This work provides a formal evaluation of 25 ecological indicators highlighted by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s IEA program as useful for tracking ecosystem components in the Gulf of Mexico. Using an Atlantis ecosystem model as an operating model, we select indicators that are quantifiable using simulation outputs and evaluate their sensitivity to changes in fishing mortality. Indicator behavior was examined using a multivariate ordination. The ordination is used to tell how well each indicator describes variation in ecosystem structure (termed ‘importance’) under different levels of fishing mortality and to reveal redundancies in the information conveyed by indicators. We determine importance using sample data from the operating model, with and without observation error added. Indicators whose importance is diminished least by error are considered robust to observational error. We then quantify the interannual noise of each indicator, where annual variability relates to the required sampling frequency in a management application. Red snapper biomass, King mackerel biomass and Reef fish catch ranked in the top 5 most important without error scenarios, and King mackerel biomass and Species richness were in the top 5 most important even after error was added. Red snapper biomass was consistently found to be the most important and most robust among fishing mortality scenarios tested, and all 4 of these indicators were found to have low levels of interannual noise suggesting that they need to be sampled infrequently. Our results provide insight into the usefulness of these indicators for fisheries managers interested in the impacts of fishing on the ecosystem.
Mangrove dominated muddy coasts (MDMCs) throughout the world have been made vulnerable to erosion by human induced and natural factors. Meanwhile, their management has not been clearly identified in the literature. This study uses a comprehensive literature review to describe strategies, specifically designed to manage MDMCs for effectiveness, and provides recommendations for sustainable management of these coasts. Only a small percentage of previous studies deals with real-world management of MDMCs. Two approaches that are specifically designed to manage MDMCs are science-based approaches and local knowledge-based approaches. Both approaches, each having advantages, have had limited success in effectively managing MDMCs, with a low level of local involvement, and a minimal integration of the different knowledge systems. MDMCs and their management should be distinguished from other types of coasts to avoid possible confusion in the literature. Mechanisms are needed for integrating different knowledge systems for effectively managing MDMCs. These mechanisms should promote a high level of integration of local and scientific knowledge, local ownership, and sustainability.
As a consequence of global environmental change, management strategies that can deal with unexpected change in resource dynamics are becoming increasingly important. In this paper we undertake a novel approach to studying resource growth problems using a computational form of adaptive management to find optimal strategies for prevalent natural resource management dilemmas. We scrutinize adaptive management, or learning-by-doing, to better understand how to simultaneously manage and learn about a system when its dynamics are unknown. We study important trade-offs in decision-making with respect to choosing optimal actions (harvest efforts) for sustainable management during change. This is operationalized through an artificially intelligent model where we analyze how different trends and fluctuations in growth rates of a renewable resource affect the performance of different management strategies. Our results show that the optimal strategy for managing resources with declining growth is capable of managing resources with fluctuating or increasing growth at a negligible cost, creating in a management strategy that is both efficient and robust towards future unknown changes. To obtain this strategy, adaptive management should strive for: high learning rates to new knowledge, high valuation of future outcomes and modest exploration around what is perceived as the optimal action.
Estimating animal populations is critical for wildlife management. Aerial surveys are used for generating population estimates, but can be hampered by cost, logistical complexity, and human risk. Additionally, human counts of organisms in aerial imagery can be tedious and subjective. Automated approaches show promise, but can be constrained by long setup times and difficulty discriminating animals in aggregations. We combine unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), thermal imagery and computer vision to improve traditional wildlife survey methods. During spring 2015, we flew fixed-wing UAS equipped with thermal sensors, imaging two grey seal (Halichoerus grypus) breeding colonies in eastern Canada. Human analysts counted and classified individual seals in imagery manually. Concurrently, an automated classification and detection algorithm discriminated seals based upon temperature, size, and shape of thermal signatures. Automated counts were within 95–98% of human estimates; at Saddle Island, the model estimated 894 seals compared to analyst counts of 913, and at Hay Island estimated 2188 seals compared to analysts’ 2311. The algorithm improves upon shortcomings of computer vision by effectively recognizing seals in aggregations while keeping model setup time minimal. Our study illustrates how UAS, thermal imagery, and automated detection can be combined to efficiently collect population data critical to wildlife management.
Marine spatial planning (MSP), a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives, is today generally accepted as the preferred tool to promote sustainable development of our increasingly degrading marine environment. However, as implementation of MSP grows worldwide, so does the realisation of the importance of effectively assessing performance of that implementation, to ensure that MSP delivers its maximum potential. While some evaluation initiatives are already in place, dedicated research on the evaluation component of MSP is a pressing need. Portugal is one of Europe’s and the world’s largest maritime nations, and, in line with EU policy and guidelines, has just completed its legal framework for MSP. As the spatial plan for the c. 4 M km2 of Portugal’s national maritime space (NMS) is being developed, it is critical that it is coupled from the onset with the discussion on how its performance (the success of those actions) will be evaluated. This study aimed to assist the emerging Portuguese MSP system, in the development of an evaluation mechanism to assess its performance, based on a set of national, strategic level indicators scoped out through a participatory approach. The methodology used was based on a combination of secondary research (literature review) and primary research (data production). The latter included two components both involving MSP stakeholders: i) an analysis of the Portuguese legal framework for MSP; ii) the development of an indicator system to evaluate MSP performance designed as a five-step iterative process and based on legally stated objectives of MSP. A framework for evaluating performance of Portuguese MSP is proposed. Indicators selected are related to the EU’s eleven principles for MSP and the legally stated objectives of Portuguese MSP. They cover key aspects of MSP: the ecosystem-approach to management, data and knowledge base, transparency, stakeholder participation, improved coordination, legal certainty, and articulation at the boundaries of MSP (land-sea integration, and cross-border cooperation). This research constituted a first approach to a mechanism to evaluate MSP performance for the entire Portuguese NMS from the outset of the planning process. It was unique in Portugal in fully engaging a diversity of MSP practitioners and stakeholders in this stage of planning evaluation, a burgeoning approach at the international level. As such, while the proposed mechanism was focused on the Portuguese case, it has the potential to be useful, relevant and adaptable to other coastal nations in Europe and beyond.
The difficulty of censusing marine animal populations hampers effective ocean management. Analyzing water for DNA traces shed by organisms may aid assessment. Here we tested aquatic environmental DNA (eDNA) as an indicator of fish presence in the lower Hudson River estuary. A checklist of local marine fish and their relative abundance was prepared by compiling 12 traditional surveys conducted between 1988–2015. To improve eDNA identification success, 31 specimens representing 18 marine fish species were sequenced for two mitochondrial gene regions, boosting coverage of the 12S eDNA target sequence to 80% of local taxa. We collected 76 one-liter shoreline surface water samples at two contrasting estuary locations over six months beginning in January 2016. eDNA was amplified with vertebrate-specific 12S primers. Bioinformatic analysis of amplified DNA, using a reference library of GenBank and our newly generated 12S sequences, detected most (81%) locally abundant or common species and relatively few (23%) uncommon taxa, and corresponded to seasonal presence and habitat preference as determined by traditional surveys. Approximately 2% of fish reads were commonly consumed species that are rare or absent in local waters, consistent with wastewater input. Freshwater species were rarely detected despite Hudson River inflow. These results support further exploration and suggest eDNA will facilitate fine-scale geographic and temporal mapping of marine fish populations at relatively low cost.
Shifts in species ranges are a global phenomenon, well known to occur in response to a changing climate. New species arriving in an area may become pest species, modify ecosystem structure, or represent challenges or opportunities for fisheries and recreation. Early detection of range shifts and prompt implementation of any appropriate management strategies is therefore crucial. This study investigates whether 'first sightings' of marine species outside their normal ranges could provide an early warning of impending climate-driven range shifts. We examine the relationships between first sightings and marine regions defined by patterns of local climate velocities (calculated on a 50-year timescale), while also considering the distribution of observational effort (i.e. number of sampling days recorded with biological observations in global databases). The marine trajectory regions include climate 'source' regions (areas lacking connections to warmer areas), 'corridor' regions (areas where moving isotherms converge), and 'sink' regions (areas where isotherms locally disappear). Additionally, we investigate the latitudinal band in which first sightings were recorded, and species' thermal affiliations. We found that first sightings are more likely to occur in climate sink and 'divergent' regions (areas where many rapid and diverging climate trajectories pass through) indicating a role of temperature in driving changes in marine species distributions. The majority of our fish first sightings appear to be tropical and subtropical species moving towards high latitudes, as would be expected in climate warming. Our results indicate that first sightings are likely related to longer-term climatic processes, and therefore have potential use to indicate likely climate-driven range shifts. The development of an approach to detect impending range shifts at an early stage will allow resource managers and researchers to better manage opportunities resulting from range-shifting species before they potentially colonize.
To gauge the collateral impacts of fishing we must know where fishing boats operate and how much they fish. Although small-scale fisheries land approximately the same amount of fish for human consumption as industrial fleets globally, methods of estimating their fishing effort are comparatively poor. We present an accessible, spatial method of calculating the effort of small-scale fisheries based on two simple measures that are available, or at least easily estimated, in even the most data-poor fisheries: the number of boats and the local coastal human population. We illustrate the method using a small-scale fisheries case study from the Gulf of California, Mexico, and show that our measure of Predicted Fishing Effort (PFE), measured as the number of boats operating in a given area per day adjusted by the number of people in local coastal populations, can accurately predict fisheries landings in the Gulf. Comparing our values of PFE to commercial fishery landings throughout the Gulf also indicates that the current number of small-scale fishing boats in the Gulf is approximately double what is required to land theoretical maximum fish biomass. Our method is fishery-type independent and can be used to quantitatively evaluate the efficacy of growth in small-scale fisheries. This new method provides an important first step towards estimating the fishing effort of small-scale fleets globally.
Effective coastal planning incorporates the variety of user needs, values, and interests associated with coastal environments. This requires understanding how people relate to coastal environments as “places,” imbued with values and meanings, and accordingly, tools that can capture place and connect with people's “sense of place” have the potential for supporting effective coastal management strategies. Realistic, immersive geographical visualizations, i.e., geovisualizations, theoretically hold potential to serve such a role in coastal planning; however, significant research gaps exist around this application context. Firstly, place theory and geovisualizations are rarely explicitly linked in the same studies, leaving questions around how to model “coastal place,” as well as coastal space. Secondly, geovisualization work has focused on terrestrial environments, and research on how to realistically model coastal places is currently in its infancy. The current study addresses the research gaps by developing a coastal geovisualization under place-based considerations, and then examining its capacity as a tool for connecting with people's sense of place. The research uses Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (BC, Canada) as a study site, and a geovisualization was developed using a combination of ArcGIS, Adobe Photoshop, Trimble SketchUp, and Unity3D. Focus groups were assembled involving Parks Canada staff and Greater Victoria Area residents, and the geovisualization was assessed in terms of its representation of a real-world coastal place and ability for connecting with sense of place. Findings from the study indicate that the presence of certain elements in coastal geovisualizations can contribute to realism and sense of place, such as people, dogs, birds, marine life, vegetation, and boats; however, simultaneously, deficiencies in numbers and varieties of these elements can detract from realism and sense of place. In addition, incorporation of soundscape and viewshed elements both demonstrated as significant to the tool's ability to connect with sense of place, with the latter potentially being more significant among those with higher familiarity with the real-world place. Beach textures were also found to be important for the geovisualization's ability to connect with sense of place; however, this ability can be compromised when running versions of the tool with lower graphical resolution.
Current concern about biodiversity change associated with human impacts has raised scientific interest in the role of biodiversity in ecosystem functioning. However, studies on this topic face the challenge of evaluating and separating the relative contributions of biodiversity and environment to ecosystem functioning in natural environments. To investigate this problem, we collected sediment cores at different seafloor locations in Saanich Inlet and the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia, Canada, and measured benthic fluxes of oxygen and five nutrients (ammonium, nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, and silicate). We also measured 18 environmental variables at each location, identified macrofauna, and calculated a suite of species and functional diversity indices. Our results indicate that, examined separately, macrobenthic functional richness (FRic) predicted benthic flux better than species richness, explaining ~ 20% of the benthic flux variation at our sites. Environmental variables and functional diversity indices collectively explained 62.9% of benthic flux variation, with similar explanatory contributions from environmental variables (21.4%) and functional diversity indices (18.5%). The 22.9% shared variation between environmental variables and functional diversity indices demonstrate close linkages between species and environment. Finally, we also identified funnel feeding as a key functional group represented by a small number of species and individuals of maldanid and pectinariid polychaetes, which disproportionately affected benthic flux rates relative to their abundance. Our results indicate the primary importance of environment and functional diversity in controlling ecosystem functioning. Furthermore, these results illustrate the consequences of anthropogenic impacts, such as biodiversity loss and environmental changes, for ecosystem functioning.
Biodiversity and conservation data are generally costly to collect, particularly in the marine realm. Hence, data collected for a given—often scientific—purpose are occasionally contributed toward secondary needs, such as policy implementation or other types of decision-making. However, while the quality and accessibility of marine biodiversity and conservation data have improved over the past decade, the ways in which these data can be used to develop and implement relevant management and conservation measures and actions are not always explicit. For this reason, there are a number of scientifically-sound datasets that are not used systematically to inform policy and decisions. Transforming these marine biodiversity and conservation datasets into knowledge products that convey the information required by policy- and decision-makers is an important step in strengthening knowledge exchange across the science-policy interface. Here, we identify seven characteristics of a selection of online biodiversity and conservation knowledge products that contribute to their ability to support policy- and decision-making in the marine realm (as measured by e.g., mentions in policy resolutions/decisions, or use for reporting under selected policy instruments; use in high-level screening for areas of biodiversity importance). These characteristics include: a clear policy mandate; established networks of collaborators; iterative co-design of a user-friendly interface; standardized, comprehensive and documented methods with quality assurance; consistent capacity and succession planning; accessible data and value-added products that are fit-for-purpose; and metrics of use collated and reported. The outcomes of this review are intended to: (a) support data creators/owners/providers in designing and curating biodiversity and conservation knowledge products that have greater influence, and hence impact, in policy- and decision-making, and (b) provide recommendations for how decision- and policy-makers can support the development, implementation, and sustainability of robust biodiversity and conservation knowledge products through the framing of marine policy and decision-making frameworks.
The importance of scaling initiatives that promote environmental protection and conservation is almost universally recognized. But how is scaling best achieved? We empirically evaluated the relationship of a list of factors that have been postulated to facilitate successful scaling to the degree of scaling success achieved in 56 case studies from a variety of sectors. We identified 23 factors that are significantly associated with successful scaling, defined as self-replication: an innovation that is congruent with local sociocultural patterns, takes advantage of existing scaled infrastructure, and facilitates a paradigm shift; adequate resources and constituencies for scaling, secured from the start, drawn from both within and outside the system; pilot sites that reflect conditions at future sites rather than ideal conditions; clear and deliberate scaling expectations and strategy; capitalization on economies of scale; a project team that has a unifying vision, includes both individuals who helped design the innovation and members of the target audience, and empowers users with the requisite skills; target audiences that take ownership of the project; the provision of long-term support systems; ongoing learning about the factors influencing scaling; direct management of relevant supply and demand streams; targeted marketing and dissemination efforts; and the evaluation of scaling success indicators. We also explored correlations between these principles, and identified a group of principles that together explain nearly 40% of the variance in success: the provision of long-term support systems (or one of its surrogates: turning users into partners, a user organization with wide reach, and the empowerment of the target audience with requisite skills); resources mobilized from within and outside the system; user organizations that have the capacity to implement the innovation; innovations that are platform solutions and that provide rapid feedback; and pilot sites that have realistic conditions relative to future sites. Our results suggest that for scaling to be successful: (1) scaling must be considered at all stages of a project; (2) the context must be managed and barriers to scaling must be identified and removed and (3) deliberate attention must be paid to scaling methods, marketing and dissemination efforts, and long-term monitoring of scaling progress.
In the most recent U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the USDA Advisory Committee recommended for the first time the inclusion of sustainability considerations (DGA Committee, 2015). Since the U.S. Dietary Guidelines provide standards for nutrition and targets for federal and state food programs, explicitly incorporating sustainability would advance considerably discussions of food system sustainability (Merrigan et al., 2015). However, despite broad public support, sustainability 80 concerns were ultimately jettisoned from the 2015–2020 Guidelines (Secretary Vilsack and Burwell, 2015; US Department of Health and Human Services and US Department of Agriculture, 2015; Wood-Wright, 2016). Though much of the concern around incorporating sustainability has focused on animal agriculture, the sectors most heavily impacted by sustainability policies are arguably fisheries and aquaculture. Fish have been promoted as a sustainability strategy, providing nutritious alternatives to resource intensive livestock and poultry, and a concern, given the decline of many global fish stocks (Worm et al., 2006; Health Council of the Netherlands, 2011; FAO, 2014). Yet, we regularly overlook the origins and implications of this decline due to fragmented notions of our food resources. Resources that originate in our oceans, rivers, and lakes are almost entirely omitted in our conceptions of a sustainable food system.
To understand the trade-offs from food production and consumption to sustainability, we must extend our understanding of food resources to conceive of fishery, agricultural, and livestock systems as integrally linked. Our failure to do so thus far has led to a disjointed understanding of our food system, contributed to inequalities in food access, and exacerbated overexploitation and environmental degradation. We argue here that fishery resources are of particular concern for sustainability yet often omitted in conceptions of our food system, and that such disjointed notions of food resources limit our ability to foster sustainable diets (Farmery et al., 2017).
The dynamic nature of most environments forces many animals to move to meet their fundamental needs. This is especially true in aquatic environments where shifts in spatial ecology (which are a result of movements) are among the first adaptive responses of animals to changes in ecosystems. Changes in the movement and distribution of individuals will in turn alter population dynamics and ecosystem structure. Thus, understanding the drivers and impacts of variation in animal movements over time is critical to conservation and spatial planning. Here, we identify key challenges that impede aquatic animal movement science from informing management and conservation, and propose strategies for overcoming them. Challenges include: (1) Insufficient communication between terrestrial and aquatic movement scientists that could be increased through cross-pollination of analytical tools and development of new tools and outputs; (2) Incomplete coverage in many studies of animal space use (e.g., entire life span not considered); (3) Insufficient data archiving and availability; (4) Barriers to incorporating movement data into decision-making processes; and (5) Limited understanding of the value of movement data for management and conservation. We argue that the field of movement ecology is at present an under-tapped resource for aquatic decision-makers, but is poised to play a critical role in future management approaches and policy development.
Science conferences are a critical component of the scientific enterprise. They give us opportunities to present our research, to network and create future career opportunities, and to recruit researchers to our teams (Parsons, 2015). Many fruitful collaborations have spawned from chance meetings at conferences, and doubtless innumerable conservation solutions have stemmed from conversations over coffee at these important events. Therefore, whenever there is inequity of access to science conferences, the entire discipline suffers. Conservation science is tasked with saving the Earth's biodiversity, so for us, inequity means the biosphere suffers as well. But most importantly, individuals who are passionate about conservation can be driven out of the field due to disillusion and distrust.
Despite advances in marine conservation research, policy, and management, human activities continue to negatively affect marine species, habitats, and ecosystems, and the people who rely on them for needed resources. This begs the question: What is preventing us from being more effective in conserving marine species, habitats, and ecosystems? Answering this requires us to identify gaps in marine conservation efforts and develop a consensus on how best to target our efforts. One way to do this is to conduct research prioritization exercises. The questions discussed here were identified during a series of workshops designed to establish a list of important questions that need to be answered to advance marine conservation. We deemed these particular questions to be in a separate class than those considered in the associated paper “Seventy-One Important Questions for the Conservation of Marine Biodiversity” (Parsons et al., 2014b). These questions were put into a separate category because they were identified as areas of ecological, social, and economic research that include external drivers or required sizable paradigm shifts to address. Here we describe and discuss these “Kraken in the aquarium” questions—the marine equivalent of “the elephant in the room” questions—in four sections: human nature, meeting our responsibilities, entrenched interests, and corporate driven policy. Within each section, we address multiple questions by identifying the issues and offering examples of ways forward where possible. This paper is intended to start a dialog about these difficult questions that loom over marine conservation research and management. It is becoming increasingly important that the conservation practitioner community engages in these discussions and develops solutions in order for our work to be fully effective.
Vessel collision is a recognised threat to sea turtles residing in coastal waters. Although management systems (i.e. Go Slow Zones) are in place in some areas to minimise vessel-turtle collisions, incidents may persist when the spatial extent of the protection and habitat use by animals do not match or when turtle populations increase. In Queensland, Australia, most incidents are recorded in the Moreton Bay region despite enforcement of the Go Slow Zones in some of the bay's shallow water zones (water depth ≤ 5 m). Our study investigated the degree to which the current Go Slow Zones provide protection to sea turtles in Moreton Bay, and the potential for improvement of current management initiatives. We tracked 18 green (Chelonia mydas) and 20 loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles using Argos-linked Fastloc GPS tags for periods between 22 and 999 d, and examined how they used habitat in relation to the Go Slow Zones and water depth. We found that the highest protection was provided to green turtles (39%) and loggerhead turtles (55%) residing in the eastern side of Moreton Bay, where most of the current Go Slow Zones are located. However, we also found that the current Go Slow Zones offer little or no protection to turtles using southern, western and northern Moreton Bay, or any deeper water zones (water depth > 5 m). Given the frequent use of the shallow areas by our study turtles, if all shallow zones in Moreton Bay were to be designated as Go Slow Zones, nearly a half or more of their habitats could be protected from vessel operation. Additionally shallow zones plus a 1.2 km, 2.4 km, or 3.6 km buffer could protect ≥80%, ≥90% or ≥95% of their habitats as the extra areas cover the deeper zones adjacent to the shallow zones. Our findings are highly informative to conservation managers when revising or developing Go Slow Zones in Moreton Bay, with potential application to the management of other coastal areas used by sea turtles globally.
CO2 is a critical and potentially limiting substrate for photosynthesis of both terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. In addition to being a climate-warming greenhouse gas, increasing concentrations of CO2 will dissolve in the oceans, eliciting both negative and positive responses among organisms in a process commonly known as ocean acidification. The dissolution of CO2 into ocean surface waters, however, also increases its availability for photosynthesis, to which the highly successful, and ecologically important, seagrasses respond positively. Thus, the process might be more accurately characterized as ocean carbonation. This experiment demonstrated that CO2 stimulation of primary production enhances the summertime survival, growth, and proliferation of perennial eelgrass Zostera marina from the Chesapeake region, which is regularly impacted by summer heat stress. The experiment also quantified the logarithmic response to CO2 in terms of shoot proliferation, size, growth and sugar accumulation that was fundamentally consistent with model predictions based on metabolic carbon balance derived from short-term laboratory experiments performed with other eelgrass populations from cool ocean climates and other seagrass species from tropical and temperate environments. Rather than acting in a neutral fashion or as an independent stressor, increased CO2 availability can serve as a quantitative antagonist to counter the negative impact of climate warming on seagrass growth and survival. These results reinforce the emerging paradigm that seagrasses are likely to benefit significantly from a high-CO2 world.
As part of its annual bottom-trawl survey program, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) has been collecting and analyzing the stomach contents of groundfish predators since 1981. Between 1981 and 2011, a total of 233,451 fish stomachs were collected and analyzed from the eastern Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands large marine ecosystems; these data are now available online as AFSC’s Groundfish Trophic Interactions Database. Here, we discuss features of the survey and data to aid in the interpretation and use of this extensive dataset for the Alaska region.
As part of its annual bottom-trawl survey program, the Alaska Fisheries Science Center (AFSC) has been collecting and analyzing the stomach contents of groundfish predators since 1981. Between 1981 and 2011, a total of 233,451 fish stomachs were collected and analyzed from the eastern Bering Sea, the Gulf of Alaska, and the Aleutian Islands large marine ecosystems; these data are now available online as AFSC’s Groundfish Trophic Interactions Database. Here, we discuss features of the survey and data to aid in the interpretation and use of this extensive dataset for the Alaska region. The primary fish sampled include walleye pollock (Gadus chalcogrammus), Pacific cod (Gadus macrocephalus), Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis), and arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias), although 159 predator species have been included in the stomach content analysis. Prey length measurements are included for important commercial prey and can identify age or size classes of prey prior to their recruitment into fisheries and most other surveys. With these data, one can track time trends in growth, mortality, and prey composition as ecosystem indicators, and include food web interactions in fish stock assessments for ecosystem-based fisheries management.
Around the globe, increasing human activities in coastal and offshore waters have created complex conflicts between different sectors competing for space and between the use and conservation of ocean resources. Like other users, aquaculture proponents evaluate potential offshore sites based primarily on their biological suitability, technical feasibility, and cost considerations. Recently, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has been promoted as an approach for achieving more ecosystem-based marine management, with a focus on balancing multiple management objectives in a holistic way. Both industry-specific and multiple-use planners all rely heavily on spatially-referenced data, Geographic Information System (GIS)-based analytical tools, and Decision Support Systems (DSS) to explore a range of options and assess their costs and benefits. Although ecological factors can currently be assessed fairly comprehensively, better tools are needed to evaluate and incorporate the economic and social considerations that will also be critical to identifying potential sites and achieving successful marine plans. This section highlights the advances in GIS-based DSS in relation to their capability for aquaculture site selection and their integration into multiple-use MSP. A special case of multiple-use planning—the potential co-location of offshore wind energy and aquaculture—is also discussed, including an example in the German EEZ of the North Sea.