The number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has increased globally as concerns over the impact that human activities are having on the world’s oceans have also increased. Monitoring is a key requirement to determine if MPAs are meeting their objectives. However, many recently declared MPA’s are large, offshore, or form part of an expansive network and spatial information about the habitats, communities and species that they contain is often lacking. This presents challenges for deciding exactly what to monitor and developing strategies on how to monitor it efficiently. Here we examine these issues using the Flinders Marine Park in Australia as a case study. We trial a two-stage version of a spatially-balanced, probabilistic sampling design combined with Baited Remote Underwater Videos (BRUVs) to perform an initial inventory, and we evaluate the potential of six commercially and ecologically important demersal fish as indicators within the Marine Park. Using this approach we were able to (1) quantitatively describe the distribution of the fish species in the Marine Park; (2) establish quantitative and representative estimates of their abundance throughout the Marine Park to serve as a baseline for future monitoring; (3) conduct power analyses to estimate the magnitude of increase we may be able to detect with feasible levels of sampling effort. Power analysis suggested that for most of our potential indicator species, detecting increases in abundance as small as 50% from present values should be feasible if sampling is restricted to a species’ preferred habitat and the same sites are sampled through time. Our approach is transferrable to other regions where monitoring programs must be designed based on limited spatial and biological data, assisting with decisions on what and how to monitor.
Mangroves are declining globally at faster rates than tropical forests and coral reefs, with primary threats including, aquaculture, agriculture and climate change. Mangroves provide ecosystem services to coastal communities of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras, which comprise the Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) ecoregion. Over the past two decades mangroves within the MAR have declined. Current estimates of mangrove cover in the region suggest that mangroves cover 239,176 ha of the MAR, equivalent to 1.7% of the world's mangroves. Concerted efforts to manage, conserve and protect mangrove forest are apparent in all four countries. Comprehensive laws that prohibit the cutting and clearing of mangroves have been implemented in Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras. Belize has a permitting system to regulate mangrove alterations. In addition, a total of seven international and regional agreements have been ratified. Across the ecoregion, forty-three protected areas have been designated that contain mangroves, providing protection to 111,396 ha of mangroves (47% of the total). However, our findings suggest a lack of transparency in the governance framework, a disconnect between management and research, and geopolitical differences have all played a role in reducing management efficacy. A key finding of our study reveals a distinct division in the perceived major threats to mangroves between Ramsar site managers and researchers. Ramsar site managers identify anthropogenic disturbances as key threats, while in contrast, the bulk of research focuses on natural disturbances. To promote the inclusion of evidence-based research within mangrove management plans, greater efforts to connect these important stakeholders are required.
Tracking the incremental and combined effects of large-scale ecosystem restoration programs is scientifically and socioeconomically challenging; this is especially true for ongoing management and restoration programs in the northern Gulf of Mexico and adjacent areas following the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster. When implemented, monitoring programs for large-scale ecosystems typically monitor overall system health and/or the progress toward individual restoration project goals. However, being able to demonstrate successful “individual restoration projects” does not necessarily equate to providing cost-effective benefits at the large-scale ecosystem level, especially when the area and complexity of the system is large. More than $16 billion is available for ecosystem restoration related activities associated with multiple Deepwater Horizon settlements (i.e., Gulf Coast Ecosystem Restoration Council, Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA) Trustee Council, and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation). Restoration activities conducted under the NRDA settlement are intended to restore injured resources to conditions that would have existed in the absence of the spill and to compensate the public for lost use of injured resources. Other restoration activities funded by the settlements are designated to restore the Gulf Coast economy, culture and environmental health by addressing a multitude of other ecological and economic injuries in the Gulf ecosystem not directly caused by the spill. Although the collective funding for restoration activities is large, unprecedented, and has the potential to begin making progress toward reducing adverse long-term environmental stressors, it is insufficient to fully address all stressors to restore ecological health in the vast Gulf ecosystem. This creates a unique challenge for restoration program managers who in addition to demonstrating the success of individual projects, need to demonstrate that overall restoration funds were spent wisely and produced significant synergistic benefits to preserve and restore the Gulf ecosystem. This will be especially important as settlement funds are exhausted and resource managers seek public funding to continue restoration and conservation efforts.
We evaluated approaches for integrating the monitoring of individual project outcomes in order to also monitor the combined program progress across all Gulf oil disaster restoration programs based on (1) lessons learned from other large-scale restoration programs; (2) integrated restoration goals and objectives from multiple Gulf restoration programs; (3) common stressors, and potential interactions with varying restoration and conservation target categories and their associated types of projects; and (4) the applicability of monitoring at both the project and program level. We identified a suite of 10 performance metrics or indicators that are applicable to multiple project types and restoration entities in the Gulf using restoration indicators that are highly applicable across restoration categories at both the project and system level. Utilizing a small set of indicators that can be measured across multiple resource and project types creates an opportunity to build a core set of metrics into individual project monitoring plans in a way that is cost-effective, efficient and consistent. Our approach represents one way to track the impacts of restoration activities at a scale larger than the project level in the Gulf, while recognizing the scientific, political and economic challenges associated with restoring the Gulf ecosystem in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster.
Mechanical grooming to remove litter and wrack from sandy beaches reduces strandline biodiversity. The impact of tidal range on recovery rates of strandline ecosystems after grooming has not been examined to date, even though tidal range is known to affect the spatial and temporal patterns of seaweed. We compared taxon richness of macroinvertebrates that occur all year round at 104 sites on two coastlines at similar latitudes in Northern Europe that have pronounced differences in tidal range. Macroinvertebrate taxon richness was positively correlated with algae depth on both groomed and ungroomed beaches but was lower on groomed beaches. This was the case even in the off season despite wrack depths returning to similar levels found on ungroomed beaches. These impacts of grooming which extend into the winter offseason where found to be higher on beaches with a lower tidal range. We suggest this is likely to be because in areas with little tidal variation, irregular and unpredictable storm events are likely to be the predominant source of new wrack deposits. Our results suggest it is particularly important that management strategies to mitigate the impacts of grooming are adopted in areas with low tidal range.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) of the ocean considers all impacts on and uses of marine and coastal systems. In recent years, there has been a heightened interest in EBM tools that allow testing of alternative management options and help identify tradeoffs among human uses. End-to-end ecosystem modeling frameworks that consider a wide range of management options are a means to provide integrated solutions to the complex ocean management problems encountered in EBM. Here, we leverage the global advances in ecosystem modeling to explore common opportunities and challenges for ecosystem-based management, including changes in ocean acidification, spatial management, and fishing pressure across eight Atlantis (atlantis.cmar.csiro.au) end-to-end ecosystem models. These models represent marine ecosystems from the tropics to the arctic, varying in size, ecology, and management regimes, using a three-dimensional, spatially-explicit structure parametrized for each system. Results suggest stronger impacts from ocean acidification and marine protected areas than from altering fishing pressure, both in terms of guild-level (i.e., aggregations of similar species or groups) biomass and in terms of indicators of ecological and fishery structure. Effects of ocean acidification were typically negative (reducing biomass), while marine protected areas led to both “winners” and “losers” at the level of particular species (or functional groups). Changing fishing pressure (doubling or halving) had smaller effects on the species guilds or ecosystem indicators than either ocean acidification or marine protected areas. Compensatory effects within guilds led to weaker average effects at the guild level than the species or group level. The impacts and tradeoffs implied by these future scenarios are highly relevant as ocean governance shifts focus from single-sector objectives (e.g., sustainable levels of individual fished stocks) to taking into account competing industrial sectors' objectives (e.g., simultaneous spatial management of energy, shipping, and fishing) while at the same time grappling with compounded impacts of global climate change (e.g., ocean acidification and warming).
Marine litter presents a global problem, with increasing quantities documented in recent decades. The distribution and abundance of marine litter on the seafloor off the United Kingdom's (UK) coasts were quantified during 39 independent scientific surveys conducted between 1992 and 2017. Widespread distribution of litter items, especially plastics, were found on the seabed of the North Sea, English Channel, Celtic Sea and Irish Sea. High variation in abundance of litter items, ranging from 0 to 1835 pieces km−2of seafloor, was observed. Plastic tems such as bags, bottles and fishing related debris were commonly observed across all areas. Over the entire 25-year period (1992–2017), 63% of the 2461 trawls contained at least one plastic litter item. There was no significant temporal trend in the percentage of trawls containing any or total plastic litter items across the long-term datasets. Statistically significant trends, however, were observed in specific plastic litter categories only. These trends were all positive except for a negative trend in plastic bags in the Greater North Sea - suggesting that behavioural and legislative changes could reduce the problem of marine litter within decades.
Current methods in conservation planning for promoting the persistence of biodiversity typically focus on either representing species geographic distributions or maintaining connectivity between reserves, but rarely both, and take a focal species, rather than a multispecies, approach. Here, we link prioritization methods with population models to explore the impact of integrating both representation and connectivity into conservation planning for species persistence. Using data on 288 Mediterranean fish species with varying conservation requirements, we show that: (2) considering both representation and connectivity objectives provides the best strategy for enhanced biodiversity persistence and (2) connectivity objectives were fundamental to enhancing persistence of small-ranged species, which are most in need of conservation, while the representation objective benefited only wide-ranging species. Our approach provides a more comprehensive appraisal of planning applications than approaches focusing on either representation or connectivity, and will hopefully contribute to build more effective reserve networks for the persistence of biodiversity.
A major challenge for coral reef conservation and management is understanding how a wide range of interacting human and natural drivers cumulatively impact and shape these ecosystems. Despite the importance of understanding these interactions, a methodological framework to synthesize spatially explicit data of such drivers is lacking. To fill this gap, we established a transferable data synthesis methodology to integrate spatial data on environmental and anthropogenic drivers of coral reefs, and applied this methodology to a case study location–the Main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). Environmental drivers were derived from time series (2002–2013) of climatological ranges and anomalies of remotely sensed sea surface temperature, chlorophyll-a, irradiance, and wave power. Anthropogenic drivers were characterized using empirically derived and modeled datasets of spatial fisheries catch, sedimentation, nutrient input, new development, habitat modification, and invasive species. Within our case study system, resulting driver maps showed high spatial heterogeneity across the MHI, with anthropogenic drivers generally greatest and most widespread on O‘ahu, where 70% of the state’s population resides, while sedimentation and nutrients were dominant in less populated islands. Together, the spatial integration of environmental and anthropogenic driver data described here provides a first-ever synthetic approach to visualize how the drivers of coral reef state vary in space and demonstrates a methodological framework for implementation of this approach in other regions of the world. By quantifying and synthesizing spatial drivers of change on coral reefs, we provide an avenue for further research to understand how drivers determine reef diversity and resilience, which can ultimately inform policies to protect coral reefs.
The Mediterranean region has long been recognized for its natural and cultural heritage. Representing less than 1% of the area of the world’s oceans, the Mediterranean Sea accounts for over 10% of all known species, including many endemic species. It hosts a remarkable diversity of life and is a vital breeding area for key pelagic species, some of which are endangered. At the same time, the Mediterranean Sea has been described as one of the areas most affected by marine litter in the world. The problem is exacerbated by the basin’s limited exchanges with other oceans and its densely populated coasts and highly developed tourism; 30% of the world’s maritime traffic passes through it and various additional inputs of litter reach it from rivers and very urbanized areas. Plastic, which is the main litter component, has now become ubiquitous in the region and may comprise up to 95% of the waste accumulated on shorelines, the ocean surface, or the sea floor. Of particular concern is the presence of microplastics, which have been found in quantities very comparable to those encountered in the oceanic gyres, also known as “plastic soups”. Marine litter can have severe consequences for the Mediterranean’s biological resources and the human communities that depend on them, from a health, environmental and economic perspective. Increasingly, studies are showing that marine litter directly affects living organisms, especially through entanglement with macro-plastics and the ingestion of micro-plastics. There is also growing evidence that plastic particles may carry and transfer toxic substances (in particular, persistent organic pollutants and endocrine disruptors) to marine organisms, mainly when ingested, and, currently, scientists are focusing on the risk of possibly hazardous plastic particles being transferred via food chains. The most recent assessment report on marine litter in the Mediterranean undertaken by UNEP/MAP (2015) indicates that most marine litter originates from land-based rather than sea-based sources. The report concludes that despite the uncertainties and knowledge gaps, existing evidence is more than sufficient to justify immediate action toward preventing and reducing marine litter and its impact on the marine and coastal environment. Within the UNEP/MAP Barcelona Convention, marine litter is addressed specifically through the Regional Plan on Marine Litter Management in the Mediterranean. Moreover, current production and consumption patterns are at the very heart of this problem, an issue which is being tackled by another instrument fostering circular economy in the region: the Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP) Action Plan for the Mediterranean. With a view to responding to this emerging and problematic issue, SCP/RAC (Regional Activity Centre for Sustainable Consumption and Production), with the support of the SwitchMed Programme (www.switchmed.eu), has identified the 25 best existing ecoinnovative solutions to prevent or minimize the use of persistent plastics liable to end up as marine litter in the Mediterranean. Innovative solutions capable of generating revenues from all parts of the globe have been prioritized through a multi-criteria analysis of their effectiveness and replicability in the MENA region. They are showcased here as a way of inspiring businesses, entrepreneurs and civil society organizations in the Mediterranean region to take action against marine litter. Through this publication, SCP/RAC calls on green entrepreneurs, committed CSOs, innovators and change-makers in the Mediterranean to develop and scale the most adaptable solutions with the support of the SwitchMed Programme. In order to promote action, the programme will enable the pilot actions inspired by these initiatives to be implemented in the region.
Global changes in climate, connectivity, and commerce are having profound impacts on the Arctic environment and inhabitants. There is widespread recognition of the value of incorporating different worldviews and perspectives when seeking to understand the consequences of these impacts. In turn, attention to local needs, perspectives, and cultures is seen as essential for fostering effective adaptation planning, or more broadly, the resilience of local peoples. The emerging literature on “knowledge co-production” identifies factors that can help incorporate such local information. This field focuses on how different models of what has been termed the “science-policy interface” can incorporate multiple epistemologies. Such an approach goes beyond observing or assessing change from different scales and perspectives, to defining conditions that support the co-production of actionable knowledge. This approach requires the development of response tools that can accommodate the dynamic relationships among people, wildlife, and habitats that straddle cultures, timescapes, and sometimes, national boundaries. We use lessons from seven Alaskan cases studies to describe a typology of five elements important for the co-production of locally relevant actionable knowledge. Three elements are consistent with earlier work, including 1) evolving communities of practice, 2) iterative processes for defining problems and solutions, and 3) presence of boundary organizations, such as a government agency, university, or co-management council. Our results for the Alaskan Arctic also emphasize the critical need to incorporate 4) the consistent provision of sufficient funds and labor that may transcend any one specific project goal or funding cycle, and 5) long temporal scales (sometimes decades) for achieving the co-production of actionable knowledge. Our results have direct relevance to understanding the mechanisms that might foster greater success in more formalized co-management regimes.
Environmental DNA (eDNA) can be defined as the DNA pool recovered from an environmental sample that includes both extracellular and intracellular DNA. There has been a significant increase in the number of recent studies that have demonstrated the possibility to detect macroorganisms using eDNA. Despite the enormous potential of eDNA to serve as a biomonitoring and conservation tool in aquatic systems, there remain some important limitations concerning its application. One significant factor is the variable persistence of eDNA over natural environmental gradients, which imposes a critical constraint on the temporal and spatial scales of species detection. In the present study, a radiotracer bioassay approach was used to quantify the kinetic parameters of dissolved eDNA (d-eDNA), a component of extracellular DNA, over an annual cycle in the coastal Northwest Mediterranean. Significant seasonal variability in the biological uptake and turnover of d-eDNA was observed, the latter ranging from several hours to over one month. Maximum uptake rates of d-eDNA occurred in summer during a period of intense phosphate limitation (turnover <5 hrs). Corresponding increases in bacterial production and uptake of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) demonstrated the microbial utilization of d-eDNA as an organic phosphorus substrate. Higher temperatures during summer may amplify this effect through a general enhancement of microbial metabolism. A partial least squares regression (PLSR) model was able to reproduce the seasonal cycle in d-eDNA persistence and explained 60% of the variance in the observations. Rapid phosphate turnover and low concentrations of bioavailable phosphate, both indicative of phosphate limitation, were the most important parameters in the model. Abiotic factors such as pH, salinity and oxygen exerted minimal influence. The present study demonstrates significant seasonal variability in the persistence of d-eDNA in a natural marine environment that can be linked to the metabolic response of microbial communities to nutrient limitation. Future studies should consider the effect of natural environmental gradients on the seasonal persistence of eDNA, which will be of particular relevance for time-series biomonitoring programs.
Microplastics are a ubiquitous pollutant in our seas today and are known to have detrimental effects on a variety of organisms. Over the past decade numerous studies have documented microplastic ingestion by marine species with more recent investigations focussing on the secondary impacts of microplastic ingestion on ecosystem processes. However, few studies so far have examined microplastic ingestion by mesopelagic fish which are one of the most abundant pelagic groups in our oceans and through their vertical migrations are known to contribute significantly to the rapid transport of carbon and nutrients to the deep sea. Therefore, any ingestion of microplastics by mesopelagic fish may adversely affect this cycling and may aid in transport of microplastics from surface waters to the deep-sea benthos. In this study microplastics were extracted from mesopelagic fish under forensic conditions and analysed for polymer type utilising micro-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (micro-FTIR) analysis. Fish specimens were collected from depth (300–600 m) in a warm-core eddy located in the Northwest Atlantic, 1,200 km due west of Newfoundland during April and May 2015. In total, 233 fish gut contents from seven different species of mesopelagic fish were examined. An alkaline dissolution of organic materials from extracted stomach contents was performed and the solution filtered over a 0.7 μm borosilicate filter. Filters were examined for microplastics and a subsample originating from 35 fish was further analysed for polymer type through micro-FTIR analysis. Seventy-three percent of all fish contained plastics in their gut contents with Gonostoma denudatum having the highest ingestion rate (100%) followed by Serrivomer beanii (93%) and Lampanyctus macdonaldi (75%). Overall, we found a much higher occurrence of microplastic fragments, mainly polyethylene fibres, in the gut contents of mesopelagic fish than previously reported. Stomach fullness, species and the depth at which fish were caught at, were found to have no effect on the amount of microplastics found in the gut contents. However, these plastics were similar to those sampled from the surface water. Additionally, using forensic techniques we were able to highlight that fibres are a real concern rather than an artefact of airborne contamination.
Human fishing effort is size-selective, preferentially removing the largest individuals from harvested stocks. Intensive, size-specific fishing mortality induces directional shifts in phenotypic frequencies towards the predominance of smaller and earlier-maturing individuals, which are among the primary causes of declining fish biomass. Fish that reproduce at smaller size and younger age produce fewer, smaller, and less viable larvae, severely reducing the reproductive capacity of harvested populations. Marine protected areas (MPAs) are extensively utilized in coral reefs for fisheries management, and are thought to mitigate the impacts of size-selective fishing mortality and supplement fished stocks through larval export. However, empirical evidence of disparities in fitness-relevant phenotypes between MPAs and adjacent fished reefs is necessary to validate this assertion. Here, we compare key life-history traits in three coral-reef fishes (Acanthurus nigrofuscus, Ctenochaetus striatus, and Parupeneus multifasciatus) between MPAs and fished reefs in the Philippines. Results of our analyses support previous hypotheses regarding the impacts of MPAs on phenotypic traits. Asymptotic length (Linf) and growth rates (K) differed between conspecifics in MPAs and fished reefs, with protected populations exhibiting phenotypes that are known to confer higher fecundity. Additionally, populations demonstrated increases in length at 50% maturity (L50) inside MPAs compared to adjacent areas, although age at 50% maturity (A50) did not appear to be impacted by MPA establishment. Shifts toward advantageous phenotypes were most common in the oldest and largest MPAs, but occurred in all of the MPAs examined. These results suggest that MPAs may provide protection against the impacts of size-selective harvest on life-history traits in coral-reef fishes.
The increasing demand for protein from aquaculture will trigger a global expansion of the sector in coastal and offshore waters. While contributing to food security, potential conflicts with other traditional activities such as fisheries or tourism are inevitable, thus calling for decision-support tools to assess aquaculture planning scenarios in a multi-use context. Here we introduce the AquaSpace tool, one of the first Geographic Information System (GIS)-based planning tools empowering an integrated assessment and mapping of 30 indicators reflecting economic, environmental, inter-sectorial and socio-cultural risks and opportunities for proposed aquaculture systems in a marine environment. A bottom-up process consulting more than 350 stakeholders from 10 countries across southern and northern Europe enabled the direct consideration of stakeholder needs when developing the GIS AddIn. The AquaSpace tool is an open source product and builds in the prospective use of open source datasets at a European scale, hence aiming to improve reproducibility and collaboration in aquaculture science and research. Tool outputs comprise detailed reports and graphics allowing key stakeholders such as planners or licensing authorities to evaluate and communicate alternative planning scenarios and to take more informed decisions. With the help of the German North Sea case study we demonstrate here the tool application at multiple spatial scales with different aquaculture systems and under a range of space-related development constraints. The computation of these aquaculture planning scenarios and the assessment of their trade-offs showed that it is entirely possible to identify aquaculture sites, that correspondent to multifarious potential challenges, for instance by a low conflict potential, a low risk of disease spread, a comparable high economic profit and a low impact on touristic attractions. We believe that a transparent visualisation of risks and opportunities of aquaculture planning scenarios helps an effective Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) process, supports the licensing process and simplifies investments.
Wild animals in their natural environment could provide a big source of information, but sampling can be very challenging, above all for protected species, like marine mammals. Nevertheless, significant data can be obtained sampling stranded animals right after their death, taking into account proper sampling time and methodology.
RNA samples from the skin of 12 individuals including the species Stenellacoeruleoalba, Tursiops truncatus, and Grampus griseus were used to test 4 potential gene markers of anthropogenic contaminants exposure. The individuals were sampled in 3 geographic areas: the Adriatic, Ionian and Tyrrhenian seas. Three out of the 4 genes tested showed higher expression in the samples collected from the Adriatic Sea. Minute skin samples tell the story of the specific geographic location where the marine mammal spent its life, thanks to the different impact on gene expression exerted by different contamination levels.
Korea's acceptable biological catch (ABC) for total allowable catch (TAC) management has been estimated by a five-tier system that relies on population-based stock assessment models according to available ecological information for pelagic or demersal species. To overcome the limitations of the current ABC estimation system based on population dynamic models, this study attempted to integrate the ecosystem-based fisheries assessment (EBFA) approach into Korea's current ABC estimation system, and has developed an ABC estimation approach for ecosystem-based TAC management. To estimate an ecosystem-based ABC, ABC estimated by the current ABC estimation system was adjusted depending on the species risk index (SRI) that was derived from risk analysis of EBFA. During the process, the SRI-F relationship which generalizes the relationship between SRI and fishing mortality (F) was devised, and was used to estimate an ecosystem-based ABC. Also, the SRI projection as a function of the F scenario was conducted to estimate the regression coefficient of a relationship of SRI and F. We demonstrated an ecosystem-based ABC estimation by applying it to the chub mackerel, one of the TAC species in Korea's large purse seine fishery. As a result, the F at ABC (0.39/year) was adjusted as 0.365/year, while ABC (180,000 mt) was reduced to 170,393 mt. We found that this approach can be used to conservatively estimate the TAC in an ecosystem-based context for quota-managed fisheries.
Heterogeneous data collection in the marine environment has led to large gaps in our knowledge of marine species distributions. To fill these gaps, models calibrated on existing data may be used to predict species distributions in unsampled areas, given that available data are sufficiently representative. Our objective was to evaluate the feasibility of mapping cetacean densities across the entire Mediterranean Sea using models calibrated on available survey data and various environmental covariates. We aggregated 302,481 km of line transect survey effort conducted in the Mediterranean Sea within the past 20 years by many organisations. Survey coverage was highly heterogeneous geographically and seasonally: large data gaps were present in the eastern and southern Mediterranean and in non-summer months. We mapped the extent of interpolation versus extrapolation and the proportion of data nearby in environmental space when models calibrated on existing survey data were used for prediction across the entire Mediterranean Sea. Using model predictions to map cetacean densities in the eastern and southern Mediterranean, characterised by warmer, less productive waters, and more intense eddy activity, would lead to potentially unreliable extrapolations. We stress the need for systematic surveys of cetaceans in these environmentally unique Mediterranean waters, particularly in non-summer months.
The first part of this article explores the extent to which the European Union (EU) is an actor in the law of the sea. After explaining when, why and how the EU became such an actor, it considers the legal and political constraints on the capacity of the EU to act; the interests that have shaped its role as an actor; and the various means by which it acts. The second part of the article applies the conclusions from this analysis to outline the role that the EU has so far played in the ongoing development of the legal regime of the marine Arctic and to predict the role that it will continue to play, especially as regards navigation, fisheries, the exploitation of offshore oil and gas, and the protection of the environment.
Although fishing is one of the most widespread activities by which humans harvest natural resources, its global footprint is poorly understood and has never been directly quantified. We processed 22 billion automatic identification system messages and tracked >70,000 industrial fishing vessels from 2012 to 2016, creating a global dynamic footprint of fishing effort with spatial and temporal resolution two to three orders of magnitude higher than for previous data sets. Our data show that industrial fishing occurs in >55% of ocean area and has a spatial extent more than four times that of agriculture. We find that global patterns of fishing have surprisingly low sensitivity to short-term economic and environmental variation and a strong response to cultural and political events such as holidays and closures.
Science helps us identify problems, understand their extent, and begin to find solutions; it helps us understand future directions for our society. Scientists bear witness to scenes of change and discovery that most people will never experience. Yet the vividness of these experiences is often left out when scientists talk and write about their work. A growing community of practice is showing that scientists can share their message in an engaging way using a strategy that most are already familiar with: storytelling. Here we draw on our experiences leading scientist communication training and hosting science storytelling events at the International Marine Conservation Congress to share basic techniques, tips, and resources for incorporating storytelling into any scientist’s communication toolbox.