The broad scale and rapid rate of change in the global environment is causing some of the world's most challenging problems, such as habitat degradation, loss of biodiversity, and food insecurity. These problems are especially pressing in coastal environments in the tropics, resulting in significant impacts on human wellbeing and ecological systems across the globe. The underlying causes of marine and coastal environmental change are both anthropogenic and natural; and, while it is difficult to parse out causal linkages as either exclusively human or naturally occurring, feedbacks between drivers only exacerbate the issues. Increasingly, scholars are turning to integrated research efforts, whereby multiple disciplines are used to answer pressing questions about and find solutions for the sustainability of human life and natural ecosystems across the coastal tropics. This article leverages the recent wave of interdisciplinary research to explore the various ways in which the social sciences have successfully contributed to a more complete understanding of coastal systems across the tropics. It also identifies opportunities for research that move beyond single disciplinary approaches to coastal science. The concluding discussion suggests social science knowledge areas that are underutilized in coastal research and provides suggestions for increasing the incorporation of social science in coastal research programs.
- SE Puerto Rican and NE Region US fishermen's job satisfaction and well-being is compared.
- Data from Point Judith, RI 1977 is used for time comparison in US.
- Overall job satisfaction levels were high among both Puerto Rico and US fishermen.
- Puerto Rico and Point Judith 1977 presented the highest levels of job satisfaction.
- Changes in fishery management negatively affects job satisfaction among US fishermen.
Science alone cannot protect the oceans and their biological diversity. Whereas, scientists can identify problems and empirical steps toward their resolution, support for research, problem solving, and implementation of solutions must come from societal sources. Among the most promising are religious communities whose members are motivated by their faith to collaborate with marine scientists in achieving shared goals. Many reasons prevail for engaging faith communities in mitigating assaults on the oceans and protecting them from threats to their functioning. Participants in the open forum convened by the Religion and Conservation Biology Working Group of the Society for Conservation Biology during the 4th International Marine Conservation Congress shared their insights on (1) why and how marine researchers and conservation practitioners can best involve faith communities, (2) actions and attitudes that deter constructive engagement with faith communities, and (3) ways forward that the SCB should consider facilitating. Among ways forward identified are the Best Practices Project initiated recently by the RCBWG, adding cultural values and ethics as disciplines SCB members should probe when addressing conservation problems, regularly including cultural values and ethics in panels with other disciplines at international and regional SCB congresses, and appointing an associate editor of SCB publications who will assure the inclusion of articles in which religious and spiritual worldviews, values, and ethics are integrated with the conservation sciences.
Globally, few protected areas exist in areas beyond the jurisdiction of a single state. However, for over 50 years the Antarctic protected areas system has operated in a region governed through multi-national agreement by consensus. We examined the Antarctic Treaty System to determine how protected area designation under a multi-party framework may evolve. The protected areas system, now legislated through the Protocol on Environmental Protection to the Antarctic Treaty and the Convention on the Conservation of Marine Living Resources, remains largely unsystematic and underdeveloped. Since the Antarctic Treaty entered into force in 1961, the original signatory Parties – and Parties with territorial claims in particular − have dominated work towards the designation of protected areas in the region. The distribution of protected areas proposed by individual Parties has largely reflected the location of Parties’ research stations which, in turn, is influenced by national geopolitical factors. Recently non-claimant Parties have become more involved in area protection, with a concurrent increase in areas proposed by two or more Parties. However, overall, the rate of protected area designation has almost halved in the past 10 years. We explore scenarios for the future development of Antarctic protected areas and suggest that the early engagement of Parties in collaborative area protection may strengthen the protected areas system and help safeguard the continent’s values for the future. Furthermore, we suggest that the development of Antarctica’s protected areas system may hold valuable insights for area protection in other regions under multi-Party governance, or areas beyond national jurisdiction such as the high seas or outer space.
With the increasing use of environmental valuation methods in coastal, marine and deep-sea settings, there is a growing need for the collaboration of natural scientists and environmental economists. Stated preference valuation methods in particular need to be based on sound natural science information and translate such information to be used in social surveys. This paper uses three applications to make explicit the flow of information between different disciplines in the preparation and implementation of stated preference studies. One approach for facilitating this flow is to increase knowledge and understanding of natural scientists on these methods. To address this, this paper highlights key opportunities and pitfalls and demonstrates those in the context of three case studies. It therefore provides guidance on stated preference valuation for natural scientists rather than for economists.
Marine renewable energy developments (MREDs) are rapidly expanding in size and number as society strives to maintain electricity generation whilst simultaneously reducing climate-change linked CO2 emissions. MREDs are part of an ongoing large-scale modification of coastal waters that also includes activities such as commercial fishing, shipping, aggregate extraction, aquaculture, dredging, spoil-dumping and oil and gas exploitation. It is increasingly accepted that developments, of any kind, should only proceed if they are ecologically sustainable and will not reduce current or future delivery of ecosystem services. The benthos underpins crucial marine ecosystem services yet, in relation to MREDs, is currently poorly monitored: current monitoring programmes are extensive and costly yet provide little useful data in relation to ecosystem-scale-related changes, a situation called ‘data-rich, information-poor’ (DRIP). MRED –benthic interactions may cause changes that are of a sufficient scale to change ecosystem services provision, particularly in terms of fisheries and biodiversity and, via trophic linkages, change the distribution of fish, birds and mammals. The production of DRIPy data should be eliminated and the resources used instead to address relevant questions that are logically bounded in time and space. Efforts should target identifying metrics of change that can be linked to ecosystem function or service provision, particularly where those metrics show strongly non-linear effects in relation to the stressor. Future monitoring should also be designed to contribute towards predictive ecosystem models and be sufficiently robust and understandable to facilitate transparent, auditable and timely decision-making.
Our global oceans are threatened by climate change, overfishing, pollution and a growing list of other impacts that demonstrate an urgent global need for sustainable ocean management. Whilst marine conservation initiatives and protected ocean spaces have increased over recent years, ocean management still lags behind the terrestrial sectors in incorporating and involving communities in its development. ‘Social licence to operate’ is used broadly across the terrestrial literature, but its understanding and application within the marine has been limited to date. This review sought to collate and synthesise instances of social licence in the marine realm as documented in the literature, aiming to create an understanding that may inform future research and development of social licence. Its results determine that social licence is yet an emergent concept in the marine sector but there may be great potential for its application in the marine context. Social licence has become an important theme for development in marine industry and resource use, particularly towards exploring communication and stakeholder engagement. This paper identifies future themes and areas requiring investigation and application in this domain.
The irregular appearance of planktonic algae blooms off the coast of southern California has been a source of wonder for over a century. Although large algal blooms can have significant negative impacts on ecosystems and human health, a predictive understanding of these events has eluded science, and many have come to regard them as ultimately random phenomena. However, the highly nonlinear nature of ecological dynamics can give the appearance of randomness and stress traditional methods—such as model fitting or analysis of variance—to the point of breaking. The intractability of this problem from a classical linear standpoint can thus give the impression that algal blooms are fundamentally unpredictable. Here, we use an exceptional time series study of coastal phytoplankton dynamics at La Jolla, CA, with an equation-free modeling approach, to show that these phenomena are not random, but can be understood as nonlinear population dynamics forced by external stochastic drivers (so-called “stochastic chaos”). The combination of this modeling approach with an extensive dataset allows us to not only describe historical behavior and clarify existing hypotheses about the mechanisms, but also make out-of-sample predictions of recent algal blooms at La Jolla that were not included in the model development.
The advent of social media and microblogging platforms has radically changed the way we consume information and form opinions. In this paper, we explore the anatomy of the information space on Facebook by characterizing on a global scale the news consumption patterns of 376 million users over a time span of 6 y (January 2010 to December 2015). We find that users tend to focus on a limited set of pages, producing a sharp community structure among news outlets. We also find that the preferences of users and news providers differ. By tracking how Facebook pages “like” each other and examining their geolocation, we find that news providers are more geographically confined than users. We devise a simple model of selective exposure that reproduces the observed connectivity patterns.
Earth’s energy imbalance (EEI) drives the ongoing global warming and can best be assessed across the historical record (that is, since 1960) from ocean heat content (OHC) changes. An accurate assessment of OHC is a challenge, mainly because of insufficient and irregular data coverage. We provide updated OHC estimates with the goal of minimizing associated sampling error. We performed a subsample test, in which subsets of data during the data-rich Argo era are colocated with locations of earlier ocean observations, to quantify this error. Our results provide a new OHC estimate with an unbiased mean sampling error and with variability on decadal and multidecadal time scales (signal) that can be reliably distinguished from sampling error (noise) with signal-to-noise ratios higher than 3. The inferred integrated EEI is greater than that reported in previous assessments and is consistent with a reconstruction of the radiative imbalance at the top of atmosphere starting in 1985. We found that changes in OHC are relatively small before about 1980; since then, OHC has increased fairly steadily and, since 1990, has increasingly involved deeper layers of the ocean. In addition, OHC changes in six major oceans are reliable on decadal time scales. All ocean basins examined have experienced significant warming since 1998, with the greatest warming in the southern oceans, the tropical/subtropical Pacific Ocean, and the tropical/subtropical Atlantic Ocean. This new look at OHC and EEI changes over time provides greater confidence than previously possible, and the data sets produced are a valuable resource for further study.
Despite rapid growth in the marine tourism sector, the impacts of recreation on the marine environment are generally not well understood. Most existing studies of marine recreation ecology have focused on behavioural changes resulting from direct interactions between humans and wildlife including provisioning. However, non-consumptive, non-provisioning human impacts may also result in persistent behavioural impacts to shark populations. In this study, we examined differences in residency, abundance, and behaviour of reef sharks at Palmyra Atoll in response to long-term SCUBA diving activity, using a combination of survey techniques including baited remote underwater video systems and multi-year passive acoustic monitoring. In most locations with recreational diving operations, some level of human impact is pervasive, but on Palmyra, extractive fishing is prohibited, and scientific diving activities are concentrated on just a few sites that house long-term monitoring projects. These sites experience relatively intensive diving, while the majority of the island is entirely undived. Evidence from elsewhere has shown that sharks behaviourally respond to people in the water over short time scales, but our results indicate that this response may not persist. We did not detect differences in reef shark abundance or behaviour between heavily dived and undived locations, nor were there differences in shark residency patterns at dived and undived sites in a year with substantial diving activity and a year without any diving. Our results suggest that humans can interact with reef sharks without persistent behavioural impacts, and that well-regulated shark diving tourism can be accomplished without undermining conservation goals.
Governments and regional agencies of the Pacific Islands are strengthening their commitment to sustainable oceans management through proactive policies and programs. The Blue Economy concept is increasingly being invoked, yet clarity on definitions and implementation steps remain vague. This paper reviews reports, academic literature and regional speeches to develop a Blue Economy conceptual framework which is then applied to three case studies from the fisheries sector – small scale fisheries, urban fish markets and onshore tuna processing. The cases illustrate an imbalance in attention paid to key components of the Blue Economy and missed opportunities for integration across scales, time and stakeholders with a few noteworthy exceptions. Issues of power, agency and gender remain weakly addressed even in the most recent initiatives. While clearly defining components of the Blue Economy provides a valuable tool for assessing coverage of key elements of sustainable ocean management, it is less obvious that the new label, Blue Economy, significantly advances practice beyond existing sustainable development frameworks. A proliferation in terms adds more complexity to an already challenging management space. Nevertheless, the conceptual framework is useful for structuring evaluations of practice, and helping to reveal missing ingredients necessary for the sustainable development of oceans.
The Arctic has seen rapid sea-ice decline in the past three decades, whilst warming at about twice the global average rate. Yet the relationship between Arctic warming and sea-ice loss is not well understood. Here, we present evidence that trends in summertime atmospheric circulation may have contributed as much as 60% to the September sea-ice extent decline since 1979. A tendency towards a stronger anticyclonic circulation over Greenland and the Arctic Ocean with a barotropic structure in the troposphere increased the downwelling longwave radiation above the ice by warming and moistening the lower troposphere. Model experiments, with reanalysis data constraining atmospheric circulation, replicate the observed thermodynamic response and indicate that the near-surface changes are dominated by circulation changes rather than feedbacks from the changing sea-ice cover. Internal variability dominates the Arctic summer circulation trend and may be responsible for about 30–50% of the overall decline in September sea ice since 1979.
The population of Pacific cod inhabiting off northeastern Honshu Japan has remarkably increased in the 3 yr after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011. We examined the processes and factors leading to this increase based on the results of estimations of commercial catch and fishing activities, and trawl surveys. Pacific cod was highly exploited from 1 yr old before 2011. However, fishing pressure has markedly decreased after 2011 in the area around Fukushima waters. Fish abundance in 2013 and 2014 was estimated to be more than four-fold of the maximum amount before 2011. The cohort structure of the population in 2013 and 2014 was primarily composed of 2–4-yr-old fish (2010–2011 yr classes) whereas the population in pre-2011 was primarily of 1-yr-old fish. The 2010–2011 yr classes had almost the same population sizes until 1.3 yr old to the pre-2009 yr classes, but became much higher more than 2.8 yr old. Pacific cod from 1.3 to 2.8 yr old were concentrated in the area off Fukushima Prefecture. These results suggest that Pacific cod increased post-2011 not because of the occurrence of strong year classes followed by good recruitments but because of the lower mortality after recruitment owing to reduced fishing mortality. Waters off Fukushima, the primary nursery of Pacific cod, are effectively serving as a marine protected area after the tsunami events. A close coincidence between the nursery area of young fish and the protected area strongly altered the age composition of the population and enhanced fish abundance.
In this era of fiscal constraint following the global financial crisis, marine protected areas (MPAs) occupy a remarkable position in the economic landscape. Few government authorities seem concerned about the prevalence of white elephants – illusionary MPAs that carry a financial cost. Whereas no government minister would consider developing a health system based solely on number of hospital beds (irrespective of whether all hospitals are concentrated within a single city, or occupants of beds have access to medical staff, or patients are living or dying), MPAs are largely assessed on a single numerical target (total area). Inconsistent self-identification adds an extra level of opaqueness. The net consequence is an unaccountable and under-performing system, an outcome that is both tragic and economically wasteful.
Plastic pollution is a growing global concern. In the present study, we investigated plastic pollution in 21 species of sea fish and 6 species of freshwater fish from China. All of the species were found to ingest micro- or mesoplastics. The average abundance of microplastics varied from 1.1 to 7.2 items by individual and 0.2–17.2 items by gram. The average abundance of mesoplastics varied from 0.2 to 3.0 items by individual and 0.1–3.9 items by gram. Microplastics were abundant in 26 species, accounting for 55.9–92.3% of the total number of plastics items in each species. Thamnaconus septentrionalis contained the highest abundance of microplastics (7.2 items/individual). The average abundance of plastics in sea benthopelagic fishes was significantly higher than in freshwater benthopelagic fishes by items/individual. The plastics were dominanted by fiber in shape, transparent in color and cellophane in composition. The proportion of plastics in the stomach to the intestines showed great variation in different species, ranging from 0.5 to 1.9 by items/individual. The stomach of Harpodon nehereus and intestines of Pampus cinereus contained the highest number of plastics, (3.3) and (2.7), respectively, by items/individual. Our results suggested that plastic pollution was widespread in the investigated fish species and showed higher abundance in comparison with worldwide studies. The ingestion of plastics in fish was closely related to the habitat and gastrointestinal tract structure. We highly recommend that the entire gastrointestinal tract and digestion process be used in future investigations of plastic pollution in fish.
Maerl beds are free-living, non-geniculate coralline algae habitats which form biogenic reefs with high micro-scale complexity supporting a diversity and abundance of rare epifauna and epiflora. These habitats are highly mobile in shallow marine environments where substantial maerl beds co-exist with siliciclastic sediment, exemplified by our study site of Galway Bay. Coupled hydrodynamic-wave-sediment transport models have been used to explore the transport patterns of maerl-siliciclastic sediment during calm summer conditions and severe winter storms. The sediment distribution is strongly influenced by storm waves even in water depths greater than 100 m. Maerl is present at the periphery of wave-induced residual current gyres during storm conditions. A combined wave-current Sediment Mobility Index during storm conditions shows correlation with multibeam backscatter and surficial sediment distribution. A combined wave-current Mobilization Frequency Index during storm conditions acts as a physical surrogate for the presence of maerl-siliciclastic mixtures in Galway Bay. Both indices can provide useful integrated oceanographic and sediment information to complement coupled numerical hydrodynamic, sediment transport and erosion-deposition models.
Building on work presented at the IUCN World Parks Congress (WPC) held in Sydney, Australia, on 12–19 November 2014, this document explores experiences with aquatic protected areas (PAs), marine protected areas (MPAs) and protected areas in inland waters in the context of livelihoods and food security. It includes: (i) ten papers reporting on the interface of MPA/protected areas with livelihoods and food security, based on case studies in Africa, Asia, Latin America and Oceania; (ii) an eleventh contribution providing a more general overview of MPAs and food security and how to assess their impact; and (iii) a final paper synthesizing the conclusions of the papers and discussing the observed outcomes of aquatic PAs, together with problems and solutions.
The global decline of marine ecosystems may be partially ascribed to poor governance and to the lack of sustainable use and marine biodiversity conservation policy. Conservation success is strongly related to how people perceive marine biodiversity and those perceptions can change as a result of the accumulation of knowledge, the quality of the environment, and the appropriate and sustainable management of these areas. Engaging the targeted community in the process of promoting and planning safeguarding activities may also contribute to the acceptability and the dissemination of a shared culture of sustainability and a positive change in behavior.
This study investigates people's knowledge, perceptions and feelings toward the protection and improvement of marine biodiversity of coralligenous areas in the North Adriatic Sea in Italy. Several focus groups were conducted in the major towns of the targeted area (N = 107) to explore people's familiarity with marine biodiversity and ecosystem services, and to reveal their opinions and behaviours for certain protection strategies, such as the marine protected area (MPA).
We found that coralligenous habitats are not very well known among the general people; in fact, only 42% of respondents had previously heard about biodiversity in these habitats. However, participants agreed that they provide important environmental services that benefit human wellbeing. Moreover, we found that 80% of respondents had heard before of MPA, and the majority of them were in favor of supporting interventions and policies to protect these areas.
Global warming is predicted to drive preferential survival of warm adapted genotypes that have migrated to cooler locations, and result in an overall decline in genetic diversity due to bleaching-related mortality. Population genomic analysis of Acropora millepora on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) revealed that most populations were demographically distinct with preferential southward migration from lower (warmer) to higher (cooler) latitudes. Still, no recent increase in southward migration was detectable, and predicted migration rates remained closely correlated with those derived from a biophysical model based on ocean currents. There was also no evidence of recent declines in genetic diversity. A multi-locus adaptation model suggested that standing genetic variation spread across latitudes might be sufficient to fuel continuous adaptation of A. millepora metapopulation over 100-200 years of gradual warming. However, the model also predicts increase in severity of local mortality events induced by thermal anomalies, such as high bleaching-induced mortality in the northern GBR in 2016.