Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs) are rapidly increasing. Due to their sheer size, complex socio-political realities, and distinct local cultural perspectives and economic needs, implementing and managing LSMPAs successfully creates a number of human dimensions challenges. It is timely and important to explore the human dimensions of LSMPAs. This paper draws on the results of a global “Think Tank on the Human Dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas” involving 125 people from 17 countries, including representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, professionals, industry, cultural/indigenous leaders and LSMPA site managers. The overarching goal of this effort was to be proactive in understanding the issues and developing best management practices and a research agenda that address the human dimensions of LSMPAs. Identified best management practices for the human dimensions of LSMPAs included: integration of culture and traditions, effective public and stakeholder engagement, maintenance of livelihoods and wellbeing, promotion of economic sustainability, conflict management and resolution, transparency and matching institutions, legitimate and appropriate governance, and social justice and empowerment. A shared human dimensions research agenda was developed that included priority topics under the themes of scoping human dimensions, governance, politics, social and economic outcomes, and culture and tradition. The authors discuss future directions in researching and incorporating human dimensions into LSMPAs design and management, reflect on this global effort to co-produce knowledge and re-orient practice on the human dimensions of LSMPAs, and invite others to join a nascent community of practice on the human dimensions of large-scale marine conservation.
The European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) aims to adopt integrated ecosystem management approaches to achieve or maintain “Good Environmental Status” for marine waters, habitats and resources, including mitigation of the negative effects of non-indigenous species (NIS). The Directive further seeks to promote broadly standardized monitoring efforts and assessment of temporal trends in marine ecosystem condition, incorporating metrics describing the distribution and impacts of NIS. Accomplishing these goals will require application of advanced tools for NIS surveillance and risk assessment, particularly given known challenges associated with surveying and monitoring with traditional methods. In the past decade, a host of methods based on nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) analysis have been developed or advanced that promise to dramatically enhance capacity in assessing and managing NIS. However, ensuring that these rapidly evolving approaches remain accessible and responsive to the needs of resource managers remains a challenge. This paper provides recommendations for future development of these genetic tools for assessment and management of NIS in marine systems, within the context of the explicit requirements of the MSFD. Issues considered include technological innovation, methodological standardization, data sharing and collaboration, and the critical importance of shared foundational resources, particularly integrated taxonomic expertise. Though the recommendations offered here are not exhaustive, they provide a basis for future intentional (and international) collaborative development of a genetic toolkit for NIS research, capable of fulfilling the immediate and long term goals of marine ecosystem and resource conservation.
The warming global climate is reducing sea-ice coverage in the central Arctic, transforming a mostly inaccessible marine region into a 'new' and relatively poorly studied ocean. History shows that exploitation of newly accessible natural resources tends to precede effective research and management measures. But in response to increasing access to the central Arctic, a precautionary approach has been taking hold, with broad political and scientific support culminating in the Oslo Declaration of 2015, which aims to prevent unregulated high seas fishing in the central Arctic. Negotiations toward a full binding agreement are continuing. Formal efforts toward assessing knowledge of the Arctic marine ecosystems and coordinating research are underway, and practitioner-based research coordination and collaboration in the region is also ongoing. Yet broad gaps in our current marine research and coordination exist, and this paper draws attention to the spatial middle, middle trophics, and the middle scale — an Arctic 'missing middle'. Scientific activity in the central Arctic Ocean region is burgeoning in recent years, and a large number of initiatives, projects, and arrangements are meeting some of the need for coordination. But full pan-Arctic scientific coordination does not yet exist. In support of ecosystem-based and precautionary management of the central Arctic Ocean, this paper considers a fully Arctic-focused organization that can both orchestrate and prioritize marine research in the Arctic in view of policy imperatives, and bring emerging scientific understanding of the region directly into the discussion and formation of new policy.
Continuously increasing demand for plant and animal products causes unsustainable depletion of biological resources. It is estimated that one-quarter of sharks and rays are threatened worldwide and although the global fin trade is widely recognized as a major driver, demand for meat, liver oil, and gill plates also represents a significant threat. This study used DNA barcoding and 16 S rRNA sequencing as a method to identify shark and ray species from dried fins and gill plates, obtained in Canada, China, and Sri Lanka. 129 fins and gill plates were analysed and searches on BOLD produced matches to 20 species of sharks and five species of rays or - in two cases - to a species pair. Twelve of the species found are listed or have been approved for listing in 2017 in the appendices of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora (CITES), including the whale shark (Rhincodon typus), which was surprisingly found among both shark fin and gill plate samples. More than half of identified species fall under the IUCN Red List categories 'Endangered' and 'Vulnerable', raising further concerns about the impacts of this trade on the sustainability of these low productivity species.
Building on the inputs by a range of experts who participated in the February 2017 international symposium on “Designing the Future for Fisheries Certification Schemes” at the University of Tokyo, this manuscript traces the origins of fisheries certification schemes, relevant developments, and remaining challenges from an Asian perspective. Over the past 20 years, seafood certification has emerged as a powerful tool for meeting growing demands for sustainable fisheries and aquaculture products. Despite broad consensus among countries regarding what constitute responsible fishing practices, the fisheries certification landscape remains uneven. A plethora of certification schemes has generated confusion among consumers and retailers, and capital-intensive certification schemes may be out-of-reach or impractical for some small-scale fisheries, particularly within the developing world. A recent initiative by the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative (GSSI) is aiming to address the diversity within the certification landscape by creating a tool to benchmark certification schemes that are in line with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and other relevant agreed FAO guidelines on fisheries, ecolabelling and aquaculture. Countries in Asia are among the world's top consumers and exporters of seafood, yet have faced some particular challenges with regard to seafood certification, underscoring the need for certification schemes that account for regional and local conditions and management practices, particularly with regard to small-scale fisheries.
This article explores how conceptualizing fish as food, rather than primarily as a resource or commodity supports a shift towards more systems-based approaches to engaging with fisheries (i.e. considering the relationships between ecosystems, people, management and policy). A “fish as food” lens is operationalized by drawing on the theory and practice of food sovereignty. While fishing people and communities have always been a core part of the food sovereignty movement, there have been limited efforts in the academic literature to explore these connections directly. Drawing on examples primarily from a Canadian context, it is argued that a deeper engagement between fisheries and food sovereignty is long overdue, particularly as a growing body of research on small-scale fisheries seeks to address social-ecological relationships and issues of power that are also at the core of a food sovereignty approach. This article identifies the opportunities and limitations of engaging with food sovereignty in the context of small-scale fisheries and suggests a series of key questions for future fish as food research and policy.
Coral reef restoration initiatives are burgeoning in response to the need for novel management strategies to address dramatic global declines in coral cover. However, coral restoration programs typically lack rigor and critical evaluation of their effectiveness. A review of 83 peer-reviewed papers that used coral transplantation for reef restoration reveals that growth and survival of coral fragments were the most widely used indicators of restoration success, with 88% of studies using these two indicators either solely (55%) or in combination with a limited number of other ecological factors (33%). In 53% of studies, reef condition was monitored for 1 year or less, while only 5% of reefs were monitored for more than 5 years post-transplantation. These results highlight that coral reef restoration science has focused primarily on short-term experiments to evaluate the feasibility of techniques for ecological restoration and the initial establishment phase post-transplantation, rather than on longer-term outcomes for coral reef communities. Here, we outline 10 socioecological indicators that comprehensively evaluate the effectiveness of coral reef restoration across the four pillars of sustainability (i.e. environmental, sociocultural, governance, and economic contributions to sustainable communities). We recommend that evaluations of the effectiveness of coral restoration programs integrate ecological indicators with sociocultural, economic, and governance considerations. Assessing the efficacy of coral restoration as a tool to support reef resilience will help to guide future efforts and ensure the sustainable maintenance of reef ecosystem goods and services.
Forecasting assemblage-level responses to climate change remains one of the greatest challenges in global ecology [1, 2]. Data from the marine realm are limited because they largely come from experiments using limited numbers of species , mesocosms whose interior conditions are unnatural , and long-term correlation studies based on historical collections . We describe the first ever experiment to warm benthic assemblages to ecologically relevant levels in situ. Heated settlement panels were used to create three test conditions: ambient and 1°C and 2°C above ambient (predicted in the next 50 and 100 years, respectively ). We observed massive impacts on a marine assemblage, with near doubling of growth rates of Antarctic seabed life. Growth increases far exceed those expected from biological temperature relationships established more than 100 years ago by Arrhenius. These increases in growth resulted in a single “r-strategist” pioneer species (the bryozoan Fenestrulina rugula) dominating seabed spatial cover and drove a reduction in overall diversity and evenness. In contrast, a 2°C rise produced divergent responses across species growth, resulting in higher variability in the assemblage. These data extend our ability to expand, integrate, and apply our knowledge of the impact of temperature on biological processes to predict organism, species, and ecosystem level ecological responses to regional warming.
If saltwater regularly soaked your basement or first floor, kept you from getting to work, or damaged your car, how often would it have to happen before you began looking for a new place to call home?
This national analysis identifies when US coastal communities will face a level of disruptive flooding that affects people's homes, daily routines, and livelihoods. It identifies hundreds of communities that will face chronic inundation and possible retreat over the coming decades as sea levels rise.
The findings highlight what’s at stake in our fight to address sea level rise and global warming. They also provide affected communities a measure of how much time they have to prepare.
The combined effects of anthropogenic and biological CO2 inputs may lead to more rapid acidification in coastal waters compared to the open ocean. It is less clear, however, how redox reactions would contribute to acidification. Here we report estuarine acidification dynamics based on oxygen, hydrogen sulfide (H2S), pH, dissolved inorganic carbon and total alkalinity data from the Chesapeake Bay, where anthropogenic nutrient inputs have led to eutrophication, hypoxia and anoxia, and low pH. We show that a pH minimum occurs in mid-depths where acids are generated as a result of H2S oxidation in waters mixed upward from the anoxic depths. Our analyses also suggest a large synergistic effect from river–ocean mixing, global and local atmospheric CO2 uptake, and CO2and acid production from respiration and other redox reactions. Together they lead to a poor acid buffering capacity, severe acidification and increased carbonate mineral dissolution in the USA’s largest estuary.
The development of third party assessment and certification of fisheries and aquaculture has provided new forms of governance in sectors that were traditionally dominated by state based regulation. Emerging market based approaches are driven by shareholder expectations as well as commitment to corporate social responsibility, whereas community engagement is increasingly centered on the questions of social license to operate. Third party assessment and certification links state, market and community into an interesting and challenging hybrid form of governance. While civil society organizations have long been active in pursuing sustainable and safe seafood production, the development of formal non-state based certification provides both opportunities and challenges, and opens up interesting debates over hybrid forms of governance. This paper explores these developments in coastal marine resources management, focusing on aquaculture and the development and operation of the Aquaculture Stewardship Council. It examines the case of salmonid aquaculture in Tasmania, Australia, now Australia's most valuable seafood industry, which remains the focus of considerable community debate over its siting, operation and environmental impact.
Human-made noise is contributing increasingly to ocean soundscapes. Its physical, physiological and behavioural effects on marine organisms are potentially widespread, but our understanding remains largely limited to intraspecific impacts. Here, we examine how motorboats affect an interspecific cleaning mutualism critical for coral reef fish health, abundance and diversity. We conducted in situ observations of cleaning interactions between bluestreak cleaner wrasses (Labroides dimidiatus) and their fish clients before, during and after repeated, standardised approaches with motorboats. Cleaners inspected clients for longer and were significantly less cooperative during exposure to boat noise, and while motorboat disturbance appeared to have little effect on client behaviour, as evidenced by consistency of visit rates, clientele composition, and use of cleaning incitation signals, clients did not retaliate as expected (i.e., by chasing) in response to increased cheating by cleaners. Our results are consistent with the idea of cognitive impairments due to distraction by both parties. Alternatively, cleaners might be taking advantage of distracted clients to reduce their service quality. To more fully understand the importance of these findings for conservation and management, further studies should elucidate whether the efficacy of ectoparasite removal by cleaners is affected and explore the potential for habituation to boat noise in busy areas.
Eutrophication, or excessive nutrient enrichment, threatens water resources across the globe. We show that climate change–induced precipitation changes alone will substantially increase (19 ± 14%) riverine total nitrogen loading within the continental United States by the end of the century for the “business-as-usual” scenario. The impacts, driven by projected increases in both total and extreme precipitation, will be especially strong for the Northeast and the corn belt of the United States. Offsetting this increase would require a 33 ± 24% reduction in nitrogen inputs, representing a massive management challenge. Globally, changes in precipitation are especially likely to also exacerbate eutrophication in India, China, and Southeast Asia. It is therefore imperative that water quality management strategies account for the impact of projected future changes in precipitation on nitrogen loading.
Small-scale fisheries provide an essential source of food and employment for coastal communities, yet the availability of detailed information on the spatiotemporal distribution of fishing effort to support resource management at a country level is scarce. Here, using a national-scale study in the Republic of Congo, we engaged with fishers from 23 of 28 small-scale fisheries landing sites along the coast to demonstrate how combining community engagement and relatively low cost Global Positioning System (GPS) trackers can rapidly provide fine-scale information on: (1) the behavioral dynamics of the fishers and fleets that operate within this sector; and (2) the location, size and attributes of important fishing grounds upon which communities are dependent. This multidisciplinary approach should be considered within a global context where uncertainty over the behavior of marine and terrestrial resource-users can lead to management decisions that potentially compromise local livelihoods, conservation, and resource sustainability goals.
Globally, tropical and subtropical regions have experienced an increased frequency and intensity in extreme weather events, ranging from severe drought to protracted rain depressions and cyclones, these coincided with an increased number of marine turtles subsequently reported stranded. This study investigated the relationship between environmental variables and marine turtle stranding. The environmental variables examined in this study, in descending order of importance, were freshwater discharge, monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall for the latitudinal hotspots (-27°, -25°, -23°, -19°) along the Queensland coast as well as for major embayments within these blocks. This study found that marine turtle strandings can be linked to these environmental variables at different lag times (3–12 months), and that cumulative (months added together for maximum lag) and non-cumulative (single month only) effects cause different responses. Different latitudes also showed different responses of marine turtle strandings, both in response direction and timing.Cumulative effects of freshwater discharge in all latitudes resulted in increased strandings 10–12 months later. For latitudes -27°, -25° and -23° non-cumulative effects for discharge resulted in increased strandings 7–12 months later. Latitude -19° had different results for the non-cumulative bay with strandings reported earlier (3–6 months). Monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall had varying results for each examined latitude. This study will allow first responders and resource managers to be better equipped to deal with increased marine turtle stranding rates following extreme weather events.
Elevated CO2 levels associated with ocean acidification (OA) have been shown to alter behavioural responses in coral reef fishes. However, all studies to date have used stable pCO2 treatments, not considering the substantial diel pCO2 variation that occurs in shallow reef habitats. Here, we reared juvenile damselfish, Acanthochromis polyacanthus, and clownfish, Amphiprion percula, at stable and diel cycling pCO2treatments in two experiments. As expected, absolute lateralization of A. polyacanthus and response to predator cue of Am. percula were negatively affected in fish reared at stable, elevated pCO2 in both experiments. However, diel pCO2 fluctuations reduced the negative effects of OA on behaviour. Importantly, in experiment two, behavioural abnormalities that were present in fish reared at stable 750 µatm CO2were largely absent in fish reared at 750 ± 300 µatm CO2. Overall, we show that diel pCO2 cycles can substantially reduce the severity of behavioural abnormalities caused by elevated CO2. Thus, past studies may have over-estimated the impacts of OA on the behavioural performance of coral reef fishes. Furthermore, our results suggest that diel pCO2 cycles will delay the onset of behavioural abnormalities in natural populations.
Studies on the distribution and evolution of organisms on oceanic islands have advanced towards a dynamic perspective1, where terrestrial endemicity results from island geographical aspects and geological history2 intertwined with sea-level fluctuations3, 4. Diversification on these islands may follow neutral models5, decreasing over time as niches are filled6, or disequilibrium states7 and progression rules8, where richness and endemism rise with the age of the archipelago owing to the splitting of ancestral lineages (cladogenesis). However, marine organisms have received comparatively little scientific attention. Therefore, island and seamount evolutionary processes in the aquatic environment remain unclear9. Here we analyse the evolutionary history of reef fishes that are endemic to a volcanic ridge of seamounts and islands to understand their relations to island evolution and sea-level fluctuations. We also test how this evolutionary history fits island biogeography theory. We found that most endemic species have evolved recently (Pleistocene epoch), during a period of recurrent sea-level changes and intermittent connectivity caused by repeated aerial exposure of seamounts, a finding that is consistent with an ephemeral ecological speciation process10. Similar to findings for terrestrial biodiversity7, our data suggest that the marine speciation rate on islands is negatively correlated with immigration rate. However, because marine species disperse better than terrestrial species, most niches are filled by immigration: speciation increases with the random accumulation of species with low dispersal ability, with few opportunities for in situ cladogenesis and adaptive radiation. Moreover, we confirm that sea-level fluctuations and seamount location play a critical role in marine evolution, mainly by intermittently providing stepping stones for island colonization.
Uneaten feeding pellets and fish released faeces cause the most severe impact on the benthos beneath aquaculture offshore sea-cages. A modelling tool, ‘MACAROMOD', composed of particulate waste dispersion and benthic response, was developed to predict the environmental disturbances of offshore sea-bream (Sparus aurata), sea-bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) and meagre (Argyrosomus regius) aquaculture in the Macaronesian region (oceanic archipelagos in the north-eastern Atlantic). MACAROMOD was tested at 8 sites (7 farms in the Canary Islands and 1 farm in Madeira), hence covering a high variability in oceanographic and environmental conditions. In general, a low percentage of lost pellets was found (3%), while a high rate of pellets were consumed by wild fishes (97%). Considering all studied sites, significant correlations were shown between observed and predicted solid fluxes (R2 = 0.89), and also between solid fluxes and the depositional footprint on the benthos, by taken advantage of observed and predicted values of the ecological status AMBI index (R2 = 0.6966). A flux threshold of 12 kg solids m−2 yr−1 was predicted as a boundary from which ecological degradation occurs for the study region. MACAROMOD is therefore a valid tool to improve planning and monitoring Macaronesian aquaculture.
The Northwest Atlantic cod stocks collapsed in the early 1990s and have yet to recover, despite the subsequent establishment of a continuing fishing moratorium. Efforts to understand the collapse and lack of recovery have so far focused mainly on the dynamics of commercially harvested species. Here, we use data from a 33-year scientific trawl survey to determine to which degree the signatures of the collapse and recovery of the cod are apparent in the spatial and temporal dynamics of the broader groundfish community. Over this 33-year period, the groundfish community experienced four phases of change: (i) a period of rapid, synchronous biomass collapse in most species, (ii) followed by a regime shift in community composition with a concomitant loss of functional diversity, (iii) followed in turn by periods of slow compositional recovery, and (iv) slow biomass growth. Our results demonstrate how a community-wide perspective can reveal new aspects of the dynamics of collapse and recovery unavailable from the analysis of individual species or a combination of a small number of species. Overall, we found evidence that such community-level signals should be useful for designing more effective management strategies to ensure the persistence of exploited marine ecosystems.
Large highly migratory predators can have major impacts on local marine ecosystems by reducing prey populations and leading to trophic cascades that affect the entire fish community. These trophic interactions are typically non-linear and can alter both the migratory behaviour of the predator and the stability of the fish community. The impact of a migrating top-predator is investigated here for Atlantic bluefin tuna in the North Sea. Bluefin tuna has been absent from the region for half-century, but recent years have seen recovery of migrations and a return of bluefin tuna in the area. We use a size spectrum model to analyse the trophic impact of the returning tuna on the entire fish community, under scenarios with varying levels of tuna consumption and fishing mortality on the prey. We show that with high level of prey fishing mortality in the North Sea, the effect of a tuna re-colonization results in only limited trophic cascades. However, high tuna consumption or changes in fishing mortality may result in a sudden recruitment failure of small-pelagic fish due to cascading effects on the fish community. In present-day conditions, the level of tuna consumption that triggers recruitment failure is lower at increasing fishing mortalities on their prey, providing indications for the future sustainable management of both small-pelagics and bluefin tuna in the area.