This is a short guide to governance for protected/conserved areas that briefly summarizes the points in the full-length report, Governance of Protected Areas.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Coral reefs have largely declined across multiple spatial scales due to a combination of local-scale anthropogenic impacts, and due to regional-global climate change. This has resulted in a significant loss of entire coral functional groups, including western Atlantic Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) biotopes, and in a net decline of coral reef ecosystem resilience, ecological functions, services and benefits. Low-tech coral farming has become one of the most important tools to help restore depleted coral reefs across the Wider Caribbean Region. We tested a community-based, low-tech coral farming approach in Culebra Island, Puerto Rico, aimed at adapting to climate change-related impacts through a two-year project to propagate A. cervicornis under two contrasting fishing management conditions, in coastal areas experimenting significant land use changes. Extreme rainfall events and recurrent tropical storms and hurricanes had major site-and method-specific impacts on project outcome, particularly in areas adjacent to deforested lands and subjected to recurrent impacts from land-based source pollution (LBSP) and runoff. Overall, coral survival rate in “A frame” units improved from 73% during 2011-2012 to 81% during 2012-2013. Coral survival rate improved to 97% in horizontal line nurseries (HLN) incorporated during 2012-2013. Percent tissue cover ranged from 86% to 91% in “A frames”, but reached 98% in HLN. Mean coral skeletal extension was 27 cm/y in “A frames” and 40 cm/y in HLN. These growth rates were up to 545% to 857% faster than previous reports from coral farms from other parts of the Caribbean, and up to 438% faster than wild colonies. Branch production and branchiness index (no. harvestable branches > 6 cm) increased by several orders of magnitude in comparison to the original colonies at the beginning of the project. Coral mortality was associated to hurricane physical impacts and sediment-laden runoff impacts associated to extreme rainfall and deforestation of adjacent lands. This raises a challenging question regarding the impact of chronic high sea surface temperature (SST), in combination with recurrent high nutrient pulses, in fostering increased coral growth at the expense of coral physiological conditions which may compromise corals resistance to disturbance. Achieving successful local management of reefs and adjacent lands is vital to maintain the sustained net production in coral farms and of reef structure, and the provision of the important ecosystem services that they provide. These measures are vital for buying time for reefs while global action on climate change is implemented. Adaptive community-based strategies are critical to strengthen institutional management efforts. But government agencies need to transparently build local trust, empower local stakeholders, and foster co-management to be fully successful. Failing to achieve that could make community-based coral reef rehabilitation more challenging, and could potentially drive rapidly declining, transient coral reefs into the slippery slope to slime.
Ecological network models and analyses are recognized as valuable tools for understanding the dynamics and resiliency of ecosystems, and for informing ecosystem-based approaches to management. However, few databases exist that can provide the life history, demographic and species interaction information necessary to parameterize ecological network models. Faced with the difficulty of synthesizing the information required to construct models for kelp forest ecosystems along the West Coast of North America, we developed an online database (http://kelpforest.ucsc.edu/) to facilitate the collation and dissemination of such information. Many of the database's attributes are novel yet the structure is applicable and adaptable to other ecosystem modeling efforts. Information for each taxonomic unit includes stage-specific life history, demography, and body-size allometries. Species interactions include trophic, competitive, facilitative, and parasitic forms. Each data entry is temporally and spatially explicit. The online data entry interface allows researchers anywhere to contribute and access information. Quality control is facilitated by attributing each entry to unique contributor identities and source citations. The database has proven useful as an archive of species and ecosystem-specific information in the development of several ecological network models, for informing management actions, and for education purposes (e.g., undergraduate and graduate training). To facilitate adaptation of the database by other researches for other ecosystems, the code and technical details on how to customize this database and apply it to other ecosystems are freely available and located at the following link (https://github.com/kelpforest-cameo/databaseui).
The University of Rhode Island Coastal Resources Center (CRC) has launched a new initiative, “Supporting Knowledge Transfer and Strengthening the Marine Spatial Planning Network.” This Program will provide support and skills to the marine spatial planning (MSP) community both in the United States and abroad to help practitioners demonstrate the success and positive impacts of MSP initiatives, improve MSP implementation, and support the integration of MSP techniques and skills into the existing practice of coastal management. CRC has completed an assessment whose purpose is to:
1) Identify opportunities to expand and strengthen the global network of MSP practitioners by identifying support and skills that are needed but not currently being offered to MSP practitioners; and
2) Begin to recognize opportunities to coordinate with organizations currently providing MSP support in order to increase efficiency and opportunity.
The assessment focused on identifying information, tools and techniques practitioners need to implement MSP, and mechanisms for delivering these materials; organizations which could assist in building MSP capacity; and constituencies who need these materials in order to facilitate MSP implementation. These questions were addressed through a comprehensive review of MSP initiatives; in-depth analysis of a small subset of representative MSP cases in the U.S. and Canada; and consultation with a diverse sample of MSP experts.
Human pressure could compromise the provision of ecosystem services if we do not implement strategies such as ecosystem stewardship to foster sustainable trajectories. Barriers to managing systems based on ecosystem stewardship principles are pervasive, including institutional constraints and uncertain system dynamics. However, solutions to help managers overcome these barriers are less common. How can we better integrate ecosystem stewardship into natural resource management practices? I draw on examples from the literature and two broadly applicable case studies from Alaska to suggest some generalizable principles that can help managers redirect how people use and view ecosystems. These include (1) accounting for both people and ecosystems in management actions; (2) considering historical and current system dynamics, but managing flexibly for the future; (3) identifying interactions between organizational, temporal, and spatial scales; (4) embracing multiple causes in addition to multiple objectives; and (5) acknowledging that there are no panaceas and that success will be incremental. I also identify next steps to rigorously evaluate the broad utility of these principles and quickly move principles from theory to application. The findings of this study suggest that natural resource managers are poised to overcome the barriers to implementing ecosystem stewardship and to develop innovative adaptations to social-ecological problems.
Skates (Rajiformes: Rajoidei) are common mesopredators in marine benthic communities. The spatial associations of individual species and the structure of assemblages are of considerable importance for effective monitoring and management of exploited skate populations. This study investigated the spatial associations of eastern North Pacific (ENP) skates in continental shelf and upper continental slope waters of two regions: central California and the western Gulf of Alaska. Long-term survey data were analyzed using GIS/spatial analysis techniques and regression models to determine distribution (by depth, temperature, and latitude/longitude) and relative abundance of the dominant species in each region. Submersible video data were incorporated for California to facilitate habitat association analysis. We addressed three main questions: 1) Are there regions of differential importance to skates?, 2) Are ENP skate assemblages spatially segregated?, and 3) When skates co-occur, do they differ in size? Skate populations were highly clustered in both regions, on scales of 10s of kilometers; however, high-density regions (i.e., hot spots) were segregated among species. Skate densities and frequencies of occurrence were substantially lower in Alaska as compared to California. Although skates are generally found on soft sediment habitats, Raja rhina exhibited the strongest association with mixed substrates, and R. stellulata catches were greatest on rocky reefs. Size segregation was evident in regions where species overlapped substantially in geographic and depth distribution (e.g., R. rhina and Bathyraja kincaidii off California; B. aleutica and B. interrupta in the Gulf of Alaska). Spatial niche differentiation in skates appears to be more pronounced than previously reported.
Research so far has provided little evidence that benthic biogeochemical cycling is affected by ocean acidification under realistic climate change scenarios. We measured nutrient exchange and sediment community oxygen consumption (SCOC) rates to estimate nitrification in natural coastal permeable and fine sandy sediments under pre-phytoplankton bloom and bloom conditions. Ocean acidification, as mimicked in the laboratory by a realistic pH decrease of 0.3, significantly reduced SCOC on average by 60% and benthic nitrification rates on average by 94% in both sediment types in February (pre-bloom period), but not in April (bloom period). No changes in macrofauna functional community (density, structural and functional diversity) were observed between ambient and acidified conditions, suggesting that changes in benthic biogeochemical cycling were predominantly mediated by changes in the activity of the microbial community during the short-term incubations (14 days), rather than by changes in engineering effects of bioturbating and bio-irrigating macrofauna. As benthic nitrification makes up the gross of ocean nitrification, a slowdown of this nitrogen cycling pathway in both permeable and fine sediments in winter, could therefore have global impacts on coupled nitrification-denitrification and hence eventually on pelagic nutrient availability.
Reef managers cannot fight global warming through mitigation at local scale, but they can use information on thermal patterns to plan for reserve networks that maximize the probability of persistence of their reef system. Here we assess previous methods for the design of reserves for climate change and present a new approach to prioritize areas for conservation that leverages the most desirable properties of previous approaches. The new method moves the science of reserve design for climate change a step forwards by: (1) recognizing the role of seasonal acclimation in increasing the limits of environmental tolerance of corals and ameliorating the bleaching response; (2) using the best proxy for acclimatization currently available; (3) including information from several bleaching events, which frequency is likely to increase in the future; (4) assessing relevant variability at country scales, where most management plans are carried out. We demonstrate the method in Honduras, where a reassessment of the marine spatial plan is in progress.
Manta rays (Genus Manta) are economically important for fisheries and tourism in Indonesia. These species have been listed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List as Vulnerable to extinction; therefore, human exploitation of manta rays must be regulated. A better understanding of the habitat use and movement patterns of manta rays in Indonesia is needed in order to employ effective conservation measures. To gain better insight into the movements of Manta alfredi we used ‘Manta Matcher’, an online database with an integrated automated matching algorithm, to compare photographs from 2,604 encounters of M. alfredi collected by recreational divers and dive operators throughout Indonesia over a nine-year period. This photographic comparison revealed that manta rays migrated between regional sanctuaries such as Nusa Penida, the Gili Islands, and the Komodo National Park (up to 450 km straight-line distance). The areas between these sanctuaries are heavily fished and trafficked by ships, and when manta rays travel through these regions they risk being fished and injured by ship strikes. These long-range manta ray movements suggest connectivity between M. alfredi populations in neighboring islands and raise concerns about the future management of regional populations. It is recommended that a national conservation strategy be developed to protect the remaining populations in the country.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is the dominant management tool for marine environments around the world and is an attempt to move beyond the sectoral governance of marine spaces. Scotland is no exception and MSP is central to its management plans. The interpretation and use of spatial data informs these plans and maps provide the backbone of the decision-making process. Whilst not refuting MSP as a governance tool, this paper examines more closely some of the inherent problems with representing marine environments spatially and how the practice of map-making inevitably interacts with social-ecological networks. Borrowing from critical cartography and Actor-Network Theory (ANT), four observations are made: 1) due to the necessary procedure of categorising and simplifying data, maps do not always accurately represent changeable marine environments and situations; 2) maps can produce reality as much as represent it; 3) mapping has become the point through which all actors and stakeholders must pass; 4) as they are obliged to pass through this point, the roles and definition of certain actors can change. This discussion of marine spatial planning in Scotland demonstrates what can be learnt from viewing marine spaces as a tightly coupled social-ecological environment.
Recreational users appreciate the UK marine environment for its cultural ecosystem services (CES) and their use and non-use values. UK Governments are currently establishing a network of marine protected areas (MPAs) informed by ecological data and socio-economic evidence. Evidence on CES values is needed, but only limited data have been available. We present a case study from the UK National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) follow-on phase that elicited divers’ and anglers’ willingness to pay (WTP) for potential MPAs. The case study is an innovative combination of a travel-cost based choice experiment and an attribute-based contingent valuation method. Our study design allowed us to understand the marine users’ preferences from both a user and a stewardship perspective. Following the UK NEA’s place-based CES framework, we characterised marine CES as environmental spaces that might be protected, with features including the underwater seascape, and iconic and non-iconic species. Our survey highlighted the importance of CES to divers and anglers. A wide variety of marine spaces influenced user-WTP, while stewardship-WTP was most influenced by management restrictions, species protection, and attitudes towards marine conservation. An understanding of key stakeholders’ CES values can inform a more holistic and sustainable approach to marine management, especially for decisions involving trade-offs between marine protection and opportunity costs of the blue economy.
Offshore wind power provides a valuable source of renewable energy that can help reduce carbon emissions. Technological advances are allowing higher capacity turbines to be installed and in deeper water, but there is still much that is unknown about the effects on the environment. Here we describe the lessons learned based on the recent literature and our experience with assessing impacts of offshore wind developments on marine mammals and seabirds, and make recommendations for future monitoring and assessment as interest in offshore wind energy grows around the world. The four key lessons learned that we discuss are: 1) Identifying the area over which biological effects may occur to inform baseline data collection and determining the connectivity between key populations and proposed wind energy sites, 2) The need to put impacts into a population level context to determine whether they are biologically significant, 3) Measuring responses to wind farm construction and operation to determine disturbance effects and avoidance responses, and 4) Learn from other industries to inform risk assessments and the effectiveness of mitigation measures. As the number and size of offshore wind developments increases, there will be a growing need to consider the population level consequences and cumulative impacts of these activities on marine species. Strategically targeted data collection and modeling aimed at answering questions for the consenting process will also allow regulators to make decisions based on the best available information, and achieve a balance between climate change targets and environmental legislation.
Increases in noise-generating human activities since the Industrial Revolution have changed the acoustic landscape of many terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems. Anthropogenic noise is now recognized as a major pollutant of international concern, and recent studies have demonstrated impacts on, for instance, hearing thresholds, communication, movement and foraging in a range of species. However, consequences for survival and reproductive success are difficult to ascertain. Using a series of laboratory-based experiments and an open-water test with the same methodology, we show that acoustic disturbance can compromise antipredator behaviour – which directly affects survival likelihood – and explore potential underlying mechanisms. Juvenile European eels (Anguilla anguilla) exposed to additional noise (playback of recordings of ships passing through harbours), rather than control conditions (playback of recordings from the same harbours without ships), performed less well in two simulated predation paradigms. Eels were 50% less likely and 25% slower to startle to an ‘ambush predator’ and were caught more than twice as quickly by a ‘pursuit predator’. Furthermore, eels experiencing additional noise had diminished spatial performance and elevated ventilation and metabolic rates (indicators of stress) compared with control individuals. Our results suggest that acoustic disturbance could have important physiological and behavioural impacts on animals, compromising life-or-death responses.
El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is the most dominant interannual signal of climate variability and has a strong influence on climate over large parts of the world. In turn, it strongly influences many natural hazards (such as hurricanes and droughts) and their resulting socioeconomic impacts, including economic damage and loss of life. However, although ENSO is known to influence hydrology in many regions of the world, little is known about its influence on the socioeconomic impacts of floods (i.e., flood risk). To address this, we developed a modeling framework to assess ENSO’s influence on flood risk at the global scale, expressed in terms of affected population and gross domestic product and economic damages. We show that ENSO exerts strong and widespread influences on both flood hazard and risk. Reliable anomalies of flood risk exist during El Niño or La Niña years, or both, in basins spanning almost half (44%) of Earth’s land surface. Our results show that climate variability, especially from ENSO, should be incorporated into disaster-risk analyses and policies. Because ENSO has some predictive skill with lead times of several seasons, the findings suggest the possibility to develop probabilistic flood-risk projections, which could be used for improved disaster planning. The findings are also relevant in the context of climate change. If the frequency and/or magnitude of ENSO events were to change in the future, this finding could imply changes in flood-risk variations across almost half of the world’s terrestrial regions.
Maritime and marine. Are they this, are they that, or are they something in between? Does it matter what we call them, or important what we mean?
Two words we use so loosely, in meaning and intent; marine implies protection, while maritime pays in rent. We find their use exchangeable, with understanding being bent.
Maritime, marine, it’s not as simple as it seems. Are these terms just synonyms, or is there more there yet to glean? Shall we accept our shared ambivalence, or discover what we mean?
We come from different backgrounds, in training and degree; one thinks in two dimensions, the other thinks in three. Marine regards the ocean, its rhythm and its rhyme, while maritime conducts its business, to be there just in time.
We see the sea in maritime, its profits being prime, while marine sees wealth in nature, its existence for all time. One views the sea as partner, in the world economy; one knows the natural wonder that gives us gifts for free.
We share the cause to protect our seas and certainly not abuse, we act on insults readily, not tolerate or excuse. The worlds that work together, nature and humankind, receive the gifts presented and protect them for all time.
Who is maritime, who is marine? Can we find a common language, in this anthropocene?
In 2010, the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission (WCPFC) adopted a conservation and management measure (CMM) for North Pacific striped marlin (Kajikia audax). A 2012 stock assessment indicated that the limits in this CMM were insufficient to prevent overfishing of this stock. I used a survey employing Analytical Hierarchy Process (AHP), demographic and short answer questions to collect information on stakeholder opinions on select criteria and management options if a new CMM were to be developed. Management options with the highest ratings were circle hooks and catch limits while the lowest ratings were for a retention ban. Respondents had varied opinions on the need to manage striped marlin and additional research could bolster support for further management. An Ecopath with Ecosim model was then used to evaluate how implementation of different management measures for North Pacific striped marlin would impact biomasses of striped marlin and other groups. Increases in fishing effort had the greatest impact on relative biomass, with declines in most of the higher level trophic groups and increases in many of the mid-level trophic groups. The use of circle hooks and the elimination of the shallowest hooks from deep longline sets led to increases in striped marlin biomass, and effects to other species were limited. Recovery of striped marlin was greatest if measures were implemented to all fleets; conservation measures adopted unilaterally by the United States would have a minimal impact on biomass recovery for this species. Lastly, I discussed the benefits and costs of broader retention policies for purse seine and longline tuna fisheries in the western and central Pacific Ocean (WCPO). Using bycatch data from observers and logbooks from the U.S. purse seine and longline fleets operating in the WCPO, this dissertation documents the types and magnitude of fish discarded. Expanding retention policies beyond the target tunas and to other gear types would further reduce discarding and possibly provide stronger incentives to develop and use more selective techniques. Beyond impacts to the ecosystem and fisher behavior, adopting broader retention policies may have other implications, and this dissertation explored those implications on vessels, processors, and communities.
In the last decades, a number of studies based on historical records revealed the diversity loss in the oceans and human-induced changes to marine ecosystems. These studies have improved our understanding of the human impacts in the oceans. They also drew attention to the shifting baseline syndrome and the importance of assessing appropriate sources of data in order to build the most reliable environmental baseline. Here we amassed information from artisanal fishermen's local ecological knowledge, fisheries landing data and underwater visual census to assess the decline of fish species in Southeastern Brazil. Interviews with 214 fishermen from line, beach seine and spearfishing revealed a sharp decline in abundance of the bluefish Pomatomus saltatrix, the groupers Epinephelus marginatus, Mycteroperca acutirostris, M. bonaci and M. microlepis, and large parrotfishes in the past six decades. Fisheries landing data from a 16-year period support the decline of bluefish as pointed by fishermen's local knowledge, while underwater visual census campaigns show reductions in groupers' abundance and a sharp population decline of the Brazilian endemic parrotfish Scarus trispinosus. Despite the marked decline of these fisheries, younger and less experienced fishermen recognized fewer species as overexploited and fishing sites as depleted than older and more experienced fishermen, indicating the occurrence of the shifting baseline syndrome. Here we show both the decline of multigear fisheries catches – combining anecdotal and scientific data – as well as changes in environmental perceptions over generations of fishermen. Managing ocean resources requires looking into the past, and into traditional knowledge, bringing historical baselines to the present and improving public awareness.
Table of Contents
- From the Director
- Resilience: One Louisiana Community’s Comeback from a Two-Hurricane Punch
- Massachusetts Ocean Plan Gets High Marks Following First Approved Project
- West Maui Initiative Connects the Dots between Everyday Actions and Coral Reef Health
- Smart Devices are Helping Create Estuarine-Smart Kids in Florida
- Online Atlas Documents Coastal Land Cover Changes over Time
- End Note
This document presents a comprehensive overview of results from more than a decade of work by the NOAA National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS) Biogeography Branch and the Department of the Interior National Park Service (NPS) to assess status and trends within and around federally managed marine protected areas (MPAs) of the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI).
The report provides: (1) an overview of the history of MPAs, types of MPAs and associated regulations, and a list of all MPAs in the USVI; (2) an ecological performance report for three intensively surveyed MPA units managed by NPS, including 20 biological metrics for fish and benthic habitat; (3) sightings of large-bodied fishes with moderate to high vulnerability to fishing; and (4) synthesis, summary and recommendations for management.
This report is the first time that an assessment of ecological performance has been conducted for MPAs in the USVI. A decade of underwater surveys was analyzed to detect trends on coral reefs inside MPAs and for a similar range of habitats outside of MPAs. The information, data synthesis, interpretation and recommendations are intended to help focus management actions and goal setting, inform outreach products and adjust expectations regarding ecological performance for MPAs in the region. The data presented here provide important baselines required for tracking MPA performance through future monitoring efforts.
There is an increasing need for environmental management advice that is wide-scoped, covering various interlinked policies, and realistic about the uncertainties related to the possible management actions. To achieve this, efficient decision support integrates the results of pre-existing models. Many environmental models are deterministic, but the uncertainty of their outcomes needs to be estimated when they are utilized for decision support. We review various methods that have been or could be applied to evaluate the uncertainty related to deterministic models' outputs. We cover expert judgement, model emulation, sensitivity analysis, temporal and spatial variability in the model outputs, the use of multiple models, and statistical approaches, and evaluate when these methods are appropriate and what must be taken into account when utilizing them. The best way to evaluate the uncertainty depends on the definitions of the source models and the amount and quality of information available to the modeller.