With growing complex and systemic challenges facing the ocean, there is an urgent need to increase the scale and effectiveness of approaches to marine conservation, including protecting and recognizing the value of all of its services. Stronger multi-sector networks of organizations are needed, sharing knowledge and working in unison to create a common narrative for the ocean and the solutions to its protection. In an innovative experiment, the Marine CoLABoration (CoLAB) brings together nine non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to explore collaboratively how to communicate more effectively. The CoLAB hypothesizes that communicating the full value of the ocean in all its rich diversity connects with people’s deeply held, personal values and leads to more impactful ocean conservation. Through horizon scanning with the wider sector, the CoLAB determines experiment themes to test this hypothesis. These are based predominantly in the United Kingdom and include #OneLess, Agents of Change and We are Ocean. The CoLAB’s work demonstrates that by effectively building and promoting an understanding of the full value of the ocean, it is possible to trigger a wider range of human values to catalyze engagement with marine conservation issues. A joined up, interdisciplinary approach to communicating why the ocean matters, engaging a wide range of actors will be crucial in effecting long term, systemic change for the ocean. The need for greater United Kingdom ocean literacy has also been highlighted across the CoLAB and its experiments and presents an opportunity for further work.
Game theory has been an effective tool to generate solutions for decision making in fisheries involving multiple countries and fleets. Here, we use a coupled bio-economic model based on a Baltic Sea dynamic multispecies food web model called BALMAR and, we compare non-cooperative (NC) and cooperative game (grand coalition: GC) solutions. Applications of game theory based on a food web model under climate change have not been studied before and the present study aims to fill this gap in the literature. The study focuses on the effects of climate variability on the biological, harvest and economic output of the game models by examining two different climate scenarios, a first scenario characterized by low temperature and high salinity and a second scenario by high temperature and low salinity. Our results showed that in the first scenario sprat spawning stock biomass (SSB) and harvest dropped dramatically both in the NC and the GC cases whereas, herring and cod SSBs and harvests were higher compared to a base scenario (BS) keeping temperature and salinity at mean historical levels. In the second scenario, the sprat SSB and the harvest was higher for both GC and NC cases while the cod and the herring SSBs and harvests were lower. The total GC payoffs clearly outperformed the NC payoffs across all scenarios. Likewise, the first and second scenario GC payoffs for countries were higher except for Poland. The findings suggested the climate vulnerability of Baltic Sea multi-species fisheries and these results would support future decision-making processes of Baltic Sea fisheries.
The concept of ecosystem services (ES) emerges as strategic to explain the influences that the ocean, and in particular coastal ecosystems, have on us and how we influence them back. Despite being a term coined several decades ago and being already wide-spread in the scientific community and among policy-makers, the ES concept still lacks recognition among citizens and educators. There is therefore a need to mainstream this concept in formal education and through Ocean Literacy resources. Although important developments in OL were done in the United States, particularly through the National Marine Educators Association (NMEA), this concept was only recently introduced in Europe. In Portugal, several informal OL education programs were developed in the last years, yet formal education on OL and, in particular, on ES is still very deficient. To address this limitation, the “Environmental Education Network for Ecosystem Services” (REASE), founded in 2017 in the Algarve region by a consortium of educational, environmental and scientific institutions, aims to increase OL through the dissemination of the perspective of how ES provided by coastal vegetation may contribute to the human well-being. The projects and activities implemented by REASE focus mostly on formal-education of school children and include: (1) capacity building for K-12 teachers, (2) educational programs to support and develop ES projects in schools, including a citizen science project to evaluate blue carbon stocks in the Algarve, (3) the publication of a children’s book about the ES provided by the local Ria Formosa coastal lagoon, with a community-based participatory design (illustrations made by schoolchildren) and (4) a diverse array of informal education activities to raise awareness on the importance of coastal ecosystems on human well-being. REASE challenges are being successfully addressed by identifying threats to local coastal ecosystems that people worry about, and highlighting solutions to improve and maintain their health.
The United Nations’ 2030 Sustainable Development Goals have articulated sustainable development requirements at the international level. SDG14: life below water, has in particular, provided a future pathway for sustainable development of the ocean environment. With the establishment of this global perspective has come a renewed emphasis on the need for global ocean knowledge production. The 2015 First World Ocean Assessment (FWOA), which was produced by the first cycle of the United Nations’ Regular Process for Global Reporting and Assessment of the State of the Marine Environment, including Socio-economic Aspects, is widely viewed as a primary tool to guiding action on SDG14. This research investigates how effective the FWOA has been at supporting these efforts toward sustainable development of the ocean environment. We use a combination of approaches, including document mining, an internationally distributed survey and semi-structured interviews to better understand the impact of the FWOA as well as the interrelated functioning of the Regular Process’ first cycle. While the FWOA was successful in compiling well accepted and credible ocean information, it was unable to generate the impact on sustainable ocean management activities that had originally been expected of it. Funding restrictions, participation issues and political anxieties seemed to derail the first cycle of the Regular Process from initial recommendations and directed the process into unorthodox operations and substantial political control. With the Second World Ocean Assessment (SWOA) well underway, it is imperative that trust is built and social learning is encouraged between participants in the Regular Process.
Frequent upwelling of deep, cold water, rich in dissolved inorganic nutrients and carbon dioxide but low in oxygen concentrations and pH, is well documented in eastern boundary systems. As a consequence, waters in vast areas of the continental shelf can turn corrosive to the mineral aragonite, vital to a number of marine organisms. This phenomenon is projected to become more severe with ongoing ocean acidification. Although upwelling is also known to occur in western boundary systems, the impact on present day aragonite saturation state (Ωarag) is virtually unknown, let alone for the decades to come. Here we identified 32 events during 18 weeks of continuous measurements in Cape Byron Marine Park, Australia, with prolonged drops in ocean temperature of up to 5°C, oxygen concentrations by 34%, pH by 0.12 and Ωarag by 0.9 in a matter of hours. Temperature, salinity and oxygen saturation during these events hint at a water mass from 200 to 250 m depth off the Central East Australian shelf. Extrapolating present day upwelling to a preindustrial setting shows that ongoing ocean acidification has already lead to the crossing of a number of biological and geochemical Ωarag thresholds. The future intensity of these events critically depends on carbon dioxide emission scenario, and might be even more pronounced in the Great Barrier Reef where current day shelf associated waters carry a stronger deep water signal (based on oxygen levels) than at the study location. Finally, the proposed use of artificially upwelled water to cool increasingly temperature-stressed coral reef communities will need to take its unique carbonate chemistry properties into account.
Plastic waste has reached epidemic proportions worldwide, and the production of plastic continues to rise steadily. Plastic represents a diverse array of commonly used synthetic polymers that are extremely useful as durable, economically beneficial alternatives to other materials; however, despite the wide-ranging utility of plastic, the increasing accumulation of plastic waste in the environment has had numerous detrimental impacts. In particular, plastic marine debris can transport invasive species, entangle marine organisms, and cause toxic chemical bioaccumulation in the marine food web. The negative impacts of plastic waste have motivated research on new ways to reduce and eliminate plastic. One unique approach to tackle the plastic waste problem is to turn to nature’s solutions for degrading polymers by leveraging the biology of naturally occurring organisms to degrade plastic. Advances in metagenomics, next generation sequencing, and bioengineering have provided new insights and new opportunities to identify and optimize organisms for use in plastic bioremediation. In this review, we discuss the plastic waste problem and possible solutions, with a focus on potential mechanisms for plastic bioremediation. We pinpoint two key habitats to identify plastic-biodegrading organisms: (1) habitats with distinct enrichment of plastic waste, such as those near processing or disposal sites, and (2) habitats with naturally occurring polymers, such as cutin, lignin, and wax. Finally, we identify directions of future research for the isolation and optimization of these methods for widespread bioremediation applications.
Fisheries are constrained by ecosystem productivity and management effectiveness. Climate change is already producing impacts on marine ecosystems through overall changes in habitats, productivity and increased variability of environmental conditions. The way how these will affect fisheries is under debate and, also there is uncertainty on the best course of action to mitigate climate change impacts on fisheries. Harvest control rules are sets of pre-agreed rules that can be used to determine catch limits periodically and describe how harvest is automatically controlled by management in relation to the state of some indicator of stock status. In 2017, the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas adopted a harvest control rule for North Atlantic albacore. This harvest control rule was evaluated using Management Strategy Evaluation against the main sources of uncertainty inherent to this fishery. Here, we used the same framework to evaluate the robustness of the adopted rule against two types of potential climate change impacts on North Atlantic albacore dynamics. First, we evaluated how the control rule would perform in the event of overall changes in productivity in the North Atlantic and second, against increases in climate driven recruitment variability. Overall, our results suggest that the adopted harvest control rule is robust to these climate driven impacts and also suggests bounds at which the current management framework would be vulnerable to climate change. Throughout the manuscript we also discuss the potential of harvest control rules and harvest strategies to adapt fisheries management to a changing environment. Our main conclusion is that despite the many uncertainties on climate impacts on fisheries, efficient fisheries management and HCRs will be critical to ensure the sustainability of fisheries in the future.
- A holistic approach to stakeholder participation is emerging where youth are increasingly being recognized as core stakeholders in community‐based conservation efforts.
- A growing number of youth‐focused marine conservation initiatives and representation at international marine conservation conventions demonstrate that youth are taking an active role in marine conservation worldwide.
- This paper surveys current best practices in youth engagement in marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada, across 10 different engagement strategies. These are: facilitate learning through experiential education; include studies of MPAs in academic and community programmes; utilize multimedia opportunities, including social media, film, website, and apps; provide meaningful volunteer opportunities; deliver professional development sessions for youth initiative building; create youth councils to assist organizations in an advisory role; hire youth for employment in internships, co‐ops and junior positions within organizations; showcase young people as Youth Ambassadors of MPAs; share opportunities through effective outreach and promotion; and, integrate under‐represented perspectives in MPAs.
- Recommendations are drawn from the case studies within each engagement strategy. Collectively, they offer insight into the variety of ways the international community can support, highlight and advance youth participation in MPAs.
- The Government of Canada has committed to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan for Biodiversity, which includes the Aichi Biodiversity Targets.
- Aichi Target 11 indicates that countries are to conserve at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, by 2020.
- In 2015 Canada affirmed its commitment to the 10% target, and also committed to an interim target to protect 5% of coastal and marine areas by the end of 2017. The interim target was met in October 2017 through a combination of federal and provincial marine protected areas (MPAs) and fisheries area closures that qualify as other effective area‐based conservation measures (OECMs), which are referred to domestically as marine refuges.
- In 2016 the Government of Canada set out a five‐point plan for achieving its marine conservation targets, which includes finishing what was started, protecting large offshore areas, protecting areas under pressure, advancing OECMs and establishing MPAs faster.
- Key challenges that the Government of Canada faces in meeting its 2020 marine conservation target include balancing socio‐economic impacts with the need to conserve biodiversity and sustain ecosystem health and ensuring meaningful engagement with partners and stakeholders in a short period of time.
- Once Canada has met its 2020 marine conservation target it will continue to advance ongoing marine conservation initiatives, most notably the development of a national conservation network, and seek to ensure effective long‐term conservation through the management, monitoring and enforcement of established MPAs and OECMs.
- Marine protected areas face numerous conflicts associated with the implementation of conservation measures. These conflicts generate costs, prevent progress, make cooperation between stakeholders difficult and create risks of ineffectiveness.
- Although they are often concealed or circumvented, they also offer opportunities for new connections and collective innovation. Rather than leaving them to these kinds of avoidance strategies, conflicts were the subject of a Knowledge Café event at the Fourth International Marine Protected Area Congress to compare the perspectives of managers, decision‐makers and scientists on dealing with conflict.
- This contribution presents the conceptual framework for discussions during and after the Fourth International Marine Protected Area Congress and the operational and research avenues they open up.
- Cross‐referencing the results of this collective approach and research contributions makes it possible to characterize the diversity and complexity of conflicts in marine protected areas and the driving forces behind them and analyse resolution strategies. Instead of avoidance strategies, the causes and consequences of the idea of understanding and valuing conflicts is explored, along with operational approaches to achieving this.
- The expansion of surfing as a multibillion‐dollar industry and sport has, on the one hand, increased awareness about threats posed to marine and coastal environments, but has also brought growing acknowledgement of the environmental, cultural and economic value that surfing provides. This has been accompanied by a growing movement of surfers and related stakeholders (e.g. communities and manufacturers that rely on the surf tourism and industry for income) that seek to protect surf breaks. This paper argues that certain emblematic surf breaks should be protected not only for their value to surfers, but also for the ecosystem services they provide and other benefits for marine conservation.
- Through a series of case studies from Peru, Chile and the USA, the paper discusses how, in areas where there is significant biodiversity or iconic seascapes, surf breaks can be integrated with marine conservation. Suggestions are given regarding the International Union for Conservation of Nature categories of protected areas that are most appropriate for such cases.
- The paper also explores how, in certain cases, several existing surf‐break protection mechanisms could qualify as other effective area‐based conservation measures, including Chile's proposed TURF–surf model, the international World Surfing Reserves, and Peru's Ley de Rompientes. In this way, certain surf‐break protection mechanisms could help contribute to countries' progress towards achieving the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11.
- Overall benefits of marine conservation groups and surfers joining forces are discussed, including how this can help reduce negative impacts of the sport on natural ecosystems.
- Ancient Hawaiians developed sophisticated natural resource management systems that included various forms of spatial management.
- The state of Hawaiʻi established its first legislated marine protected area (MPA) in 1953, and today there exists a patchwork of spatial marine management strategies along a range of sizes, with varying levels of governance, enforcement, and effectiveness.
- Approximately 12% of waters within the 50 m depth contour and 5% of waters within state jurisdiction (≤3 nmi) have some form of marine management. No‐take areas make up <0.5% of nearshore waters, and combined with highly protected areas account for 3.4% of this habitat. Most of the existing MPAs are small, with a median area of 1.2 km2 (confidence interval 0.2–8.1).
- Twenty‐five datasets, representing 1,031 individual surveys conducted throughout Hawaiʻi since 2000, were used to compare fish assemblage characteristics amongst a subset of MPAs using a regulation‐based protection classification scheme.
- Fully and highly protected areas had significantly greater resource fish biomass than areas with intermediate or low protection did. High human population density adjacent to MPAs had a negative influence on fish trophic structure within MPAs, whereas remote MPAs harboured higher fish biomass. Complex and heterogeneous habitats were important contributors to MPA effectiveness.
- Long‐term monitoring of select MPAs showed mixed and complex trajectories. Resource fish biomass increased after the establishment of the Hanauma Bay Marine Life Conservation District in 1967 but plateaued after ~15 years, followed by changes in assemblage structure from fish feeding and invasive species. The Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, established in 1983, was expanded sevenfold in 2003 and showed dramatic increases in resource fish biomass following increased protection.
- This information is critical to improving effectiveness of existing MPAs, helping inform ongoing efforts to implement a network of MPAs statewide, and aiding in the development of comprehensive statewide marine spatial planning.
China is the world's largest capture fisheries and aquaculture producer. Over recent decades, China's domestic marine catch composition has changed markedly, from large volumes of a few high‐valued food species to multiple, small, low‐valued, species, a significant proportion of which is primarily used as animal, especially fish, feed. Despite the growing volume and economic importance of the feed catches, their species composition, catch volumes and socio‐environmental impacts are all poorly understood. Based on a nationwide survey of >800 fishing vessels, and the identification and measurement of >12,000 fish and invertebrate individuals, the present study provides an overview of the feed component of China's domestic marine catch, by volumes, species and sizes, and found it to be substantial and biologically unsustainable. Half of the trawler catch (3 million metric tons, mmt), or 35% of the total catch (4.6 mmt) in China's exclusive economic zone, are now comprised of low‐valued “feed‐grade fish”. The present study identified 218 fish species, 50 crustaceans and five cephalopods, and of these, 102 fish species were food species with 89% individuals in their juvenile size ranges. Feed‐grade fish were mainly used as aquaculture feed directly, or indirectly, through the feed industry after reduction to fishmeal and fish oil. The unparalleled scale and poor fisheries resource condition of China's domestic marine fisheries, in parallel with severe overfishing of juveniles, creates a demand for fundamental changes to fishery management practices, including a significant reduction of fishing effort to ensure productivity and ecosystem resilience.
Recent decades have revealed profound changes in population leisure paradigms, strengthening social representations attributed to the enjoyment of natural spaces and leading to the growth of informed, demanding, and conscious visitors. Responsible nature tourism assumes a continuous growth in tourism destinations and their marketing strategies. Without the attractiveness of the hot-water islands, the Azores follow a development model towards differentiation factors based on the quality and notoriety of the destination privileging, among others, specialized markets anchored in this territory's main resources and potentialities. The current expression of whale watching in these islands, assumed as one of the main representations of nautical tourism in the region, seems to raise important questions about the real impacts of its practice. This chapter proposes to synthesize this segment as a case study, presenting a successful and recurrent sustainable product and several valorisation strategies to promote its responsible development.
Strategic science communicators need to select tactics that can help them achieve both their short-term communication objectives and long-term behavioral goals. However, little previous research has sought to develop theory aimed at understanding what makes it more likely that a communicator will prioritize specific communication tactics. The current study aims to advance the development of a theory of strategic science communication as planned behavior based on the Integrated Behavioral Model. It does so in the context of exploring Canadian scientists’ self-reported willingness to prioritize six different tactics as a function of attitudinal, normative, and efficacy beliefs. The results suggest that scientists’ beliefs about ethicality, norms, response efficacy, and self-efficacy, are all meaningful predictors of willingness to prioritize specific tactics. Differences between scientists in terms of demographics and related variables provide only limited benefit in predicting such willingness.
The prevalence of social media platforms that share photos and videos could prove useful for wildlife research and conservation programs. When social media users post pictures and videos of animals, near real-time data like individual identification, sex, location, or other information are made accessible to scientists. These data can help inform researchers about animal occurrence, behavior, or threats to survival. The endangered Hawaiian monk seal (Neomonachus schauinslandi) population has only 1,400 seals remaining in the wild. A small but growing population of seals has recently reestablished itself in the human-populated main Hawaiian Islands. While this population growth raises concerns about human-seal interactions it also provides the opportunity to capitalize on human observations to enhance research and conservation activities. We measured the potential utility of non-traditional data sources, in this case Instagram, to supplement current population monitoring of monk seals in the main Hawaiian Islands. We tracked all Instagram posts with the identifier #monkseal for a one-year period and assessed the photos for biological and geographical information, behavioral concerns, human disturbance and public perceptions. Social media posts were less likely to provide images suitable for individual seal identification (16.5%) than traditional sighting reports (79.9%). However, social media enhanced the ability to detect human-seal interactions or animal disturbances: 22.1%, of the 2,392 Instagram posts examined showed people within 3 meters of a seal, and 17.8% indicated a disturbance to the animal, meanwhile only 0.64% of traditional reports noted a disturbance to the animal. This project demonstrated that data obtained through social media posts have value to monk seal research and management strategies beyond traditional data collection, and further development of social media platforms as data resources is warranted. Many conservation programs may benefit from similar work using social media to supplement the research and conservation activities they are undertaking.
Mass extinction at the Cretaceous–Paleogene (K-Pg) boundary coincides with the Chicxulub bolide impact and also falls within the broader time frame of Deccan trap emplacement. Critically, though, empirical evidence as to how either of these factors could have driven observed extinction patterns and carbon cycle perturbations is still lacking. Here, using boron isotopes in foraminifera, we document a geologically rapid surface-ocean pH drop following the Chicxulub impact, supporting impact-induced ocean acidification as a mechanism for ecological collapse in the marine realm. Subsequently, surface water pH rebounded sharply with the extinction of marine calcifiers and the associated imbalance in the global carbon cycle. Our reconstructed water-column pH gradients, combined with Earth system modeling, indicate that a partial ∼50% reduction in global marine primary productivity is sufficient to explain observed marine carbon isotope patterns at the K-Pg, due to the underlying action of the solubility pump. While primary productivity recovered within a few tens of thousands of years, inefficiency in carbon export to the deep sea lasted much longer. This phased recovery scenario reconciles competing hypotheses previously put forward to explain the K-Pg carbon isotope records, and explains both spatially variable patterns of change in marine productivity across the event and a lack of extinction at the deep sea floor. In sum, we provide insights into the drivers of the last mass extinction, the recovery of marine carbon cycling in a postextinction world, and the way in which marine life imprints its isotopic signal onto the geological record.
How real-world marine food webs absorb change, recover and adapt (that is, ecological resilience) to climate change remains problematic. Here we apply a novel approach to show how the complex changes in resilience of food webs can be understood with a small core set of self-organizing configurations that represent different simultaneously nested and multiple-species interactions. We identified a recent emergent pattern of an improving but possibly short-lived resilience of a highly observed Arctic marine food web (2004–2016), considered a harbinger of future Arctic change. The changes can be explained by continuing subsidiary inputs of Atlantic species that repair (self-organize) interactions within some configurations. Despite significant environmental perturbation, we found that the core ecological processes are maintained. We conclude that Arctic marine food webs can absorb and begin to adapt to ongoing climate change.
Separating microplastics from marine and freshwater sediments is challenging, but necessary to determine their distribution, mass, and ecological impacts in benthic environments. Density separation is commonly used to extract microplastics from sediments by using heavy salt solutions, such as zinc chloride and sodium iodide. However, current devices/apparatus used for density separation, including glass beakers, funnels, upside-down funnel-shaped separators with a shut-off valve, etc., possess various shortcomings in terms of recovery rate, time consumption, and/or usability. In evaluating existing microplastic extraction methods using density separation, we identified the need for a device that allows rapid, simple, and efficient extraction of microplastics from a range of sediment types. We have developed a small glass separator, without a valve, taking a hint from an Utermöhl chamber. This new device is easy to clean and portable, yet enables rapid separation of microplastics from sediments. With this simple device, we recovered 94–98% of <1,000 µm microplastics (polyethylene, polypropylene, polyvinyl chloride, polyethylene terephthalate, and polystyrene). Overall, the device is efficient for various sizes, polymer types, and sediment types. Also, microplastics collected with this glass-made device remain chemically uncontaminated, and can, therefore, be used for further analysis of adsorbing contaminants and additives on/to microplastics.
The loss of biodiversity, including the collapse of fish stocks, affects the vulnerability of social-ecological systems (SESs) and threatens local livelihoods. Incorporating community-centered indicators and SES drivers and exposures of change into coastal management can help anticipate and mitigate human and/or coastal vulnerability. We have proposed a new index to measure the social-ecological vulnerability of coastal fishing communities (Index of Coastal Vulnerability [ICV]) based on species, ecosystem, and social indicators. The ICV varies from 0 (no vulnerability) to 1 (very high vulnerability) and is composed of 3 components: species vulnerability, i.e., fish biological traits; ecosystem vulnerability, i.e., environmental indicators of ecosystem health; and adaptive capacity, i.e., human ability to cope with changes. We tested the ICV of Brazil’s 17 coastal states. The average ICV for the Brazilian coast was 0.77, and variation was low among states. More than half of the coastal states revealed very high vulnerability (> 0.8). The ecosystem vulnerability values were worse than the adaptive capacity and species vulnerability values, and the North and Northeast regions were revealed to be vulnerable hot spots. Additionally, we investigated how the ICV related to specific anthropogenic risks, i.e., fish landing richness, fishery instability, market, coastal extension, and coastal population, and found that states with fewer species landings and higher coastal populations presented higher ICVs. At a time when human impacts are overtaking natural processes, understanding how these impacts lead to coastal vulnerability can help improve conservation policies. For this case study, we suggest both fisheries management measures and restoration of sensitive habitats to protect species and decrease vulnerability. The integrated evaluation developed here could be used as a baseline for coastal monitoring and conservation planning and be applied to coastal regions in which governments evaluate both social and biological aspects.