Prioritization of marsh-management strategies is a difficult task as it requires a manager to evaluate the relative benefits of each strategy given uncertainty in future sea-level rise and in dynamic marsh response. A modeling framework to evaluate the costs and benefits of management strategies while accounting for both of these uncertainties has been developed. The base data for the tool are high-resolution uncertainty-analysis results from the SLAMM (Sea-Level Affecting Marshes Model) under different adaptive-management strategies. These results are combined with an ecosystem-valuation assessment from stakeholders. The SLAMM results and stakeholder values are linked together using “utility functions” that characterize the relationship between stakeholder values and geometric metrics such as “marsh area,” marsh edge,” or “marsh width.” The expected-value of each site’s ecosystem benefits can then be calculated and compared using estimated costs for each strategy. Estimates of optimal marsh-management strategies may then be produced, maximizing the “ecosystem benefits per estimated costs” ratio.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
While there is increasing evidence for habitat specialization in coral reef fishes, the extent to which different corals support different fish communities is not well understood. Here we quantitatively assess the relative importance of different coral species in structuring fish communities and evaluate whether sampling scale and coral colony size affect the perceived strength of fish-habitat relationships. Fish communities present on colonies of eight coral species (Porites cylindrica, Echinopora horrida, Hydnophora rigida, Stylophora pistillata, Seriatopora hystrix, Acropora formosa, A. tenuis and A. millepora) were examined in the Lizard Island lagoon, Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Additionally, the differences in fish communities supported by three coral species (P. cylindrica, E. horrida, H. rigida) were investigated at three spatial scales of sampling (2x2 m, 1x1 m, 0.5x0.5 m). Substantial differences in fish communities were observed across the different coral species, with E. horrida and H. rigidasupporting the most fish species and individuals. Coral species explained more of the variability in fish species richness (20.9–53.6%), than in fish abundance (0–15%). Most coral species supported distinctive fish communities, with dissimilarities ranging from 50 to 90%. For three focal coral species, a greater amount of total variation in fish species richness and fish abundance was evident at a larger scale of sampling. Together, these results indicate that the structure of reef fish communities is finely tuned to coral species. Loss of preferred coral species could have profound effects on reef fish biodiversity, potentially more so than would be predicted on the basis of declining coral cover alone.
Automatic Identification Systems (AIS) are a standard feature of ocean-going vessels, designed to allow vessels to notify each other of their position and route, to reduce collisions. Increasingly, the system is being used to monitor vessels remotely, particularly with the advent of satellite receivers. One fundamental problem with AIS transmission is the issue of gaps in transmissions. Gaps occur for three basic reasons: 1) saturation of the system in locations with high vessel density; 2) poor quality transmissions due to equipment on the vessel or receiver; and 3) intentional disabling of AIS transmitters. Resolving which of these mechanisms is responsible for generating gaps in transmissions from a given vessel is a critical task in using AIS to remotely monitor vessels. Moreover, separating saturation and equipment issues from intentional disabling is a key issue, as intentional disabling is a useful risk factor in predicting illicit behaviors such as illegal fishing. We describe a spatial statistical model developed to identify gaps in AIS transmission, which allows calculation of the probability that a given gap is due to intentional disabling. The model we developed successfully identifies high risk gaps in the test case example in the Arafura Sea. Simulations support that the model is sensitive to frequent gaps as short as one hour. Results in this case study area indicate expected high risk vessels were ranked highly for risk of intentional disabling of AIS transmitters. We discuss our findings in the context of improving enforcement opportunities to reduce illicit activities at sea.
Soft robotics is an emerging technology that has shown considerable promise in deep-sea marine biological applications. It is particularly useful in facilitating delicate interactions with fragile marine organisms. This study describes the shipboard design, 3D printing and integration of custom soft robotic manipulators for investigating and interacting with deep-sea organisms. Soft robotics manipulators were tested down to 2224m via a Remotely-Operated Vehicle (ROV) in the Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) and facilitated the study of a diverse suite of soft-bodied and fragile marine life. Instantaneous feedback from the ROV pilots and biologists allowed for rapid re-design, such as adding “fingernails”, and re-fabrication of soft manipulators at sea. These were then used to successfully grasp fragile deep-sea animals, such as goniasterids and holothurians, which have historically been difficult to collect undamaged via rigid mechanical arms and suction samplers. As scientific expeditions to remote parts of the world are costly and lengthy to plan, on-the-fly soft robot actuator printing offers a real-time solution to better understand and interact with delicate deep-sea environments, soft-bodied, brittle, and otherwise fragile organisms. This also offers a less invasive means of interacting with slow-growing deep marine organisms, some of which can be up to 18,000 years old.
Between the 8th January and the 25th February 2016, the largest sperm whale Physeter macrocephalus mortality event ever recorded in the North Sea occurred with 30 sperm whales stranding in five countries within six weeks. All sperm whales were immature males. Groups were stratified by size, with the smaller animals stranding in the Netherlands, and the largest in England. The majority (n = 27) of the stranded animals were necropsied and/or sampled, allowing for an international and comprehensive investigation into this mortality event. The animals were in fair to good nutritional condition and, aside from the pathologies caused by stranding, did not exhibit significant evidence of disease or trauma. Infectious agents were found, including various parasite species, several bacterial and fungal pathogens and a novel alphaherpesvirus. In nine of the sperm whales a variety of marine litter was found. However, none of these findings were considered to have been the primary cause of the stranding event. Potential anthropogenic and environmental factors that may have caused the sperm whales to enter the North Sea were assessed. Once sperm whales enter the North Sea and head south, the water becomes progressively shallower (<40 m), making this region a global hotspot for sperm whale strandings. We conclude that the reasons for sperm whales to enter the southern North Sea are the result of complex interactions of extrinsic environmental factors. As such, these large mortality events seldom have a single ultimate cause and it is only through multidisciplinary, collaborative approaches that potentially multifactorial large-scale stranding events can be effectively investigated.
The Norwegian government has decided that the aquaculture industry shall grow, provided that the growth is environmentally sustainable. Sustainability is scored based on the mortality of wild salmonids caused by the parasitic salmon lice. Salmon lice infestation pressure has traditionally been monitored through catching wild sea trout and Arctic char using nets or traps or by trawling after Atlantic salmon postsmolts. However, due to that the Norwegian mainland coastline is nearly 25 000 km, complementary methods that may be used in order to give complete results are needed. We have therefore developed an operational salmon lice model, which calculates the infestation pressure all along the coast in near real-time based on a hydrodynamical ocean model and a salmon lice particle tracking model. The hydrodynamic model generally shows a negative temperature bias and a positive salinity bias compared to observations. The modeled salmon lice dispersion correlates with measured lice on wild salmonids caught using traps or nets. This allows for using two complementary data sources in order to determine the infestation pressure of lice originating from fish farms on wild salmonids, and thereby provide an improved monitoring system for assessing risk and sustainability which forms the basis for knowledge-based advice to management authorities.
Recreational fishing is often perceived as harmless when it comes to fisheries management, and its impact often estimated to surpass the economic outcomes of e.g. large-scale fisheries. Recreational fisheries are often an indication of political stability and sound ecosystem management. However, despite a high economic impact, the economic costs on traditional and small-scale commercial fishers is yet to be known. This paper answers the question of how unregulated recreational fisheries could rather generate a loss to an economy, and cause unfair competition with existing commercial sectors using the example of Algeria. This paper assesses catches and economic value of recreational fisheries in Algeria, and finds that over 6,000 tonnes reach commercial markets annually, competing directly with the small-scale artisanal sector, while selling recreationally caught fish is still illegal. The paper further finds that the public is thereby deprived—through lost tax, licence income and landed value of $45 million US annually.
Diversity patterns of the deep-sea megafauna in the Caribbean Basin and the Guiana ecoregion were analyzed in order to test the hypothesis of species richness variation as a function of depth and the hypothesis of non-differences between ecoregions by analyzing spatial patterns of five taxa and a merged assemblage. Collections of five taxa (corals, sea stars, sea urchins, sea lilies and gastropods) were obtained from seven oceanographic expeditions aboard the R/V Pillsbury at 310 stations between 60 and 7500 m depth. Data were sorted according to depth zones and ecoregions and were analyzed in order to estimate species richness, changes in species composition and distinction of β-diversity by species turnover or by nestedness. The observed patterns of diversity were consistent between taxa and their assemblage: Species richness increased from the continental shelf (60–200 m deep) to the slope (200–2000 m deep), followed by a decrease at the continental rise-abyssal zone. We detected marked changes in species composition according to depth ranges. Changes in species composition in relation to ecoregions were also detected. In general, the Caribbean Basin lacks important physical barriers, causing high deep-sea ecosystem connectivity; however, variation in composition could be related to changes in environmental conditions associated with productivity and/or continental influences.
Wildlife-focused tourism is often considered as having the potential to play an integral part of threatened species conservation efforts, particularly through financial support. We focused on the direct financing of conservation by investigating tourists’ willingness to pay to snorkel with reef manta rays (Mobula alfredi) at Barefoot Manta, an ecotourism resort in the Yasawa group of islands in Fiji. Our results indicate that 82.4% of people surveyed would be willing to pay a mean value of ~ USD $9.2 (SE 0.9) more than the current cost, a 28% increase. Also, 89% of people surveyed would be willing to pay a mean value of ~ USD $10.2 (SE 0.9) more for a hypothetical scenario where they would snorkel with 50% fewer people, a 31% increase. We also investigated tourists’ willingness to make voluntary donations to the local community above an existing payment of ~ USD $10 that is built into the current snorkel payment of ~ USD $32.5. On average, 91.3% of the tourists interviewed were willing to donate additional funds with an average additional donation of ~ USD $8.6 (SE 0.5) to the community to pay for educational and environmental support, an 86% increase. There were few significant relationships between willingness to pay and demographic factors (including age, income, nationality, education, and others), suggesting that willingness to pay was widely held by the tourist population staying at Barefoot Manta Resort. Together, these results indicate that wildlife-based nature tourism could represent a potential, but not unlimited, income source to fund conservation in the Yasawa group, Fiji islands, and that conservation can arise from partnerships between local communities and the tourism sector
An effective and efficient stewardship of natural resources requires consistency across all decision-informing approaches and components involved, i.e., managerial, governmental, political, and legal. To achieve this consistency, these elements must be aligned under an overarching management goal that is consistent with current and well-accepted knowledge. In this article, we investigate the adoption by the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management of an environmental resilience-centered system that manages for resilience of marine ecological resources and its associated social elements. Although the framework is generally tailored for this Bureau, it could also be adapted to other federal or non-federal organizations. This paper presents a dynamic framework that regards change as an inherent element of the socio-ecological system in which management structures, e.g., federal agencies, are embedded. The overall functioning of the management framework being considered seeks to mimic and anticipate environmental change in line with well-accepted elements of resilience-thinking. We also investigate the goal of using management for resilience as a platform to enhance socio-ecological sustainability by setting specific performance metrics embedded in pre-defined and desired social and/or ecological scenarios. Dynamic management frameworks that couple social and ecological systems as described in this paper can facilitate the efficient and effective utilization of resources, reduce uncertainty for decision and policy makers, and lead to more defensible decisions on resources.
To solve conservation and planning challenges in the marine environment, researchers are increasingly developing geospatial tools to address impacts of anthropogenic activities on marine biodiversity. The paper presents a comprehensive set of built-in geospatial webtools to support Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) and environmental management objectives implemented into the Tools4MSP interoperable GeoPlatform. The webtools include cumulative effects assessment (CEA), maritime use conflict (MUC) analysis, MSFD pressure-driven CEA and a CEA-based marine ecosystem service threat analysis (MES-Threat). The tools are tested for the Northern Adriatic (NA) Sea, one of the most industrialized sea areas of Europe using a case study driven modelling strategy. Overall results show that coastal areas within 0–9 nm in the Gulf of Trieste, Grado-Marano and Venice lagoon and Po Delta outlet are subjected to intense cumulative effects and high sea use conflicts mainly from port activities, fishery, coastal and maritime tourism and maritime shipping. Linking MES into CEA provided novel information on locally threatened high MES supporting and provisioning habitats such Cymodocea beds and infralittoral fine sands, threats to cultural MES are most pronounced in coastal areas. Results are discussed for their geospatial relevance for regional planning, resource management and their applicability within MSP and environmental assessment.
No-take marine reserves are essential for scientific monitoring, likely to contribute to the sustainability of targeted species, help to buffer biodiversity loss due to climate change impacts, and provide public education, tourism and diverse economic benefits to local communities. However, the establishment of no-take marine reserves has been a contentious policy in several countries because of a perception that recreational fishers are opposed to reserves. Nevertheless, it is unclear whether negative perceptions about reserves are widespread amongst recreational fishers, and whether perceptions change after the reserve has been created. In this study, recreational fishers were surveyed in ten Australian marine parks to determine levels of support and beliefs about the benefits and costs of no-take marine reserves. A ‘space-for-time’ approach was used to explore whether support is higher in older reserves. The results suggest that most recreational fishers who fish in established marine parks are supportive of the no-take marine reserves within them. On average, 63.3% of fishers support no-take marine reserves in their marine park, and 17.8% are opposed. Further, recreational fishers’ support for no-take marine reserves increases markedly with reserve age. This research indicates that most recreational fishers are supportive of no-take marine reserves within marine parks and that support increases over time.
A major challenge in global fisheries is posed by transshipment of catch at sea from fishing vessels to refrigerated cargo vessels, which can obscure the origin of the catch and mask illicit practices. Transshipment remains poorly quantified at a global scale, as much of it is thought to occur outside of national waters. We used Automatic Identification System (AIS) vessel tracking data to quantify spatial patterns of transshipment for major fisheries and gear types. From 2012 to 2017, we observed 10,510 likely transshipment events, with trawlers (53%) and longliners (21%) involved in a majority of cases. Trawlers tended to transship in national waters, whereas longliners did so predominantly on the high seas. Spatial hot spots were seen off the coasts of Russia and West Africa, in the South Indian Ocean, and in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. Our study highlights novel ways to trace seafood supply chains and identifies priority areas for improved trade regulation and fisheries management at the global scale.
Ocean temperatures have been accelerating at an alarming rate mainly due to anthropogenic fossil fuel emissions. This has led to an increase in the severity and duration of coral bleaching events. Predicted projections for the state of reefs do not take into account the rates of adaptation or acclimatization of corals as these have not as yet been fully documented. To determine any possible changes in thermal tolerances, manipulative experiments were conducted to precisely replicate the initial, pivotal research defining threshold temperatures of corals nearly five decades ago. Statistically higher calcification rates, survivorship, and lower mortality were observed in Montipora capitata, Pocillopora damicornis, and Lobactis scutaria in the present study at 31 °C compared to the original 1970 findings. First whole colony mortality was also observed to occur sooner in 1970 than in 2017 in M. capitata (3 d vs. 15 d respectively), L. scutaria (3 d vs. 17 d), and in P. damicornis (3 d vs. 13 d). Additionally, bleaching occurred sooner in 1970 compared to the 2017 experiment across species. Irradiance was an important factor during the recovery period for mortality but did not significantly alter calcification. Mortality was decreased by 17% with a 50% reduction in irradiance during the recovery period. These findings provide the first evidence of coral acclimatization or adaptation to increasing ocean temperatures for corals collected from the same location and using close replication of the experiment conducted nearly 50 years earlier. An important factor in this increased resistance to elevated temperature may be related to removal of the discharge of treated sewage into Kāne‘ohe Bay and resulting decrease in nitrification and eutrophication. However, this level of increased temperature tolerance may not be occurring rapidly enough to escape the projected increased intensity of bleaching events, as evidenced by the recent 2014 and 2015 high coral mortality in Hawai‘i (34%) and in the tropics worldwide.
Ecological and environmental variables play a major role in the genetic structure of marine populations, but how oceanography affects their dispersal and associated connectivity remains far from being understood. To account for the effect of different dispersal strategies in terms of pelagic larvae and non-pelagic reproduction, we utilize the power of comparative phylogeographic analyses of five phylogenetically and functionally diverse intertidal species along the west coast of South Africa using population genetics and biophysical models within the Benguela Current system. Some broadcast spawners exhibit genetic panmixia, others show genetic structure similar to direct-developing species, suggesting complex recruitment patterns in rocky shore environments. Patterns of genetic structure do not correspond with pelagic larval competency period, with a broadcast spawning urchin displaying the highest levels of population structure. Biophysical models of larval dispersal reveal mixed dispersal patterns, with the strongest connections in a northward direction following the Benguela Current, yet most modeled species also show the capacity for southward (albeit weaker) migration among some sample localities. Some sites, particularly the most northern areas, show very low levels of potential connectivity. Lastly, we synthesized our results to highlight key areas for the development of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) that capture the evolutionary patterns of marine species of the west coast and find that the results from our molecular and biophysical analyses are coherent with previous suggestions for a network of protected areas.
Policy formation for the marine environment seems to be a central issue for the maritime nations in order to propose a strategic plan for marine spatial governance. The idea of forming a policy is about understanding the action principle among the institutions involved that guides towards an effective decision making process. The analysis that suits into the reformation of policies is the Institutional Analysis and Development Framework (IAD) that was proposed by Elinor Ostrom, the American political scientist focusing into the institutional behaviours. This paper strives to raise awareness of integrating the concept of Institutional Analysis and Development Framework into the effective practice of Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) in Malaysia. The integration of social science knowledge into the Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) cycles seems to show a growing number in the past decade and the results obtained are reviewed to ensure the suitability of integrating the idea of Institutional Analysis & Development (IAD) into the Malaysian MSP practice to predict institutional behaviour and relationship for the outcomes.
Mass production of plastics started nearly 70 years ago and the production rate is expected to double over the next two decades. While serving many applications because of their durability, stability and low cost, plastics have deleterious effects on the environment. Plastic is known to release a variety of chemicals during degradation, which has a negative impact on biota. Here, we show that the most commonly used plastics produce two greenhouse gases, methane and ethylene, when exposed to ambient solar radiation. Polyethylene, which is the most produced and discarded synthetic polymer globally, is the most prolific emitter of both gases. We demonstrate that the production of trace gases from virgin low-density polyethylene increase with time, with rates at the end of a 212-day incubation of 5.8 nmol g-1 d-1 of methane, 14.5 nmol g-1 d-1 of ethylene, 3.9 nmol g-1 d-1 of ethane and 9.7 nmol g-1 d-1 of propylene. Environmentally aged plastics incubated in water for at least 152 days also produced hydrocarbon gases. In addition, low-density polyethylene emits these gases when incubated in air at rates ~2 times and ~76 times higher than when incubated in water for methane and ethylene, respectively. Our results show that plastics represent a heretofore unrecognized source of climate-relevant trace gases that are expected to increase as more plastic is produced and accumulated in the environment.
A number of hugely valuable natural resources fall outside of the borders of any nation state. We can legitimately expect political theory to make a contribution to thinking through questions about the future of these extraterritorial resources. However, the debate on the proper allocation of rights over these resources remains relatively embryonic. This paper will bring together what have often been rather scattered discussions of rights over extraterritorial resources. It will first sketch some early modern contributions to thinking through rights over the ocean. It then discusses the guidance available within more contemporary contributions to debates on resources beyond the state. Finally, it concludes by emphasising the key questions with which future work on this topic must engage.
In 2015, the Government of Canada committed to protecting 5% of marine and coastal areas by 2017, and 10% by 2020. While admirable progress towards this target has been made, less attention has been given to improving the quality of protection afforded to marine areas. Extensive scientific study supports that several factors are critical to the success of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) for marine biodiversity conservation and management objectives, including no-take areas and prohibitions on extractive and industrial activities. However, the majority of Canada’s MPAs allow extractive uses within their boundaries. As Canada works toward international and national commitments to marine protection targets, it is critical to consider the degree of protection afforded by the legal designations used to create these areas. This paper reviews the current inconsistent standards of protection across marine protected areas (MPAs) designated under the Oceans Act, Canada’s flagship legislation for marine protection. Recommended amendments to the law include standards of protection that would exclude all extractive industrial activities from MPAs in order to better guide the designation and decision-making processes for marine protection.
Several forms of calcifying scleractinian corals provide important habitat complexity in the deep-sea and are consistently associated with a high biodiversity of fish and other invertebrates. How these corals may respond to the future predicted environmental conditions of ocean acidification is poorly understood, but any detrimental effects on these marine calcifiers will have wider impacts on the ecosystem. Colonies of Solenosmilia variabilis, a protected deep-sea coral commonly occurring throughout the New Zealand region, were collected during a cruise in March 2014 from the Louisville Seamount Chain. Over a 12-month period, samples were maintained in temperature controlled (∼3.5 °C) continuous flow-through tanks at a seawater pH that reflects the region’s current conditions (7.88) and an end-of-century scenario (7.65). Impacts on coral growth and the intensity of colour saturation (as a proxy for the coenenchyme tissue that covers the coral exoskeleton and links the coral polyps) were measured bimonthly. In addition, respiration rate was measured after a mid-term (six months) and long-term (12 months) exposure period. Growth rates were highly variable, ranging from 0.53 to 3.068 mm year−1 and showed no detectable difference between the treatment and control colonies. Respiration rates also varied independently of pH and ranged from 0.065 to 1.756 µmol O2 g protein−1 h−1. A significant change in colour was observed in the treatment group over time, indicating a loss of coenenchyme. This loss was greatest after 10 months at 5.28% and could indicate a reallocation of energy with physiological processes (e.g. growth and respiration) being maintained at the expense of coenenchyme production. This research illustrates important first steps to assessing and understanding the sensitivity of deep-sea corals to ocean acidification.