The biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea is rapidly changing due to anthropogenic activity and the recent increase of seawater temperature. Citizen science is escalating as an important contributor in the inventory of rare and data-limited species. In this study, we present several records of five data-limited native fish species from the eastern Mediterranean Sea: Alectis alexandrina(Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 1817), Ranzania laevis (Pennant, 1776), Dalatias licha (Bonnaterre, 1788), Lophotus lacepede (Giorna, 1809), and Sudis hyalina (Rafinesque, 1810). All of the records were collected by a participatory process involving fishers and validated by associated taxonomic experts of the citizen science programme “Is it Alien to you? Share it!!!”. This study fills an important gap for the distribution of the reported species and signifies the important role of citizen participation as a tool for extending marine biodiversity knowledge and fisheries management in an area with several gaps of knowledge on targeted and non-targeted species.
Biofilm-forming microbial communities on plastics and textile fibers are of growing interest since they have potential to contribute to disease outbreaks and material biodegradability in the environment. Knowledge on microbial colonization of pollutants in the marine realm is expanding, but metabolic responses during substrate colonization remains poorly understood. Here, we assess the metabolic response in marine microbial communities to three different micropollutants, virgin high-density polyethylene (HDPE) microbeads, polysorbate-20 (Tween), and textile fibers. Intertidal textile fibers, mainly cotton, virgin HDPE, and Tween induced variable levels of microbial growth, respiration, and community assembly in controlled microcosm experiments. RAMAN characterization of the chemical composition of the textile waste fibers and high-throughput DNA sequencing data shows how the increased metabolic stimulation and biodegradation is translated into selection processes ultimately manifested in different communities colonizing the different micropollutant substrates. The composition of the bacterial communities colonizing the substrates were significantly altered by micropollutant substrate type and light conditions. Bacterial taxa, closely related to the well-known hydrocarbonoclastic bacteria Kordiimonas spp. and Alcanivorax spp., were enriched in the presence of textile-waste. The findings demonstrate an increased metabolic response by marine hydrocarbon-degrading bacterial taxa in the presence of microplastics and textile waste, highlighting their biodegradation potential. The metabolic stimulation by the micropollutants was increased in the presence of light, possibly due to photochemical dissolution of the plastic into smaller bioavailable compounds. Our results suggest that the development and increased activity of these unique microbial communities likely play a role in the bioremediation of the relatively long lived textile and microplastic pollutants in marine habitats.
Southern Bluefin Tuna (SBT) is a high value species fished by many countries including Indonesia, and its fishing activities has been regulated by CCSBT. This study aimed to determine the potential resource of Indonesian SBT, utilization, and review of the Total Allowable Catch (TAC) of Indonesian SBT. This research was conducted from January 2017 to April 2018. The primary data used in this study were the otolith samples and the enumeration data of SBT landed in Benoa port from 2012-2017. Virtual Population Analysis (VPA) used in this research was based on a direct aging method using otolith. This research showed that the catch at age structure was distributed from 5-22 years with mean and mode of age were 9.63 and 9 years. The average of the exploitation rate measured was 0.191 per year meaning that the level of exploitation was categorized as underfished. The optimal assumption of the exploitation rate estimated in the range of 1,577 to 2,630 tons per year which is higher than the TAC provided by CCSBT. It was concluded that from 2015 onwards, the catch efforts were more effective and efficient with the increasing level of the exploitation and the decreasing number of efforts.
The integrated study of ocean health and human health is an emerging area of increasing global importance. Growing evidences demonstrate that the health of the ocean and the health of humans have always been and will continue to be, inextricably linked. Our actions toward the oceans will significantly influence the future of the whole planet and, in turn, our own health. The current review of these issues arose from a summer school in San Sebastian (Spain), from 5th to 7th June, 2019. An interdisciplinary group of researchers discussed key risks (e.g., microbial pollution, pharmaceuticals, harmful algal blooms, plastic pollution) and benefits (e.g., bathing waters, recreation, tourism) of the seas and global ocean for humanity; and debated the future priorities and potential actions for a joint Oceans and Human Health research and governance programme in Europe. The aim of this review is to contribute to the emerging scientific agenda on ocean health and human health, as well as coordinate efforts with stakeholders, policy makers and the general public. This agenda operates within the larger context of the upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development: 2021–2030, which strives to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), including healthy (human) lives and well-being (SDG3) and conserving and sustainably using the oceans (SDG14), among others. In addition to summarizing some of the key risks and benefits, therefore, we describe the governance of oceans and health interactions (especially in Europe), and we finish by proposing a list of elements for potential future research priorities on oceans and human health.
The wave energy resources in the Indian Ocean can be considered as a potential alternative to fossil fuels. However, the wave energy resources are subject to short-term fluctuations and long-term changes due to climate change. Hence, considering sustainable development goals, it is necessary to assess both short-term (intra-annual) variation and long-term change. For this purpose, the simulated wave characteristics were utilized, and the wave power and its variation and change were analyzed in the whole domain and nearshore areas. The short-term fluctuation was investigated in terms of monthly and seasonal variations and the future change was discussed based on absolute and relative changes. Both analyses show that the Southern Indian Ocean, despite experiencing extreme events and having higher wave energy potential, is more stable in terms of both short and long-term variation and change. The assessment of the total and exploitable storages of wave energy and their future change revealed the higher potential and higher stability of the nearshores of the Southern Indian Ocean. It can be concluded that based on various factors, the south of Sri Lanka, Horn of Africa, southeast Africa, south of Madagascar and Reunion and Mauritius islands are the most suitable areas for wave energy extraction.
Coastal zones are among the most economically productive areas of the world. However, they are also among the most vulnerable regions to disasters triggered by natural hazards. Recent recognition of the role of healthy coastal and marine ecosystems for reducing vulnerability in coastal communities has led to the design of coastal management strategies that incorporate direct investments in these ecosystems. However, there is a lack of knowledge and understanding of the economic benefits of coastal and marine ecosystems for society, which has led to the degradation of these ecosystems and hindered the prospects of sustainable investments in coastal resilience projects, including green infrastructure.
In this paper, we analyze the economic importance and ongoing threats of the main marine and coastal ecosystems of the Wider Caribbean region, and identify the underlying economic causes of their deterioration. The need to improve coastal resilience in the Wider Caribbean has led to innovative approaches for the protection of coastal zones and their population from erosion and flood risk, prioritizing the role of marine and coastal ecosystems for coastal protection and vulnerability reduction in coastal communities.
Based on this review, we develop an analytical framework for economic analyses and impact evaluations of coastal restoration and protection programs, with the objective of allowing practitioners to properly identify the cost-effectiveness of nature-based solutions for coastal resilience.
Low catch limits for forage species are often considered to be precautionary measures that can help conserve marine predators. Difficulties measuring the impacts of fisheries removals on dependent predators maintain this perspective, but consideration of the spatio-temporal scales over which forage species, their predators, and fisheries interact can aid assessment of whether low catch limits are as precautionary as presumed. Antarctic krill are targeted by the largest fishery in the Southern Ocean and are key forage for numerous predators. Current krill removals are considered precautionary and have not been previously observed to affect krill-dependent predators, like penguins. Using a hierarchical model and 30+ years of monitoring data, we show that expected penguin performance was reduced when local harvest rates of krill were ≥0.1, and this effect was similar in magnitude to that of poor environmental conditions. With continued climate warming and high local harvest rates, future observations of penguin performance are predicted to be below the long-term mean with a probability of 0.77. Catch limits that are considered precautionary for forage species simply because the limit is a small proportion of the species’ standing biomass may not be precautionary for their predators.
One of the influencing factors is the community behavior which reflected public practices in littering. Children are social capital for the community and the essential agents of social change. However, they have issues in recognizing the foundation and the explanation of the environmental problem. The research objectives; to examine millennial perception towards marine litter and the influence of environmental education towards youth perceptions in West Aceh. This study employed a survey approach by distributing questionnaires to 150 respondents from several senior high schools. The data is collected by a questionnaire survey (self-administrative or face-to-face) from January 2019 to June 2019. The researcher distributed questionnaires to students to assess the level of awareness of marine litter. The questionnaire was distributed in two sessions, namely: the first session was before environmental education is given to students; the second session was distributed when students completed environmental education It was found that respondents show low awareness of marine litter according to statistical data but the marine litter short workshop significantly has a positive impact. It concludes that increasing youth awareness through education can be an opening step in combating marine litter to then integrate with approaches to achieve a clean sea.
Using a case of the Sekisei Lagoon, Okinawa Prefecture, the southeastern tip of Japanese archipelago, this chapter discussed the interrelationships among the sectoral policy interventions by various marine-related ministries, and the whole structure of the integrated ocean policy. First, we developed the Social-Ecological Systems (SES) Schematic, which summarized the main ecosystem structures, functions, use types, and the stakeholders relating to the Sekisei Lagoon. Then, sectoral policy interventions by various ministries were overlaid onto the SES schematic to graphically show their interrelationships. We found that the ecosystem structure and functions used by one sector is closely connected to other structures and functions, which are then used by other sectors. In other words, all the stakeholders in the social system are closely interlinked at the ecological system level. Secondly, all in all, sectoral policy interventions by various ministries are covering almost all part of the Sekisei Lagoon SES, and therefore, the total coordination of the sectoral policy interventions and the creation of the synergy effects are required. In this process, the cabinet office and the local government will play the important roles. Finally, this SES schematic can be used as a boundary object to facilitate the knowledge exchanges among various stakeholders including the policy makers, practitioners, and researchers, to share the common understandings of the current situation, and to cocreate the policy interventions for the sustainable uses of Sekisei Lagoon.
Maritime Cultural Heritage (MCH) today stands as a witness of early human naval endeavours. Jeopardized by modern days’ maritime activities, MCH requires a holistic planning approach for conservation management, taking into consideration the future dimension of humankind’s maritime aspirations. This need could be incorporated within a Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) framework, an emerging multidisciplinary process that seeks to prevent conflicts among maritime activities, whilst promoting environmental conservation and sustainable economic development.
This paper identifies main issues related to MCH, and addresses the role that MSP can play in the conservation of MCH, illustrated by two examples from Lebanon.
Most fish breeding programs aim at improving growth rate and include feed conversion ratio (FCR) neither in the breeding goal nor in the selection index, although decreasing FCR is known to increase farm profit and decrease environmental impacts. This is because FCR is difficult to measure in fish that live in groups and FCR is assumed to have a favourable (negative) genetic correlation with growth, although the magnitude of this correlation is unknown. We investigated the effect of the genetic correlation between growth and FCR on the economic and environmental responses of a two-trait breeding goal (growth and FCR), compared to a single-trait breeding goal (growth only). Next, we evaluated the weights to assign to growth and FCR in a two-trait breeding goal to maximize sustainability of fish production.
We used pseudo-best linear unbiased prediction (BLUP) index calculations to simulate a breeding program for sea bass. For the single-trait breeding goal, the trait in the breeding goal and in the index was thermal growth coefficient (TGC) and for the two-trait breeding goal, the traits in the breeding goal were TGC and FCR and the traits in the index were TGC and percentage of fat in the dorsal muscle (an indirect measure of FCR). We simulated responses to selection for genetic and phenotypic correlations between TGC and FCR ranging from 0 to − 0.8. Then, in the two-trait breeding goal, we calculated the economic return and the change in eutrophication when using economic values (EV) or environmental values (ENV).
When the genetic correlation between TGC and FCR was lower than − 0.45, we found major differences in economic returns and in eutrophication between single and two-trait breeding programs. At a correlation of − 0.25, the two-trait breeding goal based on EV increased economic return by 25% compared to the single-trait breeding goal, while using ENV decreased eutrophication by 1.34% per ton of fish produced after one generation of selection.
The genetic correlation between TGC and FCR affects the magnitude of economic losses due to omitting FCR in the breeding program. In addition, the genetic correlation affects the importance of choosing EV or ENV to reduce eutrophication and increase profit.
Coral-reef ecosystems are experiencing frequent and severe disturbance events that are reducing global coral abundance and potentially overwhelming the natural capacity for reefs to recover. While mitigation strategies for climate warming and other anthropogenic disturbances are implemented, coral restoration programmes are being established worldwide as an additional conservation measure to minimise coral loss and enhance coral recovery. Current restoration efforts predominantly rely on asexually produced coral fragments—a process with inherent practical constraints on the genetic diversity conserved and the spatial scale achieved. Because the resilience of coral communities has hitherto relied on regular renewal with natural recruits, the scaling-up of restoration programmes would benefit from greater use of sexually produced corals, which is an approach that is gaining momentum. Here we review the present state of knowledge of scleractinian coral sexual reproduction in the context of reef restoration, with a focus on broadcast-spawning corals. We identify key knowledge gaps and bottlenecks that currently constrain the sexual production of corals and consider the feasibility of using sexually produced corals for scaling-up restoration to the reef- and reef-system scales.
Reducing the impact on vulnerable species through changes in fishing practices, such as the spatial or temporal avoidance of certain areas, is key to increase the ecological sustainability of fisheries. However, it is often hampered by the availability of sufficiently detailed data and robust indicators. Existing trawl surveys are a cost-effective data source to assess the vulnerability of fishing areas based on the quantities of vulnerable species caught. We developed a biological traits-based approach to the vulnerability of demersal assemblages using commercial trawl catch data. An expert-based approach identified a set of biological traits that are expected to condition the species’ response to trawling impact and are combined to produce the vulnerability index ranked into four levels (low, moderate, high, and very high vulnerability). The approach was tested in four southern European fishing grounds showing evidence of over-exploitation, through catches being dominated by species of relatively low vulnerability to fishing impacts. The general distribution of species’ biomass amongst vulnerability groups was highly homogenous across case studies, despite local differences in fishing fleet structure, target species and fishing depths. Within all areas the species with moderate vulnerability dominated and, in most instances, species of “very high” vulnerability were not recorded. Nevertheless, differences emerged when comparing the proportions of highly vulnerable species in the catches. Variability in vulnerability level of the catch was also observed at small spatial scales, which was principally explained by differences in habitat type and depth and, secondarily, by fishing effort. In fine mud in the shallower areas there was a higher presence of low vulnerable fauna. Furthermore, vulnerable organisms decreased in their presence in sandier substrates on the continental shelf. The spatial heterogeneity in assemblage vulnerability composition encourages the potential for adoption of this index in the spatial management of fishing grounds aiming at ensuring a sustainable exploitation by mitigating trawl impacts on the most vulnerable components of the demersal assemblages.
Yield from fisheries is a tangible benefit of ecosystem services and sustaining or restoring a fish stock level to achieve a maximum sustainable yield (MSY). Snow crab (Chionoecetes opilio) off Tohoku has been managed by a total allowable catch since 1996, although their abundance has not increased even after 2011, when fishing pressure rapidly decreased because of the Great East Japan Earthquake. This implies that their biological characteristics, such as recruits, natural mortality coefficient (M), and terminal molting probabilities (p), might have changed. We developed “just another state-space stock assessment model (JASAM)” to estimate the MSY of the snow crab off Tohoku, Japan, considering interannual variations in M and p. The multi-model inference revealed that Mincreased from 0.2 in 1997 to 0.59 in 2018, although it was not different among the instars, sex, nor terminal molt of crabs. The parameter p also increased by 1.34–2.46 times depending on the instar growth stages from 1997 to 2018. We estimated the MSYs in three scenarios, which drastically changed if M and p were set as they were in the past or at the current values estimated from this study. This result indicated that the MSY of snow crab would also be time-varying based on their time-varying biological characteristics.
Over the last decade, the accelerated transition towards cleaner means of producing energy has been clearly prioritised by the European Union through large-scale planned deployment of wind farms in the North Sea. From a spatial planning perspective, this has not been a straight-forward process, due to substantial spatial conflicts with the traditional users of the sea, especially with fisheries and protected areas. In this article, we examine the availability of offshore space for wind farm deployment, from a transnational perspective, while taking into account different options for the management of the maritime area through four scenarios. We applied a mixed-method approach, combining expert knowledge and document analysis with the spatial visualisation of existing and future maritime spatial claims. Our calculations clearly indicate a low availability of suitable locations for offshore wind in the proximity of the shore and in shallow waters, even when considering its multi-use with fisheries and protected areas. However, the areas within 100 km from shore and with a water depth above –120 m attract greater opportunities for both single use (only offshore wind farms) and multi-use (mainly with fisheries), from an integrated planning perspective. On the other hand, the decrease of energy targets combined with sectoral planning result in clear limitations to suitable areas for offshore wind farms, indicating the necessity to consider areas with a water depth below –120 m and further than 100 km from shore. Therefore, despite the increased costs of maintenance and design adaptation, the multi-use of space can be a solution for more sustainable, stakeholder-engaged and cost-effective options in the energy deployment process. This paper identifies potential pathways, as well as challenges and opportunities for future offshore space management with the aim of achieving the 2050 renewable energy targets.
Ecosystem monitoring is central to effective management, where rapid reporting is essential to provide timely advice. While digital imagery has greatly improved the speed of underwater data collection for monitoring benthic communities, image analysis remains a bottleneck in reporting observations. In recent years, a rapid evolution of artificial intelligence in image recognition has been evident in its broad applications in modern society, offering new opportunities for increasing the capabilities of coral reef monitoring. Here, we evaluated the performance of Deep Learning Convolutional Neural Networks for automated image analysis, using a global coral reef monitoring dataset. The study demonstrates the advantages of automated image analysis for coral reef monitoring in terms of error and repeatability of benthic abundance estimations, as well as cost and benefit. We found unbiased and high agreement between expert and automated observations (97%). Repeated surveys and comparisons against existing monitoring programs also show that automated estimation of benthic composition is equally robust in detecting change and ensuring the continuity of existing monitoring data. Using this automated approach, data analysis and reporting can be accelerated by at least 200x and at a fraction of the cost (1%). Combining commonly used underwater imagery in monitoring with automated image annotation can dramatically improve how we measure and monitor coral reefs worldwide, particularly in terms of allocating limited resources, rapid reporting and data integration within and across management areas.
Areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) constitute 61% of the world's oceans and are collectively managed by countries under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Growing concern regarding the deteriorating state of the oceans and ineffective management of ABNJ has resulted in negotiations to develop an international legally binding instrument (ILBI) for the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction under UNCLOS. To inform these negotiations, we identified existing and emerging human activities and influences that affect ABNJ and evaluated management options available to mitigate the most pervasive, with highest potential for impact and probability of emergence. The highest-ranking activities and influences that affect ABNJ were fishing/hunting, maritime shipping, climate change and its associated effects, land-based pollution and mineral exploitation. Management options are diverse and available through a variety of actors, although their actions are not always effective. Area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs), were the only consistently effective option to mitigate impacts across high-ranked activities and influences. However, addressing land-based pollution will require national action to prevent this at its source, and MPAs offer only a partial solution for climate change. A new ABNJ ILBI could help unify management options and actors to conserve marine biodiversity and ensure sustainable use. Incorporating a mechanism to establish effective ABMTs into the ILBI will help deliver multiple objectives based on the ecosystem approach.
Degraded plastic debris has been found in nearly all waters within and nearby urban developments as well as in the open oceans. Natural removal of suspended microplastics (MPs) by deposition is often limited by their excess buoyancy relative to water, but this can change with the attachment of biological matter. The extent to which the attached biological ballast affects MP dynamics is still not well characterised. Here, we experimentally demonstrate using a novel OMCEC (Optical Measurement of CEll colonisation) system that the biological fraction of MP aggregates has substantial control over their size, shape and, most importantly, their settling velocity. Polyurethane MP aggregates made of 80% biological ballast had an average size almost twice of those containing 5% biological ballast, and sank about two times slower. Based on our experiments, we introduce a settling velocity equation that accounts for different biological content as well as the irregular fractal structure of MP aggregates. This equation can capture the settling velocity of both virgin MPs and microbial-associated MP aggregates in our experiment with 7% error and can be used as a preliminary tool to estimate the vertical transport of MP aggregates made of different polymers and types of microbial ballast.
We demonstrated in our recent Communications Biology paper how marine photosynthetic bacteria, Prochlorococcus, are adversely affected by leachates from commonly used plastics. This study was one of the first to consider how substances leaching from plastics may affect marine primary producers and demonstrated that plastic pollution has the potential to negatively impact a wider range of organisms than previously appreciated. We outline here key outstanding questions regarding how ocean plastic pollution may impact small, but essential, marine microbes and discuss how these can be addressed.
The oceans are in a state of rapid change – both negatively, due climate destabilization and misuse, and positively, due to strengthening of policies for sustainable use combined with momentum to grow the blue economy. Globally, more than 121 million people enjoy nature-based marine tourism — e.g., recreational fishing, diving, whale watching — making it one of the largest marine sectors. This industry is increasingly threatened by ocean degradation and management has not kept pace to ensure long-term sustainability. In response, individuals within the industry are taking it upon themselves to monitor the oceans and provide the data needed to assist management decisions. Fiji is one such place where the dive tourism industry is motivated to monitor the oceans (e.g., track sharks). In 2012, 39 dive operators in collaboration with eOceans commenced the Great Fiji Shark Count (GFSC) to document sharks (and other species) on 592 dive sites. Here, using 146,304 shark observations from 30,668 dives we document spatial patterns of 11 shark species. High variability demonstrates the value of longitudinal data that include absences for describing mobile megafauna and the capacity of stakeholders to document the oceans. Our results may be used to guide future scientific questions, provide a baseline for future assessments, or to evaluate conservation needs. It also shows the value of scientists collaborating with stakeholders to address questions that are most important to the local community so that they have the information needed to make science-based decisions.