Numerous international bodies have advocated the development of strategies to achieve the sustainability of marine environments. Typically, such strategies are based on information from expert groups about causes of degradation and policy options to address them, but these strategies rarely take into account assessed information about public awareness, concerns, and priorities. Here we report the results of a pan-European survey of public perceptions about marine environmental impacts as a way to inform the formation of science and policy priorities. On the basis of 10,106 responses to an online survey from people in 10 European nations, spanning a diversity of socioeconomic and geographical areas, we examine the public’s informedness and concern regarding marine impacts, trust in different information sources, and priorities for policy and funding. Results show that the level of concern regarding marine impacts is closely associated with the level of informedness and that pollution and overfishing are two areas prioritized by the public for policy development. The level of trust varies greatly among different information sources and is highest for academics and scholarly publications but lower for government or industry scientists. Results suggest that the public perceives the immediacy of marine anthropogenic impacts and is highly concerned about ocean pollution, overfishing, and ocean acidification. Eliciting public awareness, concerns, and priorities can enable scientists and funders to understand how the public relates to marine environments, frame impacts, and align managerial and policy priorities with public demand.
Guidelines for spatial planning, including those from integrated coastal management, systematic conservation planning, and marine spatial planning, have conceived planning processes as iterative and adaptive. Adaptive spatial planning is advocated because it allows decisions to be improved with new data, as knowledge accumulates on management within particular contexts, and to fine-tune spatial management arrangements to fit constantly changing social-ecological systems. Yet, to date there have been very few reviews of the process and practice of adaptive spatial planning in real-world contexts. Here we review the theoretical challenges presented in the literature on adaptive spatial planning against 5 case studies of adaptive planning in the marine realm: Kubulau District, Fiji; Southeast Cebu, Philippines; the Great Barrier Reef, Australia; central California, USA; and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Our aim is to assess the extent to which the theoretical challenges have been addressed in practice. We find that none of the case studies analyzed effectively addressed all the challenges of adaptive spatial planning. Differences in legislation, resources, and capacity to undertake adaptive spatial planning mean that each planning process is operated differently in each case study. For example, adaptive spatial planning can occur through a structured and institutionalized approach when resources and government support are available, but it can also operate in a relatively more opportunistic and flexible way if governments are weaker but civil society has strong champions. Although the case studies addressed aspects of adaptive planning, some persistent challenges remain, including scientific gaps regarding triggers for adaptation and unsympathetic institutional and policy contexts and planning cultures. These challenges must be addressed before all the benefits of adaptive spatial planning can be realized.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) requires spatially explicit environmental risk assessment (ERA) frameworks with quantitative or probabilistic measures of risk, enabling an evaluation of spatial management scenarios. ERAs comprise the steps of risk identification, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. A review of ERAs in in the context of spatial management revealed a synonymous use of the concepts of risk, vulnerability and impact, a need to account for uncertainty and a lack of a clear link between risk analysis and risk evaluation. In a case study, we addressed some of the identified gaps and predicted the risk of changing the current state of benthic disturbance by bottom trawling due to future MSP measures in the German EEZ of the North Sea. We used a quantitative, dynamic, and spatially explicit approach where we combined a Bayesian belief network with GIS to showcase the steps of risk characterization, risk analysis, and risk evaluation. We distinguished 10 benthic communities and 6 international fishing fleets. The risk analysis produced spatially explicit estimates of benthic disturbance, which was computed as a ratio between relative local mortality by benthic trawling and the recovery potential after a trawl event. Results showed great differences in spatial patterns of benthic disturbance when accounting for different environmental impacts of the respective fleets. To illustrate a risk evaluation process, we simulated a spatial shift of the international effort of two beam trawl fleets, which are affected the most by future offshore wind development. The Bayesian belief network (BN) model was able to predict the proportion of the area where benthic disturbance likely increases. In conclusion, MSP processes should embed ERA frameworks which allow for the integration of multiple risk assessments and the quantification of related risks as well as uncertainties at a common spatial scale.
The biofuels community has shown considerable interest in the possibility that microalgae could contribute significantly to providing a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Microalgae species with high growth rates and high yields of oil that can be grown on domestic wastewater using nonarable land could produce biofuel without competing with agriculture. It is difficult to envision where the cultivation facilities would be located to produce the quantity of algae needed for fuels, given that these facilities must be close to wastewater treatment plants to save energy.
Researchers investigated a possible solution called Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae for coastal cities. This system involved growing fast-growing, oil-producing freshwater algae in flexible, inexpensive clear plastic photobioreactors attached to floating docks anchored offshore in naturally or artificially protected bays. Wastewater and carbon dioxide from coastal facilities provided water, nutrients, and carbon. The surrounding seawater controlled the temperature inside the photobioreactors and killed any algae that might escape. The salt gradient between seawater and wastewater created forward osmosis to concentrate nutrients and to facilitate algae harvesting. Both the algae and forward osmosis cleaned the wastewater, removing nutrients as well as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, so-called compounds of emerging concern.
This report provided the results of two years of research into the feasibility of the Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae system in which prototype systems were studied, built, and tested in seawater tanks. A 110-liter floating system was developed and scaled up to 1,600 liters. Algae’s ability to grow on and treat wastewater was described. The impact of biofouling on photobioreactors and forward osmosis membranes floating in the marine environment was considered. Life-cycle and technoeconomic analyses provided a perspective on what must be done to make this system commercially viable. Outreach efforts have carried the concept worldwide. sions from conversion for development.
Cultural ecosystem services are generally understood to be the non-material value that can be gained through ecosystems such as a sense of well-being, reflection and spiritual enhancement. These are often linked with a sense of place, culture, heritage and identity. The assessment of cultural ecosystem services, particularly in the marine environment is an inherently complex and difficult task, because they often involve making value judgments which can be hard to quantify. Methods applied to determining the value of these services are often focused on their financial value. Whilst methodologies have been developed to assess the non-material importance of these services, this paper argues that Q methodology provides a highly appropriate way of examining unmeasurable values by being able to convert qualitative, subjective data into quantitative information. The research presents two data sets derived from Q methodology which examined stakeholder views of the cultural values from two marine protected areas; the Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, Canada and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Chichester Harbour, UK. The relevance of using Q methodology as a valuation mechanism in this type of study is examined and justified; whilst highlighting the advantages of tackling a subject of values and intangibility, highly qualitative information, with a structured, semi-automated and primarily quantitative methodology. The findings show that the case-study areas hold three predominant ‘factors’ of value for its stake holders. These include the protected areas; as a place of care for each other and oneself through the natural world; a place of spirituality; and as a place of freedom and refuge. The paper strongly argues for the use of Q methodology in such a study, which ultimately helps to bring about a depth of information that arguably traditional methods are incapable of in the same capacity.
On a national level, the law of 14 April 2006 saw the creation of the Marine Protected Areas Agency and established the first six categories of marine protected areas, including the new category of marine nature park.
The current strategy specifies how France intends to expand its action to develop and manage the network of marine protected areas: objectives, geographical priorities, principles, etc.
The French Marine Protected Areas Agency was established in 2006, particularly to define and implement an ambitious strategy to create and manage France’s marine protected areas. Developing a national assessment process, the MPA dashboard, is an integral part of this strategy. The first step consists in developing dashboards in each French MPA.
The Agency must be able to assess the effectiveness of MPAs that it manages directly, such as marine nature parks or Natura 2000 sites, and provide technical support for the assessment of MPAs managed by other entities.
The Internet provides a unique opportunity for scientists to be in direct contact with the public in order to promote citizens’ scientific literacy. Recently, Internet users have started to spend most of their online time on social networking sites (SNS). Knowledge of how these SNSs work as an arena for interaction, as well as for the development of scientific literacy, is important to guide scientists’ activities online, and to be able to understand how people develop knowledge of science. This was evaluated by scrutinizing the Facebook page of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute and the consequences for users’ ocean literacy. We investigated which practices could increase the number of users reached by a Facebook story. We also found that Facebook pages do not offer the appropriate social context to foster participation since it has only a few of the features of an arena where such practices could develop.
Integrated coastal and ocean management requires transparent and accessible approaches for understanding the influence of human activities on marine environments. Here we introduce a model for assessing the combined risk to habitats from multiple ocean uses. We apply the model to coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds in Belize to inform the design of the country's first Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Plan. Based on extensive stakeholder engagement, review of existing legislation and data collected from diverse sources, we map the current distribution of coastal and ocean activities and develop three scenarios for zoning these activities in the future. We then estimate ecosystem risk under the current and three future scenarios. Current levels of risk vary spatially among the nine coastal planning regions in Belize. Empirical tests of the model are strong—three-quarters of the measured data for coral reef health lie within the 95% confidence interval of interpolated model data and 79% of the predicted mangrove occurrences are associated with observed responses. The future scenario that harmonizes conservation and development goals results in a 20% reduction in the area of high-risk habitat compared to the current scenario, while increasing the extent of several ocean uses. Our results are a component of the ICZM Plan for Belize that will undergo review by the national legislature in 2015. This application of our model to marine spatial planning in Belize illustrates an approach that can be used broadly by coastal and ocean planners to assess risk to habitats under current and future management scenarios.
The sustainable science-based management of natural resources requires knowledge exchange between scientists and environmental decision-makers; however, evidence suggests that information flow is inhibited by a range of barriers. To date, our understanding of the range and importance of factors limiting knowledge exchange between scientists and decision-makers is based primarily on the perceptions of decision-makers, while the perceptions of scientists have been largely overlooked. This study addresses this knowledge gap by quantitatively assessing the perceptions of scientists, represented by a sample of 78 Australian marine scientists, regarding (i) the role and importance of engaging with environmental decision-makers on a personal level, (ii) the role and importance of engaging with environmental decision-makers at the institutional level, (iii) current barriers to engaging with environmental decision-makers and (iv) options for overcoming barriers to engaging with environmental decision-makers. Survey results suggest that Australian marine scientists feel that they have an obligation to engage decision-makers in their science, and that engaging with and communicating to environmental decision-makers is important on a personal level. This study also identifies a range of barriers that impede engagement activities, including inadequate measures of science impact that do not account for engagement activities, a lack of organisational support for engagement activities, insufficient time to conduct engagement activities in addition to other responsibilities and a lack of funding to support engagement activities. To overcome these barriers, participants identified the need for institutional innovation by research institutions, research funders and decision-making agencies alike to promote a culture whereby knowledge exchange activities are legitimised as core business for research scientists, and recognised and rewarded appropriately. Although difficulties exist in implementing such institutional innovations, doing so will improve two-way knowledge exchange among scientists and decision-makers and improve the likely success of environmental management.
The focus of the current issue is dedicated to maritime spatial planning featuring a guest column article by the co-chairs of the HELCOM-VASAB Working Group and a considered look of the maritime spatial planning development in the Baltic Sea region
Technological solutions to increase the efficiency of spatial use can play a key role as part of the toolbox of marine spatial planning. Co-locating of multiple ocean uses can potentially increase the production and enjoyment of the ocean while limiting impacts. However, a basic precondition for co-locating or coproduction is that all parties' private incentives are aligned. We use a case study of co-locating an offshore wind energy firm and a mussel aquaculture firm to assess the incentive structure for cooperation and to demonstrate that social benefits from co-locating exist. We find that there is room for cooperation between firms based on potential cost sharing and that the demonstrated social benefits may arise without government intervention.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are proposed to help conserve marine biodiversity and ecological integrity. There is much guidance on the optimal design of MPAs but once potential MPAs are identified there is little guidance on defining the final no-take boundaries. This is especially problematic in temperate zones where ecological boundaries are “fuzzy”, which can be quite complicated during a consultation process involving the government and divergent stakeholder groups. More decision-support tools are needed to help stakeholders and government agencies objectively compare conservation and socio-economic trade-offs among proposed boundary options. To that end, we developed a method to identify which boundary minimizes spatial overlap of highly vulnerable species and a dominant stressor. We used the recently proposed boundary options of a candidate MPA in Atlantic Canada to illustrate our method. We evaluated the vulnerability of 23 key species to bottom trawling, the most prevalent stressor in the area. We then compared the spatial overlap of the most vulnerable species and the 2002–2011 footprint of bottom trawling among boundary options. The best boundary option was identified as that which minimized spatial overlap and total area. This approach identifies boundary options which provide the greatest protection of vulnerable species from their most significant stressor, at limited socio-economic cost. It is an objective decision-support tool to help stakeholders agree on final boundaries for MPAs.
The rapid development of adaptation as a mainstream strategy for managing the risks of climate change has led to the emergence of a broad range of adaptation policies and management strategies globally. However, the success of such policies or management interventions depends on the effective integration of new scientific research into the decision-making process. Ineffective communication between scientists and environmental decision makers represents one of the key barriers limiting the integration of science into the decision-making process in many areas of natural resource management. This can be overcome by understanding the perceptions of end users, so as to identify knowledge gaps and develop improved and targeted strategies for communication and engagement. We assessed what one group of environmental decision makers, Australian marine protected area (MPA) managers, viewed as the major risks associated with climate change, and their perceptions regarding the role, importance, and achievability of adaptation for managing these risks. We also assessed what these managers perceived as the role of science in managing the risks from climate change, and identified the factors that increased their trust in scientific information. We do so by quantitatively surveying 30 MPA managers across 3 Australian management agencies. We found that although MPA managers have a very strong awareness of the range and severity of risks posed by climate change, their understanding of adaptation as an option for managing these risks is less comprehensive. We also found that although MPA managers view science as a critical source of information for informing the decision-making process, it should be considered in context with other knowledge types such as community and cultural knowledge, and be impartial, evidence based, and pragmatic in outlining policy and management recommendations that are realistically achievable.
Marine debris is preventable, and the benefits associated with preventing it appear to be quite large. For example, the study found that reducing marine debris by 50 percent at beaches in Orange County could generate $67 million in benefits to Orange County residents for a three-month period. Given the enormous popularity of beach recreation throughout the United States, the magnitude of recreational losses associated with marine debris has the potential to be substantial.
To estimate the potential economic losses associated with marine debris, we focused on Orange County, California. We selected this location because beach recreation is an important part of the local culture and residents have a wide variety of beaches from which to choose, some of which are likely to have high levels of marine debris.
We developed a travel cost model that economists commonly use to estimate the value people derive from recreation at beaches, lakes, and parks. We collected data on 31 beaches, including some sites in Los Angeles County and San Diego County, where Orange County residents could choose to visit during the summer of 2013. At each of the 31 beaches, we collected information on beach characteristics, including amenities and measurements of marine debris. Plastic debris and food wrappers were the most abundant debris types observed across all sites. Then, we surveyed residents on their beach activities and preferences through a general population mail survey.
The mail survey data, beach characteristics, and travel costs were then incorporated in the model, and we were able to estimate how various changes to marine debris levels could influence economic losses to this area. The model is flexible in that it allowed us to simulate various levels of debris along these beaches (a percent reduction), from 0-100 percent, and generate economic benefits associated with those different reductions.
The paper evaluates response policies for the management of ecosystem services. It specifically focuses on the implementation of economic response policies and the growing popularity of Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES). Critical aspects of PES are reviewed, such as the measurement of ecosystem services, the valuation of additional services, accountability and trust. This emphasised the importance to include social and cultural contexts of transaction and economic valuation in the design and implementation of PES initiatives. We discuss some of the factors that constrain the use of PES where mediating institutions are not readily available. Finally, the paper highlights elements of the design and implementation of PES schemes that can improve its practical application.
Assessment of the current status of marine ecosystems is necessary for the sustainable utilization of ecosystem services through fisheries and other human activities under changing environmental conditions. Understanding of historical changes in marine ecosystems can help us to assess their current status. In this study, we analyzed Japanese commercial fishery catch data and scientific survey data of the diet of northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus, NFS) to investigate potential long-term ecosystem changes in the western North Pacific Ocean off northeastern Japan over the past 60 years. Total commercial catches experienced peaks around 1960 and during the 1980s, decreasing to low levels around 1970 and after 1990. Catches were substantively impacted by the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Species composition of the commercial catch changed over time, resulting in changes in the mean trophic level (MTL) of the catches. Trends in observed commercial catches were affected by many factors, including species population fluctuations potentially related to large-scale environmental shifts, migration and distribution patterns of species related to local oceanography, changes in fishing technology, and the introduction of fishery management frameworks. The composition of NFS diet also changed over time: although overall changes were small, MTL derived from NFS stomach contents declined from the early 1970s to the late 1980s. This fall in the MTL of the diet of NFS is suggestive of a shift in pelagic fish fauna from a “mackerel-dominant regime” to a “sardine-dominant regime”. Inconsistencies between changes in species composition and MTLs of the commercial catch and NFS diet resulted from differences in commercial fishing targeting and NFS foraging behavior strategies. Although commercial catch is a valuable source of information for investigating historical changes in fisheries, biological resources, and ecosystems, catch data should be interpreted carefully and other relevant information available should also be considered.
The large-scale dimension of wetland reclamations in the wider Yellow Sea region is reviewed with particular emphasis on the Korean coast, followed by positioning the current protection strategy of the Korean tidal wetlands in a multi-dimensional protection framework as established in the ecosystem based management of the Wadden Sea in northwestern Europe. While roughly half of the Korean tidal flats (∼2400 km2 from the 1970s through the 2000s) have been embanked, only a fragmented total of ∼220 km2 has received protection status. In the Wadden Sea also about one half of the coastal wetlands had been embanked. However, this long history came to an end in the 1980s, and almost all remaining wetlands are under high protection status, now designated as a World Heritage Site. Prior to the designation of the Getbol (in Korean meaning an extensive mud flat) Protected Areas (GPAs) field surveys under the Korean Survey and Monitoring Program (SMP) were performed to archive an inventory of the available tidal wetlands. After the designation of a GPA, monitoring for that area was commenced under the SMP. Sediment composition and macrozoobenthos received particular attention in the surveys in terms of parameters and frequency. While the Korean SMP aims to carry out inventories, the Trilateral Monitoring and Assessment Program (TMAP) in the Wadden Sea aims to identify spatio-temporal changes in habitats and selected species populations. The current Korean GPAs are exclusively designated to tidal flats. In contrast to the Wadden Sea, where the protected area consists of salt marshes, tidal flats and the adjacent shallow waters, there is poor awareness of the significant role of the tidal channels in the functioning of the Getbol ecosystem. Broadening the current GPAs to a comprehensive ecosystem entity to ensure natural development, is the next challenge. Following the ‘success story’ of the Wadden Sea, the Korean tidal wetlands should be designated as one integral protected area. A supposed offshore boundary for the arrangement of a full scale ecosystem unit is proposed here as a leverage point for the future protection of what can be called then the Korean ‘Getbol Sea’. The Korean SMP is advised to incorporate the habitat classification and to improve the monitoring and its frequency, methodologically as well as financially, without losing the overall assessment. Scaling up the sciencepolicy interactions via policy-making processes is strongly recommended. As in the Wadden Sea, we further suggest international cooperation in the protection of all coastal wetlands in the entire Yellow Sea region.
The large tuna resources of the Western and Central Pacific Ocean are delivering great economic benefits to Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs) through sale of licences to distant water fishing nations and employment in fish processing. However, tuna needs to contribute to Pacific Island societies in another important way—by increasing local access to the fish required for good nutrition to help combat the world’s highest levels of diabetes and obesity. Analyses reported here demonstrate that coastal fisheries in 16 of the 22 PICTs will not provide the fish recommended for good nutrition of growing Pacific Island populations, and that by 2020 tuna will need to supply 12% of the fish required by PICTs for food security, increasing to 25% by 2035. In relative terms, the percentages of the region’s tuna catch that will be needed in 2020 and 2035 to fill the gap in domestic fish supply are small, i.e., 2.1% and 5.9% of the average present-day industrial catch, respectively. Interventions based on expanding the use of nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) to assist small-scale fishers catch tuna, distributing small tuna and bycatch offloaded by industrial fleets at regional ports, and improving access to canned tuna for inland populations, promise to increase access to fish for sustaining the health of the region’s growing populations. The actions, research and policies required to implement these interventions effectively, and the investments needed to maintain the stocks underpinning the considerable socio-economic benefits that flow from tuna, are described.
Sea turtles have responded to climate change in the past, but it is unclear whether they will be able to respond to the unprecedented rate of anthropogenic climate change. One way to respond would be altering the timing of their nesting to align with changes in temperature, which may lead to altered incubation conditions, hatching success, sex ratios, and hatchling dispersal. This study aims to determine whether the timing of the nesting season for three populations of leatherback turtles (Playa Grande, Costa Rica; Tortuguero, Costa Rica; and St. Croix, US Virgin Islands) vary with (and putatively in response to) sea surface temperatures at either their nesting or foraging grounds, as a proxy for how they would respond to warming trends. Several candidate temperatures were examined at the foraging grounds: annual maximum and minimum of the year prior to nesting and month in which turtles were estimated to leave their foraging grounds. At the nesting grounds, candidate temperatures were: temperatures at the start of nesting and over the whole season as well as a measure of seasonality at the foraging grounds. Seasonality at the foraging grounds and temperatures at the nesting beaches do not affect nesting phenology, while temperatures at some foraging grounds do. Different temperature signals appeared related to nesting at different foraging grounds as was the direction in which these increased temperatures shifted nesting, suggesting that there might be a mediating factor explaining the temperature effect. The relationship between temperature and primary production at the foraging grounds was studied to explain these differences but no consistent relation was found. The overall pattern is that increased temperatures at the foraging grounds tend to delay nesting, which is different from previous studies for other species of sea turtles that show earlier nesting with increased temperatures either at nesting or foraging grounds. Further study is needed at the nesting beaches to determine how environmental conditions change within the season and how these changes affect nesting success. It will then be possible to predict what temperature, humidity, and currents will look like in the new, shifted nesting seasons and how that will affect hatching success, sex ratios, and hatchling dispersal; i.e., will delayed nesting seasons help mitigate climate change effects on these populations or exacerbate them?