In various scientific disciplines resilience has become a key concept for theoretical frameworks and more practical goals. The growing interest resulted in multiple definitions of resilience. This paper highlights how and why resilience has become a meaningful concept guiding multiple disciplines to understand and govern social–ecological systems. Moreover, the concept of resilience can be operationalized in complex social–ecological systems that are inherent to change and unpredictable outcomes.
Mangrove forest ecosystems support aquatic species important to tropical fishing communities, but habitat degradation and over-fishing have caused coastal fishery stocks to decline. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are widely promoted as a management option to reverse this situation. Using swimming crabs as indicator species, this paper explores the ecological effectiveness of two community-led MPAs and one co-managed MPA in Ranong and Phang-nga Provinces in southern Thailand. Comparisons were made of two fisheries objectives: catch per unit effort (CPUE); and size frequency distribution of Portunus spp. and Scylla olivacea; and one conservation objective: catch composition on benthic aquatic species, between each managed area and an associated control site to look for effects of management. Eight replicates of each survey were undertaken in each site: four in the wet season, from May to July 2011; and four in the dry season, from February to March 2012.
Two of the MPAs, one a no-take zone and one a gear limitation zone, and both managed by local communities, showed a significant increase in CPUE of target species compared with their controls to the benefit of local fishers. There was little evidence of management impact on the composition of benthic aquatic species so community management is not achieving wider conservation in terms of increased biodiversity. The third MPA, a seasonal no-take zone, co-managed by local communities and local government, showed no significant effect on either CPUE of target species, or composition of benthic aquatic species when compared to its control. For size frequency distribution, a higher abundance of all size classes of Portunus pelagicus was observed in all MPAs compared to their control sites. The size distribution of animals suggests that the community-managed MPAs are supporting recruits and contributing to the fisheries by reducing the rates of growth overfishing. To conclude, the two community-led MPAs benefitted fishers but had no effect on marine biodiversity, while the co-managed MPA did not benefit fishers or marine biodiversity. However, all three MPAs showed increase crab abundance in each size class.
This chapter situates the maritime and shipping sector within the dynamic and integrated physical-social-ecological ocean system and the broad and evolving framework of ocean governance, management, and sustainability. While shipping operations occupy a prominent and historic role in the maritime world, ships no longer rule the waves alone. The ocean and coastal margins of the world are indeed vast and extensive, but they are increasingly crowded, competitive, and conflicted. And now we are expanding and intensifying traditional ocean industries and adding new exploitive activities to the mix, all in the pursuit of a “blue economy,” whether reasonable or not, sustainable or otherwise. Our uses and abuses of the ocean to date have seriously compromised the very foundations of the ocean and coastal system and led to growing marine environmental degradation and the consequent costs of an underperforming ocean economy, loss of essential ecosystem goods and services (which largely sustain the former), increased use conflicts, and challenging legal questions.
Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are important management tools shown to protect marine organisms, restore biomass, and increase fisheries yields. While MPAs have been successful in meeting these goals for many relatively sedentary species, highly mobile organisms may get few benefits from this type of spatial protection due to their frequent movement outside the protected area. The use of a large MPA can compensate for extensive movement, but testing this empirically is challenging, as it requires both large areas and sufficient time series to draw conclusions. To overcome this limitation, MPA models have been used to identify designs and predict potential outcomes, but these simulations are highly sensitive to the assumptions describing the organism’s movements. Due to recent improvements in computational simulations, it is now possible to include very complex movement assumptions in MPA models (e.g. Individual Based Model). These have renewed interest in MPA simulations, which implicitly assume that increasing the detail in fish movement overcomes the sensitivity to the movement assumptions. Nevertheless, a systematic comparison of the designs and outcomes obtained under different movement assumptions has not been done. In this paper, we use an individual based model, interconnected to population and fishing fleet models, to explore the value of increasing the detail of the movement assumptions using four scenarios of increasing behavioral complexity: a) random, diffusive movement, b) aggregations, c) aggregations that respond to environmental forcing (e.g. sea surface temperature), and d) aggregations that respond to environmental forcing and are transported by currents. We then compare these models to determine how the assumptions affect MPA design, and therefore the effective protection of the stocks. Our results show that the optimal MPA size to maximize fisheries benefits increases as movement complexity increases from ~10% for the diffusive assumption to ~30% when full environment forcing was used. We also found that in cases of limited understanding of the movement dynamics of a species, simplified assumptions can be used to provide a guide for the minimum MPA size needed to effectively protect the stock. However, using oversimplified assumptions can produce suboptimal designs and lead to a density underestimation of ca. 30%; therefore, the main value of detailed movement dynamics is to provide more reliable MPA design and predicted outcomes. Large MPAs can be effective in recovering overfished stocks, protect pelagic fish and provide significant increases in fisheries yields. Our models provide a means to empirically test this spatial management tool, which theoretical evidence consistently suggests as an effective alternative to managing highly mobile pelagic stocks.
Human-driven global change is causing ongoing declines in biodiversity worldwide. In order to address these declines, decision-makers need accurate assessments of the status of and pressures on biodiversity. However, these are heavily constrained by incomplete and uneven spatial, temporal and taxonomic coverage. For instance, data from regions such as Europe and North America are currently used overwhelmingly for large-scale biodiversity assessments due to lesser availability of suitable data from other, more biodiversity-rich, regions. These data-poor regions are often those experiencing the strongest threats to biodiversity, however. There is therefore an urgent need to fill the existing gaps in global biodiversity monitoring. Here, we review current knowledge on best practice in capacity building for biodiversity monitoring and provide an overview of existing means to improve biodiversity data collection considering the different types of biodiversity monitoring data. Our review comprises insights from work in Africa, South America, Polar Regions and Europe; in government-funded, volunteer and citizen-based monitoring in terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems. The key steps to effectively building capacity in biodiversity monitoring are: identifying monitoring questions and aims; identifying the key components, functions, and processes to monitor; identifying the most suitable monitoring methods for these elements, carrying out monitoring activities; managing the resultant data; and interpreting monitoring data. Additionally, biodiversity monitoring should use multiple approaches including extensive and intensive monitoring through volunteers and professional scientists but also harnessing new technologies. Finally, we call on the scientific community to share biodiversity monitoring data, knowledge and tools to ensure the accessibility, interoperability, and reporting of biodiversity data at a global scale.
As the mean temperatures of the worlds oceans increase, it is predicted that marine heatwaves (MHWs) will occur more frequently and with increased severity. However, it has been shown that variables other than increases in sea water temperature have been responsible for MHWs. To better understand these mechanisms driving MHWs we have utilized atmospheric (ERA-Interim) and oceanic (OISST, AVISO) data to examine the patterns around southern Africa during coastal (<400 m from the low water mark; measured in situ) MHWs. Nonmetric multidimensional scaling (NMDS) was first used to determine that the atmospheric and oceanic states during MHW are different from daily climatological states. Self-organizing maps (SOMs) were then used to cluster the MHW states into one of nine nodes to determine the predominant atmospheric and oceanic patterns present during these events. It was found that warm water forced onto the coast via anomalous ocean circulation was the predominant oceanic pattern during MHWs. Warm atmospheric temperatures over the subcontinent during onshore or alongshore winds were the most prominent atmospheric patterns. Roughly one third of the MHWs were clustered into a node with no clear patterns, which implied that they were not forced by a recurring atmospheric or oceanic state that could be described by the SOM analysis. Because warm atmospheric and/or oceanic temperature anomalies were not the only pattern associated with MHWs, the current trend of a warming earth does not necessarily mean that MHWs will increase apace; however, aseasonal variability in wind and current patterns was shown to be central to the formation of coastal MHWs, meaning that where climate systems shift from historic records, increases in MHWs will likely occur.
The effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning is one of the major questions of ecology. However, the role of phytoplankton functional diversity in ecosystem productivity and stability under fluctuating (i.e. non-equilibrium) environments remains largely unknown. Here we use a marine ecosystem model to study the effect of phytoplankton functional diversity on both ecosystem productivity and its stability for seasonally variable nutrient supply and temperature. Functional diversity ranges from low to high along these two environmental axes independently. Changes in diversity are obtained by varying the range of uptake strategies and thermal preferences of the species present in the community. Species can range from resource gleaners to opportunists, and from cold to warm thermal preferences. The phytoplankton communities self-assemble as a result of species selection by resource competition (nutrients) and environmental filtering (temperature). Both processes lead to species asynchrony but their effect on productivity and stability differ. We find that the diversity of temperature niches has a strong and direct positive effect on productivity and stability due to species complementarity, while the diversity of uptake strategies has a weak and indirect positive effect due to sampling probability. These results show that more functionally diverse phytoplankton communities lead to higher and more stable ecosystem productivity but the positive effect of biodiversity on ecosystem functioning depends critically on the type of environmental gradient.
Harnessing information encoded in environmental DNA (eDNA) in marine waters has the potential to revolutionize marine biomonitoring. Whether using organism-specific quantitative PCR assays or metabarcoding in conjunction with amplicon sequencing, scientists have illustrated that realistic organism censuses can be inferred from eDNA. The next step is establishing ways to link information obtained from eDNA analyses to actual organism abundance. This is only possible by understanding the processes that control eDNA concentrations. The present study uses mesocosm experiments to study the persistence of eDNA in marine waters and explore the role of sunlight in modulating eDNA persistence. We seeded solute-permeable dialysis bags with water containing indigenous eDNA and suspended them in a large tank containing seawater. Bags were subjected to two treatments: half the bags were suspended near the water surface where they received high doses of sunlight, and half at depth where they received lower doses of sunlight. Bags were destructively sampled over the course of 87 hours. eDNA was extracted from water samples and used as template for a Scomber japonicus qPCR assay and a marine fish-specific 12S rRNA PCR assay. The latter was subsequently sequenced using a metabarcoding approach. S. japonicus eDNA, as measured by qPCR, exhibited first order decay with a rate constant ~0.01 hr -1 with no difference in decay rate constants between the two experimental treatments. eDNA metabarcoding identified 190 organizational taxonomic units (OTUs) assigned to varying taxonomic ranks. There was no difference in marine fish communities as measured by eDNA metabarcoding between the two experimental treatments, but there was an effect of time. Given the differences in UVA and UVB fluence received by the two experimental treatments, we conclude that sunlight is not the main driver of fish eDNA decay in the experiments. However, there are clearly temporal effects that need to be considered when interpreting information obtained using eDNA approaches.
Predicting the impact of sea-level (SL) rise on coral reefs requires reliable models of reef accretion. Most assume that accretion results from vertical growth of coralgal framework, but recent studies show that reefs exposed to hurricanes consist of layers of coral gravel rather than in-place corals. New models are therefore needed to account for hurricane impact on reef accretion over geological timescales. To investigate this geological impact, we report the configuration and development of a 4-km-long fringing reef at Punta Maroma along the northeast Yucatan Peninsula. Satellite-derived bathymetry (SDB) shows the crest is set-back a uniform distance of 315 ±15 m from a mid-shelf slope break, and the reef-front decreases 50% in width and depth along its length. A 12-core drill transect constrained by multiple 230Th ages shows the reef is composed of an ~2-m thick layer of coral clasts that has retrograded 100 m over its back-reef during the last 5.5 ka. These findings are consistent with a hurricane-control model of reef development where large waves trip and break over the mid-shelf slope break, triggering rapid energy dissipation and thus limiting how far upslope individual waves can fragment corals and transport clasts. As SL rises and water depth increases, energy dissipation during wave-breaking is reduced, extending the clast-transport limit, thus leading to reef retrogradation. This hurricane model may be applicable to a large sub-set of fringing reefs in the tropical Western-Atlantic necessitating a reappraisal of their accretion rates and response to future SL rise.
Climate change poses significant and increasing risks for Pacific Island communities. Sea-level rise, coastal flooding, extreme and variable storm events, fish stock redistribution, coral bleaching, and declines in ecosystem health and productivity threaten the wellbeing, health, safety, and national sovereignty of Pacific Islanders, and small-scale fishers in particular. Fostering the response capacity of small-scale fishing communities will become increasingly important for the Pacific Islands. Challenging decisions and trade-offs emerge when choosing and mobilizing different responses to climate change. The trade-offs inherent in different responses can occur between various exposures, across spatial and temporal scales, among segments of society, various objectives, and evaluative criteria. Here we introduce a typology of potential trade-offs inherent in responses, elaborated through examples from the Pacific. We argue that failure to adequately engage with trade-offs across human responses to climate change can potentially result in unintended consequences or lead to adverse outcomes for human vulnerability to climate change. Conversely, proactively identifying and addressing these trade-offs in decision-making processes will be critical for planning hazard mitigation and preparing island nations, communities, and individuals to anticipate and adapt to change, not only for Pacific Islands, but for coastal communities around the world.
Colonially-breeding seabirds have long served as indicator species for the health of the oceans on which they depend. Abundance and breeding data are repeatedly collected at fixed study sites in the hopes that changes in abundance and productivity may be useful for adaptive management of marine resources, but their suitability for this purpose is often unknown. To address this, we fit a Bayesian population dynamics model that includes process and observation error to all known Adélie penguin abundance data (1982–2015) in the Antarctic, covering >95% of their population globally. We find that process error exceeds observation error in this system, and that continent-wide “year effects” strongly influence population growth rates. Our findings have important implications for the use of Adélie penguins in Southern Ocean feedback management, and suggest that aggregating abundance across space provides the fastest reliable signal of true population change for species whose dynamics are driven by stochastic processes.
Aquaculture production is projected to expand from land-based operations to the open ocean as demand for seafood grows and competition increases for inputs to land-based aquaculture, such as freshwater and suitable land. In contrast to land-based production, open-ocean aquaculture is constrained by oceanographic factors, such as current speeds and seawater temperature, which are dynamic in time and space, and cannot easily be controlled. As such, the potential for offshore aquaculture to increase seafood production is tied to the physical state of the oceans. We employ a novel spatial model to estimate the potential of open-ocean finfish aquaculture globally, given physical, biological and technological constraints. Finfish growth potential for three common aquaculture species representing different thermal guilds—Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar), gilthead seabream (Sparus aurata) and cobia (Rachycentron canadum)—is compared across species and regions and with climate change, based on outputs of a high-resolution global climate model. Globally, there are ample areas that are physically suitable for fish growth and potential expansion of the nascent aquaculture industry. The effects of climate change are heterogeneous across species and regions, but areas with existing aquaculture industries are likely to see increases in growth rates. In areas where climate change results in reduced growth rates, adaptation measures, such as selective breeding, can probably offset potential production losses.
- Many species and populations of marine megafauna are undergoing substantial declines, while many are also very poorly understood. Even basic information on species presence is unknown for tens of thousands of kilometres of coastline, particularly in the developing world, which is a major hurdle to their conservation.
- Rapid ecological assessment is a valuable tool used to identify and prioritize areas for conservation; however, this approach has never been clearly applied to marine cetaceans. Here a rapid assessment protocol is outlined that will generate broad-scale, quantitative, baseline data on cetacean communities and potential threats, that can be conducted rapidly and cost-effectively across whole countries, or regions.
- The rapid assessment was conducted in Tanzania, East Africa, and integrated collection of data on cetaceans from visual, acoustic, and interview surveys with existing information from multiple sources, to provide low resolution data on cetacean community relative abundance, diversity, and threats. Four principal threats were evaluated and compared spatially using a qualitative scale: cetacean mortality in fishing gear (particularly gillnets); cetacean hunting, consumption or use by humans; shipping related collision risk and noise disturbance; and dynamite fishing.
- Ninety-one groups of 11 species of marine mammal were detected during field surveys. Potentially the most important area for cetaceans was the Pemba Channel, a deep, high-current waterway between Pemba Island and mainland Africa, where by far the highest relative cetacean diversity and high relative abundance were recorded, but which is also subject to threats from fishing.
- A rapid assessment approach can be applied in data deficient areas to quickly provide information on cetaceans that can be used by governments and managers for marine spatial planning, management of developments, and to target research activities into the most important locations.
Wind turbines continuously remove kinetic energy from the lower troposphere, thereby reducing the wind speed near hub height. The rate of electricity generation in large wind farms containing multiple wind arrays is, therefore, constrained by the rate of kinetic energy replenishment from the atmosphere above. In recent years, a growing body of research argues that the rate of generated power is limited to around 1.5 W m−2 within large wind farms. However, in this study, we show that considerably higher power generation rates may be sustainable over some open ocean areas. In particular, the North Atlantic is identified as a region where the downward transport of kinetic energy may sustain extraction rates of 6 W m−2 and above over large areas in the annual mean. Furthermore, our results indicate that the surface heat flux from the oceans to the atmosphere may play an important role in creating regions where sustained high rates of downward transport of kinetic energy and thus, high rates of kinetic energy extraction may be geophysical possible. While no commercial-scale deep water wind farms yet exist, our results suggest that such technologies, if they became technically and economically feasible, could potentially provide civilization-scale power.
Baited remote underwater stereo-video systems (stereo-BRUVs) are commonly used to sample fish assemblages across areas of differing fish densities with little consideration of how intraspecific and interspecific behaviours may influence estimates of abundance and body-size distribution. To investigate these potential biases, the current study compared the abundances and body-size distributions of seven target carnivorous species and six lower trophic level non-target species, across sites with high and low densities of large-bodied target species, using Stereo-BRUVs. Samples were collected inside and outside of an area closed to fishing at the Houtman Abrolhos Islands, Western Australia. Densities of large-bodied target species were found to be higher inside the closed fishery area, compared to similar areas outside. The presence of large-bodied target species did not appear to influence the body-size distribution of conspecifics, or the abundance and body-size distribution of small-bodied non-target species throughout the deployments. The abundance of large-bodied target species was found to peak earlier in deployments within the closed area than the areas open to fishing. This difference may be due to the higher relative density with the closed area, which may result in shorter arrival times as fish move towards the baited video, and/or to behavioural differences, as fish within the closed area may approach the baited video more readily. This potential behavioural difference between areas closed and open to fishing has important implications for duration of baited video sampling times, and we suggest that shorter deployments times (< 15 min) are less likely to bias abundance estimates of fishery target species.
Studies of oil spills on sand beaches have focused traditionally on the effects of short-term oil exposure, with recovery of sand beach macrobenthic communities occurring within several weeks to several years. The Deepwater Horizon spill resulted in chronic, multi-year re-oiling and up to 4 yr of extensive and often intensive treatments. Of the 965 km of sand beaches that were oiled, shoreline treatment was documented on 683 km. Intensive mechanical treatment was conducted from 9 to 45 mo after the initial oiling on 32.4 km of shoreline in Louisiana, and deep beach excavation/sifting and tilling was conducted along 60.5 km in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida, often along contiguous lengths of beach. Recovery of sand beach invertebrate communities from the combined effects of oiling and treatment would likely be delayed by 2 to 6 yr after the last response action was completed. We introduce the concept of ‘Response Injury’ categories that reflect both intensity and frequency of beach treatment methods. We use the literature on similar types of disturbances to sand beach communities (foot traffic, vehicular traffic, wrack removal, beach nourishment) to describe the expected impacts. Temporal patterns of response-related disturbances can affect seasonal recruitment of organisms and the overall rate of ecosystem recovery from both oil exposure and treatment disturbance. This concept provides a framework for specifically assessing response-related impacts in future spills, which has not been considered in previous injury assessments.
Fisheries usually first remove large predators before switching to smaller species, causing lasting changes to fish community structure. Reef fish provide essential protein and income for many people, and the impacts of commercial and high-intensity subsistence fishing on reef fish are well documented. However, how fish communities respond to low levels of subsistence fishing using traditional techniques (fishing for food, few fishers) is less well understood. We use three atolls in the Marshall Islands as a model system to quantify effects of commercial and subsistence fishing on reef fish communities, compared to a near-pristine baseline. Unexpectedly, fish biomass was highest on the commercially-fished atoll where the assemblage was dominated by herbivores (50% higher than other atolls) and contained few top predators (70% lower than other atolls). By contrast, fish biomass and trophic composition did not differ between pristine and subsistence-fished atolls – top predators were abundant on both. We show that in some cases, reefs can support fishing by small communities to provide food but still retain intact fish assemblages. Low-intensity subsistence fishing may not always harm marine food webs, and we suggest that its effects depend on the style and intensity of fishing practised and the type of organisms targeted.
Artificial reefs are used to protect coastal habitats and rebuild fisheries. This engineering approach to fisheries management has gained popularity in many coastal areas, including China. In Shandong province alone, over USD 50 million were invested in artificial reefs during 2005–2013. Have artificial reefs achieved their biological and economic objectives? We compared reef and control sites in terms of catch and value per unit effort and average body length across species, based on surveys carried out during 2012–2013. We found that in aggregate, with all fish and invertebrates combined, artificial reefs did not improve the overall catches or revenues. Instead, seasonal fluctuations were prominent. However, when we allow for species-specific differences and focus on the common fish species, we find that an artificial reef can increase the catch and value per unit effort on average by approximately 40% compared to the control sites. The difference between these contrasting results occurs because some of the dominant species that comprise the bulk of the catches did not benefit from the reef, while many of the less dominant ones did so. This underlines the importance of being specific about what is meant by “benefiting fisheries” when evaluating artificial reefs, as well as when the objectives of reef projects are formulated in the first place. The positive effects of artificial reefs can be caused by the reefs themselves and by their influence on fishing patterns. Our study was not designed to separate these effects but we suggest that in Shandong, restrictions on fishing access may have been as important as the presence of the reef itself.
Predictive maps of biodiversity patterns are pivotal to marine conservation and marine spatial planning alike, yet mapping of biodiversity indicators at the community-level is neither straightforward nor well-tested empirically. Two principle approaches exist. A direct approach involves calculation of indices for each sample, followed by interpolation to estimate values at unsampled locations. An indirect approach first interpolates individual species distributions and then determines indices based on the stacked distribution maps. We compared the appropriateness of both approaches to provide management-relevant information by mapping the distribution of demersal fish biodiversity in the German North Sea Exclusive Economic Zone using species richness, Hill’s N1 and a novel traits-based community sensitivity to fishing index (CSI). To substitute zero-inflated species with up to 95% zeros in the sample data, we applied each species’ mean abundance value as a flat surface. Spatial patterns between indicators varied, but certain hot- and cold-spots were revealed, which, under current legislation, might suggest that the present level of biodiversity protection is insufficient. Despite both approaches generating similar main patterns, the direct approach predicted a narrower range of index values and only depicted the most dominant patterns. Contrary to that the indirect approach better reproduced the variability in the data, along with additional information on species distributions and a theoretical advantage pertaining to sampling issues. Although the choice over the mapping approach is context dependent, for our study area featuring a community with relatively few species, we consider the indirect approach to provide the more reliable information for implementing marine environmental legislation.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and seafood supply chain fraud are multifaceted problems that demand multifaceted solutions. Here, we investigate the extent to which global fisheries trade data analyses can support effective seafood traceability and promote sustainable seafood markets using one of the world’s most highly prized, yet misunderstood, groups of fishes as a model: the snappers, family Lutjanidae. By collating and comparing production, import and export data from international and national statistical collections for the period 2006–2013, we show that official trade data severely lack the level of detail required to track snapper trade flows, uncover potential IUU activities and/or inform exploitation management of snappers and related species. Moreover, we contend that the lack of taxonomic granularity and use of vague generic names in trade records represent one of the most insidious impediments to seafood traceability, and suggest that widely used harmonised commodity classification systems should evolve to address these gaps.