Biodiversity loss and climate change simultaneously threaten marine ecosystems, yet their interactions remain largely unknown. Ocean acidification severely affects a wide variety of marine organisms and recent studies have predicted major impacts at the pH conditions expected for 2100. However, despite the renowned interdependence between biodiversity and ecosystem functioning, the hypothesis that the species’ response to ocean acidification could differ based on the biodiversity of the natural multispecies assemblages in which they live remains untested. Here, using experimentally controlled conditions, we investigated the impact of acidification on key habitat-forming organisms (including corals, sponges and macroalgae) and associated microbes in hard-bottom assemblages characterised by different biodiversity levels. Our results indicate that, at higher biodiversity, the impact of acidification on otherwise highly vulnerable key organisms can be reduced by 50 to >90%, depending on the species. Here we show that such a positive effect of a higher biodiversity can be associated with higher availability of food resources and healthy microbe-host associations, overall increasing host resistance to acidification, while contrasting harmful outbreaks of opportunistic microbes. Given the climate change scenarios predicted for the future, we conclude that biodiversity conservation of hard-bottom ecosystems is fundamental also for mitigating the impacts of ocean acidification.
In response to the 2015 and 2017 decisions of the World Heritage Committee, the Australian government submitted to the World Heritage Centre in December 2019 the State Party Report on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area (WHA). The 2017 decision of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) focussed on two areas in particular, namely:
4. .... accelerate efforts to ensure meeting the intermediate and long-term targets of the [Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability] plan ... in particular regarding water quality;
6. .... demonstrating the effective and sustained protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and effective performance in meeting the targets established under the 2050 LTSP [Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan], linked to the findings of the 2014 and 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Reports.
This review also focusses on these two areas, as well as the implications of Australia’s current climate change polices and the existing funding arrangements for management of the GBR.
Relative to previous GBR State Party Reports (2013, 2014, 2015) the 2019 Report provides more detail on funding arrangements and progress to achieving management targets. Overall, it is a more informative document. However, it still overstates the efficacy of existing management arrangements and understates the critical importance of effectively and immediately addressing the causes of climate change. We are concerned particularly by the present Australian government’s inadequate national climate change and energy policies and programs, and the implications these have for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
The ingestion of microplastics has been recorded in hundreds of species. The ingestion rate and degree of impact is species-specific and depends on food preferences, foraging behaviour, and plastic pollution of the area. Currently there is a large knowledge gap regarding ingestion of marine litter by invertebrates in brackish water bodies. Therefore, experiments were conducted to investigate microplastics uptake and potential accumulation in the digestive system of the Harris mud crab Rhithropanopeus harrisii. Effects of microplastics on the growth of crabs were also tested. The results show that R. harrisii consume microplastics together with food, only plastic fragments too large for the digestion system were removed by crabs. The effect and duration of passage of plastic are not consistent and depend on the size and type of plastic. Microplastic fragments (<0.25 mm) ingested by crab were continuously egested while knotted fibres may accumulate in the stomach. The crabs fed with plastic supplements lost weight or had lower weight increase compared to control group after two-month treatment. However, the differences between treatments were not statistically significant. For the first time, occurrence of plastic in the digestive system of crabs collected from the natural habitats of Pärnu Bay (NE Baltic Sea, Estonia) was studied. Among all the crabs examined, 5% of specimens were found with fibres in their stomach assimilated prior to their capture from nature.
Historical coral skeleton (CS) δ18O and δ15N records were produced from samples recovered from sedimentary deposits, held in natural history museum collections, and cored into modern coral heads. These records were used to assess the influence of global warming and regional eutrophication, respectively, on the decline of coastal coral communities following the development of the Pearl River Delta (PRD) megacity, China. We find that, until 2007, ocean warming was not a major threat to coral communities in the Pearl River estuary; instead, nitrogen (N) inputs dominated impacts. The high but stable CS‐δ15N values (9‰–12‰ vs. air) observed from the mid‐Holocene until 1980 indicate that soil and stream denitrification reduced and modulated the hydrologic inputs of N, blunting the rise in coastal N sources during the early phase of the Pearl River estuary urbanization. However, an unprecedented CS‐δ15N peak was observed from 1987 to 1993 (>13‰ vs. air), concomitant to an increase of NH4+ concentration, consistent with the rapid Pearl River estuary urbanization as the main cause for this eutrophication event. We suggest that widespread discharge of domestic sewage entered directly into the estuary, preventing removal by natural denitrification hotspots. We argue that this event caused the dramatic decline of the Pearl River estuary coral communities reported from 1980 to 2000. Subsequently, the coral record shows that the implementation of improved wastewater management policies succeeded in bringing down both CS‐δ15N and NH4+ concentrations in the early 2000s. This study points to the potential importance of eutrophication over ocean warming in coral decline along urbanized coastlines and in particular in the vicinity of megacities.
WWF and CoNISMa outline an adaptive methodology for evaluating key economic benefits, potentially applicable in different Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The study was piloted in 6 MPAs: 3 MPAs with an official mission and long-term management plans – Egadi Islands MPA (Italy), Telašćica Nature Park (Croatia), Torre Guaceto MPA (Italy) – and 3 not-yet officially gazetted MPA without an operational management plan – Gouraya National Park, Taza National Park in Algeria and Tabarka Marine and Coastal Protected Area in Tunisia.
Seabed litter of the Flemish Pass area (NW Atlantic Ocean) was analysed and described using data from the EU-Spain groundfish survey (2006-2017 period). This study presents baseline information on seabed litter in this area. The Flemish Pass is located in areas beyond national jurisdiction within the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization Regulatory Area Division 3L. A total of 1169 valid bottom trawl hauls were analysed (104-1478 m depth). Litter was found in 8.3% of the hauls, with mean densities of 1.4±0.2 items km–2 and 10.6±5.2 kg km–2. An increasing pattern with depth was found, the highest densities of seabed litter being identified in the deepest areas located in the Flemish Pass channel and down the northeastern flank of the Grand Bank. Fishing was found to be the main source of marine litter, and 61.9% of the hauls with litter presence showed litter included in the fisheries-related litter category. Whereas in most cases the litter was composed of small fragments of rope, in other cases it was composed of entire fishing gears such as traps. Plastics, metal and other anthropogenic litter were the next most abundant categories, accounting for 18.6%, 16.5% and 12.4% of the total, respectively.
Marine ecosystems are directly threatened by multiple and interactive human stressors at global and local scales. Hence, it is vital to study biodiversity and ecological patterns through a multi-disciplinary approach, from understanding global diversity patterns to evaluating the ecological responses of species to different impacts in order to protect marine ecosystems. Until this moment most of related ecological studies have focused on charismatic and popular groups, such as gorgonians, corals, macroalgae or seagrasses. In this thesis, we focused on bryozoans, an abundant group of sessile marine invertebrates distributed worldwide, but generally understudied. Moreover, large bryozoans are considered habitat-forming species that can create bioconstructions enhancing the associated biodiversity and providing different ecological benefits. Bearing this in mind, the main aim of this thesis was to provide different approaches to understand discovery and macroecological patterns at global scales, and the response of species to different stressors at local scales, combining the use of open databases, the in situ monitoring of natural populations, experiments in aquaria and the development of restoration techniques. Furthermore, the present thesis aims to contribute to provide a general framework to identify and protect vulnerable populations in the context of increasing human threats.
In the first chapter, the discovery patterns of fossil and extant bryozoans revealed the highest number of fossil species described, highlighting that the current biodiversity represents only a small proportion of Earth’s past biodiversity. Beyond these differences, both groups showed an increase in the taxonomic effort during the past century, reflecting the increase in the interest in the exploration of the marine environment, and the improvement of technological developments. Despite this progress, future projections of discovery patterns of both groups showed a large proportion of species remaining to be discovered by the end of this century, which corroborate the need to increase the effort to name and quantify marine biodiversity before hundreds of species become extinct due to human impacts.
In chapter 2, a comparative approach between marine sessile and bryozoan biodiversity patterns reported that the most of sessile groups presented higher diversity in the Southern ocean, displaying a non-unimodal latitudinal pattern with a dip in the number of species at the equator, contrary to the most traditionally accepted pattern in diversity studies. Moreover, this region will represent the less affected by global warming at the final of this century, suggesting that the high species richness recorded in this region may be explained by it has suffered lower temperature stress over evolutionary time. Related to biases in sampling effort, our analyses showed that the most sampled region for both marine sessile species and bryozoans was North Temperate Atlantic. To identify and quantify environmental drivers for both groups, we tested the effect of using the popular method of rarefaction to correct sampling effort biases vs the incorporation of a frequency index of sampling effort as co-variate in quantitative models. Despite we obtained the same best predictors for both approches (depth, nitrate, and SST), the models using the correction of sampling biases through frequency index showed better fitting, encouraging to incorporate this methodology in future studies.
Focusing on the Mediterranean Sea, in Chapter 3 we studied the responses of bryozoans to different stressors. First, we showed that two abundant and common bryozoans, Pentapora fascialis and Myriapora truncata, displayed different tolerances to warming. Through the combination of in situ monitoring and experiments in aquaria, we revealed that mass mortality event recorded of Pentapora fascialis populations during summer 2015 may be explained by its lower thermal tolerance ranks. Moreover, in Chapter 4 we take the advantage of the in situ monitoring of Pentapora fascialis natural populations increasing the spatial and temporal effort, revealing that the bryozoan Pentapora fascialis is characterized by fast population dynamics, with high recruitment and growth rates, and a high capacity of recovery. Accordingly, we observed an increase in the density of its populations in the Marine Reserve of Medes Island since the 1990s. However, we evidenced that in this Marine Protected Area, diving can impact on the density, recruitment, survival, and the size of the colonies, registering lower values in frequented localities. Our results highlight that although Marine Protected Areas have been recognized as effective management and conservation tools to protect coastal ecosystems, the over frequentation of divers compromises the future viability of populations, highlighting the need to explore other management strategies.
In this context, for the first time in Chapter 5, different restoration techniques for bryozoans were developed and tested, focusing on the recruitment enhancement through the installation of recruitment surfaces and the transplantation of adult colonies of Pentapora fascialis. Plastic grids represented the best substrate in terms of facilitating the recruitment of our model species. The most successful technique to transplant adult colonies was to fix the colonies to the substrate with a nylon thread attached to the colony ex situ. The successful results and the affordable and economic cost of tested techniques aim to encourage the managers of Marine Protected Areas to apply similar methodologies to restore and conserve bryozoan temperate bioconstructions and the ecological services that they provide.
The results presented in this thesis show the importance to combine different approaches to understand the global and local ecological patterns of understudied but abundant groups, such as bryozoans. Our findings enlarge the current ecological knowledge of bryozoans at different scales, and highlight that more effort is needed to protect vulnerable populations. Accordingly, adaptive management formal plans and restoration actions are required to promote the conservation of marine communities in the context of increasing local and global stressors.
The study and management of cumulative effects is an emerging field and an area of critical importance to Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO). Cumulative effects are defined as “...changes to the environment that are caused by an action in combination with other past, present and future human actions” (Hegmann et al. 1999) and, crucially, can result from individually minor but collectively significant actions taking place over a period of time or across an area. The need for assessment of cumulative effects is evident throughout the programs and objectives of DFO, and is required to support management decisions by multiple DFO sectors. An overarching cumulative effects strategy for DFO, would provide a consistent approach and guidance for the assessment of cumulative effects through development of standard methods that build on existing general theoretical frameworks and applications. This report collates and reviews previous and ongoing existing cumulative effects research and assessments conducted by DFO, focusing on marine ecosystems. Based on the range of existing work and needs within DFO programs, we outline a strategy for assessing cumulative effects that uses a typology of cumulative effect assessment frameworks consisting of four types: activity-based, stressor-based, species- or habitat-based, and area-based.
The distribution and accumulation of floating marine debris in the Black Sea during the last few decades are analysed by the help of numerical modelling. An approach based on a mesoscale circulation model combined with a particle tracking model is applied. It is established that the litter distribution is nearly independent of the source location and is mainly controlled by the basin circulation system. The western gyre predominantly accumulates floating debris in summer. After the integration of the main cyclonic current in winter, the debris in the inner basin moves east. Retention zones along the south-western coast persist in time. The mean particle stranding time is estimated at about 200 days. Accumulation zones along the south-eastern and eastern coast are abundant in summer, and then move further northeast and north. Simulations demonstrate an increasing litter accumulation in summer on the North Western Shelf and shelf break.
Marine debris is any persistent, manufactured or processed solid material discarded, disposed of or abandoned in the marine and coastal environment. Debris problem in coastal areas becomes an urgent issue and concerns many countries across the world particularly marine countries such as Indonesia. The research objective was to examine the people's perception towards marine litter in Aceh Jaya Regency about whom responsible for eradicating marine debris. The study was conducted from January to July 2019 by distributing a questionnaire to 382 respondents. The result showed that 46.9% of respondents thought that they were responsible for reducing marine litter. In a similar case, researchers found 53.4% of respondents stated that those who were able to reduce marine waste were community/visitors. The final finding is that 42.1% of the sample shows that NGOs are the parties who are eager to reduce marine litter.
Antarctic shallow coastal marine communities were long thought to be isolated from their nearest neighbours by hundreds of kilometres of deep ocean and the Antarctic Circumpolar Current. The discovery of non–native kelp washed up on Antarctic beaches led us to question the permeability of these barriers to species dispersal. According to the literature, over 70 million kelp rafts are afloat in the Southern Ocean at any one time. These living, floating islands can play host to a range of passenger species from both their original coastal location and those picked in the open ocean. Driven by winds, currents and storms towards the coast of the continent, these rafts are often cited as theoretical vectors for the introduction of new species into Antarctica and the sub-Antarctic islands. We found non-native kelps, with a wide range of “hitchhiking” passenger organisms, on an Antarctic beach inside the flooded caldera of an active volcanic island. This is the first evidence of non-native species reaching the Antarctic continent alive on kelp rafts. One passenger species, the bryozoan Membranipora membranacea, is found to be an invasive and ecologically harmful species in some cold-water regions, and this is its first record from Antarctica. The caldera of Deception Island provides considerably milder conditions than the frigid surrounding waters and it could be an ideal location for newly introduced species to become established. These findings may help to explain many of the biogeographic patterns and connections we currently see in the Southern Ocean. However, with the impacts of climate change in the region we may see an increase in the range and number of organisms capable of surviving both the long journey and becoming successfully established.
This study presents the results of the first broad-scale, spatial cumulative impact analysis (SCIA) conducted for colonial-nesting seabirds at-sea in eastern Canada. Species distribution models, based on at-sea tracking data for thirteen species/groups of seabirds (n = 520 individuals), were applied to over 5000 species-specific colonies to map relative abundance patterns across the entire region. This information was combined with distributional data for a number of key anthropogenic threats to quantify exposure to fisheries, light and ship-source oil pollution, and marine traffic. As a final step, information about species-specific sensitivity to each threat was integrated to compute region-wide cumulative risk.
The data products permit the visualization of the interaction between species and threats, and confirm that large portions of the coastal zones of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as the Grand Banks shelf break, constitute areas where breeding seabirds experience the highest potential impact. The cumulative risk maps revealed that species which were either widespread throughout coastal areas (e.g., gulls), or capable of foraging long distance (Leach's Storm-Petrel), were most at risk. Cumulative risk maps help identify appropriate and potentially effective management and conservation actions, and are of value to federal regulators responsible for managing cumulative effects as part of the new Canadian Impact Assessment Act. They also can assist marine planners achieve the Aichi marine conservation targets as specified by the Convention on Biodiversity. By filling a knowledge gap for a large potion of the northwest Atlantic, these results help to counter the “shifting baselines syndrome”.
Global environmental change and other site specific pressures (e.g. over fishing and pollution) are threating coral reefs and the livelihoods of dependent coastal communities. Multiple strategies are used to build the resilience of both coral reefs and reef dependent communities but the effectiveness of these strategies is largely unknown. Using the Western Indian Ocean (WIO) as a case study, this paper combines published literature and expert opinion elicited through a multi-stakeholder workshop to assess the intended and realised social and ecological implications of strategies commonly applied in the region. Findings suggest that all strategies can contribute to building social and ecological resilience, but this varies with context and the overall strategy objectives. The ability of strategies to be successful in the future is questioned. To support effective resilience policy development more nuanced lesson learning requires effective monitoring and evaluation as well as a disaggregated understanding of resilience in terms of gender, agency and the interaction between ecological and social resilience. Opportunities for further lesson sharing between experts in the region are needed.
The mitigation hierarchy has been proposed as an overarching framework for managing fisheries and reducing marine megafauna bycatch, but requires empirical application to show its practical utility. Focusing on a small-scale fishing community in Peru as a case study system, we test how the mitigation hierarchy can support efforts to reduce captures of sea turtles in gillnets and link these actions to broader goals for biodiversity. We evaluate three management scenarios by drawing on ecological risk assessment (ERA) and qualitative management strategy evaluation to assess trade-offs between biological, economic, and social considerations. The turtle species of management focus include leatherback turtle Dermochelys coriacea, green turtle Chelonia mydas, and olive ridley turtle Lepidochelys olivacea. Adopting a mixed-methods iterative approach to data collection, we undertook a literature review to collate secondary data on the fishery and the species of turtles captured. We then collected primary data to fill the knowledge gaps identified, including establishing the spatial extent of the fishery and calculating turtle capture rates for the fishery. We identified and evaluated the potential risk that the fishery poses to each turtle species within Pacific East regional management units using a qualitative ERA. Finally, we evaluated potential management strategies to reduce turtle captures, incorporating stakeholder preference from questionnaire-based surveys and considering preliminary estimates of trends across a range of performance indicators. We illustrate how the proposed framework can integrate existing knowledge on an issue of marine megafauna captures, and incorporate established decision-making processes to help identify data gaps. This supports a holistic assessment of management strategies toward biodiversity goals standardized across fisheries and scales.
Aquaculture, the fastest growing food sector, is expected to expand to produce an additional 30 million metric tons of fish by 2030, thus filling the gap in supplies of seafood for humans. Salmonids aquaculture exploits the vast majority of fishmeal and fish oil rendered from ocean-dwelling forage fish. Most forage fish diverted to these commodities are human-food grade, and all are primary prey for marine predators. Rising costs, price volatility, and environmental sustainability concerns of using these commodities for aquaculture feed are driving the global search for alternatives, including marine microalgae originating from the base of marine food webs but produced in culture. We report the first evaluation of two marine microalgae, Nannochloropsis sp. and Isochrysis sp., for their potential to fully replace fishmeal and fish oil in diets of rainbow trout (Oncorhynchus mykiss), an important model for all salmonid aquaculture. We conducted a digestibility experiment with dried whole cells of Nannochloropsis sp. and Isochrysis sp., followed by a growth experiment using feeds with different combinations of Nannochloropsis sp., Isochrysis sp., and Schizochytrium sp. We found that digestibilities of crude protein, crude lipid, amino acids, fatty acids, omega 3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (n3 PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), n6 (omega 6) PUFA in Isochrysis sp. were significantly higher than those in Nannochloropsis sp. Digestibility results suggest that for rainbow trout diets Isochrysis sp. is a better substitute for fishmeal and fish oil than Nannochloropsis sp. The lower feed intake by fish fed diets combining multiple microalgae, compared to fish fed the reference diet, was a primary cause of the growth retardation. In trout fillets, we detected an equal amount of DHA in fish fed fish-free diet and reference diet. This study suggests that Isochrysis sp. and Schizochytrium sp. are good candidates for DHA supplementation in trout diet formulations.
Climate change is altering the intensity and variability of environmental stress that organisms and ecosystems experience, but effects of changing stress regimes are not well understood. We examined impacts of constant and variable sublethal hypoxia exposures on multiple biological processes in the sea urchin Strongylocentrotus purpuratus, a key grazer in California Current kelp forests, which experience high variability in physical conditions. We quantified metabolic rates, grazing, growth, calcification, spine regeneration, and gonad production under constant, 3-hour variable, and 6-hour variable exposures to sublethal hypoxia, and compared responses for each hypoxia regime to normoxic conditions. Sea urchins in constant hypoxia maintained baseline metabolic rates, but had lower grazing, gonad development, and calcification rates than those in ambient conditions. The sublethal impacts of variable hypoxia differed among biological processes. Spine regrowth was reduced under all hypoxia treatments, calcification rates under variable hypoxia were intermediate between normoxia and constant hypoxia, and gonad production correlated negatively with continuous time under hypoxia. Therefore, exposure variability can differentially modulate the impacts of sublethal hypoxia, and may impact sea urchin populations and ecosystems via reduced feeding and reproduction. Addressing realistic, multifaceted stressor exposures and multiple biological responses is crucial for understanding climate change impacts on species and ecosystems.
The distribution and abundance of microplastics into the world are so extensive that many scientists use them as key indicators of the recent and contemporary period defining a new historical epoch: The Plasticene. However, the implications of microplastics are not yet thoroughly understood. There is considerable complexity involved to understand their impact due to different physical–chemical properties that make microplastics multifaceted stressors. If, on the one hand, microplastics carry toxic chemicals in the ecosystems, thus serving as vectors of transport, they are themselves, on the other hand, a cocktail of hazardous chemicals that are added voluntarily during their production as additives to increase polymer properties and prolong their life. To date, there is a considerable lack of knowledge on the major additives of concern that are used in the plastic industry, on their fate once microplastics dispose into the environment, and on their consequent effects on human health when associated with micro and nanoplastics. The present study emphasizes the most toxic and dangerous chemical substances that are contained in all plastic products to describe the effects and implications of these hazardous chemicals on human health, providing a detailed overview of studies that have investigated their abundance on microplastics. In the present work, we conducted a capillary review of the literature on micro and nanoplastic exposure pathways and their potential risk to human health to summarize current knowledge with the intention of better focus future research in this area and fill knowledge gaps.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing accounts for 20 percent of the world catch and up to 50 percent in some areas. This industry often uses bonded labour, destructive fishing practices and deceptive practices to reap profits at the expense of local fisheries, coastal states and the marine environment. Although international resolutions and reports have been issued for decades, countries have failed to enact and enforce regulations to stop these practices due to a lack of political will, resources and capacity.
At the beginning of a new decade, with deadlines approaching for the Sustainable Development Goals, nations have a major opportunity to form the partnerships and enforcement mechanisms to stop illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing practices.
Advancing, and more affordable, technologies also present new opportunities to implement and enforce new and old agreements and regulations. These technologies can track not only the location and documentation of fishing vessels but also the progress of a particular fish catch through the value chain to ensure legality.
By exploring the underlying drivers of IUU fishing— economic incentives, weak governance, and poor enforcement—we propose effective actions that can be taken in the current international framework to address the issue. The best use of appropriate technologies, combined with good policy and international cooperation, partnerships and collaboration can be cost- effective and scaled globally to transform fisheries. Fish harvested legally and sustainably can provide animal protein for generations to come.
UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.4 commits countries, by 2020, to effectively regulate fishing; end overfishing, IUU fishing, and destructive fishing practices; and implement science-based management plans to restore fish stocks in the shortest time feasible, at least to levels that can produce maximum sustainable yield as determined by their biological characteristics. The world is clearly not yet on track to achieve those goals.
In this paper, we outline the state of knowledge and trends in IUU fishing, ways in which it contributes to overfishing, how it exacerbates the impacts of climate change, and specific aspects of how it operates in coastal areas, on the high seas and in areas beyond national jurisdiction. Successful country strategies are highlighted, that, if more widely adopted, will help transition the IUU fishing fleet to one of compliance.
As one of a series of Blue Papers prepared as an input to the High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy, this paper provides scientific and policy background
as well as opportunities for action to reinvigorate international cooperation and efforts to effectively regulate IUU fishing.
Over the last 50 years, non-state actors, particularly environmental non-governmental organizations (ENGOs), have taken on increasingly important roles in environmental governance. These roles have strengthened capacity in policy development and enhanced connections between decision makers and the public. How environmental NGOs navigate the tension between maintaining independence from government while also influencing decisions within political systems is not well understood. A change in the government of Canada following the 2015 national election provided an opportunity to explore the dynamic relationships between ENGOs and government. The government enlisted the assistance of ENGOs to achieve the 2020 national marine protection targets. In this study, the activities of two ENGOs—WWF-Canada (a national NGO) and the Ecology Action Centre (a local NGO)—regarding planning for three marine protected areas (MPAs) were studied. The objective of this research was to increase understanding of the role of ENGOs in decision making regarding MPAs, particularly focusing on how ENGOs use information in formal and informal processes to fulfil their mandates to promote marine conservation. Data were obtained from interviews; observations of formal and informal meetings and conversations; content analysis of email exchanges of the ENGOs with government staff, other ENGOs and numerous stakeholders; and review of key publications and public research reports. The results demonstrate the significant role of ENGOs in conservation governance and the major strategies that they use in deploying information at the science-policy interface. The ENGOs operate in an important boundary-spanning role using four types of action (hard advocacy, soft advocacy, gathering information and intelligence, and administration) and their interactions with diverse stakeholders. The ENGOs bridged interactions between government and stakeholders and transmitted scientific data and information, generated by researchers, to decision makers. The boundary-spanning activities of the ENGOs uniquely positions them in conservation decision processes. The ability to be flexible means that ENGOs can adapt their strategies to advance conservation policy and practice.
Water is a renewable resource and is a quintessential need for organisms to survive on earth but only when used sustainably. Water plays an indispensable part in achieving the goals of sustainable development that includes health and social needs and economic growth. Maintaining the quality of water is an essential step towards achieving the goals set for sustainable development. However, some anthropogenic activities are responsible for adding impurities to water through improper industrial and domestic waste disposal. This could be the solid waste or toxins released from these solid wastes. Plastic is a form of solid waste that has become the contributor to the deteriorating quality of water around the world. It has been estimated that nearly 8 million tonnes of plastic end up into the oceans each year (Boucher et al. 2017). It takes approximately 1000 years for a plastic material to decompose completely from its disposal site (The Green Space, 2010). The growing use and inappropriate disposal of plastic products in our everyday life continue to reduce water quality. Marine animals and dead birds containing tiny plastic pieces discovered in their guts are nowadays a common site.
More than the plastics scientists and environmentalist around the world are becoming concerned about microplastics. Tons of plastic waste end up into the oceans from dumping sites intentionally or unintentionally, and this plastic waste further breaks down into smaller pieces named microplastics with the help of sun, chemicals, and other microbial activities. If we continue to suffocate our waters like this, the use of plastic cannot be considered sustainable anymore.
Although Canada has already taken up the first steps towards banning microbeads in July 2018, there is still a lot that needs to be done in microplastics. Strengthening the Canadian Environmental Protection Act, 1999 could be one of the solutions, where the primary purpose of CEPA is to contribute towards sustainable development and achieving the protection of the environment from toxic substances explicitly mentioned in one of its guiding principles. This paper has attempted to highlight the progress made by the EU to manage their (micro)plastic waste with enhanced recycling methodology along with innovative designs for plastic production. The Canadian government should take an example of such models to strengthen further its efforts towards mitigating the impacts of microplastic pollution and regulating them.