Anthropogenic Marine Debris (AMD) is one of the most important pollutants in the oceans. Millions of tons of debris across oceans have created a critical environmental problem. This study presents a novel method aimed to improve the identification of macroplastics through remote sensing over beaches, combining AMD hyperspectral laboratory characterization and digital supervised classification in high spatial resolution imagery. Several samples were collected from the Chiloé Island beaches, Chile. Spectral signature samples and physical properties were assessed through laboratory work. HyLogger3® (CSIRO), PS-300 Apogee and ASD Field Spec hyperspectral systems were used to characterize each sample. Using those measurements, a spectral library was generated by processing, filtering and sorting the spectral data gathered, determining distinctive spectral bands for digital classification. By using this spectral library, a digital classification method was implemented over World-View 3 imagery, covering the three beaches selected as test sites. Distinct classification methods and geospatial analyses were applied to determine land cover composition, aimed for the detection of Styrofoam and the rest of anthropogenic marine debris. Four field campaigns were carried out to validate the AMD classification and mass retrievals, performed on >300 ground based points. The AMD hyperspectral library was successfully applied for an AMD digital classification in satellite imagery. Support Vector Machine method showed the best performance, resulting in an overall accuracy equivalent to 88% and over 50 tons of debris estimated on the pilot beaches. These results prove the feasibility of quantifying macro-AMD through the integration of hyperspectral laboratory measurements and remote sensing imagery, allowing to estimate anthropogenic influence on natural ecosystems and providing valuable information for further development of the methodology and sustainable AMD management.
In the field of ocean observing, the term of “observatory” is often used without a unique meaning. A clear and unified definition of observatory is needed in order to facilitate the communication in a multidisciplinary community, to capitalize on future technological innovations and to support the observatory design based on societal needs. In this paper, we present a general framework to define the next generation Marine OBservatory (MOB), its capabilities and functionalities in an operational context. The MOB consists of four interconnected components or “gears” (observation infrastructure, cyberinfrastructure, support capacity, and knowledge generation engine) that are constantly and adaptively interacting with each other. Therefore, a MOB is a complex infrastructure focused on a specific geographic area with the primary scope to generate knowledge via data synthesis and thereby addressing scientific, societal, or economic challenges. Long-term sustainability is a key MOB feature that should be guaranteed through an appropriate governance. MOBs should be open to innovations and good practices to reduce operational costs and to allow their development in quality and quantity. A deeper biological understanding of the marine ecosystem should be reached with the proliferation of MOBs, thus contributing to effective conservation of ecosystems and management of human activities in the oceans. We provide an actionable model for the upgrade and development of sustained marine observatories producing knowledge to support science-based economic and societal decisions.
This paper highlights how multi-scalar interstitial policy failings of the EU fisheries policy can directly trigger policy gaps in fisheries management at the expense of artisanal communities, leading to further expansion opportunities for industrial fishing and triggering instability and marginalization of traditional fishing communities. In order to contextualize and demonstrate this complexity, we explore a detailed scenario of the Maltese waters to show how the development of a national policy portfolio post-EU accession has destabilized long-existing functional fishing governance mechanisms and now pose a direct challenge to the sustainable management of the marine socio-ecological system. Using a mixed-method approach to investigate the partially obscured social, economic and political dynamics which drive marine policy, we demonstrate how the coastal fisheries have become subject to multiple-use competition arising primarily from a burgeoning recreational fishing sector tha t has benefited from “access-enabling policies,” and is, to a great extent uninhibited by fish conservation regulations. Our findings demonstrate how a deeper understanding of the socio-political ramifications of policy processes is necessary to improve the governance and management of contested and congested open-access fisheries.
Underwater Cultural Heritage (hereinafter UCH) constitutes an invaluable resource that has been poorly – if at all – addressed in most spatial planning attempts, due to the sectorial approach that has prevailed so far when planning in the sea. Lately however, that spatial planning in the marine space (MSP) is being re-launched under a place-based approach, the chances and challenges for UCH are considerably different.
According to the existing international legislation (UNCLOS), coastal states can only interfere with UCH up to their Contiguous Zone (24 nm from the baseline), whilst beyond that limit UCH is left “abandoned” (unless “flag” or “cultural origin” states claim their protection). Of course, this “freezing” of jurisdictions beyond the CZ, means that for the greatest part of the oceans and seas, UCH protection totally depends on the wise regulation of all other human activities that affect directly or indirectly, cultural heritage.
The paper argues that MSP under a place-based approach is a unique opportunity for better protection and wiser management of UCH in greater distances than ever, provided that coastal states proclaim their EEZ (in order to extend as much as possible the area within which they can practice MSP and therefore, tackle conflicts and encourage synergies with UCH). The paper proposes a five-step strategy for considering UCH in MSP. Step 1: Register and evaluate UCH sites and objects, Step 2: Identify ways to upgrade the economic value of UCH, Step 3: Select the most appropriate type of protection zoning, Step 4: Provide regulations and restrictions for activities within the UCH protection zone, Step 5: Ensure integration and cohesion of the planning adopted in the UCH buffer zones with the spatial/sea-use planning adopted in the wider marine area. The paper concludes by highlighting that beyond any strategy, the greater challenge and stake is how to compromise blue growth trend with UCH preservation and promotion.
Effective implementation of management interventions is often limited by uncertainty, particularly in small-scale and developing-world fisheries. An effective intervention must have a measurable benefit, and evaluation of this benefit requires an understanding of the historical and socio-ecological context in which the intervention takes place. This context or ‘frame of reference’ should include the baseline status of the species of interest, as well as the most likely counterfactual (a projected scenario indicating what would have occurred in the absence of the intervention), given recent trends. Although counterfactuals are difficult to estimate and so are not widely specified in practice, an informative frame of reference can be developed even in data-poor circumstances. We demonstrate this using a case study of the Bangladesh hilsa (Tenualosa ilisha) fishery. We combine qualitative and some quantitative analyses of secondary datasets to explore ecological trends in the hilsa fishery, as well as patterns of social, economic, institutional, and physical change relevant to its management over the last ∼50 years. We compile all available information on the key parameters that determine hilsa abundance and distribution (movement, reproduction, growth, and mortality), as well as all available information on stock status. This information is used to produce a baseline and qualitative counterfactual which can be used to guide decision-making in this complex, data-poor fishery. A frame of reference provides a systematic way to break down potential drivers of change in a fishery, including their interactions, reducing the potential for unexpected management outcomes. Critical evaluation of contradictions and commonalities between a set of potential counterfactuals, as well as the reliability of sources, allows the identification of key areas of uncertainty and information needs. These can then be incorporated into fisheries management planning.
The Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM) paradigm has been incorporated in the new Chilean Fisheries Act, requiring Chile to transition into EBFM. Chile is a major fishing nation and has substantial industrial and artisanal fleets that provide significant social and economic benefits to Chile and its coastal communities. With Chile facing global challenges, such as food security and climate change, transitioning to EBFM is seen as a mechanism for improved management of Chile's marine resources. Using Chile as an example to review coherence, strategies and implication of policies for transitioning toward EBFM. In Chile, the implementation of EBFM, in general, appears to be making progress and should be able to be applied for all fisheries (and aquaculture). Despite positive outcomes, there are weaknesses that can harm the successful implementation of EBFM. Changes such as management councils and scientific committees structured around ecosystems rather than single species, the engagement of broader types of stakeholders, and the use of appropriate reference points are necessary for a strong implementation of EBFM. Incorporating these modifications under the current management framework would enable Chile to improve its implementation of EBFM and prepare its fisheries to address future management challenges under scenarios of change.
European policy-makers are increasingly aware of the ecological and socioeconomic relevance of marine recreational fisheries(MRF), but there are still gaps in the information needed to achieve sustainable management. How is the current management of European MRF performed? Is it promoting the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF)? The management of MRF in Europe was reviewed by analyzing how different European regulations align with the EAF in different geographic and administrative scales. Text mining tools were used to identify key concepts and analyze the text of legal regulations on MRF in the European Union (EU), Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (UK). Also, the Ecosystem Fisheries Legal Assessment (EFLA) framework was used to assess the alignment of the regulations with the EAF. The number of regulations about MRF in Spain and Portugal is higher than in the UK and the EU, probably because the relative higher importance of regional regulations in Spain and Portugal, and the limitations imposed to recreational fishers in marine protected areas (MPAs). The lack of specific regulations on MRF in the EU, and open-access in the UK for recreational fishers, except for Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, explain their lower number of regulations. The EFLA framework showed that the European public policies on MRF follow the EAF principles. Enough attention is payed to ecological components, but socio-economic sustainability could be improved. However, policy efficiency could be lower than expected because potential institutional misfits derived from the eventual confluence of different spatial scales.
Across the Pacific Islands, declining natural resources have contributed to a cultural renaissance of customary ridge-to-reef management approaches. These indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCA) are initiated by local communities to protect natural resources through customary laws. To support these efforts, managers require scientific tools that track land-sea linkages and evaluate how local management scenarios affect coral reefs. We established an interdisciplinary process and modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in Hawai‘i, given increasing coastal development, fishing and climate change related impacts. We applied our framework at opposite ends of the Hawaiian Archipelago, in Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu, where local communities have implemented customary resource management approaches through government-recognized processes to perpetuate traditional food systems and cultural practices. We identified coral reefs vulnerable to groundwater-based nutrients and linked them to areas on land, where appropriate management of human-derived nutrients could prevent increases in benthic algae and promote coral recovery from bleaching. Our results demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers, managers and community members. We discuss the lessons learned from our culturally-grounded, inclusive research process and highlight critical aspects of collaboration necessary to develop tools that can inform placed-based solutions to local environmental threats and foster coral reef resilience.
Mineral extraction from the seabed has experienced a recent surge of interest from both the mining industry and marine scientists. While improved methods of geological investigation have enabled the mapping of new seafloor mineral reserves, the ecological impacts of mining in both the deep sea and the shallow seabed are poorly known. This paper presents a synthesis of the empirical evidence from experimental seabed mining and parallel industries to infer the effects of seabed mineral extraction on marine ecosystems, focusing on polymetallic nodules and ferromanganese concretions. We use a problem-structuring framework to evaluate causal relationships between pressures caused by nodule extraction and the associated changes in marine ecosystems. To ensure that the rationale behind impact assessments is clear, we propose that future impact assessments use pressure-specific expert elicitation. We further discuss integrating ecosystem services in the impact assessments and the implications of current methods for environmental risk assessments.
Links between corruption and illegal practices within fisheries are recognised in existing literature but little reference has been made to how these interconnected practices affect the performance and legitimacy of fisheries comanagement. Research in the three countries bordering Lake Victoria, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, found that corruption is systemic and that members of all stakeholder groups – fishers, fisheries officers, police and the judiciary – are implicated. It was confirmed that corruption is strongly linked to illegalities and that corruption in this context should be viewed as a collective action problem, with fishers reluctant to invest in legal gears and methods when they perceive illegalities and corruption to be prevalent. It was also found that corrupt practices linked to illegalities discourages local level fisheries management structures – the Beach Management Units – from enforcing regulations and contributes to a lack of trust between fishers and government. Linked corruption and illegal fisheries practices were therefore found to be undermining the performance and legitimacy of co-management. This article concludes that whilst co-management offers opportunities for collusive corruption through collaborative arrangements, any management system will be susceptible to the harmful effects of corruption where it is systemic and is not formally recognised or appropriately addressed. Greater official recognition of the links between corruption and illegalities, and a range of appropriate actions taken to this collective action problem, is essential if co-management is to have a chance of success.
Women play an important role within small-scale fishing communities in the South Pacific, contributing to food security and income. Yet, decisions on the management of coastal fisheries are mostly taken by male community leaders. Given that women and men interact with marine spaces differently, there is a need to further analyze women’s and men’s differentiated roles and participation in marine resource use and governance. This study does so by drawing on qualitative data from a case study in Solomon Islands. In the fishing community studied here, women had crucial and differentiated effects on social, economic, and ecological sustainability. Our study reveals that women provided significant social and economic benefits to their families and the broader community. At the same time, we find that some women were inclined towards breaking local marine management rules (i.e., potentially lowering positive ecological effects of the conservation efforts) because (1) women had been little involved in the decision-making with regard to local marine management; (2) women had partly lost trust in the local male leadership due to a perceived misuse of money; and (3) women were more constrained in their fishing activities because a marine closure was located where mainly women used to fish. Our study highlights the importance of paying attention to women’s needs and actions in the governance of the fishery—including both the positive as well as potentially negative consequences thereof. Furthermore, our study shows that, besides gender, other socio-cultural variables (i.e., religious denomination and place of birth) shaped a person’s role and interactions in the fishery. It thus adds weight to intersectional approaches to gender.
Ecosystem‐based fisheries management (EBFM) has been considered to be a solution to the multifarious problems of fisheries management in areas within and beyond national jurisdictions. However, the literature has introduced different versions of EBFM and there are controversies among commentators concerning the legal status of EBFM in international fisheries law. This article seeks to examine the legal status of EBFM. It also explores the essential features that an EBFM model should incorporate to function effectively. The article argues that the implementation of EBFM has been gaining ground as a legal obligation in international fisheries law.
A major problem associated with marine spatial planning (MSP) involves the difficult and time-consuming practice of creating a scenario that encompasses complex datasets in near real time via the use of a simple spatial analysis method. Moreover, decision-makers require a reliable, user-friendly system to quickly and accessibly acquire accurate spatial planning information. The development of national spatial data infrastructure (NSDI), which links the spatial data of a nation’s many diverse institutions, may pave the way for the development of a tool that can better utilize spatial datasets, such as a spatial decision support system (SDSS). Thus, this project aimed to develop an SDSS for MSP and to evaluate the feasibility of its integration within the NSDI framework. The seaweed culture was selected as an example due to its economic and technological acceptance by traditional fishers. Additionally, a multi-criteria analysis was used to develop the tool. Furthermore, a feasibility evaluation of its implementation within the NSDI framework was conducted based on the Delphi method. The results of the assessment indicated that the SDSS can be incorporated into the NSDI framework by addressing the policy issue – one map policy, updating custodians’ decree and data, and improve the standard and protocol.
Many recent studies have focused their attention on the physiological stress experienced by marine organisms in measuring ecotoxicological responses. Here we suggest a new approach for investigating the effects of an anthropogenic pollutant on Life-History (LH) traits of marine organisms, to provide stakeholders and policy makers an effective tool to evaluate the best environmental recovery strategies and plans. A Dynamic Energy Budget (DEB), coupled with a biophysical model was used to predict the effects of a six-month oil spill on Mytilus galloprovincialis' LH traits and to test two potential recovery strategies in the central Mediterranean Sea. Oxygen consumption rates were used to check for increasing energetic maintenance costs [ṗM] respectively in oil-polluted system treatments (∼76.2%) and polluted systems with physical (nano-bubbles ∼32.6%) or chemical treatment (dispersant ∼18.4%). Our model outputs highlighted a higher growth reduction of intertidal compared to subtidal populations and contextually an effect on the reproductive output and on the maturation time of this latter. The models also enabled an estimation of the timing of the disturbance affecting both the intertidal and subtidal populations' growth and reproduction. Interestingly, results led to the identification of the chemical dispersant as being the best remediation technique in contexts of oil spill contamination.
Faced with the overexploitation reality of many of the world fish stocks and climate change, understanding the relationships between catches, fishing strategies and environmental conditions becomes crucial. In this context, this study aimed to describe the correlations between operational and environmental variables in landings of the main fish categories by pair trawl fisheries off the coast of southeastern Brazil. Catch composition varied greatly between 2003 and 2011. This change was mainly related to the shift of the fishing area to greater latitudes and variations in sea surface temperature and chlorophyll concentrations. The physical characteristics of the vessels and fishing gear did not change during the study period. Environmental variables most likely influence stock catchability, primarily by changing their distribution pattern, indicating a shift in ocean characteristics that will influence this dynamic. This draws attention to the need to maintain monitoring programs to apply adequate management measures for the protection of fish populations, consequently ensuring fishing activities in the area.
Compliance with a policy, law, standard or code requires understanding of its provisions. However, for someone to understand it, he must be aware of its existence and be provided access to it. A qualitative-quantitative research was conducted to determine the awareness of milkfish farmers about the Philippine Code of Practice for Aquaculture in the municipalities of Leganes and Zarraga, Iloilo Province, the Philippines and their information-seeking behaviors. Results revealed that the majority of the respondents were not aware of the existence of the Code, hence, there is a low level of compliance. When seeking everyday life information, the majority of the milkfish farmers depended on television, personal or person-to-person communication and radio, while when seeking for fish farming information, personal communication was the preferred source. None of the respondents was aware of the existence of their municipal libraries.
Coral and macroalgal communities are threatened by global stressors. However, recently reported community shifts from temperate macroalgae to tropical corals offer conservation potential for corals at the expense of macroalgae under climate warming. Although such community shifts are expanding geographically, our understanding of the driving processes is still limited. Here, we reconstruct long-term climate-driven range shifts in 45 species of macroalgae, corals, and herbivorous fishes from over 60 years of records (mainly 1950–2015), stretching across 3,000 km of the Japanese archipelago from tropical to subarctic zones. Based on a revised coastal version of climate velocity trajectories, we found that prediction models combining the effects of climate and ocean currents consistently explained observed community shifts significantly better than those relying on climate alone. Corals and herbivorous fishes performed better at exploiting opportunities offered by this interaction. The contrasting range dynamics for these taxa suggest that ocean warming is promoting macroalgal-to-coral shifts both directly by increased competition from the expansion of tropical corals into the contracting temperate macroalgae, and indirectly via deforestation by the expansion of tropical herbivorous fish. Beyond individual species’ effects, our results provide evidence on the important role that the interaction between climate warming and external forces conditioning the dispersal of organisms, such as ocean currents, can have in shaping community-level responses, with concomitant changes to ecosystem structure and functioning. Furthermore, we found that community shifts from macroalgae to corals might accelerate with future climate warming, highlighting the complexity of managing these evolving communities under future climate change.
Recreational fisheries can have a significant impact on fish populations and can suffer from the same symptoms of open access as commercial fisheries. However, recreational fisheries receive little attention compared with their commercial counterparts. Regulations designed to allocate scarce fish, such as seasonal closures and bag limits, can result in significant losses of value to anglers. We provide an estimate of these foregone benefits by estimating the potential gains to implementing management reforms of the headboat portion of the recreational red snapper fishery in the US Gulf of Mexico. This fishery has suffered from a regulatory spiral of shortened seasons and lowered bag limits in spite of rebuilding stocks. We gather primary survey data of headboat anglers that elicit trip behavior and their planned number and seasonal distribution of trips under status-quo and alternative management approaches. We use these data to estimate a model of anglers’ seasonal trip demand as a function of the ability to retain red snapper, bag limits, and fees. We find that a hypothetical rights-based policy, whereby vessels with secure rights to a portion of annual catch could offer their customers year-round fishing in exchange for lower per-angler retention and increased fees, could raise the average angler’s welfare by $139/y. When placed in the global context of recreational fishing, these estimates suggest that status-quo management may deprive anglers of billions of dollars of lost economic value per year.
Area-based management tools (ABMTs), including marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely recognized as a key mechanism for conserving and restoring biodiversity. The developing international legally-binding instrument (ILBI) on biodiversity beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) is considering a range of approaches to ABMTs. While the process is still in early stages, this paper looks ahead to anticipate implementation challenges for ABMTs, given previous experiences with regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs) and high seas MPAs. Drawing on the implementation of MPAs under the OSPAR Convention and the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR), key suggestions revolve around: (1) improving the evidence basis for protecting BBNJ, (2) designing effective compliance and enforcement mechanisms, and (3) engaging adequately with relevant stakeholders. In addition to the case studies, which are primarily marine pollution and fishing-oriented, considerations related to mitigating the effects of deep sea mining and the harvesting of marine genetic resources are also touched upon.
Policies to conserve sharks have generally struggled to gain broad public support. Ecotourism programs have been suggested as a way to promote support for conservation by increasing participants’ knowledge of ecology, fostering positive environmental attitudes, and driving increases in conservation behaviour. Yet the evidence is mixed, and some argue that its effectiveness is constrained by the “ceiling effect”, i.e., people attracted to ecotourism programs are already environmentally minded, thus their participation does not result in meaningful conservation gains. Surveys of 547 tour participants in a cage free shark diving ecotourism program and 488 members of the general public were conducted in Hawaii to test whether the program resulted in conservation benefits or whether it was constrained by the ceiling effect. The results show evidence of the ceiling effect, suggesting that the program is attracting more environmentally minded participants. Despite this, tour participants reported a significant increase in knowledge regarding the ecological role of sharks and improved attitudes towards sharks after the tour compared to before. Critically, once responses from tour participants and the general public were pooled and previous engagement in conservation was controlled for, participation in the tour still had a significant positive effect on intentions to engage in shark conservation in the future, suggesting that the program does result in meaningful conservation gains. The usefulness of the information provided on the tour in addition to participants’ age, gender, and satisfaction with the tour all played a role in determining its effectiveness as a conservation strategy.