Despite general and wide-ranging negative effects of coral reef degradation on reef communities, hope might exist for reef-associated predators that use nursery habitats. When reef structural complexity is lost, refuge density declines and prey vulnerability increases. Here, we explore whether the presence of nursery habitats can promote high predator productivity on degraded reefs by mitigating the costs of increased vulnerability in early life, whilst allowing for the benefits of increased food availability in adulthood. We apply size-based ecosystem models of coral reefs with high and low structural complexity to predict fish biomass and productivity in the presence and absence of mangrove nurseries. Our scenarios allow us to elucidate the interacting effects of refuge availability and ontogenetic habitat shifts for fisheries productivity. We find that low complexity, degraded reefs with nurseries can support fisheries productivity that is equal to or greater than that in complex reefs that lack nurseries. We compare and validate model predictions with field data from Belize. Our results should inform reef fisheries management strategies and protected areas now and into the future.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Mass mortality events (MMEs) are a key concern for the management of marine ecosystems. Specific stages and species are at risk and the causes may be single or cumulative pressure from a range of sources including pollutants, anthropogenic climate change or natural variability. Identifying risk and quantifying effects of plausible scenarios including MMEs are key to stakeholders and a quest for scientists. MMEs affect the whole ecosystem, but are traditionally only studied in relation to specific species, disregarding ecological feedbacks. Here we use an end-to-end ecosystem model adapted to the Nordic and Barents seas to evaluate the species-specific and ecological impacts for 50 years following an MME. MMEs were modeled as 10, 50, or 90% reduced recruitment for cod, herring and haddock, individually or in combination. The MME scenarios were compared to a base case model run that includes the current fishing mortality. All species showed declines in population biomass following an MME, increasing in duration and severity with increasing mortality. Cod biomass rebounded to the base case level within 3–13 years post the MME independent of scenario, while neither haddock nor herring fully rebounded to base case levels within the considered time horizon. Haddock responded much more variably to the mortality scenarios than cod or herring, with some scenarios yielding much higher levels of biomass than the base case. Herring responded negatively to all scenarios, leading to lower herring biomass and a steeper decline of the species than seen in the base case due to persistent harvest pressure. Corresponding responses showed that the demersal guild biomass increased substantially, while the pelagic guild biomass declined. Few effects were observed on the other guilds, including the top predators. Ecosystem effects as measured by ecological indicators were greatest after 5 years, but persisted through the entire model run. Fishery indicators showed the same features, but the responses were stronger than for the ecosystem indicators. Taken together this indicates long-term, ecological response to MMEs that can be described as regime shifts, highlighting the importance of using ecosystem models when evaluating effects of MMEs.
Despite an exponential increase in available data on marine plastic debris globally, information on levels and trends of plastic pollution and especially microplastics in the Arctic remains scarce. The few available peer-reviewed scientific works, however, point to a ubiquitous distribution of plastic particles in all environmental compartments, including sea ice. Here, we review the current state of knowledge on the sources, distribution, transport pathways and fate of meso- and microplastics with a focus on the European Arctic and discuss observed and projected impacts on biota and ecosystems.
This paper examines the potential for improved environmental performance of smallholder aquaculture production through ‘beyond-farm’ governance. Smallholder aquaculture farmers face a range of systemic environmental risks related to disease and water quality that extend beyond the boundary of their farms. Yet most governance arrangements aimed at mitigating risks, such as certification, finance and insurance, are focused on the farm-level rather than the wider landscape within which farming takes place. In this paper we propose an integrated approach to area-based management of aquaculture risks that integrates collective action, risk assurance and transfer, and inclusive value chains. In doing so, we set a new research agenda for the integrated governance of mitigating production risks and producer vulnerability in global food production.
Marine biodiversity is under extreme pressure from anthropogenic activity globally, leading to calls to protect at least 10% of the world’s oceans within marine protected areas (MPAs) and other effective area-based conservation measures. Fulfilling such commitments, however, requires a detailed understanding of the distribution of potentially detrimental human activities, and their predicted impacts. One such approach that is being increasingly used to strengthen our understanding of human impacts is cumulative impact mapping; as it can help identify economic sectors with the greatest potential impact on species and ecosystems in order to prioritize conservation management strategies, providing clear direction for intervention. In this paper, we present the first local cumulative utilization impact mapping exercise for the Bioko-Corisco-Continental area of Equatorial Guinea’s Exclusive Economic Zone – situated in the Gulf of Guinea, one of the most important and least studied marine regions in the Eastern Central Atlantic. This study examines the potential impact of ten direct anthropogenic activities on a suite of key marine megafauna species and reveals that the most suitable habitats for these species, located on the continental shelf, are subject to the highest threat scores. However, in some coastal areas, the persistence of highly suitable habitat subject to lower threat scores suggests that there are still several strategic areas that are less impacted by human activity that may be suitable sites for protected area expansion. Highlighting both the areas with potentially the highest impact, and those with lower impact levels, as well as particularly damaging activities can inform the direction of future conservation initiatives in the region.
Current policy and management for marine water quality in the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) in north-eastern Australia primarily focusses on sediment, nutrients and pesticides derived from diffuse source pollution related to agricultural land uses. In addition, contaminants of emerging concern (CECs) are known to be present in the marine environments of the GBR and the adjacent Torres Strait (TS). Current and projected agricultural, urban and industrial developments are likely to increase the sources and diversity of CECs being released into these marine ecosystems. In this review, we evaluate the sources, presence and potential effects of six different categories of CECs known to be present, or likely to be present, in the GBR and TS marine ecosystems. Specifically, we summarize available monitoring, source and effect information for antifouling paints; coal dust and particles; heavy/trace metals and metalloids; marine debris and microplastics; pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs); and petroleum hydrocarbons. Our study highlights the lack of (available) monitoring data for most of these CECs, and recommends: (i) the inclusion of all relevant environmental data into integrated databases for building marine baselines for the GBR and TS regions, and (ii) the implementation of local, targeted monitoring programs informed by predictive methods for risk prioritization. Further, our spatial representation of the known and likely sources of these CECs will contribute to future ecological risk assessments of CECs to the GBR and TS marine environments, including risks relative to those identified for sediment, nutrients and pesticides.
As ocean acidification (OA) sensor technology develops and improves, in situ deployment of such sensors is becoming more widespread. However, the scientific value of these data depends on the development and application of best practices for calibration, validation, and quality assurance as well as on further development and optimization of the measurement technologies themselves. Here, we summarize the results of a 2-day workshop on OA sensor best practices held in February 2018, in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, drawing on the collective experience and perspectives of the participants. The workshop on in situ Sensors for OA Research was organized around three basic questions: 1) What are the factors limiting the precision, accuracy and reliability of sensor data? 2) What can we do to facilitate the quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) process and optimize the utility of these data? and 3) What sort of data or metadata are needed for these data to be most useful to future users? A synthesis of the discussion of these questions among workshop participants and conclusions drawn is presented in this paper.
The increasing perception that public communication in science and technology is an important tool to create a knowledge society is encouraging numerous public engagement activities. However, too little is known about scientists’ opinions of and attitudes towards the public with whom they interact during these activities, especially in southern European countries such as Spain. If we want to establish an effective dialogue between science and society, we need to be aware of the opinions and perceptions that both parties have of each other. In this study, we address this issue by focusing on 1022 responses to a survey conducted among scientists in Spain to discover their views of the public, and we then compare these responses with data from other national surveys on the public’s understanding of science. The results show that approximately 75% of Spanish scientists think that the general public has a serious lack of knowledge and understanding of scientific reasoning, although scientists do recognize that science interests the public (73%). Scientists believe that the public values the scientific profession to a lesser extent than suggested by public surveys: on a scale of 1–5, survey respondents rate their valuation of the scientific profession at 4.22, whereas scientists rate the public's valuation of the profession at 3.12, on average. Significant differences were detected between scientists’ perceptions of how citizens are informed about science and what citizens report in surveys. The challenge for the future is to narrow this gap in order to help scientists gain a better understanding of the public and their interests and to make public engagement activities more effective.
The Protocol on Environmental Protection of the Antarctic Treaty stipulates that the protection of the Antarctic environment and associated ecosystems be fundamentally considered in the planning and conducting of all activities in the Antarctic Treaty area. One of the key pollutants created by human activities in the Antarctic is noise, which is primarily caused by ship traffic (from tourism, fisheries, and research), but also by geophysical research (e.g., seismic surveys) and by research station support activities (including construction). Arguably, amongst the species most vulnerable to noise are marine mammals since they specialize in using sound for communication, navigation and foraging, and therefore have evolved the highest auditory sensitivity among marine organisms. Reported effects of noise on marine mammals in lower-latitude oceans include stress, behavioral changes such as avoidance, auditory masking, hearing threshold shifts, and—in extreme cases—death. Eight mysticete species, 10 odontocete species, and six pinniped species occur south of 60°S (i.e., in the Southern or Antarctic Ocean). For many of these, the Southern Ocean is a key area for foraging and reproduction. Yet, little is known about how these species are affected by noise. We review the current prevalence of anthropogenic noise and the distribution of marine mammals in the Southern Ocean, and the current research gaps that prevent us from accurately assessing noise impacts on Antarctic marine mammals. A questionnaire given to 29 international experts on marine mammals revealed a variety of research needs. Those that received the highest rankings were (1) improved data on abundance and distribution of Antarctic marine mammals, (2) hearing data for Antarctic marine mammals, in particular a mysticete audiogram, and (3) an assessment of the effectiveness of various noise mitigation options. The management need with the highest score was a refinement of noise exposure criteria. Environmental evaluations are a requirement before conducting activities in the Antarctic. Because of a lack of scientific data on impacts, requirements and noise thresholds often vary between countries that conduct these evaluations, leading to different standards across countries. Addressing the identified research needs will help to implement informed and reasonable thresholds for noise production in the Antarctic and help to protect the Antarctic environment.
The accumulation patterns of floating marine litter (FML) in the Black Sea and the stranding locations on coasts are studied by performing dedicated Lagrangian simulations using freely available ocean current and Stokes drift data from operational models. The low FML concentrations in the eastern and northern areas and the high concentrations along the western and southern coasts are due to the dominant northerlies and resulting Ekman and Stokes drift. No pronounced FML accumulation zones resembling the Great Pacific Garbage Patch are observed at time scales from months to a year. The ratio of circulation intensity (measured by the sea level slope) to the rate of the temporal variability of sea level determines whether FML will compact. This ratio is low in the Black Sea, which is prohibitive for FML accumulation. It is demonstrated that the strong temporal variability of the velocity field (ageostrophic motion) acts as a mixing mechanism that opposes another ageostrophic constituent of the velocity field (spatial variability in sea level slope, or frontogenesis), the latter promoting the accumulation of particles. The conclusion is that not all ageostrophic ocean processes lead to clustering. The short characteristic stranding time of ∼20 days in this small and almost enclosed basin explains the large variability in the total amount of FML and the low FML concentration in the open ocean. The predominant stranding areas are determined by the cyclonic general circulation. The simulated distribution of stranded objects is supported by available coastal and near-coastal observations. It is shown that the areas that were the most at risk extend from the Kerch Strait to the western coast.
Worldwide fisheries management has been undergoing a paradigm shift from a single-species approach to ecosystem approaches. In the United States, NOAA has adopted a policy statement and Road Map to guide the development and implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). NOAA’s EBFM policy supports addressing the ecosystem interconnections to help maintain resilient and productive ecosystems, even as they respond to climate, habitat, ecological, and social and economic changes. Managing natural marine resources while taking into account their interactions with their environment and our human interactions with our resources and environment requires the support of ecosystem science, modeling, and analysis. Implementing EBFM will require using existing mandates and approaches that fit regional management structures and cultures. The primary mandate for managing marine fisheries in the United States is the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. Many tenets of the Act align well with the EBFM policy, however, incorporating ecosystem analysis and models into fisheries management processes has faced procedural challenges in many jurisdictions. In this paper, we review example cases where scientists have had success in using ecosystem analysis and modeling to inform management priorities, and identify practices that help bring new ecosystem science information into existing policy processes. A key to these successes is regular communication and collaborative discourse among modelers, stakeholders, and resource managers to tailor models and ensure they addressed the management needs as directly as possible.
Snapper and grouper are important fisheries resources, with high commercial value and an important role in the livelihoods and food security of many local communities worldwide. However, the status of many snapper and grouper fisheries is unknown, particularly in the cases of small-scale fisheries in developing countries. The main goals of this work are to provide an overview of the current status and trends of these resources and to find alternative sources of information that could be used to determine the status of snapper and grouper fisheries, as well as other data-limited fisheries. Several complementary approaches were explored, including determination of the status of snapper and grouper fisheries based on FAO assessment criteria, analysis of landings time-series trends, and investigation of whether other variables could be used as proxies for fishery status. About half of these fisheries were classified as overexploited, 30% as non-fully exploited and 19% as fully exploited. The FAO landings data indicated that the number of overexploited fisheries has been increasing over the years and that the majority of these fisheries are in transition between the fully exploited and overexploited statuses. The Human Development Index emerged as a potential proxy for the status of the biomass. The multinomial modeling approach explained about 44% of the variability observed in the biomass stock status classification data and indicated a high level of correspondence between original and estimated status, which makes this approach very attractive for application to other data-limited fisheries.
The increasing use of tracking devices, such as the Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) and the Automatic Identification System (AIS), have allowed, in the last decade, detailed spatial and temporal analyses of fishing footprints and of their effects on environments and resources. Nevertheless, tracking devices usually allow monitoring of the largest length classes composing different fleets, whereas fishing vessels below a regulatory threshold (i.e., 15 m in length-over-all) are not mandatorily equipped with these tools. This issue is critical, since 36% of the vessels in the European Union (EU) fleets belong to these “hidden” length classes. In this study, a model [namely, a cascaded multilayer perceptron network (CMPN)] is devised to predict the annual fishing footprints of vessels without tracking devices. This model uses information about fleet structures, environmental characteristics, human activities, and fishing effort patterns of vessels equipped with tracking devices. Furthermore, the model is able to take into account the interactions between different components of the fleets (e.g., fleet segments), which are characterized by different operating ranges and compete for the same marine space. The model shows good predictive performance and allows the extension of spatial analyses of fishing footprints to the relevant, although still unexplored, fleet segments.
Marine reserves are an important management tool for conserving local biodiversity and protecting fragile ecosystems such as seagrass that provide significant ecological functions and services to people and the marine environment. With humans placing ever-growing pressure on seagrass habitats, marine reserves also provide an important reference from which changes to seagrass and their ecological assemblages may be assessed. After eight years of protection of seagrass beds (Posidonia australis) in no-take marine reserves (Sanctuary Zones) within the Jervis Bay Marine Park (New South Wales, Australia; zoned in 2002), we aimed to assess what changes may have occurred and assess continuing change through time in fish assemblages within these seagrass meadows. Using baited remote underwater videos (BRUVs), we sampled seagrass fish assemblages at three locations in no-take zones and five locations in fished zones three times from 2010 to 2013. Overall, we observed a total of 2615 individuals from 40 fish species drawn from 24 families. We detected no differences in total fish abundance, diversity, or assemblage composition between management zones, although we observed a significant increase in Haletta semifasciata, a locally targeted fish species, in no-take marine reserves compared with fished areas. Fish assemblages in seagrass varied greatly amongst times and locations. Several species varied in relative abundance greatly over months and years, whilst others had consistently greater relative abundances at specific locations. We discuss the potential utility of marine reserves covering seagrass habitats and the value of baseline data from which future changes to seagrass fish populations may be measured.
Microplastics (MP) pollution has received increased attention over the last few years. However, while the number of studies documentating the ingestion of microplastics by fish has increased, fewer studies have addressed the toxicological effects derived from the ingestion of these small items in wild conditions. Here, MP contamination and effect biomarkers were investigated in three commercially important fish species from North East Atlantic Ocean. From the 150 analysed fish (50 per species), 49 % had MP. In fish from the 3 species, MP in the gastrointestinal tract, gills and dorsal muscle were found. Fish with MP had significantly (p ≤ 0.05) higher lipid peroxidation levels in the brain, gills and dorsal muscle, and increased brain acetylcholinesterase activity than fish where no MP were found. These results suggest lipid oxidative damage in gills and muscle, and neurotoxicity through lipid oxidative damage and acetylcholinesterase induction in relation to MP and/or MP-associated chemicals exposure. From the 150 fish analysed, 32 % had MP in dorsal muscle, with a total mean (± SD) of 0.054 ± 0.099 MP items/g. Based on this mean and on EFSA recommendation for fish consumption by adults or the general population, human consumers of Dicentrachus labrax, Trachurus trachurus, Scomber colias may intake 842 MP items/year from fish consumption only. Based on the mean of MP in fish muscle and data (EUMOFA, NOAA) of fish consumption per capita in selected European and American countries, the estimated intake of microplastics through fish consumption ranged from 518 to 3078 MP items/year/capita. Considering that fish consumption is only one of the routes of human exposure to microplastics, this study and others in the literature emphasize the need for more research, risk assessment and adoption of measures to minimize human exposure to these particles. Thus, microplastics pollution and its effects should be further investigated and addressed according to the WHO ‘One Health’ approach.
Significant quantities of plastic debris pollute nearly all the world’s ecosystems, where it persists for decades and poses a considerable threat to flora and fauna. Much of the focus has been on the marine environment, with little information on the hazard posed by debris accumulating on beaches and adjacent vegetated areas. Here we investigate the potential for beach debris to disrupt terrestrial species and ecosystems on two remote islands. The significant quantities of debris on the beaches, and throughout the coastal vegetation, create a significant barrier which strawberry hermit crabs (Coenobita perlatus) encounter during their daily activities. Around 61,000 (2.447 crabs/m2) and 508,000 crabs (1.117 crabs/m2) are estimated to become entrapped in debris and die each year on Henderson Island and the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, respectively. Globally, there is an urgent need to establish a clear link between debris interactions and population persistence, as loss of biodiversity contributes to ecosystem degradation. Our findings show accumulating debris on these islands has the potential to seriously impact hermit crab populations. This is important for countless other islands worldwide where crabs and debris overlap, as crabs play a crucial role in the maintenance of tropical ecosystems.
Using simple models, coupled with parameters extracted from published studies, the annual inputs of macro and micro plastics to the Scottish Atlantic Coast and the Scottish North Sea Coast regions are estimated. Two estimates of land-based sources are used, scaled by catchment area population size. The oceanic supply of floating plastic is estimated for wind-driven and general circulation sources. Minimum, typical and maximum values are computed to examine the magnitude of uncertainties. Direct inputs from fishing and the flux of macroplastic onto the seabed are also included. The modelled estimates reveal the importance of local litter sources to Scottish coastal regions, and hence local management actions can be effective. Estimates provide a scale against which removal efforts may be compared, and provide input data for future more complex modelling. Recommendations for research to improve the preliminary estimates are provided. Methods presented here may be useful elsewhere.
Commercial fisheries yield essential foods, sustain cultural practices, and provide widespread employment around the globe. Commercially harvested species face a myriad of anthropogenic threats including degraded habitats, changing climate, overharvest, and pollution. Microplastics are pollutants of increasing concern, which are pervasive in the environment and can harbor or adsorb pollutants from surrounding waters. Aquatic organisms, including commercial species, encounter and ingest microplastics, but there is a paucity of data about those caught and cultured in North America. Additional research is needed to determine prevalence, physiological effects, and population‐level implications of microplastics in commercial species from Canada, the United States, and Mexico. Investigations into possible human health effects of microplastic exposure from seafood are also greatly needed. This synthesis summarizes current knowledge, identifies data gaps, and provides future research directions for addressing microplastics effects in commercially valuable North American fishery species.
Microplastics are an ecological stressor with implications for ecosystem and human health when present in seafood. We quantified microplastic types, concentrations, anatomical burdens, geographic distribution, and temporal differences in Pacific oysters (Crassostrea gigas) and Pacific razor clams (Siliqua patula) from 15 Oregon coast, U.S.A. sites. Microplastics were present in organisms from all sites. On average, whole oysters and razor clams contained 10.95 ± 0.77 and 8.84 ± 0.45 microplastic pieces per individual, or 0.35 ± 0.04 pieces g−1 tissue and 0.16 ± 0.02 pieces g−1 tissue, respectively. Contamination was quantified but not subtracted. Over 99% of microplastics were fibers. Material type was determined using Fourier‐transform infrared spectroscopy. Spring samples contained more microplastics than summer samples in oysters but not razor clams. Our study is the first to document microplastics in Pacific razor clams and provides important coast‐wide data to compare microplastic burden across species, seasons, and sites.
This study aims to assess the role of CTI-CFF in handling marine ecosystem problems that include coral reef conservation, fisheries, and food security in Indonesia. To achieve the objective, the research method used is a qualitative study using library research data collection techniques. The result of this study indicates that the role of CTI-CFF in environmental conservation in Indonesia can be divided into three aspects of CFF itself namely on coral reefs, fisheries and food security. A number of conservation efforts have been carried out with the implementation of national action plan and have significant impacts on the sustainability of society and the environment. On coral reefs issues, CTI-CFF runs particular programs namely CTI-COREMAP and Marine Protected Areas (MPA). On fisheries issues, CTI-CFF has a particular program called Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAFM). CTI-CFF in Indonesia plays an important role in implementing the strategic steps of the regional action plan which is later adopted into the national plan of actions. These plans are used as a parameter of the involvement of the CTI-CFF in efforts to save marine ecosystems in Indonesia.