Ecoregionalization of the ocean is a necessary step for spatial management of marine resources. Previous ecoregionalization efforts were based either on the distribution of species or on the distribution of physical and biogeochemical properties. These approaches ignore the dispersal of species by oceanic circulation that can connect regions and isolates others. This dispersal effect can be quantified through connectivity that is the probability, or time of transport between distinct regions. Here a new regionalization method based on a connectivity approach is described and applied to the Mediterranean Sea. This method is based on an ensemble of Lagrangian particle numerical simulations using ocean model outputs at 1/12° resolution. The domain is divided into square subregions of 50 km size. Then particle trajectories are used to quantify the oceanographic distance between each subregions, here defined as the mean connection time. Finally the oceanographic distance matrix is used as a basis for a hierarchical clustering. 22 regions are retained and discussed together with a quantification of the stability of boundaries between regions. Identified regions are generally consistent with the general circulation with boundaries located along current jets or surrounding gyres patterns. Regions are discussed in the light of existing ecoregionalizations and available knowledge on plankton distributions. This objective method complements static regionalization approaches based on the environmental niche concept and can be applied to any oceanic region at any scale.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Worldwide, fishery managers strive to maintain fish stocks at or above levels that produce maximum sustainable yields, and to rebuild overexploited stocks that can no longer support such yields. In the United States, rebuilding overexploited stocks is a contentious issue, where most stocks are mandated to rebuild in as short a time as possible, and in a time period not to exceed 10 years. Opponents of such mandates and related guidance argue that rebuilding requirements are arbitrary, and create discontinuities in the time and fishing effort allowed for stocks to rebuild due to differences in productivity. Proponents, however, highlight how these mandates and guidance were needed to curtail the continued overexploitation of these stocks by setting firm deadlines on rebuilding. Here we evaluate the statements made by opponents and proponents of the 10-year rebuilding mandate and related guidance to determine whether such points are technically accurate using a simple population dynamics model and a database of U.S. fish stocks to parameterize the model. We also offer solutions to many of the issues surrounding this mandate and its implementation by recommending some fishing mortality based frameworks, which meet the intent of the 10-year rebuilding requirement while also providing more flexibility.
Understanding the patterns of spatial and temporal distribution in threshold habitats of highly migratory and endangered species is important for understanding their habitat requirements and recovery trends. Herein, we present new data about the distribution of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in neritic waters off the northern coast of Peru: an area that constitutes a transitional path from cold, upwelling waters to warm equatorial waters where the breeding habitat is located. Data was collected during four consecutive austral winter/spring seasons from 2010 to 2013, using whale-watching boats as platforms for research. A total of 1048 whales distributed between 487 groups were sighted. The spatial distribution of humpbacks resembled the characteristic segregation of whale groups according to their size/age class and social context in breeding habitats; mother and calf pairs were present in very shallow waters close to the coast, while dyads, trios or more whales were widely distributed from shallow to moderate depths over the continental shelf break. Sea surface temperatures (range: 18.2–25.9°C) in coastal waters were slightly colder than those closer to the oceanic realm, likely due to the influence of cold upwelled waters from the Humboldt Current system. Our results provide new evidence of the southward extension of the breeding region of humpback whales in the Southeast Pacific. Integrating this information with the knowledge from the rest of the breeding region and foraging grounds would enhance our current understanding of population dynamics and recovery trends of this species.
Ecosystems in the tropical coastal zone exchange particulate organic matter (POM) with adjacent systems, but differences in this function among ecosystems remain poorly quantified. Seagrass beds are often a relatively small section of this coastal zone, but have a potentially much larger ecological influence than suggested by their surface area. Using stable isotopes as tracers of oceanic, terrestrial, mangrove and seagrass sources, we investigated the origin of particulate organic matter in nine mangrove bays around the island of Phuket (Thailand). We used a linear mixing model based on bulk organic carbon, total nitrogen and δ13C and δ15N and found that oceanic sources dominated suspended particulate organic matter samples along the mangrove-seagrass-ocean gradient. Sediment trap samples showed contributions from four sources oceanic, mangrove forest/terrestrial and seagrass beds where oceanic had the strongest contribution and seagrass beds the smallest. Based on ecosystem area, however, the contribution of suspended particulate organic matter derived from seagrass beds was disproportionally high, relative to the entire area occupied by mangrove forests, the catchment area (terrestrial) and seagrass beds. The contribution from mangrove forests was approximately equal to their surface area, whereas terrestrial contributions to suspended organic matter under contributed compared to their relative catchment area. Interestingly, mangrove forest contribution at 0 m on the transects showed a positive relationship with the exposed frontal width of the mangrove, indicating that mangrove forest exposure to hydrodynamic energy may be a controlling factor in mangrove outwelling. However we found no relationship between seagrass bed contribution and any physical factors, which we measured. Our results indicate that although seagrass beds occupy a relatively small area of the coastal zone, their role in the export of organic matter is disproportional and should be considered in coastal management especially with respect to their importance as a nutrient source for other ecosystems and organisms.
The coastal Runnelstone Reef, off southwest Cornwall (UK), is characterised by complex topography and strong tidal flows and is a known high-density site for harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena); a European protected species. Using a multidisciplinary dataset including: porpoise sightings from a multi-year land-based survey, Acoustic Doppler Current Profiling (ADCP), vertical profiling of water properties and high-resolution bathymetry; we investigate how interactions between tidal flow and topography drive the fine-scale porpoise spatio-temporal distribution at the site. Porpoise sightings were distributed non-uniformly within the survey area with highest sighting density recorded in areas with steep slopes and moderate depths. Greater numbers of sightings were recorded during strong westward (ebbing) tidal flows compared to strong eastward (flooding) flows and slack water periods. ADCP and Conductivity Temperature Depth (CTD) data identified fine-scale hydrodynamic features, associated with cross-reef tidal flows in the sections of the survey area with the highest recorded densities of porpoises. We observed layered, vertically sheared flows that were susceptible to the generation of turbulence by shear instability. Additionally, the intense, oscillatory near surface currents led to hydraulically controlled flow that transitioned from subcritical to supercritical conditions; indicating that highly turbulent and energetic hydraulic jumps were generated along the eastern and western slopes of the reef. The depression and release of isopycnals in the lee of the reef during cross-reef flows revealed that the flow released lee waves during upslope currents at specific phases of the tidal cycle when the highest sighting rates were recorded. The results of this unique, fine-scale field study provide new insights into specific hydrodynamic features, produced through tidal forcing, that may be important for creating predictable foraging opportunities for porpoises at a local scale. Information on the functional mechanisms linking porpoise distribution to static and dynamic physical habitat variables is extremely valuable to the monitoring and management of the species within the context of European conservation policies and marine renewable energy infrastructure development.
- Most of the people working in the field of marine protection share a common goal: that decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public should see marine protection as a priority and dedicate a portion of their attention and resources to it, making decisions and taking actions that reflect the value of marine protection to ecological and human well-being.
- If this goal is to be achieved, the field of marine protection needs to embrace the field of communication in a more concerted manner.
- This paper outlines some of the latest trends, principles and issues relevant to communication in marine protection and illustrates these with a range of examples. Some of the key themes emerging from this review are discussed.
- A number of strategies for strengthening the role of communications are discussed, including means for those involved in marine protection communications to connect with each other, increased testing and sharing of examples, the use of grounded theory methods to continuously define lessons and principles, and ways to increase coordination between marine protection organizations.
- It is the intention that this paper will mark the beginning of a stronger cross-disciplinary field of study, and that such a field will in turn advance marine protection locally and globally.
- Readers can contribute to this goal and emerging field by connecting with each other around strategies, ideas and examples.
- Long-term and well-managed marine protected areas (MPAs) can, under the right circumstances, contribute to biodiversity conservation and fisheries management, thus contributing to food security and sustainable livelihoods.
- This article emphasizes (1) the potential utility of MPAs as a fisheries management tool, (2) the costs and benefits of MPAs for fishing communities, and (3) the foundations of good governance and management processes for creating effective MPAs with a dual fisheries and conservation mandate.
- This article highlights case studies from numerous regions of the world that demonstrate practical and often successful solutions in bridging the divide between MPA management and fisheries sustainability, with a focus on small-scale coastal fisheries in order to emphasize lessons learned.
- To be an effective fisheries management tool, MPAs should be embedded in broader fisheries management and conservation plans. MPAs are unlikely to generate benefits if implemented in isolation. The spatial and temporal distribution of benefits and costs needs to be taken into account since proximal fishery-dependent communities may experience higher fishing costs over the short and long-term while the fisheries benefits from MPAs may only accrue over the long-term.
- Key lessons for effectively bridging the divide between biodiversity conservation and fisheries sustainability goals in the context of MPAs include: creating spaces and processes for engagement, incorporating fisheries in MPA design and MPAs into fisheries management, engaging fishers in management, recognizing rights and tenure, coordinating between agencies and clarifying roles, combining no-take-areas with other fisheries management actions, addressing the balance of costs and benefits to fishers, making a long-term commitment, creating a collaborative network of stakeholders, taking multiple pressures into account, managing adaptively, recognizing and addressing trade-offs, and matching good governance with effective management and enforcement.
Effective marine conservation requires protection and management of functional seascapes, but seascape-level conservation is challenging because it needs to capture complex physical and ecological features that characterize dynamic populations and their habitats. And since populations are spatially and temporally bounded by combinations of natural heterogeneities in the marine environment (environmental boundaries) and associated species' responses (population boundaries), marine protection mechanisms need to take such boundaries into account in a spatially and temporally explicit framework. Therefore, improved understanding of these population and environmental boundaries and the processes driving them over multiple scales is essential for developing effective marine spatial planning (MSP). This kind of comprehensive approach for MSP is especially relevant in the face of global climate change, as conservation targets will shift in space, and phenological relationships will be confounded, thereby diminishing the significance of the original conservation strategies.
The need to adapt to climate change is now widely recognised as evidence of its impacts on social and natural systems grows and greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated. Yet efforts to adapt to climate change, as reported in the literature over the last decade and in selected case studies, have not led to substantial rates of implementation of adaptation actions despite substantial investments in adaptation science. Moreover, implemented actions have been mostly incremental and focused on proximate causes; there are far fewer reports of more systemic or transformative actions. We found that the nature and effectiveness of responses was strongly influenced by framing. Recent decision-oriented approaches that aim to overcome this situation are framed within a “pathways” metaphor to emphasise the need for robust decision making within adaptive processes in the face of uncertainty and inter-temporal complexity. However, to date, such “adaptation pathways” approaches have mostly focused on contexts with clearly identified decision-makers and unambiguous goals; as a result, they generally assume prevailing governance regimes are conducive for adaptation and hence constrain responses to proximate causes of vulnerability. In this paper, we explore a broader conceptualisation of “adaptation pathways” that draws on ‘pathways thinking’ in the sustainable development domain to consider the implications of path dependency, interactions between adaptation plans, vested interests and global change, and situations where values, interests, or institutions constrain societal responses to change. This re-conceptualisation of adaptation pathways aims to inform decision makers about integrating incremental actions on proximate causes with the transformative aspects of societal change. Case studies illustrate what this might entail. The paper ends with a call for further exploration of theory, methods and procedures to operationalise this broader conceptualisation of adaptation.
Protecting and promoting recovery of species at risk of extinction is a critical component of biodiversity conservation. In Canada, the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) determines whether species are at risk of extinction or extirpation, and has conducted these assessments since 1977. We examined trends in COSEWIC assessments to identify whether at-risk species that have been assessed more than once tended to improve, remain constant, or deteriorate in status, as a way of assessing the effectiveness of biodiversity conservation in Canada. Of 369 species that met our criteria for examination, 115 deteriorated, 202 remained unchanged, and 52 improved in status. Only 20 species (5.4%) improved to the point where they were ‘not at risk’, and five of those were due to increased sampling efforts rather than an increase in population size. Species outcomes were also dependent on the severity of their initial assessment; for example, 47% of species that were initially listed as special concern deteriorated between assessments. After receiving an at-risk assessment by COSEWIC, a species is considered for listing under the federal Species at Risk Act (SARA), which is the primary national tool that mandates protection for at-risk species. We examined whether SARA-listing was associated with improved COSEWIC assessment outcomes relative to unlisted species. Of 305 species that had multiple assessments and were SARA-listed, 221 were listed at a level that required identification and protection of critical habitat; however, critical habitat was fully identified for only 56 of these species. We suggest that the Canadian government should formally identify and protect critical habitat, as is required by existing legislation. In addition, our finding that at-risk species in Canada rarely recover leads us to recommend that every effort be made to actively prevent species from becoming at-risk in the first place.
Marine Conservation Institute created SeaStates G20 2014 using MPAtlas.org, an interactive resource to learn more about marine protected areas around the world that includes specifics about their protection status, general history, human-use information and contact details. Previous to SeaStates G20 2014, Marine Conservation Institute published SeaStates US 2013, the first ever quantitative, scientifically rigorous national ranking of US states’ protection of their ocean waters. SeaStates US 2014 expanded the analysis to waters of the broader US exclusive economic zone and found that most states and territories are failing to safeguard US marine life, seafood and coasts.
Assessing the positive and negative social impacts of protected areas is no easy task, but it can be done with relatively simple, low cost methodologies. Designed for this purpose, the Social Assessment of Protected Areas (SAPA) methodology can be applied to any protected area (PA), regardless of its management category and governance type, and to related conservation and development activities that are designed to support PA conservation. At the heart of the SAPA methodology is a multi-stakeholder process that enhances accuracy and credibility, and ensures that the assessment addresses the information needs not only of PA managers, but also of other key actors in government, civil society and the private sector. This working paper describes both the development of the SAPA methodology (work in progress), and some preliminary results that illustrate the type of information generated and the strengths and weaknesses of the methodology.
Capacity development is the process of developing the capacities of individuals and institutions and shaping the joint learning processes, such that they are enabled to achieve sustainable results within their own system of reference. Capacity development facilitates change among people, in three dimensions: knowledge, skills and values/attitudes. As conservation of coastal and marine biodiversity along with managing marine protected areas is extremely challenging, the need for a combination of traditional and innovative capacity development measures is essentially required to deliver the knowledge products. This call for greater exchange of experiences and expertise among the training institutions within the environment sector and also with the other key sectors such as fi sheries and media. There are, however, not enough platforms to facilitate such an exchange among the training institutions and also to share information on training courses to the potential trainees.
Facilitating capacity development of individuals and institutions relevant to coastal and marine biodiversity conservation in India, through networking, trainings, and other measures and instruments, is one of the objectives of the ‘Conservation and Sustainable Management of Existing and Potential Coastal and Marine Protected Areas’ (CMPA) project under the Indo-German Biodiversity Programme. This project is being supported by the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB), Government of Germany, and implemented by GIZ India, in partnership with the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India.
To develop this Compendium, the CMPA project has partnered with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), having a mandate to train Indian Forest Service officers, State Forest Service officers, as well as, other key stakeholders such as the Coast Guards and Customs etc.
This Compendium is intended to bring together, on one platform, the information on expertise and experience available at the training organisations based in different parts of India, on the theme of coastal and marine biodiversity. We congratulate the editors of this Compendium and all those institutions who have contributed to the development of this Compendium, and look forward to its effective use as a tool for networking among the training organisations.
The spatial coverage of marine and coastal protected areas worldwide has shown a rapid increase in recent years. Over 32% of the world’s coral reefs and over 36% of the world’s mangrove forests now fall within protected areas. However, simple measures of extent are insufficient for assessing progress toward achieving global targets. Notably, the CBD Aichi Target 11 calls for ‘at least 17 per cent of terrestrial and inland water areas, and 10 per cent of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services’ to be protected. There is, therefore, an urgent need to assess how well protected areas cover these areas of importance for ecosystem services.
The Protected Planet Report 2014 follows the recommendation of the Protected Planet Report 2012 to provide a more complete overview of each of these elements of Aichi Biodiversity Target 11. Chapters summarise current knowledge and progress towards achieving each element of the target, and provide further guidance for implementation, based on data from the World Database on Protected Areas (WDPA), a review of published literature, and expert review.
Stochastic variability of biological processes and uncertainty of stock properties compel fisheries managers to look for tools to improve control over the stock. Inspired by animals exploiting hidden prey, we have taken a biomimetic approach combining catch and effort in a concept of Bayesian regulation (BR). The BR provides a real-time Bayesian stock estimate, and can operate without separate stock assessment. We compared the performance of BR with catch-only regulation (CR), alternatively operating with N-target (the stock size giving maximum sustainable yield, MSY) and F-target (the fishing mortality giving MSY) on a stock model of Baltic Sea herring. N-targeted BR gave 3% higher yields than F-targeted BR and CR, and 7% higher yields than N-targeted CR. The BRs reduced coefficient of variance (CV) in fishing mortality compared to CR by 99.6% (from 25.2 to 0.1) when operated with F-target, and by about 80% (from 158.4 to 68.4/70.1 depending on how the prior is set) in stock size when operated with N-target. Even though F-targeted fishery reduced CV in pre-harvest stock size by 19–22%, it increased the dominant period length of population fluctuations from 20 to 60–80 years. In contrast, N-targeted BR made the periodic variation more similar to white noise. We discuss the conditions when BRs can be suitable tools to achieve sustainable yields while minimizing undesirable fluctuations in stock size or fishing effort.
The Barents Sea system is often depicted as a simple food web in terms of number of dominant feeding links. The most conspicuous feeding link is between the Northeast Arctic cod Gadus morhua, the world's largest cod stock which is presently at a historical high level, and capelin Mallotus villosus. The system also holds diverse seabird and marine mammal communities. Previous diet studies may suggest that these top predators (cod, bird and sea mammals) compete for food particularly with respect to pelagic fish such as capelin and juvenile herring (Clupea harengus), and krill. In this paper we explored the diet of some Barents Sea top predators (cod, Black-legged kittiwake Rissa tridactyla, Common guillemot Uria aalge, and Minke whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata). We developed a GAM modelling approach to analyse the temporal variation diet composition within and between predators, to explore intra- and inter-specific interactions. The GAM models demonstrated that the seabird diet is temperature dependent while the diet of Minke whale and cod is prey dependent; Minke whale and cod diets depend on the abundance of herring and capelin, respectively. There was significant diet overlap between cod and Minke whale, and between kittiwake and guillemot. In general, the diet overlap between predators increased with changes in herring and krill abundances. The diet overlap models developed in this study may help to identify inter-specific interactions and their dynamics that potentially affect the stocks targeted by fisheries.
Recently, attempts to improve decision making in species management have focussed on uncertainties associated with modelling temporal fluctuations in populations. Reducing model uncertainty is challenging; while larger samples improve estimation of species trajectories and reduce statistical errors, they typically amplify variability in observed trajectories. In particular, traditional modelling approaches aimed at estimating population trajectories usually do not account well for nonlinearities and uncertainties associated with multi-scale observations characteristic of large spatio-temporal surveys. We present a Bayesian semi-parametric hierarchical model for simultaneously quantifying uncertainties associated with model structure and parameters, and scale-specific variability over time. We estimate uncertainty across a four-tiered spatial hierarchy of coral cover from the Great Barrier Reef. Coral variability is well described; however, our results show that, in the absence of additional model specifications, conclusions regarding coral trajectories become highly uncertain when considering multiple reefs, suggesting that management should focus more at the scale of individual reefs. The approach presented facilitates the description and estimation of population trajectories and associated uncertainties when variability cannot be attributed to specific causes and origins. We argue that our model can unlock value contained in large-scale datasets, provide guidance for understanding sources of uncertainty, and support better informed decision making.
Outbreaks of coral diseases are one of the greatest threats to reef corals in the Caribbean, yet the mechanisms that lead to coral diseases are still largely unknown. Here we examined the spatial-temporal dynamics of white-pox disease on Acropora palmata coral colonies of known genotypes. We took a Bayesian approach, using Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation algorithms, to examine which covariates influenced the presence of white-pox disease over seven years. We showed that colony size, genetic susceptibility of the coral host, and high-water temperatures were the primary tested variables that were positively associated with the presence of white-pox disease on A. palmata colonies. Our study also showed that neither distance from previously diseased individuals, nor colony location, influenced the dynamics of white-pox disease. These results suggest that white-pox disease was most likely a consequence of anomalously high water temperatures that selectively compromised the oldest colonies and the most susceptible coral genotypes.
With globalization, agriculture and aquaculture activities are increasingly affected by diseases that are spread through movement of crops and stock. Such movements are also associated with the introduction of non-native species via hitchhiking individual organisms. The oyster industry, one of the most important forms of marine aquaculture, embodies these issues. In Europe disease outbreaks affecting cultivated populations of the naturalized oyster Crassostrea gigas caused a major disruption of production in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Mitigation procedures involved massive imports of stock from the species’ native range in the northwestern Pacific from 1971 to 1977. We assessed the role stock imports played in the introduction of non-native marine species (including pathogens) from the northwestern Pacific to Europe through a methodological and critical appraisal of record data. The discovery rate of non-native species (a proxy for the introduction rate) from 1966 to 2012 suggests a continuous vector activity over the entire period. Disease outbreaks that have been affecting oyster production since 2008 may be a result of imports from the northwestern Pacific, and such imports are again being considered as an answer to the crisis. Although successful as a remedy in the short and medium terms, such translocations may bring new diseases that may trigger yet more imports (self-reinforcing or positive feedback loop) and lead to the introduction of more hitchhikers. Although there is a legal framework to prevent or reduce these introductions, existing procedures should be improved.