. This technique is cheap, simple, and does not require scuba diving or highly trained field workers. It can be up-scaled to treat large areas or even used to introduce genes from more resilient kelp populations onto vulnerable reefs. Green gravel thus overcomes some of the current major limitations of kelp restoration and provides a promising new defense against kelp forest decline.
Norway is the world's leader in the production and export of farmed Atlantic salmon, and authorities there recently established a new management regime for the industry with a view to promoting substantial long-term growth in the industry. The decision by the government suggests broad acceptance for the industry in Norway, but there have been some danger signs with respect to the industry's social acceptance. This paper examines the comments submitted by a wide variety of key stakeholders on the 2014 management proposal to extract the major concerns of Norwegian stakeholders, map how wide-spread these are and evaluate whether they suggest a problem for the social acceptance of the industry at the general and local levels. Findings are analyzed using Wüstenhagen et al.’s three-fold classification of social acceptance: socio-political, community and market acceptance. In addition, findings are compared to six factors commonly suggested to affect community acceptance for innovations such as aquaculture sites. Results suggest that there are widespread environmental and socio-economic concerns with respect to the salmon aquaculture industry. Stakeholder concerns regarding issues of distributional justice may be addressed while stakeholders with strong concerns about the environmental impact of the industry are unlikely to be appeased, especially if environmental concerns are related to issues of identity or aesthetics. Submissions from Northern Norway, likely to be a major area for industry expansion indicate, a strong division on the social acceptability of the industry.
The promotion of tourism has been considered to be a key strategy in reducing people's dependence on marine resources and for creating alternative livelihoods for the communities living in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This paper studies the determinants for the decision of participation in tourism-related activities and examines whether tourism could be regarded as an alternative livelihood for the local people living in the MPAs. The propensity score matching approach is employed and a case study of Nha Trang Bay MPA is used for analysis with data from 140 locals. The results show that the tourism industry in the MPAs does not secure a better income for the local people if they stop their traditional livelihoods and enter the tourism industry. In other words, tourism should not be viewed in isolation with other existing income generating activities. Furthermore, low education, long distances between home and tourism destinations, and the pressure of supporting the whole family are the primary rationales preventing local people living in MPAs from participating in tourism industry. This paper discusses implications for the management of MPAs in developing countries, where tourism is used as the main strategy to diversify the local people out of traditional fishing or aquaculture.
The objective of this report is to review the existing models of temporal/spatial dynamics of coral communities available for the Great Barrier Reef (the Reef), with the specific aim at evaluating their strengths and weaknesses for the assessment and reporting of coral reef health within the Reef 2050 Integrated Monitoring and Reporting Program (RIMReP). Focusing on peer-reviewed articles available by 28 February 2018, we found that a variety of modeling approaches exists yet with different scope, level of complexity, and ability to represent the various processes driving the dynamics of coral populations. Tools available to model Reef coral population dynamics also vary in their capacity to capture the spatial heterogeneity of coral populations and their environment, the variability of disturbance impacts and the uncertainty around current reef state and possible future trajectory. The various characteristics and properties exhibited by coral reef models means they have different capacities to complement reef monitoring and assessment on the Reef. This review provides guidance for integrating a modeling component to RIMReP by identifying the modeling approaches that offer the strongest support to reef monitoring and management.
The report is organised as follows: In section 1, we list the potential benefits of ecological models for monitoring programs and explain how models can complement monitoring data and support the assessment of reef status and trends across the Reef. Section 2 provides an overview of the general characteristics and properties of ecological models, with the aim of facilitating the technical comparison of available coral reef models. In section 3, we summarise what we think are the key processes that influence the dynamics of coral populations. This provides a mechanistic framework allowing a comparison of models based on their ecological realism, i.e. their ability to reproduce changes in coral populations from the compounded action of individual demographic mechanisms. Section 4 provides an overview of the candidate coral models for the Reef, with their summary characteristics (model type, state variables, time steps), the ecological processes embedded, their parametrisation and model’s ability to capture the spatial dynamics of corals in a heterogeneous environment. For each model we highlight their strengths and weaknesses in complementing monitoring data to inform about status and trends across the Reef. Finally, we synthesise in section 5 the best candidate models, highlight their ability to inform management priorities for the Reef and make a number of recommendations for a successful integration into RIMReP.
The Coral Reef Expert Group (CREG) was one of eight expert groups, which all followed a prescribed process to recommend a design for their thematic component.
The tasks of the expert groups included:
- Synopsis of the theme, to include discussion on current state, primary drivers, pressures and responses using DPSIR framework.
- Review of all current monitoring and modelling activities relevant to the expert group theme.
- Identify candidate indicators that can be monitored and would provide information about trend, status or forecasting of value or the system.
- Evaluation of the adequacy and confidence of current monitoring and modelling of candidate indicators, determined by their ability to meet the objectives of the RIMReP and management needs provided by the Authority.
- Identification and discussion of gaps and opportunities in current monitoring and modelling of such indicators.
- Evaluation of new monitoring technologies for their potential to increase efficiency or statistical power and their compatibility with long-term datasets.
- Recommendations for monitoring design including consideration of primary indicators, continuity of data sets, how the design addresses management needs, modification to existing programs, costing and transition strategies.
Marine litter is a major global challenge, even in the remote reaches of the Arctic. Monitoring temporal trends in litter loadings and composition is key to designing effective preventative and mitigative measures, and to assess their impact. Few data are available, however, by which to do this in the Arctic region. Citizen science data organised by the local waste management company in the Lofoten archipelago in the Norwegian Sea is an exception to this. We analysed volunteer cleanup data (total weight and counts of select litter types, standardised to density per 100 m) from over 200 locations from 2011 to 2018. Results indicate a general decline in beach litter in the region, and particularly in litter types related to private use, such as beverage bottles. These declines are most likely the combined result of extensive cleanup activities and a considerable reduction in local litter inputs.
Over the last 2 decades, cleaner fishes have been employed to remove external sea lice parasites from Atlantic salmon Salmo salar in sea cages. Norway, Scotland, Ireland, and the Faroe Islands combined now use ~60 million cleaner fish per year. While small-scale experiments demonstrate the efficacy of cleaner fishes, industrial-scale sea cages have multiple structures and conditions that create different environments, which may impact cleaner fish efficacy and welfare. Here, in commercial sea cages, we investigated if 4 different anti-lice strategies impacted the delousing efficacy, physical condition, and behaviour of cleaner fish (corkwing wrasse Symphodus melops). The strategies tested were: (1) cleaner fishes only; (2) cleaner fishes and functional feed; (3) cleaner fishes, functional feed, and deep lights and feeding; and (4) cleaner fishes, functional feed, deep lights and feeding, and lice skirts. Corkwing wrasse were sampled from 3 cage-level replicates of each anti-lice strategy 3 times over 2 mo. Lice levels on salmon were recorded every 3 to 4 wk. Only 11% of corkwing wrasse had salmon lice in their gut, with individual wrasse having up to 72 lice in their stomach. Wrasse in cages encircled by lice skirts consumed one-ninth as many lice as those in other anti-lice treatments and had less overall impact on the number of lice per salmon. Fin, skin, mouth and eye condition, K factor, and observed cleaning behaviours of corkwing wrasse were similar across all anti-lice strategies. Our results demonstrate that different in-cage anti-lice strategies altered the magnitude of lice consumption in corkwing wrasse at this site and for this production period. Moreover, while a small proportion of corkwing wrasse appear to target lice as prey, most individual corkwing wrasse were ineffective biological control agents in a full-scale farm setting.
As “Canada’s Ocean Playground” Nova Scotia relies on a healthy ocean to support its economy and citizens’ livelihoods. As part of the economic development strategy, the province is seeking to significantly increase its tourism industry from $2 billion CAD to $4 billion CAD by 2024. Because much of the province’s tourism products is nature-based an increase in tourism will result in more pressure being put on coastal and marine ecosystems. With the government of Canada recently announcing the protection of 13.8 per cent of its ocean, the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) may provide the opportunity for growth in ecotourism. As stakeholders, the view of tourism operators regarding marine protected areas and ecotourism are important to understand because they conduct their business in coastal areas that could become MPAs in the future. A case study method was used to describe tourism businesses perceptions of ecotourism and MPAs. Perceptions were derived from interviews with five tourism operators. Each case provided unique insights to the potential opportunities and concerns related to MPA designation in Nova Scotia. Although there are concerns about restricting regulations and the need for proper management and planning, ecotourism in MPAs provide a unique opportunity to advance conservation objectives and support the local economy of communities simultaneously through using MPAs may be a useful marketing tool for ecotourism leading to increased employment, cultural exchange, and environmental education.
The development of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada is increasing in order to maintain and conserve important fish and marine mammal species and habitats. However, with protection comes certain regulations that affect the use of marine spaces. Regulations can restrict access and use of the marine environment, including certain fishing practices or the harvesting of specific species and some are designated to be no-go and no-take areas. While MPAs are important for the conservation of marine ecosystems, it is important that the rights and values of Indigenous peoples are not being violated with their implementation. This study examines the British Columbia Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) MPA network to identify opportunities and constraints in the current process to identify governance mechanisms that can be incorporated to enhance MPA effectiveness and uphold Indigenous inherent and Treaty rights. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with First Nations staff and individuals, and federal and provincial government representatives to understand the perception of Indigenous participation in the MPA network process. Analysis of the interviews, along with evaluations of current MPA network strategies being used in the NSB have identified capacity building, respect and trust and past NSB initiatives as opportunities while existing governance structures and the non-inclusivity of all relevant First Nations in the NSB were highlighted as constraints. These findings have been used to inform management recommendations for the MPA process.