Growing interest in sustainable seafood has led to the proliferation of third-party certifications and eco-labels. This paper examines the ongoing debate that has surrounded a potential government-operated certification program for federally managed fisheries in the United States. Drawing on an analysis of transcripts from the Marine Fishery Advisory Committee meetings between 2007 and 2014, the paper considers the ways the proposed program was justified and how the multi-year discussion led to recommendations that encourage the National Marine Fisheries Service to create a framework for a certification program based on the principles defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. It is through this discussion that it becomes apparent that sustainability claims extend beyond the scientific domain, making them fruitful grounds for understanding the emergence of policy and how power and legitimacy are negotiated and maintained through the process.
How well do existing ocean observation programs monitor the oceans through space and time? A meta-analysis of ocean observation programs in the Pacific Ocean was carried out to determine where and how key parameters defining the physics, chemistry, and biology of the oceans were measured. The analysis indicates that although the chemistry and physics of the Pacific Ocean are reasonably well monitored, ecological monitoring remains largely ad hoc, patchy, unsystematic, and inconsistent. The California Cooperative Oceanic Fisheries Investigations (CalCOFI), for example, is the only Pacific Ocean program in which the zooplankton and micronekton are resolved to species with consistent time series of greater than 20 years duration. Several studies now indicate massive changes to nearshore, mesopelagic and other fish communities of the southern California Current but available time series do not allow these potential changes to be examined more widely. Firm commitment from the global community to sustained, representative, quantitative marine observations at the species level is required to adequately assess the ecological status of the oceans.
This paper systematically reviews and synthesizes peer-reviewed, English-language scientific publications (n=212) to identify relevant research about how Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EBA) is integrated with coastal planning. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) methodology is applied in this study. Attention was given to studies concerning human-environment interactions as opposed to physical or biological climate change issues alone because the coastal planning and EBA approach addresses the management of human actions in nature. The literature references include the issue of climate change (77%); however, limited evidence of EBA in coastal areas are reported (18%), and it is evident that the issues have become relevant in the scientific literature published in recent years. Broad texts demonstrate that SLR is one of the major long-term impacts (68%), and all of these papers recognize the most affected ecosystems in the tropics would be mangroves. EBA is an emerging option that can offset anticipated ecosystem losses and improve coastal planning to cope with SLR because it provides benefits beyond climate change stressors. There is a need to synthesize a road map for incorporation of mangrove regulations into local planning instruments and for building capacity for their implementation. Application of PRISMA in marine science will enhance future reviews, facilitate the systematic search and adequately document any theme, and also be useful in determining research gaps or information needs.
The University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center (CRC) has launched a new initiative, “Supporting Knowledge Transfer and Strengthening the Marine Spatial Planning Network.” This Program will provide support and skills to the marine spatial planning (MSP) community both in the United States and abroad to help practitioners demonstrate the success and positive impacts of MSP initiatives, improve MSP implementation, and support the integration of MSP techniques and skills into the existing practice of coastal management. CRC has completed an assessment whose purpose is to:
1) Identify opportunities to expand and strengthen the global network of MSP practitioners by identifying support and skills that are needed but not currently being offered to MSP practitioners; and
2) Begin to recognize opportunities to coordinate with organizations currently providing MSP support in order to increase efficiency and opportunity.
The assessment focused on identifying information, tools and techniques practitioners need to implement MSP, and mechanisms for delivering these materials; organizations which could assist in building MSP capacity; and constituencies who need these materials in order to facilitate MSP implementation. These questions were addressed through a comprehensive review of MSP initiatives; in-depth analysis of a small subset of representative MSP cases in the U.S. and Canada; and consultation with a diverse sample of MSP experts.
Human pressure could compromise the provision of ecosystem services if we do not implement strategies such as ecosystem stewardship to foster sustainable trajectories. Barriers to managing systems based on ecosystem stewardship principles are pervasive, including institutional constraints and uncertain system dynamics. However, solutions to help managers overcome these barriers are less common. How can we better integrate ecosystem stewardship into natural resource management practices? I draw on examples from the literature and two broadly applicable case studies from Alaska to suggest some generalizable principles that can help managers redirect how people use and view ecosystems. These include (1) accounting for both people and ecosystems in management actions; (2) considering historical and current system dynamics, but managing flexibly for the future; (3) identifying interactions between organizational, temporal, and spatial scales; (4) embracing multiple causes in addition to multiple objectives; and (5) acknowledging that there are no panaceas and that success will be incremental. I also identify next steps to rigorously evaluate the broad utility of these principles and quickly move principles from theory to application. The findings of this study suggest that natural resource managers are poised to overcome the barriers to implementing ecosystem stewardship and to develop innovative adaptations to social-ecological problems.
The sustainable development of the offshore wind and wave energy sectors requires optimising the exploitation of the resources, and it is in relation to this and the shared challenge for both industries to reduce their costs that the option of integrating offshore wind and wave energy arose during the past decade. The relevant aspects of this integration are addressed in this work: the synergies between offshore wind and wave energy, the different options for combining wave and offshore wind energy, and the technological aspects. Because of the novelty of combined wave and offshore wind systems, a comprehensive classification was lacking. This is presented in this work based on the degree of integration between the technologies, and the type of substructure. This classification forms the basis for the review of the different concepts. This review is complemented with specific sections on the state of the art of two particularly challenging aspects, namely the substructures and the wave energy conversion.
Skates (Rajiformes: Rajoidei) are common mesopredators in marine benthic communities. The spatial associations of individual species and the structure of assemblages are of considerable importance for effective monitoring and management of exploited skate populations. This study investigated the spatial associations of eastern North Pacific (ENP) skates in continental shelf and upper continental slope waters of two regions: central California and the western Gulf of Alaska. Long-term survey data were analyzed using GIS/spatial analysis techniques and regression models to determine distribution (by depth, temperature, and latitude/longitude) and relative abundance of the dominant species in each region. Submersible video data were incorporated for California to facilitate habitat association analysis. We addressed three main questions: 1) Are there regions of differential importance to skates?, 2) Are ENP skate assemblages spatially segregated?, and 3) When skates co-occur, do they differ in size? Skate populations were highly clustered in both regions, on scales of 10s of kilometers; however, high-density regions (i.e., hot spots) were segregated among species. Skate densities and frequencies of occurrence were substantially lower in Alaska as compared to California. Although skates are generally found on soft sediment habitats, Raja rhina exhibited the strongest association with mixed substrates, and R. stellulata catches were greatest on rocky reefs. Size segregation was evident in regions where species overlapped substantially in geographic and depth distribution (e.g., R. rhina and Bathyraja kincaidii off California; B. aleutica and B. interrupta in the Gulf of Alaska). Spatial niche differentiation in skates appears to be more pronounced than previously reported.
This book is a critical analysis of the concept of marine protected areas (MPAs) particularly as a tool for marine resource management. It explains the reasons for the extraordinary rise of MPAs to the top of the political agenda for marine policy, and evaluates the scientific credentials for the unprecedented popularity of this management option. The book reveals the role played by two policy networks – epistemic community and advocacy coalition – in promoting the notion of MPA, showing how advocacy for marine reserves by some scientists based on limited evidence of fisheries benefits has led to a blurring of the boundary between science and politics. Second, the study investigates whether the scientific consensus on MPAs has resulted in a publication bias, whereby pro-MPA articles are given preferential treatment by peer-reviewed academic journals, though it found only limited evidence of such a bias. Third, the project conducts a systematic review of the literature to determine the ecological effects of MPAs, and reaches the conclusion that there is little proof of a positive impact on finfish populations in temperate waters. Fourth, the study uses discourse analysis to trace the effects of a public campaigning policy network on marine conservation zones (MCZs) in England, which demonstrated that there was considerable confusion over the objectives that MCZs were being designated to achieve. The book’s conclusion is that the MPA issue shows the power of ideas in marine governance, but offers a caution that scientists who cross the line between science and politics risk exaggerating the benefits of MPAs by glossing over uncertainties in the data, which may antagonise the fishing industry, delay resolution of the MPA issue, and weaken public faith in marine science if and when the benefits of MCZs are subsequently seen to be limited.
Research so far has provided little evidence that benthic biogeochemical cycling is affected by ocean acidification under realistic climate change scenarios. We measured nutrient exchange and sediment community oxygen consumption (SCOC) rates to estimate nitrification in natural coastal permeable and fine sandy sediments under pre-phytoplankton bloom and bloom conditions. Ocean acidification, as mimicked in the laboratory by a realistic pH decrease of 0.3, significantly reduced SCOC on average by 60% and benthic nitrification rates on average by 94% in both sediment types in February (pre-bloom period), but not in April (bloom period). No changes in macrofauna functional community (density, structural and functional diversity) were observed between ambient and acidified conditions, suggesting that changes in benthic biogeochemical cycling were predominantly mediated by changes in the activity of the microbial community during the short-term incubations (14 days), rather than by changes in engineering effects of bioturbating and bio-irrigating macrofauna. As benthic nitrification makes up the gross of ocean nitrification, a slowdown of this nitrogen cycling pathway in both permeable and fine sediments in winter, could therefore have global impacts on coupled nitrification-denitrification and hence eventually on pelagic nutrient availability.
Reef managers cannot fight global warming through mitigation at local scale, but they can use information on thermal patterns to plan for reserve networks that maximize the probability of persistence of their reef system. Here we assess previous methods for the design of reserves for climate change and present a new approach to prioritize areas for conservation that leverages the most desirable properties of previous approaches. The new method moves the science of reserve design for climate change a step forwards by: (1) recognizing the role of seasonal acclimation in increasing the limits of environmental tolerance of corals and ameliorating the bleaching response; (2) using the best proxy for acclimatization currently available; (3) including information from several bleaching events, which frequency is likely to increase in the future; (4) assessing relevant variability at country scales, where most management plans are carried out. We demonstrate the method in Honduras, where a reassessment of the marine spatial plan is in progress.
Manta rays (Genus Manta) are economically important for fisheries and tourism in Indonesia. These species have been listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List as Vulnerable to extinction; therefore, human exploitation of manta rays must be regulated. A better understanding of the habitat use and movement patterns of manta rays in Indonesia is needed in order to employ effective conservation measures. To gain better insight into the movements of Manta alfredi we used ‘Manta Matcher’, an online database with an integrated automated matching algorithm, to compare photographs from 2,604 encounters of M. alfredi collected by recreational divers and dive operators throughout Indonesia over a nine-year period. This photographic comparison revealed that manta rays migrated between regional sanctuaries such as Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands, and the Komodo National Park (up to 450 km straight-line distance). The areas between these sanctuaries are heavily fished and trafficked by ships, and when manta rays travel through these regions they risk being fished and injured by ship strikes. These long-range manta ray movements suggest connectivity between M. alfredi populations in neighboring islands and raise concerns about the future management of regional populations. It is recommended that a national conservation strategy be developed to protect the remaining populations in the country.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is the dominant management tool for marine environments around the world and is an attempt to move beyond the sectoral governance of marine spaces. Scotland is no exception and MSP is central to its management plans. The interpretation and use of spatial data informs these plans and maps provide the backbone of the decision-making process. Whilst not refuting MSP as a governance tool, this paper examines more closely some of the inherent problems with representing marine environments spatially and how the practice of map-making inevitably interacts with social-ecological networks. Borrowing from critical cartography and Actor-Network Theory (ANT), four observations are made: 1) due to the necessary procedure of categorising and simplifying data, maps do not always accurately represent changeable marine environments and situations; 2) maps can produce reality as much as represent it; 3) mapping has become the point through which all actors and stakeholders must pass; 4) as they are obliged to pass through this point, the roles and definition of certain actors can change. This discussion of marine spatial planning in Scotland demonstrates what can be learnt from viewing marine spaces as a tightly coupled social-ecological environment.
Recreational users appreciate the UK marine environment for its cultural ecosystem services (CES) and their use and non-use values. UK Governments are currently establishing a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) informed by ecological data and socio-economic evidence. Evidence on CES values is needed, but only limited data have been available. We present a case study from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) follow-on phase that elicited divers’ and anglers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for potential MPAs. The case study is an innovative combination of a travel-cost based choice experiment and an attribute-based contingent valuation method. Our study design allowed us to understand the marine users’ preferences from both a user and a stewardship perspective. Following the UK NEA’s place-based CES framework, we characterised marine CES as environmental spaces that might be protected, with features including the underwater seascape, and iconic and non-iconic species. Our survey highlighted the importance of CES to divers and anglers. A wide variety of marine spaces influenced user-WTP, while stewardship-WTP was most influenced by management restrictions, species protection, and attitudes towards marine conservation. An understanding of key stakeholders’ CES values can inform a more holistic and sustainable approach to marine management, especially for decisions involving trade-offs between marine protection and opportunity costs of the blue economy.
Offshore wind power provides a valuable source of renewable energy that can help reduce carbon emissions. Technological advances are allowing higher capacity turbines to be installed and in deeper water, but there is still much that is unknown about the effects on the environment. Here we describe the lessons learned based on the recent literature and our experience with assessing impacts of offshore wind developments on marine mammals and seabirds, and make recommendations for future monitoring and assessment as interest in offshore wind energy grows around the world. The four key lessons learned that we discuss are: 1) Identifying the area over which biological effects may occur to inform baseline data collection and determining the connectivity between key populations and proposed wind energy sites, 2) The need to put impacts into a population level context to determine whether they are biologically significant, 3) Measuring responses to wind farm construction and operation to determine disturbance effects and avoidance responses, and 4) Learn from other industries to inform risk assessments and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. As the number and size of offshore wind developments increases, there will be a growing need to consider the population level consequences and cumulative impacts of these activities on marine species. Strategically targeted data collection and modeling aimed at answering questions for the consenting process will also allow regulators to make decisions based on the best available information, and achieve a balance between climate change targets and environmental legislation.
Increases in noise-generating human activities since the Industrial Revolution have changed the acoustic landscape of many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Anthropogenic noise is now recognized as a major pollutant of international concern, and recent studies have demonstrated impacts on, for instance, hearing thresholds, communication, movement and foraging in a range of species. However, consequences for survival and reproductive success are difficult to ascertain. Using a series of laboratory-based experiments and an open-water test with the same methodology, we show that acoustic disturbance can compromise antipredator behaviour – which directly affects survival likelihood – and explore potential underlying mechanisms. Juvenile European eels (Anguilla anguilla) exposed to additional noise (playback of recordings of ships passing through harbours), rather than control conditions (playback of recordings from the same harbours without ships), performed less well in two simulated predation paradigms. Eels were 50% less likely and 25% slower to startle to an ‘ambush predator’ and were caught more than twice as quickly by a ‘pursuit predator’. Furthermore, eels experiencing additional noise had diminished spatial performance and elevated ventilation and metabolic rates (indicators of stress) compared with control individuals. Our results suggest that acoustic disturbance could have important physiological and behavioural impacts on animals, compromising life-or-death responses.
Recent studies show that ocean acidification impairs sensory functions and alters the behavior of teleost fishes. If sharks and other elasmobranchs are similarly affected, this could have significant consequences for marine ecosystems globally. Here, we show that projected future CO2 levels impair odor tracking behavior of the smooth dogfish (Mustelus canis). Adult M. canis were held for 5 days in a current-day control (405 ± 26 μatm) and mid (741 ± 22 μatm) or high CO2 (1064 ± 17 μatm) treatments consistent with the projections for the year 2100 on a ‘business as usual’ scenario. Both control and mid CO2-treated individuals maintained normal odor tracking behavior, whereas high CO2-treated sharks significantly avoided the odor cues indicative of food. Control sharks spent >60% of their time in the water stream containing the food stimulus, but this value fell below 15% in high CO2-treated sharks. In addition, sharks treated under mid and high CO2 conditions reduced attack behavior compared to the control individuals. Our findings show that shark feeding could be affected by changes in seawater chemistry projected for the end of this century. Understanding the effects of ocean acidification on critical behaviors, such as prey tracking in large predators, can help determine the potential impacts of future ocean acidification on ecosystem function.
While scientific studies may help conflicting stakeholders come to agreement on a best management option or policy, often they do not. We review the factors affecting trust in the efficacy and objectivity of scientific studies in an analytical-deliberative process where conflict is present, and show how they may be incorporated in an extension to the traditional Bayesian decision model. The extended framework considers stakeholders who differ in their prior beliefs regarding the probability of possible outcomes (in particular, whether a proposed technology is hazardous), differ in their valuations of these outcomes, and differ in their assessment of the ability of a proposed study to resolve the uncertainty in the outcomes and their hazards—as measured by their perceived false positive and false negative rates for the study. The Bayesian model predicts stakeholder-specific preposterior probabilities of consensus, as well as pathways for increasing these probabilities, providing important insights into the value of scientific information in an analytic-deliberative decision process where agreement is sought. It also helps to identify the interactions among perceived risk and benefit allocations, scientific beliefs, and trust in proposed scientific studies when determining whether a consensus can be achieved. The article provides examples to illustrate the method, including an adaptation of a recent decision analysis for managing the health risks of electromagnetic fields from high voltage transmission lines.
El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most dominant interannual signal of climate variability and has a strong influence on climate over large parts of the world. In turn, it strongly influences many natural hazards (such as hurricanes and droughts) and their resulting socioeconomic impacts, including economic damage and loss of life. However, although ENSO is known to influence hydrology in many regions of the world, little is known about its influence on the socioeconomic impacts of floods (i.e., flood risk). To address this, we developed a modeling framework to assess ENSO’s influence on flood risk at the global scale, expressed in terms of affected population and gross domestic product and economic damages. We show that ENSO exerts strong and widespread influences on both flood hazard and risk. Reliable anomalies of flood risk exist during El Niño or La Niña years, or both, in basins spanning almost half (44%) of Earth’s land surface. Our results show that climate variability, especially from ENSO, should be incorporated into disaster-risk analyses and policies. Because ENSO has some predictive skill with lead times of several seasons, the findings suggest the possibility to develop probabilistic flood-risk projections, which could be used for improved disaster planning. The findings are also relevant in the context of climate change. If the frequency and/or magnitude of ENSO events were to change in the future, this finding could imply changes in flood-risk variations across almost half of the world’s terrestrial regions.
Dispersal during juvenile life stages drives the life-history evolution and dynamics of many marine vertebrate populations. However, the movements of juvenile organisms, too small to track using conventional satellite telemetry devices, remain enigmatic. For sea turtles, this led to the paradigm of the ‘lost years' since hatchlings disperse widely with ocean currents. Recently, advances in the miniaturization of tracking technology have permitted the application of nano-tags to track cryptic organisms. Here, the novel use of acoustic nano-tags on neonate loggerhead turtle hatchlings enabled us to witness first-hand their dispersal and behaviour during their first day at sea. We tracked hatchlings distances of up to 15 km and documented their rapid transport (up to 60 m min−1) with surface current flows passing their natal areas. Tracking was complemented with laboratory observations to monitor swimming behaviours over longer periods which highlighted (i) a positive correlation between swimming activity levels and body size and (ii) population-specific swimming behaviours (e.g. nocturnal inactivity) suggesting local oceanic conditions drive the evolution of innate swimming behaviours. Knowledge of the swimming behaviours of small organisms is crucial to improve the accuracy of ocean model simulations used to predict the fate of these organisms and determine resultant population-level implications into adulthood.
Historically, many scientists considered marine fishes too fecund and wide-ranging to go extinct. Indeed, this view sometimes persists, not least at the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), where the few decisions to control export of marine fishes—including the recent restrictions on sharks and rays—have been hard won (1). Increasingly, however, there is recognition that the metrics for overfishing and conservation threat largely agree (2) and that remedial action is urgently needed. Given today's unprecedented threats to marine species, it is critical that rapid action be taken to conserve ocean wildlife.