The viability of Mediterranean marine fisheries is increasingly under threat due to the low biological productivity of overexploited stocks, low economic performance of the fishing units, and offer of unattractive jobs, among other. This has resulted in a decrease of 30% in the number of fishing units active in European Union Mediterranean fisheries over the period 1995–2016. The detailed causes for this decline are investigated here based on an analysis of the entry/exit dynamics of the entire fleet having operated in Catalonia (NW Mediterranean) as a case study. The decision made by owner-operators, in terms of entering, remaining or exiting the fishery, of 1195 fishing units in the period 2000–2018 was analysed. The results show that fishing vessels have a high probability (95%) of remaining in the fishery and very low probability of entering (<1%). The exit rate was estimated at 4.5% annually, resulting in a reduction of 42% of the fleet size over the study period, from 894 active vessels at the beginning of 2000 to 518 at the end of 2018. A statistical analysis of the factors conditioning the entry/exit dynamics by means of a multinomial choice model showed that the age of the vessel, the value of landings, the amount of decommission aid offered by the local fisheries management administration and a proxy variable for fuel costs were significant explanatory variables. The study concludes that the fleet is likely to continue to shrink, without immediate stock or ecosystem conservation benefits, unless bold steps to reformulate fisheries management in the Mediterranean are taken.
Over the last three decades corals have declined precipitously in the Florida Keys. Their population decline has prompted restoration effort. Yet, little effort has been invested in understanding the contemporary niche spaces of coral species, which could assist in prioritizing conservation habitats. We sought to predict the probability of occurrence of 23 coral species, including the critically endangered Acropora cervicornis, using observations at 985 sites from 2011–2015. We ran boosted regression trees to evaluate the relationship between the presence of these corals and eight potential environmental predictors: (i) bathymetry (m), (ii) mean of daily sea surface temperature (SST) (°C), (iii) variance of SST (°C), (iv) range of SST (°C), (v) chlorophyll-a concentration (mg m3), (vi) turbidity (m-1), (vii) wave energy (kJ m-2), and (viii) distance from coast (km). The Marquesas and the lower and upper Florida Keys were predicted to support the most suitable habitats for the 23 coral species examined. A. cervicornis had one of the smallest areas of suitable habitat, which was limited to the lower and upper Florida Keys, the Dry Tortugas, and nearshore Broward-Miami reefs. The best environmental predictors of site occupancy of A. cervicornis were SST range (4–5°C) and turbidity (K490 between 0.15–0.25 m-1). Historically A. cervicornis was reported in clear oligotrophic waters, although the present results find the coral species surviving in nearshore turbid conditions. Nearshore, turbid reefs may shade corals during high-temperature events, and therefore nearshore reefs in south Florida may become important refuges for corals as the ocean temperatures continue to increase.
Anecdotal evidence from philanthropic fundraisers shows that virtual reality (VR) technology increases empathy and can influence people toward pro-environmental behavior. Non-profit organizations are increasingly marketing their causes using virtual reality and they report increased donations when VR technology is employed. In VR, users are immersed in situations intended to feel more like the real world through technology, such as 360° video viewed through 3D headsets that block out visual and auditory distractions. The framing of the message as either positive or negative has long shown to have an effect on behavior, although consensus on the impact of framing has not been reached in relation to encouraging contributions to public goods. This paper focuses on field experiments used to investigate the effects of varying degrees of visual immersion and positive versus negative message framing on respondents’ contributions to a conservation charity. Participants were exposed to a five-minute underwater film about coral reefs and the importance of protecting them. We employed a 2x2 experimental design using 3D head-mounted displays comparing 360° film footage vs. unidirectional film and a positive message vs. a negative message. After watching the film, each participant completed a short questionnaire and had the opportunity to donate to a marine conservation charity. In addition, we tested a control treatment where no video was observed. The video was filmed in Indonesia which is host to some of the world’s most biodiverse reefs that are under great threat from human activity. We also conducted the study in Indonesia, sampling a total of 1006 participants from the Bogor city area and tourists on the island of Gili Trawangan—which is popular for scuba diving and snorkeling. We find significant differences in observed behavior and reported emotions between all treatments compared to the control condition. Among the tourist sample, we find significant differences between the 360° film with a negative message which garnered significantly larger average donation amounts compared to the unidirectional film with both positive and negative framing. Overall, we can infer from these studies that virtual reality is an effective way to raise awareness of environmental threats and encourage behavioral action, especially when tailored to target groups. New technology, such as the VR head-mounted display, is highly effective at attracting interest which is an important point to encourage organizations to invest in new technologies.
Spatial conservation prioritization concerns trade-offs between marine conservation and resource exploitation. This approach has been increasingly used to devise spatial management strategies for fisheries because of its simplicity in the optimization model and less data requirement compared to complex dynamic models. However, most of the prioritization is based on static models or algorithms; whose solutions need to be evaluated in a dynamic approach, considering the high uncertainty and opportunity costs associated with their implementation. We developed a framework that integrates species distribution models, spatial conservation prioritization tools and a general grid-based dynamic model (Grid-DM) to support evaluation of ecological and economic trade-offs of candidate conservation plans. The Grid-DM is spatially explicit and has a tactical management focus on single species. We applied the Grid-DM to small yellow croaker (Larimichthys polyactis) in Haizhou Bay, China and validated its spatial and temporal performances against historical observations. It was linked to a spatial conservation prioritization tool Marxan to illustrate how the model can be used for conservation strategy evaluation. The simulation model demonstrated effectiveness in capturing the spatio-temporal dynamics of the target fishery as well as the socio-ecological effects of conservation measures. We conclude that the model has the capability and flexibility to address various forms of uncertainties, simulate the dynamics of a targeted fishery, and to evaluate biological and socioeconomic impacts of management plans. The modelling platform can further inform scientists and policy makers of management alternatives screening and adaptive conservation planning.
Voluntary Sustainability Standards and ecolabels are market-based mechanisms used to encourage producers and consumers toward environmental sustainability. The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) aims to improve ocean health and promote a sustainable seafood market. There is growing interest in the program’s impacts (direct and indirect) from changes to fisheries management and consumer awareness to market access and the reputation of fisheries. To better understand what is known about the program’s impacts and the quality of evidence available, this map collates and describes articles on the environmental, social, institutional and economic effects of the MSC, identifying the methods used to determine impacts, and highlighting knowledge gaps and clusters.
Following an a priori protocol, systematic searches of peer-reviewed literature were conducted in Web of Science, SCOPUS and AGRIS. Grey literature was gathered from Google Scholar, Microsoft Academic, and three subject-specific websites. A total of 771 articles were retrieved, 271 of which were screened at full-text. 28 articles met all inclusion criteria and a further 37 met all the criteria but did not have a comparator. Additionally, 108 articles that describe the MSC but do not investigate its impacts (thus failing on ‘comparator’ and ‘outcome’ inclusion criteria) were included in the narrative report. This provides an overview of MSC topics that are of general interest to researchers in comparison to articles that investigate MSC’s impact.
Evidence of the impact of MSC certification fall in the following topic categories: economic (38%), environmental (25%), governance (29%) and social (8%). These articles documented diverse outcomes related to MSC certification. The most common are price premiums, market access, changes in stock health, ecosystem impacts and fisheries management changes. A key knowledge gap are articles on the effects of the MSC’s Chain of Custody Standard and its effects on the supply chain. Generally, literature focused on European and North American fisheries with little focus on fisheries situated in lower-income countries.
Research interest in the MSC has grown over the last two decades, however, little research uses study designs and evidence that can robustly detect or attribute change to the MSC. Greater focus on conducting robust quasi-experimental designs would help to better understand the program effects. Comparing areas of interest in the general literature (which, for example, shows greater focus on the governance aspects of the programme than found in literature using comparators) suggests that this is partly due to lack of resources, data access and the challenge of obtaining counterfactuals. Nevertheless, some topics were absent in all areas, such as the social and economic dynamics that link harvesters and supply chain actors. It is important to fill the identified knowledge gaps as the behaviours of certified harvesters, supply chain actors and other stakeholders are the key through which the public influence sustainability, market inclusion/exclusion operates, and inequality is generated. Understanding these processes can have wider relevance in the field, informing the design of other sustainability interventions.
Two of the largest protected areas on earth are U.S. National Monuments in the Pacific Ocean. Numerous claims have been made about the impacts of these protected areas on the fishing industry, but there has been no ex post empirical evaluation of their effects. We use administrative data documenting individual fishing events to evaluate the economic impact of the expansion of these two monuments on the Hawaii longline fishing fleet. Surprisingly, catch and catch-per-unit-effort are higher since the expansions began. To disentangle the causal effect of the expansions from confounding factors, we use unaffected control fisheries to perform a difference-in-differences analysis. We find that the monument expansions had little, if any, negative impacts on the fishing industry, corroborating ecological models that have predicted minimal impacts from closing large parts of the Pacific Ocean to fishing.
Aquaculture is among the industries growing at the fastest rate in the world. This industry has been recognized to play a critical role in food production for a continuously expanding world population. However, despite various technological innovations and improvements in production techniques, this sector is still associated with misperceptions and negative opinions hampering its implementation and wide consumption of its products. The integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) concept was developed as a way to increase the sustainability of intensive aquaculture systems, using an ecosystem-based approach. In this study, following this sustainable aquaculture concept, a closed recirculation IMTA system, at laboratorial scale, was developed and tested with the simultaneous production of fish, sea urchin and seaweed for 70 days. Based on this proof of concept, a hands-on experimental activity was developed to teach and communicate recent scientific advances in environmental sustainability and value of aquaculture products to young students and the general public. This experimental activity was tested and evaluated with students (n = 60) of basic and high-school (secondary) learning cycles. A quantitative assessment was carried out through a short questionnaire provided to the students before and after the experimental activity. After the experimental activity, a qualitative assessment was also performed through questions expressed without preconceived categories or hypotheses. Results indicated that the overall frequency of students who consider the ocean to be “very important” and “extremely important” increased from 68 to 81% after performing the experimental activity. Moreover, the percentages of correct answers to the questions related to IMTA concepts also increased significantly after the experimental activity. In the discussion of the experimental activity results, the students stated that they appreciated the opportunity to develop a hands-on experimental activity, which allowed them to increase their knowledge and obtain information on aquaculture and the quality of its products.
Norway, the world's leader in the production and export of farmed Atlantic salmon, recently established a new management regime with a view to promoting substantial long-term growth in the industry. The government stated plainly, however, that the industry would have to be environmentally sustainable. The determination would be made through the use of indicators, but only one indicator would go into effect as the new regime was instituted: the amount of salmon lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) on wild salmon. This paper asks why this one, lone variable was selected. Using policy documents, the draft white paper outlining the new management plan sent out for comment by the government and the responses made by key stakeholders to the draft plan, this paper argues that the selection of this one indicator was overdetermined. Many factors contributed to the selection, including the government's fundamental decision to expand production, the momentum of Norwegian policy development, how the draft white paper defined and discussed environmental sustainability, the criteria established for acceptable indicators and the specifics of the proposed management plan. These had a political effect: For these reasons and more, no solid block of stakeholders emerged to press unambiguously for additional indicators at the start of the scheme, merited or not. This study also demonstrates the difficulties presented by a public debate on a management plan such as this.
China is one of the most important marine fishery countries, yet little is known about its small-scale fisheries (SSFs). This paper uses Hainan Province of China as a case study to examine the present situation, predicaments, and future changes of the country's SSFs during a process of transition from extensive to green development. In doing so, we follow the social-ecological system (SES) framework to present Hainan's SSF-related settings, and study its resource systems, governance systems and actors through reviewing national and local policies, surveying and interviewing SSF stakeholders. Marine fisheries in Hainan is SSF-dominated, experienced dramatic increase in terms of yield and jobs since 1978, and became the main source of most fishermen's livelihood. Fish community structure and fishing targets have shifted from a mix of large-bodied demersals and pelagics to smaller-bodied pelagics with high growth rates and fecundity levels. This degradation puts stress on China's central and local governments to enhance the preservation of marine ecosystems. Effort controls failed to reduce fishing power due to subsidies, a series of measures were introduced in 2015 to correct these problems, including obligatory targets with accountability, subsidy reductions, buyback program, and further reductions of fishing vessels and allowable catch implemented in 2017. Hainan has explored different development directions for SSFs. First, providing policies and funds to reduce small fishing boats and construct larger vessels to support offshore and distant-water fisheries. Second, enhancing fishery value by integrating the development of fishery-related primary, secondary, and tertiary industries. Third, developing existing SSFs in a sustainable manner through standardizing SSF vessel types, delineating operating areas, developing fishing port economy, and building beautiful fishing villages. These practices illustrate that China's centralized government can likely command transformational changes in ecological and socio-economic outcomes according to policy objectives. Also, a broadened perspective that considers the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of SSFs as whole is also crucial. Moreover, the integration of fishery policies with other related socioeconomic policies, and the interdepartmental cooperation is needed to achieve policy consistency across local governments.
In Norway, the world's largest salmon-producing country, reducing sea-lice levels in fish farms has been an overarching goal of government policy since 2013. However, industry innovation has not yet succeeded in significantly reducing the sea lice problem.
We identify two main types of radical environmental innovation that could potentially resolve the sea-lice problem: in-shore closed-cage production technology, and a genetically lice-resistant salmon. Furthermore, we provide an analytical framework that shows how radical environmental innovations with a “public good” character are least likely to receive private R&D funds. This leads us to conclude that neither in-shore closed cage technology nor targeted breeding towards lice-resistance will succeed in the market unless backed by targeted government intervention.
Closer examination shows that these two types of innovation have been less prioritized, if at all, in recent policy interventions. First, the government has geared most of financial support towards relieving the risk of investment in offshore innovation projects, although inshore projects might be better suited for accommodating public and environmental needs. Second, this study underscores the need and potential for stimulating sustainable innovation through the genetic route—a point overlooked in Norway's current policy mix.
Rapid urbanization leads to an accelerating decline of seagrass beds. The status of seagrass beds along the entire coastline of a rapidly urbanizing area, Guangdong Province, was examined to document the change in seagrass beds and to explore the determinants of seagrasses characteristics and their plasticity. Thirteen seagrass beds were newly discovered with a total area as 679.04 ha, whereas eleven known seagrass beds have decreased from 972.55 ha to 858.67 ha with seven of them having disappeared in recent decade primarily due to exacerbated construction of artificial shorelines and beach dams, increased nutrient inputs from fish caging and shrimp pond culture, oyster culture, mangrove planting and shellfish collection. The leaf nitrogen content of Halophila ovalis, which dominated the largest beds, increased from (2.09 ± 0.24)% in 2011 to (3.39 ± 0.18)% in 2017, indicating enhanced eutrophication. The optimum seawater dissolved inorganic nitrogen and dissolved inorganic phosphorus levels for Halophila beccarii were 40 μmol/L and 2.5 μmol/L, respectively. The standing stock and plant dimensions of H. beccarii were positively correlated with sediment mud content. Longer, wider leaves, and greater aboveground and belowground biomass were observed at lower salinities, indicating that H. beccarii prefers hyposaline habitats. High shoot density could induce intraspecific competition followed by self-thinning in H. beccarii, leading to reduced leaf area, aboveground and belowground biomass, and root length. Thus, long-term monitoring of seagrass beds along the rapidly urbanizing coastline of Guangdong Province is needed to unravel the mechanisms of decline and to develop effective management strategies.
Satellite remote sensing data are critical for assessing ecosystem state and evaluating long-term trends and shifts in ecosystem components. Many operational tools rely on continuous streams of remote sensing data, and when a satellite sensor reaches the end of its designed lifespan, these tools must be transferred to a more reliable data stream. Transferring between data streams can produce discontinuities in tool products, and it is important to quantify these downstream impacts and understand the mechanisms that cause discontinuity. To illustrate the complexities of tool transfer, we compare five products for ocean chlorophyll-a, which is a proxy for phytoplankton biomass and an important input for tools that monitor marine biophysical processes. The five chlorophyll-a products included three blended products and two single sensor products from MODIS and VIIRS. We explored the downstream impacts of tool transfer using EcoCast: an operational dynamic ocean management tool that combines real-time predictions from target and bycatch species distribution models to produce integrated surfaces of fishing suitability. EcoCast was operationalized using MODIS chlorophyll-a, and we quantify the impacts of transferring to the intended replacement of MODIS, VIIRS, and test if impacts can be minimized by using a blended chlorophyll-a product instead. Differences between chlorophyll products did not linearly propagate through to the species model predictions and the integrated fishing suitability surfaces. Instead, differences in species model predictions were determined by the shape of chlorophyll-a response curves in the species models relative to chlorophyll-a differences between sensors. However, differences in the integrated fishing suitability surfaces were reduced by canceling of differences from individual species model predictions. Differences in the integrated fishing suitability surfaces were not reduced by transferring to a blended product, highlighting the complexity of transferring operational tools between different remote sensing data products. These results contribute to our general understanding of the mechanisms by which transferring between data streams impacts downstream products. To aid decision-making regarding tool transfer, we developed an interactive web application that allows end-users to explore differences in chlorophyll products within times period and regions of interest.
The mismatch between the conceptual understanding of the Ecosystem Services (ES) in science, and their practical application, remains. Among the many issues under discussion is the link between knowledge and implementation. Base knowledge built over cases studies exist, but their usefulness for site-specific management purposes is limited. The goal of this work is to illustrate how gap analysis at the local level may contribute to the development of ES research and knowledge transfer. A review of coastal ES was performed, based on peer-reviewed journals, grey literature and other sources, allocating the information per European Nature Information System aquatic habitat coupled with the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services. Then, a multicriteria decision-making approach was applied to find ES research hotspots, i.e., habitats for which ES research should be prioritized. Three criteria were used: abundance of ES, evidence for the supply of ES, and strength of evidence. The criteria were considered suitable for coastal areas where profound gaps in ES research exist. The Atlantic coastal region adjacent to the Mondego River was used as case study. 231 current and potential ES were listed and mapped for 21 coastal habitats. Cultural services arose as the dominant category. Saltworks emerged as the most recommended habitat for ES research. Results are in accordance with local decision-makers trends of management; we consider the approach to be appropriate as a first step towards the operationalization of the ES concept and flexible enough to be readapted to focus on critical questions that characterize ES research.
The red sea urchin fishery has a long harvest and management history along the Northeastern Pacific coast. In Mexico, it has been commercially harvested since 1972, and although it is one of the most important fisheries in Baja California, efforts to assess the condition and dynamics of harvestable stocks have been focused on certain harvested areas with scarce fisheries independent data. Additionally, the analysis of yearly information for small geographic areas has obscured the actual status of harvested populations. This study aims to re-assess population trends, fishing effort, and catches, incorporating all available information from the last 19 years. Information was grouped based on 14 landing sites along Baja California’s Pacific coast. Length based virtual population analysis (LVPA) was implemented to estimate site-specific catch rates and densities. Red sea urchin catches/landings varied widely within and between areas. Population density was below 1 urchin m–2 in most of the sites, and was composed of higher recruits and juvenile densities that may partially mitigate for fishery removals. LVPA produced biomass estimations that double previous estimates. We suggest that the model parameters used in previous estimations might not reflect key biological traits of the red sea urchin, failing to reproduce population trends accurately. Results from this study allowed identifying the specific sites where population attributes (biomass, densities), fishery data (catch, effort), and the combination of both (Kobe plots), suggest that urchin populations may need attention. New management measures must be adopted: maximum legal size of 110 mm, improvement on fishery logs and analysis, continuous fishery independent surveys to track changes in the population that might not be so apparent when observing only catch/biomass data. Reinforce the under legal size management strategy, since results suggest that sites with high abundances of small urchins can support higher catches.
The seafood market is highly globalised with a growing demand for seafood and fish products worldwide. The capacity of wild fisheries is limited and therefore aquaculture is fast becoming the most stable source of seafood to meet increasing demand. Subsequently, the perceived environmental risk of fin-fish aquaculture has been the focus of substantial environmental campaigning, media and public scrutiny around the world. This paper places localised tensions regarding the environmental impacts of salmon aquaculture within transnational environmental sustainability debates concerning seafood production and vice-versa, with a focus on the Australia-Asia region. The results contribute to understanding the interpretation and communication of environmental sustainability of seafood through international supply chains and to audiences at different spatial scales. The paper draws particularly on the case of salmon aquaculture in Tasmania, Australia’s southern island state. It highlights mechanisms, such as certification, for which information flows transnationally regarding the environmental sustainability of seafood production, the resultant transnational and local public sphere and the implications for local discourse, market access, governance and certification of seafood production.
Institutional actors have a crucial role in adaptation to climate change, especially for highly vulnerable territories such as small tropical islands. Here, we emphasize their major role in the co-design of tailored coastal climate services (CCS) based on a case study of French Polynesia. In this perspective, we assessed climate change perceptions by public authorities and identified their needs with regard to climate-related science. This assessment included an analysis of the decision-making context, semi-structured interviews with practitioners representing 23 administrative divisions directly or indirectly involved in climate change issues, and a workshop dedicated to discussing needs in terms of CCS. Generally, respondents did not identify climate change as a major current issue in French Polynesia; they showed more concern for economic growth, pollution, land tenure, and land use planning. However, interviewees were concerned about future impacts of sea-level rise (SLR) and ocean warming and acidification, mentioning in particular their detrimental impacts on marine ecosystems, shoreline position, economy (especially agriculture and the blue economy), and freshwater resources. The interviewed practitioners showed particular interest in SLR projections for future decades up to a century, and for knowledge on expected impacts to critical infrastructure, coastal systems, and natural resources. Practitioners’ needs made it possible to co-define four CCS to be developed: (1) the design of sea-level-rise-compatible critical infrastructures (airports and ports); (2) adapting to the risk of destabilization of beaches and reef islands; (3) professional training on climate change impacts and adaptation, including an analysis of potentially emerging new jobs in the SLR context; and (4) the development of participatory approaches for observing climate change impacts. While the co-development of these CCS will require a multi-year engagement of stakeholders concerned with climate change adaptation, our results already shed light on specific needs for salient CCS in highly vulnerable tropical island territories.
The stony-coral-tissue-loss disease (SCTLD) has recently caused widespread loss of coral along the Florida reef tract. Yet little is known about where, when, and why this coral disease outbreak occurred. In the absence of a definitive pathogen, it is essential to characterize the ecology of the disease and document the spatio-temporal dynamics of the outbreak. Here, we investigate the epizootiology of the SCTLD at multiple spatial and temporal scales along the Florida reef tract from May 2014 to December 2017. We used spatial interpolation to characterize the disease hotspots, Ripley’s K analysis to examine contagion, a spatio-temporal model to assess rates of spread, and a Bayesian model to examine ecological and environmental covariates that may have influenced the occurrence and severity of the outbreak. Our results show that the disease affected reefs at the scale of hundreds of kilometers, with significant clusters of up to 140 km. The epizootic clearly followed a contagion model, suggesting that the disease was highly contagious. The rate of spread of the epizootic was linear and moved slightly faster to the north (∼100 m d–1) than to the south (∼92 m d–1). The difference in rate of spread between the north and south direction may indicate currents facilitated transmission. The analyzed dataset showed that the epizootic affected at least 19 coral species and that deep and diverse sites were at greater risk of the disease than shallow and low diversity sites.
During winter months, humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) frequent the coastal waters of Virginia near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Located within the Bay is Naval Station Norfolk, the world’s largest naval military installation, and the Port of Virginia, the sixth busiest container port in the United States. These large seaports, combined with the presence of recreational boaters, commercial fishing vessels, and sport-fishing boats, result in a constant heavy flow of vessel traffic through the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay and adjacent areas. From December 2015 to February 2017, 35 satellite tags were deployed on humpback whales to gain a better understanding on the occurrence, movements, site-fidelity, and overall behavior of this species within this high-traffic region. The tags transmitted data for an average of 13.7 days (range 2.7–43.8 days). Location data showed that at some point during tag deployment, nearly all whales occurred within, or in close proximity to, the shipping channels located in the study area. Approximately one quarter of all filtered and modeled locations occurred within the shipping channels. Hierarchical state-space modeling results suggest that humpback whales spend considerable time (82.0%) engaged in foraging behavior at or near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. Of the 106 humpback whales photo-identified during this research, nine individuals (8.5%) had evidence of propeller strikes. One whale that had previously been tagged and tracked within shipping channels, was found dead on a local beach; a fatality resulting from a vessel strike. The findings from this study demonstrate that a substantial number of humpback whales frequent high-traffic areas near the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, increasing the likelihood of injurious vessel interactions that can result in mortalities.
Severe coral bleaching events in the Gulf of Thailand and along the Andaman Sea coast of Thailand caused widespread coral mortality in 1998 and 2010. The consequent decrease in coral populations impacted the structure, health, and services of Thai coral reefs. However, most colonies in the offshore reef of Losin were still alive after the coral bleaching events. Therefore, this study was conducted by the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources in order to help to establish a proposal for making it a Marine Protected Area (MPA). Surveys on coral diversity were conducted to produce a checklist of reef-building corals. Seventy-six coral species were found, with the most dominant species being Porites lutea and Acropora communities, such as A. intermedia, A. grandis, A. muricata, A. cytherea, and A. valenciennesi. This area is expected to be designated as a restricted MPA area, under the “Act on the Promotion of Marine and Coastal Resources Management B.E. 2558 (2015).” The high diversity of hard corals discovered in this study assists in promoting an Announcement of the Losin Marine and Coastal Resources Protected Areas following Ministerial Regulation.
Feeding wild animals is a regular habit in ecotourism worldwide with poorly known consequences for ecosystem functioning. This study investigates how effective bread feeding is at attracting coral reef fish in the South Pacific, which feeding groups of fish are most attracted, and how natural foraging rates of an omnivorous and a grazing-detritivorous fish are affected. Data were collected at sites where fish are regularly fed bread by snorkellers and at comparison sites where bread was only provided for this study, within the Aitutaki lagoon (Cook Islands). The fish community was censused and foraging rates of two model species (Chaetodon auriga, Ctenochaetus striatus) were quantified one hour before, during, and an hour after feeding events. Twenty-five percent of the species present at all sites (piscivores-invertivores) were effectively attracted to bread. Overall, mean fish density was higher at tourism feeding sites than at the comparison sites. During bread feeding events, taxonomic richness decreased, compared to the hours prior and after feeding across all sites. As piscivore-invertivores were consistently attracted to bread, localized shifts in their dominance over other trophic groups may be expected if bread feeding persists, likely carrying consequences for ecosystem functioning. The effect of bread feeding events on natural foraging rates differed between the model species. C. auriga ceased foraging on natural foods to feed on bread. Although C. striatus never fed on bread, its foraging rate on epilithic algal matrices decreased during bread feeding events. This indirect non-lethal ecological consequence of bread feeding contributes a previously unanticipated example relevant to the “ecology of fear” in marine fish. Stakeholder interviews revealed that locals favor feeding to sustain tourist satisfaction, whereas tourists appreciate snorkeling regardless of feeding. This indicates an opportunity for restrictions on fish feeding with minimal drawbacks for tourism. Future research on fish metabolism and cascading effects on the reef benthos may reveal further impacts of feeding on coral reef communities.