We fish too much, and by doing so, we threaten marine ecosystems and people’s livelihoods. But the curious thing is: we have known this for a long time. Nonetheless, we continue to overfish. How is that possible? Why can we not stop? This paper recounts our search for an answer. We start by giving an overview of how scientists explain overfishing, and suggest that the riddle of its obduracy has not been addressed systematically. We conceptualize overfishing as an unplanned and unintended outcome of a chain of interrelated social and ecological events. We then analyze the chain of events leading to overfishing for two typical cases – the groundfish fishery in the Gulf of Maine and the South African abalone (Haliotis midae, Haliotidae) fishery – and two atypical cases where overfishing has stopped or been substantially reduced – the Patagonian and Antarctic toothfish (Dissostichus eleginoides, Nototheniidae and Dissostichus mawsoni, Nototheniidae) fishery in the Southern Ocean, and the Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua, Gadidae) fishery in the Barents Sea. Studying and comparing these cases reveals no sufficient set of factors to explain the persistence of overfishing. Rather, distinct pathways emerge from a concatenation of proximate and remote factors, leading to and sustaining overfishing. Understanding these pathways and their mechanisms can assist in locating leverage points for intervention aimed to stop overfishing.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Assuming a broad set of fisheries management goals, this paper analyzes the implementation of a marine protected area (MPA) together with open access outside, applying a bioeconomic model that ensures unchanged growth post-MPA. Taking into account that conservation and restoration, food security, employment and social surplus are amongst the objectives that many managers include in fisheries management, it is found that this broader welfare economic approach to MPAs may well recommend them to a greater degree than espoused in the more common resource rent focused studies carried out to date. It is shown that for overfished stocks, an MPA may yield resource protection, maximize harvests and increase consumer and producer surplus, as well as give higher employment. This, however, is less apparent for moderately overfished as well as highly migratory stocks. Resource protection and enhancement implicitly improves ecosystem services.
The MedMPAnet Project collaborated recently with MedPAN network and ACCOBAMS permanent secretariat in the publication of a new technical tool designed for MPA managers and dealing with the best practices for protecting cetaceans in the ACCOBAMS area.
The cetacean manual for MPA managers, published in October 2013, provides a comprehensive overview of the main cetaceans species regularly present in the ACCOBAMS area and reviews the following subjects:
- The monitoring of cetaceans populations in MPAs,
- The existing data and networks for cetaceans,
- The administrative and scientific guidelines to deal with dead and live stranding,
- The sustainable whale watching and volunteering activities,
- other socio-economic aspects.
Shifting political alliances and new environmental challenges are prompting debate over processes of sub-regionalisation and whether the interplay between multiple scales of governance leads to positive synergistic outcomes or negative institutional disruption. Regional management of tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean is an example where a web of treaties, conventions and institutional frameworks underlie international cooperation. Through examining the interplay between the regional Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission and sub-regional Parties to the Nauru Agreement, this paper explores the extent to which the PNA and WCPFC interact in the management of regional tuna fisheries. The results demonstrate that for contested marine resources such as fisheries, international sub-regions can go beyond functional units to also present wider opportunities to shift power relations in favour of small island states. Additionally, the presence of sub-regional groups like the PNA has served to challenge the performance of the WCPFC, stimulating greater debate and progress within the regional body. The paper concludes that the combined work of the PNA and the WCPFC puts them ahead on many issues and may represent a testing ground for a functional multilateralism utilising both regional and sub-regional governance platforms for the management of shared resources.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) hold great promise as an effective conservation tool, but the potential negative socioeconomic impacts of MPAs remain poorly understood. Indeed, little work has been done to advance the frameworks and methods needed to assess, measure, and communicate the potential negative socioeconomic impact of MPAs and incorporate this information in MPA planning and management efforts. To address this gap, we test a vulnerability assessment termed the Livelihood Vulnerability Index (LVI) that is designed to measure the relative potential impact a proposed MPA network may have upon fisherman livelihoods. To test the LVI, specifically we ask, how does the vulnerability of fishermen to the impact of MPAs differ across place? We explore this question through two core areas of inquiry surrounding the study of vulnerability assessments: 1) Ranking and comparing vulnerability and 2) Explaining attributes of vulnerability. Through this study we demonstrate how the historical and current conditions fishermen experience in a given place shape vulnerability levels in various ways. Variability in the attributes of a particular place such as weather conditions, the size of fishing areas, availability of alternative fisheries, and changes in kelp cover contribute inherently as measures of vulnerability but they also shape fishermen perceptions of what are important measures of vulnerability. Secondly, counter to existing notions, the use of weights in vulnerability assessments may not significantly impact vulnerability scores and ranking. Together these findings emphasize the need to test vulnerability assessments against actual experienced impact or harm across geographies and groups of fishermen towards an informed refinement of vulnerability assessments. We emphasize that the particularities of place are critical to understand, to appropriately assess and thus to effectively mitigate vulnerability in order to promote the future well being of fisherman livelihoods.
Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan for Ireland (IMP) (2012) set out a 'roadmap' to secure the sustainable development of Ireland’s marine resources. This report is part of a suite of research and initiatives to implement Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth. The study reviewed all international, European and national law relevant for the development of a framework for marine spatial planning (MSP) for Irish waters. The development, implementation and practice of MSP for five key jurisdictions were also considered.
This report details the identification of a range of options for MSP for Ireland and the criteria for testing those options. It explains the process of refining and developing both the options and the criteria in conjunction with the Enablers Task Force (ETF) to form preliminary conclusions. The key provisions in the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 and the Marine (Scotland) Act 2010 were compared in order to assist with this process. A final recommendation of a framework for MSP has been identified by the research team, with a working title of the minimal parallel system.The forward planning system, however, more accurately describes it.
The forward planning system (minimal parallel system) proposes the introduction of a marine planning system through primary legislation, which would operate in parallel with the existing terrestrial system. While it would be separate from the land based planning system and policies,theMSPsystemwouldbecoordinatedwiththeterrestrialsystem,asrequired. There would be no change to the marine consenting regime, and initially it would have no role in conservationmanagement. Themainfocusofthelegislationwouldbethestatutory requirement for the preparation of a hierarchy of plans, with a statutory role for the plan in thedecisionmaking/licensingprocess. Themarinespatialplanningsystemwouldimmediately abut the terrestrial planning system at the high water mark and would extend to the limit of thecontinentalshelf. ThehierarchywouldconsistofamandatoryNationalMarineSpatial Strategy (NMSS) aligned to the National Spatial Strategy (NSS). There would be mandatory regional sea basin plans for areas of high pressure use and discretionary regional plans for otherareasandintegratedcoastalzonemanagement(ICZM)planswhererequired. An existing body/ government department or key sections of appropriate bodies/ departments, with the appropriate expertise would be responsible for the preparation of the plans, but could coordinate with regional or local authorities as appropriate, particularly for ICZM plans.
This report is supported by extensive Appendices which detail the research and aspects of the research process.
Making room for new marine uses and safeguarding more traditional uses, without degrading the marine environment, will require the adoption of new integrated management strategies. Current management frameworks do not facilitate the integrated management of all marine activities occurring in one area. To address this issue, the government developed Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth – An Integrated Marine Plan (IMP) for Ireland. Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth presents a ‘roadmap’ for adopting an integrated approach to marine governance and for achieving the Government’s ambitious targets for the maritime sector, including: exceeding €6.4 billion turnover annually by 2020, and doubling its contribution to GDP to 2.4% by 2030. As part of this roadmap, Harnessing Our Ocean Wealth endorses the development of an appropriate Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) Framework. One way to develop an MSP Framework is to learn from early adapters. Critical assessments of key elements of MSP as implemented in early initiatives can serve to inform the development of an appropriate framework.
The aim of this project is to contribute to the development of this framework by reporting on MSP best practice relevant to Ireland. Case study selection and evaluation criteria are outlined in the next section. This is followed by a presentation of case study findings. The final section of the report focuses on outlining how the lessons could be transferred to the Irish context.
We present a Geographic Information System (GIS) tool, SeaMaST (Seabird Mapping and Sensitivity Tool), to provide evidence on the use of sea areas by seabirds and inshore waterbirds in English territorial waters, mapping their relative sensitivity to offshore wind farms. SeaMaST is a freely available evidence source for use by all connected to the offshore wind industry and will assist statutory agencies in assessing potential risks to seabird populations from planned developments. Data were compiled from offshore boat and aerial observer surveys spanning the period 1979–2012. The data were analysed using distance analysis and Density Surface Modelling to produce predicted bird densities across a grid covering English territorial waters at a resolution of 3 km×3 km. Coefficients of Variation were estimated for each grid cell density, as an indication of confidence in predictions. Offshore wind farm sensitivity scores were compiled for seabird species using English territorial waters. The comparative risks to each species of collision with turbines and displacement from operational turbines were reviewed and scored separately, and the scores were multiplied by the bird density estimates to produce relative sensitivity maps. The sensitivity maps reflected well the amassed distributions of the most sensitive species. SeaMaST is an important new tool for assessing potential impacts on seabird populations from offshore development at a time when multiple large areas of development are proposed which overlap with many seabird species’ ranges. It will inform marine spatial planning as well as identifying priority areas of sea usage by marine birds. Example SeaMaST outputs are presented.
Due to population growth, rapid economic development and inadequate marine control, the use of ocean and coastal regions in Taiwan has become more frequent and intense in recent years. However, the lack of comprehensive marine and coastal planning in this island nation has led to many conflicts over space and resources and limited its ability to prepare for and respond to environmental hazards, thus threatening national security as well as the safety and property of its citizens. This study proposes a marine zoning scheme for southern Taiwan. The results show that many important habitats in the southern sea areas have not been properly protected due to the extremely small size of the marine protected area. Furthermore, the majority of the conflicts derive from the exclusive fishing right vs. other uses such as marine conservation. Therefore, it is crucial to establish the marine spatial planning (MSP) for the Southern Taiwan to deal with the conflicts of use seas and uncertainties associated with complex, heterogeneous, and dynamic marine system.
The Faroe Islands are currently struggling to find their feet in a new context of globalisation and changing international requirements on fishery management best practices, as exemplified by United Nations protocols and agreements. We introduce the Faroese fisheries effort management system for cod, haddock and saithe, which represents an innovative attempt to tackle the challenges of mixed fisheries by means of a combination of total allowable effort implemented through days-at-sea and extensive use of closed or limited access areas. Subsequently, we present and discuss controversies concerning the system’s ability (or lack thereof) to achieve a level of fishing effort that produces long-term sustainability. Over the years the system has proved able to evolve and overcome challenges, and the Faroe Islands are currently considering adding a proper fisheries management plan to the system to achieve fishing at maximum sustainable yield. However, finding support for this plan presents a challenge due particularly to an enduring gap between the perspectives of scientists and actors in the catching sector. Finally, we outline some actions that could be taken to reduce the gap and hence facilitate reform of the system: 1) integration of the consultative/advisory process; 2) obtaining tailor-made advice for the Faroese effort management system from the relevant scientific body; 3) establishment of a transparent mechanism for monitoring and regulating fishing effort; 4) clarifying the efficacy of the prevalent system of closed areas.
On June 9, 2014 the Committee of Fisheries (COFI) of FAO adopted the Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication (SSF-Guidelines). For millions of small-scale fisheries people around the world, this was no doubt a historic event and a potential turning point. The challenge now is to make sure that they will be implemented. As the SSF-Guidelines address issues that are politically contentious, there are reasons to expect that they will be met both with enthusiastic acclamation and criticism, as already happened in the negotiations of the text. This paper discusses the opportunities and obstacles for their implementation.
Fisheries often fall prey to overfishing and the exhaustion of stock. Fishing governance is an ongoing attempt to prevent such an outcome. Over time, fisheries regulation has generally moved from controls on inputs to controls on output, such as catch limits and Individual Transferable Quotas. Individual Transferable Quotas have reduced overcapitalization, and have in some cases allowed stocks to rebuild. However, because they enable market trading of catch shares which tends to concentrate fisheries in fewer hands.
This paper proposes applying a duty of stewardship to the existing fisheries governance structure. “Stewardship” is an obligation to be responsible for taking care of another person’s property. The concept of stewardship easily applies to fisheries, because fisheries are natural resources which belong to the public. Current regimes, such as Individual Transferable Quotas (“ITQs”) do not do enough to prevent the employment of destructive fishing practices and place the burden of natural resource management on the government. Assigning a duty of stewardship upon fishers, whether they own or lease an ITQ, would require fishers to be stewards of common resources and use responsible fishing practices.
Understanding ocean use patterns can improve decision-making and planning in the marine environment by contributing vital foundational information. Engaging communities that use the ocean to provide this important foundational information has the added value of linking people to the planning process and building confidence in the results. The participatory mapping method described throughout this guidebook offers a proven approach for practitioners who are looking to make more informed decisions for the marine environment and the communities that depend on healthy marine ecosystems.
In planning a PGIS process, remember that the guidelines set forth in this document are just suggestions and that each process needs to be flexible and molded to best meet local needs. Keep in mind that the power of the process comes through building relationships with the target use community and learning about the history of planning and the hot-button issues that affect the daily lives of workshop participants. Remember that collecting data is one thing, and connecting with people and earning their trust is something entirely different. To successfully capture the data, make time to listen to participants’ perspectives, frustrations, and concerns, and encourage dialogue about often tricky and sensitive topics. Be honest, genuine, and transparent when messaging about the project, and prepare staff members with skills to facilitate communication on often contentious topics and with challenging personalities.
Remember that the communities participating in the workshops will continue on after the project ends. Consider what you are contributing to these participants and how the process can best serve them into the future. Always deliver on what you promise your partners and participants, and deliver it when you promise it.
Lastly, it is important to remember that every place is unique. Lessons learned in one locale, while they can indeed inform the process in another, should be modified to address the unique characteristics of the target community.
For more information, please visit www.marinecadastre.gov/oceanuses.
The establishment of policies relevant to the oceanic area in Brazil aims to guide the rational planning of resources of marine space (Blue Amazon), ensuring the quality of coastal population life and the effective protection of ecosystems and resources within it. Therefore, it appears as a major factor in the formalization of coastal and marine policies and, especially, in the training of human resources to work in the area. The concern of political regulation of the Brazilian government with the use of marine resources and coastal areas emerged in the 1970s, parallel to the emergence of an environmental viewpoint in state planning held in the country. The Special Department of Environment of the Presidency was created in 1973, which was a significant milestone in its institutional history. A year later, the Inter-Ministerial Commission of Sea Resources was created, aimed at coordinating issues that would lead to a national policy for the coastal region of Brazil. However, only with the Constitution of the Federative Republic of Brazil ratified in 1988, and with the ratification of the country to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in 1994, did the legal issues related to marine environment areas take form and effect.
The marine Natura 2000 network provides Member States with a legislative tool to protect our marine biodiversity, however many countries have been extremely slow at designating protected areas for seabirds, especially at sea. The lack of progress in completing the network means that seabirds are not being properly safeguarded, and are facing threats such as by-catch by fishing vessels, prey depletion or disturbance at their breeding colonies. There remains, therefore, an urgent need for countries to identify and designate sites at sea to ensure that seabirds are protected.
Within the EU, the BirdLife Partnership has been at the forefront of site identification for seabirds. Using cutting edge science and rigorous scientific criteria, BirdLife has identified Marine Important Bird and Biodiversity Areas (marine IBAs) recognised as a ‘shadow list’ of sites for Natura 2000 designation.
This report represents the most accurate assessment of seabird protection in the European Union. We have assessed the 23 coastal EU states based on the level of protection afforded to marine IBAs through EU Special Protected Areas (terrestrial, inshore and offshore waters).
This report demonstrates that:
- Only 59% of the area identified as marine IBAs is currently protected in the EU, and many countries are still lagging behind in identifying areas at sea.
- Scandinavian and Baltic countries are leading the way for at sea protection, with significant areas at sea protected in Germany, Poland, Estonia and Denmark and progress being made in Latvia, Lithuania and Finland.
- Coastal extension areas have not yet been designated in many countries, such as in France, the UK , Ireland and Sweden.
- 2/3 of EU countries only protect 3% or less of their Marine Area (territorial sea & Exclusive Economic Zone).
- Urgent action is required in those countries where marine IBAs inventories have been rigorously identified but where Member States have failed to designate them as SPAs.
- A large proportion of marine SPAs are currently lacking management plans, which urgently need to be drawn up and implemented.
To assess gaps in the representation of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity among coastal fishes in Mediterranean marine-protected areas (MPAs).
We first assessed gaps in the taxonomic representation of the 340 coastal fish species in Mediterranean MPAs, with representation targets (the species range proportion to be covered by MPAs) set to be inversely proportional to species' range sizes. We then asked whether MPAs favoured representation of phylogenetically and functionally more distinct species or whether there was a tendency to favour less distinctive ones. We finally evaluated the overall conservation effectiveness of the MPAs using a metric that integrates species' phylogenetic and functional relationships and targets achievement. The effectiveness of the MPA system at protecting biodiversity was assessed by comparison of its achievements against a null model obtained by siting current MPAs at random over the study area.
Among the coastal fish species analysed, 16 species were not covered by any MPA. All the remaining species only partially achieved the pre-defined representation target. The current MPA system missed fewer species than expected from siting MPAs at random. However, c. 70% of the species did not achieve better protection in the current MPAs than expected from siting MPAs at random. Functional and evolutionary distinctiveness were weakly correlated with target achievement. The observed coverage of taxonomic, phylogenetic and functional diversity was not different or lower than expected from siting MPAs at random.
The Mediterranean MPA system falls short in meeting conservation targets for coastal fish taxonomic diversity, phylogenetic diversity and functional diversity. Mediterranean MPAs do not encompass more biodiversity than expected by chance. This study reveals multiple ongoing challenges and calls for regional collaboration for the extension of the Mediterranean system of MPAs to meet international commitments and reduce the ongoing loss of marine biodiversity.
The biofuels community has shown considerable interest in the possibility that microalgae could contribute significantly to providing a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels. Microalgae species with high growth rates and high yields of oil that can be grown on domestic wastewater using nonarable land could produce biofuel without competing with agriculture. It is difficult to envision where the cultivation facilities would be located to produce the quantity of algae needed for fuels, given that these facilities must be close to wastewater treatment plants to save energy.
Researchers investigated a possible solution called Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae for coastal cities. This system involved growing fast-growing, oil-producing freshwater algae in flexible, inexpensive clear plastic photobioreactors attached to floating docks anchored offshore in naturally or artificially protected bays. Wastewater and carbon dioxide from coastal facilities provided water, nutrients, and carbon. The surrounding seawater controlled the temperature inside the photobioreactors and killed any algae that might escape. The salt gradient between seawater and wastewater created forward osmosis to concentrate nutrients and to facilitate algae harvesting. Both the algae and forward osmosis cleaned the wastewater, removing nutrients as well as pharmaceuticals and personal care products, so-called compounds of emerging concern.
This report provided the results of two years of research into the feasibility of the Offshore Membrane Enclosures for Growing Algae system in which prototype systems were studied, built, and tested in seawater tanks. A 110-liter floating system was developed and scaled up to 1,600 liters. Algae’s ability to grow on and treat wastewater was described. The impact of biofouling on photobioreactors and forward osmosis membranes floating in the marine environment was considered. Life-cycle and technoeconomic analyses provided a perspective on what must be done to make this system commercially viable. Outreach efforts have carried the concept worldwide. sions from conversion for development.
On a national level, the law of 14 April 2006 saw the creation of the Marine Protected Areas Agency and established the first six categories of marine protected areas, including the new category of marine nature park.
The current strategy specifies how France intends to expand its action to develop and manage the network of marine protected areas: objectives, geographical priorities, principles, etc.
The French Marine Protected Areas Agency was established in 2006, particularly to define and implement an ambitious strategy to create and manage France’s marine protected areas. Developing a national assessment process, the MPA dashboard, is an integral part of this strategy. The first step consists in developing dashboards in each French MPA.
The Agency must be able to assess the effectiveness of MPAs that it manages directly, such as marine nature parks or Natura 2000 sites, and provide technical support for the assessment of MPAs managed by other entities.
Integrated coastal and ocean management requires transparent and accessible approaches for understanding the influence of human activities on marine environments. Here we introduce a model for assessing the combined risk to habitats from multiple ocean uses. We apply the model to coral reefs, mangrove forests and seagrass beds in Belize to inform the design of the country's first Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) Plan. Based on extensive stakeholder engagement, review of existing legislation and data collected from diverse sources, we map the current distribution of coastal and ocean activities and develop three scenarios for zoning these activities in the future. We then estimate ecosystem risk under the current and three future scenarios. Current levels of risk vary spatially among the nine coastal planning regions in Belize. Empirical tests of the model are strong—three-quarters of the measured data for coral reef health lie within the 95% confidence interval of interpolated model data and 79% of the predicted mangrove occurrences are associated with observed responses. The future scenario that harmonizes conservation and development goals results in a 20% reduction in the area of high-risk habitat compared to the current scenario, while increasing the extent of several ocean uses. Our results are a component of the ICZM Plan for Belize that will undergo review by the national legislature in 2015. This application of our model to marine spatial planning in Belize illustrates an approach that can be used broadly by coastal and ocean planners to assess risk to habitats under current and future management scenarios.