In this essay, I review six decades of my career in marine science and fisheries, considering the ideas that came and went in the period as “food for thought”. I describe my inspirations and successes, and my disappointments and failures. My activities were both administrative and research-oriented. As regards the former, I was part of major changes in ocean policy and new ocean research programmes that gave me a unique perspective. For example, I was responsible for the implementation of the US extended jurisdiction in fisheries under National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Also I conceived and led the creation of the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics Programme (GLOBEC) and guided it in many international contexts, including its integration with the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP). From a research standpoint, my efforts leading up to GLOBEC strongly influenced the introduction of ocean physics into biological oceanography. This led me into plankton dynamics, food signals, small-scale turbulence and physical forcing, even into the stochastic geometry of the plankton. My life-long interest in the dynamics of marine fish populations was strongly influenced by the seminal thinkers in fisheries and my research explored population regulation processes as well as practical applications of statistics and operations research to fisheries management. In my last academic post, I became founding Dean of the School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST) at the University of Massachusetts. This position required integrating administrative and research (both pure and applied) perspectives to create an institution of academic excellence which was at the same time actively responsive to issues arising in our local, nationally prominent fisheries. I end the essay with a consideration of “what has changed”.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
In 1999, the California Legislature passed the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA), which directed the state to establish a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) along California’s coastline. As part of this legislation, monitoring of MPAs is required to evaluate whether they are achieving the goals set out by the MLPA and to support adaptive management in the future. The South Coast Lobster Research Group (SCLRG) was formed in 2011 in response to interest in how MPAs may affect the abundance, size, and behavior of the California spiny lobster (Panulirus interruptus). The California spiny lobster is one of the State’s most economically important organisms that supports large commercial and recreational fisheries, has non- consumptive value for recreational divers, and plays an important role in the ecology and stability of coastal ecosystems. The SCLRG is a partnership between scientists, managers, stakeholders, and volunteers, and encompasses personnel from a diverse set of institutions: the San Diego Oceans Foundation (SDOF), San Diego State University (SDSU), Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO), the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), and the California Lobster Trap Fishermen’s Association (CLTFA). Our team initiated lobster monitoring in five South Coast MPAs and addressed the following goals:
Form a collegial group of researchers and volunteers representing different perspectives and walks-of-life to successfully evaluate the status of lobsters in and around South Coast MPAs;
Estimate spiny lobster abundance, size-frequency distribution, growth, spillover, and mortality through the implementation of a tag-recapture program;
Establish baseline estimates of lobster density and behavior through SCUBA-based surveys;
Map benthic substrata to link lobster abundance to benthic habitat composition and distribution across a range of spatial scales; and,
Determine whether MPAs cause short-term changes in lobster CPUE, and the amount and distribution of lobster fishing effort.
It is widely recognised that anchored, nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) are one of the few practical ‘vehicles’ for increasing access to tuna to help feed the rapidly growing rural and urban populations in many Pacific Island countries and territories (PICTs). However, considerable planning, monitoring and research is still needed to understand and fulfil the potential of nearshore FADs. Investments are required to (1) identify the locations where FADs are likely to make the greatest contributions to the food security of rural (coastal) communities, and yield good catches near urban centres; (2) integrate the use of FADs with other livelihood options available to rural communities and remove any blockages preventing such communities from harnessing the full range of benefits from FADs; (3) assess whether exclusion zones for industrial fishing provide adequate access to tuna for small-scale-fishers; (4) determine if small-scale fishers are able to catch sufficient tuna to meet the protein needs of rural communities; (5) evaluate whether FADs add value to coral reef management initiatives; and (6) improve the design and placement of nearshore FADs. This paper describes these investments and outlines other steps that governments and their development partners need to take to establish and maintain nearshore FADs as part of national infrastructure for food security of PICTs.
A conceptual framework was developed for assessing the sub-level of protection in 185 multiple-use marine protected areas (MPAs) in the English Channel through a survey on management effort. Data were retrieved from 153 MPAs: 4.56% were assigned low management effort, 83.70% were assigned medium management effort, and 11.76% were assigned high management effort. Overall, French MPAs performed better in terms of management effort than English MPAs and lack of consistency in ratings by different management bodies in England was found. Lack of correlation between management effort and conservation status within an available subset of 13 MPAs suggests that management may not be as influential a factor for the effective conservation of MPAs, especially in marine environments under heavy human pressure such as the English Channel. It is suggested that MPAs in such areas may therefore require an upgrade of their legal level of protection to be effective.
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) mandates that European Union (EU) member states achieve Good Environmental Status (GEnS) based on an ecosystem-based approach to management. For commercial fisheries, the primary target under the MSFD is one of maximum sustainable yield. Of Black Sea riparian nations, only Romania and Bulgaria are EU member states. Focusing at the supranational level, we review institutions and instruments relevant to management of the Black Sea. The economic values of current fish catches are assessed, and the results of a recent analytical assessment of fish stocks are used to estimate potential future values based on maximum sustainable yields. In the Black Sea region, despite long-standing attempts to improve fisheries management, there remains a lack of effective regional cooperation. Evidence from the scenario analysis suggests that achieving GEnS would not have an undue negative impact on overall fishery sector incomes, and could, with appropriate investments in processing and marketing, deliver increased economic benefits for Black Sea countries. The ongoing policy debate between and within Black Sea coastal states needs to be extended to include recognition of the potential economic and social benefits of effective fisheries management. More work is required to assess returns on investment in interim management measures to deliver GEnS.
The Black Sea has suffered severe environmental degradation. Governance of the Black Sea region is complex and results in a series of scale mismatches which constrain management. This paper develops a simple classification of spatial scale mismatches incorporating the driver, pressure, state, welfare, response (DPSWR) framework. The scale mismatch classification is applied to two major environmental problems of the Black Sea, eutrophication and small pelagic fisheries. A number of scale mismatches are described and classified and potential solutions are identified.
The Mediterranean region is of fundamental importance to Europe given its strategic position. The responsibility for its overall ecosystem integrity is shared by European Union Member States (EU-MS) and other Mediterranean countries. A juxtaposition of overlapping governance instruments occurred recently in the region, with the implementation of both the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) for EU-MS and the Ecosystem Approach Strategy (ECAP) for all Mediterranean countries, including EU-MS. Both MSFD and ECAP are structured around vision-driven processes to achieve Good Environmental Status and a Healthy Environment, respectively. These processes have clear ecosystem-based, integrated policy objectives to guarantee the preservation and integrity of Mediterranean marine ecosystem goods and services. However, adoption of these instruments, especially those related to the new EU-MS directives on marine policy, could result in a governance gap in addition to the well-known economic gap between the EU and the non-EU political blocs. We identify two complementary requirements for effective implementation of both MSFD and ECAP that could work together to reduce this gap, to ensure a better alignment between MSFD and ECAP and better planning for stakeholder engagement. These are key issues for the future success of these instruments in a Mediterranean region where discrepancies between societal and ecological objectives may pose a challenge to these processes.
In this paper we focus on systemic delays in the Baltic Sea that cause the problem of eutrophication to persist. These problems are demonstrated in our study by addressing three types of delays: (1) decision delay: the time it takes for an idea or perceived need to be launched as a policy; (2) implementation delay: the time from the launch of a policy to the actual implementation; (3) ecosystem delay: the time difference between the implementation and an actual measurable effects. A policy process is one characterized by delays. It may take years from problem identification to a decision to taking action and several years further for actual implementation. Ecosystem responses to measures illustrate that feedback can keep the ecosystem in a certain state and cause a delay in ecosystem response. These delays can operate on decadal scales. <br /> <br /> Our aim in this paper is to analyze these systemic delays and especially to discuss how the critical delays can be better addressed in marine protection policies by strengthening the adaptive capacity of marine protection. We conclude that the development of monitoring systems and reflexive, participatory analysis of dynamics involved in the implementation are keys to improve understanding of the systemic delays. The improved understanding is necessary for the adaptive management of a persistent environmental problem. In addition to the state of the environment, the monitoring and analysis should be targeted also at the implementation of policies to ensure that the societies are investing in the right measures.
Our ability to meet environmental targets is often constrained by processes and events that occur over long timescales and which may not be considered during the planning process. We illustrate with examples and define three major types of temporal scale phenomena of relevance to marine managers: Memory and Future Effects (jointly called Legacy Effects) and Committed Behaviors. We examine the role of these effects in achieving marine environmental targets in Europe under the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the implications for future management, indicating the increased importance that these temporal phenomena give to reducing future pressures.
The sustainable exploitation of marine ecosystem services is dependent on achieving and maintaining an adequate ecosystem state to prevent undue deterioration. Within the European Union, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) requires member states to achieve Good Environmental Status (GEnS), specified in terms of 11 descriptors. We analyzed the complexity of social-ecological factors to identify common critical issues that are likely to influence the achievement of GEnS in the Northeast Atlantic (NEA) more broadly, using three case studies. A conceptual model developed using a soft systems approach highlights the complexity of social and ecological phenomena that influence, and are likely to continue to influence, the state of ecosystems in the NEA. The development of the conceptual model raised four issues that complicate the implementation of the MSFD, the majority of which arose in the Pressures and State sections of the model: variability in the system, cumulative effects, ecosystem resilience, and conflicting policy targets. The achievement of GEnS targets for the marine environment requires the recognition and negotiation of trade-offs across a broad policy landscape involving a wide variety of stakeholders in the public and private sectors. Furthermore, potential cumulative effects may introduce uncertainty, particularly in selecting appropriate management measures. There also are endogenous pressures that society cannot control. This uncertainty is even more obvious when variability within the system, e.g., climate change, is accounted for. Also, questions related to the resilience of the affected ecosystem to specific pressures must be raised, despite a lack of current knowledge. Achieving good management and reaching GEnS require multidisciplinary assessments. The soft systems approach provides one mechanism for bringing multidisciplinary information together to look at the problems in a different light.
Marine environments have undergone large-scale changes in recent decades as a result of multiple anthropogenic pressures, such as overfishing, eutrophication, habitat fragmentation, etc., causing often nonlinear ecosystem responses. At the same time, management institutions lack the appropriate measures to address these abrupt transformations. We focus on existing examples from social–ecological systems of European seas that can be used to inform and advise future management. Examples from the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea on long-term ecosystem changes caused by eutrophication and fisheries, as well as changes in management institutions, illustrate nonlinear dynamics in social–ecological systems. Furthermore, we present two major future challenges, i.e., climate change and energy intensification, that could further increase the potential for nonlinear changes in the near future. Practical tools to address these challenges are presented, such as ensuring learning, flexibility, and networking in decision-making processes across sectors and scales. A combination of risk analysis with a scenario-planning approach might help to identify the risks of ecosystem changes early on and may frame societal changes to inform decision-making structures to proactively prevent drastic surprises in European seas.
Choke points are social, cultural, political, institutional, or psychological obstructions of social-ecological systems that constrain progress toward an environmental objective. Using a soft systems methodology, different types of chokes points were identified in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, the Baltic, and the North and Mediterranean seas. The choke points were of differing types: cultural and political choke points were identified in Barra and the Mediterranean, respectively, whereas the choke points in the North Sea and Baltic Sea were dependent on differing values toward the mitigation of eutrophication. We conclude with suggestions to identify and address choke points.
The European Union Marine Strategy Framework Directive requires the Good Environmental Status of marine environments in Europe's regional seas; yet, maritime activities, including sources of marine degradation, are diversifying and intensifying in an increasingly globalized world. Marine spatial planning is emerging as a tool for rationalizing competing uses of the marine environment while guarding its quality. A directive guiding the development of such plans by European Union member states is currently being formulated. There is an undeniable need for marine spatial planning. However, we argue that considerable care must be taken with marine spatial planning, as the spatial and temporal scales of maritime activities and of Good Environmental Status may be mismatched. We identify four principles for careful and explicit consideration to align the requirements of the two directives and enable marine spatial planning to support the achievement of Good Environmental Status in Europe's regional seas.
This article presents some fresh reflections on participation in environmental decision-making by focussing on the case of newly designated Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009. The article draws on empirical research conducted by the author with South-East fishermen, considering their perceptions of the designation process. Julia Black’s distinction between ‘thin’ and ‘thick’ proceduralisation serves as a theoretical basis to explain fishermen’s perceptions of the process of designation of MCZs but it is then complemented by observations on knowledge construction and representation, following critical social sciences writings on nature conservation. The argument put forward is that the process of designation of MCZs is an example of ‘thin’ proceduralisation and that a move towards ‘thicker’ forms would benefit from acknowledging the existence of multiple knowledges within each participant and from deconstructing the dichotomy between socio-economic and ecological aspects in thinking about conservation.
Table of Contents:
White: Communicating Science in the Coral Triangle
Piazza: Freshwater Network
Ulfelder: When to Say No
Smith: Data and Models
Tallis: Applied Science
Drinking from the Fire Hose:
Announcement: SNAP Proposals
New Conservancy-Authored Publications
Anthropogenic climate change is predicted to decrease oceanic oxygen (O2) concentrations, with potentially significant effects on marine ecosystems. Geologically recent episodes of abrupt climatic warming provide opportunities to assess the effects of changing oxygenation on marine communities. Thus far, this knowledge has been largely restricted to investigations using Foraminifera, with little being known about ecosystem-scale responses to abrupt, climate-forced deoxygenation. We here present high-resolution records based on the first comprehensive quantitative analysis, to our knowledge, of changes in marine metazoans (Mollusca, Echinodermata, Arthropoda, and Annelida; >5,400 fossils and trace fossils) in response to the global warming associated with the last glacial to interglacial episode. The molluscan archive is dominated by extremophile taxa, including those containing endosymbiotic sulfur-oxidizing bacteria (Lucinoma aequizonatum) and those that graze on filamentous sulfur-oxidizing benthic bacterial mats (Alia permodesta). This record, from 16,100 to 3,400 y ago, demonstrates that seafloor invertebrate communities are subject to major turnover in response to relatively minor inferred changes in oxygenation (>1.5 to <0.5 mL⋅L−1 [O2]) associated with abrupt (<100 y) warming of the eastern Pacific. The biotic turnover and recovery events within the record expand known rates of marine biological recovery by an order of magnitude, from <100 to >1,000 y, and illustrate the crucial role of climate and oceanographic change in driving long-term successional changes in ocean ecosystems.
Projections of climate change impacts on coral reefs produced at the coarse resolution (~1°) of Global Climate Models (GCMs) have informed debate but have not helped target local management actions. Here, projections of the onset of annual coral bleaching conditions in the Caribbean under Representative Concentration Pathway (RCP) 8.5 are produced using an ensemble of 33 Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase-5 models and via dynamical and statistical downscaling. A high-resolution (~11 km) regional ocean model (MOM4.1) is used for the dynamical downscaling. For statistical downscaling, sea surface temperature (SST) means and annual cycles in all the GCMs are replaced with observed data from the ~4-km NOAA Pathfinder SST dataset. Spatial patterns in all three projections are broadly similar; the average year for the onset of annual severe bleaching is 2040–2043 for all projections. However, downscaled projections show many locations where the onset of annual severe bleaching (ASB) varies 10 or more years within a single GCM grid cell. Managers in locations where this applies (e.g., Florida, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic, among others) can identify locations that represent relative albeit temporary refugia. Both downscaled projections are different for the Bahamas compared to the GCM projections. The dynamically downscaled projections suggest an earlier onset of ASB linked to projected changes in regional currents, a feature not resolved in GCMs. This result demonstrates the value of dynamical downscaling for this application and means statistically downscaled projections have to be interpreted with caution. However, aside from west of Andros Island, the projections for the two types of downscaling are mostly aligned; projected onset of ASB is within ±10 years for 72% of the reef locations.
Since President Obama created America’s first National Ocean Policy in 2010, Federal agencies have made tremendous progress to meet its objectives – working every day with communities across the Nation and stakeholders on the ground to improve the health of our oceans, support our economy, bolster safety and security, and better understand how our activities impact the ocean.
Today, we are releasing the first Report on the Implementation of the National Ocean Policy, which highlights the progress we’ve made since we released an action plan last year. From supporting the ocean economy to ensuring the security of our ports and waterways, and from improving coastal and ocean resilience to providing local communities with tools to plan for a better future, we’ve made tremendous strides in undertaking our role as responsible stewards of this Nation’s great oceans.
Among the activities described are a host of steps to promote sustainable energy development and aquaculture practices—including ensuring that permitting processes for these activities are efficient and streamlined as possible; advancing research and monitoring activities to help protect people and communities from harmful algal blooms; developing data-driven tools to map the extent of sea-ice and to assist emergency responders and environmental resources managers in dealing with incidents in the Arctic region that may harm the environment; and issuing step-by-step guidance to help coastal communities asses vulnerabilities and develop plans to cope with the impacts of climate change, extreme weather, and ocean acidification.
Our oceans, coasts, and Great Lakes provide us with rich cultural, recreational, and commercial opportunities. Collectively, these treasured waters support tens of millions of jobs and contribute trillions of dollars a year to the national economy. The actions underway across Federal agencies and in collaboration with states, regions, and communities will ensure that our oceans resources remain safe and healthy, and that our ocean economy continues to thrive for the benefit of all Americans.
The 2012 National Research Council report Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative highlighted the challenges of increasing national resilience in the United States. One finding of the report was that "without numerical means of assessing resilience, it would be impossible to identify the priority needs for improvement, to monitor changes, to show that resilience had improved, or to compare the benefits of increasing resilience with the associated costs." Although measuring resilience is a challenge, metrics and indicators to evaluate progress, and the data necessary to establish the metric, are critical for helping communities to clarify and formalize what the concept of resilience means for them, and to support efforts to develop and prioritize resilience investments. One of the recommendations from the 2012 report stated that government entities at federal, state, and local levels and professional organizations should partner to help develop a framework for communities to adapt to their circumstances and begin to track their progress toward increasing resilience.
To build upon this recommendation and begin to help communities formulate such a framework, the Resilient America Roundtable of the National Academies convened the workshop Measures of Community Resilience: From Lessons Learned to Lessons Applied on September 5, 2014 in Washington, D.C. The workshop's overarching objective was to begin to develop a framework of measures and indicators that could support community efforts to increase their resilience. The framework will be further developed through feedback and testing in pilot and other partner communities that are working with the Resilient America Roundtable. This report is a summary of the one-day workshop, which consisted of a keynote address and two panel sessions in the morning and afternoon breakout sessions that began the discussion on how to develop a framework of resilience measures.
International and regional policies aimed at managing ocean ecosystem health need quantitative and comprehensive indices to synthesize information from a variety of sources, consistently measure progress, and communicate with key constituencies and the public. Here we present the second annual global assessment of the Ocean Health Index, reporting current scores and annual changes since 2012, recalculated using updated methods and data based on the best available science, for 221 coastal countries and territories. The Index measures performance of ten societal goals for healthy oceans on a quantitative scale of increasing health from 0 to 100, and combines these scores into a single Index score, for each country and globally. The global Index score improved one point (from 67 to 68), while many country-level Index and goal scores had larger changes. Per-country Index scores ranged from 41–95 and, on average, improved by 0.06 points (range -8 to +12). Globally, average scores increased for individual goals by as much as 6.5 points (coastal economies) and decreased by as much as 1.2 points (natural products). Annual updates of the Index, even when not all input data have been updated, provide valuable information to scientists, policy makers, and resource managers because patterns and trends can emerge from the data that have been updated. Changes of even a few points indicate potential successes (when scores increase) that merit recognition, or concerns (when scores decrease) that may require mitigative action, with changes of more than 10–20 points representing large shifts that deserve greater attention. Goal scores showed remarkably little covariance across regions, indicating low redundancy in the Index, such that each goal delivers information about a different facet of ocean health. Together these scores provide a snapshot of global ocean health and suggest where countries have made progress and where a need for further improvement exists.