September open water fraction in the Arctic is analyzed using the satellite era record of ice concentration (1979–2017). Evidence is presented that three breakpoints (shifts in the mean) occurred in the Pacific sector, with higher amounts of open water starting in 1989, 2002, and 2007. Breakpoints in the Atlantic sector record of open water are evident in 1971 in longer records, and around 2000 and 2011. Multiple breakpoints are also evident in the Canadian and Russian halves. Statistical models that use detected breakpoints of the Pacific and Atlantic sectors, as well as models with breakpoints in the Canadian and Russian halves and the Arctic as a whole, outperform linear trend models in fitting the data. From a physical standpoint, the results support the thesis that Arctic sea ice may have critical points beyond which a return to the previous state is less likely. From an analysis standpoint, the findings imply that de-meaning the data using the breakpoint means is less likely to cause spurious signals than employing a linear detrend.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Major climate and ecological changes affect the world’s oceans leading to a number of responses including increasing water temperatures, changing weather patterns, shrinking ice-sheets, temperature-driven shifts in marine species ranges, biodiversity loss and bleaching of coral reefs. In addition, ocean pH is falling, a process known as ocean acidification (OA). The root cause of OA lies in human policies and behaviours driving society’s dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in elevated CO2 concentrations in the atmosphere. In this review, we detail the state of knowledge of the causes of, and potential responses to, OA with particular focus on Swedish coastal seas. We also discuss present knowledge gaps and implementation needs.
A seafood fraud campaign was launched by an ocean conservation group to increase transparency in global seafood supply chains by enacting policies on full chain boat-to-plate traceability for all seafood sold in the U.S. As part of this campaign, online members of the group were recruited to document and collect commercial seafood samples as part of a large investigation of U.S. seafood mislabeling, specifically species substitution. Following an iterative project design including several rounds of pilot testing of sample preservation methods and outreach materials, 1058 of the more than 55,000 members solicited signed up to be a “seafood sleuth” and were mailed seafood testing kits, containing supplies to submit two fish samples of their choice. On average, 33.4% (353/1058) of these citizen scientists in 11 metropolitan areas returned kits that contained 631 samples, or nearly half of the 1263 samples collected in the overall study. Assessment of the quality of citizen science data revealed comparable rates of sample integrity, data completeness and mislabeling compared to samples and data collected by trained scientists. Citizen science outreach provided a more informed and engaged online member population, who continued to take actions to advance seafood traceability policies with their decision makers. Citizen science outreach was an integral part of a successful campaign that included science, communication strategies to garner mass media attention and advocacy to promote seafood traceability which resulted in the first seafood traceability regulation in the U.S.
Climate change related natural disasters pose serious threats and risks to livelihoods of fishermen and women as well as to food security in the Caribbean. To respond to these threats and risks, the FAO, the Department of State of the United States of America and the World Bank introduced an initiative on climate risk insurance for the Caribbean Fisheries sector as part of a global initiative on Blue Growth.
In support of this initiative a survey was conducted to identify fisheries assets that could be insured, value these assets, identify climate smart fisheries investments and practices and carry out an insurance needs and demand survey. This Circular presents survey findings from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Grenada, St Lucia, St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines. Some of the key findings are that: 97 percent of the fishing vessels and fishing assets were not insured, while in each of the CARICOM countries there is at least one local insurer offering marine insurance; 83 percent of the fishers would purchase insurance coverage for their vessels if it would be more affordable; only 17 percent of the fishers had a health insurance and 20 percent had an life insurance policy. Moreover, more than one-third of the fishers would be interested to invest in safe harbor, anchorage, haul out and vessel storage facilities, including installation of bumper rails on piers and the use of fenders on boats and piers, if this would reduce insurance premiums.
Based on the findings of the insurance demand survey, an organizational arrangement for a Caribbean Fisheries Risk Insurance Facility (CFRIF) was developed, presented at various regional fora and shared with interested stakeholders.
Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) are used in impact evaluation in a range of fields. However, despite calls for their greater use in environmental management, their use to evaluate landscape scale interventions remains rare. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) incentivise land users to manage land to provide environmental benefits. We present the first RCT evaluation of a PES program aiming to improve water quality. Watersharedis a program which incentivises landowners to avoid deforestation and exclude cattle from riparian forests. Using this unusual landscape-scale experiment we explore the efficacy of Watershared at improving water quality, and draw lessons for future RCT evaluations of landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
One hundred and twenty-nine communities in the Bolivian Andes were randomly allocated to treatment (offered Watershared agreements) or control (not offered agreements) following baseline data collection (including Escherichia coli contamination in most communities) in 2010. We collected end-line data in 2015. Using our end-line data, we explored the extent to which variables associated with the intervention (e.g. cattle exclusion, absence of faeces) predict water quality locally. We then investigated the efficacy of the intervention at improving water quality at the landscape scale using the RCT. This analysis was done in two ways; for the subset of communities for which we have both baseline and end-line data from identical locations we used difference-in-differences (matching on baseline water quality), for all sites we compared control and treatment at end-line controlling for selected predictors of water quality.
The presence of cattle faeces in water adversely affected water quality suggesting excluding cattle has a positive impact on water quality locally. However, both the matched difference-in-differences analysis and the comparison between treatment and control communities at end-line suggested Watershared was not effective at reducing E. coli contamination at the landscape scale. Uptake of Watershared agreements was very low and the most important land from a water quality perspective (land around water intakes) was seldom enrolled.
Although excluding cattle may have a positive local impact on water quality, higher uptake and better targeting would be required to achieve a significant impact on the quality of water consumed in the communities. Although RCTs potentially have an important role to play in building the evidence base for approaches such as PES, they are far from straightforward to implement. In this case, the randomised trial was not central to concluding that Watershared had not produced a landscape scale impact. We suggest that this RCT provides valuable lessons for future use of randomised experiments to evaluate landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
As environmental DNA (eDNA) becomes an increasingly valuable resource for marine ecosystem monitoring, understanding variation in its persistence across contrasting environments is critical. Here, we quantify the breakdown of macrobial eDNA over a spatio-temporal axis of locally extreme conditions, varying from ocean-influenced offshore to urban-inshore, and between winter and summer. We report that eDNA degrades 1.6 times faster in the inshore environment than the offshore environment, but contrary to expectation we find no difference over season. Analysis of environmental covariables show a spatial gradient of salinity and a temporal gradient of pH, with salinity—or the biotic correlates thereof—most important. Based on our estimated inshore eDNA half-life and naturally occurring eDNA concentrations, we estimate that eDNA may be detected for around 48 h, offering potential to collect ecological community data of high local fidelity. We conclude by placing these results in the context of previously published eDNA decay rates.
The coastal and marine environment is often managed according to the principles of sustainable development, which include environmental, economic, and social dimensions. While each are equally important, social sustainability receives a lower priority in both policy and research. Methodologies for assessing social sustainability are less developed than for environmental and economic sustainability, and there is a lack of data on the social aspects of sustainable development (such as social equity), which constitutes a barrier to understanding social considerations and integrating them into natural resource management. This paper explores a threat and risk assessment to the marine estate in New South Wales, Australia, which identified and categorised both the benefits that communities gain from the marine estate and the threats to those benefits. A broad range of benefits were identified including participation (e.g., socialising and sense of community), enjoyment (e.g., enjoying the biodiversity and beauty), cultural heritage and use, intrinsic and bequest values, the viability of businesses, and direct economic values. Threats to community benefits were categorised as resource use conflict, environmental, governance, public safety, critical knowledge gaps and lack of access. An integrated threat and risk assessment approach found that the priority threats to community benefits were environmental threats (e.g., water pollution), critical knowledge gaps (e.g., inadequate social and economic information), governance (e.g., lack of compliance), resource-use conflict (e.g., anti-social behaviour), and lack of access (e.g., loss of fishing access). Threat and risk assessment is an evidence-based tool that is useful for marine planning because it provides a structured approach to incorporating multiple types of knowledge and enables limited resources to be targeted to the threats identified as being most important to address.
Change, adaptation, and resilience have emerged as central concerns in the study of natural resource governance. The mobility of fisheries makes them particularly dynamic and susceptible to long term drivers of movement, such as changing climatic conditions and human pressures. To explore how movement impacts resource systems, this paper presents a mixed-method empirical analysis of long-term geographic shifts and social response in the Northeast U.S. summer flounder fishery from 1996 to 2014. First, the paper describes changes in the distribution of summer flounder and the catch location of commercial fishing trips landing summer flounder. This is followed by a description of the institutional context of summer flounder fishery management and a narrative policy analysis of the ongoing regulatory process. Results indicate significant northward movement of both resource and resource users. Fisheries movement patterns are a result of both ecological change, and an institutional context that allows for some types of fishery mobility while constraining others. Significant conflict has emerged over the distribution of resource access and benefits as these fishery shifts occur within a spatially allocative, and relatively static management context. The analysis identifies competing policy narratives that have emerged to advocate for different forms of adaptation. Narratives offer contesting constructions of the nature and extent of locational shifts, and the fundamental goals of allocation. The differences in these narratives highlight how policy history shapes contemporary disagreements about appropriate response. This fishery serves as a case study for exploring human response to large scale, long-term movements of a natural resource.
The implementation of marine spatial planning (MSP) is bringing together a new body of practitioners who are largely drawn from related professions but have relatively little specific education, training or qualifications in MSP. This is partly due to the newness of the field and the limited opportunities available for personal development. Educational capacity is developing, though MSP content is mostly being added on to existing marine-related programmes. Taking a learning-centred approach, this article seeks to contribute to the development of higher-education curricula that can support a newly-forming MSP practitioner and research community. The proposals presented here are based upon existing educational provision, the ongoing experience of an Erasmus+ partnership in MSP teaching and learning and the results of a related survey. This lays emphasis upon enabling students: to gain a comprehensive, cross-disciplinary body of knowledge and understanding; to develop a strong set of academic and professional skills to underpin MSP practice and research; and to benefit from a variety of methods of learning, teaching and assessment that are designed to facilitate autonomous learning and skills development. Educators should be encouraged to respond to current practice needs and work collaboratively with students in developing courses that respond to their concerns and ambitions.
Coral reefs provide numerous ecosystem goods and services, but are threatened by multiple environmental and anthropogenic stressors. To identify management scenarios that will reverse or mitigate ecosystem degradation, managers can benefit from tools that can quantify projected changes in ecosystem services due to alternative management options. We used a spatially-explicit biophysical ecosystem model to evaluate socio-ecological trade-offs of land-based vs. marine-based management scenarios, and local-scale vs. global-scale stressors and their cumulative impacts. To increase the relevance of understanding ecological change for the public and decision-makers, we used four ecological production functions to translate the model outputs into the ecosystem services: “State of the Reef,” “Trophic Integrity,” “Fisheries Production,” and “Fisheries Landings.” For a case study of Maui Nui, Hawai‘i, land-based management attenuated coral cover decline whereas fisheries management promoted higher total fish biomass. Placement of no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) across 30% of coral reef areas led to a reversal of the historical decline in predatory fish biomass, although this outcome depended on the spatial arrangement of MPAs. Coral cover declined less severely under strict sediment mitigation scenarios. However, the benefits of these local management scenarios were largely lost when accounting for climate-related impacts. Climate-related stressors indirectly increased herbivore biomass due to the shift from corals to algae and, hence, greater food availability. The two ecosystem services related to fish biomass increased under climate-related stressors but “Trophic Integrity” of the reef declined, indicating a less resilient reef. “State of the Reef” improved most and “Trophic Integrity” declined least under an optimistic global warming scenario and strict local management. This work provides insight into the relative influence of land-based vs. marine-based management and local vs. global stressors as drivers of changes in ecosystem dynamics while quantifying the tradeoffs between conservation- and extraction-oriented ecosystem services.
This study provides an integrated perspective to ecosystem based management (EBM) by considering a diverse array of societal goals, i.e. sustainable food supply, clean energy and a healthy marine ecosystem, and a selection of management measures to achieve them. The primary aim of this exercise is to provide guidance for (more) integrated EBM in the North Sea based on an evaluation of the effectiveness of those management measures in contributing to the conservation of marine biodiversity. A secondary aim is to identify the requirements of the knowledge base to guide such future EBM initiatives.
Starting from the societal goals we performed a scoping exercise to identify a “focal social-ecological system” which is a subset of the full social-ecological system but considered adequate to guide EBM towards the achievement of those societal goals. A semi-quantitative risk assessment including all the relevant human activities, their pressures and the impacted ecosystem components was then applied to identify the main threats to the North Sea biodiversity and evaluate the effectiveness of the management measures to mitigate those threats.
This exercise revealed the need for such risk-based approaches in providing a more integrated perspective but also the trade-off between being comprehensive but qualitative versus quantitative but limited in terms of the “focal” part of the SES that can be covered. The findings in this paper provide direction to the (further) development of EBM and its knowledge base that should ultimately allow an integrated perspective while maintaining its capacity to deliver the accuracy and detail needed for decision-making.
Overfishing is a major threat to the survival of shark species, primarily driven by international trade in high-value fins, as well as meat, liver oil, skin and cartilage. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that commercial trade does not threaten wild species, and several shark species have recently been listed on CITES as part of international efforts to ensure that trade does not threaten their survival. However, as international trade regulations alone will be insufficient to reduce overexploitation of sharks, they must be accompanied by practical fisheries management measures to reduce fishing mortality. To examine which management measures might be practical in the context of a targeted shark fishery, we collected data from 52 vessels across 595 fishing trips from January 2014 to December 2015 at Tanjung Luar fishing port in East Lombok, Indonesia. We recorded 11,920 landed individuals across 42 species, a high proportion of which were threatened and regulated species. Catch per unit effort depended primarily on the number of hooks and type of fishing gear used, and to a lesser degree on month, boat engine power, number of sets and fishing ground. The most significant factors influencing the likelihood of catching threatened and regulated species were month, fishing ground, engine power and hook number. We observed significant negative relationships between standardised catch per unit effort and several indicators of fishing effort, suggesting diminishing returns above relatively low levels of fishing effort. Our results suggest that management measures focusing on fishing effort controls, gear restrictions and modifications and spatiotemporal closures could have significant benefits for the conservation of shark species, and may help to improve the overall sustainability of the Tanjung Luar shark fishery. These management measures may also be applicable to shark fisheries in other parts of Indonesia and beyond, as sharks increasingly become the focus of global conservation efforts.
Coastal and marine ecosystems (CMEs) generate some of the most important services to humankind, but they are endangered from overexploitation and loss. The widespread decline in CME services suggests that it is important to understand what is at stake in terms of the critical benefits and values of these services. This article examines how environmental and resource economics has contributed to our knowledge of CME services and discusses progress as well as challenges in valuing these services. The article highlights case studies in which the economic valuation of key CME services has influenced policy decisions concerning the management of CMEs. Two key features of CME benefits are also examined. First, the natural spatial variability in these systems can influence the economic value of CME services. Second, because they occur at the interface between watersheds, the coast, and open water, CMEs can produce cumulative and synergistic benefits across the entire seascape that are much more significant and unique than the services provided by any single ecosystem.
Marine fisheries are in crisis, requiring twice the fishing effort of the 1950s to catch the same quantity of fish, and with many fleets operating beyond economic or ecological sustainability. A possible consequence of diminishing returns in this race to fish is serious labour abuses, including modern slavery, which exploit vulnerable workers to reduce costs. Here, we use the Global Slavery Index (GSI), a national-level indicator, as a proxy for modern slavery and labour abuses in fisheries. GSI estimates and fisheries governance are correlated at the national level among the major fishing countries. Furthermore, countries having documented labour abuses at sea share key features, including higher levels of subsidised distant-water fishing and poor catch reporting. Further research into modern slavery in the fisheries sector is needed to better understand how the issue relates to overfishing and fisheries policy, as well as measures to reduce risk in these labour markets.
Misconceptions, lack of knowledge, and negative attitudes towards sharks act as barriers preventing actions required to tackle threats to shark populations, limiting the success of global shark conservation initiatives. Peru, a major player for the international trade of shark products, recently approved the ‘National Action Plan for the Conservation and Management of Sharks, Rays and Chimaeras’ (PAN-Tib); a guiding document for conservation initiatives aimed at these fishes. Within PAN-Tib, the assessment of Peruvians’ current knowledge and attitudes towards sharks is listed as a research priority. Between June and October 2016, 2004 Peruvians were surveyed along the coast to characterize their (i) shark meat consumption patterns, and (ii) knowledge and attitudes towards sharks. Results suggest that shark meat consumption is extended, but not necessarily frequent, and higher in the northern regions of the country. However, 77.5% of shark meat consumers were unaware that they had eaten sharks. Although 57.6% of the participants recognized that sharks are present in Peruvian waters, only 19.4% of the surveyed population was capable of naming at least one local shark species. Moreover, Peruvians have very negative attitudes towards sharks. They fear them and view them as man-eaters, despite this, no shark attacks have ever been reported in the country. These results highlight the need to: (i) encourage sustainable shark meat consumption, and (ii) promote communication campaigns aimed at increasing knowledge about sharks, and their importance as a source of employment and food for coastal communities, as for the national economy.
Widespread shallow coral reef loss has led to calls for more holistic approaches to coral reef management, requiring inclusion of ecosystems interacting with shallow coral reefs in management plans. Yet, almost all current reef management is biased towards shallow reefs, and overlooks that coral reefs extend beyond shallow waters to mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs; 30–150 m). We present the first detailed quantitative characterization of MCEs off Cozumel, Mexico, on the northern Mesoamerican Reef in the Mexican Caribbean, and provide insights into their general state. We documented MCE biodiversity, and assessed whether MCEs adjacent to a major town and port, where coastal development has caused shallow reef damage, have similar benthic and fish communities to MCEs within a National Park. Our results show that overall MCE communities are similar regardless of protection, though some taxa-specific differences exist in benthic communities between sites within the MPA and areas outside. Regardless of protection and location, and in contrast to shallow reefs, all observed Cozumel MCEs were continuous reefs with the main structural habitat complexity provided by calcareous macroalgae, sponges, gorgonians and black corals. Hard corals were present on MCEs, although at low abundance. We found that 42.5% of fish species recorded on Cozumel could be found on both shallow reefs and MCEs, including 39.6% of commercially valuable fish species. These results suggest that MCEs could play an important role in supporting fish populations. However, regardless of protection and depth, we found few large-body fishes (greater than 500 mm), which were nearly absent at all studied sites. Cozumel MCEs contain diverse benthic and fish assemblages, including commercially valuable fisheries species and ecosystem engineers, such as black corals. Because of their inherent biodiversity and identified threats, MCEs should be incorporated into shallow-reef-focused Cozumel National Park management plan.
In the Nerbioi estuary (North Spain), the Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) constructed in 1990 resulted in an abrupt decrease in water pollution and an opportunity for improved recreational experiences in the three beaches on the estuary. The monetary value of these recreational benefits was estimated using the travel cost method and compared, via a partial cost-benefit analysis, with the costs of beach maintenance. The travel cost models reveal that summer recreational trips to the three Nerbioi beaches have a value of 5.99, 7.06, and 8.09 € trip-1, respectively. Visitor’s profile and social characteristics influenced the models, while the effects of these variables also varied across beaches. Following a conservative approach, the aggregate recreational value of the estuarine beaches was estimated to be more than 3.5 million year-1. This economic benefit, obtained from summer estimates and focusing on one ecosystem service (i.e., beach recreation) from the multiple ones offered by the estuary, is sufficient to cover 100% of annual beach maintenance costs and 12% of the annual sewerage system running costs. Our findings highlight that investing in water sanitation projects such as WWTPs are not only important for the ecological recovery of degraded coastal environments, but also produce additional human benefits that are able to cover (at least) part of the running cost of these large capital investments.
Land-based macroplastic is considered one of the major sources of marine plastic debris. However, estimations of plastic emission from rivers into the oceans remain scarce and uncertain, mainly due to a severe lack of standardized observations. To properly assess global plastic fluxes, detailed information on spatiotemporal variation in river plastic quantities and composition are urgently needed. In this paper, we present a new methodology to characterize riverine macroplastic dynamics. The proposed methodology was applied to estimate the plastic emission from the Saigon River, Vietnam. During a 2-week period, hourly cross-sectional profiles of plastic transport were made across the river width. Simultaneously, sub-hourly samples were taken to determine the weight, size and composition of riverine macroplastics (>5 cm). Finally, extrapolation of the observations based on available hydrological data yielded new estimates of daily, monthly and annual macroplastic emission into the ocean. Our results suggest that plastic emissions from the Saigon River are up to four times higher than previously estimated. Importantly, our flexible methodology can be adapted to local hydrological circumstances and data availability, thus enabling a consistent characterization of macroplastic dynamics in rivers worldwide. Such data will provide crucial knowledge for the optimization of future mediation and recycling efforts.
Many countries have made statutory commitments to ensure that underwater noise pollution is at levels which do not harm marine ecosystems. Nevertheless, coordinated action to manage cumulative noise levels is lacking, despite broad recognition of the risks to ecosystem health. We attribute this impasse to a lack of quantitative management targets—or “noise budgets”—which regulatory decision‐makers can work toward, and propose a framework of risk‐based noise exposure indicators which make such targets possible. These indicators employ novel noise exposure curves to quantify the proportion of a population or habitat exposed, and the associated exposure duration. This methodology facilitates both place‐based and ecosystem‐based approaches, enabling the integration of noise management into marine spatial planning, risk assessment of population‐level consequences, and cumulative effects assessment. Using data from the first international assessment of impulsive noise activity, we apply this approach to herring spawning and harbor porpoise in the North Sea.
This study provides monetary estimates of the benefits of achieving Good Environmental Status (GES) in the Finnish marine waters of the Baltic Sea. The designed contingent valuation study addresses the non-market benefits related to all descriptors defining GES in the Baltic Sea, and it is designed to conform to the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive's request to estimate the national costs of the degradation of the marine environment. According to the results, Finns are willing to contribute annually €105–123 per person to achieve GES in the Finnish marine area. This indicates that the total monetary benefits of reaching GES are €432–509 million annually in Finland. The results also show that Finns value a healthy marine environment irrespective of how far from the coast they live and even if they do not use the sea themselves. They particularly want public funding to be allocated to reducing hazardous substances and eutrophication. Moreover, Finns place especially high importance on cultural ecosystem services related to the existence of habitats for species as well as on recreation and aesthetic values. This confirms that the public funds used for Baltic Sea protection measures seem to be largely accepted even by the population mainly benefiting from non-use values.