Existing estimates of fish and consumer biomass in the world’s oceans are disparate. This creates uncertainty about the roles of fish and other consumers in biogeochemical cycles and ecosystem processes, the extent of human and environmental impacts and fishery potential. We develop and use a size-based macroecological model to assess the effects of parameter uncertainty on predicted consumer biomass, production and distribution. Resulting uncertainty is large (e.g. median global biomass 4.9 billion tonnes for consumers weighing 1 g to 1000 kg; 50% uncertainty intervals of 2 to 10.4 billion tonnes; 90% uncertainty intervals of 0.3 to 26.1 billion tonnes) and driven primarily by uncertainty in trophic transfer efficiency and its relationship with predator-prey body mass ratios. Even the upper uncertainty intervals for global predictions of consumer biomass demonstrate the remarkable scarcity of marine consumers, with less than one part in 30 million by volume of the global oceans comprising tissue of macroscopic animals. Thus the apparently high densities of marine life seen in surface and coastal waters and frequently visited abundance hotspots will likely give many in society a false impression of the abundance of marine animals. Unexploited baseline biomass predictions from the simple macroecological model were used to calibrate a more complex size- and trait-based model to estimate fisheries yield and impacts. Yields are highly dependent on baseline biomass and fisheries selectivity. Predicted global sustainable fisheries yield increases ≈4 fold when smaller individuals (< 20 cm from species of maximum mass < 1kg) are targeted in all oceans, but the predicted yields would rarely be accessible in practice and this fishing strategy leads to the collapse of larger species if fishing mortality rates on different size classes cannot be decoupled. Our analyses show that models with minimal parameter demands that are based on a few established ecological principles can support equitable analysis and comparison of diverse ecosystems. The analyses provide insights into the effects of parameter uncertainty on global biomass and production estimates, which have yet to be achieved with complex models, and will therefore help to highlight priorities for future research and data collection. However, the focus on simple model structures and global processes means that non-phytoplankton primary production and several groups, structures and processes of ecological and conservation interest are not represented. Consequently, our simple models become increasingly less useful than more complex alternatives when addressing questions about food web structure and function, biodiversity, resilience and human impacts at smaller scales and for areas closer to coasts.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Global ocean acidification is caused primarily by the ocean’s uptake of CO2 as a consequence of increasing atmospheric CO2 levels. We present observations of the oceanic decrease in pH at the basin scale (50°S–36°N) for the Atlantic Ocean over two decades (1993–2013). Changes in pH associated with the uptake of anthropogenic CO2 (ΔpHCant) and with variations caused by biological activity and ocean circulation (ΔpHNat) are evaluated for different water masses. Output from an Institut Pierre Simon Laplace climate model is used to place the results into a longer-term perspective and to elucidate the mechanisms responsible for pH change. The largest decreases in pH (∆pH) were observed in central, mode, and intermediate waters, with a maximum ΔpH value in South Atlantic Central Waters of −0.042 ± 0.003. The ΔpH trended toward zero in deep and bottom waters. Observations and model results show that pH changes generally are dominated by the anthropogenic component, which accounts for rates between −0.0015 and −0.0020/y in the central waters. The anthropogenic and natural components are of the same order of magnitude and reinforce one another in mode and intermediate waters over the time period. Large negative ΔpHNat values observed in mode and intermediate waters are driven primarily by changes in CO2 content and are consistent with (i) a poleward shift of the formation region during the positive phase of the Southern Annular Mode in the South Atlantic and (ii) an increase in the rate of the water mass formation in the North Atlantic.
The Hawaiian gold coral is a parasitic zoantharian that colonizes other deep corals and secretes a protein skeleton that over millennia can grow and more than double the original mean size of the host colony. Surveys at 6 known coral beds in the Hawaiian Archipelago found mature gold coral to be a common taxon and dominant at the geologically older sites. Fewer than 5% of the gold coral colonies seen were in the process of subsuming their host, described here as the ‘midas’ phase. Bamboo coral (Acanella, Keratoisis) comprised 85% of the midas colonies, with two-thirds found at the youngest site, where the mean height of bamboo coral was significantly greater than at other sites. Marked midas colonies revisited after 5 yr showed the gold coral tissue spreading across the host at an estimated rate of 2.2 ± 0.69 cm yr-1 (mean ± SD). Cross sections of mature gold coral colonies show the host averages just 9.8 cm of the stem’s core, indicating that much of the host skeleton is lost when subsumed by gold coral tissue. The absence of midas colonies in a bamboo coral assemblage found growing on a 76 yr old wreck close (~1 km) to a mature gold coral patch suggests that gold coral recruitment is infrequent. This time lag between the growth of the host and the arrival of the gold coral successor is essential because otherwise the speed of the midas phase would subsume the host population faster than it could replenish.
The status of the Mediterranean and Black Sea fisheries was evaluated for the period 1970-2010 on a subarea basis, using various indicators including the temporal variability of total landings, the number of recorded stocks, the mean trophic level of the catch, the fishing-in-balance index and the catch-based method of stock classification. All indicators confirmed that the fisheries resources of the Mediterranean and Black Sea are at risk from overexploitation. The pattern of exploitation and the state of stocks differed among the western (W), central (C) and eastern (E) Mediterranean subareas and the Black Sea (BS), with the E Mediterranean and BS fisheries being in a worst shape. Indeed, in the E Mediterranean and the BS, total landings, mean trophic level of the catch and fishing-in-balance index were declining, the cumulative percentage of overexploited and collapsed stocks was higher, and the percentage of developing stocks was lower, compared to the W and C Mediterranean. Our results confirm the need for detailed and extensive stock assessments across species that will eventually lead to stocks recovering through conservation and management measures.
A numerical model, XBeach, calibrated and validated on field data collected at Roi-Namur Island on Kwajalein Atoll in the Republic of Marshall Islands, was used to examine the effects of different coral reef characteristics on potential coastal hazards caused by wave-driven flooding and how these effects may be altered by projected climate change. The results presented herein suggest that coasts fronted by relatively narrow reefs with steep fore reef slopes (~1:10 and steeper) and deeper, smoother reef flats are expected to experience the highest wave runup. Wave runup increases for higher water levels (sea level rise), higher waves and lower bed roughness (coral degradation), which are all expected effects of climate change. Rising sea levels and climate change will therefore have a significant negative impact on the ability of coral reefs to mitigate the effects of coastal hazards in the future.
Reproductive failure in mammals due to exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) can occur either through endocrine disrupting effects or via immunosuppression and increased disease risk. To investigate further, full necropsies and determination of summed 25 polychlorinated biphenyls congeners (∑PCBs lipid weight) in blubber were undertaken on 329 UK-stranded female harbour porpoises (1990-2012). In sexually mature females, 25/127 (19.7%) showed direct evidence of reproductive failure (foetal death, aborting, dystocia or stillbirth). A further 21/127 (16.5%) had infections of the reproductive tract or tumours of reproductive tract tissues that could contribute to reproductive failure. Resting mature females (non-lactating or non-pregnant) had significantly higher mean ∑PCBs (18.5 mg/kg) than both lactating (7.5 mg/kg) and pregnant females (6 mg/kg), though not significantly different to sexually immature females (14.0 mg/kg). Using multinomial logistic regression models ΣPCBs was found to be a significant predictor of mature female reproductive status, adjusting for the effects of confounding variables. Resting females were more likely to have a higher PCB burden. Health status (proxied by “trauma” or “infectious disease” causes of death) was also a significant predictor, with lactating females (i.e. who successfully reproduced) more likely to be in good health status compared to other individuals. Based on contaminant profiles (>11 mg/kg lipid), at least 29/60 (48%) of resting females had not offloaded their pollutant burden via gestation and primarily lactation. Where data were available, these non-offloading females were previously gravid, which suggests foetal or newborn mortality. Furthermore, a lower pregnancy rate of 50% was estimated for “healthy” females that died of traumatic causes of death, compared to other populations. Whether or not PCBs are part of an underlying mechanism, we used individual PCB burdens to show further evidence of reproductive failure in the North-east Atlantic harbour porpoise population, results that should inform conservation management.
Airguns used in seismic surveys are among the most prevalent and powerful anthropogenic noise sources in marine habitats. They are designed to produce most energy below 100 Hz, but the pulses have also been reported to contain medium-to-high frequency components with the potential to affect small marine mammals, which have their best hearing sensitivity at higher frequencies. In shallow water environments, inhabited by many of such species, the impact of airgun noise may be particularly challenging to assess due to complex propagation conditions. To alleviate the current lack of knowledge on the characteristics and propagation of airgun pulses in shallow water with implications for effects on small marine mammals, we recorded pulses from a single airgun with three operating volumes (10 in3, 25 in3 and 40 in3) at six ranges (6, 120, 200, 400, 800 and 1300 m) in a uniform shallow water habitat using two calibrated Reson 4014 hydrophones and four DSG-Ocean acoustic data recorders. We show that airgun pulses in this shallow habitat propagated out to 1300 meters in a way that can be approximated by a 18log(r) geometric transmission loss model, but with a high pass filter effect from the shallow water depth. Source levels were back-calculated to 192 dB re µPa2s (sound exposure level) and 200 dB re 1 µPa dB Leq-fast (rms over 125 ms duration), and the pulses contained substantial energy up to 10 kHz, even at the furthest recording station at 1300 meters. We conclude that the risk of causing hearing damage when using single airguns in shallow waters is small for both pinnipeds and porpoises. However, there is substantial potential for significant behavioral responses out to several km from the airgun, well beyond the commonly used shut-down zone of 500 meters.
The Sea Level Affecting Marshes Model (SLAMM) was applied at six major estuaries along Florida’s Gulf Coast (Pensacola Bay, St. Andrews/Choctawhatchee Bays, Apalachicola Bay, Southern Big Bend, Tampa Bay and Charlotte Harbor) to provide quantitative and spatial information on how coastal ecosystems may change with sea level rise (SLR) and to identify how this information can be used to inform adaption planning. High resolution LiDAR-derived elevation data was utilized under three SLR scenarios: 0.7 m, 1 m and 2 m through the year 2100 and uncertainty analyses were conducted on selected input parameters at three sites. Results indicate that the extent, spatial orientation and relative composition of coastal ecosystems at the study areas may substantially change with SLR. Under the 1 m SLR scenario, total predicted impacts for all study areas indicate that coastal forest (-69,308 ha; -18%), undeveloped dry land (-28,444 ha; -2%) and tidal flat (-25,556 ha; -47%) will likely face the greatest loss in cover by the year 2100. The largest potential gains in cover were predicted for saltmarsh (+32,922 ha; +88%), transitional saltmarsh (+23,645 ha; na) and mangrove forest (+12,583 ha; +40%). The Charlotte Harbor and Tampa Bay study areas were predicted to experience the greatest net loss in coastal wetlands The uncertainty analyses revealed low to moderate changes in results when some numerical SLAMM input parameters were varied highlighting the value of collecting long-term sedimentation, accretion and erosion data to improve SLAMM precision. The changes predicted by SLAMM will affect exposure of adjacent human communities to coastal hazards and ecosystem functions potentially resulting in impacts to property values, infrastructure investment and insurance rates. The results and process presented here can be used as a guide for communities vulnerable to SLR to identify and prioritize adaptation strategies that slow and/or accommodate the changes underway.
Tourism is of growing economical importance to many nations, in particular for developing countries. Although tourism is an important economic vehicle for the host country, its continued growth has led to on-going concerns about its environmental sustainability. Coastal and marine tourism can directly affect the environment through direct and indirect tourist activities. For these reasons tourism sector needs practical actions of sustainability. Several studies have shown how education minimizes the impact on and is proactive for, preserving the natural resources. This paper evaluates the effectiveness of a citizen science program to improve the environmental education of the volunteers, by means of questionnaires provided to participants to a volunteer-based Red Sea coral reef monitoring program (STEproject). Fifteen multiple-choice questions evaluated the level of knowledge on the basic coral reef biology and ecology and the awareness on the impact of human behaviour on the environment. Volunteers filled in questionnaires twice, once at the beginning, before being involved in the project and again at the end of their stay, after several days participation in the program. We found that the participation in STEproject significantly increased both the knowledge of coral reef biology and ecology and the awareness of human behavioural impacts on the environment, but was more effective on the former. We also detected that tourists with a higher education level have a higher initial level of environmental education than less educated people and that the project was more effective on divers than snorkelers. This study has emphasized that citizen science projects have an important and effective educational value and has suggested that tourism and diving stakeholders should increase their commitment and efforts to these programs.
The current decline in dissolved oxygen concentration within the oceans is a sensitive indicator of the effect of climate change on marine environment. However the impact of its declining on marine life and ecosystems’ health is still quite unclear because of the difficulty in obtaining in situ data, especially in remote areas, like the Southern Ocean (SO). Southern elephant seals (Mirounga leonina) proved to be a relevant alternative to the traditional oceanographic platforms to measure physical and biogeochemical structure of oceanic regions rarely observed. In this study, we use a new stage of development in biologging technology to draw a picture of dissolved oxygen concentration in the SO. We present the first results obtained from a dissolved oxygen sensor added to Argos CTD-SRDL tags and deployed on 5 female elephant seals at Kerguelen. From October 2010 and October 2011, 742 oxygen profiles associated with temperature and salinity measurements were recorded. Whether a part of the data must be considered cautiously, especially because of offsets and temporal drifts of the sensors, the range of values recorded was consistent with a concomitant survey conducted from a research vessel (Keops-2 project). Once again, elephant seals reinforced the relationship between marine ecology and oceanography, delivering essential information about the water masses properties and the biological status of the Southern Ocean. But more than the presentation of a new stage of development in animal-borne instrumentation, this pilot study opens a new field of investigation in marine ecology and could be enlarged in a near future to other key marine predators, especially large fish species like swordfish, tuna or sharks, for which dissolved oxygen is expected to play a crucial role in distribution and behaviour.
Denmark was the first nation in Europe to promote the use of Fully Documented Fisheries (FDF) through Remote Electronic Monitoring (REM) and CCTV camera systems, with pilot schemes in place since 2008. In theory, such a scheme could supplement and even potentially replace expensive control and monitoring programmes; and when associated with a catch quota management (CQM) system, incentivize positive changes in fishing patterns in a results-based management approach. New data flows are, however, required to ensure the practical implementation of such a scheme. This paper reviews the quality of the FDF data collected during 2008–2014 and their potential in strengthening information on cod discards. The analyses demonstrate the improved reporting of discards in logbooks and overall discard reductions, but they also show that some uncertainties around the absolute estimates of discard quantities have remained. Regular validation of weight estimation methods and close collaboration between scientific monitoring and control are important to support the use of reported discards as a reliable source of information. We discuss the potential of electronic monitoring in the context of the EU landing obligation.
Although protected areas can lead to recovery of overharvested species, it is much less clear whether the return of certain predator species or a diversity of predator species can lead to re-establishment of important top-down forces that regulate whole ecosystems. Here we report that the algal recovery in a Mediterranean Marine Protected Area did not derive from the increase in the traditional strong predators, but rather from the establishment of a previously unknown interaction between the thermophilic fish Thalassoma pavo and the seastar Marthasterias glacialis. The interaction resulted in elevated predation rates on sea urchins responsible for algal overgrazing. Manipulative experiments and field observations revealed that the proximity of the seastars triggered an escape response in sea urchins, extending their tube feet. Fishes exploited this behavior by feeding on the exposed tube feet, thus impairing urchin movement, and making them vulnerable to predation by the seastars. These findings suggest that predator diversity generated by MPA establishment can activate positive interactions among predators, with subsequent restoration of the ecosystem structure and function through cascading consumer impacts.
With the ongoing crisis of biodiversity loss and limited resources for conservation, the concept of biodiversity hotspots has been useful in determining conservation priority areas. However, there has been limited research into how temporal variability in biodiversity may influence conservation area prioritization. To address this information gap, we present an approach to evaluate the temporal consistency of biodiversity hotspots in large marine ecosystems. Using a large scale, public monitoring dataset collected over an eight year period off the US Pacific Coast, we developed a methodological approach for avoiding biases associated with hotspot delineation. We aggregated benthic fish species data from research trawls and calculated mean hotspot thresholds for fish species richness and Shannon’s diversity indices over the eight year dataset. We used a spatial frequency distribution method to assign hotspot designations to the grid cells annually. We found no areas containing consistently high biodiversity through the entire study period based on the mean thresholds, and no grid cell was designated as a hotspot for greater than 50% of the time-series. To test if our approach was sensitive to sampling effort and the geographic extent of the survey, we followed a similar routine for the northern region of the survey area. Our finding of low consistency in benthic fish biodiversity hotspots over time was upheld, regardless of biodiversity metric used, whether thresholds were calculated per year or across all years, or the spatial extent for which we calculated thresholds and identified hotspots. Our results suggest that static measures of benthic fish biodiversity off the US West Coast are insufficient for identification of hotspots and that long-term data are required to appropriately identify patterns of high temporal variability in biodiversity for these highly mobile taxa. Given that ecological communities are responding to a changing climate and other environmental perturbations, our work highlights the need for scientists and conservation managers to consider both spatial and temporal dynamics when designating biodiversity hotspots.
Understanding seasonal migration and localized persistence of populations is critical for effective species harvest and conservation management. Pacific salmon (genus Oncorhynchus) forecasting models predict stock composition, abundance, and distribution during annual assessments of proposed fisheries impacts. Most models, however, fail to account for the influence of biophysical factors on year-to-year fluctuations in migratory distributions and stock-specific survival. In this study, the ocean distribution and relative abundance of Chinook salmon (O. tshawytscha) stocks encountered in the California Current large marine ecosystem, U.S.A were inferred using catch-per-unit effort (CPUE) fisheries and genetic stock identification data. In contrast to stock distributions estimated through coded-wire-tag recoveries (typically limited to hatchery salmon), stock-specific CPUE provides information for both wild and hatchery fish. Furthermore, in contrast to stock composition results, the stock-specific CPUE metric is independent of other stocks and is easily interpreted over multiple temporal or spatial scales. Tests for correlations between stock-specific CPUE and stock composition estimates revealed these measures diverged once proportional contributions of locally rare stocks were excluded from data sets. A novel aspect of this study was collection of data both in areas closed to commercial fisheries and during normal, open commercial fisheries. Because fishing fleet efficiency influences catch rates, we tested whether CPUE differed between closed area (non-retention) and open area (retention) data sets. A weak effect was indicated for some, but not all, analyzed cases. Novel visualizations produced from stock-specific CPUE-based ocean abundance facilitates consideration of how highly refined, spatial and genetic information could be incorporated in ocean fisheries management systems and for investigations of biogeographic factors that influence migratory distributions of fish.
We aimed at unveiling patterns in live and dead manatee sightings in the Lower Sanaga Basin, Cameroon. For this purpose, the expert opinions of 133 local fishers were collected during in-person interviews, distilled using categorical data analysis, and checked against scientific literature. The five main results are as follows: manatees were sighted averagely once a week in lakes, rivers, and the coast & estuaries, mostly in group sizes of 2-3; the odds of sighting live manatees (respectively dead manatees) decreased (respectively increased) from inland lakes to estuaries and the coast, via rivers; manatee carcasses were reported in all habitats, albeit more frequently in rivers; a distribution map based on fishers’ reports show two manatee concentration areas: Lake Ossa and the Malimba-Mbiako section of River Sanaga; the number of manatees was perceived as increasing despite incidental and directed catches. Thus, our findings corroborate earlier assessments of the Lower Sanaga Basin as being a major manatee conservation area. Additionally, from these results and the literature, we identified three hypotheses about local manatee persistence: deep pools such as lakes offer year round sanctuaries, not just dry-season refugia; seasonality of specific habitat variables determine manatee occurrence patterns; and local variability in habitat encroachment mediate the meta-population dynamics of manatee in the Lower Sanaga Basin. Finally, we examine the implications for data requirements in light of the small ecological scale at which the surveyed fishers ply their trade. Thus, consonant with the Malawi principles for the ecosystem approach to management (www.cbd.int/ecosystem), we recommend collecting data preferably at landscape scale, through a participatory monitoring program that fully integrates scientific and traditional knowledge systems. This program should include, amongst others, a standardised necropsy protocol for collecting mortality and biological data together with sonar and radio-telemetry technology to discern manatee use and movements between critical habitat components.
In March 2015, regional Pacific stakeholders and Governments engaged in collaborative planning to establish a new direction in the management of Coastal Fisheries1. A New Song for Coastal Fisheries: Pathways to Change calls for a “...new and innovative approach to dealing with declines in coastal fisheries resources and related ecosystems”2. A New Song is an important step forward for coastal fisheries management across a complex and diverse region. This Paper argues that a strategic and integrated approach to capacity development, learning and training will support its full implementation. The paper makes five recommendations designed to strengthen community-based ecosystem approaches to fisheries management (CEAFM) across the region by adopting a capacity development approach as an integrated strategy, to develop capacity in CEAFM in information, management, monitoring and enforcement functions, from community to national government. Furthermore, the paper argues on the basis of stakeholder experience, for a long-term commitment to learning that is conductive to sustainable, iterative change, and is backed up by regional and national coordination that allows for sharing of data and learning across the many stakeholders and promoting organisations that are engaged in the training and learning space. When training is the chosen learning methodology, then adapting and contextualising the approach to yield robust learning outcomes is essential, and this means care in design, the delivery approach and attention to learning transfer. As a resource-constrained environment, the paper argues that this makes it even more critical that every training and learning initiative in coastal fisheries management is targeted and as effective as possible, and supported by an evidence base that uses evaluation and other data to drive ongoing improvement in the approach. This is particularly critical given the diversity of communities and government organisations involved.
Momentum behind the economic valuation of ecosystems, after a decade of hopeful support from researchers and policymakers, is currently petering out and decision-makers still do not consider biodiversity conservation to be a political priority. Surprisingly, the economic benefits provided by the conservation of ecosystems have been poorly investigated, unlike the ecosystems themselves. Furthermore, is the valuation of conservation (the valuation of the “interest rate” made on the natural capital saved, instead of the valuation of the natural capital itself) an efficient means to better serve decision-making? The research presented here addresses this question, in proposing a more effective approach to the valuation of conservation. It also investigates how such economic valuation exercises could best serve the decision-making process.
The research method for measuring conservation value relies on a comparison of Total Economic Values for analogous ecosystems both within a protected area and in outside adjacent areas. This methodology is tested in a sample of five marine protected areas in West Africa. For the estimation of the Total Economic Values in these sites, the research has applied most of the available valuation tools and includes all values for which data are available, including non-use values.
The results indicate a predominance of benefits linked to indirect use values over direct use values and non-use values. The marine protected areas display substantial benefits when compared to unprotected sites. These benefits are thought to derive primarily from the better marine health status associated with protected areas, and subsequent higher indirect use values which compensate for the decrease in direct use values caused by the conservation policy and the subsequent limitations imposed as a result. The ‘paper areas’ (i.e. those protected areas with no management plan) show, however, a deficit even when compared to unprotected sites.
The research discusses and highlights the shortcomings of such an approach within the West African context (data-poor situation, non-monetised economies, value transfer to developing countries, difficulties in communicating non-use values of biodiversity) and associated time and space considerations. It also underlines the importance of considering the socio-cultural context in any economic valuation, which provides key information for valuation interpretation.
Furthering the approach within the ‘economics of protection’ stream (after the ‘economics of degradation’ and the ‘economics of welfare’), this research delivers a new approach for valuing biodiversity conservation. The extensions of this research for policy purposes may include management support (comparison of conservation benefits with costs of management, increased consideration of indirect use values), advocacy information (through the calculation of the costs of policy inaction), and mechanisms for sustainable financing (through the development of payment for ecosystem services).
Since the Mid-Holocene, some 5000 years ago, coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean have been vertically constrained by sea level. Contemporary sea-level rise is releasing these constraints, providing accommodation space for vertical reef expansion. Here, we show that Poritesmicroatolls, from reef-flat environments in Palau (western Pacific Ocean), are ‘keeping up’ with contemporary sea-level rise. Measurements of 570 reef-flat Porites microatolls at 10 locations around Palau revealed recent vertical skeletal extension (78±13 mm) over the last 6–8 years, which is consistent with the timing of the recent increase in sea level. We modelled whether microatoll growth rates will potentially ‘keep up’ with predicted sea-level rise in the near future, based upon average growth, and assuming a decline in growth for every 1°C increase in temperature. We then compared these estimated extension rates with rates of sea-level rise under four Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Our model suggests that under low–mid RCP scenarios, reef-coral growth will keep up with sea-level rise, but if greenhouse gas concentrations exceed 670 ppm atmospheric CO2 levels and with +2.2°C sea-surface temperature by 2100 (RCP 6.0 W m−2), our predictions indicate that Porites microatolls will be unable to keep up with projected rates of sea-level rise in the twenty-first century.
Ocean Prosperity Roadmap: Fisheries and Beyond is a new collection of research designed to inform decision makers, including governments and investors, on effective ocean and coastal resource management strategies to maximize social, economic, and environmental benefits.
The research demonstrates how governance and management reform can create significant economic gains while reducing poverty, increasing food production, replenishing fish and conserving ocean health for future generations. This is especially true in the case of wild capture fisheries. Taken together, the collection of six studies creates a more comprehensive overview of what’s possible for the ocean economy and emerging best practices on how to get there.
The collection is a result of independent work from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, California Environmental Associates (CEA), the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB), and the University of Washington (UW).
While analyses of fisheries often demonstrate the potential biological, economic, and social benefits of fisheries recovery, few studies have incorporated the costs associated with the design and implementation of the management systems needed to achieve recovery. Available data and anecdotes suggest that the current cost of fishery management may be quite substantial and that additional costs arising from major upgrades in management could be prohibitive in some countries. A careful analysis comparing the country-level benefits of fishery management improvements to the additional costs of doing so has never been undertaken. Therefore, a study focusing on the current and incremental costs of fishery management upgrades could have important implications for policy design to efficiently rebuild global fisheries.
This analysis has three objectives. The first is to estimate the current cost of managing fisheries in the top fishing countries of the world. The second is to estimate, for a range of alternative management approaches, the concomitant change in cost, also at the country level. Finally, we combine these cost estimates with recent estimates of the economic benefits of fishery recovery to arrive at a cost-benefit calculation of improved fishery management around the world. This comparison determines if the expected economic benefits of a suite of fishery management reforms are greater than the management costs associated with those reforms. The analysis is decidedly practical – our goal is to derive ballpark estimates of these values to ultimately inform the question of whether the potential benefits can justify the likely increase in management costs.