The Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)'s strategic plan advocates the use of environmental surrogates, such as ecosystems, as a basis for planning where new protected areas should be placed. However, the efficiency and effectiveness of this ecosystem-based planning approach to adequately capture threatened species in protected area networks is unknown. We tested the application of this approach in Australia according to the nation's CBD-inspired goals for expansion of the national protected area system. We set targets for ecosystems (10% of the extent of each ecosystem) and threatened species (variable extents based on persistence requirements for each species) and then measured the total land area required and opportunity cost of meeting those targets independently, sequentially and simultaneously. We discover that an ecosystem-based approach will not ensure the adequate representation of threatened species in protected areas. Planning simultaneously for species and ecosystem targets delivered the most efficient outcomes for both sets of targets, while planning first for ecosystems and then filling the gaps to meet species targets was the most inefficient conservation strategy. Our analysis highlights the pitfalls of pursuing goals for species and ecosystems non-cooperatively and has significant implications for nations aiming to meet their CBD mandated protected area obligations.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
There is substantial evidence that natural infrastructure (i.e., healthy ecosystems) and combinations of natural and built infrastructure (“hybrid” approaches) enhance coastal resilience by providing important storm and coastal flooding protection, while also providing other benefits. There is growing interest in the U.S., as well as around the world, to use natural infrastructure to help coastal communities become more resilient to extreme events and reduce the risk of coastal flooding. Here we highlight strengths and weaknesses of the coastal protection benefits provided by built infrastructure, natural ecosystems, and the innovative opportunities to combine the two into hybrid approaches for coastal protection. We also examine some case studies where hybrid approaches are being implemented to improve coastal resilience as well as some of the policy challenges that can make implementation of these approaches more difficult. The case studies we examine are largely in the U.S. but also include a couple of international examples as well. Based on this analysis, we conclude that coastal communities and other decision makers need better information in order to incorporate ecosystem protection and restoration into coastal resilience planning efforts. As additional projects are developed, it is important to capitalize on every opportunity to learn more about the cost of natural and hybrid infrastructure projects, the value of the storm and erosion protection benefits provided, and the full suite of co-benefits provided by healthy coastal ecosystems. We highlight top priorities for research, investment in, and application of natural and hybrid approaches. These data are critical to facilitate adoption of these approaches in planning and decision-making at all levels to enhance the resilience of our coasts.
Environmental governance is more effective when the scales of ecological processes are well matched with the human institutions charged with managing human–environment interactions. The social-ecological systems (SESs) framework provides guidance on how to assess the social and ecological dimensions that contribute to sustainable resource use and management, but rarely if ever has been operationalized for multiple localities in a spatially explicit, quantitative manner. Here, we use the case of small-scale fisheries in Baja California Sur, Mexico, to identify distinct SES regions and test key aspects of coupled SESs theory. Regions that exhibit greater potential for social-ecological sustainability in one dimension do not necessarily exhibit it in others, highlighting the importance of integrative, coupled system analyses when implementing spatial planning and other ecosystem-based strategies.
This paper presents the complete Coastal Hazard Wheel (CHW) system, developed for multi-hazard-assessment and multi-hazard-management of coastal areas worldwide under a changing climate. The system is designed as a low-tech tool that can be used in areas with limited data availability and institutional capacity and is therefore especially suited for applications in developing countries. The CHW constitutes a key for determining the characteristics of a particular coastline, its hazard profile and possible management options, and the system can be used for local, regional and national hazard screening and management. The system is developed to assess the main coastal hazards in a single process and covers the hazards of ecosystem disruption, gradual inundation, salt water intrusion, erosion and flooding. The system was initially presented in 2012 and based on a range of test-applications and feedback from coastal experts, the system has been further refined and developed into a complete hazard management tool. This paper therefore covers the coastal classification system used by the CHW, a standardized assessment procedure for implementation of multi-hazard-assessments, technical guidance on hazard management options and project cost examples. The paper thereby aims at providing an introduction to the use of the CHW system for assessing and managing coastal hazards.
CHANGING OCEANS, HUMAN ACTIVITIES AT RISK
Between 1971 and 2010, the oceans have absorbed approximately 93% of the excess heat caused by global warming, leading to several major changes such as the increase in stratification, limitation in the circulation of nutrients from deep waters to the surface, and sea level rise. In addition, the oceans absorbed 26% of anthropogenic CO2 emitted since the start of the Industrial Revolution, which resulted in ocean acidification. Together, these processes strongly affect marine and coastal species’ geographic distribution, abundance, migration patterns and phenology. As a consequence of these complex environmental changes, marine and coastal human sectors (i.e., fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism and health) are in turn at risk. This report provides an updated synthesis of what the science tells us about such a risk, based upon IPCC AR5 (2013- 2014) and published scientific articles and grey literature that have been published between July 2013 and April 2015.
POTENTIAL CASCADING IMPACTS ON COASTAL SOCIETIES
Although uncertainty remains strong, there is growing scientific evidence that ocean warming and acidification will affect key resources for societies through ecosystems services. For example, while AR5 indicated that coral reefs had little scope for adaptation, recent research has suggested that there may be some capacity for some coral species to recover from climatic hocks and bleaching events, and to acquire heat resistance through acclimatization. This will have huge implications on many coastal economies in the developing and developed countries. More generally, key sectors will be affected. For example, while the fish catch potential is expected to decrease at the global scale, it will show diversified trends at the regional scale as fish stocks have started shifting in latitudes or by depth. This will impact regional to local fisheries systems. Also, climate and acidification-related impacts to existing aquaculture are expected to be generally negative, with impacts varying by location, species, and aquaculture method. Such foresights however do not consider the potential for adaptation, which aims precisely to limit the impacts of changes in environmental conditions.
GREENHOUSE GASES: THE EFFECTS ON CHEMICAL AND PHYSICAL PROCESSES OF THE OCEANS
The oceans have absorbed approximately 93% of the excess heat caused by global warming. Warming increases stratification, limiting the circulation of nutrients from deep waters to the surface. There is evidence that enhanced stratification and increasing temperature are causing a decline in dissolved oxygen concentration and expanding existing oxygen minimum zones (OMZs). Approximately 26% of anthropogenic CO2 is absorbed by the oceans, resulting in a reduction in pH and carbonate ion concentration, termed ocean acidification. Anthropogenic CO2 has caused global ocean pH to decrease by 0.1 units since the start of the Industrial Revolution.
CHANGING OCEANS: THE EFFECTS ON BIOLOGICAL PROCESSES
The ocean ecosystems are responding to the changing environment, but at different rates and magnitudes and with interspecific and geographic variation in responses. Warming causes shifts in species’ geographic distribution, abundance, migration patterns and phenology. Organisms that produce shells and skeletons from calcium carbonate are at most risk from ocean acidification as it lowers the saturation state of the mineral, favouring a dissolution reaction. To date, there are few observations of ocean acidification effects in natural communities; however, experimental evidence suggests that the risk to ecosystems will increase over the coming decades. Decreasing dissolved oxygen concentrations and expanding OMZs will favour anaerobic metabolisers such as bacteria and small microbes whilst reducing habitat for larger, oxygen dependant organisms.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR OCEAN ECOSYSTEMS?
The interaction of multiple drivers can amplify or alleviate each other’s effects. It is likely that marine organisms will experience a combination of warming, acidification and declining oxygen concentrations as well as regionally specific local stressors. This makes it difficult to predict the responses of individual species to multiple drivers, and species interactions make ecosystem- based projections challenging. Using the available evidence, projections have been constructed of the potential impacts on ocean ecosystems by 2100, under two the Representative Concentration Pathways RCP4.5 and 8.5.
Marine benthic communities face multiple anthropogenic pressures that compromise the future of some of the most biodiverse and functionally important ecosystems in the world. Yet one of the pressures these ecosystems face, night-time lighting, remains unstudied. Light is an important cue in guiding the settlement of invertebrate larvae, and altering natural regimes of nocturnal illumination could modify patterns of recruitment among sessile epifauna. We present the first evidence of night-time lighting changing the composition of temperate epifaunal marine invertebrate communities. Illuminating settlement surfaces with white light-emitting diode lighting at night, to levels experienced by these communities locally, both inhibited and encouraged the colonization of 39% of the taxa analysed, including three sessile and two mobile species. Our results indicate that ecological light pollution from coastal development, shipping and offshore infrastructure could be changing the composition of marine epifaunal communities.
Diana (2009) states that “Boyd and Clay (1998) estimate that shrimp farming is responsible for less than 10% of the global loss of mangroves because the total area of shrimp ponds globally is small” (p. 33). In addition to Diana (2009), Tidwell and Allan (2001), Boyd and McNevin (2015), and others cited the 10 percent figure. This figure is commonly cited in the current debate about aquaculture.
The 10 percent figure was originally published in Scientific American, which is not a peer-reviewed publication; the original article gives no further information on the source of the information and does not provide the methodology. It is a misunderstood estimate that has propagated not only through the mangrove literature but also into the wider environmental community.
Consumer-mediated indirect effects at the community level are difficult to demonstrate empirically. Here, we show an explicit indirect effect of overfishing on competition between sponges and reef-building corals from surveys of 69 sites across the Caribbean. Leveraging the large-scale, long-term removal of sponge predators, we selected overfished sites where intensive methods, primarily fish-trapping, have been employed for decades or more, and compared them to sites in remote or marine protected areas (MPAs) with variable levels of enforcement. Sponge-eating fishes (angelfishes and parrotfishes) were counted at each site, and the benthos surveyed, with coral colonies scored for interaction with sponges. Overfished sites had >3 fold more overgrowth of corals by sponges, and mean coral contact with sponges was 25.6%, compared with 12.0% at less-fished sites. Greater contact with corals by sponges at overfished sites was mostly by sponge species palatable to sponge predators. Palatable species have faster rates of growth or reproduction than defended sponge species, which instead make metabolically expensive chemical defenses. These results validate the top-down conceptual model of sponge community ecology for Caribbean reefs, as well as provide an unambiguous justification for MPAs to protect threatened reef-building corals.
An unanticipated outcome of the benthic survey component of this study was that overfished sites had lower mean macroalgal cover (23.1% vs. 38.1% for less-fished sites), a result that is contrary to prevailing assumptions about seaweed control by herbivorous fishes. Because we did not quantify herbivores for this study, we interpret this result with caution, but suggest that additional large-scale studies comparing intensively overfished and MPA sites are warranted to examine the relative impacts of herbivorous fishes and urchins on Caribbean reefs.
A new species of gall crab is described from the free-living stony coral Trachyphyllia geoffroyi. Specimens were collected during field work in Lembeh Strait (Indonesia) and off Kudat (Malaysian Borneo). This new species, here named Lithoscaptus semperi sp. n., is the ninth species assigned to the genus. It can be separated from its congeners by not having the internal orbital angle extending beyond the external orbital angle, and by the stout female P2 merus with prominent distomesial projection. In addition, the carapace surface appears smooth, despite having small tubercles on the anterior half, and is without noticeable spines, other than those on the frontal margin. The distinctive carapace pattern in life is a diagnostic character in male specimens.
This paper outlines the benefits of using the framework for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) for dealing with the inevitable yet unclear impacts of climate change and ocean acidification on coastal fisheries. With a focus on the Asia-Pacific region, it summarizes the projected biological and socio-economic effects of increased emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) for coastal fisheries and illustrates how all the important dimensions of climate change and ocean acidification can be integrated into the steps involved in the EAFM planning process. The activities required to harness the full potential of an EAFM as an adaptation to climate change and ocean acidification are also described, including: provision of the necessary expertise to inform all stakeholders about the risks to fish habitats, fish stocks and catches due to climate change; promotion of trans-disciplinary collaboration; facilitating the participation of all key stakeholders; monitoring the wider fisheries system for climate impacts; and enhancing resources and capacity to implement an EAFM. By channeling some of the resources available to the Asia-Pacific region to adapt to climate change into an EAFM, developing countries will not only build resilience to the ecological and fisheries effects of climate change, they will also help address the habitat degradation and overfishing presently reducing the productivity of coastal fisheries.
The International Maritime Organisation (IMO) require all marine vessels over 300 gross tonnage on an international voyage, all cargo vessels greater than 500 gt, and all passenger vessels irrespective of size to be fitted with an Automatic Identification System (AIS). AIS is a shipboard transponder which automatically transmits vessel information, through VHF, as a ship to ship or ship to shore signal. Transmitted data includes information on the vessel identity (mmsi number), position, speed, course, vessel type, dimensions, and other information as outlined by Ou and Zhu.
An increasing number of marine users have recognized the benefits of having an AIS system fitted aboard their vessels which has resulted in a large quantity of available vessel data ranging from large oil tankers to pleasure craft and sailing ships. The European Commission has additionally stated that all fishing vessels greater than 15 m in length must be equipped with an AIS system by 31st May 2014.
In July 2014, the European Parliament and the Council adopted Directive 2014/89/EU to create a common framework for maritime spatial planning in the European Union. In broad terms, the Directive places a legal requirement on Member States to develop and implement Maritime Spatial Plans (MSP) by 2021 at the latest. Ultimately, the Directive aims to establish ‘a framework for maritime spatial planning aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources.’1 Member States are required to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the Directive by 18 September 2016.
During 2011, massive quantities of pelagic sargassum occurred throughout the Caribbean, impacting aquatic resources, fisheries, shorelines, waterways, and tourism. A similar event occurred in 2014 and continues in 2015. This Fact Sheet seeks to share the state of knowledge about the sargassum influx and to promote the adoption of best management practices.
A workshop under the theme 'How can marine spatial planning lead to a thriving natural marine environment in Scotland?' was held on 12th February 2015, organised by Scottish Environment LINK’s Marine Taskforce1. The event was attended by approximately 60 participants representing a range of interests in marine and terrestrial planning, including local authorities, national Government, academic researchers, environmental law experts, non-Government organisations (environmental charities), and independent consultants. The workshop had the following objectives:
- To raise awareness of national and regional marine planning and their scope for marine ecosystem enhancement across a wider national forum
- To explore current understanding of the importance and relevance of marine planning
- To facilitate productive discussion on the challenges of marine planning still to be resolved and how to address them on a local, national and international scale
- To help inform the on-going agenda for marine planning in Scotland and the wider UK
This report summarises two presentations delivered by keynote speakers considered experts in the fields of marine planning and environmental law, and key points of discussion from the workshop session, which focused on 3 questions:
- What aspect of the planning system on land works well/best?
- Bearing in mind lessons from Q1, how can marine planning lead to a flourishing natural marine environment?
- What are the requirements to be able to deliver environmental enhancement through marine spatial planning?
This report also presents the results of a short questionnaire answered by participants designed to assess their perceptions of marine spatial planning.
The connectivity between reef areas in the East Continental Shelf (ECS) of Brazil was investigated with a hydrodynamic model (ROMS) and an Individual Based Model (IBM - Ichthyop), using groupers (genus Mycteroperca) as functional group. The hydrodynamic outputs from ROMS used as physical forcings by Ichthyop was compared with satellite data and showed good agreement. IBM experiments were realized releasing eggs from April to September along six years (2002 - 2007) in five groups of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) along the ECS. An intra-annual variability of recruitment and self-recruitment of grouper larvae was observed, as well as a negative correlation between these population parameters with total Kinetic Energy (KE) in the region. Higher KE is related to higher larval advection to offshore regions and a lower total recruitment and connectivity on coastal MPAs. Our results suggest a high and directional connectivity between MPAs, occurring from north to south with potential influence of Brazil Current which flows in this direction. Some MPAs act predominantly as “sink” areas, and others as “source” areas.
Biological invasions have the potential to cause extensive ecological and economic damage. Maritime trade facilitates biological invasions by transferring species in ballast water, and on ships' hulls. With volumes of maritime trade increasing globally, efforts to prevent these biological invasions are of significant importance. Both the International Maritime Organization and the Australian government have developed policy seeking to reduce the risk of these invasions. In this study, we constructed models for the transfer of ballast water into Australian waters, based on historic ballast survey data. We used these models to hindcast ballast water discharge over all vessels that arrived in Australian waters between 1999 and 2012. We used models for propagule survival to compare the risk of ballast-mediated propagule transport between ecoregions. We found that total annual ballast discharge volume into Australia more than doubled over the study period, with the vast majority of ballast water discharge and propagule pressure associated with bulk carrier traffic. As such, the ecoregions suffering the greatest risk are those associated with the export of mining commodities. As global marine trade continues to increase, effective monitoring and biosecurity policy will remain necessary to combat the risk of future marine invasion events.
The invasion of the northwestern Atlantic by the Indo-Pacific lionfish has developed extraordinarily fast, and is expected to cause one of the most negative ecological impacts among all marine invasions. In less than 30 years, lionfish have dramatically expanded their distribution range to an area encompassing the eastern coast of the USA, Bermuda, the entire Caribbean region and the Gulf of Mexico. The rapidity of the lionfish spread has raised concerns in other parts of the Atlantic that may be under the reach of the invasion. Despite the anticipation that lionfish would eventually extend their range throughout most of the eastern coast of South America, it had not been recorded in Brazil until now. Here we report the first lionfish appearance for the Brazilian coast and show that the individual collected by us is genetically linked to the invasive Caribbean population. Since small-range endemics are found in several locations in Brazil and are among the species that are most vulnerable to extinction, we recommend urgent control, management and education measures aimed at minimizing the effects of this impending invasion.
In the Nearshore Substrate Mapping Using Multi-Spectral Aerial Imagery project, researchers from Ocean Imaging created high-resolution maps for shallow subtidal and intertidal benthic habitats in the South Coast region.
The maps developed in this project depict features such as surfgrass meadows, kelp canopy, algal-covered rock and bare rock habitats. Researchers validated substrate classifications with field data provided by collaborating research teams and new sampling specifically for this project.
The primary goal of this project was to inform long-term MPA monitoring efforts by summarizing up-to- date information to illustrate historical trends, establish a MPA baseline, and assess initial changes since MPA implementation for the commercial passenger fishing vessel (CPFV) fleet in the South Coast region of California. To do so we utilized CPFV logbooks data from 2000 to 2012 obtained under a non- disclosure agreement with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife. This study is a part of the baseline marine protected area monitoring effort to characterize the ecological and socioeconomic conditions and changes within the South Coast Region since MPA implementation. As part of the baseline marine protected area monitoring effort, this report provides two sets of primary findings:
A baseline characterization of the spatial fishing patterns and economic status of commercial passenger fishing vessel fleet in the South Coast region; and
An assessment of historical economic trends and initial economic changes in the commercial passenger fishing vessel fleet following MPA implementation.