- As a consequence of increasing threats to the marine ecosystems, new decision support tools are necessary to support the implementation of the Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) to management in order to ensure their sustainable exploitation whilst ensuring their preservation.
- To operationalize Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA) to management and translate scientific knowledge into decision tools, an innovative Adaptive Marine Policy Toolbox has been created. It provides policymakers with necessary framework and resources to develop adaptive policies according to the EBA.
- The Adaptive Marine Policy Toolbox provides a one-stop single location to access all the guidelines and resources necessary to design and implement adaptive marine policies according to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive.
- The toolbox presents a high transferability to additional regulations calling for the Ecosystem-Based Approach to management such as the Ecosystem Approach of the Mediterranean Action Plan and the Black Sea´s Strategic Action Plan.
- The Resources existing within the toolbox are presented in a user-friendly format. The presence of assessments and models capable to cope with uncertain conditions allows for high flexibility and adaptation in management strategies when future conditions change.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Coastal zones are under severe pressure from anthropogenic activities, as well as on-going climate change with associated sea level rise and increased storminess. These challenges call for integrated and forward looking solutions. The concept on Integrated Coastal Zone Management, as defined during the last twenty years, provides the overall policy frames, but tools to support the planning and management efforts are almost lacking. Furthermore, the forward-looking dimension to embrace the effects of climate change is nearly absent in most implementations. The BLAST project, financed by the European Union Regional Fund through the INTERREG IV North Sea Region Programme, aimed at developing a web-based decision support system to assist Integrated Coastal Zone Management from a climate change perspective, and the current paper describes the methods used and the computing platform for implementing a decision support system. The software applied in developing the system is mainly Open Source components, thus, facilitating a more widespread use of the system.
Table of Contents
- Coastal zones: achieving sustainable management
- MSFD Implementation: strengths and barriers assessed across European marine regions
- Users value Marine Spatial Planning in pilot project
- Mutual trust between coastal stakeholders key to successful climate change adaptation
- The Irish marine environment: high public awareness, but low trust in management
- Temporary coastal residents are less aware of anti-littering programmes
- Marine Protected Areas: how to improve community support?
- Balanced Scorecard tool could support Integrated Coastal Zone Management
- Baltic nutrient abatement measures identified by hybrid ecological-economic model
- Sustainable coastal adaptation planning links ecosystem services with social needs
- New web-based tool supports Integrated Coastal Zone Management
- Coastal ecosystem services’ valuation by stakeholders improves planning decisions
Science for Environment Policy is a free news and information service published by the European Commission’s Directorate-General Environment, which provides the latest environmental policy-relevant research findings.
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Thematic Issues are special editions of the News Alert which focus on a key policy area.
Long-term changes in nutrient supply and primary production reportedly foreshadow substantial declines in global marine fishery production. These declines combined with current overfishing, habitat degradation, and pollution paint a grim picture for the future of marine fisheries and ecosystems. However, current models forecasting such declines do not account for the effects of ocean fronts as biogeochemical hotspots. Here we apply a fundamental technique from fluid dynamics to an ecosystem model to show how fronts increase total ecosystem biomass, explain fishery production, cause regime shifts, and contribute significantly to global biogeochemical budgets by channeling nutrients through alternate trophic pathways. We then illustrate how ocean fronts affect fishery abundance and yield, using long-term records of anchovy–sardine regimes and salmon abundances in the California Current. These results elucidate the fundamental importance of biophysical coupling as a driver of bottom–up vs. top–down regulation and high productivity in marine ecosystems.
The European Union and other states are moving towards Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management to balance food production and security with wider ecosystem concerns. Fishing is only one of several sectors operating within the ocean environment, competing for renewable and non-renewable resources that overlap in a limited space. Other sectors include marine mining, energy generation, recreation, transport and conservation. Trade-offs of these competing sectors are already part of the process but attempts to detail how the seas are being utilised have been primarily based on compilations of data on human activity at large spatial scales. Advances including satellite and shipping automatic tracking enable investigation of factors influencing fishers’ choice of fishing grounds at spatial scales relevant to decision-making, including the presence or avoidance of activities by other sectors. We analyse the determinants of English and Welsh scallop-dredging fleet behaviour, including competing sectors, operating in the eastern English Channel. Results indicate aggregate mining activity, maritime traffic, increased fishing costs, and the English inshore 6 and French 12 nautical mile limits negatively impact fishers’ likelihood of fishing in otherwise suitable areas. Past success, net-benefits and fishing within the 12 NM predispose fishers to use areas. Systematic conservation planning has yet to be widely applied in marine systems, and the dynamics of spatial overlap of fishing with other activities have not been studied at scales relevant to fisher decision-making. This study demonstrates fisher decision-making is indeed affected by the real-time presence of other sectors in an area, and therefore trade-offs which need to be accounted for in marine planning. As marine resource extraction demands intensify, governments will need to take a more proactive approach to resolving these trade-offs, and studies such as this will be required as the evidential foundation for future seascape planning.
With the passage of the Oceans Act (1996), the Government of Canada has committed to an integrated, ecosystem-based approach to oceans and coastal management. One important element of this approach is the identification of Ecologically and Biologically Significant Areas (EBSAs), which are areas of especially high ecological or biological significance where greater risk aversion is required in the management of activities. EBSAs are considered in a broad range of management processes, including the development of marine protected area networks. This report describes a refined set of EBSAs for the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia, which falls within the DFO Maritimes Region. It builds on past studies and outlines the ecological or biological rationale for how each area satisfies the DFO EBSA criteria. Two types of EBSAs are described, including: (i) broadly-distributed, single-feature EBSAs, which are discrete significant features or processes that occur throughout the Atlantic coast sub-region (e.g. Piping Plover critical habitat) and (ii) site-specific, multiple-feature EBSAs, which are areas identified for their unique combination of exceptional features. Thirty-eight site-specific, multiple-feature EBSAs are described.
The review and update included a comprehensive assessment of progress to date in meeting the requirements established by the Oceans Act and the initial Ocean Plan, as well as extensive public and expert participation efforts. Along with public hearings, six technical work groups made up of nearly 100 scientists and experts were convened to review scientific data and identify and characterize important trends in ocean resources and uses. Two public workshops were held to share information and solicit input on the findings and recommendations of the work groups. In addition, public meetings with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center were held on offshore wind and transmission, and workshops convened by the Coastal Erosion Commission in May and June 2014 served as forums for dialogue and feedback.
On September 24, 2014, a draft plan including the proposed updates was released, launching a 60-day public comment period. Five regional public hearings were held in Ipswich, Hyannis, New Bedford, Vineyard Haven and Boston to solicit feedback. More than 75 organizations and individuals provided written and oral comments on the draft plan. With consensus guidance from the Ocean Advisory Commission and Ocean Science Advisory Council, adjustments to the draft ocean plan were deliberated and made.
The 2015 ocean plan released today contains the following updates to the original plan:
- Science and Data - The new plan identifies trends in and new data for ocean habitats and ecosystem components, human uses, economics, cultural and archeological aspects and climate change, as well as a series of 11 science and data priorities for the next five years of ocean plan implementation.
- Offshore Wind Project Transmission - Preliminary transmission corridor routes for further investigation have been identified that address concerns raised by commercial fishing interests and local communities and support “smart” offshore wind development to streamline the process for the wind industry.
- Offshore Sand for Beach Nourishment - Many coastal communities are experiencing severe erosion, flooding and storm damage.
Beach nourishment and dune restoration can offer an important alternative for shoreline protection that works with the natural system. Recognizing this, the 2015 Ocean Plan advances initial planning for appropriate potential locations for offshore sand areas, taking into account important criteria including compatible sand resources, potential environmental impacts, interactions with existing water-dependent uses and consideration of other key factors. The 2015 Ocean Plan also calls for the formation of an Offshore Sand Task Force to provide further consultation and recommendations for the potential use of offshore sand for beach nourishment.
- Ocean Development Mitigation Fee - The plan includes a proposed fee structure and accompanying guidance for the determination of mitigation fees for ocean development projects required by the Oceans Act.
To determine fishermen’s perspectives on these changes, the Center for American Progress contracted with Edge Research to conduct a survey of New England commercial fishermen in summer 2014. Edge Research completed telephone surveys of nearly 600 permit holders in the northeast multispecies fishery—better known as the groundfishery because it targets bottom-dwelling fish such as cod, haddock, and flounders—as well as the lobster fisheries in Maine and Massachusetts. The results clearly show that although fishermen generally tend to be politically conservative, they believe climate forces such as ocean warming and acidification are not only happening but also rank among the gravest environmental threats to their employment and the future of their industry and their communities.
This report covers 21 coastal states of interest as identified by The Nature Conservancy: Alabama, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and Washington. The team did not review the policies of Alaska, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, and the Great Lakes states.
The management of the coastal environment is a complex issue, which needs for appropriate methodologies. Erosional processes and longshore currents present in the submerged beach represent a serious danger for both people and human infrastructures. A proper integration between traditional and innovative techniques can help in the characterization and management of the beach environment. Several different multispectral and hyperspectral techniques were used to retrieve information about the hydro and morphodynamic settings of the Pisa province coast (Tuscany, Italy). Results were validated using about 130 samples collected along the study area, between the mouths of the Serchio river and the Scolmatore canal. The composition of sand samples was evaluated by means of petrographic microscopy and grain size analyses. The same samples were analyzed using an Analytical Spectral Device (ASD) Fieldspec. The obtained sediment spectral library was used to evaluate the differences in mineralogical composition, which can be related to different source areas. Results coming from spectroscopy were compared to those obtained from the petrographic and grain size analysis. Furthermore a multispectral aerial image was used to evaluate sediment distribution along the submerged beach, to map the geomorphic features and to detect the presence of longshore and rip currents. This works suggests that optical remote sensing technique can be profitably used in order to reduce the need for expensive and time consuming conventional analysis.
The designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) may have intense social and economic effects on human communities. Driven by overarching global and European policies and national legislations, current systematic conservation planning in the UK and France requires an ecosystem approach that takes into account not only nature but also the human activities that take place in an area. Here, we identified a set of 64 socioeconomic variables potentially relevant for marine and coastal stakeholders in a European context and a comprehensive set of 20 marine and coastal stakeholder categories. Ninety national organisations in the UK and France belonging to those categories and potentially affected by/interested in the designation of multiple-use MPAs were identified and surveyed. Results show that environmental NGOs, research centres, local councils, managing agencies and statutory nature conservation bodies perceived that they are positively affected by these MPAs, whereas fishers’ organisations, shipping and aggregate industrial organisations and recreational organisations perceived to be chiefly negatively affected by MPAs. On average, the ecological effects of multiple-use MPAs are perceived as ‘largely positive’, though 30% of respondents did not perceive any positive ecological effects from these MPAs. The social, economic and cultural effects of such MPAs are perceived as ‘moderately positive’. Most respondents perceived broad range (>10 km) and permanent ecological, social, economic and cultural effects from multiple-use MPA designation suggesting high societal expectations towards these areas. However, only five variables were perceived to vary in intensity after the designation of multiple-use MPAs: ‘research’, ‘environmental performance by citizens, businesses and towns’, ‘number of green businesses’, ‘tourism’ and ‘economic activities’. The most important ‘social’ variables for stakeholder organisations referred to local populations’ engagement with the MPA, tourism and research. The most important ‘economic’ variables were linked to fishing, shipping and aquaculture activities. These variables highlight relevant topics to be considered in MPA planning, designation and management processes, especially in the UK and France. There were statistically significant differences in the ratings of socioeconomic variables between many organisations belonging to the same intuitive stakeholder categories, suggesting the importance of including as wide a range of stakeholder organisations as feasible in MPA socioeconomic-related processes. Our methods and findings can help to inform and streamline ongoing and future participatory MPA planning, management and monitoring processes in Europe and in other regions with similar socioeconomic characteristics.
Fishery management measures to reduce interactions between fisheries and endangered or threatened species have typically relied on static time-area closures. While these efforts have reduced interactions, they can be costly and inefficient for managing highly migratory species such as sea turtles. The NOAA TurtleWatch product was created in 2006 as a tool to reduce the rates of interactions of loggerhead sea turtles with shallow-set longline gear deployed by the Hawaii-based pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish. TurtleWatch provides information on loggerhead habitat and can be used by managers and industry to make dynamic management decisions to potentially reduce incidentally capturing turtles during fishing operations. TurtleWatch is expanded here to include information on endangered leatherback turtles to help reduce incidental capture rates in the central North Pacific. Fishery-dependent data were combined with fishing effort, bycatch and satellite tracking data of leatherbacks to characterize sea surface temperature (SST) relationships that identify habitat or interaction ‘hotspots’. Analysis of SST identified two zones, centered at 17.2° and 22.9°C, occupied by leatherbacks on fishing grounds of the Hawaii-based swordfish fishery. This new information was used to expand the TurtleWatch product to provide managers and industry near real-time habitat information for both loggerheads and leatherbacks. The updated TurtleWatch product provides a tool for dynamic management of the Hawaii-based shallow-set fishery to aid in the bycatch reduction of both species. Updating the management strategy to dynamically adapt to shifts in multi-species habitat use through time is a step towards an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management in pelagic ecosystems.
This study aims to evaluate the potential for impacts of ocean acidification on North Atlantic deep-sea ecosystems in response to IPCC AR5 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Deep-sea biota is likely highly vulnerable to changes in seawater chemistry and sensitive to moderate excursions in pH. Here we show, from seven fully coupled Earth system models, that for three out of four RCPs over 17% of the seafloor area below 500 m depth in the North Atlantic sector will experience pH reductions exceeding −0.2 units by 2100. Increased stratification in response to climate change partially alleviates the impact of ocean acidification on deep benthic environments. We report on major pH reductions over the deep North Atlantic seafloor (depth >500 m) and at important deep-sea features, such as seamounts and canyons. By 2100, and under the high CO2 scenario RCP8.5, pH reductions exceeding −0.2 (−0.3) units are projected in close to 23% (~15%) of North Atlantic deep-sea canyons and ~8% (3%) of seamounts – including seamounts proposed as sites of marine protected areas. The spatial pattern of impacts reflects the depth of the pH perturbation and does not scale linearly with atmospheric CO2 concentration. Impacts may cause negative changes of the same magnitude or exceeding the current target of 10% of preservation of marine biomes set by the convention on biological diversity, implying that ocean acidification may offset benefits from conservation/management strategies relying on the regulation of resource exploitation.
Short, 6-page leaflet summarizing the European Union's Maritime Spatial Planning directive.
It has long been recognised that there are strong interactions and feedbacks between climate, upper ocean biogeochemistry and marine food webs, and also that food web structure and phytoplankton community distribution are important determinants of variability in carbon production and export from the euphotic zone. Numerical models provide a vital tool to explore these interactions, given their capability to investigate multiple connected components of the system and the sensitivity to multiple drivers, including potential future conditions. A major driver for ecosystem model development is the demand for quantitative tools to support ecosystem-based management initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to review approaches to the modelling of marine ecosystems with a focus on the North Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent shelf seas, and to highlight the challenges they face and suggest ways forward. We consider the state of the art in simulating oceans and shelf sea physics, planktonic and higher trophic level ecosystems, and look towards building an integrative approach with these existing tools. We note how the different approaches have evolved historically and that many of the previous obstacles to harmonisation may no longer be present. We illustrate this with examples from the on-going and planned modelling effort in the Integrative Modelling Work Package of the EURO-BASIN programme.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are used to protect species, communities, and their associated habitats, among other goals. Measuring MPA efficacy can be challenging, however, particularly when considering responses at the community level. We gathered 36 abundance and 14 biomass data sets on fish assemblages and used meta-analysis to evaluate the ability of 22 distinct community diversity metrics to detect differences in community structure between MPAs and nearby control sites. We also considered the effects of 6 covariates—MPA size and age, MPA size and age interaction, latitude, total species richness, and level of protection—on each metric. Some common metrics, such as species richness and Shannon diversity, did not differ consistently between MPA and control sites, whereas other metrics, such as total abundance and biomass, were consistently different across studies. Metric responses derived from the biomass data sets were more consistent than those based on the abundance data sets, suggesting that community-level biomass differs more predictably than abundance between MPA and control sites. Covariate analyses indicated that level of protection, latitude, MPA size, and the interaction between MPA size and age affect metric performance. These results highlight a handful of metrics, several of which are little known, that could be used to meet the increasing demand for community-level indicators of MPA effectiveness.
We conducted a socioeconomic assessment of the commercial weathervane scallop (Patinopecten caurinus) fishery off Alaska. The research was structured within the framework of an SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, a strategy commonly used to analyze the internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, threats) components of an industry. Specifically, we focused on five categories: social, technological, economic, environmental, and regulatory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 participants who had detailed knowledge of the fishery, including industry members, fishery managers, biologists, and members of coastal communities who interact with the fishery. We addressed topics such as attitudes of the Alaskan public towards scallop dredging, impacts of the scallop industry on Alaskan coastal communities, market influences of U.S. east coast and imported scallops, changes in the management of the fishery, and a number of environmental considerations. Several unifying opinions emerged from this study, including a lack of awareness of the fishery in many Alaskan communities and fears about rising fuel costs and diminishing harvest levels. Whereas the data-poor status of the stock appears to be the fishery's biggest weakness, the greatest strengths come in the form of conservative management, industry self-regulation, and the small footprint of the fishery. Impending threats include stock decline, unknown long-term detrimental effects of dredging, and changes in the management and structure of the fishery with the sunset of the State of Alaska's limited entry permit program. Most participants consider the fishery to be managed sustainably, although lack of data on scallop recruitment and abundance is a large concern. This analysis provides relevant information to both fishery managers and scallop industry members to contribute to the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the scallop fishery.
We are at a key juncture in history where biodiversity loss is occurring daily and accelerating in the face of population growth, climate change, and rampant development. Simultaneously, we are just beginning to appreciate the wealth of human health benefits that stem from experiencing nature and biodiversity. Here we assessed the state of knowledge on relationships between human health and nature and biodiversity, and prepared a comprehensive listing of reported health effects. We found strong evidence linking biodiversity with production of ecosystem services and between nature exposure and human health, but many of these studies were limited in rigor and often only correlative. Much less information is available to link biodiversity and health. However, some robust studies indicate that exposure to microbial biodiversity can improve health, specifically in reducing certain allergic and respiratory diseases. Overall, much more research is needed on mechanisms of causation. Also needed are a re-envisioning of land-use planning that places human well-being at the center and a new coalition of ecologists, health and social scientists and planners to conduct research and develop policies that promote human interaction with nature and biodiversity. Improvements in these areas should enhance human health and ecosystem, community, as well as human resilience.
Common dolphins, Delphinus sp., are one of the marine mammal species tourism operations in New Zealand focus on. While effects of cetacean-watching activities have previously been examined in coastal regions in New Zealand, this study is the first to investigate effects of commercial tourism and recreational vessels on common dolphins in an open oceanic habitat. Observations from both an independent research vessel and aboard commercial tour vessels operating off the central and east coast Bay of Plenty, North Island, New Zealand were used to assess dolphin behaviour and record the level of compliance by permitted commercial tour operators and private recreational vessels with New Zealand regulations. Dolphin behaviour was assessed using two different approaches to Markov chain analysis in order to examine variation of responses of dolphins to vessels. Results showed that, regardless of the variance in Markov methods, dolphin foraging behaviour was significantly altered by boat interactions. Dolphins spent less time foraging during interactions and took significantly longer to return to foraging once disrupted by vessel presence. This research raises concerns about the potential disruption to feeding, a biologically critical behaviour. This may be particularly important in an open oceanic habitat, where prey resources are typically widely dispersed and unpredictable in abundance. Furthermore, because tourism in this region focuses on common dolphins transiting between adjacent coastal locations, the potential for cumulative effects could exacerbate the local effects demonstrated in this study. While the overall level of compliance by commercial operators was relatively high, non-compliance to the regulations was observed with time restriction, number or speed of vessels interacting with dolphins not being respected. Additionally, prohibited swimming with calves did occur. The effects shown in this study should be carefully considered within conservation management plans, in order to reduce the risk of detrimental effects on common dolphins within the region.
In this report, we synthesize the overarching principles and general guidelines that underpin the establishment of marine protected area (MPA) networks designed to meet ecological, governance, social and cultural objectives, based on the peer-reviewed literature. These guidelines are supported by scientific research, institutional experience and global case studies, and take a social-ecological systems approach to marine conservation. Our synthesis suggests the successful establishment and effective management of MPA networks depend on legitimate and effective governance arrangements that can accommodate ecological criteria while considering the perspectives and input of local resource users and stakeholders. Planners, managers and decision-makers can use the guidelines summarized in this report to support the process of MPA network design in their local contexts. We discuss how several of the design guidelines apply to the Pacific region of British Columbia (B.C.), Canada, given the federal and provincial governments have committed to establishing a bioregional network of MPAs.
Specifically, this report contains:
- Ecological principles and guidelines for MPA network design, with discussion and recommendations on how each of these principles could be applied in B.C.;
- Species-specific movement and larval duration estimates for a selection of marine species of ecological, economic, cultural and conservation importance in B.C., with recommendations on how this can inform guidelines on the size and spacing of MPA networks in B.C.;
- Overarching principles from global literature on good governance of MPAs and MPA networks;
- Design goals and strategies for achieving different social objectives in MPA and MPA network planning; and
- Opportunities and challenges for integrating local knowledge systems (focus on Traditional Ecological Knowledge) into marine planning and MPA design.
- An assessment of relevant B.C. policy documents using the ecological and good governance guideline frameworks.