Seagrasses, flowering marine plants that form underwater meadows, play a significant global role in supporting food security, mitigating climate change and supporting biodiversity. Although progress is being made to conserve seagrass meadows in select areas, most meadows remain under significant pressure resulting in a decline in meadow condition and loss of function. Effective management strategies need to be implemented to reverse seagrass loss and enhance their fundamental role in coastal ocean habitats. Here we propose that seagrass meadows globally face a series of significant common challenges that must be addressed from a multifaceted and interdisciplinary perspective in order to achieve global conservation of seagrass meadows. The six main global challenges to seagrass conservation are (1) a lack of awareness of what seagrasses are and a limited societal recognition of the importance of seagrasses in coastal systems; (2) the status of many seagrass meadows are unknown, and up-to-date information on status and condition is essential; (3) understanding threatening activities at local scales is required to target management actions accordingly; (4) expanding our understanding of interactions between the socio-economic and ecological elements of seagrass systems is essential to balance the needs of people and the planet; (5) seagrass research should be expanded to generate scientific inquiries that support conservation actions; (6) increased understanding of the linkages between seagrass and climate change is required to adapt conservation accordingly. We also explicitly outline a series of proposed policy actions that will enable the scientific and conservation community to rise to these challenges. We urge the seagrass conservation community to engage stakeholders from local resource users to international policy-makers to address the challenges outlined here, in order to secure the future of the world’s seagrass ecosystems and maintain the vital services which they supply.
Deep seabed mining is a major new intersection of human enterprise and deep-ocean ecosystems. This paper reviews the concept and process for a holistic approach to planning environmental management in the deep sea based on Strategic Environmental Goals and Objectives. Strategic planning around the environment can establish a vision for the future condition of the ocean floor for which the International Seabed Authority (ISA) can draw on a wealth of precedents and experience. By engaging stakeholders and applying current knowledge of deep ecosystems, the ISA can build meaningful strategic environmental goals and objectives that give guidance to its own operation and those of its contractors. This framework builds understanding of the organization’s aspirations at global, regional and contractor levels. Herein, some examples are suggested, but we focus on the process. To operationalize these goals and objectives, progress must be measurable; thus, targets are set, reports are assessed, and appropriate responses are awarded. Many management tools and actions are applicable for achieving environmental goals. To date, the ISA has considered marine spatial planning largely around the current exploration contract blocks. Other elements of environmental management, including the requirements for baseline studies, impact assessment, post-impact monitoring and the treatment of harmful effects and serious harm need to be implemented to support well-defined environmental goals and objectives. We suggest that this planning be executed for scales larger than individual blocks, through a Strategic Environmental Management Plan, to ensure sustainable use of ocean resources across the Area.
Modern ecosystem-based forms of marine management such as Marine Spatial Planning(MSP) deal with various complex systems and often with huge amounts of data. Software-based simulative and analytical tools are therefore frequently mentioned in the scientific literature on marine management approaches. But in addition to the evolution of management approaches, the requirements for more integrated tools are also progressing. MSP, for instance, comes with different spatial resolutions, an increased need to consider multiple interdepencies, and increased requirements for validity than most of the previous marine management questions. We reviewed seven well-known Decision Support Tools (DSTs) by asking 59 MSP practitioners from at least 25 countries worldwide about their experience with these tools. The results revealed that, while respondents were mostly positive about the use of DSTs in MSP processes, DSTs are still mainly used in the academic realm and have not yet found their way into everyday MSP practice. There is a broad range of reasons for not using DSTs, including the complexity of these tools, the resources required to operate them, low stakeholder confidence in DST outcomes, and the lack of additional value in using DSTs.
Marine plant communities such as kelp forests produce significant amounts of detritus, most of which is exported to areas where it can constitute an important trophic subsidy or potentially be sequestered in marine sediments. Knowing the vertical transport speed of detrital particles is critical to understanding the potential magnitude and spatial extent of these linkages. We measured sinking speeds for Laminaria hyperborea detritus ranging from whole plants to small fragments and sea urchin faecal pellets, capturing the entire range of particulate organic matter produced by kelp forests. Under typical current conditions, we determined that this organic material can be transported 10 s of m to 10 s of km. We show how the conversion of kelp fragments to sea urchin faeces, one of the most pervasive processes in kelp forests globally, increases the dispersal potential of detritus by 1 to 2 orders of magnitude. Kelp detritus sinking speeds were also faster than equivalent phytoplankton, highlighting its potential for rapid delivery of carbon to deep areas. Our findings support arguments for a significant contribution from kelp forests to subsidizing deep sea communities and the global carbon sink.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is a World-known, iconic environmental asset whose complex functioning is largely ascribed to its outstanding biodiversity, ranging from genes to plants, animals and entire ecosystems. Biodiversity has been key to its resilience over the past millennia. However, the combined effects of climate change, water quality degradation and coastal development are threatening the GBR’s resilience. There is a crucial need to better understand the value of biodiversity in that region to encourage sustainable policy-making.
Different approaches have been suggested in the literature to value biodiversity. First, we review the use of a Total Economic Value framework to look into all dimensions of biodiversity values. Second, we describe an approach relying on ecosystem services. The suitability of these two approaches to value biodiversity in the GBR is assessed. Next, we review 23 finance mechanisms and discuss the possibility to use them to alleviate pressures on ecosystems and biodiversity in the GBR. We conclude by stressing the importance of biodiversity valuation in the GBR, highlight some of the remaining challenges and provide recommendations for future research avenues.
The Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem (BCLME) is subject to moderate to high levels of fishing, mining and numerous other human pressures, all of which are set to intensify through current socio-economic development initiatives in Angola, Namibia and South Africa. There is, however, minimal spatial protection of marine and coastal ecosystems in the region, potentially reducing the sustainability of the planned development and the likelihood of achieving Sustainable Development Goals. As a precursor to Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) processes in the three countries, and to guide establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs), this study aimed to: assess two headline indicators of ecosystem status, namely their potential threat status and current spatial protection levels; and to use Systematic Conservation Planning (SCP) to prioritise specific areas for protection to achieve networks of MPAs that are representative of national and regional biodiversity. Two hundred and forty eight ecosystem types in the coastal (n = 134), offshore benthic (n = 86) and pelagic (n = 28) zones of the BCLME were classified, mapped and assessed. Overall, 35% of all ecosystem types in the study domain were threatened, with more threatened coastal (37%) and offshore benthic (37%) ecosystem types compared to pelagic ecosystem types (14%), although the same pattern was not necessarily evident within each country. Nearly two thirds (59%) of the BCLME ecosystem types were not protected in MPAs, and most of those that were well (19%) or moderately protected (14%) were coastal types that are within a single extensive MPA in Namibia. Notwithstanding, there was still a sufficient area of most ecosystem types that was assessed to be in good ecological condition in all three countries and that could be prioritised for representative protection of the region's biodiversity. A portfolio of priority conservation areas was identified from Marxan selection-frequency outputs, providing a spatial vision for protected areas in the BCLME that includes coastal, inshore and offshore areas in all three countries. This first assessment of marine ecosystem threat and protection status for an entire LME demonstrates a rapid science-based approach that can inform integrated ocean management and multiple development goals. The study provides a basis for identifying Ecologically or Biologically Significant Marine Areas, potential sites for MPAs or other spatial management in the region, and demonstrates the contribution of SCP and spatial management to MSP.
Multilateral consensus forged among heads of states must be value-additive and relevant at the national level to facilitate on-ground implementation. Yet, despite general optimism and advances in policy understanding, multi-scale diffusion remains a challenge with little certainty in outcomes. This study focuses on examining intermediary dynamics occurring within national policy apparatus that can influence domestic uptake of policy innovation. We analyse the anticipated spread of two supranational policies on coastal fisheries in the Pacific region – the ‘Small-Scale Fisheries Guidelines’ and ‘the New Song’ – in three countries: Kiribati, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu. Our approach combines instrumental perspectives on ‘policy coherence’ with cognitive–normative perspectives on ‘policy image’. Accordingly, we use two methods: a document-based comparison of the policies produced at different levels and interviews with national government officers in charge of policy deliberation and delivery. We find supranational-to-national policy coherence across most prescribed policy themes, except for emergent social themes such as ‘gender’ and ‘human rights–based approaches’. The views of government managers substantiate, and further augment, this finding. Crucially, managers' images (encompassing judgements, aspirations and convictions) represent personal and practical attributes involved in policy interpretation and implementation. Multi-scale policy diffusion is thus a translational process mediated by national-level staff, and managers' policy images offer nuanced and dynamic insights into why some policies are slow to take root while others take different shape to their agreed meanings. Analysts and policymakers must consider and mobilise translational approaches and policy images in order to understand and facilitate successful domestic implementation of international agreements.
An important step in fishery management is to classify fishing vessels by their technical, power, range and impact capacities. This allows management improvement for environmental, social and economic purposes. Technical features are commonly used to classify vessels, but are inadequately addressed for small-scale fisheries (SSF), especially in estuaries. This study analyzed 685 small fishing vessels in order to determine the best way to classify them and suggest how this can improve estuarine SSF management. Technical features, target species, and the degree of urbanization and income of the community were considered. Estuarine-dependent vessels differ from coastal vessels. Their simpler technology increases overlaps of target species and fishing gear. Technical features commonly used to classify vessels (length, engine power and tonnage) are inappropriate for those with low technology. Instead, the degree of technical homogeneity, the number of fishing gears, and the overlap of target species should be considered. We suggest the classification of vessels in management units for estuarine small-scale vessels: a group of vessels operating in the same area, with very low technology, similar fishing range and fishing capacity, a multi-gear pattern, and high target species overlap. Vessels with different main fishing gear may represent the same management unit, because the simple technology required by each gear allows the same vessel to uses several types. The multi-gear and multi-species strategy impairs the use of traditional gear-based management, yet enables low-income fishermen to continue fishing. Vessels with lower technology were observed in less-urbanized communities and had lower income, and therefore these fishermen depend more on the estuarine fishery. Financial capacity stimulates technology and increases fishing capacity, range and gear specialization. Simple technology may help to improve food security and alleviate poverty by maximizing catch diversity. This study identified management units through a novel use of the features of small-scale vessels. We discuss important issues that influence the technological development of small-scale vessels and how this method may improve SSF management.
Fishery managers worldwide are evaluating methods for incorporating climate, habitat, ecological, social, and economic factors into current operations in order to implement Ecosystem Approaches to Fishery Management (EAFM). While this can seem overwhelming, it is possible to take practical steps toward EAFM implementation that make use of existing information and provide managers with valuable strategic advice. Here, we describe the process used by the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) to develop an ecosystem-level risk assessment, the initial step proposed in their recently adopted EAFM guidance document. The Council first defined five types of Risk Elements (ecological, economic, social, food production, management) and identified which management objectives aligned with each element. Based on an existing ecosystem status report for the region and other existing sources (including expert opinion), potential ecological, social, economic, and management indicators were identified for each risk element. Finally, low, low-moderate, moderate-high, and high risk criteria were defined for each indicator, and the indicator data were used to score each risk element using the criteria. The ultimate outcome is a ranked risk assessment in order to focus on the highest risk issues for further evaluation and mitigation. The risk assessment highlights certain species and certain management issues as posing higher cumulative risks to meeting Council management objectives when considering a broad range of ecological, social, and economic factors. Tabular color coded summaries of risk assessment results will be used by the Council to prioritize further EAFM analyses as well as research plans over the coming 5 years. As ecosystem reporting and operational EAFM continue to evolve in future years, the Council foresees integrating these efforts so that ecosystem indicators are refined to meet the needs of fishery managers in identifying and managing risks to achieving ecological, social, and economic fishery objectives. Overall, ecosystem indicator-based risk assessment is a method that can be adapted to a wide range of resource management systems and available information, and therefore represents a promising way forward in the implementation of EAFM.
As a response to increasing human pressures on marine ecosystems, the legislation aimed at improving the conservation and management of marine coastal areas in European and Contiguous Seas (ECS) underwent crucial advances. ECS, however, still remain largely affected by increasing threats leading to biodiversity loss. Here, by using emblematic case studies and expert knowledge, we review current conservation tools, comparing their application in different areas to assess their effectiveness, potential for synergies, and contradictions. Despite regional differences in their application, the existing legislative frameworks have the potential to regulate human activities and to protect marine biodiversity. However, four challenges remain to be addressed to fully achieve environmental policy goals: (1) Lack of shared vision representing a limitation in transboundary collaboration. Although all EU countries are committed to fulfil EU Directives and other binding international legislative acts, a remarkable heterogeneity exists among countries in the compliance with the common legislation on conservation and in their degree of implementation. (2) Lack of systematic procedures for the selection of protected marine sites. Regional and national approaches in designating Natura 2000 sites and nationally designated marine protected areas (MPAs) reflect varying conservation targets and importance of conservation issues in political agendas. (3) Lack of coherent ecological networks. Natura 2000 sites and other MPAs are still far from reaching the status of effective networks in all considered case studies. (4) Hotspot of conflicts with private economic interests prevailing over conservation aims. Recommendations are given to overcome the fragmented approach still characterizing the conservation and management of coastal marine environments. Holistic, integrated, ecosystem-based, cross-cutting approaches can avoid conflicts among institutions so as to provide effective and timely solutions to current and future challenges concerning the conservation and management of marine ecosystems and associated goods and services.
Marine/maritime spatial planning (MSP) aims to address conflicts between different sea uses and conflicts between such uses and marine environments. However, how to evaluate, particularly quantitatively evaluate, an MSP scheme on its performance of achieving the above objectives is still an issue. In this paper, an MSP scheme evaluation framework focusing on sea use compatibility and the protection degree of key ecological areas is put forward. First, the intensity of every sea use is graded on a scale of 1–10 based on its demand on marine resources and impacts on marine environments, and key ecological areas are identified based on scientific criteria for ecologically or biologically significant marine areas of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). Then, a set of formulas are designed to calculate the conflict value among sea uses. The protection degree in a sea area is calculated through buffer zone tools and overlap analysis in Geographic Information System (GIS). The proposed method is applied to a case study of Xiamen, China, by comparing its marine spatial plans of version 2007 and version 2013. The results show that the sea use intensity increases from 3.51 to 4.20 on average in the Western Sea of Xiamen. The key ecological area protection value decreases from 0.59 to 0.45, and the sea use conflicts value decreases from 0.28 to 0.20. The results demonstrate that MSP is successful in reducing sea use conflicts in version 2013 in the context of an increasing sea use intensity. However, the protection degree of key ecological areas needs to be strengthened. Further statistical analysis of the results provides more information for the cause analysis of the performance changes. This information would inform potential revisions of the current marine spatial plan and future sea use management. The proposed method provides a feasible approach to analyse the MSP scheme in a quantitative way.
Despite the attention given to genetic biodiversity in international agreements such as the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Strategic Plan and the Aichi Targets, previous research points at a “conservation genetics gap,” indicating that scientific insights into genetic biodiversity are poorly integrated into practical management. Both researchers and managers call for platforms for knowledge exchange between science and practice. However, few scientific studies on the potential effects of such knowledge transfer have been conducted. The present study is a follow-up to Lundmark et al. (2017), which identified significant effects of two forms of knowledge communication on conservation managers’ concerns and beliefs in regard to Baltic Sea genetic biodiversity. This study departs from Lundmark et al. (2017) and explores (a) whether the identified alterations in knowledge and beliefs persist over time, and (b) whether potential stability differs between different types of policy beliefs as well as between two types of knowledge communication (lecture and group deliberation). The results of this follow-up study show that the positive impacts on managers’ self-assessed knowledge remained, while the effects on policy beliefs largely had vanished a few months after the knowledge communication. Thus, changes in beliefs seem perishable, suggesting that continuity is more important than the form of educational efforts.
A third of global fish stocks are overexploited and many are economically underperforming, resulting in potential unrealized net economic benefits of USD 51 to 83 billion annually. However, this aggregate view, while useful for global policy discussion, may obscure the view for those actors who engage at a regional level. Therefore, we develop a method to associate large companies with their fishing operations and evaluate the biological sustainability of these operations. We link current fish biomass levels and landings to the revenue streams of the companies under study to compute potentially unrealized fisheries revenues and profits at the level of individual firms. We illustrate our method using two case studies: anchoveta (Engraulis ringens; Engraulidae) in Peru and menhaden in the USA (Brevoortia patronus and B. tyrannus;Clupeidae). We demonstrate that both these fisheries could potentially increase their revenues compared to the current levels of exploitation. We estimate the net but unrealized fishery benefits for the companies under question. This information could be useful to investors and business owners who might want to be aware of the actual fisheries performance options of the companies they invest in.
This study explores the value chain structure and chain activities of the imported shellfish industry in China. Data were collected from face-to-face semi-structured interviews in Guangzhou (n = 30) and Shanghai (n = 23) and a face-to-face survey in Shanghai (n = 71). Data analysis employed both content and descriptive analyses. Results show that the value chain is composed of several important members including foreign exporters, Chinese importers, wholesalers, resellers and clearance companies. Business partnership is the main channel by which marketing information is gained by chain members. Relationships are quite stable among the chain members, with quality, price and credit items being the most important factors that influence chain relationships. It seems that imported shellfish from some developed countries (e.g. Canadian and U.S. lobsters) have reached a market saturation in China's first-tier cities (e.g. Guangzhou and Shanghai) and relevant chain members face fierce competition. E-commerce is still not mature enough as a tool for the marketing development of imported shellfish in China.
The right to life is a basic and fundamental core human right. Despite the idea that the lives of all human beings are equal under the protection of the law, the special characteristics of the seafarers’ profession suggests that they should be granted additional attention and protection. In recent years, issues related to seafarers’ welfare have moved to the forefront of concern, however, discussion on seafarers’ right to life has drawn little attention. This paper is intended to contribute to knowledge in this aspect by drawing together themes from theoretical policy and governance studies and uses case studies that apply lessons from these disciplines to the practical context of the worldwide shipping industry. Specifically, the discussion clarifies the concept and dimension of the human right to life as well as seafarers’ right to life as a special group of industrial workers, notes the hazardous feature of seafaring as an occupation, identifies the sources of seafarers rights in the related maritime policies and international regulations and illustrates the obligation of the state from the perspective of the ‘flag’ and the ‘port’. The paper finally provides conclusions to the ongoing major issues and suggests a mechanism that should be established to ensure seafarers’ right to life is to be respected.
In 2010 Parties to the United Nations (UN) Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) agreed to reduce the rate of biodiversity loss within a decade by achieving 20 objectives that are commonly known as the Aichi Targets. This article explores aspects of Canada's work on one of the few quantified targets (Target 11), which is intended to improve the status of biodiversity through protected areas (PAs) and a new type of designation, “other effective area-based conservation measures” (OECMs). In a faltering attempt to reach its Aichi Target 11 commitments by 2020, some Canadian jurisdictions have elected to focus more on coverage (quantity) and less on ecological integrity (quality), which has significant ramifications for long-term success of biodiversity conservation. For example, a jurisdiction responsible for marine conservation has re-designated regulated fishery closures as ‘marine refuges’ under the auspices of an OECM designation, which brings into question the real intent of Canada's commitment to the CBD and its own Biodiversity Strategy. Ambiguous language used to define and prescribe application of OECMs is being used as the basis for a revisionist paradigm that promises to undermine national and international conservation standards, fracture partnerships, and jeopardize the integrity of Canada's PA network. Canada must reject half measures that will result in ineffective or unintended perverse conservation outcomes, and focus on a post-2020 agenda that prioritizes conservation outcomes, management effectiveness, and the implementation of accountability measures within and between jurisdictions and by the Secretariat of the CBD.
Peru is one of the world’s leading fishing nations and its seafood industry relies on the trade of a vast variety of aquatic resources, playing a key role in the country’s socio-economic development. DNA barcoding has become of paramount importance for systematics, conservation, and seafood traceability, complementing or even surpassing conventional identification methods when target organisms show similar morphology during the early life stages, have recently diverged, or have undergone processing. Aiming to increase our knowledge of the species diversity available across the Peruvian supply chain (from fish landing sites to markets and restaurants), we applied full and mini-barcoding approaches targeting three mitochondrial genes (COI, 16S, and 12S) and the control region to identify samples purchased at retailers from six departments along the north-central Peruvian coast. DNA barcodes from 131 samples were assigned to 55 species (plus five genus-level taxa) comprising 47 families, 24 orders, and six classes including Actinopterygii (45.03%), Chondrichthyes (36.64%), Bivalvia (6.87%), Cephalopoda (6.11%), Malacostraca (3.82%), and Gastropoda (1.53%). The identified samples included commercially important pelagic (anchovy, bonito, dolphinfish) and demersal (hake, smooth-hound, Peruvian rock seabass, croaker) fish species. Our results unveiled the marketing of protected and threatened species such as whale shark, Atlantic white marlin, smooth hammerhead (some specimens collected during closed season), shortfin mako, and pelagic thresher sharks. A total of 35 samples (26.72%) were mislabeled, including tilapia labeled as wild marine fish, dolphinfish and hake labeled as grouper, and different shark species sold as “smooth-hounds”. The present study highlights the necessity of implementing traceability and monitoring programs along the entire seafood supply chain using molecular tools to enhance sustainability efforts and ensure consumer choice.
September open water fraction in the Arctic is analyzed using the satellite era record of ice concentration (1979–2017). Evidence is presented that three breakpoints (shifts in the mean) occurred in the Pacific sector, with higher amounts of open water starting in 1989, 2002, and 2007. Breakpoints in the Atlantic sector record of open water are evident in 1971 in longer records, and around 2000 and 2011. Multiple breakpoints are also evident in the Canadian and Russian halves. Statistical models that use detected breakpoints of the Pacific and Atlantic sectors, as well as models with breakpoints in the Canadian and Russian halves and the Arctic as a whole, outperform linear trend models in fitting the data. From a physical standpoint, the results support the thesis that Arctic sea ice may have critical points beyond which a return to the previous state is less likely. From an analysis standpoint, the findings imply that de-meaning the data using the breakpoint means is less likely to cause spurious signals than employing a linear detrend.
Major climate and ecological changes affect the world’s oceans leading to a number of responses including increasing water temperatures, changing weather patterns, shrinking ice-sheets, temperature-driven shifts in marine species ranges, biodiversity loss and bleaching of coral reefs. In addition, ocean pH is falling, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). The root cause of OA lies in human policies and behaviours driving society’s dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in elevated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. In this review, we detail the state of knowledge of the causes of, and potential responses to, OA with particular focus on Swedish coastal seas. We also discuss present knowledge gaps and implementation needs.
Although still controversial among some fisheries management stakeholders, marine protected areas (MPAs) are used worldwide to address fisheries crises. This study focused on the perspectives of fishers in evaluating the effectiveness of an MPA to address their management propositions. The study analysed the drafting and implementation of a multiple-use MPA management plan in the southern coast of Brazil. It evaluated the outcomes in fulfilling the small-scale fishers' proposals, raised and collectively agreed to in a participatory drafting process. Four years after the release of the MPA management plan half of the fishers' proposals were fulfilled. Most of the fishers' fulfilled proposals were related to regulations within the MPA and to strategies to improve their political representativeness, while the majority of the proposals on fishing licensing and on public policies to foster the activity have not yet been achieved. Scale mismatches, authority limitations, and options for innovative institutional arrangements are discussed here as key elements of the results. Additionally, fishers and managers agreed on the increased management performance and learning opportunities created through the participatory process of drafting the management plan, enabling an environment for fulfilling the proposals over the medium and long terms.