A seafood fraud campaign was launched by an ocean conservation group to increase transparency in global seafood supply chains by enacting policies on full chain boat-to-plate traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. As part of this campaign, online members of the group were recruited to document and collect commercial seafood samples as part of a large investigation of U.S. seafood mislabeling, specifically species substitution. Following an iterative project design including several rounds of pilot testing of sample preservation methods and outreach materials, 1058 of the more than 55,000 members solicited signed up to be a “seafood sleuth” and were mailed seafood testing kits, containing supplies to submit two fish samples of their choice. On average, 33.4% (353/1058) of these citizen scientists in 11 metropolitan areas returned kits that contained 631 samples, or nearly half of the 1263 samples collected in the overall study. Assessment of the quality of citizen science data revealed comparable rates of sample integrity, data completeness and mislabeling compared to samples and data collected by trained scientists. Citizen science outreach provided a more informed and engaged online member population, who continued to take actions to advance seafood traceability policies with their decision makers. Citizen science outreach was an integral part of a successful campaign that included science, communication strategies to garner mass media attention and advocacy to promote seafood traceability which resulted in the first seafood traceability regulation in the U.S.
This paper presents a joint estimation of the willingness to pay for conservation activities aimed at preserving the flow of ecosystem services provided by a marine protected area network and respondents’ personal discount rate using a contingent valuation survey. This work contributes to the literature on identifying people’s discount rates by moving beyond the use of the exponential schemes to include a hyperbolic discount rate through variations in the timing and duration of the provision of public goods. We present evidence that different discounting processes are associated with different programs, which depend on the type of ecosystem services under protection, including seed banks and biodiversity conservation for tourism activities. The results show the importance of using decreasing discounting (hyperbolic discounting) for projects aimed at preserving biodiversity for tourism activities. Using exponential discounting undervalues the net benefits associated with tourism by 23%, thus affecting projects’ cost-benefit analyses. These results are crucial for informing the design of marine conservation programs by clarifying the relationships among conservation project goals, the discounting used, and the relevant lifetime project assessment.
Human-wildlife conflict has been receiving increased scientific and management attention, predominantly in terrestrial systems, as a side effect of successful predator conservation and recovery. These same conflicts exist in the ocean; however, they are mostly regarded in a region- or taxa-specific context despite evidence that human-wildlife conflict is prevalent across the global oceans and likely to increase as a result of successful conservation measures. Can the lessons learned from conflicts on land promote more sustainable success in the sea? Or, do ocean human-wildlife conflicts create unique challenges that require new solutions? This paper synthesizes evidence from human-wildlife conflicts in the ocean and provides initial suggestions for progressing with effective management in the ocean. Humans have extensive experience managing conflict with terrestrial predators and several of the strategies are transferable to marine predators, but several important differences between systems necessitate a marine-specific focus and evaluation of existing mitigation strategies. Further, in managing marine wildlife conflict, it is crucial to recognize that perceived conflicts can be just as important as actual conflict and that, in many cases, human-human conflict is at the root of human-wildlife conflict. As efforts to recover important predator populations continue, humans are faced with the exciting opportunity and a new necessity to constructively manage these recoveries to continue to meet goals for marine conservation while simultaneously promoting human safety and industry in the seas.
Ocean acidification and warming may threaten future seafood production, safety and quality by negatively impacting the fitness of marine species. Identifying changes in nutritional quality, as well as species most at risk, is crucial if societies are to secure food production. Here, changes in the biochemical composition and nutritional properties of the commercially valuable oysters, Magallana gigas and Ostrea edulis, were evaluated following a 12-week exposure to six ocean acidification and warming scenarios that were designed to reflect the temperature (+3 °C above ambient) and atmospheric pCO2 conditions (increase of 350–600 ppm) predicted for the mid-to end-of-century. Results suggest that O. edulis, and especially M. gigas, are likely to become less nutritious (i.e. containing lower levels of protein, lipid, and carbohydrate), and have reduced caloric content under ocean acidification and warming. Important changes to essential mineral composition under ocean acidification and warming were evident in both species; enhanced accumulation of copper in M. gigasmay be of concern regarding consumption safety. In light of these findings, the aquaculture industry may wish to consider a shift in focus toward species that are most robust to climate change and less prone to deterioration in quality, in order to secure future food provision and socio-economic benefits of aquaculture.
The effects of underwater noise pollution on marine life are of increasing concern. Research and management have focussed on the strongest underwater sound sources. Aerial sound sources have understandably been ignored as sound transmits poorly across the air-water interface. However, there might be situations when air-borne noise cannot be dismissed. Commercial passenger airplanes were recorded in a coastal underwater soundscape exhibiting broadband received levels of 84–132 dB re 1 μPa rms. Power spectral density levels of airplane noise underwater exceeded ambient levels between 12 Hz and 2 or 10 kHz (depending on site) by up to 36 dB. Underwater noise from airplanes is expected to be audible to a variety of marine fauna, including seals, manatees, and dolphins. With many of the world's airports lying close to the coast, it is cautioned that airplane noise not be ignored, in particular in the case of at-risk species in small, confined habitats.
Beaches, an important component of coastal tourism resources, are gradually eroding as a result of environmental pollution, ecological damage, etc., which is ignored by tourists as more recreational coastal activities become available. In this context, the present study attempts to investigate the willingness to pay (WTP) of tourists and evaluates the non-use value of beach tourism resources to protect beaches from further deterioration. Towards this aim, a scientific survey is implemented on the beaches of Qingdao coastal scenic area (China) with application of the contingent valuation method (CVM). In addition, this study uses a logistic regression model to analyze the factors affecting tourists' WTP. The results indicate that 80.8% of tourists would be willing to pay to preserve beach tourism resources, and the mean WTP is $10.0 (¥66.7) per year when zero values are considered. Factors such as tourists' gender and traveling frequency to the beaches significantly affect their WTP to preserve beach tourism resources, with females exhibiting a higher probability of paying than males, and those with a higher traveling frequency also present a higher probability of paying. The non-use value of beach tourism resources is estimated at $0.8 billion (¥5.4 billion), based on the total number of tourists in Qingdao in 2016 as the survey sample. Therefore, scientific evaluation of the non-use value of beach tourism resources is beneficial to the sustainable development and preservation of beaches.
Resilience has become a key concept for addressing the vulnerability of small-scale fishing households in developing countries. While effort has gone into defining the concept of resilience in relation to fishing households; very little application of the concept exists in practice. An economic resiliency strategy was developed that builds resilience through improved household assets to reduce risks and vulnerabilities. A foundational conclusion of the strategy is the importance of linking household livelihood interventions to sustainable fishing behaviors. The conservation enterprise approach facilitated a mutually beneficial relationship between biodiversity conservation and livelihoods.
Coral restoration is increasingly used globally as a management tool to minimize accelerating coral reef degradation resulting from climate change. Yet, the science of coral restoration is still very focused on ecological and technical considerations, impeding the understanding of how coral restoration can be used to improve reef resilience in the context of socio-ecological systems. Here, we visited four well-established coral restoration projects in different regions of the world (Thailand, Maldives, Florida Keys, and US Virgin Islands), and conducted key-informant interviews to characterize local stakeholder's perceptions of the key benefits and limitations associated with restoration efforts. Our results reveal that perceptions around coral reef restoration encompass far more than ecological considerations, and include all four dimensions of sustainability: ecological, social, economic, and governance, suggesting that effective coral restoration should be guided by the principles of sustainability science. Socio-cultural benefits were the most frequently mentioned (72.4% of all respondents), while technical problems were the most common theme for limitations of coral restoration efforts (58.3% of the respondents). Participants also revealed some key points likely to improve the outcomes of coral restoration efforts such as the need to better embrace socio-cultural dimensions in goal setting, evaluate ecological outcomes more broadly, secure long-term funding and improve management and logistics of day to day practices. While we identify several important limitations of coral reef restoration, particularly around amateur workforces and limited involvement of local communities, our results suggest that coral restoration can be used as a powerful conservation education tool to provide hope, enhance agency, promote stewardship and strengthen coral reef conservation strategies.
Food authenticity has received an increasing focus due to high profile cases of substitution/mislabeling, with many investigations identifying sales of endangered or prohibited species. At the same time, the European Union (EU) has introduced one of the most progressive sets of legislation in order to promote traceability and protect consumers. This study aims to identify shark species that are sold under the commercial term “Galeos” in Greece (which officially designates Mustelus mustelus, M. punctulatus and M. asterias), using DNA barcoding. A total of 87 samples were collected from fishmongers and markets across four cities. A combination of two mitochondrial genes, the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (COI) and the 16S ribosomal RNA (16S), were used to analyze samples, and species were identified by reference to genetic databases. The results revealed significant differences in patterns of species utilization between cities and retailers. Across the study an extremely high level of mislabeling was identified (56%). This probably relates to some degree of unintentional misidentification and confusion surrounding the designation in Greece, but highlights how consumers are unprotected from incorrect/misleading labels. Over half of products originated from species that are locally listed as threatened by the ICUN red list, and of the mislabeled products, 23% originated from species with prohibitions on landings or CITES listings. This includes large growing sharks with little resemblance to Mustelus spp. and likely demonstrates deliberate substitution. It shows how mislabeled products are providing a route for prohibited/protected sharks to enter the supply chain and be sold to consumers.
Oceanic islands have usually a unique set of organisms that gives them their distinctive character and make them laboratories for biological studies, places of employment for residents, interesting destinations for tourist, and critical importance for conservationists. The management of these natural resources generates conflicts over the use and the access to these resources. In this chapter, I look at the way in which economic and social change resulting from activities such as fisheries and tourism has developed in the Galapagos. Using these activities we explore the interaction between processes of self-organization and emergence to use the existing resources of the Galapagos and the process of regulation and control that is being generated by the government.
Our Galapagos fishers agent-based model (GF-ABM) considers strategies of household livelihood alternatives with the central proposition that fishers are being “pushed” and “pulled” into the tourism industry, but not all fishers are able to obtain alternate employment nor do all want to transition to part- or full-time employment in non-fishing activities. The processes embedded in our GF-ABM examine fishers as a social-ecological system, where livelihood transitions are modeled, and the multidimensional drivers of change are examined by integrating processes and relationships among agents, a dynamic environment, and the influence of personal and professional characteristics as well as exogenous dynamics into their employment patterns. The GF-ABM contains a demographic element that models basic demographic changes at the household level (household agents). The model also contains an employment management component in which fisher agents select jobs among three employment sectors – fisheries, tourism, and government. The tourism and government sectors each have three tiers of jobs that require increasing agent skills. Fishers make their employment decisions based on their preference to remain in fishing, the availability of jobs in the three employment sectors, and their personal and professional qualifications that facilitate their movement among the employment sectors. Households contain members that are non-fisher agents, and fishers belong to households. Income and expenses are calculated for both fishers and household agents. In this chapter, we describe the key elements of the GF-ABM and the fundamental processes that are examined within a population-environment context.
Climate change related natural disasters pose serious threats and risks to livelihoods of fishermen and women as well as to food security in the Caribbean. To respond to these threats and risks, the FAO, the Department of State of the United States of America and the World Bank introduced an initiative on climate risk insurance for the Caribbean Fisheries sector as part of a global initiative on Blue Growth.
In support of this initiative a survey was conducted to identify fisheries assets that could be insured, value these assets, identify climate smart fisheries investments and practices and carry out an insurance needs and demand survey. This Circular presents survey findings from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Some of the key findings are that: 97 percent of the fishing vessels and fishing assets were not insured, while in each of the CARICOM countries there is at least one local insurer offering marine insurance; 83 percent of the fishers would purchase insurance coverage for their vessels if it would be more affordable; only 17 percent of the fishers had a health insurance and 20 percent had an life insurance policy. Moreover, more than one-third of the fishers would be interested to invest in safe harbor, anchorage, haul out and vessel storage facilities, including installation of bumper rails on piers and the use of fenders on boats and piers, if this would reduce insurance premiums.
Based on the findings of the insurance demand survey, an organizational arrangement for a Caribbean Fisheries Risk Insurance Facility (CFRIF) was developed, presented at various regional fora and shared with interested stakeholders.
The formation of novel ecosystems by non-native species poses management challenges that are both socially and ecologically complex. Negative attitudes towards non-native species can complicate management in cases where non-native species provide ecosystem service benefits. Due to their intentional introduction over a century ago, non-native mangroves in Hawai’i present a unique case study. Although some have called for eradication of mangroves from Hawai’i, an active management approach may ultimately offer the greatest benefits to both the ecosystem and society by allowing mangroves to persist in locations where they provide habitat and crabbing access, while limiting their extent in other locations to protect native bird habitat and allow for beach and ocean access. We evaluated (1) attitudes and perceptions about non-native mangroves, (2) factors influencing these attitudes, and (3) support for different management approaches by surveying residents of Moloka’i, Hawai’i (n = 204). Negative attitudes towards mangroves were influenced by a lack of reliance on mangroves for benefit and a concern about threats to Moloka’i’s coast. Active management was supported by 88% of residents, while 41% supported eradication. Among the 88% in favor of active management, 24% of written in responses expressed a need for maintaining the benefits of mangroves and 67% described reducing the negative impacts, while 4% acknowledged both the benefit and harm the species has on the environment. As successful non-native species management may be dependent on local support, we emphasize that understanding human attitudes and perceptions is beneficial for non-native species managers in any location. Results from our study highlight the importance of understanding social attitudes towards non-native species management strategies from propagation to eradication. We conclude with a framework for integrating stakeholder attitudes and beliefs into novel ecosystem management
In environmental valuation, although it is well recognised that the choice of method heavily affects the outcome, little is known on how existing valuation methods actually elicit the different values. Through the assessment of real-life applications of valuation of nature, this study tracks down the suitability of 21 valuation methods for 11 value types and assesses the methodological requirements for their operationalization. We found that different valuation methods have different suitabilities to elicit diverse value-types. Some methods are more specialized than others, but every method has blind spots, which implies risks of biased decision-making. We summarized different value-types according to three value dimensions: non-anthropocentric, relational and instrumental. No single valuation method is able to capture this full spectrum of values of nature. Covering all value dimensions requires careful selection of complementary valuation methods. This study also demonstrates that performing such an integrated valuation does not necessarily entail more resources, as for every value dimension, methods with low to medium operational requirements are available. With this study, we aim to provide guidance for selecting a complementary set of valuation methods in order to develop integrated valuation in practice that includes values of all stakeholders into environmental decision-making.
The abyssal demosponge Plenaster craigi inhabits the Clarion‐Clipperton Zone (CCZ) in the northeast Pacific, a region with abundant seafloor polymetallic nodules with potential mining interest. Since P. craigi is a very abundant encrusting sponge on nodules, understanding its genetic diversity and connectivity could provide important insights into extinction risks and design of marine protected areas. Our main aim was to assess the effectiveness of the Area of Particular Environmental Interest 6 (APEI‐6) as a potential genetic reservoir for three adjacent mining exploration contract areas (UK‐1A, UK‐1B and OMS‐1A). As in many other sponges, COI showed extremely low variability even for samples ~900 km apart. Conversely, the 168 individuals of P. craigi, genotyped for 11 microsatellite markers, provided strong genetic structure at large geographical scales not explained by isolation by distance (IBD). Interestingly, we detected molecular affinities between samples from APEI‐6 and UK‐1A, despite being separated ~800 km. Although our migration analysis inferred very little progeny dispersal of individuals between areas, the major differentiation of OMS‐1A from the other areas might be explained by the occurrence of predominantly northeasterly transport predicted by the HYCOM hydrodynamic model. Our study suggests that although APEI‐6 does serve a conservation role, with species connectivity to the exploration areas, it is on its own inadequate as a propagule source for P. craigi for the entire eastern portion of the CCZ. Our new data suggest that an APEI located to the east and/or the south of the UK‐1, OMS‐1, BGR, TOML and NORI areas would be highly valuable.
Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) are used in impact evaluation in a range of fields. However, despite calls for their greater use in environmental management, their use to evaluate landscape scale interventions remains rare. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) incentivise land users to manage land to provide environmental benefits. We present the first RCT evaluation of a PES program aiming to improve water quality. Watersharedis a program which incentivises landowners to avoid deforestation and exclude cattle from riparian forests. Using this unusual landscape-scale experiment we explore the efficacy of Watershared at improving water quality, and draw lessons for future RCT evaluations of landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
One hundred and twenty-nine communities in the Bolivian Andes were randomly allocated to treatment (offered Watershared agreements) or control (not offered agreements) following baseline data collection (including Escherichia coli contamination in most communities) in 2010. We collected end-line data in 2015. Using our end-line data, we explored the extent to which variables associated with the intervention (e.g. cattle exclusion, absence of faeces) predict water quality locally. We then investigated the efficacy of the intervention at improving water quality at the landscape scale using the RCT. This analysis was done in two ways; for the subset of communities for which we have both baseline and end-line data from identical locations we used difference-in-differences (matching on baseline water quality), for all sites we compared control and treatment at end-line controlling for selected predictors of water quality.
The presence of cattle faeces in water adversely affected water quality suggesting excluding cattle has a positive impact on water quality locally. However, both the matched difference-in-differences analysis and the comparison between treatment and control communities at end-line suggested Watershared was not effective at reducing E. coli contamination at the landscape scale. Uptake of Watershared agreements was very low and the most important land from a water quality perspective (land around water intakes) was seldom enrolled.
Although excluding cattle may have a positive local impact on water quality, higher uptake and better targeting would be required to achieve a significant impact on the quality of water consumed in the communities. Although RCTs potentially have an important role to play in building the evidence base for approaches such as PES, they are far from straightforward to implement. In this case, the randomised trial was not central to concluding that Watershared had not produced a landscape scale impact. We suggest that this RCT provides valuable lessons for future use of randomised experiments to evaluate landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
Mid-latitude (∼30-60°) seasonally stratifying shelf-seas support a high abundance and diversity of marine predators such as marine mammals and seabirds. However, anthropogenic activities and climate change impacts are driving changes in the distributions and population dynamics of these animals, with negative consequences for ecosystem functioning. Across mid-latitude shelf-seas marine mammals and seabirds are known to forage across a number of oceanographic habitats that structure the spatio-temporal distributions of prey fields. Knowledge of these and the bio-physical mechanisms driving such associations are needed to improve marine management and policy. Here, we provide a concise and easily accessible guide for both researchers and managers of marine systems on the predominant oceanographic habitats that are favoured for foraging by marine mammals and seabirds across mid-latitude shelf-seas. We (1) identify and describe key discrete physical features present across the continental shelf, working inshore from the shelf-edge to the shore line, (2) provide an overview of findings relating to associations between these habitats and marine mammals and seabirds, (3) identify areas for future research and (4) discuss the relevance of such information to conservation management. We show that oceanographic features preferentially foraged at by marine mammals and seabirds include shelf-edge fronts, upwelling and tidal-mixing fronts, offshore banks and internal waves, regions of stratification, and topographically complex coastal areas subject to strong tidal flow. Whilst associations were variable across taxa and through space and time, in the majority of cases interactions between bathymetry and tidal currents appear to play a dominant role, alongside patterns in seasonal stratification and shelf-edge upwelling. We suggest that the ecological significance of these bio-physical structures stems from a capacity to alter the densities, distributions (both horizontally and vertically) and/or behaviours of prey in a persistent and/or predictable manner that increases accessibility for predators, and likely enhances foraging efficiency. Future conservation management should aim to preserve and protect these habitats. This will require adaptive and holistic strategies that are specifically tailored to the characteristics of an oceanographic feature, and where necessary, evolve through space and time in response to spatio-temporal variability. Improved monitoring of animal movements and bio-physical conditions across shelf-seas would aid in this. Areas for future research include multi-disciplinary/trophic studies of the mechanisms linking bio-physical processes, prey and marine mammals and seabirds (which may elucidate the importance of lesser studied features such as bottom fronts and Langmuir circulation cells), alongside a better understanding of how predators perceive their environment and develop foraging strategies during immature/juvenile stages. Estimates of the importance of oceanographic habitat features at a population level should also be obtained. Such information is vital to ensuring the future health of these complex ecosystems, and can be used to assess how anthropogenic activities and future environmental changes will impact the functioning and spatio-temporal dynamics of these bio-physical features and their use by marine predators.
The effective management of fish populations requires understanding of both the biology of the species being managed and the behavior of the humans who harvest those species. For many marine fisheries, recreational harvests represent a significant portion of the total fishing mortality. For such fisheries, therefore, a model that captures the dynamics of angler choices and the fish population would be a valuable tool for fisheries management. In this study, we provide such a model, focusing on red drum and spotted seatrout, which are the two of the main recreational fishing targets in the Gulf of Mexico. The biological models are in the form of vector autoregressive models. The anglers’ decision model takes the discrete choice approach, in which anglers first decide whether to go fishing and then determine the location to fish based on the distance and expected catch of two species of fish if they decide to go fishing. The coupled model predicts that, under the level of fluctuation in the abundance of the two species experienced in the past 35 years, the number of trips that might be taken by anglers fluctuates moderately. This fluctuation is magnified as the cost of travel decreases because the anglers can travel long distance to seek better fishing conditions. On the other hand, as the cost of travel increases, their preference to fish in nearby areas increases regardless of the expected catch in other locations and variation in the trips taken declines. The model demonstrates the importance of incorporating anglers’ decision processes in understanding the changes in a fishing effort level. Although the model in this study still has a room for further improvement, it can be used for more effective management of fish and potentially other populations.
As environmental DNA (eDNA) becomes an increasingly valuable resource for marine ecosystem monitoring, understanding variation in its persistence across contrasting environments is critical. Here, we quantify the breakdown of macrobial eDNA over a spatio-temporal axis of locally extreme conditions, varying from ocean-influenced offshore to urban-inshore, and between winter and summer. We report that eDNA degrades 1.6 times faster in the inshore environment than the offshore environment, but contrary to expectation we find no difference over season. Analysis of environmental covariables show a spatial gradient of salinity and a temporal gradient of pH, with salinity—or the biotic correlates thereof—most important. Based on our estimated inshore eDNA half-life and naturally occurring eDNA concentrations, we estimate that eDNA may be detected for around 48 h, offering potential to collect ecological community data of high local fidelity. We conclude by placing these results in the context of previously published eDNA decay rates.
The coastal and marine environment is often managed according to the principles of sustainable development, which include environmental, economic, and social dimensions. While each are equally important, social sustainability receives a lower priority in both policy and research. Methodologies for assessing social sustainability are less developed than for environmental and economic sustainability, and there is a lack of data on the social aspects of sustainable development (such as social equity), which constitutes a barrier to understanding social considerations and integrating them into natural resource management. This paper explores a threat and risk assessment to the marine estate in New South Wales, Australia, which identified and categorised both the benefits that communities gain from the marine estate and the threats to those benefits. A broad range of benefits were identified including participation (e.g., socialising and sense of community), enjoyment (e.g., enjoying the biodiversity and beauty), cultural heritage and use, intrinsic and bequest values, the viability of businesses, and direct economic values. Threats to community benefits were categorised as resource use conflict, environmental, governance, public safety, critical knowledge gaps and lack of access. An integrated threat and risk assessment approach found that the priority threats to community benefits were environmental threats (e.g., water pollution), critical knowledge gaps (e.g., inadequate social and economic information), governance (e.g., lack of compliance), resource-use conflict (e.g., anti-social behaviour), and lack of access (e.g., loss of fishing access). Threat and risk assessment is an evidence-based tool that is useful for marine planning because it provides a structured approach to incorporating multiple types of knowledge and enables limited resources to be targeted to the threats identified as being most important to address.