Marine spatial planning (MSP) processes seek to better manage ocean spaces by balancing ecological, social and economic objectives using public and participatory processes. To meet this challenge, MSP approaches and tools have evolved globally, from local to national scales. At two International Marine Conservation Congresses (2016 and 2018), MSP practitioners and researchers from diverse geographic, technical and socio-economic contexts met to share advances in practical approaches and spatial tools to achieve multi-objective MSP. Here we share the lessons learned and commonalities that emerged from studies conducted in Belize, Canada, South Africa, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and the United States on a number of topics related to advancing MSP. We identify seven important themes that we believe are broadly relevant to any multi-objective MSP process: (1) indigenous and local knowledge should inform planning goals and objectives; (2) transparent and evidence-based approaches can reduce user conflict; (3) simple ecosystem service models and scenarios can facilitate multi-objective planning; (4) trade-off analyses can help balance diverse objectives; (5) ecosystem services may assist planning for high value-data poor Blue Economy sectors; (6) game theoretic decision rules can help to deliver fair, equitable and win–win spatial allocation solutions; and (7) strategic mapping products can facilitate decision making amongst stakeholders from different sectors. Some of these themes are evident in MSP processes that have been completed in the previous decade, but the fast-evolving field of MSP is addressing increasingly more complex objectives, and practitioners need to respond with practical approaches and spatial tools that can address this complexity.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Manta ray watching tourism has become a popular tourist attraction over the past two decades, with a number of destinations offering different encounter experiences for tourists. This type of attraction has drawn worldwide attention because it can offer significant contributions to the local economy through snorkelling and diving services. Since its early development, a number of scientists have conducted research on the impacts of manta ray watching tourism, and have reported different findings regarding its sustainability. Based on published scientific articles, this study provides a literature review of manta ray watching tourism and examines the sustainability of its operation. This paper also highlights manta ray tourism hotspots in Indonesia including Nusa Penida, Komodo, and Raja Ampat as the study locations. Interviews with ten key persons including government officials, tourism operators, community, and non-governmental organization were conducted to collect and identify their perceptions. This study demonstrates different impacts of economy, ecology, and socialcultural aspects. Furthermore, different study areas apply different management approach in managing their tourist in terms of manta ray watching tourism operation. In conclusion, good governance, regulations/law enforcement, and collaborative management are significant factors to achieve sustainable manta ray watching tourism.
The objective of this study was to identify the main environmental covariates related to the abundance of 17 cetacean species/groups in the western North Atlantic Ocean based on generalized additive models, to establish a current habitat suitability baseline, and to estimate abundance that incorporates habitat characteristics. Habitat models were developed from dedicated sighting survey data collected by NOAA- Northeast and Southeast Fisheries Science Centers during July 2010 to August 2013. A group of 7 static physiographic characteristics and 9 dynamic environmental covariates were included in the models. For the small cetacean models, the explained deviance ranged from 16% to 69%. For the large whale models, the explained deviance ranged from 32% to 52.5%. Latitude, sea surface temperature, bottom temperature, primary productivity and distance to the coast were the most common covariates included and their individual contribution to the deviance explained ranged from 5.9% to 18.5%. The habitat-density models were used to produce seasonal average abundance estimates and habitat suitability maps that provided a good correspondence with observed sighting locations and historical sightings for each species in the study area. Thus, these models, maps and abundance estimates established a current habitat characterization of cetacean species in these waters and have the potential to be used to support management decisions and conservation measures in a marine spatial planning context.
Indonesia has more than 600s offshore oil and gas platforms spread in its territorial waters and of that amount, about 50 % were built around 1980s. Since the first generation platform was built almost half a century ago, decommissioning the offshore structures is something that has never been done before in Indonesia. The assets are now approaching their end of production and touching a point of minimum economic viability. Therefore, the dismantling of those structures is unavoidable issues in the near future. However, this process is not easy and presents many challenges, eg. status of assets, costs, etc. The current regulations have not been able to get the operators to dismantle and write off their assets so that many of them are left abandoned and endanger for the sea traffic for instance. There is a trend that these abandoned and idle offshore structures have now become "a fashionable donation" project from oil companies to coastal state to be re-used as artificial reefs or also known as Rigs-to-Reef (R2R). This study is attempting to improve the visibility of R2R as a potential decommissioning solution in Indonesia that provide good benefits not only for the environment but also for the coastal community while at the same time offer effective and efficient way out for oil and gas companies. The feasibility study of platform placement was done in the provincial marine conservation areas (Kawasan Konservasi Perairan Daerah, KKPD) in Bontang, East Kalimantan.
In recent years, coral reef degradation has been increasing. Management and conservation efforts have tended to focus only on the physical condition of the coral reefs with less attention to biological and oceanographic aspects, in particular genetics and hydrodynamics. Genetic data can illustrate the connectivity between and within populations of an organism, making it is possible to determine source and sink populations or sites. Studies of physical water movements can also illustrate the likely patterns of movement or predict the mobility of coral planulae. Both of these approaches can help to strengthen Marine Protected Area (MPA) design, especially at the formation stage, in particular MPAs focused on coral reef ecosystems. Together, these two approaches can provide data on biological networks in a region and help delineate stocks. The implications of such studies can help to identify conservation priorities and improve the effectiveness of management processes in Indonesia, and can certainly enable the refinement of general approaches to help produce management plans tailored to local and regional conditions and processes. This brief review aims to review the constraints that occur in the management process, including barriers to and potential benefits of integrating molecular and hydrodynamic data into the management and conservation process, as illustrated through a critical review of MPA implementation in the waters around Sulawesi Island.
The amphipod Hirondellea gigas inhabits the deepest regions of the oceans in extreme high-pressure conditions. However, the mechanisms by which this amphipod adapts to its high-pressure environment remain unknown. In this study, we investigated the elemental content of the exoskeleton of H. gigas specimens captured from the deepest points of the Mariana Trench. The H. gigas exoskeleton contained aluminum, as well as a major amount of calcium carbonate. Unlike other (accumulated) metals, aluminum was distributed on the surface of the exoskeleton. To investigate how H. gigas obtains aluminum, we conducted a metabolome analysis and found that gluconic acid/gluconolactone was capable of extracting metals from the sediment under the habitat conditions of H. gigas. The extracted aluminum ions are transformed into the gel state of aluminum hydroxide in alkaline seawater, and this gel covers the body to protect the amphipod. This aluminum gel is a good material for adaptation to such high-pressure environments.
The pelagic ecosystems of the Western Antarctic Peninsula are dynamic and changing rapidly in the face of sustained warming. There is already evidence that warming may be impacting the food web. Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba, is an ice-associated species that is both an important prey item and the target of the only commercial fishery operating in the region. The goal of this study is to develop a dynamic trophic model for the region that includes the impact of the sea-ice regime on krill and krill predators. Such a model may be helpful to fisheries managers as they develop new management strategies in the face of continued sea-ice loss. A mass balanced food-web model (Ecopath) and time dynamic simulations (Ecosim) were created. The Ecopath model includes eight currently monitored species as single species to facilitate its future development into a model that could be used for marine protected area planning in the region. The Ecosim model is calibrated for the years 1996–2012. The successful calibration represents an improvement over existing Ecopath models for the region. Simulations indicate that the role of sea ice is both central and complex. The simulations are only able to recreate observed biomass trends for the monitored species when metrics describing the sea-ice regime are used to force key predator-prey interactions, and to drive the biomasses of Antarctic krill and the fish species Gobionotothen gibberifrons. This model is ready to be used for exploring results from sea-ice scenarios or to be developed into a spatial model that informs discussions regarding the design of marine protected areas in the region.
Applying a proteomic approach for biomonitoring marine environments offers a useful tool for identifying organisms’ stress responses, with benthic filter-feeders being ideal candidates for this practice. Here, we investigated the proteomic profile of two solitary ascidians (Chordata, Ascidiacea): Microcosmus exasperatus, collected from five sites along the Mediterranean coast of Israel; and Polycarpa mytiligera collected from four sites along the Red Sea coast. 193 and 13 proteins in M. exasperatus and P. mytiligera, respectively, demonstrated a significant differential expression. Significant differences were found between the proteomes from the northern and the southern sites along both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea coasts. Some of the significant proteins had previously been shown to be affected by environmental stressors, and thus have the potential to be further developed as biomarkers. Obtaining a proteomic profile of field-collected ascidians provides a useful tool for the early-detection of a stress response in ascidians worldwide.
Ship traffic in Northwestern European seas is intense and continuing to increase, posing a threat to vulnerable seabird species as a result of disturbance. However, information on species-specific effects of ship traffic on seabirds at sea is limited, and tools are needed to prioritize species and areas to support the integration of conservation needs in Marine Spatial Planning. In this study, we investigated the responses of 26 characteristic seabird species in the German North and Baltic Seas to experimental ship disturbance using large datasets collected as part of the seabirds at Sea counts. We developed a Disturbance Vulnerability Index (DVI) for ship traffic combining indicators for species’ shyness, escape costs, and compensatory potential, and analyzed the relationships among shyness, escape costs, and vulnerability. The DVI was calculated using the following eight indicators: escape distance, proportion of escaping birds, proportion of birds swimming prior to disturbance, wing loading, habitat use flexibility, biogeographic population size, adult survival rate, European threat and conservation status. Species-specific disturbance responses differed considerably, with common scoters (Melanitta nigra) and red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) showing the longest escape distances and highest proportions of escaping individuals. Red-throated loon, black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), Arctic loon (Gavia arctica), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), and red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) had the highest DVI values, and gulls and terns had the lowest. Contrary to theoretical considerations, shyness correlated positively with escape costs, with the shyest species also being the most vulnerable among the species studied. The strong reactions of several species to disturbance by ships suggest the need for areas with little or no disturbance in some marine protected areas, to act as a refuge for vulnerable species. This DVI can be used in combination with distribution data to identify the areas most vulnerable to disturbance.
Improved understanding of human-nature interactions is crucial to conservation science and practice, but collecting relevant data remains challenging. Recently, social media have become an increasingly important source of information on human-nature interactions. However, the use of advanced methods for analysing social media is still limited, and social media data are not used to their full potential. In this article, we present available sources of social media data and approaches to mining and analysing these data for conservation science. Specifically, we (i) describe what kind of relevant information can be retrieved from social media platforms, (ii) provide a detailed overview of advanced methods for spatio-temporal, content and network analyses, (iii) exemplify the potential of these approaches for real-world conservation challenges, and (iv) discuss the limitations of social media data analysis in conservation science. Combined with other data sources and carefully considering the biases and ethical issues, social media data can provide a complementary and cost-efficient information source for addressing the grand challenges of biodiversity conservation in the Anthropocene epoch.
Plastics is all the rage, and mitigating marine litter is topping the agenda for nations pushing issues such as ocean acidification, or even climate change, away from the public consciousness. We are personally directly affected by plastics and charismatic megafauna is dying from it, and it is something that appears to be doable. So, who cares about the issue of ocean acidification anymore? We all should. The challenge is dual in the fact that is both invisible to the naked eye and therefore not felt like a pressing issue to the public, thereby not reaching the top of the agenda of policy makers; but also that it is framed in the climate change narrative of fear - whereby it instills in a fight-or-flight response in the public, resulting in their avoidance of the issue because they feel they are unable to take action that have results. In this article, we argue that the effective global environmental governance of ocean acidification, though critical to address, mitigate against and adapt to, is hindered by the both this lack of perception of urgency in the general public, fueled by a lack of media coverage, as well as a fight-or-flight response resulting from fear. We compare this to the more media friendly and plastics problem that is tangible and manageable. We report on a media plots of plastics and ocean acidification coverage over time and argue that the issue needs to be detangled from climate change and framed as its own issue to reach the agenda at a global level, making it manageable to assess and even care about for policy makers and the public alike?
Coastal areas in the eastern sub-region of Thailand, a popular destination in Southeast Asia, are facing rapid tourism-related urbanization and associated consequences of environment and climate change (CC). Thus, this study aims to analyze the relationships between tourism, coastal areas, the environment, and CC in the context of tourism urbanization; and recommend strategies for enhancing the governance of coastal areas. Three popular destinations were selected as study areas, Koh Chang, Pattaya, and Koh Mak. Group discussions, questionnaire surveys, interviews, and observation were used for primary data collection together with secondary data. The results show that the development of these destinations has been incompatible with the coastal environment and CC patterns. Rapid urbanization from tourism development is the main driver of environmental changes and makes the areas vulnerable to CC-related risks. While water scarcity and pollution are found the most critical environmental issues of the destinations, coastal areas are negatively affected in terms of increased air and water pollution and resource degradation. They have also been exposed to different CC-related problems while the risks of accumulative impacts of both environment and CC have not been adequately recognized or addressed. Although some measures have provided synergies of improved environment and increased climate resilience, possible conflicts and gaps were also found. Public infrastructure integration and optimization to enhance coastal areas’ environment and climate resilience are suggested.
Timing of reproduction may be of crucial importance for fitness, particularly in environments that vary seasonally in food availability or predation risk. However, for animals with spatially separated feeding and breeding habitats, optimal reproductive timing may differ between parents and their offspring, leading to parent-offspring conflict. We assume that offspring have highest survival and fitness if they are spawned around a fixed date, and use state-dependent life-history theory to explore whether variation in conditions affecting only parents (food availability and survival) may influence optimal timing of reproduction. We apply the model to Pacific herring (Clupea palasii) in Puget Sound, USA, where 20 subpopulations spawn at different times of the year. Our model suggests that relatively small differences in adult food availability can lead to altered prioritization in the trade-off between maternal fecundity and what from the offspring’s perspective is the best time to be spawned. Our model also shows that observed among-population variability in reproductive timing may result from adults using different feeding grounds with divergent food dynamics, or from individual variation in condition caused by stochasticity at a single feeding ground. Identifying drivers of reproductive timing may improve predictions of recruitment, population dynamics, and responses to environmental change.
Decades of billfish tagging studies have been hindered by below-par conventional tag recovery rates and high rates of premature satellite pop-up tag shedding. With hopes of obtaining long-term tracking data, we performed the world’s first archival tagging study on an istiophorid, surgically implanting 99 archival tags into the peritoneal cavity of striped marlin (Kajikia audax) off the coast of Baja California, Mexico. Marlin were also tagged externally with a conventional tag before release. Ten archival tags (10.1%) were recovered with days at liberty (DAL) ranging from 400 to 2795. Nine recoveries were from Mexican waters, whereas one marlin was recaptured off Ecuador. In total, 100% of the light stalks on the archival tags failed, with nine failing within the first 3 months of deployment; because the light data are used to estimate the geographic position of the tagged fish, tracking data were compromised. The absence of conventional tags on all recaptured marlin indicates that studies of marlin using conventional tags have been hindered by tag shedding rather than tagging-associated mortality or underreporting. Our high recapture rate and long DAL suggest istiophorid science could be greatly advanced by archival tagging if new tag designs or methods can eliminate tag failure.
Regulatory discharge standards stipulating a maximum allowable number of viable organisms in ballast water have led to a need for rapid, easy and accurate compliance assessment tools and protocols. Some potential tools presume that organisms present in ballast water samples display the same characteristics of life as the native community (e.g. rates of fluorescence). This presumption may not prove true, particularly when ships' ballast tanks present a harsh environment and long transit times, negatively impacting organism health. Here, we test the accuracy of a handheld pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) fluorometer, the Hach BW680, for detecting photosynthetic protists at concentrations above or below the discharge standard (< 10 cells·ml− 1) in comparison to microscopic counts using fluoresce indiacetate as a viability probe. Testing was conducted on serial dilutions of freshwater harbour samples in the lab and in situ untreated ballast water samples originating from marine, freshwater and brackish sources utilizing three preprocessing techniques to target organisms in the size range of ≥ 10 and < 50 μm. The BW680 numeric estimates were in agreement with microscopic counts when analyzing freshly collected harbour water at all but the lowest concentrations (< 38 cells·ml− 1). Chi-square tests determined that error is not independent of preprocessing methods: using the filtrate method or unfiltered water, in addition to refining the conversion factor of raw fluorescence to cell size, can decrease the grey area where exceedance of the discharge standard cannot be measured with certainty (at least for the studied populations). When examining in situ ballast water, the BW680 detected significantly fewer viable organisms than microscopy, possibly due to factors such as organism size or ballast water age. Assuming both the BW680 and microscopy with FDA stain were measuring fluorescence and enzymatic activity/membrane integrity correctly, the observed discrepancy between methods may simply reflect that the two methods are measuring different characteristics of life. This is the first study to conduct proof-of-concept testing for a rapid compliance detection tool using freshly collected harbour water concomitantly with in situ ballast water; our results demonstrate that it is important to challenge potential compliance tools with water samples spanning a range of biotic and abiotic conditions.
Understanding spatial distributions of fish species is important to those seeking to manage fisheries and advise on marine developments. Distribution patterns, habitat use, and aggregative behaviour often vary throughout the life cycle and can increase the vulnerability of certain life stages to anthropogenic impacts. Here we investigate distribution changes during the life cycle of whiting (Merlangius merlangus) to the west of the UK. Density distributions for age-0, age-1 and mature fish were modelled as functions of environmental variables using generalised additive mixed effects models. The greatest densities of age-0 whiting occurred over finer sediments where temperatures were between 12 to 13°C. Age-0 whiting densities decreased with increasing depth. Higher densities of age-1 whiting were also associated with fine sediments and peaked at 60 m, but this influence was also dependent on proximity to shore. Mature fish, while showing no association with any particular sediment type, were strongly associated with depths >60 m. Geostatistical aggregation curves were used to classify space use and showed persistent aggregations of age-0 whiting occupying inshore waters while age-1 and mature fish were more dispersed and differed among years. The differences in distributions among life stages suggested a general coastal to offshore shift as cohorts developed with mature whiting mainly occupying deep offshore waters. The spatial dynamics and areas of persistent life stage aggregation identified here could enable informed targeting and avoidance of specific age-class whiting to aid bycatch reduction. Given that landing obligation legislation is counterproductive unless it encourages greater fishing selectivity, the ability to avoid this species and undersized individuals would aid conservation measures and fishermen alike.
The application of historical perspectives and the documentation of long-term change in and views about the ocean is increasingly sought to frame and contextualize current issues facing marine science and policy. One of the important methods for informing such an historical perspective is through the use of oral histories, long used by social scientists for insight into local knowledge, lived history, and their meaning to participants. In this article, we seek to demonstrate the relevance of oral histories for understanding the changing institutional setting and research focus of marine science in the United States, and the unique platform it offers for introspective reflection on where marine sciences are today, where they have been, and where they might like to go. We discuss the influence of institutional changes on research topics, the impact of regional differences on the sciences, the increasing emphasis on mathematics and modelling, and new directions incorporating ecosystems, human communities, and public involvement. Finally, we conclude with consideration of the value of oral histories and other qualitative methods for elucidating experiences of and perspectives on the past.
Coral reefs face an uncertain future and may not recover naturally from anthropogenic climate change. Coral restoration is needed to rehabilitate degraded reefs and to sustain biodiversity. There is a need for baseline data on global reef distribution, composition, and condition to provide targets for conservation and restoration. Remote sensing can address this issue and is currently underutilized in reef research and restoration. This synthesis integrates current capabilities of remote sensing with key reef restoration criteria, to facilitate coral restoration success. Research into the development of a spectral database for corals, linking habitat type and extent with predator abundance, and identification of species-specific acoustic signatures are needed to advance the use of remote sensing in reef restoration design and monitoring. Reciprocally, reef restoration efforts should innovate at ecosystem, regional, and global levels using remote sensing, to preserve as much of the coral reef biome as possible with continued ocean-climate change.
As “ecosystem engineers,” framework-forming scleractinian cold-water corals (CWC) build reefs that are unique biodiversity hotspots in the deep sea. Studies using common biological techniques such as correlating the spatial occurrence of the most common CWC species with modeled environmental conditions have revealed the ecological requirements and tolerances of these species. However, limited field observations and poorly understood geographical distribution patterns of the CWC restrict the application of existing knowledge toward assessing their fate (e.g., local extinction, newly established populations) under ongoing global change. Hence, the risk to cross ecological tipping points causing the demise (or establishment) of entire CWC reefs remains unclear. A major challenge is to identify the key environmental parameters (or stressors) having the potential to control CWC vitality by providing such tipping points. This is largely hampered by the overall lack of present-day observations of such tipping point crossings. However, evidence for such events is frequently preserved in geological records revealing that entire CWC ecosystems vanished or returned at specific moments in the past. Here, a geological approach is presented that by correlating geological CWC records with paleoceanographic data describing past environmental changes allows to identify a set of key environmental drivers that directly or indirectly control CWC vitality. Thus, by combining such a geological approach with common biological techniques (see above) to describe the ecological tolerance of the most important reef-building CWC has a great potential to better assess their future spatial distribution in times of accelerating global change and to improve the sustainable management of the important deep-sea ecosystems formed by CWC.
Modeling tools that can demonstrate possible consequences of strategies designed to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) should be able to address tradeoffs over a wide suite of considerations representing the scope of marine management objectives. Coupled ecological-economic modeling, where models for ecological and economic subsystems are linked through their inputs and outputs, allows for quantification of such tradeoffs. Here, we link the harvest output from fishery management scenarios implemented in an end-to-end ecosystem model (Atlantis) to an input–output regional economic model for the Northeast United States to calculate changes in socio-economic indicators, including the consequences of management action for regional sales, wages, and employment. We implement three simple scenarios (maintain, decrease, or increase current fishing effort), and compare model-projected values for systematic and sector-specific indicators. Systematic indicators revealed different ecological and economic outcomes, with large ecological responses and clear tradeoffs among the catch and biomass of species groups. Economic indicators for the region responded similarly to fishery yield; however, changes in total sales did not match those in landed catch. Under increased fishing effort, a lower proportional increase in sales relative to total landed catch arose due to increased yield from lower value species groups. Average fisheries income changed little among scenarios, but was highest when effort was maintained at current levels, likely a reflection of fleet and catch stability. Our results serve to demonstrate that consequences of management may be felt disproportionately among species through the region and across different fisheries sectors. With our coupled modeling approach of passing Atlantis ecosystem model outputs to an input–output economic model, we were able to assess effects of fisheries management across a broader suite of indicators that have relevance for policymakers across multiple objectives.