The Ecosystem Approach in Ocean Planning and Governance takes stock of the challenges associated with implementing an ecosystem approach in ocean governance. In addition to theorizing the notion of Ecosystem Approach and its multifaceted implications, the book provides in depth analyses of lessons learned and remaining challenges associated with making the Ecosystem Approach fully relevant and operational in different marine policy fields, including marine spatial planning, fisheries, and biodiversity protection. In doing so, it adds much needed legal and social science perspectives to the existing literature on the Ecosystem Approach in relation to the marine environment. While focusing predominantly on the European context, the perspective is enriched by analyses from other jurisdictions, including the USA.
The following titles are freely-available, or include a link to a preprint or postprint.
Principal approaches to ecosystem-based ocean management in the United States include five major strands: Legislation for EBM, Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management, Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas. The presence of multiple strands of action is indicative of a lack of an agreed goal for what ecosystem-based management of the ocean is expected to achieve. It also leads to uncoordinated and sometimes competitive processes that are confusing to ocean users and observers. This paper identifies the principal evolving trends in ecosystem-based approaches in the federal arena in the United States in both sectoral and integrated regional approaches. How these emerging national policies work illustrates how such approaches are generally inadequate to implement EBM.
Due to its dependence on fossil fuel combustion, emissions from the marine transport sector can significantly contribute to air pollution. This work aims to evaluate the impact of maritime transport emissions on air quality in Portugal using a numerical air quality modelling approach, with high-resolution emission data. Emissions from the European TNO inventory were compiled and pre-processed at hourly and high spatial (∼3 × 3 km2) resolutions. Scenarios with and without these maritime emissions were then simulated with the WRF-CHIMERE modelling system, extensively tested and validated for Portugal domain, in order to evaluate their impact on air quality. A simulation was performed for one year (2016) and the resulting differences were analysed in terms of spatial distribution, time series and deltas. The main deltas for NO2 and PM10 are located over international shipping routes and major ports, while O3 concentrations are impacted in a larger area. The modelling results also indicate that shipping emissions are responsible for deltas in the concentration of NO2higher than 20% over specific urban areas located in the west coast of Portugal, and less than 5% for PM10. For O3 the relative contribution is low (around 2%) but this contribution is also observed at locations more than 50 km from the coast.
Resilience underpins the sustainability of both ecological and social systems. Extensive loss of reef corals following recent mass bleaching events have challenged the notion that support of system resilience is a viable reef management strategy. While resilience-based management (RBM) cannot prevent the damaging effects of major disturbances, such as mass bleaching events, it can support natural processes that promote resistance and recovery. Here, we review the potential of RBM to help sustain coral reefs in the 21st century. We explore the scope for supporting resilience through existing management approaches and emerging technologies and discuss their opportunities and limitations in a changing climate. We argue that for RBM to be effective in a changing world, reef management strategies need to involve both existing and new interventions that together reduce stress, support the fitness of populations and species, and help people and economies to adapt to a highly altered ecosystem.
Analysis that link hydrological processes with oceanographic dispersion offer a promising approach for assessing impacts of land-based activities on marine ecosystems. However, such an analysis has not yet been customised to quantify specific pressures from mining activities on marine biodiversity including those from spillages resulting from tailing dam failure. Here, using a Brazilian catchment in which a tailing dam collapsed (Doce river) as a case study, we provide a modelling approach to assess the impacts on key ecosystems and marine protected areas subjected to two exposure regimes: (i) a pulse disturbance event for the period 2015–2016, following the immediate release of sediments after dam burst, which witnessed an average increase of 88% in sediment exports; and (ii) a press disturbance phase for the period 2017–2029, when impacts are sustained over time by sediments along the river's course. We integrated four components into impact assessments: hydrological modelling, coastal-circulation modelling, ecosystem mapping, and biological sensitivities. The results showed that pulse disturbance causes sharp increases in the amount of sediments entering the coastal area, exposing key sensitive ecosystems to pollution (e.g. rhodolith beds), highlighting an urgent need for developing restoration strategies for these areas. The intensity of impacts will diminish over time but the total area of sensitive ecosystems at risk are predicted to be enlarged. We determined monitoring and restoration priorities by evaluating and comparing the extent to which sensitive ecosystems within marine protected areas were exposed to disturbances. The information obtained in this study will allow the optimization of recovery efforts in the marine area affected, and valuation of ecosystem services lost.
The sustainable use of global marine resources depends upon science-based decision processes and systems. Informing decisions with science is challenging for many reasons, including the nature of science and science-based institutions. The complexity of ecosystem-based management often requires the use of models, and model-based advice can be especially difficult to convert into policies or decisions. Here, we suggest five characteristics of model-based information and advice for successfully informing ocean management decision-making, based on the Ocean Modeling Forum framework. Illustrated by examples from two fisheries case studies, Pacific sardines Sardinops sagaxand Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, we argue that actionable model-based output should be aspirational, applicable, parsimonious, co-produced, and amplifying.
Mining impacts will affect local populations to different degrees. Impacts range from removal of habitats and possible energy sources to pollution and smaller-scale alterations in local habitats that, depending on the degree of disturbance, can lead to extinction of local communities. While there is a shortage or even lack of studies investigating impacts that resemble those caused by actual mining activity, the information available on the potential long-lasting impacts of seabed mining emphasise the need for effective environmental management plans. These plans should include efforts to mitigate deep-sea mining impact such as avoidance, minimisation and potentially restoration actions, to maintain or encourage reinstatement of a resilient ecosystem. A wide range of mitigation and restoration actions for deep-sea ecosystems at risk were addressed. From an ecological point of view, the designation of set-aside areas (refuges) is of utmost importance as it appears to be the most comprehensive and precautionary approach, both for well-known and lesser studied areas. Other actions range from the deployment of artificial substrates to enhance faunal colonisation and survival to habitat recreation, artificial eutrophication, but also spatial and temporal management of mining operations, as well as optimising mining machine construction to minimise plume size on the sea floor, toxicity of the return plume and sediment compression. No single action will suffice to allow an ecosystem to recover, instead combined mitigation/restoration actions need to be considered, which will depend on the specific characteristics of the different mining habitats and the resources hosted (polymetallic sulphides, polymetallic nodules and cobalt-rich ferromanganese crusts). However, there is a lack of practical experience regarding mitigation and restoration actions following mining impacts, which severely hamper their predictability and estimation of their possible effect and success. We propose an extensive list of actions that could be considered as recommendations for best environmental practice. The list is not restricted and, depending on the characteristics of the site, additional actions can be considered. For all actions presented here, further research is necessary to fully encompass their potential and contribution to possible mitigation or restoration of the ecosystem.
The offshore and deep-sea marine environment provides many ecosystem services (i.e., benefits to humans), for example: climate regulation, exploitable resources, processes that enable life on Earth, and waste removal. Unfortunately, the remote nature of this environment makes it difficult to estimate the values of these services. One service in particular, waste removal, was examined in the context of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Nearly 5 million barrels of oil were released into the offshore Gulf of Mexico, and 14 billion dollars were spent removing about 25% of the oil spilled. Using values for oil spill cleanup efforts, which included capping the wellhead and collecting oil, surface combustion, and surface skimming, it was calculated that waste removal, i.e., natural removal of spilled oil, saved BP over $35 billion. This large amount demonstrates the costs of offshore disasters, the importance of the offshore environment to humans, as well as the large monetary values associated with ecosystem services provided.
The global oil and gas industry holds a vast archive of Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) inspection footage potentially containing useful long-term data on marine biological communities. With the upcoming era of decommissioning of oil and gas structures, it is timely to assess the usefulness of this footage for researching these communities. We used ROV inspection footage to characterize the sessile invertebrates and fishes associated with the Goodwyn Alpha Production Platform (GWA) on the North West Shelf of Australia between depths of 10 and 125 m during 2006 and 2008. Depth was a major driver of invertebrate assemblages, most likely due to specific requirements such as light, and differences between years were most likely from the physical detachment of species by cyclones and internal waves. Phototrophic species were mostly limited to the upper 50 m of the platform, including the hard coral Pocillopora sp. and the soft corals Nephthea sp. and Scleronephthya sp. In contrast, heterotrophic species including sponges, anemones, bryozoans, hydroids, bivalves such as Lopha folium and the hard coral Tubastrea spp., were distributed across all depths. We observed 1791 fish from at least 10 families and 19 species, including commercial species such as crimson seaperch (Lutjanus erythropterus), red emperor (L. sebae), saddle-tailed seaperch (L. malabaricus), mangrove jack (L. argentimaculatus) and trevally (Caranx spp.). Fish density increased significantly with depth during 2008, from a mean of 23 fish/50 m2 between 10 and 25 m to 3373 fish/50 m2 at 125 m, where small unidentified baitfish were abundant. The highest densities of commercial species occurred between 25 and 75 m depth, suggesting that mid-depth platform sections had high habitat value, a consideration when selecting decommissioning options. The greatest difficulties using the video were the poor lighting and resolution that inhibited our ability to identify sessile species with high taxonomic precision. However, the footage was useful for evaluating high-level biodiversity of the platform, understanding how fish and invertebrate communities changed with depth and comprehending the dynamic nature of the invertebrate community over time. Understanding the habitat value of structures will be necessary for making environmentally sound decommissioning decisions in the future.
Commercial seabed mining seems imminent, highlighting the urgent need for coherent, effective policy to safeguard the marine environment. Reconciling seabed mining with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals will be difficult because minerals extraction will have irreversible consequences that could lead to the loss of habitats, species and ecosystems services. A dialog needs to take place around social, cultural, environmental and economic costs and benefits. Governance of human interactions with the seabed is fragmented and lacks transparency, with a heavy focus on facilitating exploitation rather than ensuring protection. In the light of high uncertainties and high stakes, we present a critical review of proposed policy options for the regulation of seabed mining activities, recommend actions to improve seabed governance and outline the alternatives to mining fragile deep-sea ecosystems.
Air-breathing marine animals, such as seals and seabirds, undertake a special form of central-place foraging as they must obtain their food at depth yet return to the surface to breathe. While telemetry technologies have advanced our understanding of the foraging behavior and physiology of these marine predators, the proximate and ultimate influences controlling the diving behavior of individuals are still poorly understood. Over time, a wide variety of analytical approaches have been developed for dive data obtained via telemetry, making comparative studies and syntheses difficult even amongst closely-related species. Here we review publications using dive telemetry for 24 species (marine mammals and seabirds) in the Southern Ocean in the last decade (2006–2016). We determine the key questions asked, and examine how through the deployment of data loggers these questions are able to be answered. As part of this process we describe the measured and derived dive variables that have been used to make inferences about diving behavior, foraging, and physiology. Adopting a question-driven orientation highlights the benefits of a standardized approach for comparative analyses and the development of models. Ultimately, this should promote robust treatment of increasingly complex data streams, improved alignment across diverse research groups, and also pave the way for more integrative multi-species meta-analyses. Finally, we discuss key emergent areas in which dive telemetry data are being upscaled and more quantitatively integrated with movement and demographic information to link to population level consequences.
Three decades following the onset of efforts to revert widespread eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, evidence of improvement of ecosystem status is growing. However, cumulative pressures have developed in parallel to eutrophication, including those associated with climate change, such as warming, deoxygenation, ocean acidification and increased runoff. These additional pressures risk countering efforts to mitigate eutrophication and arrest coastal ecosystems in a state of eutrophication despite the efforts and significant resources already invested to revert coastal eutrophication. Here we argue that the time has arrived for a broader, more comprehensive approach to intervening to control eutrophication. Options for interventions include multiple levers controlling major pathways of nutrient budgets of coastal ecosystems, i.e., nutrient inputs, which is the intervention most commonly deployed, nutrient export, sequestration in sediments, and emissions of nitrogen to the atmosphere as N2 gas (denitrification). The levers involve local-scale hydrological engineering to increase flushing and nutrient export from (semi)enclosed coastal systems, ecological engineering such as sustainable aquaculture of seaweeds and mussels to enhance nutrient export and restoration of benthic habitats to increase sequestration in sediments as well as denitrification, and geo-engineering approaches including, with much precaution, aluminum injections in sediments. These proposed supplementary management levers to reduce eutrophication involve ecosystem-scale intervention and should be complemented with policy actions to protect benthic ecosystem components.
Matrix approaches are useful for linking ecosystem services to habitats that underpin their delivery. Matrix applications in marine ecosystem services research have been primarily qualitative, focusing on 'habitat presence' without including other attributes that effect service potential. We developed an evidence-based matrix approach of Ecosystem Service Potential (ESP) for New Zealand benthic marine habitats, and used two marine reserves to demonstrate that integrating information on the spatial extent and quality of habitats improved ESP evaluation. The two case studies identified substantial spatio-temporal variability in ESP: within one reserve, specific ESP showed an approximately 1.5-fold increase in the 29 years following protection. A comparison of two reserves found that the spatial extent of habitats contributing to the medicinal resources and waste-water treatment were 5 and 53 times greater respectively in one relative to the other. Integrating habitat area and quality with the ESP matrix improves on previous marine matrix-based approaches, providing a better indication of service potential. The matrix approach helps to communicate the non-market value of supporting and regulating services and can be used by resource managers to identify and track the potential for benefits derived from benthic marine habitats within existing, or new, marine protected areas.
Global environmental change has the potential to disrupt well established species interactions, with impacts on nutrient cycling and ecosystem function. On coral reefs, fish living within the branches of coral colonies can promote coral performance, and it has been hypothesized that the enhanced water flow and nutrients provided by fish to corals could ameliorate coral bleaching. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of small, aggregating damselfish on the health of their host corals (physiology, recovery, and survival) before, during, and after a thermal-bleaching event. When comparing coral colonies with and without fish, those with resident fish exhibited higher Symbiodinium densities and chlorophyll in both field and experimentally-induced bleaching conditions, and higher protein concentrations in field colonies. Additionally, colonies with damselfish in aquaria exhibited both higher photosynthetic efficiency (FV/FM) during bleaching stress and post-bleaching recovery, compared to uninhabited colonies. These results demonstrate that symbiotic damselfishes, and the services they provide, translate into measureable impacts on coral tissue, and can influence coral bleaching susceptibility/resilience and recovery. By mediating how external abiotic stressors influence coral colony health, damselfish can affect the functional responses of these interspecific interactions in a warming ocean.
Nesting sea turtles appear to avoid brightly lit beaches and often turn back to sea prematurely when exposed to artificial light. Observations and experiments have noted that nesting turtles prefer darker areas where buildings and high dunes act as light barriers. As a result, sea turtles often nest on darker beaches, creating spatial concentrations of nests. Artificial nighttime light, or light pollution, has been quantified using a variety of methods. However, it has proven challenging to make accurate measurements of ambient light at fine scales and on smaller nesting beaches. Additionally, light has traditionally been measured from stationary tripods perpendicular to beach vegetation, disregarding the point of view of a nesting sea turtle. In the present study, nighttime ambient light conditions were assessed on three beaches in central North Carolina: a developed coastline of a barrier island, a nearby State Park on the same barrier island comprised of protected and undeveloped land, and a completely uninhabited wilderness on an adjacent barrier island in the Cape Lookout National Seashore. Using an autonomous terrestrial rover, high resolution light measurements (mag/arcsec2) were collected every minute with two ambient light sensors along transects on each beach. Spatial comparisons between ambient light and nesting density at and between these locations reveal that highest densities of nests occur in regions with lowest light levels, supporting the hypothesis that light pollution from coastal development may influence turtle nesting distribution. These results can be used to support ongoing management strategies to mitigate this pressing conservation issue.
Killer whales have a cosmopolitan distribution and as a species are generalists, feeding on a variety of prey. However, local populations tend to specialise on specific prey types. In Icelandic waters, killer whales are generally associated with herring and, thus, have been presumed to be herring specialists. However, recent studies suggest a more complex foraging ecology, possibly including a mosaic of strategies. With increased observational effort in recent years due to research and whale-watching activities, there have been several reports of interactions with different prey, including confirmed predation events. In this study we aimed to summarise the range of potential prey of killer whales observed in Icelandic waters. We report on 12 previously unpublished accounts and review 15 accounts published in the scientific literature or local newspapers, making a total of 27 events where killer whales were observed interacting with actual or potential prey. Thirteen different species, including birds (n = 1), cephalopods (n = 1), fish (n = 5) and marine mammals (n = 6), are reported, although herring is by far the species that killer whales are most often observed interacting with. This study provides the first summary of actual and suspected killer whale prey in Icelandic waters, and contributes towards our understanding of this population’s prey preferences. However, describing the diet of individuals/groups was not possible and this study points to a need for continued monitoring to understand the intricacies of killer whale foraging behaviour in this area.
The European Atlas of the Seas is a web-based coastal and marine information system, originally aimed at the general public, but capable also of supporting non-specialist professionals in addressing environmental matters, human activities and management policies related to the sea. It is based on a combination of data (and metadata), which present a snapshot of both natural and socio-economic elements of coastal and marine regions in the European Union and its Outermost Regions. The first idea of a European Atlas of the Seas was set forward in 2007 with the launch of the Integrated Maritime Policy for the European Union. Early work on the Atlas was conducted by the Directorate General for Maritime Affairs of the European Commission, while further development of system architecture, data collection, map services and descriptive text was assigned in 2013 to the Joint Research Centre, with the aim to offer new services and features, as well as the interaction with other available information tools. The present European Atlas of the Seas consists of background data layers designed to be displayed as map backdrop, as well as a number of thematic data layers, classified under 8 main categories: geography, nature, tourism, security and safety, people and employment, transport and energy, governance and European policies, fisheries and aquaculture. These can be used to compose customized maps, as user-defined ad hoc indicators, and to probe them with tools such as product-to-product correlations, or time series visualisation. Non-specialist professional users can use such analysis and interpretation capabilities to couple data into ecological and socio-economic indicators for a wide range of applications. The thematic map collection provided a common baseline that can be used by Member States of the European Union in getting started with the Maritime Spatial Planning Directive requirements. As this is seen as a pre-requisite for Blue Growth, the European Atlas of the Seas will help the sustainable use of marine ecosystem services and resources.
Consideration of whether to completely remove an oil and gas production platform from the seafloor or to leave the submerged jacket as a reef is an imminent decision for California, as a number of offshore platforms in both state and federal waters are in the early stages of decommissioning. Laws require that a platform at the end of its production life be totally removed unless the submerged jacket section continues as a reef under state sponsorship. Consideration of the eventual fate of the populations of fishes and invertebrates beneath platforms has led to global reefing of the jacket portion of platforms instead of removal at the time of decommissioning. The construction and use of artificial reefs are centuries old and global in nature using a great variety of materials. The history that led to the reefing option for platforms begins in the mid-20th century in an effort for general artificial reefs to provide both fishing opportunities and increase fisheries production for a burgeoning U.S. population. The trend toward reefing platforms at end of their lives followed after the oil and gas industry installed thousands of standing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico where they had become popular fishing destinations. The National Fishing Enhancement Act and subsequent National Artificial Reef Plan laid the foundation for Rig-to-Reefs. Reefing platforms in the Gulf of Mexico is a well-established practice that is also applied globally. Deliberation of reefing decommissioned platforms and many years of scientific study beneath California platforms has culminated in a California State law that now allows consideration of the concept. This paper summarizes the history, practices, published science, and available information involved when considering the reefing option. It is hoped that this material will inform the public, policy makers, and regulators about their upcoming decisions.
To implement ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), there is a need to comprehensively examine fundamental components of fisheries ecosystems and ascertain the characteristics and strategies facilitating this more systematic approach. Coupled natural and human factors, inherent biological productivities, and systematic governance measures all influence living marine resource (LMR) and socioeconomic status within a given socio-ecological system (SES). Determining the relative prominence of these factors remains a challenge. Examining these facets to determine how much EBFM and wise LMR management occurs is timely and warranted given the many issues facing marine fisheries ecosystems. Here we characterize major United States (U.S.) marine fishery ecosystems by examining these facets and compiling a consistent, multidisciplinary view of these coupled SESs using commonly available, integrated data for each ecosystem. We then examine if major patterns and lessons emerge when comparing across SESs. This work also seeks to elucidate what are the determinants of successful LMR management. Although U.S.-centric, the breadth of the ecosystems explored here are likely globally applicable. Overall, we observed that inherent biological productivity was a major driver determining the level of fisheries biomass, landings, and LMR economic value for a given region, but that human interventions can offset basal production. We observed that good governance could overcome certain ecosystem limitations, and vice versa, especially as tradeoffs within regions have intensified over time. We also found that all U.S. regions are performing well in terms of certain aspects of LMR management, with unique successes and challenges observed in all regions. Although attributes of marine fisheries ecosystems differ among regions, there are commonalities that can be applied and transferred across them. These include having: clear stock status identified; relatively stable but attentive management interventions; clear tracking of broader ecosystem considerations; landings to biomass exploitation rates at typically < 0.1; areal landings at typically < 1 t km2year−1; ratios of landings relative to primary production at typically < 0.001; and explicit consideration of socio-economic factors directly in management. Integrated, cross-disciplinary perspectives and systematic comparative syntheses such as this one offer insight in determining regionally-specific and overarching approaches for successful LMR management.
Protected areas (PAs) are a frequently used conservation strategy, yet their socioeconomic impacts on local communities remain contentious. A shift toward increased participation by local communities in PA governance seeks to deliver benefits for human well‐being and biodiversity. Although participation is considered critical to the success of PAs, few researchers have investigated individuals’ decisions to participate and what this means for how local people experience the costs and benefits of conservation. We explored who participates in PA governance associations and why; the perceived benefits and costs to participation; and how costs and benefits are distributed within and between communities. Methods included 3 focus groups, 37 interviews, and 217 questionnaire surveys conducted in 3 communities and other stakeholders (e.g., employees of a nongovernmental organization and government officials) in PA governance in Madagascar. Our study design was grounded in the theory of planned behavior (TPB), the most commonly applied behavior model in social psychology. Participation in PA governance was limited by miscommunication and lack of knowledge about who could get involved and how. Respondents perceived limited benefits and high costs and uneven distribution of these within and between communities. Men, poorer households, and people in remote villages reported the highest costs. Our findings illustrate challenges related to comanagement of PAs: understanding the heterogeneous nature of communities; ensuring all households are represented in governance participation; understanding differences in the meaning of forest protection; and targeting interventions to reach households most in need to avoid elite capture.