Pollution of the world's oceans by marine debris has direct consequences for wildlife, with fragments of plastic <10 mm the most abundant buoyant litter in the ocean. Seabirds are susceptible to debris ingestion, commonly mistaking floating plastics for food. Studies have shown that half of petrel species regularly ingest anthropogenic waste. Despite the regularity of debris ingestion, no studies to date have quantified the dimensions of debris items ingested across petrel species ranging in size. We excised and measured 1694 rigid anthropogenic debris items from 348 petrel carcasses of 20 species. We found that although the size of items ingested by petrels scale positively with the size of the bird, 90% of all debris items ingested across species fall within a narrow “danger zone” range of 2–10 mm, overlapping with the most abundant oceanic debris size. We conclude that this globally profuse size range of marine plastics is an ingestion hazard to petrels.
Plastics is all the rage, and mitigating marine litter is topping the agenda for nations pushing issues such as ocean acidification, or even climate change, away from the public consciousness. We are personally directly affected by plastics and charismatic megafauna is dying from it, and it is something that appears to be doable. So, who cares about the issue of ocean acidification anymore? We all should. The challenge is dual in the fact that is both invisible to the naked eye and therefore not felt like a pressing issue to the public, thereby not reaching the top of the agenda of policy makers; but also that it is framed in the climate change narrative of fear - whereby it instills in a fight-or-flight response in the public, resulting in their avoidance of the issue because they feel they are unable to take action that have results. In this article, we argue that the effective global environmental governance of ocean acidification, though critical to address, mitigate against and adapt to, is hindered by the both this lack of perception of urgency in the general public, fueled by a lack of media coverage, as well as a fight-or-flight response resulting from fear. We compare this to the more media friendly and plastics problem that is tangible and manageable. We report on a media plots of plastics and ocean acidification coverage over time and argue that the issue needs to be detangled from climate change and framed as its own issue to reach the agenda at a global level, making it manageable to assess and even care about for policy makers and the public alike?
Deep sea sediments have emerged as a potential sink for microplastics in the marine environment. The discovery of microplastics in various environmental compartments of the Arctic Central Basin (ACB) suggested that these contaminants were potentially being transported to the deep-sea realm of this oceanic basin. For the first time, the present study conducted a preliminary assessment to determine whether microplastics were present in surficial sediments from the ACB. Gravity and piston corers were used to retrieve sediments from depths of 855–4353 m at 11 sites in the ACB during the Arctic Ocean 2016 (AO16) expedition. Surficial sediments from the various cores were subjected to density flotation with sodium tungstate dihydrate solution (Na 2 WO 4 ·2H 2 O, density 1.4 g cm −3 ). Potential microplastics were isolated and analysed by Fourier Transform Infrared (FT-IR) spectroscopy. Of the surficial samples, 7 of the 11 samples contained synthetic polymers which included polyester (n = 3), polystyrene (n = 2), polyacrylonitrile (n = 1), polypropylene (n = 1), polyvinyl chloride (n = 1) and polyamide (n = 1). Fibres (n = 5) and fragments (n = 4) were recorded in the samples. In order to avoid mis-interpretation, these findings must be taken in the context that (i) sampling equipment did not guarantee retrieval of undisturbed surficial sediments, (ii) low sample volumes were analysed (~10 g per site), (iii) replicate sediment samples per site was not possible, (iv) no air contamination checks were included during sampling and, (v) particles <100 µm were automatically excluded from analysis. While the present study provides preliminary indication that microplastics may be accumulating in the deep-sea realm of the ACB, further work is necessary to assess microplastic abundance, distribution and composition in surficial sediments of the ACB.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are important conservation tools that can support the resilience of marine ecosystems. Many countries, including Canada, have committed to protecting at least 10% of their marine areas under the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11, which includes connectivity as a key aspect. Connectivity, the movement of individuals among habitats, can enhance population stability and resilience within and among MPAs. However, little is known about regional spatial patterns of marine ecological connectivity, particularly adult movement. We developed a method to assess and design MPA networks that maximize inferred connectivity within habitat types for adult movement when ecological data are limited. We used the Northern Shelf Bioregion in British Columbia, Canada, to explore two different approaches: 1) evaluating sites important for inferred regional connectivity (termed hotspots); and 2) assessing MPA network configurations based on their overlap with connectivity hotspots and interconnectedness between MPAs. To assess inferred connectivity via adult movement, we used two different threshold distances (15 km and 50 km) to capture moderate home ranges, which are most appropriate to consider in MPA design. We applied graph theory to assess inferred connectivity within sixteen habitat and depth categories (proxies for distinct ecological communities), and used novel multiplex network methodologies to perform an aggregated assessment of inferred connectivity. We evaluated inferred regional connectivity hotspots based on betweenness and eigenvector centrality metrics, finding that the existing MPA network overlapped a moderate proportion of these regional hotspots, and identified key areas to be considered as candidate MPAs. Network density among existing MPAs was low within the individual habitat networks, as well as the multiplex. This work informs an ongoing MPA planning process, and approaches for incorporating connectivity into MPA design when data are limited, with lessons for other contexts.
The targeting of spawning aggregations is one of the most significant pressures facing coral reef ecosystems. The use of seasonal closures has been advanced for protecting aggregating fisheries for which managers have limited information on the location and timing of their reproductive events; however, few studies have examined the performance of these types of closures. This study assesses the perceptions of 150 fishers regarding the performance of seasonal closures in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
Our results show that most fishers perceived that seasonal closures are effective fishery management measures. Across the six seasonal closures examined, fishers reported that these closures protected spawning aggregations and, to a lesser degree, increased fish abundance. These measures, however, did not always improve fishers' livelihoods nor result in their support for the seasonal closures. The loss of resource and market access during periods of high consumer demand and overlapping seasonal closures were the main causes of financial distress.
Fishers indicated that the performance of the seasonal closures could be improved by increasing investments in monitoring, control, and surveillance capabilities, and adjusting their timing to accommodate economic and local ecological considerations. Fishers argued that revisions were necessary because some species spawned year-round or outside closure windows. Some fishers also called for replacing seasonal closures with alternative management measures (e.g., area-time closures, marine protected areas, gear restrictions), conducting additional scientific research, and improving fisher education. This work underscores that beliefs about conservation and livelihood outcomes are closely linked to the quality of management, the importance of conducting periodic assessments, and engaging fishers in decision-making to increase accountability, transparency, and support for management interventions.
Coastal areas in the eastern sub-region of Thailand, a popular destination in Southeast Asia, are facing rapid tourism-related urbanization and associated consequences of environment and climate change (CC). Thus, this study aims to analyze the relationships between tourism, coastal areas, the environment, and CC in the context of tourism urbanization; and recommend strategies for enhancing the governance of coastal areas. Three popular destinations were selected as study areas, Koh Chang, Pattaya, and Koh Mak. Group discussions, questionnaire surveys, interviews, and observation were used for primary data collection together with secondary data. The results show that the development of these destinations has been incompatible with the coastal environment and CC patterns. Rapid urbanization from tourism development is the main driver of environmental changes and makes the areas vulnerable to CC-related risks. While water scarcity and pollution are found the most critical environmental issues of the destinations, coastal areas are negatively affected in terms of increased air and water pollution and resource degradation. They have also been exposed to different CC-related problems while the risks of accumulative impacts of both environment and CC have not been adequately recognized or addressed. Although some measures have provided synergies of improved environment and increased climate resilience, possible conflicts and gaps were also found. Public infrastructure integration and optimization to enhance coastal areas’ environment and climate resilience are suggested.
This study presents an overview of the context and global impacts of recent International Maritime Organization (IMO) regulations on the marine fuel oil refining industry, future marine fuel mix and ship emissions. IMO limited marine fuel sulphur content in both Sulphur Emission Control Areas (SECAs) and Nitrogen Oxide Emission Control Areas (NECAs) to 0.1% (wt. %) by 2015, and to 0.5% globally by 2020. It is anticipated that the newly implemented IMO regulations will help to mitigate negative impact of ship emissions on public health and environment. IMO regulations require significant changes to refineries to increase the production of low sulphur fuels through a shift to distillates, use of novel deep desulphurization techniques, or fuel blending. Changes to the refinery processes can bring forth increases in greenhouse gas emissions and high capital investments. Alternative fuels will need to meet the required reduction of air pollutants and greenhouse gas emissions in coastal areas. Alternative marine fuels consisting of liquefied nature gas (LNG) and biofuel may be suitable fuels to meet both targets. These two fuels are predicted to account for 50% of shipping energy demand by 2050, while the remainder will still be supplied by conventional heavy fuel oil (HFO)/marine gas oil (MGO). Switching to low sulphur fuels as a results of the new IMO regulations has led to measureable reductions in ship emissions generally. This fuel switching also resulted in changes in engine emission characteristics, especially on particulate matter chemical composition.
The potential risk to the marine environment of oil release from potentially polluting wrecks (PPW) is increasingly being acknowledged, and in some instances remediation actions have been required. However, where a PPW has been identified, there remains a great deal of uncertainty around the environmental risk it may pose. Estimating the likelihood of a wreck to release oil and the threat to marine receptors remains a challenge. In addition, removing oil from wrecks is not always cost effective, so a proactive approach is recommended to identify PPW that pose the greatest risk to sensitive marine ecosystems and local economies and communities. This paper presents a desk-based assessment approach which addresses PPW, and the risk they pose to environmental and socio-economic marine receptors, using modelled scenarios and a framework and scoring system. This approach can be used to inform proactive management options for PPW and can be applied worldwide.
The effects of ocean acidification, a major anthropogenic impact on marine life, have been mainly investigated in laboratory/mesocosm experiments. We used the CO2 vents at Ischia as a natural laboratory to study the long-term effects of ocean acidification on the sea urchin Paracentrotus lividus population resident in low-pH (7.8 ± 0.2) compared to that at two control sites (pH 8.02 ± 0.00; 8.02 ± 0.01). The novelty of the present study is the analysis of the sea urchin immune cells, the sentinels of environmental stress responses, by a wide-ranging approach, including cell morphology, biochemistry and proteomics. Immune cell proteomics showed that 311 proteins were differentially expressed in urchins across sites with a general shift towards antioxidant processes in the vent urchins. The vent urchin immune cells showed higher levels of total antioxidant capacity, up-regulation of phagosome and microsomal proteins, enzymes of ammonium metabolism, amino-acid degradation, and modulation of carbon metabolism proteins. Lipid-hydroperoxides and nitric oxide levels were not different in urchins from the different sites. No differences in the coelomic fluid pH, immune cell composition, animal respiration, nitrogen excretion and skeletal mineralogy were observed. Our results reveal the phenotypic plasticity of the immune system of sea urchins adapted to life at vent site, under conditions commensurate with near-future ocean acidification projections.
In Northwest Africa, the last two decades were characterized by the establishment of many marine protected areas (MPAs) that are considered to be major fisheries management tools. This politically motivated trend - to use for fisheries management a tool initially conceived for biodiversity conservation - emerged in a context of increasing degradation of the marine and coastal ecosystems combined with a generalized overexploitation of the main fish stocks in the Sub-Region. However, the commitment to promote MPAs neglected the necessity to regularly and effectively monitor and evaluate their effectiveness. Therefore, in 2013–2014 the Canary Current Large Marine Ecosystem (CCLME) project supported the development of an experimental participatory monitoring and evaluation (PM&E) approach for the Northwest African MPAs. This perception-based approach, which was implemented in two pilot MPAs in Senegal and Gambia, was then widely shared and discussed through several local meetings as well as in two regional and international workshops. This article aims to document the principles and outcomes of this experimental PM&E approach and also discuss its opportunities and challenges regarding to its potential adoption and use by MPA managers.
Although the dynamics of coastal resources are largely determined by the impacts of human users, spatially-explicit social data are rarely systematically integrated into coastal management planning in data-poor developing states. In order to plan a community-based mangrove payments for ecosystem services initiative in southwest Madagascar, we used two participatory approaches; public participation geographic information systems and concept modelling workshops – with 10 coastal communities to investigate the dynamics and spatial distribution of the mangrove resources they use. In each village we conducted participatory mapping of land and resource use with different livelihood groups using printed satellite images, and concept modelling workshops to develop concept models of the mangrove social-ecological system (including the identification of threats and underlying drivers, and proposals for targeted management strategies). Each community then proposed mangrove zoning consisting of strict conservation zones, sustainable use zones and restoration zones. Following validation and ground-truthing, the proposed zones and management strategies formed the basis of the zoning and management plan for the mangrove. Participatory approaches proved a simple and reliable way to gather spatial data and better understand the relationships between the mangrove and those who use it. Moreover, participation stimulated mangrove users to consider resource trends, the impacts of their activities, and required management actions, promoting a collective ‘buy-in’ for the project. Since participation extended beyond research to the development of management zones, rules and strategies, we believe that community ownership of the project has been strengthened and the chances of successfully conserving the mangrove improved.
Incorporating the perception and attitudes of key stakeholders into conservation management can contribute to biodiversity conservation and has the potential to resolve human-wildlife conflicts. To this end, there is scope to enhance conservation outcomes by improving the capture and analysis of stakeholders perceptions and translating these into the management decision making process. Here, an ecosystem services approach (i.e. the benefits people obtain from nature) is used to assess the societal benefits derived from a specialized and rare behavior exhibited by bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus gephyreus) that cooperatively forage with artisanal fishers in Laguna, southern Brazil. From interviews, we identified ecosystem services based on the perception of artisanal fishers who take part in this interaction. The perceived benefits of cooperative fishing with dolphins, identified from these interviews, were grouped into eight ecosystem services assigned into cultural (n = 7) and provisioning (n = 1) related services. The results showed that experienced fishers were more likely to identify multiple and diverse ecosystem services, while fishers exposed to tourists tended to focus on tourism and recreation leisure as benefits from fishing with dolphins. Our findings show that the human component is a key element in this system and support the proposal that future conservation decisions and management plans of Laguna's bottlenose dolphins should involve artisanal fishers to be more effective. Our findings indicate that an ecosystem services approach could help decision-makers to better integrate social, economic and cultural aspects of human-wildlife interactions into conservation and management strategies for wildlife in a wider context.
This study investigates where coastal green infrastructure (CGI) can provide highest potential coastal protection benefits, while considering its vulnerability to environmental conditions. CGI provides important coastal protection benefits, however, influenced by climate change and human activities, these benefits are highly threatened. This vulnerability of CGI was not considered in the previous studies. This study provides a framework and an indicator-based methodology to fill this gap. A review of the literature was conducted to identify the parameters used to measure CGI's coastal protection benefits and vulnerability. The content of the references that contained specific parameters related to CGI's role in coastal protection and vulnerability were systematically reviewed. A total of 11 indicators were identified and organized into two indices: CGI coastal protection index, and CGI vulnerability index. The indices were synthesized using a 2 × 2 matrix to identify areas with the highest coastal protection potential. Analysis was conducted for the 74 most populated coastal communities in the Salish Sea region. Results indicate that the British Columbia communities in the Salish Sea region have high potential to utilize CGI for coastal protection. CGI in 59% of the communities in British Columbia and 36% in Washington State can provide high coastal protection benefits, even when vulnerability is accounted for.
The ecological management effectiveness (EME) of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is the degree to which MPAs reach their ecological goals. The significant variability of EME among MPAs has been partly explained by MPA design, management and implementation features (e.g. surface area, enforcement, age of protection). We investigated EME variability by employing, for the first time, Organization Science. Eight Mediterranean MPAs were taken into account as case studies to explore the relationships between EME and MPA features, such as: 1) organizational size (i.e. the ratio between the number of full-time employees and the total MPA surface area), 2) management performance (i.e. the level of effort exerted to enhance and sustain the MPA management, including enforcement), 3) total surface area, and 4) MPA age. The log-response ratios of fish biomass and density in protected vs unprotected (control) areas were used as a proxy of EME. Management performance, organizational size and, to a lesser extent, MPA age were positively correlated with the log-response ratio of fish biomass, whereas total surface area did not display a significant role. None of the four features considered was significantly correlated with the log-response ratio of fish density. Based on our findings, we argue that the employment of Organization Science in the management effectiveness assessment can assist MPA managers to reach MPAs goals more effectively, with a more efficient use of available resources.
The protection of marine biodiversity is considered a global priority, as exemplified in the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi targets and in Sustainable Development Goal 14. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are considered to be effective conservation and fisheries management tools that generate various ecological and social-economic benefits. MPAs come in all types and sizes, and are managed following different principles, users' needs, and preferences. Madagascar's unique marine biodiversity is currently protected under a range of MPA regimes that emerged comparatively recently, long after the terrestrial protected areas. This study describes the historical outline of the MPA development process in Madagascar, and proposes inputs for the future management of MPAs. A policy arrangement approach to structure an iterative Delphi survey was used to analyse how discourse, actors, rules and resources have shaped MPA development in Madagascar. The findings suggest that international initiatives and funding have played a key role in the early days of MPA emergence, while currently co-management between governmental and non-governmental actors shows mixed results regarding conservation effectiveness. Challenges include a better coordination of efforts among various stakeholders, granting a large responsibility to local communities, e.g. in the successful locally managed marine areas (LMMAs), and integrating customary law into the set of regulations for marine conservation and sustainable management in Madagascar.
In global ocean simulations, forward (non-data-assimilative) tide models generally feature large sea-surface-height errors near Hudson Strait in the North Atlantic Ocean with respect to altimetry-constrained tidal solutions. These errors may be associated with tidal resonances that are not well resolved by the complex coastal-shelf bathymetry in low-resolution simulations. An online two-way nesting framework has been implemented to improve global surface tides in the HYbrid Coordinate Ocean Model (HYCOM). In this framework, a high-resolution child domain, covering Hudson Strait, is coupled with a relatively low-resolution parent domain for computational efficiency. Data such as barotropic pressure and velocity are exchanged between the child and parent domains with the external coupler OASIS3-MCT. The developed nesting framework is validated with semi-idealized basin-scale model simulations. The M2 sea-surface heights show very good accuracy in the one-way and two-way nesting simulations in Hudson Strait, where large tidal elevations are observed. In addition, the mass and tidal energy flux are not adversely impacted at the nesting boundaries in the semi-idealized simulations. In a next step, the nesting framework is applied to a realistic global tide simulation. In this simulation, the resolution of the child domain (1/75°) is three times as fine as that of the parent domain (1/25°). The M2 sea-surface-height root-mean-square errors with tide gauge data and the altimetry-constrained global FES2014 and TPXO9-atlas tidal solutions are evaluated for the nesting and no-nesting solutions. The better resolved coastal bathymetry and the finer grid in the child domain improve the local tides in Hudson Strait and Bay, and the back-effect of the coastal tides induces an improvement of the barotropic tides in the open ocean of the Atlantic.
A commonly held view is that co-management enhances the success of marine protected areas (MPA). The idea of co-management is to create a permanent forum in which a common strategy is initiated, negotiated and exercised in a collaborative way. It explicitly emphasizes the inclusion of wide ranging stakeholder interests and the attempt to balance those. The related literature maintains that the ideal state of co-management is a situation where government institutions and non-governmental stakeholders are equal partners. This study focuses on a co-management arrangement for a Philippine MPA from a critical perspective and systematically analyzes the formally granted rights of local fishers in co-management, and their actual influence on the management. The results show that, despite the legal stipulation of an equitable co-management arrangement including governmental and non-governmental stakeholders, the local fishers’ influence remains low. This discrepancy is mainly caused by i) flaws in the procedural rules of the co-management arrangement, ii) existing power imbalances emanating from local socio-political realities, and iii) drawbacks in non-governmental stakeholder organization and representation. Points of leverage are identified through which the legal design of co-management can be improved for helping to provide the grounds for equitable marine resource management in practice.
Timing of reproduction may be of crucial importance for fitness, particularly in environments that vary seasonally in food availability or predation risk. However, for animals with spatially separated feeding and breeding habitats, optimal reproductive timing may differ between parents and their offspring, leading to parent-offspring conflict. We assume that offspring have highest survival and fitness if they are spawned around a fixed date, and use state-dependent life-history theory to explore whether variation in conditions affecting only parents (food availability and survival) may influence optimal timing of reproduction. We apply the model to Pacific herring (Clupea palasii) in Puget Sound, USA, where 20 subpopulations spawn at different times of the year. Our model suggests that relatively small differences in adult food availability can lead to altered prioritization in the trade-off between maternal fecundity and what from the offspring’s perspective is the best time to be spawned. Our model also shows that observed among-population variability in reproductive timing may result from adults using different feeding grounds with divergent food dynamics, or from individual variation in condition caused by stochasticity at a single feeding ground. Identifying drivers of reproductive timing may improve predictions of recruitment, population dynamics, and responses to environmental change.
Decades of billfish tagging studies have been hindered by below-par conventional tag recovery rates and high rates of premature satellite pop-up tag shedding. With hopes of obtaining long-term tracking data, we performed the world’s first archival tagging study on an istiophorid, surgically implanting 99 archival tags into the peritoneal cavity of striped marlin (Kajikia audax) off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Marlin were also tagged externally with a conventional tag before release. Ten archival tags (10.1%) were recovered with days at liberty (DAL) ranging from 400 to 2795. Nine recoveries were from Mexican waters, whereas one marlin was recaptured off Ecuador. In total, 100% of the light stalks on the archival tags failed, with nine failing within the first 3 months of deployment; because the light data are used to estimate the geographic position of the tagged fish, tracking data were compromised. The absence of conventional tags on all recaptured marlin indicates that studies of marlin using conventional tags have been hindered by tag shedding rather than tagging-associated mortality or underreporting. Our high recapture rate and long DAL suggest istiophorid science could be greatly advanced by archival tagging if new tag designs or methods can eliminate tag failure.
This study aims to examine the composition and the spatial/tidal changes of marine debris caught with a fishing net during a fishery survey in two different areas of a sand beach at the northeast of Brazil. Samples were conducted weekly, at each moon phase, for two months using a beach seine net in the surf zone. Abundance of debris were estimate by swept area (items·km−1 and g·km−1). A total of 12 categories of debris were recorded. Plastic – both hard and soft types - was the most abundant debris category. Most fragments were classified as macro (20–100 mm) and mega debris (>100 mm). Significant differences (P < 0.05) between areas and tides were registered for plastic, metal and cloth. Spring tides were responsible for the high rates of marine debris found in the surf zone of Miramar beach. The results demonstrate the occurrence and abundance of litter in this fish nursery area and reinforce the need and importance of environmental protection and educational programs.