While international agreements and legislation call for incorporation of four pillars of sustainability, the social (including cultural), economic and institutional aspects (the ‘human dimension’) have been relatively neglected to date. Three key impediments have been identified: a relative lack of explicit social, economic and institutional objectives; a general lack of process (frameworks, governance) for routine integration of all four pillars of sustainability; and a bias towards biological considerations. Practical integration requires a ‘systems’ approach with explicit consideration of strategic and operational aspects of management; multidisciplinary or transdisciplinary evaluations; practical objectives for the four pillars of sustainability; appropriate participation; and a governance system that is able to integrate these diverse considerations in management. We challenge all involved in fisheries to immediately take five practical steps toward integrating ecological, economic, social and institutional aspects: (1) Adopt the perspective of the fishery as a ‘system’ with interacting natural, human and management elements; (2) Be aware of both strategic and operational aspects of fisheries assessment and management; (3) Articulate overarching objectives that incorporate all four pillars of sustainability; (4) Encourage appropriate (and diverse) disciplinary participation in all aspects of research, evaluation and management; and (5) Encourage development of (or emulate) participatory governance.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Because of the complexity and speed of environmental, climatic, and socio-political change in coastal marine social-ecological systems, there is significant academic and applied interest in assessing and fostering the adaptive capacity of coastal communities. Adaptive capacity refers to the latent ability of a system to respond proactively and positively to stressors or opportunities. A variety of qualitative, quantitative, and participatory approaches have been developed and applied to understand and assess adaptive capacity, each with different benefits, drawbacks, insights, and implications. Drawing on case studies of coastal communities from around the globe, we describe and compare 11 approaches that are often used to study adaptive capacity of social and ecological systems in the face of social, environmental, and climatic change. We synthesize lessons from a series of case studies to present important considerations to frame research and to choose an assessment approach, key challenges to analyze adaptive capacity in linked social-ecological systems, and good practices to link results to action to foster adaptive capacity. We suggest that more attention be given to integrated social-ecological assessments and that greater effort be placed on evaluation and monitoring of adaptive capacity over time and across scales. Overall, although sustainability science holds a promise of providing solutions to real world problems, we found that too few assessments seem to lead to tangible outcomes or actions to foster adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems.
Marine reserve placement must account for the importance of places for resource use to minimize negative socioeconomic impacts and improve compliance. It is often assumed that placing marine reserves in locations that minimize lost fishing opportunities will reduce impacts on coastal communities, but the influence of the fishing data used on this outcome remains poorly understood. In the Madang Lagoon (Papua New Guinea), we compared three types of proxies for conservation costs to local fishing communities. We developed two types of proxies of opportunity costs commonly used in marine conservation planning: current fishing activity with fisher surveys (n = 68) and proximity from shore. We also developed proxies based on areas of importance for fishing as perceived by surveyed households (n = 52). Although all proxies led to different configurations of potential marine reserves, the three types of cost data reflect different aspects of importance for fishing and should be used as complementary measures.
Since the Second World War, academic publishing practices have had to cope with enormous changes in the scale of the research enterprise, in the culture and management of higher education, and in the ecosystem of scholarly publishers. The pace of change has been particularly rapid in the last twenty-five years, thanks to digital technologies. This has also been a time of growing divergence between the different roles of academic publishing: as a means of disseminating validated knowledge, as a form of symbolic capital for academic career progression, and as a profitable business enterprise.
This briefing paper aims to provide a historical perspective that can inform the debates about what the future of academic publishing should look like. We argue that current policy regarding open access publishing, and many of the other proposals for the reform of academic publishing, have been too focused on the opportunities and financial challenges of the most recent changes in digital communications technologies and have given undue weight to commercial concerns.
We show that the business practices and the cultural significance of academic publishing have been significantly transformed since the late nineteenth century as increasing government funding drove the expansion and professionalization of the research community, a process that accelerated rapidly after the Second World War. We examine how academic publishing practices have responded to the increasing number of researchers and publications worldwide, the changing expectations of academic workloads and outputs in the higher education sector, and the new business models in the publishing industry. A key phenomenon has been the growing importance of published works as career-defining tokens of prestige for academics. Although the new technologies that emerged in the late twentieth century offer great potential for improving the speed and efficiency of scholarly communication, the publishing model has been relatively slow to change.
The key themes of this briefing paper are:
- the business of academic publishing
- the role of publishing in academic careers
- and the tangled and changing relationship between them.
Mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs, between 30 and 150 m depth) are hypothesized to contribute to the recovery of degraded shallow reefs through sexually produced larvae (referred to as Deep Reef Refuge Hypothesis). In Okinawa, Japan, the brooder coral Seriatopora hystrix was reported to be locally extinct in a shallow reef while it was found abundant at a MCE nearby. In this context, S. hystrix represents a key model to test the Deep Reef Refuge Hypothesis and to understand the potential contribution of mesophotic corals to shallow coral reef recovery. However, the reproductive biology of mesophotic S. hystrix and its potential to recolonize shallow reefs is currently unknown. This study reports for the first time, different temporal scales of reproductive periodicity and larval settlement of S. hystrix from an upper mesophotic reef (40 m depth) in Okinawa. We examined reproductive seasonality, lunar, and circadian periodicity (based on polyp dissection, histology, and ex situ planula release observations) and larval settlement rates in the laboratory. Mesophotic S. hystrix reproduced mainly in July and early August, with a small number of planulae being released at the end of May, June and August. Compared to shallow colonies in the same region, mesophotic S. hystrix has a 4-month shorter reproductive season, similar circadian periodicity, and smaller planula size. In addition, most of the planulae settled rapidly, limiting larval dispersal potential. The shorter reproductive season and smaller planula size may result from limited energy available for reproduction at deeper depths, while the similar circadian periodicity suggests that this reproductive aspect is not affected by environmental conditions differing with depth. Overall, contribution of mesophotic S. hystrix to shallow reef rapid recovery appears limited, although they may recruit to shallow reefs through a multistep process over a few generations or through random extreme mixing such as typhoons.
The microbial degradation of petroleum hydrocarbons at low temperatures was investigated in subarctic deep-sea sediments in the Faroe Shetland Channel (FSC). The effect of the marine oil dispersant, Superdispersant 25 on hydrocarbon degradation was also examined. Sediments collected at 500 and 1000 m depth were spiked with a model oil containing 20 hydrocarbons and incubated at ambient temperature (5 and 0 °C, respectively) with and without marine dispersant. Treatment of sediments with hydrocarbons resulted in the enrichment of Gammaproteobacteria, and specifically the genera Pseudoalteromonas, Pseudomonas, Halomonas, and Cobetia. Hydrocarbon degradation was faster at 5 °C (500 m) with 65–89% of each component degraded after 50 days compared to 0–47% degradation at 0 °C (1000 m), where the aromatic hydrocarbons fluoranthene, anthracene, and Dibenzothiophene showed no degradation. Dispersant significantly increased the rate of degradation at 1000 m, but had no effect at 500 m. There was no statistically significant effect of Superdispersant 25 on the bacterial community structure at either station. These results show that the indigenous bacterial community in the FSC has the capacity to mitigate some of the effects of a potential oil spill, however, the effect of dispersant is ambiguous and further research is needed to understand the implications of its use.
First impressions based on facial appearance predict many important social outcomes. We investigated whether such impressions also influence the communication of scientific findings to lay audiences, a process that shapes public beliefs, opinion, and policy. First, we investigated the traits that engender interest in a scientist’s work, and those that create the impression of a “good scientist” who does high-quality research. Apparent competence and morality were positively related to both interest and quality judgments, whereas attractiveness boosted interest but decreased perceived quality. Next, we had members of the public choose real science news stories to read or watch and found that people were more likely to choose items that were paired with “interesting-looking” scientists, especially when selecting video-based communications. Finally, we had people read real science news items and found that the research was judged to be of higher quality when paired with researchers who look like “good scientists.” Our findings offer insights into the social psychology of science, and indicate a source of bias in the dissemination of scientific findings to broader society.
Reproducibility has long been a tenet of science but has been challenging to achieve—we learned this the hard way when our old approaches proved inadequate to efficiently reproduce our own work. Here we describe how several free software tools have fundamentally upgraded our approach to collaborative research, making our entire workflow more transparent and streamlined. By describing specific tools and how we incrementally began using them for the Ocean Health Index project, we hope to encourage others in the scientific community to do the same—so we can all produce better science in less time.
The Arctic Invasive Alien Species (ARIAS) Strategy and Action Plan sets forth the priority actions that the Arctic Council and its partners are encouraged to take to protect the Arctic region from a significant threat: the adverse impacts of invasive alien species. These priority actions span terrestrial, aquatic, and marine ecosystems. The actions take environmental, cultural, and economic perspectives into consideration, including drivers, impacts, and response measures.
Offshore aquaculture is increasingly viewed as a mechanism to meet growing protein demand for seafood, while minimizing adverse consequences on the environment and other uses in the oceans. However, despite growing interest in offshore aquaculture, there appears to be no consensus as to what measures commonly define an offshore site or how effects of offshore aquaculture—relative to more nearshore practices—are assessed. This lack of agreement on what constitutes offshore aquaculture has the potential to convolute communication, create uncertainty in regulatory processes, and impede understanding of the ecological implications of offshore farming. To begin addressing these issues, we reviewed and analyzed biologically-focused primary and gray literature (Ntotal = 70) that categorize and quantify characteristics of offshore aquaculture from around the world. We found that many “offshore” descriptions are relatively close to shore (<3 nm) and significantly shallower (minimum depth ≤30 m) than may be assumed. We also uncovered an overall lack of consistent reporting of even the most common location-focused metrics (distance from shore, depth, current), a dearth of impact related studies (n = 17), and narrow scope of the studies themselves (i.e., 82% nutrient pollution). Of the finite subset of articles that investigated negative ecological impacts of offshore aquaculture, we found the probability of any measurable impact from an offshore farm appears to significantly decrease with distance from the farm (probability of measurable response at 90 m ± SE = 0.01 ± 0.03). Such general, but informative points of reference could be more robustly quantified with better systematic and standardized reporting of physical farm characteristics and a broader scope of ecological investigation into the effects of marine aquaculture. With offshore aquaculture still in its infancy, consistent metrics are needed for a comparable framework to guide sustainable offshore aquaculture research and development globally.
The State of the Arctic Marine Biodiversity Report (SAMBR) is a synthesis of the state of knowledge about biodiversity in Arctic marine ecosystems, detectable changes, and important gaps in our ability to assess state and trends in biodiversity across six focal ecosystem components (FECs): marine mammals, seabirds, marine fishes, benthos, plankton, and sea ice biota.
Puget Sound in Washington State (WA) has significant tidal energy resources, but the industry is at a nascent stage of development. At this stage, the availability of research and development (R&D) funding plays a critical role in the success or failure of renewable energy schemes. However, information about public interest in developing marine renewable energy technology, including tidal energy technology, in WA and the U.S. has been limited. Responses to a dichotomous choice referendum question on a mail survey sent to a representative sample of WA households were used to estimate residents' Willingness to Pay (WTP) for tidal energy R&D. Public preferences for policies to support tidal energy R&D were also assessed. WA households are WTP between $29M and $127M annually for tidal energy R&D, indicating public preference for an increase in government spending on tidal energy R&D over current levels. Public perceptions of potential social, environmental, and economic risks and benefits of developing tidal energy emerged as highly significant predictors of WTP.
The Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna (CAFF) and Protection of the Arctic Marine Environments (PAME) working groups of the Arctic Council developed this indicator report. It provides an overview of the status and trends of protected areas in the Arctic. The data used represents the results of the 2016 update to the Protected Areas Database submitted by each of the Arctic Council member states (Annex 1). This report uses the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) definition for protected areas (see Box 1) which includes a wide range of Management Categories from strict nature reserve to protection with sustainable use. Consequently, the level of protection and governance of these areas varies throughout the circumpolar region and its countries.
Storm impacts play a significant role in shoreline dynamics on barrier coastlines. Furthermore, inter-storm recovery is a key parameter determining long-term coastal resilience to climate change, storminess variability and sea level rise. Over the last decade, four extreme storms, with strong energetic waves and high still water levels resulting from high spring tides and large skew surge residuals, have impacted the shoreline of the southern North Sea. The 5th December 2013 storm, with the highest run-up levels recorded in the last 60 years, resulted in large sections of the frontline of the North Norfolk coast being translated inland by over 10 m. Storms in March and November 2007 also generated barrier scarping and shoreline retreat, although not on the scale of 2013. Between 2008 and 2013, a calm period, recovery dominated barrier position and elevation but was spatially differentiated alongshore. For one study area, Scolt Head Island, no recovery was seen; this section of the coast is being reset episodically landwards during storms. By contrast, the study area at Holkham Bay showed considerable recovery between 2008 and 2013, with barrier sections developing seaward through foredune recovery. The third study area, Brancaster Bay, showed partial recovery in barrier location and elevation. Results suggest that recovery is promoted by high sediment supply and onshore intertidal bar migration, at rates of 40 m a− 1. These processes bring sand to elevations where substrate drying enables aeolian processes to entrain and transport sand from upper foreshores to foredunes. We identify three potential sediment transport pathways that create a region of positive diffusivity at Holkham Bay. During calm periods, a general westward movement of sediment from the drift divide at Sheringham sources the intertidal bar and foredune development at Holkham Bay. However, during and following storms the drift switches to eastward, not only on the beach itself but also below the – 7 m isobath. Sediment from the eroding barrier at Brancaster Bay, and especially Scolt Head Island, also sources the sediment sink of Holkham Bay. Knowledge of foredune growth and barrier recovery in natural systems are vital aspects of future coastal management planning with accelerated sea-level rise and storminess variability.
Global coral reef related tourism is one of the most significant examples of nature-based tourism from a single ecosystem. Coral reefs attract foreign and domestic visitors and generate revenues, including foreign exchange earnings, in over 100 countries and territories. Understanding the full value of coral reefs to tourism, and the spatial distribution of these values, provides an important incentive for sustainable reef management. In the current work, global data from multiple sources, including social media and crowd-sourced datasets, were used to estimate and map two distinct components of reef value. The first component is local “reef-adjacent” value, an overarching term used to capture a range of indirect benefits from coral reefs, including provision of sandy beaches, sheltered water, food, and attractive views. The second component is “on-reef” value, directly associated with in-water activities such diving and snorkelling. Tourism values were estimated as a proportion of the total visits and spending by coastal tourists within 30 km of reefs (excluding urban areas). Reef-adjacent values were set as a fixed proportion of 10% of this expenditure. On-reef values were based on the relative abundance of dive-shops and underwater photos in different countries and territories. Maps of value assigned to specific coral reef locations show considerable spatial variability across distances of just a few kilometres. Some 30% of the world's reefs are of value in the tourism sector, with a total value estimated at nearly US$36 billion, or over 9% of all coastal tourism value in the world's coral reef countries.
A priority for modern conservation is finding and managing regions with environmental and biodiversity portfolio characteristics that will promote adaptation and the persistence of species during times of rapid climate change. The latitudinal edges of high-diversity biomes are likely to provide a mixture of environmental gradients and biological diversity that meet the portfolio criteria needed for adaptive systems. Northern Mozambique and the Quirimbas Islands represent the edge of a coral reef diversity center with limited potential to expand because of geologic and oceanographic limits on the southern edges. This region does, however, have the potential to be its own discrete adaptive center if it contains climate refugia and there are environmental gradients that promote acclimatization, ecological reorganization, and natural selection. Consequently, to evaluate this potential we tested for strong regional environmental spatial heterogeneity that might indicate a climate-adaptive center. Additionally, we evaluated human influences and environmental and demographic data on finfish, coral, and sea urchins in 66 reefs across ~4° of latitude to evaluate ecological changes and human threats. A number of clear gradients in environmental and human influences were observed. For example, temperature increased and became more centralized and right-skewed, while water quality decreased to the south. Coral communities susceptible to thermal stress were found in the north where dispersed temperatures indicated a location with either tolerance to or refugium from recent thermal disturbances. Nevertheless, high coral diversity was found in southern deep-water channels. Further, spatial patterns for corals and fish differed indicating complex geographic-fishing-biodiversity gradients. Consequently, environmental conditions for an adaptive portfolio exist and include refugia for preserving climate-sensitive and for numbers of coral taxa. Fishing and urban threats were observable as reduced fish biomass, diversity, and body sizes but higher biomass of sea urchins. We observed that many remote and protected areas had fish biomass values lower than expected or near maximum sustainable yields. This indicates low compliance and widespread migratory fishing, which is reducing fish diversity below maximum levels. Recommendations to sustain this adaptive center are to maintain fish biomass >500 kg/ha by increasing fisheries restrictions and compliance.
It is acknowledged that an effective path to globally protect marine ecosystems is through the establishment of eco-regional scale networks of MPAs spanning across national frontiers. In this work we aimed to plan for regionally feasible networks of MPAs that can be ecologically linked with an existing one in a transboundary context. We illustrate our exercise in the Ensenadian eco-region, a shared marine ecosystem between the south of California, United States of America (USA), and the north of Baja California, Mexico; where conservation actions differ across the border. In the USA, California recently established a network of MPAs through the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), while in Mexico: Baja California lacks a network of MPAs or a marine spatial planning effort to establish it. We generated four different scenarios with Marxan by integrating different ecological, social, and management considerations (habitat representation, opportunity costs, habitat condition, and enforcement costs). To do so, we characterized and collected biophysical and socio-economic information for Baja California and developed novel approaches to quantify and incorporate some of these considerations. We were able to design feasible networks of MPAs in Baja California that are ecologically linked with California's network (met between 78.5 and 84.4% of the MLPA guidelines) and that would represent a low cost for fishers and aquaculture investors. We found that when multiple considerations are integrated more priority areas for conservation emerge. For our region, human distribution presents a strong gradient from north to south and resulted to be an important factor for the spatial arrangement of the priority areas. This work shows how, despite the constraints of a data-poor area, the available conservation principles, mapping, and planning tools can still be used to generate spatial conservation plans in a transboundary context.
The benefit of engaging volunteers in marine citizen science projects goes beyond generation of data and has intrinsic value with regards to community capacity-building and education. Yet, despite the documented benefits of citizen science, there can be barriers to the process of developing strategic citizen science projects and translating data into valued results with natural resource management applications. This paper presents four case-studies from fifteen years of Reef Check Australia (RCA) marine citizen science research and education projects. These case studies convey approaches and lessons-learned from the process of designing, implementing and sharing citizen science programs with the goal to create valuable social and environmental outcomes:
(1) Demonstrating citizen science data quality through a precision study on data and analysis of 15 years of standardized Reef Check (RC) reef health data in Queensland, Australia.
(2) Identifying and responding to data gaps through volunteer monitoring of sub-tropical rocky reefs in South East Queensland, Australia.
(3) Adapting citizen science protocols to enhance capacity building, partnerships and strategic natural resource management applications through reef habitat mapping.
(4) Tailoring new pathways for sharing citizen science findings and engaging volunteers with the community via a Reef Check Australia Ambassadors community outreach program.
These case studies offer insights into considerations for developing targeted and flexible citizen science projects, showcasing the work of volunteers and project stakeholders, and collaborating with partners for applications beneficial to research, management and education.
Marine protected areas (MPA) that are created opportunistically must be evaluated in an ecological context to ensure that conservation goals and societal expectations are achievable. This study used acoustic telemetry to investigate movements of reef fish relative to the boundary of the Virgin Islands Coral Reef National Monument (VICRNM) in Coral Bay, U.S. Virgin Islands. Although created to enhance ecosystem protection, VICRNM boundaries were established purely on the basis of adjacency to public versus privately owned lands. Transmitters were implanted into a diversity of reef fish species representative of the local community whose movements were logged for one year on an array of acoustic-receivers that were positioned within, outside, and along the MPA boundary. Results indicate that the boundary has coincidentally aligned with a deep sandy area that does not cross through continuous reef or mangrove habitat. This acted as a natural barrier to movements of species such as Lutjanus griseus, Epinephelus guttatus, Cephalopholus cruentatus, Holocentrus rufus, and Sparisoma aurofrenatum. Other species were more mobile and were routinely detected outside VICRNM, especially at night, such as L. synagris, Haemulon plumierii, and H. sciurus. In addition to fish movements in relation to the VICRNM boundary, network analysis revealed several hotspots of concentrated fish activity including a reef promontory and bay mouths. Investment in enforcement of existing regulations to protect fish is warranted to realize the full potential of this MPA. Using these types of data, management actions in this and other MPAs can be focused on those species and locations that would experience the greatest benefit.
Due to rapid declines of shark populations across many species and regions of the world, the need for large-scale conservation measures has become widely recognized. Some coastal states have opted to implement ‘Shark Sanctuaries’, which prohibit commercial shark fishing and the export of shark products across large areas, typically their entire Exclusive Economic Zones. Although shark sanctuaries cover almost as much area globally as marine protected areas (MPAs), their success has yet to be evaluated. Here, key features and regulatory details for eleven shark sanctuaries (covering 3% of global ocean area) are summarized, highlighting their commonalities and differences. Catch data are then used to shed light on the impact current shark sanctuaries could have on shark catch, foreign fleets, trade and abundance. Based on this comparative analysis, recommendations are made to implement program evaluation measures within existing and future shark sanctuaries that would explicitly outline goals and measures of success or failure. In summary, although shark sanctuaries may have the intended effect of reducing shark mortality, there appears a need to address bycatch within shark sanctuary regulations, and to collect baseline data that can be used to monitor sanctuary effectiveness.