Recently, attempts to improve decision making in species management have focussed on uncertainties associated with modelling temporal fluctuations in populations. Reducing model uncertainty is challenging; while larger samples improve estimation of species trajectories and reduce statistical errors, they typically amplify variability in observed trajectories. In particular, traditional modelling approaches aimed at estimating population trajectories usually do not account well for nonlinearities and uncertainties associated with multi-scale observations characteristic of large spatio-temporal surveys. We present a Bayesian semi-parametric hierarchical model for simultaneously quantifying uncertainties associated with model structure and parameters, and scale-specific variability over time. We estimate uncertainty across a four-tiered spatial hierarchy of coral cover from the Great Barrier Reef. Coral variability is well described; however, our results show that, in the absence of additional model specifications, conclusions regarding coral trajectories become highly uncertain when considering multiple reefs, suggesting that management should focus more at the scale of individual reefs. The approach presented facilitates the description and estimation of population trajectories and associated uncertainties when variability cannot be attributed to specific causes and origins. We argue that our model can unlock value contained in large-scale datasets, provide guidance for understanding sources of uncertainty, and support better informed decision making.
Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, genetic susceptibility of the coral host, and high-water temperatures were the primary tested variables that were positively associated with the presence of white-pox disease on A. palmata colonies. Our study also showed that neither distance from previously diseased individuals, nor colony location, influenced the dynamics of white-pox disease. These results suggest that white-pox disease was most likely a consequence of anomalously high water temperatures that selectively compromised the oldest colonies and the most susceptible coral genotypes.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an important ecosystem-based management approach to help improve the sustainability of the spiny lobster fishery (Panulirus argus), but information is lacking concerning levels of lobster population connectivity among MPAs. Given their prolonged (~6 months) pelagic larval duration, population connectivity must be considered in any spatial management plan for P. argus. We used genetic techniques to uncover spatial patterns of connectivity among MPAs along the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (MBRS) of Central America. We hypothesized that connectivity would be greater and genetic differentiation diminished among lobster populations within MPAs in the southern MBRS, which is dominated by a retentive oceanographic environment, as compared to MPAs in the more advective environment further north. We found that levels of connectivity are high among spiny lobster populations residing in MPAs in Central America, although overall F ST was low (F ST = 0.00013) but significant (P = 0.037). MPAs in the northern MBRS contained significantly more individuals that were genetically determined outliers or migrants than southern MPAs (P = 0.008, R 2 = 0.61), which may have contributed to the higher levels of genetic differentiation observed in northern MPAs. Direct genetic testing of larvae and adults will be required to confirm this hypothesis. The high level of connectivity among MPAs provides additional evidence of the importance of international cooperation in the management of Caribbean lobster fisheries. However, uncertainty regarding the ecological and physical drivers of genetic differentiation in Northern MPAs implies that managers should hedge against uncertainty.
In general, tourism plays a significant role in the economy of archipelagos and islands. The Autonomous Region of the Azores has a great potential for tourism, offering multiple attractions, both natural and cultural, creating a big challenge for a sustainable tourism policy since little attention has been paid to the archipelagos and their special needs. This work aims to understand the profile and type of ecotourist that visits the Azores. This knowledge is of great importance for a better management and development of nature-based tourism, and products tailored to the needs and expectations of visitors. The data were collected by means of exit surveys conducted at the Airport of São Miguel Island, the larger and most populated island of the archipelago, during the high tourist season—July–September 2009. The analysis of the visitor’s profile and preferences is crucial to draw adequate strategies of management for tourism, while it helps to adequate the offer to the demand. Results showed that 41.1 % of the tourists claimed to be attracted to the islands due to their “natural values” (e.g., landscape, biodiversity, and geodiversity). The most practiced activities were whale-watching (32.4 %) and mountaineering/hiking (31.6 %), followed by diving (7 %) and other sports (5.1 %). The tourists’ profile points to a mainstream, soft, and incidental type of ecotourist. This information helps to develop and support a strategic planning and management, both at local and regional levels, for sustainable tourism policies.
Coral reefs and their societal benefits are in decline, chiefly due to overfishing, pollution and inappropriate coastal development. Strengthened management is possible, but collective failure to build the needed political will to act diminishes lives of millions of people along tropical coasts. Political will can be built, but it requires committed leadership and sustained investment of time and resources. Accepting failure as inevitable is inappropriate.
Increasing anthropogenic pressure in the offshore marine environment highlights the need for improved management and conservation of offshore ecosystems. This study scrutinises the applicability of a discrete choice experiment to value the expected benefits arising from the conservation of an offshore sandbank in UK waters. The valuation scenario refers to the UK part of the Dogger Bank, in the southern North Sea, and is based on real-world management options for fisheries, wind farms and marine protection currently under discussion for the site. It is assessed to what extent the general public perceive and value conservation benefits arising from an offshore marine protected area. The survey reveals support for marine conservation measures despite the general public's limited prior knowledge of current marine planning. Results further show significant values for an increase in species diversity, the protection of certain charismatic species and a restriction in the spread of invasive species across the site. Implications for policy and management with respect to commercial fishing, wind farm construction and nature conservation are discussed.
With globalization, agriculture and aquaculture activities are increasingly affected by diseases that are spread through movement of crops and stock. Such movements are also associated with the introduction of non-native species via hitchhiking individual organisms. The oyster industry, one of the most important forms of marine aquaculture, embodies these issues. In Europe disease outbreaks affecting cultivated populations of the naturalized oyster Crassostrea gigas caused a major disruption of production in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mitigation procedures involved massive imports of stock from the species’ native range in the northwestern Pacific from 1971 to 1977. We assessed the role stock imports played in the introduction of non-native marine species (including pathogens) from the northwestern Pacific to Europe through a methodological and critical appraisal of record data. The discovery rate of non-native species (a proxy for the introduction rate) from 1966 to 2012 suggests a continuous vector activity over the entire period. Disease outbreaks that have been affecting oyster production since 2008 may be a result of imports from the northwestern Pacific, and such imports are again being considered as an answer to the crisis. Although successful as a remedy in the short and medium terms, such translocations may bring new diseases that may trigger yet more imports (self-reinforcing or positive feedback loop) and lead to the introduction of more hitchhikers. Although there is a legal framework to prevent or reduce these introductions, existing procedures should be improved.
Integrated coastal management (ICM) has attracted attention in Vietnam since the Summit of Environment and Development held in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) in 1992 (Rio-92) and was first analyzed in the national project on “Research on development of ICM plan in Vietnam to ensure ecological security and to protect the environment” (1996-2000). And marine spatial planning (MSP) is a new concept that promotes sustainable coastal and marine management and assists in the integration of economic, environmental and social concerns in strategic planning and long-term investments. MSP can improve coastal resilience in Vietnam that are vulnerable to the impacts of climate change and sea level rise. This document informed policy-makers about ICM, MSP and the difference between these measures. Additionally, it outlines ICM and MSP application, recent projects, programs and recommendation for ICM and MSP implementation in Vietnam.
Originally conceived to conserve iconic landscapes and wildlife, protected areas are now expected to achieve an increasingly diverse set of conservation, social and economic objectives. The amount of land and sea designated as formally protected has markedly increased over the past century, but there is still a major shortfall in political commitments to enhance the coverage and effectiveness of protected areas. Financial support for protected areas is dwarfed by the benefits that they provide, but these returns depend on effective management. A step change involving increased recognition, funding, planning and enforcement is urgently needed if protected areas are going to fulfil their potential.
The United States has a new national ocean policy that adopts ecosystem-based management (EBM) as its first principle for managing U.S. ocean spaces and marine resources. However, U.S. laws that govern the uses of ocean spaces present a challenging tangle of authorities and mandates that do not easily facilitate ecosystem-based policies. For over 30 years, U.S. marine fisheries management has been guided by eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. Working under the many laws that guide setting stewardship priorities for ocean ecosystems, councils provide the Federal Government with advice on fisheries harvest levels, fish habitat protections, and fishing community needs. Implementing EBM for any ocean ecosystem requires a careful examination of the laws and policy processes that affect human interaction with that ecosystem. This article explores the U.S. perspective on federal ecosystem-based fisheries management, its part in U.S. national ocean policy, and how fishery management councils might position themselves as both EBM policymakers and policy takers for ocean resource management.
Interactive sea level rise viewers (ISLRVs) are map-based visualization tools that display projections of sea level rise scenarios to communicate their impacts on coastal areas. Information visualization research suggests that as users interact with such tools they construct personalized narratives of their experience. We argue that attention to narrative-building features in ISLRVs can improve communication effectiveness by promoting user engagement and discovery. A content analysis that focuses on the presence and characteristics of narrative-building features in a purposive sample of 20 ISLRVs is conducted. We also identify particular areas where these ISLRVs could be improved as narrative-building tools.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are implemented worldwide as an efficient tool to preserve biodiversity and protect ecosystems. We used food web models (Ecopath and EcoTroph) to assess the ability of MPAs to reduce fishing impacts on targeted resources and to provide biomass exports for adjacent fisheries. Three coastal MPAs: Bonifacio and Port-Cros (Mediterranean Sea), and Bamboung (Senegalese coast), were used as case studies. Pre-existing related Ecopath models were homogenized and ecosystem characteristics were compared based on network indices and trophic spectra analyses. Using the EcoTroph model, we simulated different fishing mortality scenarios and assessed fishing impacts on the three ecosystems. Lastly, the potential biomass that could be exported from each MPA was estimated. Despite structural and functional trophic differences, the three MPAs showed similar patterns of resistance to simulated fishing mortalities, with the Bonifacio case study exhibiting the highest potential catches and a slightly inferior resistance to fishing. We also show that the potential exports from our small size MPAs are limited and thus may only benefit local fishing activities. Based on simulations, their potential exports were estimated to be at the same order of magnitude as the amount of catch that could have been obtained inside the reserve. In Port Cros, the ban of fishing inside MPA could actually allow for improved catch yields outside the MPA due to biomass exports. This was not the case for the Bonifacio site, as its potential exports were too low to offset catch losses. This insight suggests the need for MPA networks and/or sufficiently large MPAs to effectively protect juveniles and adults and provide important exports. Finally, we discuss the effects of MPAs on fisheries that were not considered in food web models, and conclude by suggesting possible improvements in the analysis of MPA efficiency.
Protection of natural environments sought through management plans varies greatly between countries; characterizing these differences and what motivates them can inform future regional and international conservation efforts. This research builds on previous work addressing the spatial distribution of marine protected areas in the Mediterranean Sea. Particularly, it examines the relationship between a “protection level” (PL) score and a set of variables pertaining to each country's conservation efforts, economic conditions, and human impact along the coast using regression analysis. Four sets of models demonstrated country characteristics that correlate with higher protection levels within marine protected areas (MPAs). Certain contextual factors - economic dependence on the marine environment, efforts at terrestrial conservation and greater human impact - were found to be significantly associated with higher PLs among the northern littoral countries of the Mediterranean. Such findings can inform policy makers about where efforts and investments should be directed for marine conservation.
Estimating the value of entire ecosystems in monetary units is difficult because they are complex systems composed of non-linear, interdependent components and the value of the services they produce are interdependent and overlapping. Using the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) as a case study, this paper explores a new ‘whole ecosystem’ approach to assessing both the importance (to overall quality of life) and the monetary value of various community-defined benefits, some of which align with various ecosystem services. We find that provisioning services are considered, by residents, to be less important to their overall quality of life than other ecosystem services. But our analysis suggests that many community-defined benefits are overlapping. Using statistical techniques to identify and control for these overlapping benefits, we estimate that the collective monetary value of a broad range of services provided by the GBR is likely to be between $15 billion and $20 billion AUS per annum. We acknowledge the limitations of our methods and estimates but show how they highlight the importance of the problem, and open up promising avenues for further research. With further refinement and development, radically different ‘whole ecosystem’ valuation approaches like these may eventually become viable alternatives to the more common additive approaches.
We determine the effects of various management restrictions on adoption rates of marine Payments for Environmental Services (PES) schemes. Choice experiments are used in order to determine how fisher participation rates change under different marine PES programme designs. Various designs, with differing restriction rates, show different rates of adoption. However, fishers show a high utility loss associated with any move away from the current management situation, irrespective of restriction levels. This indicates that PES scheme costs may be high and creating an enabling environment could be important to reducing perceived losses, as could investment into conditional in-kind compensation mechanisms. The paper also shows choice experiments to be a useful tool in marine PES design.
Despite the potential of local knowledge (LK) to provide reliable, quick, and low cost data, its use has been limited due to the lack of understanding of the accuracy and biases. We compared fishers’ spatial LK data and fishery independent data from vessel monitoring systems (VMS) to analyse the concurrence between fisher derived and independently derived information. We examined the effect of sample size and scale on the match, to indicate the most appropriate approaches for future studies. Whilst LK provided a reasonable estimate of fishing extent, the estimated intensity of fishing was less well correlated with the VMS data. The agreement between LK and VMS data was significantly affected by the sample size from which LK knowledge was derived. There can be considerable variation in the accuracy of individual LK samples, therefore the sample size must be maximised to buffer for unreliable LK samples. A finer grid provided a more accurate representation of fishing extent; however, fishing intensity was more accurate when a coarser grid resolution was used. The use of a larger grid could also buffer some of the inaccuracy of a small sample size when determining intensity. Local knowledge can provide data of a similar accuracy to conventional scientific data, which is of particular use in data poor situations, e.g. in developing countries and for inshore fisheries that have no current mandatory VMS recording systems. However, the proportion of the community sampled should be maximised to minimise inaccuracy between individual fishers.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been established over the world to protect marine resources from over-exploitation. Weh Island, Sabang, Indonesia, has two MPAs: Weh Island Marine Recreational Park (WMRP) and Weh Island Marine Protected Area (WMPA). The WMRP was established by the Government of Indonesia in 1982 and is managed by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency in the Ministry of Forestry. The other, WMPA, was established in 2010 and is managed by the Government of Sabang׳s Marine Affairs and Fisheries Agency. First, this study reviews the regulations of the two MPAs. There are 17 regulations related to the management of the two MPAs. WMRP is governed centrally based on Law No. 32, and the WMPA has shifted to a bottom-up system based on Fisheries Law No. 31. In addition, the customary management system called Panglima Laot, which literally translates to “Sea Commander” functions for local residents. Second, 185 questionnaires were completed by government offices, non-governmental organizations, fishermen, and marine tourism operators from January to September 2013. The survey showed all respondents support the development of MPAs. More respondents in the WMPA are familiar with the MPA and received benefits from MPAs. Fishermen of the WMRP considered their participation to be low and have lower trust in the government. The participants in the WMRP considered that “support of all stakeholders׳ awareness of the marine environment” is most important. On the other hand, “improved understanding of benefits from MPAs” was an influential factor in the WMPA. To further strengthen the management of MPAs, the stakeholders should work together to apply a bottom-up management system, clarify the zoning, set educational programs to inform public perceptions, ensure enforcement capacity, conduct scientific research on the resource, and develop a network of MPAs in the long term.
This paper presents the Biogeographic Assessment Framework (BAF), a decision support process for marine spatial planning (MSP), developed through two decades of close collaborations between scientists and marine managers. Spatial planning is a considerable challenge for marine stewardship agencies because of the need to synthesize information on complex socio-ecological patterns across geographically broad spatial scales. This challenge is compounded by relatively short time-frames for implementation and limited financial and technological resources. To address this pragmatically, BAF provides a rapid, flexible and multi-disciplinary approach to integrate geospatial information into formats and visualization tools readily useable for spatial planning. Central to BAF is four sequential components: (1) Planning; (2) Data Evaluation; (3) Ecosystem Characterization; and (4) Management Applications. The framework has been applied to support the development of several marine spatial plans in the United States and Territories. This paper describes the structure of the BAF framework and the associated analytical techniques. Two management applications are provided to demonstrate the utility of BAF in supporting decision making in MSP.
The Connecticut shoreline is one of the most intensively developed in the country. In many locations, development has relied on the buffering capacity of broad beaches for protection against storms. Much of this development is at risk due to an insufficient understanding of regional beach dynamics. The coast is commonly regarded as “protected” by the presence of Long Island. Nonetheless, Irene and Sandy imposed significant property losses on coastal cities. The most severe damages were due to wave impact in areas with narrow beaches. Small differences (as little as 21 m) in beach width proved to be significant during these storms. Sheltering by Long Island does not prevent coastal erosion during local storms. In the long run, it does prevent the rebuilding of the beach during fair weather by limiting the energy available for shoreward transport. This dynamic makes the beaches naturally erosive and their buffering capacity transient at best.
Recent evolutions in computing science and web technology provide the environmental community with continuously expanding resources for data collection and analysis that pose unprecedented challenges to the design of analysis methods, workflows, and interaction with data sets. In the light of the recent UK Research Council funded Environmental Virtual Observatory pilot project, this paper gives an overview of currently available implementations related to web-based technologies for processing large and heterogeneous datasets and discuss their relevance within the context of environmental data processing, simulation and prediction. We found that, the processing of the simple datasets used in the pilot proved to be relatively straightforward using a combination of R, RPy2, PyWPS and PostgreSQL. However, the use of NoSQL databases and more versatile frameworks such as OGC standard based implementations may provide a wider and more flexible set of features that particularly facilitate working with larger volumes and more heterogeneous data sources.