One way that illegal, unreported, and unregulated (IUU) fish catch is laundered into the seafood market is through transshipments at-sea. This practice, which often occurs on the high seas (the areas of ocean beyond national jurisdiction), allows vessels fishing illegally to evade most monitoring and enforcement measures, offload their cargo, and resume fishing without returning to port. At the same time, transshipment at-sea can facilitate trafficking and exploitation of workers who are trapped and abused on fishing vessels. This study gives an overview of high seas transshipment as well as evaluates transshipment at-sea regulations across 17 Regional Fisheries Management Organizations (RFMOs), which are responsible for regulating fisheries on the high seas. Transshipment at-sea regulations have become increasingly strict in most RFMOs since the late 1990s. However, only five RFMOs have mandated a partial ban, and only a single RFMO, the South East Atlantic Fisheries Organization (SEAFO), has mandated a total ban on transshipment at-sea. A total ban on transshipment at-sea across all RFMOs would support the ability of oversight and enforcement agencies to detect and prevent IUU fishing and also likely reduce human trafficking and forced labor on the high seas.
The distribution, abundance, and species assemblage of top predators - seabirds and cetaceans - can be correlated to water masses as defined by hydrological parameters. Compared to other oceans, information about the structuring effects of water masses on top predators in the Atlantic Ocean is limited. The present study aims 1) to provide baseline distributional data of top predators for future comparisons, for instance in the course of climate change, and 2) to test how water masses and seasons affect distributional patterns of seabirds and cetaceans in the temperate and tropical Atlantic. During four trans-equatorial expeditions of the RV Polarstern between 2011 and 2014, at-sea observation data of seabirds, cetaceans and other megafauna were collected. Counts of top predators were generally low in the surveyed regions. Statistical analyses for the eight most abundant seabird species and the pooled number of cetaceans revealed water masses and seasons to account for differences in counts and thus also distribution. In most cases, borders between water masses were not very distinct due to gradual changes in surface water properties. Thus, top predator counts were correlated to water masses but, in contrast to polar waters, not strongly linked to borders between water masses. Additional factors, e.g. distance to locally productive areas (upwelling), competition effects, and seabird associations to prey-accumulating subsurface predators may be similarly important in shaping distributional patterns of top predators in the tropical and temperate Atlantic, but could not be specifically tested for here.
Coastal nursery habitats are essential for the renewal of adult fish populations. We quantified the availability of a coastal nursery habitat (shallow heterogeneous rocky bottoms) and the spatial variability of its juvenile fish populations along 250 km of the Catalan coastline (France and Spain). Nurseries were present in 27% of the coastline, but only 2% of them benefited from strict protection status. For nine taxa characteristic of this habitat, total juvenile densities varied significantly between nursery sites along the coastline, with the highest densities being found on the northern sites. Recruitment level (i.e. a proxy of nursery value) was not explained by protection level, but it was moderately and positively correlated with an anthropization index. Patterns of spatial variations were taxa-specific. Exceptional observations of four juveniles of the protected grouper Epinephelus marginatus were recorded. Our data on habitat availability and recruitment levels provides important informations which help to focus MPA management efforts.
Changes imposed to nature by human activities and related impacts on all environmental matrices have become a critical issue. Gradually, humans began to perceive and face the magnitude of the impact of human economy on natural ecosystems and the implications for human well-being. From this perception, the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services arose, highlighting the relationships between natural and human economy while boosting environmental conservation and management. In this framework, the definition and application of metrics and models capable of accounting for natural capital value are much needed. This is even more important when a protection regime is established (such as in the case of marine protected areas) to evaluate the efficacy of undertaken conservation measures. In this study, a biophysical and trophodynamic environmental accounting model was developed to assess the value of natural capital in marine protected areas. The model of natural capital assessment is articulated in three main steps: 1) trophodynamic analysis, providing an estimate of the primary productivity used to support the benthic trophic web within the study area, 2) biophysical accounting, providing an estimate of the biophysical value of natural capital by means of emergy accounting, and 3) monetary conversion, expressing the biophysical value of natural capital into monetary units. This conversion does not change the biophysical feature of the assessment, but instead it has the merit of allowing an easier understanding and effective communication of the ecological value of natural capital in socio-economic contexts.
This paper presents GIS time-series land-use analysis of satellite images to quantify the recovery of rice cultivation and aquaculture following the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami in coastal communities in Aceh, Indonesia. We supplement this with qualitative data to illustrate the post-disaster challenges faced by residents, and the extent to which coastal communities have adapted to post-tsunami realities. Our analysis shows that the rehabilitation of rice cultivation and aquaculture in areas inundated by the tsunami has been limited by extensive degradation of land, diversion of labor by tsunami mortality and transition to alternative livelihoods, and re-purposing of rice fields for residential use during the reconstruction phase. This is especially prominent in areas where subsistence activities are not the primary source of livelihood. The Aceh case study shows that social, economic, and environmental factors can be stronger determinants of how coastal livelihoods rebound and change following destructive inundation events than livelihood rehabilitation aid. Additionally, our case study suggests the human impact of coastal hazards can be felt outside the physical extent of inundation.
Research and monitoring activities over the 28 years since the T/V Exxon Valdez ran aground and spilled oil into Prince William Sound, Alaska have led to an improved understanding of how wildlife populations were damaged, as well as the mechanisms and timelines of recovery. A key finding was that for some species, such as harlequin ducks and sea otters, chronic oil spill effects persisted for at least two decades and were a larger influence on population dynamics over the long term than acute effects of the spill. These data also offer insights into population variation resulting from factors other than the oil spill. For example, while many seabirds experienced direct and indirect effects of the spill, population trajectories of some piscivorous birds, including pigeon guillemots and marbled murrelets, were linked to long-term environmental changes independent of spill effects. Another species, killer whales, suffered population declines due to acute spill effects that have not been resolved despite lack of chronic direct effects, representing a novel pathway of long-term injury. The observed variation in mechanisms and timelines of recovery is linked to species specific life history and natural history traits, and thus may be useful for predicting population recovery for other species following other spills.
Species distribution modelling can be applied to identify potentially suitable habitat for species with largely unknown distributions, such as many deep-water corals. Important variables influencing species occurrence in the deep sea, e.g. substrate composition, are often not included in these modelling approaches because high-resolution data are unavailable. We investigated the relationship between substrate composition and the occurrence of the two deep-water octocoral species Primnoa resedaeformis and Paragorgia arborea, which require hard substrate for attachment. On a scale of 10 s of metres, we analysed images of the seafloor taken at two locations inside the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area in the Northwest Atlantic. We interpolated substrate composition over the sampling areas and determined the contribution of substrate classes, depth and slope to describe habitat suitability using maximum entropy modelling (Maxent). Substrate composition was similar at both sites - dominated by pebbles in a matrix of sand (>80%) with low percentages of suitable substrate for coral occurrence. Coral abundance was low at site 1 (0.9 colonies of P. resedaeformis per 100 m2) and high at site 2 (63 colonies of P. resedaeformis per 100 m2) indicating that substrate alone is not sufficient to explain varying patterns in coral occurrence. Spatial interpolations of substrate classes revealed the difficulty to accurately resolve sparsely distributed boulders (3 – 5% of substrate). Boulders were by far the most important variable in the habitat suitability model (HSM) for P. resedaeformis at site 1, indicating the fundamental influence of a substrate class that is the least abundant. At site 2, HSMs identified cobbles and sand/pebble as the most important variables for habitat suitability. However, substrate classes were correlated making it difficult to determine the influence of individual variables. To provide accurate information on habitat suitability for the two coral species, substrate composition needs to be quantified so that small fractions (<20% contribution of certain substrate class) of suitable substrate are resolved. While the collection and analysis of high-resolution data is costly and spatially limited, the required resolution is unlikely to be achieved in coarse-scale interpolations of substrate data.
With increasing demand for mineral resources, extraction of polymetallic sulphides at hydrothermal vents, cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts at seamounts, and polymetallic nodules on abyssal plains may be imminent. Here, we shortly introduce ecosystem characteristics of mining areas, report on recent mining developments, and identify potential stress and disturbances created by mining. We analyze species’ potential resistance to future mining and perform meta-analyses on population density and diversity recovery after disturbances most similar to mining: volcanic eruptions at vents, fisheries on seamounts, and experiments that mimic nodule mining on abyssal plains. We report wide variation in recovery rates among taxa, size, and mobility of fauna. While densities and diversities of some taxa can recover to or even exceed pre-disturbance levels, community composition remains affected after decades. The loss of hard substrata or alteration of substrata composition may cause substantial community shifts that persist over geological timescales at mined sites.
Understanding regional migration, residency dynamics, and associated trophic ecology can inform recovery strategies for pelagic species such as Pacific bluefin tuna Thunnus orientalis (PBFT). PBFT residency duration in the eastern Pacific is uncertain, particularly for larger individuals (here, >100 cm or ~3+ years of age). We applied a previously tested “chemical tracer toolbox (Fukushima-derived radiocesium and 13C and 15N stable isotope signatures) to examine migratory and residency patterns and dietary inputs of 428 age 1–6+ PBFT, collected from 2012 to 2015 in the eastern Pacific Ocean. Age 1–3 individuals were a mix of residents and recent (≤ 500 d) migrants, while 98% of age 3–4 and 100% of age 4–6.3 years old PBFT were resident for >500 days in the eastern Pacific. Zooplanktivorous forage (e.g., sardine, anchovy, pelagic red crab, and trophically similar species) of the California Current Ecosystem constituted 57–82% of diet across PBFT sizes. Migration timing estimates show that PBFT may spend two to five years in the eastern Pacific Ocean before returning to the western Pacific.
Marine primary production is a fundamental component of the Earth system, providing the main source of food and energy to the marine food web, and influencing the concentration of atmospheric CO 2 (refs 1,2). Earth system model (ESM) projections of global marine primary production are highly uncertain with models projecting both increases3, 4 and declines of up to 20% by 21005, 6. This uncertainty is predominantly driven by the sensitivity of tropical ocean primary production to climate change, with the latest ESMs suggesting twenty-first-century tropical declines of between 1 and 30% (refs 5,6). Here we identify an emergent relationship7, 8, 9,10, 11 between the long-term sensitivity of tropical ocean primary production to rising equatorial zone sea surface temperature (SST) and the interannual sensitivity of primary production to El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-driven SST anomalies. Satellite-based observations of the ENSO sensitivity of tropical primary production are then used to constrain projections of the long-term climate impact on primary production. We estimate that tropical primary production will decline by 3 ± 1% per kelvin increase in equatorial zone SST. Under a business-as-usual emissions scenario this results in an 11 ± 6% decline in tropical marine primary production and a 6 ± 3% decline in global marine primary production by 2100.
Understanding the underlying causes of SCUBA diver contact with sensitive benthic organisms is critical for designing targeted strategies to address and manage diver impacts. For the marine tourism industry to maintain or expand current levels of recreational diving practices, ecologically sustainable management of dive sites is required. This study surveyed 400 SCUBA divers engaged in recreational diving in the subtropical reefs off eastern Australia. A combination of in-water observational research was conducted, with post-dive questionnaires. Linear regression techniques were employed to identify the variables that correlate the frequency of diver contacts with reef biota. Of the 17 variables tested, nine were found to significantly influence contact frequency. These were: the number of days since a diver's last dive, location of original certification, awareness and understanding of marine park zoning (3 variables), site selection, use of photographic equipment, total number of dives logged and diving depth. These results show that while a diver's long-term and recent experience can play a role, awareness of marine park regulations and unidentified differences in prior training (related to location) are also important, suggesting that education and training may provide viable alternatives to limiting diver access at sensitive locations.
Resource managers and policy makers have long recognized the importance of considering fisheries in the context of ecosystems; yet, movement towards widespread Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM) has been slow. A conceptual reframing of fisheries management is occurring globally, which envisions fisheries as systems with interacting biophysical and human subsystems. This broader view, along with a process for decision making, can facilitate implementation of EBFM. A pathway to achieve these broadened objectives of EBFM in the U.S. is a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP). The first generation of FEPs was conceived in the late 1990s as voluntary guidance documents that Regional Fishery Management Councils could adopt to develop and guide their ecosystem-based fisheries management decisions, but few of these FEPs took concrete steps to implement EBFM. Here, we emphasize the need for a new generation of FEPs that provide practical mechanisms for putting EBFM into practice in the U.S. We argue that next-generation FEPs can balance environmental, economic, and social objectives—the triple bottom line – to improve long-term planning for fishery systems.
Coral reefs are degraded by the synergistic action of climate and anthropogenic stressors. Coral cover in the Palk Bay reef at the northern Indian Ocean largely declined in the past decade due to frequent bleaching events, tsunami and increased fishing activities. In this study, we carried out a comparative assessment to assess the differences in the recovery and resilience of three spatially distant reefs viz. Vedhalai, Mandapam and Pamban along Palk Bay affected by moderate, severe and low fishing pressure respectively. The assessment was based on the juvenile coral recruitment pattern and its survivability combined with availability of hard substratum, live coral cover and herbivore reef fish stock. The Vedhalai reef has the highest coral cover (14.6 ± 6.3%), and ≥90% of the live corals in Vedhalai and Mandapam were affected by turf algal overgrowth. The density of herbivore reef fish was low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs compared to the Pamban reef with relatively few grazing species. The juvenile coral diversity and density were high in the Pamban reef and low in Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs despite high hard substratum cover. In total, 22 species of juvenile corals of 10 genera were recorded in Palk Bay. Comparison of the species diversity of juvenile corals with adult ones suggested that the Pamban reef is connected with other distant reefs whereas Vedhalai and Mandapam reefs were self-seeded. There was no statistically significant difference in the survivability of juvenile corals between the study sites, and in total, ≥90% of the juvenile corals survived the high sedimentation stress triggered by the northeast monsoon and bleaching stress that occurred recurrently. Our results indicated that the human activities indirectly affected the juvenile coral recruitment by degrading the live coral cover and contributed to the spatial variation in the recovery and resilience of the Palk Bay reef. Low species diversity of the juvenile corals will increase the vulnerability of the Palk Bay reef to species-specific endemic threats.
1. Birds breeding on ocean beaches are threatened globally, often requiring significant investments in species conservation and habitat management. Conservation actions typically encompass spatial and temporal threat reductions and protection of eggs and broods. Still, populations decline or recover only slowly, calling for fresh approaches in beach-bird conservation.
2. Because energetic demands are critically high during nesting and chick rearing phases, and chick survival is particularly low, supplementing prey to breeding birds and their offspring is theoretically attractive as a means to complement more traditional conservation measures.
3. Prey for plovers and similar species on ocean beaches consists of invertebrates (e.g. small crustaceans, insects) many of which feed on stranded masses of plant material (e.g. kelp and seagrass) and use this ‘wrack’ as habitat. We added wrack to the upper beach where plovers nest and their chicks forage to test whether algal subsidies promote the abundance and diversity of their invertebrate prey.
4. Adding wrack to the upper beach significantly increased the abundance and diversity of invertebrate prey items. At wrack subsidies greater than 50% of surface cover invertebrate assemblages became highly distinct compared with those that received smaller additions of wrack. Substantial (2–4 fold) increases in the abundance amphipods and isopods that are principal prey items for plovers drove these shifts.
5. This proof-of-concept study demonstrates the feasibility of food provisioning for birds on ocean shores. Whilst novel, it is practicable, inexpensive and does not introduce further restrictions or man-made structures. Thus, it can meaningfully add to the broader arsenal of conservation tools for threatened species that are wholly reliant on sandy beaches as breeding and foraging habitats.
It is widely acknowledged that family and care-giving responsibilities are driving women away from Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Marine mammal science often incurs heavy fieldwork and travel obligations, which make it a challenging career in which to find work-life balance. This opinion piece explores gender equality, equity (the principles of fairness that lead to equality), and work-life balance in science generally and in this field in particular. We aim to (1) raise awareness of these issues among members of the Society for Marine Mammalogy; (2) explore members’ attitudes and viewpoints collected from an online survey and further discussion at a biennial conference workshop in 2015; and (3) make suggestions for members to consider for action, or for the Board of Governors to consider in terms of changes to policy or procedures. Leaks in our pipeline—the attrition of women, and others with additional caring responsibilities—represent an intellectual and economic loss. By striving for equity and promoting work-life balance, we will help to ensure a healthy and productive Society better able to succeed in its aims promoting education, high quality research, conservation, and management of marine mammals.
Nature reserves are created to conserve biodiversity and restore populations of harvested species, but it is not clear whether this strategy is successful in all ecosystems. Reserves are gazetted in estuaries to offset impacts from burgeoning human populations, however, coastal conservation cannot be optimized because their effectiveness is rarely evaluated. We surveyed 220 sites in 22 estuaries in the Moreton Bay Marine Park, Queensland, Australia, including all six current estuarine marine reserves within the park. Fishes were surveyed using one hour deployments of baited remote underwater video stations twice at each site over consecutive days. We show that although the estuarine reserves in Moreton Bay contain a significantly different fish community, they fail to enhance the abundance of harvested fish species. We posit that performance is limited because reserves protect unique spatial features, or conserve narrow estuaries with weak connections to mangrove habitats and the open sea. Consequently, reserves as currently positioned protect only a subset of potential environmental conditions present for fish within the region, and potentially support residual estuarine habitats (i.e. expansive intertidal flats or shallow creeks) which are not particularly significant to either fish or fishers. We argue that reserve effectiveness can be improved by conserving deeper estuaries, with diverse habitats for fish and strong connections to the open sea. Without incorporating these critical spatial considerations into estuarine reserve design, estuarine reserves are doomed to fail.
Sociological critiques of scientific research processes and their application have developed nuanced understandings of the social, cultural and political forces shaping relationships between science and decision-making. Simultaneously, environmental researchers have sought to construct more engaged, dynamic modes of conducting research to facilitate the application of science in decision-making and action. To date, however, there are relatively few theoretically-oriented approaches that have been able to draw productive connections between the sociological critique and the practical applications that can aid in navigating this complex and diverse milieu. In this article, we propose that the concept of “knowledge governance” can bring together targeted inquiry into the socio-political context in which environmental science is situated, alongside analysis of specific interventions that change knowledge-to-action relationships. Drawing together Jasanoff’s (2005) concept of civic epistemology with Cash et al.’s (2003) knowledge systems for sustainability approach, this knowledge governance inquiry framework offers an integrative lens through which to critically reflect on knowledge-based processes, and incorporate that deeper understanding into intervention efforts. We briefly illustrate its application with reference to a pilot project examining conservation decision-making in the Western Pacific island nation of Palau.
Managers of marine protected areas (MPAs) are constantly challenged to encourage positive user behaviour to minimise impacts on marine ecosystems while allowing recreational use. Yet, some marine users continue to act in ways that diminish conservation values of the area. Drawing on social psychological theories, this paper presents a case for informed behaviour change strategies to reduce problem behaviours in MPAs and contribute to conservation efforts. Social psychological drivers of behaviour are explained and applied to an MPA context to demonstrate how they can inform strategies for predicting and changing behaviour using persuasive communication. As behavioural and persuasive communication theories are seldom invoked and almost never rigorously applied to MPAs, the review offers new theoretical and practical insights into how they can assist MPA management to target and shift specific behaviours that ultimately support marine park values.
This is the rst Guide to provide practical, science-based information for shark and ray tourism operators who want to offer the best possible experience to their customers, while conserving species and habitats and making a positive contribution to local communities. It provides guidance, and tools that can be tailored to local circumstances, enabling operators to improve the educational quality, safety, and sustainability of their businesses. It also gives practical information, based on the best available scientific data, to management authorities and others engaging with the industry.
Much has been written about the poor relations between fisheries scientists and lay people, but the experience of two field biologists suggests that good relations can exist and have a positive impact on the exchange of knowledge across the “science”—“society” divide. This article is a first attempt to map the contact points between fisheries scientists and lay people and to explore the spin-offs these can have. It presents the results of two surveys conducted with participants at the November 2015 MYFISH/ICES Symposium on “Targets and limits for long term fisheries management”: a real-time Kahoot survey of the audience and a longer, on-line survey some participants filled out following the symposium session. The survey results generally support the supposition that fisheries scientist-society interactions are extremely varied and that much in the way of information exchange and mutual learning can occur. However they also show that trust issues remain in the fisheries management community, but not just between scientists and lay people: fisheries managers and environmental non-governmental organizations may be less trusted by scientists than are lay people. The study concludes by discussing how future studies should be designed and focused and with an invitation for comments from the ICES community.