Coastal marine environments are contaminated globally with a vast quantity of unexploded ordnance and munitions from intentional disposal. These munitions contain organic explosive compounds as well as a variety of metals, and represent point sources of chemical pollution to marine waters. Most underwater munitions originate from World Wars at the beginning of the twentieth century, and metal munitions housings have been impacted by extensive corrosion over the course of the following decades. As a result, the risk of munitions-related contaminant release to the water column is increasing. The behavior of munitions compounds is well-characterized in terrestrial systems and groundwater, but is only poorly understood in marine systems. Organic explosive compounds, primarily nitroaromatics and nitramines, can be degraded or transformed by a variety of biotic and abiotic mechanisms. These reaction products exhibit a range in biogeochemical characteristics such as sorption by particles and sediments, and variable environmental behavior as a result. The reaction products often exhibit increased toxicity to biological receptors and geochemical controls like sorption can limit this exposure. Environmental samples typically show low concentrations of munitions compounds in water and sediments (on the order of ng/L and μg/kg, respectively), and ecological risk appears generally low. Nonetheless, recent work demonstrates the possibility of sub-lethal genetic and metabolic effects. This review evaluates the state of knowledge on the occurrence, fate, and effect of munition-related chemical contaminants in the marine environment. There remain a number of knowledge gaps that limit our understanding of munitions-related contaminant spread and effect, and the need for additional work is made all the more urgent by increasing risk of release to the environment.
North Atlantic right whales (Eubalaena glacialis) are highly endangered and frequently exposed to a myriad of human activities and stressors in their industrialized habitat. Entanglements in fixed fishing gear represent a particularly pervasive and often drawn-out source of anthropogenic morbidity and mortality to the species. To better understand both the physiological response to entanglement, and to determine fundamental parameters such as acquisition, duration, and severity of entanglement, we measured a suite of biogeochemical markers in the baleen of an adult female that died from a well-documented chronic entanglement in 2005 (whale Eg2301). Steroid hormones (cortisol, corticosterone, estradiol, and progesterone), thyroid hormones (triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4)), and stable isotopes (δ13C and δ15N) were all measured in a longitudinally sampled baleen plate. This yielded an 8-year profile of foraging and migration behavior, stress response, and reproduction. Stable isotopes cycled in annual patterns that reflect the animal's north-south migration behavior and seasonally abundant zooplankton diet. A progesterone peak, lasting approximately 23 months, was associated with the single known calving event (in 2002) for this female. Estradiol, cortisol, corticosterone, T3, and T4 were also elevated, although variably so, during the progesterone peak. This whale was initially sighted with a fishing gear entanglement in September 2004, but the hormone panel suggests that the animal first interacted with the gear as early as June 2004. Elevated δ15N, T3, and T4 indicate that Eg2301 potentially experienced increased energy expenditure, significant lipid catabolism, and thermal stress approximately 3 months before the initial sighting with fishing gear. All hormones in the panel (except cortisol) were elevated above baseline by September 2004. This novel study illustrates the value of using baleen to reconstruct recent temporal profiles and as a comparative matrix in which key physiological indicators of individual whales can be used to understand the impacts of anthropogenic activity on threatened whale populations.
In Greenland, polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are nutritional, economic, and cultural subsistence resources for Inuit. Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) collected from subsistence hunters can provide important insights and improve management decisions when collected systematically. We report on the results of a TEK survey of subsistence polar bear hunters living in the areas around Tasiilaq and Ittoqqortoormiit, East Greenland. Twenty-five full-time polar bear hunters were interviewed between December 2014 and March 2015 in a conversation-style interview, where a local interviewer fluent in the East Greenlandic dialect asked a series of 55 predetermined questions. The primary goals were to (1) gather Inuit perspectives on polar bear subsistence quotas and hunting strategies, (2) understand how climate change is affecting the polar bear subsistence hunt, and (3) document observed changes in polar bear distribution, abundance, and biology. Approximately 40% of the Tasiilaq respondents had caught between 10 and 19 polar bears in their lifetime, while 67% of Ittoqqortoormiit respondents reported lifetime catches of ≥20 bears. In both areas, polar bears were most commonly hunted between February and April. Hunters noted large changes to the climate in the areas where they hunt polar bears. Most hunters reported loss of sea ice, receding glaciers, unstable weather, and warmer temperatures. In Tasiilaq 73% of the hunters said climate changes had affected the polar bear hunt and in Ittoqqortoormiit about 88% of respondents reported the same. Hunters indicated that sea ice loss has created more areas of open water so dog sledges have become unsafe for hunting transportation compared to 10–15 years ago (reported by 100% of hunters in Tasiilaq and 80% in Ittoqqortoormiit). In Ittoqqortoormiit, the distance traveled during polar bear hunting trips has decreased dramatically. In both areas hunters noted that more polar bears are coming into their communities compared to 10–15 years ago (81% of Tasiilaq hunters and 78% of Ittoqqortoormiit hunters) and pointed to the introduction of quotas and loss of sea ice as potential reasons. This study provides an important perspective on the East Greenland subpopulation of polar bears that can be used to direct science questions and inform management.
In March 2018, Brazil’s government announced two sets of large marine protected areas (MPAs) in the open ocean (about 400,000 km2 each). According to the government’s ambitious plan (1), the total coverage of MPAs under Brazilian national jurisdiction will rise sharply from 1.5 to 25%, in line with an emerging global trend in designation of large MPAs (2). Although these new MPAs presented an opportunity to make progress toward biological priorities, the decision-making process instead reflected uninformed opportunism (3). Rather than meeting conservation goals, the proposed MPAs exemplify poor adherence to best practices in MPA planning in three ways.
This paper investigates the Locally Managed Marine Area (LMMA) approach through looking at developments and challenges of community-based marine resource management over time, with a particular focus on Fiji in the South Pacific region. A diachronic perspective, based on two multi-method empirical studies, is used to exemplify the social complexities of the implementation of this LMMA approach in a specific island setting. This perspective connects local stakeholders' establishment and management of a LMMA covering their entire customary fishing rights area (iqoliqoli) with the national context articulated around the Fiji Locally Managed Marine Area (FLMMA) network, as well as with regional networking and international conservation dynamics. It especially explores the impacts of a small-scale marine closure (so-called tabu area) on the harvesting patterns in a portion of this LMMA, related aspects of formal and informal enforcement, and villagers' views of the health of their reef fishery. This case study reveals a lack of consensus on the current management of this closure as a conditionally-opened no-take area, whose temporary openings (re)produce social tensions, as well as a lack of consensus on the effects of this closure on the reef fishery, which is subject to poaching. The paper highlights that the articulation between conservation and extraction of marine resources, as well as between short-term and longer-term objectives of the community-based marine resource management in place, is a complex sociopolitical process even at the most local level. The discussion also points out that local observations and interpretations of coastal resource dynamics, and of the interplay between fishery and community changes, might be instrumental in addressing the limits of the area-based system of management inherent in the LMMA approach. These insights into both the development process of the LMMA approach and the challenges of its local implementation and maintenance efforts can be useful to consider the adjustments necessary for Fiji's achievement of its national coastal fisheries management strategy and its international ocean governance commitments.
The paper first briefly describes the negotiation process of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. Then it examines China's changing position towards the establishment of a Ross Sea MPA, as proposed by the United States and New Zealand in the Commission for Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources. Finally, the paper explores how China's position towards or against Southern Ocean MPAs implies China's future role in Antarctic governance.
This viewpoint emphasizes gendered perspectives and reflects on gender roles for sustainability-focused governance. It argues that when considering gender in this context, not only equity, or power-plays between genders are at stake; in addition, for effective ocean governance, an irreducible contribution of female voices is necessary. Some key contributions of women in the field of ocean governance-related research are described as examples. If women, for instance, are not included in fisheries management, we miss the complete picture of social-ecological linkages of marine ecosystems. Overall, women are often regarded as major actors driving sustainable development because of their inclusiveness and collaborative roles. Similarly, women have advocated for the common good in marine conservation, raising important (and often neglected) concerns. In maritime industries, women enlarge the talent pool for innovation and smart growth. Besides the manifold possibilities for promoting the involvement of women in ocean governance and policy-making, this viewpoint highlights how gendered biases still influence our interactions with the ocean. It is necessary to reduce the structural, and systemically-embedded hurdles that continue to lead to gendered decision-taking with regard to the ocean.
Plastic is an increasingly pervasive marine pollutant. Concomitantly, the number of studies documenting plastic ingestion in wildlife is accelerating. Many of these studies aim to provide a baseline against which future levels of plastic ingestion can be compared, and are motivated by an underlying interest in the conservation of their study species and ecosystems. Although this research has helped to raise the profile of plastic as a pollutant of emerging concern, there is a disconnect between research examining plastic pollution and wildlife conservation. We present ideas to further discussion about how plastic ingestion research could benefit wildlife conservation by prioritising studies that elucidates the significance of plastic pollution as a population-level threat, identifies vulnerable populations, and evaluates strategies for mitigating impacts. The benefit of plastic ingestion research to marine wildlife can be improved by establishing a clearer understanding of how discoveries will be integrated into conservation and policy actions.
Coral reefs provide food and livelihoods for hundreds of millions of people as well as harbour some of the highest regions of biodiversity in the ocean. However, overexploitation, land‐use change and other local anthropogenic threats to coral reefs have left many degraded. Additionally, coral reefs are faced with the dual emerging threats of ocean warming and acidification due to rising CO2 emissions, with dire predictions that they will not survive the century. This review evaluates the impacts of climate change on coral reef organisms, communities and ecosystems, focusing on the interactions between climate change factors and local anthropogenic stressors. It then explores the shortcomings of existing management and the move towards ecosystem‐based management and resilience thinking, before highlighting the need for climate change‐ready marine protected areas (MPAs), reduction in local anthropogenic stressors, novel approaches such as human‐assisted evolution and the importance of sustainable socialecological systems. It concludes that designation of climate change‐ready MPAs, integrated with other management strategies involving stakeholders and participation at multiple scales such as marine spatial planning, will be required to maximise coral reef resilience under climate change. However, efforts to reduce carbon emissions are critical if the long‐term efficacy of local management actions is to be maintained and coral reefs are to survive.
By moving away from coastal waters and hence reducing pressure on nearshore ecosystems, offshore aquaculture can be seen as a possible step towards the large-scale expansion of marine food production. Integrated multi-trophic aquaculture (IMTA) in nearshore water bodies has received increasing attention and could therefore play a role in the transfer of aquaculture operations to offshore areas. IMTA holds scope for multi-use of offshore areas and can bring environmental benefits from making use of waste products and transforming these into valuable co-products. Furthermore, they may act as alternative marine production systems and provide scope for alternative income options for coastal communities, e.g., by acting as nodes for farm operation and maintenance requirements. This paper summarizes the current state of knowledge on the implications of the exposed nature of offshore and open ocean sites on the biological, technological and socio-economic performance of IMTA. Of particular interest is improving knowledge about resource flows between integrated species in hydrodynamic challenging conditions that characterize offshore waters.
Catch statistics are perhaps the most commonly collected data and are widely available for many fisheries. However, it is currently difficult to provide scientific advice for management purposes using only catch data. This article presents a catch-only method for stock assessment of data-poor fisheries. It uses time series of catches and two priors, one for the intrinsic population growth rate derived from life history parameters, and another for stock depletion based on catch trends. The method applies an optimization algorithm to search the potential parameter space. All computations are model or equation based rather than using predefined rules. The utility of this method is demonstrated by applying it to 13 stocks in Australia that are assessed using Stock Synthesis—an assessment package that can make use of a variety of data sources. The estimated parameters, including carrying capacity, intrinsic population growth rate, maximum sustainable yield, and depletion from the catch-only method are broadly comparable with those from the full assessments. The circumstances in which the method may perform poorly, such as longer-term changes in productivity and episodic recruitment, are highlighted.
Seals and fish-eating birds have increased in the Baltic Sea and there is concern that they compete with fisheries. Using data from around year 2010, we compare consumption of different fish species by seals and birds to the catch in the commercial and recreational fishery. When applicable this is done at the geographical resolution of ICES subdivisions. Predation by birds and mammals likely has limited impact on the populations of the commercially most important species (herring, sprat, and cod). In the central and southern Baltic, seals and birds consume about as much flatfish as is caught by the fishery and competition is possible. Birds and seals consume 2-3 times as much coastal fish as is caught in the fishery. Many of these species are important to the fishery (e.g. perch and whitefish) and competition between wildlife and the fishery is likely, at least locally. Estimated wildlife consumption of pike, sea trout and pikeperch varies among ICES subdivisions and the degree of competition for these species may differ among areas. Competition between wildlife and fisheries need to be addressed in basic ecosystem research, management and conservation. This requires improved quantitative data on wildlife diets, abundances and fish production.
Increasing the size and number of marine protected areas (MPAs) is widely seen as a way to meet ambitious biodiversity and sustainable development goals. Yet, debate still exists on the effectiveness of MPAs in achieving ecological and societal objectives. Although the literature provides significant evidence of the ecological effects of MPAs within their boundaries, much remains to be learned about the ecological and social effects of MPAs on regional and seascape scales. Key to improving the effectiveness of MPAs, and ensuring that they achieve desired outcomes, will be better monitoring that includes ecological and social data collected inside and outside of MPAs. This can lead to more conclusive evidence about what is working, what is not, and why. Eight authors were asked to write about their experiences with MPA effectiveness. The authors were instructed to clearly define “effectiveness” and discuss the degree to which they felt MPAs had achieved or failed to be effective. Essays were exchanged among authors and each was invited to write a shorter “counterpoint.” The exercise shows that, while experiences are diverse, many authors found common ground regarding the role of MPAs in achieving conservation targets. This exchange of perspectives is intended to promote reflection, analysis, and dialogue as a means for improving MPA design, assessment, and integration with other conservation tools.
Following the designation of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2000, globally there has been a growing trend in establishing large, remote, no-take marine reserves (> 150,000 sq km), generally known as Large-Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs). Yet such MPAs with vast geographical areas bring design and management challenges, as the islands and seas are spread over hundreds of nautical miles and are largely inaccessible and often uninhabited. In order to understand how management of LSMPAs can be successfully sustained, this study evaluates the Pitcairn Islands Marine Reserve (PIMR), designated in September 2016, against a framework based on 10 criteria, which were derived from the IUCN WCPA's Guidelines for Design and Management of Large-Scale MPAs. Initial findings show the PIMR was satisfactory in design focusing on sound management practices, taking into account uncertainties around financial sustainability and future administrations. This study identifies the importance of: acquiring robust baseline data, being fully protected (no-take), using ecosystem-based management, community inclusion, and of adopting an ecologically connected network approach. These features are needed for large marine reserves to maximize achieving both ecological and socio-economic goals, with particular attention to engagement of local communities. This study opens the possibility of refining and adapting the criteria developed through the PIMR case study as starting point for other Large-Scale MPAs, as their global expansion could benefit from comparative analysis. It also acknowledges the importance of having comparative design and management guides, contributing towards globally recognized standards for large-scale MPAs.
Despite the increasing attention that political and institutional spheres are paying to marine biotechnology at a regional, national, and international level, also considering the Blue Growth Strategy in Horizon 2020, the general knowledge about private organizations of this field remains relatively poor. Actually, just a few studies offer an exhaustive picture of the companies developing products and services of both marine and freshwater origin. The authors wish to present an up-to-date analysis of the scientific and institutional literature concerned with the issue. They shall try to define blue biotechnology, and they will present the main markets served and their dynamics. In particular, cosmetic, pharmaceutical, nutraceutical, energy, and biochemical industries will be closely considered. Marine industrial sectors, actually, did not follow the same process of growth and show different levels of development. The aim of this chapter is to present the characteristics of the firms involved in blue biotechnology, describing both products and services that reach the final markets and highlighting the ones that are still at a development stage. The authors carried out a first investigation of the organizations belonging to the marine industries through the construction of an original dataset of companies. They analyzed geographical distribution, dimension, main markets served, and production activities of the firms in object. In the conclusions, the authors highlight the central role played by public research centers, the need for cooperation for blue biotechnology organizations in order to reach the final consumer, and the interdependence of research and development phases among the several businesses in which marine biotechnologies find industrial application.
The valuation of nature is an inbuilt component of validating environmental management decisions and an important research field for different disciplines related to conservation, economy and ethics. Here, biodiversity was valued using an ecological approach based on the intrinsic value incorporated in biodiversity per se, regardless of any human association. The Marine Biological Valuation protocol was drawn upon the methodology of terrestrial valuation maps, to support the European MSFD environmental status assessment (descriptor 1 – biodiversity) and national marine spatial planning approaches. To apply the protocol on the Portuguese continental shelf we compiled and analyzed national biological databases for a wide taxonomic range of ecosystem components (seabirds, demersal fish, macrobenthos, marine mammals and sea turtles) and assessed the spatial overlap with existing and proposed conservation areas (Natura 2000 network). The resultant maps described patterns of biological value consistent with the physical and biological oceanographic conditions as well as local hydrodynamics of the Portuguese continental shelf. The results of our approach confirm previously identified valuable areas for protection (particularly in the northern and central regions), but also highlights the value of currently unprotected sites, mainly in the southern region. Biological valuation maps showed to be comprehensive tool to compile and spatially analyze biological datasets. By drawing attention to subzones of biological importance, it constitutes a valuable instrument in making appropriate-scale decisions on the spatial allocation of human activities in the context of the Portuguese marine spatial planning, currently facing the pressure and impacts of increased maritime exploitation.
The Adriatic and Ionian Region (AIR) is an important area for both strategic maritime development and biodiversity conservation in the European Union (EU). However, given that both EU and non‐EU countries border the sea, multiple legal and regulatory frameworks operate at different scales which can hinder the coordinated long‐term sustainable development of the region. Transboundary marine (or maritime) spatial planning can help overcome these challenges by building consensus on planning objectives and making the trade‐offs between biodiversity conservation and its influence on economically important sectors more explicit. We approach this challenge by developing and testing four spatial prioritization strategies, using the decision‐support tool Marxan, which meets targets for biodiversity conservation whilst minimizing impacts to users. We evaluate these strategies in terms of how priority areas shift under different scales of target‐setting (e.g. regional versus country‐level). We also examine the trade‐off between cost‐efficiency and how equally solutions represent countries and maritime industries (N = 14) operating in the region using the Protection Equality metric. We show that there are negligible differences in where priority conservation areas are located when we set targets for biodiversity at the regional versus country scale. Conversely, the prospective impacts on industries, when considered as costs to be minimized, are highly divergent across scenarios and bias the placement of protection towards industries located in isolation or with few other industries. We conclude by making several recommendations to underpin future MSP efforts in the region, including the identification of: 1) areas of national significance, 2) transboundary areas requiring cooperation between countries, and 3) areas where impacts on maritime industries require careful consideration of the trade‐off between biodiversity conservation and socio‐economic objectives.
Fishing activity in waters beyond national jurisdiction generates multiple management issues, such as data poor fisheries, management of straddling fish stocks and lack of impact assessments on deep-sea Vulnerable Marine Ecosystems (VMEs). Fishing strategy is the key to understanding and managing high seas fisheries, targeting highly migratory resources that are widely distributed. An international fleet, including Spanish flag bottom trawlers, operates along the Patagonian shelf in Southwest Atlantic waters, which includes an unregulated strip of continental shelf beyond national jurisdiction. The Spanish fleet's fishing strategy was analyzed, and based on on-board observer data collected from 1989 to 2015, three main fishing seasons were identified: a first season mainly targeting Argentinean squid (Illex argentinus) from January to March, a second season targeting hake (Merluccius hubbsi) from April to August, and a third season from September to December showing an opportunistic and heterogeneous behavior. Findings were framed within current knowledge on resource distribution. A preliminary observation of the inter-annual CPUE rates of target species during their respective fishing seasons highlights the possible existence of species linkages and bioclimatic cycles which may affect species distribution and abundance in the area and might require future research. Even if current fishing activity from the Spanish fleet does not overlap deep-water VMEs, any slight change in the fishing strategy to deeper waters (i.e. the fleet targeting high density I. argentinus areas below 300 m, or a change in the target species) would be critical for the conservation of VMEs in these waters.
Ocean acidification may pose a major threat to commercial fisheries, especially those for calcifying shellfish species. This study was undertaken to estimate the potential economic costs resulting from ocean acidification on UK wild capture and aquaculture shellfish production. Applying the net present value (NPV) and partial equilibrium (PE) models, we estimate both direct and economy-wide economic losses of shellfish production by 2100. Estimates using the NPV method show that the direct potential losses due to reduced shellfish production range from 14% to 28% of fishery NPV. This equates to annual economic losses of between ö3 and ö6 billion of the UK’s GDP in 2013, for medium and high emission scenarios. Results using the PE model showed the total loss to the UK economy from shellfish production and consumption ranging from ö23–ö88 million. The results from both the direct valuation and predicted estimate for the economic losses on shellfish harvest indicate that there are regional variations due to different patterns of shellfish wild-capture and aquaculture, and the exploitation of species with differing sensitivities to ocean acidification. These results suggest that the potential economic losses vary depending on the chosen valuation method. This analysis is also partial as it did not include a wider group of species in early-life-stages or predator-prey effects. Nevertheless, findings show that the economic losses to the UK and its devolved administrations due to ocean acidification could be substantial. We conclude that addressing ocean acidification with the aim of preserving commercially valuable shellfish resources will require regional, national or international solutions using a combined approach to reduce atmospheric CO2 emissions and shift in focus to exploit species that are less vulnerable to ocean acidification.
Aquatic ecosystems are of global importance for maintaining high levels of biodiversity and ecosystem services, and for the number of livelihoods dependent on them. In Bangladesh, coastal and delta communities rely on these systems for a livelihood, and the sustainability of the productivity is seriously threatened by both climate change and unsustainable management. These multiple drivers of change shape the livelihood dependence and adaptation responses, where a better understanding is needed to achieve sustainable management in these systems, while maintaining and improving dependent livelihoods. This need has been addressed in this study in the region of Satkhira, in the southwest coast of Bangladesh, where livelihoods are highly dependent on aquatic systems for food supply and income. Traditional wild fish harvest in the rivers and aquaculture systems, including ghers, ponds, and crab points have been changing in terms of the uses and intensity of management, and suffering from climate change impacts as well. By means of six focus groups with 50 participants total, and validated by expert consultations, we conduct an analysis to understand the main perceived impacts from climate and human activities; and the adaptation responses from the aquatic system livelihoods. We find that biodiversity has decreased drastically, while farmed species have increased and shrimp gher farming turned more intensive becoming the main source of income. All these changes have important implications for food supply in the region and environmental sustainability. Dramatic responses taken in the communities include exit the fisheries and migration, and more adaptive responses include species diversification, crab fattening and working more on the pond and gherinfrastructure. This study evidences the results of the combination of multiple stressors in productive systems and the barriers to adaptation in aquatic ecosystem dependent communities.