There are many marine protected areas (MPAs) containing coral reef aggregations in the eastern Pacific region. However, the connectivity of corals between MPAs is still poorly known, especially in the Marine Conservation Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific (MCCETP). Here, we assess the potential connectivity of corals across equatorial eastern Pacific MPAs through a Lagrangian particle-tracking algorithm coupled offline with an ocean-circulation numerical model. Connectivity metrics and graph theory were used to analyze the networks and highlight those MPAs that are critical for maintaining the connectivity of corals across the region. Our results show that the equatorial eastern Pacific MPAs form a relatively well-connected network, at least 40% of coral larvae released per year end up within the boundaries of an MPA. MPAs like Malpelo and Gorgona islands included in the MCCETP were found to be critical for connectivity of corals because of their high betweenness centrality and potential role as stepping-stones between coastal MPAs and offshore MPAs such as the Galapagos Islands. Two pelagic larval duration (PLD) scenarios (40 and 130 days) indicate a quasi-unidirectional larval flow from coastal MPAs toward oceanic MPAs, where the only resilient MPAs (Coiba and Malpelo islands) depend mostly on subsidiary recruitment from MPAs located along the coast of Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia. In the two PLD scenarios, Cocos Island maintains a very low resilience potential. Our results indicate the imperative need to include coastal MPAs in the MCCETP network initiative, since connectivity and resilience of coral reefs in the equatorial eastern Pacific region rely heavily on coastal MPAs.
Oil spills at sea remain a serious threat to coastal settlements and sensitive ecosystems. Although the impacts of spills are contingent upon a variety of environmental factors and the chemical composition of the oil itself, spill effects can be long lasting in the pelagic zone with broad impacts on sensitive bacterial, microbial, plant, and animal communities. Efforts to contain, deflect, protect, and mitigate the effects of oil are increasingly important, given the massive social, economic, and environmental fallout connected to large spills. The purpose of this paper is to provide geographic perspective for protecting coastal areas with exclusion booms during oil spill events. Specifically, we introduce a generalized, extendable, spatial optimization model that simultaneously minimizes spill effects on vulnerable shorelines and the total costs associated with dispatching booms. The multiobjective model is solved with a weighting method to produce a Pareto optimal curve that reveals how the costs and protection operations change under different priorities. A simulated tanker spill near Mobile Bay, AL, USA, is used as an illustrative example.
Most large-scale conservation policies are anticipated or announced in advance. This risks the possibility of preemptive resource extraction before the conservation intervention goes into force. We use a high-resolution dataset of satellite-based fishing activity to show that anticipation of an impending no-take marine reserve undermines the policy by triggering an unintended race-to-fish. We study one of the world’s largest marine reserves, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA), and find that fishers more than doubled their fishing effort once this area was earmarked for eventual protected status. The additional fishing effort resulted in an impoverished starting point for PIPA equivalent to 1.5 y of banned fishing. Extrapolating this behavior globally, we estimate that if other marine reserve announcements were to trigger similar preemptive fishing, this could temporarily increase the share of overextracted fisheries from 65% to 72%. Our findings have implications for general conservation efforts as well as the methods that scientists use to monitor and evaluate policy efficacy.
Oceanographers have an increasing responsibility to ensure that the outcomes of scientific research are conveyed to the policy-making sphere to achieve conservation and sustainable use of marine biodiversity. Zooplankton monitoring projects have helped to increase our understanding of the processes by which marine ecosystems respond to climate change and other environmental variations, ranging from regional to global scales, and its scientific value is recognized in the contexts of fisheries, biodiversity and global change studies. Nevertheless, zooplankton data have rarely been used at policy level for conservation and management of marine ecosystems services. One way that this can be pragmatically and effectively achieved is via the development of zooplankton indicators, which could for instance contribute to filling in gaps in the suite of global indicators to track progress against the Aichi Biodiversity Targets of the United Nations Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2010–2020. This article begins by highlighting how under-represented the marine realm is within the current suite of global Aichi Target indicators. We then examine the potential to develop global indicators for relevant Aichi Targets, using existing zooplankton monitoring data, to address global biodiversity conservation challenges.
Recreational boating increases globally and associated moorings are often placed in vegetated habitats important for fish recruitment. Meanwhile, assessments of the effects of boating on vegetation, and potential effects on associated fish assemblages are rare. Here, we analysed (i) the effect of small-boat marinas on vegetation structure, and (ii) juvenile fish abundance in relation to vegetation cover in shallow wave-sheltered coastal inlets. We found marinas to have lower vegetation cover and height, and a different species composition, compared to control inlets. This effect became stronger with increasing berth density. Moreover, there was a clear positive relationship between vegetation cover and fish abundance. We conclude that recreational boating and related moorings are associated with reduced cover of aquatic vegetation constituting important habitats for juvenile fish. We therefore recommend that coastal constructions and associated boating should be allocated to more disturbance tolerant environments (e.g. naturally wave-exposed shores), thereby minimizing negative environmental impacts.
Polycentricity, a complex form of governance characterized by multiple centers of semiautonomous decision‐making, has been embraced by commons scholars for the governance of complex natural resource systems. In this context, several benefits are commonly ascribed to polycentric governance systems, including enhanced adaptive capacity, mitigation of risk and provision of good institutional fit. We examine the functioning of a polycentric governance system through a qualitative case study of the governance of small‐scale fishing in the Northern Reef region of Palau where fishery resources have been declining in recent decades. By engaging a theoretical model of a functional polycentric governance system, we identify deficiencies in institutional features that partly explain why functionality is not fully achieved. Analysis of the historical transition of the governance system from community‐based to polycentric reveals that the path to polycentricity and contextual conditions constitute additional distal explanations of deficiencies in functionality. The findings suggest that transitioning from community‐based to polycentric governance risks producing conditions conducive to crowding‐out and erosion of rule compliance where the form of polycentricity assumed entails primarily higher‐level government decision‐makers with insufficient capacity for rule implementation. The case underlines the need for more refined theory concerning the emergence and functionality of different forms polycentric governance systems in various contexts.
Over the last four decades in the Philippines, a range of management tools such as marine protected area (MPA) establishment and coastal resources management (CRM) that includes localized species-specific management, marine habitat rehabilitation, and organizing communities for increased participation in planning and decision-making have led to improvements of marine habitats and fish stocks in areas where such tools were applied. In spite of these management advances, fishers particularly in the municipal fisheries sector continue to observe declines in either the quantity or quality of their catch, and attribute this not only to the continued use of highly efficient and ecologically destructive fishing gears, but also, the unregulated numbers of fishers and gears within municipal waters. Recognizing this as a pivotal challenge, the USAID-funded Ecosystems Improved for Sustainable Fisheries (ECOFISH) Project developed a process for the right-sizing of fishing effort as a potential application of the ecosystems approach to fisheries management(EAFM) to directly address the issue of unregulated fishing effort in Philippine municipal fisheries. The objective is to determine via a participatory process a configuration of fishing effort that can be sustainably supported by the ecosystem, and at the same time, can provide adequate fish catches to support the livelihood needs of fishers in a defined marine key biodiversity area (MKBA). The ecosystem and livelihood tradeoffs are investigated using the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) modeling and simulation tool. The entire process adopts a multi-stakeholder set-up that featured highly participatory learning activities, consensus-building negotiations between local government units (LGUs), and science-based decision-making workshops. All in all, it consists of strategically tailored yet adaptive sessions to effectively engage stakeholders in understanding the concept of fishing effort right-sizing, to acquaint participants with the basic biological and ecological principles governing the fisheries, and subsequently, to raise the participants' confidence in the decision-making and negotiation processes. The consensus-based MKBA-wide fishing effort targets considered both the system-scale and the diverse localized management priority objectives of the different user representatives. Across the 8 ECOFISH MKBAs, improving equity in the access of fisheries resource benefits emerged as a principal priority objective. Improving the ecosystem structure as evidenced by large, predatory fishes and minimizing fisher displacement outweighed maximizing catch and incomes as overriding priorities in the decision-making. The project envisions that the consensus-based fishing effort allocation will ultimately serve as basis for the regulated issuance of fisheries licenses by the respective LGUs and for the right-sizing process to serve as a model for determining fishing effort allocation options in other municipal fisheries systems in the country.
The aquaculture sector is anticipated to be a keystone in food production systems in the coming decades. However, it is associated with potentially important environmental damages caused by its contribution to eutrophication or climate change, for example. To comprehensively quantify those impacts, life cycle assessment (LCA) studies have been conducted on several seafood farming systems for the past 15 years. But, what major findings and common trends can we draw from this pool of studies? What can we learn to provide recommendations to decision and policymakers in the aquaculture sector? To address these questions, we performed a critical review of 65 LCA studies of aquaculture systems from the open literature. We conducted quantitative analyses to explore which impacts can be identified as dominating and to compare different types of aquaculture systems. Our results evidenced that the feed production is a key driver for climate change, acidification, cumulative energy use and net primary production use, while the farming process is a key driver for eutrophication. We also found that different aquaculture systems and technology components may exert considerably different environmental impacts. Based on identified patterns and comparisons, we therefore provided specific recommendations to aquaculture stakeholders for future policy and system development. Overall, the analysis of existing studies demonstrates that important insights can be gained by applying LCA to aquaculture systems, and, to move towards an environmentally sustainable aquaculture sector, we recommend its systematic use in the design of new aquaculture systems or policies, and/or in the evaluation and optimization of existing ones.
We developed a linked land-sea modeling framework based on remote sensing and empirical data, which couples sediment export and coral reef models at fine spatial resolution. This spatially-explicit (60 × 60 m) framework simultaneously tracks changes in multiple benthic and fish indicators as a function of land-use and climate change scenarios. We applied this framework in Kubulau District, Fiji, to investigate the effects of logging, agriculture expansion, and restoration on coral reef resilience. Under the deforestation scenario, models projected a 4.5-fold sediment increase (>7,000 t. yr−1) coupled with a significant decrease in benthic habitat quality across 1,940 ha and a reef fish biomass loss of 60.6 t. Under the restoration scenario, models projected a small (<30 t. yr−1) decrease in exported sediments, resulting in a significant increase in benthic habitat quality across 577 ha and a fish biomass gain of 5.7 t. The decrease in benthic habitat quality and loss of fish biomass were greater when combining climate change and deforestation scenarios. We evaluated where land-use change and bleaching scenarios would impact sediment runoff and downstream coral reefs to identify priority areas on land, where conservation or restoration could promote coral reef resilience in the face of climate change.
Increased coastal development and rising sea levels as a result of continuing climate-change put coastal regions at risk from flooding and inundation. A common mitigation response is the construction and upgrade of hard coastal protection structures, such as breakwaters, seawalls, and groynes. The alteration of the coast, together with the introduction of novel materials into coastal waters can negatively impact adjacent habitats and associated organisms. The implementation of management plans that involve scientists, as well as a variety of other stakeholders offer an opportunity to minimise adverse effects to biodiversity or even enhance it, while still protecting infrastructure and people. This study examines the management of an Australian breakwater upgrade and the progressive design finding process, including stakeholder engagement, determination of assessment criteria, and environmental impact assessment. In the course of the latter, scientific research led to the rediscovery of a presumed extinct algal species, Nereia lophocladia, which created an additional challenge and temporarily halted the upgrade. To accommodate this, the breakwater design solution was modified to avoid any impacts on the algal population and, in order to maximise the species' survival, novel ecological engineering approaches were proposed as mitigation strategies. Our case study underpins the value of evidence-based conservation and cooperation among stakeholders as important tools for minimising ecological impacts from coastal infrastructure upgrades.
As the ocean has moved into the focus of the political discourse on the “blue economy“, ocean industry plays a key role in shaping “blue growth” as sustainable. However, little is known about the meaning of sustainability and the status of its implementation by corporations invested in the maritime economy. The present paper addresses this gap. Drawing on the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe (2001 ), the study explores the discourse on corporate sustainability. It was found that of 396 surveyed companies only 61 provide commitments to and reporting on the issue of sustainability. A detailed analysis of these companies showed that there has been a shift from a voluntary to a mandatory commitment to the concept as a direct consequence of being exposed to massive pressures to meet the expectations of their employees, customers and shareholders to prevent any harm to the environment, to save resources, and follow international regulations. It is argued that Laclau and Mouffe's discourse theory provides an approach to help to explain the practice of corporations in re-framing these challenges as an entrepreneurial opportunity to save costs, i.e. by avoiding fines, lawsuits, and clean-up costs, to optimize efficiency in all business sectors, to stay competitive, and to gain a better public image. The paper concludes that it is likely that the current efforts of companies with regard to the anticipated increases in the exploitation of marine resources will not be sufficient to preserve ocean health in the long run. However, there are corporate opportunities for strengthening the SDGs and contributing to a “sustainable blue growth”.
This paper presents a deterministic bioeconomic model in which the creation of a marine protected area (MPA) is not only a fisheries management tool but also introduced in order to provide tourism amenity benefits. The theoretical model is illustrated with analysis of the Nha Trang Bay (NTB) MPA in Khanh Hoa province in Vietnam, where the anchovy purse seine fishery is considered. An amenity value function of the NTB MPA is estimated from a discrete choice experiment among national tourists. A weighting parameter is added to the bioeconomic model to allow the establishment of a tradeoff between management preferences regarding the two sectors affected by the MPA, fisheries and tourism. Both the theoretical models and the empirical application show how the added amenity values affect optimal fishing practices as well as the identification of the optimal MPA size. Our applied analysis shows that contrary to the argument in most MPA studies with multiple stakeholders, the current management practice in Khanh Hoa prioritizes the fisheries sector heavily compared to tourism, despite high economic cost.
Multiple stresses adversely affect fish catch and livelihoods of marine fishermen. Perceptions regarding these stresses in the fishing community can vary, which can consequently determine adaptation responses. However, there are limited attempts to understand these perceptions and the factors which might be influencing them. This study, first, identifies the specific stresses impacting livelihoods of the fishing community in Maharashtra (India) through the literature and Focus Group Discussions. Thereafter, a household survey is used to examine the factors influencing the perceptions of these stresses. Further, a composite stress perception index, comprising of two factors representing climatic and non-climatic or general stresses, is built. The index suggests that a majority of the community perceive greater risks from the non-climatic stresses compared to changes in temperature and rain. It is found that the perception of stresses varies significantly with the regional background. However, the relation of various other socio-economic factors is not uniform with the perceptions of different stresses. This study is one of the first to comparatively analyze climatic and non-climatic stresses in fishing, and suggests the need for effective implementation of current policy measures to reduce the stresses along with awareness generation regarding impact of climate change in the community.
Mass media is a useful way to inform the public about marine conservation, however studies about its effectiveness are lacking. This research explores the role of mass media in the diffusion of marine conservation information. Coverage of marine environmental issues in the mass media are assessed for Chile using a diversity of sources, namely, newspaper and broadcast television. In addition, public interest about conservation topics was assessed using Google Trends for Chile. Results show that there is a relatively low coverage of marine news in broadcast television and in newspapers. During the last decade, internet searches show the interest in marine conservation issues decreased and the only conservation related term, whose search increased over time, is sustainability. There is a tendency towards an increase in the number of newspaper publications related to economic and business issues. There seems to be no strategy from the environmental ministry or research institutions focused on developing a storyline related to marine conservation news in the mass media. Results stress the need to develop a long-term communications plan in order to strengthen diffusion of marine environmental impacts and conservation issues through mass media
Assessing risks to marine ecosystems is critical due to their biological and economic importance, and because many have recently undergone regime shifts due to overfishing and environmental change. Yet defining collapsed ecosystem states, selecting informative indicators and reconstructing long-term marine ecosystem changes remains challenging. The IUCN Red List of Ecosystems constitutes the global standard for quantifying risks to ecosystems and we conducted the first Red List assessment of an offshore marine ecosystem, focusing on the southern Benguela in South Africa. We used an analogous but collapsed ecosystem – the northern Benguela – to help define collapse in the southern Benguela and derived collapse thresholds with structured expert elicitation (i.e. repeatable estimation by expert judgment). To capture complex ecosystem dynamics and reconstruct historical ecosystem states, we used environmental indicators as well as survey-, catch- and model-based indicators. We listed the ecosystem in 1960 and 2015 as Endangered, with assessment outcomes robust to alternative model parametrizations. While many indicators improved between 1960 and 2015, seabird populations have suffered large declines since 1900 and remain at risk, pointing towards ongoing management priorities. Catch-based indicators often over-estimated risks compared to survey- and model-based indicators, warning against listing ecosystems as threatened solely based on indicators of pressure. We show that risk assessments provide a framework for interpreting data from indicators, ecosystem models and experts to inform the management of marine ecosystems. This work highlights the feasibility of conducting Red List of Ecosystems assessments for marine ecosystems.
Phytoplankton are an extremely important component of the functioning of ecosystems and climate regulation. Because concentrations of phytoplankton are highly patchy in both space and time, it is proposed that more consideration concerning the potential impact from human developments and activities on the service provision afforded by phytoplankton should be accounted for in marine management processes. The multiple species of primary producers provide important provisioning and regulating ecosystem services (ES) and form the basis of marine food-webs, supporting production of higher trophic levels (a provisioning ES), and act as a sink of CO2 (a climate regulation ES). Spatial and temporal patchiness in the production of phytoplankton can be related to patchiness in the provision of these ES. Patches of naturally high phytoplankton productivity should be afforded consideration within processes to assess environmental status, within marine spatial planning (including marine protected areas) and within sectoral licensing, with marine planning and licensing acting at scales most in harmony with scales of phytoplankton heterogeneity (meters to tens of kilometres). In this study, consideration of phytoplankton in marine management decision making has been reviewed. This paper suggests that potential impacts of maritime developments and activities on the natural patchiness of phytoplankton communities be included in management deliberations, and mitigation be considered. This affords opportunities for researchers to engage with management authorities to support ecosystems-based management. Doing so will assist in maintaining or achieving good environmental status and support further, reliant, ES.
Fisheries can have significant impacts on the structure and function of marine ecosystems, including impacts on habitats and non-target species. As a result, management agencies face growing calls to account for the ecosystem impacts of fishing, while navigating the political and economic interests of diverse stakeholders. This paper assesses the impacts of two specific factors on the attitudes and well-being of shrimp fishers in the context of a selective fisheries closure designed to protect crabs in the Northern Peninsula of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada: (1) the species portfolios of fishers; and (2) democratic rulemaking. The results of this analysis suggest that shrimp fishers were more likely to support selective closures for the shrimp fishery if they also fished for crab, and felt they had an influence on the management of the fishery. The results further indicate that species portfolio diversification had a positive and statistically significant impact on the subjective economic well-being of fishers. This study contributes to an emerging literature on the human dimensions of ecosystem-based fisheries management, highlighting opportunities to address trade-offs in fisheries through species diversification and by enhancing the role and influence of fishers in management processes.
The world’s oceans supply food and livelihood to billions of people, yet species’ shifting geographic ranges and changes in productivity arising from climate change are expected to profoundly affect these benefits. We ask how improvements in fishery management can offset the negative consequences of climate change; we find that the answer hinges on the current status of stocks. The poor current status of many stocks combined with potentially maladaptive responses to range shifts could reduce future global fisheries yields and profits even more severely than previous estimates have suggested. However, reforming fisheries in ways that jointly fix current inefficiencies, adapt to fisheries productivity changes, and proactively create effective transboundary institutions could lead to a future with higher profits and yields compared to what is produced today.
Everyone shares the human condition, but we play it out in different ways. As scientists, we play a role when we work, speak and write as scientists. A recently completed EU-funded multi-disciplinary project on integrating science and policy in the context of coastal management (SPICOSA) illustrates how divorcing this role of scientist from the underlying context of a human being with values and opinions gives rise to the illusion that science can remain detached from the human messiness of the social–environmental policy context. An ongoing social–environmental conflict in Barra in the Outer Hebrides, Scotland illustrates different perspectives on marine conservation held by different roles (policy makers and local community). Our roles position us on the social grid and allow us to function in society. We speculate that working and communicating with an awareness of a shared human condition, and an acceptance of the messiness of the social–environmental policy context, enables us to consciously choose our roles as a means of facilitating effective communication and providing policy-relevant science.
Marine litter has been a serious and growing problem for some decades now. Yet, there is still much speculation among researchers, policy makers and planners about how to tackle marine litter from land-based sources. This paper provides insights into approaches for managing marine litter by reporting and analyzing survey results of litter dispersal and makeup from three areas along an Arab-Israeli coastal town in view of other recent studies conducted around the Mediterranean Sea. Based on our results and analysis, we posit that bathing beach activities should be a high priority for waste managers as a point of intervention and beach-goers must be encouraged to take a more active role in keeping beaches clean. Further, plastic fragments on the beach should be targeted as a first priority for prevention (and cleanup) of marine litter with plastic bottle caps being a high priority to be targeted among plastics. More survey research is needed on non-plastic litter composition for which amounts and geographic dispersal in the region vary greatly from place to place along Mediterranean shores. In general, findings of this study lead us to recommend exploring persuasive beach trash can design coupled with greater enforcement for short term waste management intervention while considering the local socio-economic and institutional context further for long-term efforts.