Harmful algal blooms (HABs) constitute a worldwide problem, affecting aquatic ecosystems, public health and local economies. Supported by the International Atomic Energy Agency since 2009, Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) countries, including Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Uruguay and Venezuela, have integrated a regional network for early warning of HABs and biotoxins in seafood. Technical capacities have been developed at regional level to identify toxic species, evaluate biota toxicity, and to perform retrospective analysis of HAB occurrence. This network involves 58% of the coastal LAC countries, two regional reference centers (in El Salvador and Cuba), 14 well equipped institutions, and 177 professionals trained to contribute to the operation of HAB and biotoxin monitoring programs. All countries from the network have reported planktonic and benthic toxic species, and in selected cases, associated with toxin in biota. Dinocyst abundance analysis in 210Pb-dated sediment cores have shown that some harmful species have been present in the region for at least 100 years ago, and that both coastal water pollution and climate change are important drivers for HAB occurrence. Efforts must be made to enrich the data base records on HAB events occurred in LAC, better understand key environmental variables that control HABs and expand coverage of HAB monitoring to all coastal countries in LAC to promote sustainable development of the region.
Marine snakes represent the most speciose group of marine reptiles and are a significant component of reef and coastal ecosystems in tropical oceans. Research on this group has historically been challenging due to the difficulty in capturing, handling, and keeping these animals for field- and lab-based research. Inexplicable declines in marine snake populations across global hotspots have highlighted the lack of basic information on this group and elevated multiple species as conservation priorities. With the increased interest in research on marine snakes, we conducted a systematic survey of experts to identify twenty key questions that can direct future research. These questions are framed across a wide array of scientific fields to produce much-needed information relevant to the conservation and management of marine snakes.
Expanding urbanization in estuaries and the increase in pollutants from anthropogenic point sources can affect nearby benthic assemblages. Using a paired impact-control design, we assessed the effects of pollution from anthropogenic point sources (marinas, storm-water drains, sewage outfalls and fish farms) on algal and sessile invertebrate recruits to pavers placed in an industrialized Tasmanian estuary. Species number and cover of native recruits were lower after 12 months at sites outside marinas relative to paired control sites, whereas non-native and cryptogenic recruits were significantly higher outside marinas and near sewage outfalls. The cover of fast-growing, opportunistic species was significantly higher at sites near fish farms and sewage outfalls, and the cover of native species was also greater at sites near sewage outfalls relative to the paired control sites. Our results suggest an increased management focus on controlling pollution from marinas and sewage outfalls is warranted to limit the spread of non-native and cryptogenic species.
Underwater sound is directional and can convey important information about the surrounding environment or the animal emitting the sound. Therefore, sound is a major sensory channel for fishes and plays a key role in many life‐history strategies. The effect of anthropogenic noise on aquatic life, which may be causing homogenisation or fragmentation of biologically important signals underwater is of growing concern. In this review we discuss the role sound plays in the ecology of fishes, basic anatomical and physiological adaptations for sound reception and production, the effects of anthropogenic noise and how fishes may be coping to changes in their environment, to put the ecology of fish hearing into the context of the modern underwater soundscape.
Recent years have seen an increasing interest in individual behavioral variation. However, the implications of such variation for population dynamics are often unknown. We studied the dynamics of a bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus) population from southern Brazil, where some individuals forage cooperatively with artisanal fishermen. We fitted mark‐recapture models to 10 yr of photo‐identification data to investigate the influence of this foraging specialization on dolphins’ population parameters, controlling for sex and ranging behavior. We estimated adult survival to be high (0.949 ± 0.015 SE), weakly influenced by home range size, sex or the frequency of interaction with fishermen. The slightly higher survival probability for individuals with smaller home ranges could stem from the benefits of reduced spatial requirements implied by the specialized foraging. Foraging also influenced the probability of resighting individuals, and there was no temporary or permanent emigration. Abundance fluctuated slightly over the years from 54 (95% CI = 49–59) to 60 (95% CI = 52–69) individuals, with no evident population trend. Despite such apparent population stability, we confirm this population remains small and geographically isolated which may threaten its viability and the viability of its unusual, localized foraging specialization. Our study also illustrates how accounting for individual variation can portray animal population dynamics more realistically.
Recreational fishing activity has recovered in the Nerbioi estuary (Northern Spain), after water sanitation and environmental improvement. Recreational fishing is important for the local population; therefore, future management measures that could cause changes in the estuary should also consider the impacts on recreational fishing. Our objective was to analyze the effects that future management decisions and unexpected environmental changes, alone or in combination with climate change effects, can produce in recreational fishing in Nerbioi. The current recreational fishing activity was modelled using a System Dynamics Modelling (SDM). Based on those results, seven future scenarios were simulated. Results suggested that the adoption of future management measures to improve the environmental conditions could lead to additional positive changes for recreational fishing, as after water quality improvement, fish stocks will continue to recover, and these better conditions could attract more fishers and increase their satisfaction. Simulation of temporary and unexpected environmental changes resulted in quick estuarine recovery, without dramatic consequences for recreational fishing. In conclusion, analysing future scenarios on cultural ecosystem services such as recreational fishing, using SDM, can produce valuable information for decision making processes, facilitating the selection between environmental management alternatives.
The understanding of ecosystem services is essential to support sustainable use and preservation of ecosystems. Coralligenous habitats, main contributors of the Mediterranean marine biodiversity, are yet understudied in term of services provided. This study presents an original small-scale approach to investigate the services provided by coralligenous habitats of a French study area consisting of two marine sites (Marseille and Port-Cros sites) in order to cover two contrasted anthropogenic pressure despite the small-scale. Our results are based on the opinions of 43 experts who ranked 15 services in terms of existence and level of importance for human well-being: supporting ecological functions were considered the most important, then provisioning and cultural services. Regulating services were considered uncertain due to a lack of knowledge. The small-scale approach highlighted a need for a referential frame to determine the existence of services (e.g. geographical and temporal scales, benefits and beneficiaries levels).
The latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which regulates the exploitation of fish stocks in European waters entails a move from the traditional single stock management towards Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). Meanwhile the Marine Strategy Framework Directive dictates that Good Environmental Status (GES) should be achieved in European waters by 2020. Here we apply an EBFM approach to the west of Scotland demersal fisheries which are currently facing several management issues: depleted stocks of cod (Gadus morhua) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus), increased predation from grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), and large bycatch of juvenile whiting by crustacean fisheries. A food web ecosystem model was employed to simulate the outcomes of applying the traditional single stock fishing mortalities (F), and management scenarios which explored F ranges in accordance with the CFP. Ecosystem indicators were calculated to assess the performance of these scenarios towards achieving GES. Our results highlight the importance of considering prey-predator interactions, in particular the impact of the top predators, cod and saithe (Pollachius virens), on juvenile cod and whiting. The traditional single stock approach would likely recover cod, but not whiting. Exploring the F ranges revealed that a drastic reduction of juvenile whiting bycatch is necessary for the whiting stock to recover. Predation from grey seals had little impact overall, but did affect the timing of cod and whiting recovery. With the exception of whiting, little difference was observed between the single stock scenario, and the best scenario identified towards achieving GES. The findings advocate for the use of ecosystem modelling alongside the traditional single stock assessment models used for tactical decision making in order to better inform fisheries management.
Abandoned, lost or discarded fishing gear (ALDFG) comprises a significant amount of global marine debris, with diverse impacts to marine environments, wildlife, and the fishing industry. Building evidence on ALDFG is critical to holistically understand the marine debris issue, and to inform the development of solutions that reduce amounts of ALDFG sources and recover existing gear. Substantial work has been and continues to be undertaken around the world to collect data on ALDFG, much of which remains unpublished. To provide a global picture of data on ALDFG, we organized a technical session that brought together seven ALDFG leaders to share their expertise in data collection, retrieval, and awareness-raising. This paper summarizes the technical session to highlight: 1) case studies that feature innovative approaches to ALDFG data collection and retrieval; 2) examples of opportunities to fill data gaps and improve our understanding of wildlife ingestion of and entanglement in ALDFG; and 3) awareness-raising through the development of a publicly accessible global ALDFG database.
Polymer science is one of the most revolutionary research areas of the last century, instigated by the discovery of Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic. Plastic, once a revolutionary material, has gradually become a global environmental threat with ubiquitous distribution.
The term ‘microplastics’ coined in 2004, is used to describe the smaller plastic particles recorded, however there is still no all-inclusive definition that accurately encompasses all criteria that could potentially describe what a microplastic is.
Here, the authors focus on the currently reported methods for describing and identifying microplastics and propose a new definition that incorporates all the important descriptive properties of microplastics. This definition not only focuses on size and origin, but also considers physical and chemical defining properties. While this manuscript may promote debate, it aims to reach a consensus on a definition for microplastics which can be useful for research, reporting and legislative purposes.
Scleractinian corals’ microbial symbionts influence host health, yet how coral microbiomes assembled over evolution is not well understood. We survey bacterial and archaeal communities in phylogenetically diverse Australian corals representing more than 425 million years of diversification. We show that coral microbiomes are anatomically compartmentalized in both modern microbial ecology and evolutionary assembly. Coral mucus, tissue, and skeleton microbiomes differ in microbial community composition, richness, and response to host vs. environmental drivers. We also find evidence of coral-microbe phylosymbiosis, in which coral microbiome composition and richness reflect coral phylogeny. Surprisingly, the coral skeleton represents the most biodiverse coral microbiome, and also shows the strongest evidence of phylosymbiosis. Interactions between bacterial and coral phylogeny significantly influence the abundance of four groups of bacteria–including Endozoicomonas-like bacteria, which divide into host-generalist and host-specific subclades. Together these results trace microbial symbiosis across anatomy during the evolution of a basal animal lineage.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an increasingly deployed spatial management tool. MPAs are primarily designed for biodiversity conservation, with their success commonly measured using a narrow suite of ecological indicators. However, for MPAs to achieve their biodiversity conservation goals they require community support, which is dependent on wider social, economic and political factors. Despite this, research into the human dimensions of MPAs continues to lag behind our understanding of ecological responses to MPA protection. Here, we explore stakeholders’ perceptions of what MPA success is. We conducted a series of semi-structured interviews and focus groups with a diverse group of stakeholders local to a South Australian MPA. What constitutes success varied by stakeholder group, and stakeholders’ stated understanding of the purpose of the MPA differed from how they would choose to measure the MPA’s success. Indeed, all interviewees stated that the primary purpose of the MPA was ecological, yet almost all (>90%) would measure the success of the MPA using social and economic measures, either exclusively or in conjunction with ecological ones. Many respondents also stated that social and economic factors were key to the MPA achieving ongoing/future success. Respondents generated a large range of novel socio-economic measures of MPA success, many of which could be incorporated into monitoring programs for relatively little additional cost. These findings also show that success is not straightforward and what constitutes success depends on who you ask. Even where an MPA’s primary ecological purpose is acknowledged by stakeholders, stakeholders are likely to only consider the MPA a success if its designation also demonstrates social and economic benefits to their communities. To achieve local stakeholder support MPAs and associated monitoring programs need to be designed for a variety of success criteria in mind, criteria which reflect the priorities and needs of the adjacent communities as well as national and international conservation objectives.
Understanding the complexity of social-ecological systems is fundamental for achieving sustainability. Historically, humans have benefited from the ecosystem services offered by nature at the same time that natural systems have increasingly changed because of anthropogenic activities. The lack of methods to unveil and understand such associations might hinder the integrated management of coastal marine areas. In our study, we applied a methodological framework used in terrestrial systems to identify and spatially locate the coastal marine social-ecological systems (CMSESs) on the southern Mediterranean Spanish coast. These CMSESs represent areas with similar human-nature associations that result from sharing similar socioeconomic and marine environmental characteristics. We applied several multivariate analyses to identify and characterize these CMSESs. We found the presence of twelve CMSESs that suggest a co-evolution of the social-ecological associations in these areas. Our results highlight the need for integrated coastal planning and management that consider the specific characteristics and conservation challenges of each CMSES. Our study provides evidence that a successful methodological framework to identify and characterize social-ecological systems can be applied in coastal areas and contribute to integrated management for the sustainability of these fragile systems.
For millennia Indigenous communities worldwide have maintained diverse knowledge systems informed through careful observation of dynamics of environmental changes. Although Indigenous communities and their knowledge systems are recognized as critical resources for understanding and adapting to climate change, no comprehensive, evidence-based analysis has been conducted into how environmental studies engage Indigenous communities. Here we provide the first global systematic review of levels of Indigenous community participation and decision-making in all stages of the research process (initiation, design, implementation, analysis, dissemination) in climate field studies that access Indigenous knowledge. We develop indicators for assessing responsible community engagement in research practice and identify patterns in levels of Indigenous community engagement. We find that the vast majority of climate studies (87%) practice an extractive model in which outside researchers use Indigenous knowledge systems with minimal participation or decision-making authority from communities who hold them. Few studies report on outputs that directly serve Indigenous communities, ethical guidelines for research practice, or providing Indigenous community access to findings. Further, studies initiated with (in mutual agreement between outside researchers and Indigenous communities) and by Indigenous community members report significantly more indicators for responsible community engagement when accessing Indigenous knowledges than studies initiated by outside researchers alone. This global assessment provides an evidence base to inform our understanding of broader social impacts related to research design and concludes with a series of guiding questions and methods to support responsible research practice with Indigenous and local communities.
Many biological and economic processes in fisheries occur seasonally though most of the extant literature tends to neglect periodicity. This work is an attempt to treat seasonality in a systematic way. We present a multi-season multi-state bioeconomic model and apply a periodic Bellman approach using dynamic programming to obtain the optimal feedback policy of each season. Our approach has rich potentials. It could deal with seasonal patterns of arbitrary uneven lengths: some may span years and some may occur within a year.
Our numerical illustration demonstrates that a seasonal dynamic optimization model allows for naturally occurring seasonal moratorium or potentially a Marine Protected Area (MPA). It shows that there exists optimal dynamic paths that develop into a permanent equilibrium cycle, which consists of one harvesting season followed by a moratorium period. This indicates an optimal closure of the fishery that a yearly model would overlook. Fishing pressure on the mature stock elicits even heavier harvesting in the next season on the same group. A protective moratorium of the immature hinders the value of the whole stock.
Two key drivers, ocean warming and ocean acidification, affect the oceans and adds to the climate change adversely. International legal and policy instruments contain certain measures to tackle these growing effects. China is also committed to addressing the effects of climate change on the oceans. The overlapping of different systems has, however, created some difficulties in practice and further coordination is urgently required. This paper uses qualitative methods to investigate China's legal practices in addressing the effects of climate change and their impact on the oceans. The study considers newly introduced policies and recent actions launched by the Chinese Government to chart a clearer picture of the current practices. To this end, it is concluded that the ultimate solution in avoiding the worsening effects of climate change on the oceans would be to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases worldwide, and China aims to take advantage of playing leading role in such efforts.
The annual sea surface temperature increased at a rate of 0.038 to 0.074 °C/year in recent decade, and pH decreased at a rate of 0.012–0.014/year in two coastal waters of the South China Sea. Therefore, a culture experiment was conducted to study the effects of acidification and warming on coral calcification rates. The calcification of three coral species were significantly reduced during the exposure to elevated CO2, while other three coral species were not significantly affected. The reef coral Pocillopora damicornis was resistant to high CO2, but was not able to survive during the exposure to 33 °C in our culture experiments. Our findings suggested that some corals might not survive in tropical areas if coral could not adapt to warming rapidly, and subtropical coastal waters with temperature of <30 °C will serve as refugia for the corals resistant to high CO2 at the end of this century.
Life cycle and reproduction of Calanus hyperboreus were studied during a year of record low ice cover in the southeastern Beaufort Sea. Stages CIV, adult females and CV dominated the overwintering population, suggesting a 2- to 3-year life cycle. Within two spring-summer months in the upper water column females filled their energy reserves before initiating their downward seasonal migration. From February to March, vigorous reproduction (20–65 eggs f−1 d−1) delivered numerous eggs (29 000 eggs m−2) at depth and nauplii N1-N3 (17 000 ind. m−2) in the water column. However, CI copepodite recruitment in May, coincident with the phytoplankton bloom, was modest in Amundsen Gulf compared to sites outside the gulf. Consequently, C. hyperboreus abundance and biomass stagnated throughout summer in Amundsen Gulf. As a mismatch between the first-feeding stages and food was unlikely under the favourable feeding conditions of April-May 2008, predation on the egg and larval stages in late winter presumably limited subsequent recruitment and population growth. Particularly abundant in Amundsen Gulf, the copepods Metridia longa and C. glacialis were likely important consumers of C. hyperboreus eggs and nauplii. With the ongoing climate-driven lengthening of the ice-free season, intensification of top-down control of C. hyperboreus recruitment by thriving populations of mesopelagic omnivores and carnivores like M. longa may counteract the potential benefits of increased primary production over the Arctic shelves margins for this key prey of pelagic fish, seabirds and the bowhead whale.
Fiji's National Government has committed to using Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) to protect its marine environment. As Fiji is in the process of reforming its marine law, now is an opportune time to develop statutory mechanisms for establishing and regulating MPAs. This article considers the regulation of MPAs in Fiji's coastal waters—where the intersection of statutory and customary law poses particular challenges. ‘Customary MPAs’ already exist in Fiji's coastal environments, taking the form of tabu areas and ‘Locally Managed Marine Areas’ (LMMAs). Both of these are important mechanisms that any new statutory framework should incorporate and strengthen. In 2010, the draft Inshore Fisheries Decree (draft Inshore Decree) was prepared. Although the draft Inshore Decree appears to have stalled, it may yet be progressed to a final bill. Alternatively, some of the measures in it may be incorporated into another law. This article assesses one mechanism in the draft Inshore Decree that could be used to formalize customary MPAs—Community Fisheries Management and Development Plans (CFMDPs). It finds that CFMDPs demonstrate a number of strengths, in particular by supporting legal recognition of existing marine management measures. However, there are also weaknesses. Nevertheless, with refinement CFMDPs may be a useful tool for regulating Fiji's coastal MPAs.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has emerged as an important paradigm in fisheries management, yet implementation of EBFM has lagged. Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have emerged as a means to implement EBFM. Here, a critical, in depth analysis of the FEP for the U.S. west coast is conducted, with the goal of highlighting lessons learned, and to further develop the FEP framework. This was accomplished by first benchmarking the contents of the FEP against recent guidance from the Lenfest Ocean Program entitled “Building Effective Fishery Ecosystem Plans: A Report from the Lenfest Fishery Ecosystem Task Force”. Subsequently, to gain a deeper understanding of the FEP's successes and challenges, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants involved either in the creation of the FEP or its subsequent use. Results from the benchmarking show that this FEP has been successful in providing a strong conceptual foundation for EBFM, but, generally, is weaker in areas that promote the movement of knowledge to action. In contrast, our interviews revealed a general sense of success. Underlying this result is a strong focus of the FEP on process-oriented objectives that have established institutional processes that are a precursor of the transition from conventional to ecosystem-based fisheries management. Given the substantial repercussions regarding human and ecological well-being that fisheries actions can have, the incremental processes employed in this region may, in the long-term, facilitate the implementation of EBFM in this region.