The frequency of coral bleaching events has been increasing in recent decades due to the temperature rise registered in most regions near the ocean. Their occurrence in the Maldivian Archipelago has been observed in the months following the peak of strong El Niño events. Bleaching has not been uniform, and some reefs have been only marginally impacted. Here, we use satellite observations and a regional ocean model to explore the spatial and temporal variability of sea surface temperatures (SSTs), and quantify the relative magnitude of ENSO-related episodes with respect to the recent warming. In line with other studies, it is confirmed that the long-term trend in SST significantly increases the frequency of stress conditions for the Maldivian corals. It is also found that the interaction between currents and the steep bathymetry is responsible for a local cooling of about 0.2°C in the Archipelago during the warmest season, with respect to the surrounding waters. This cooling largely reduces the frequency of mortality conditions.
In the past decades, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) has been employed in numerous research fields as a valuable tool for, among other things, Maritime Domain Awareness and Maritime Spatial Planning. In contrast, its use in fisheries management is hampered by coverage and transmission gaps. Transmission gaps may be due to technical limitations (e.g., weak signal or interference with other signals) or to deliberate switching off of the system, to conceal fishing activities. In either case such gaps may result in underestimating fishing effort and pressure. This study was undertaken to map and analyze bottom trawler transmission gaps in terms of duration and distance from the harbor with a view to quantifying unobserved fishing and its effects on overall trawling pressure. Here we present the first map of bottom trawler AIS transmission gaps in the Mediterranean Sea and a revised estimate of fishing effort if some gaps are considered as actual fishing.
The implementation of the European integrated marine policy poses many scientific challenges. Among them, the knowledge and understanding of interactions between anthropogenic pressures and ecological components is an important issue, particularly to help define Good Environmental Status, environmental targets and monitoring programs of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (2008, MSFD). Assessment of cumulative effects of different pressures is a particularly complex issue requiring modeling tools and methods, as well as accurate data sets on human activities, anthropogenic pressures and ecological components. The results of these assessments are also uncertain and highly dependent on the calculation methods and assumptions, as well as on the data sets used. Within this context, we developed a technical and methodological approach to map the risk of cumulative effects of different pressures on benthic habitats. These developments were initiated as part of the implementation of the MSFD in France to contribute to the diagnosis of the marine environment. Here we provide a demonstrator to illustrate the feasibility for mapping the risk of cumulative effects of different pressures on benthic habitats, as well as the confidence index and the variability associated with this analysis. The method is based on a spatial analysis using a mapping of benthic habitats and their sensitivity to pressures, as well as the distribution and intensity of human activities and associated pressures. We collected and prepared relatively accurate and consistent data sets to describe human activities and benthic habitats. Data sets are embedded into a grid that facilitates the management and analysis of the data and exploitation of the results. The demonstrator consists of a relational database using the Spatial Query Language (SQL) language as well as data analysis scripts using the R language. The first demonstrator operations validated the main methodological and technical choices and helped to identify future developments needed to facilitate the appropriation and integration of these approaches in the implementation of public policies for the management of the marine environment.
A multitude of anthropogenic pressures deteriorate the Baltic Sea, resulting in the need to protect and restore its marine ecosystem. For an efficient conservation, comprehensive monitoring and assessment of all ecosystem elements is of fundamental importance. The Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission HELCOM coordinates conservation measures regulated by several European directives. However, this holistic assessment is hindered by gaps within the current monitoring schemes. Here, twenty-two novel methods with the potential to fill some of these gaps and improve the monitoring of the Baltic marine environment are examined. We asked key stakeholders to point out methods likely to improve current Baltic Sea monitoring. We then described these methods in a comparable way and evaluated them based on their costs and applicability potential (i.e., possibility to make them operational). Twelve methods require low to very low costs, while five require moderate and two high costs. Seventeen methods were rated with a high to very high applicability, whereas four methods had moderate and one low applicability for Baltic Sea monitoring. Methods with both low costs and a high applicability include the Manta Trawl, Rocket Sediment Corer, Argo Float, Artificial Substrates, Citizen Observation, Earth Observation, the HydroFIA®pH system, DNA Metabarcoding and Stable Isotope Analysis.
Fishes are known to use deep-sea coral and sponge (DSCS) species as habitat, but it is uncertain whether this relationship is facultative (circumstantial and not restricted to a particular function) or obligate (necessary to sustain fish populations). To explore whether DSCS provide essential habitats for demersal fishes, we analyzed 10 years of submersible survey video transect data, documenting the locations and abundance of DSCS and demersal fishes in the Southern California Bight (SCB). We first classified the different habitats in which fishes and DSCS taxa occurred using cluster analysis, which revealed four distinct DSCS assemblages based on depth and substratum. We then used logistic regression and gradient forest analysis to identify the ecological correlates most associated with the presence of rockfish taxa (Sebastes spp.) and biodiversity. After accounting for spatial autocorrelation, the factors most related to the presence of rockfishes were depth, coral height, and the abundance of a few key DSCS taxa. Of particular interest, we found that young-of-the-year rockfishes were more likely to be present in locations with taller coral and increased densities of Plumarella longispina, Lophelia pertusa, and two sponge taxa. This suggests these DSCS taxa may serve as important rearing habitat for rockfishes. Similarly, the gradient forest analysis found the most important ecological correlates for fish biodiversity were depth, coral cover, coral height, and a subset of DSCS taxa. Of the 10 top-ranked DSCS taxa in the gradient forest (out of 39 potential DSCS taxa), 6 also were associated with increased probability of fish presence in the logistic regression. The weight of evidence from these multiple analytical methods suggests that this subset of DSCS taxa are important fish habitats. In this paper we describe methods to characterize demersal communities and highlight which DSCS taxa provide habitat to demersal fishes, which is valuable information to fisheries agencies tasked to manage these fishes and their essential habitats.
Bottom-contact fisheries are unquestionably one of the main threats to the ecological integrity and functioning of deep-sea and circalittoral ecosystems, notably cold-water corals (CWC) and coral gardens. Lessons from the destructive impact of bottom trawling highlight the urgent need to understand how fisheries affect these vulnerable marine ecosystems. At the same time, the impact of other fishing gear and small-scale fisheries remains sparsely known despite anecdotal evidence suggesting their impact may be significant. This study aims to provide baseline information on coral bycatch by bottom-set gillnets used by artisanal fisheries in Sagres (Algarve, southwestern Portugal), thereby contributing to understand the impact of the activity but also the diversity and abundance of corals in this region. Coral bycatch frequency and species composition were quantified over two fishing seasons (summer-autumn and spring) for 42 days. The relationship with fishing effort was characterized according to métiers (n = 6). The results showed that 85% of the gillnet deployments caught corals. The maximum number of coral specimens per net was observed in a deployment targeting Lophius budegassa (n = 144). In total, 4,326 coral fragments and colonies of 22 different species were captured (fishing depth range of 57–510 m, mean 139 ± 8 m). The most affected species were Eunicella verrucosa (32%), Paramuricea grayi (29%), Dendrophyllia cornigera (12%), and Dendrophyllia ramea (6%). The variables found to significantly influence the amount of corals caught were the target species, net length, depth, and mesh size. The 22 species of corals caught as bycatch belong to Orders Alcyonacea (80%), Scleractinia (18%), Zoantharia (1%), and Antipatharia (1%), corresponding to around 13% of the coral species known for the Portuguese mainland coast. These results show that the impact of artisanal fisheries on circalittoral coral gardens and CWC is potentially greater than previously appreciated, which underscores the need for new conservation measures and alternative fishing practices. Measures such as closure of fishing areas, frequent monitoring onboard of fishing vessels, or the development of encounter protocols in national waters are a good course of action. This study highlights the rich coral gardens of Sagres and how artisanal fisheries can pose significant threat to corals habitats in certain areas.
Species composition plays a key role in ecosystem functioning. Theoretical, experimental and field studies show positive effects of biodiversity on ecosystem processes. However, this link can differ between taxonomic and functional diversity components and also across trophic levels. These relationships have been hardly studied in planktonic communities of coastal upwelling systems. Using a 28-year time series of phytoplankton and zooplankton assemblages, we examined the effects of phytoplankton diversity on resource use efficiency (RUE, ratio of biomass to limiting resource) at the two trophic levels in the Galician upwelling system (NW Iberian peninsula). By fitting generalized least square models, we show that phytoplankton diversity was the best predictor for RUE across planktonic trophic levels. This link varied depending on the biodiversity component considered: while the effect of phytoplankton richness on RUE was positive for phytoplankton RUE and negative for zooplankton RUE, phytoplankton evenness effect was negative for phytoplankton RUE and positive for zooplankton RUE. Overall, taxonomic diversity had higher explanatory power than functional diversity, and variability in phytoplankton and zooplankton RUE decreased with increasing phytoplankton taxonomic diversity. Phytoplankton used resources more efficiently in warmer waters and at greater upwelling intensity, although these effects were not as strong as those for biodiversity. These results suggest that phytoplankton species numbers in highly dynamic upwelling systems are important for maintaining the planktonic biomass production leading us to hypothesize the relevance of complementarity effects. However, we further postulate that a selection effect may operate also because assemblages with low evenness were dominated by diatoms with specific functional traits increasing their ability to exploit resources more efficiently.
The design and development of an offshore port terminal is a complex task that involves distinctive design and decision challenges. In this paper, we propose the implementation of a floating, modular, platform that can act as an additional terminal of a port, with the aim of expanding its current container handling capacity. To this end, we introduce a generic methodology to tackle three aspects of an offshore terminal: terminal layout design, strategic logistics optimization, and operational process coordination. The terminal layout design includes the modular arrangements, handling on and between platform modules by the associated equipment. To select the final layout design concept, we evaluate different alternatives on criteria such as layout complexity, scalability, and the number of moves associated with the modular nature of the platform. Subsequently, the selected concept is given as input to a strategic logistics optimization approach that introduces a mixed-integer linear programming model. The proposed model minimizes the capital, operational, and maintenance costs of the floating modular terminal, i.e., number and size of modules, number and type of equipment, as well as capacities. In parallel, we develop a simulation of the floating terminal’s hinterland connections, where the number and type of required vessels are specified for relevant destinations and transport configurations. At the operational level, we focus on the coordination of handling equipment on the offshore platform by employing a tailored simulation/optimization approach. Our methodology is demonstrated on a case study that considers accommodating the growth of a port in the Hamburg-Le Havre range via the use of a modular, floating, transport, and logistics hub.
In the Gulf of Mexico, the bulk of published studies for sea turtles have focused on northern (United States) waters where economic resources are centered, with fewer studies in the southern portion of the basin, resulting in significant knowledge gaps in these underrepresented areas. Similarly, publications on adult sea turtles are dominated by research on females that come ashore to nest and can be readily studied (e.g., through the collection of biological samples and the application of satellite-telemetry devices), whereas information on adult male sea turtles is scarce. The goal of this paper is to begin filling these knowledge gaps by synthesizing available data on adult male sea turtles in the southern Gulf of Mexico. We used satellite-telemetry, boat- and drone-based surveys, and stranding records combined with ocean circulation modeling to better understand the spatial distribution of male loggerhead (Caretta caretta), green (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill (Eretmochelys imbricata), and Kemp’s ridley (Lepidochelys kempii) sea turtles in the southern Gulf of Mexico. These spatially explicit analyses will provide context for opportunistically collected data on male sea turtles and better contribute to the management and restoration of sea turtle populations that use the Gulf of Mexico. Moreover, this synthesis can serve as a launching point for directed studies on male sea turtles in this region.
Chemical changes in the diffusive boundary layer (DBL) generated by photosynthesising macroalgae are expected to play an important role in modulating the effects of ocean acidification (OA), but little is known about the effects on early life stages of marine invertebrates in modified DBLs. Larvae that settle to macroalgal surfaces and remain within the DBL will experience pH conditions markedly different from the bulk seawater. We investigated the interactive effects of seawater pH and DBL thickness on settlement and early post-settlement growth of the sea urchin Pseudechinus huttoni, testing whether coralline-algal DBLs act as an environmental buffer to OA. DBL thickness and pH levels (estimated from well-established relationships with oxygen concentration) above the crustose coralline algal surfaces varied with light availability (with photosynthesis increasing pH to as high as pH 9.0 and respiration reducing pH to as low as pH 7.4 under light and dark conditions, respectively), independent of bulk seawater pH (7.5, 7.7, and 8.1). Settlement success of P. huttoni increased over time for all treatments, irrespective of estimated pH in the DBL. Juvenile test growth was similar in all DBL manipulations, showing resilience to variable and low seawater pH. Spine development, however, displayed greater variance with spine growth being negatively affected by reduced seawater pH in the DBL only in the dark treatments. Scanning electron microscopy revealed no observable differences in structural integrity or morphology of the sea urchin spines among pH treatments. Our results suggest that early juvenile stages of P. huttoni are well adapted to variable pH regimes in the DBL of macroalgae across a range of bulk seawater pH treatments.
Biological fitness relies on processes acting at various levels of organization, all of which can be modified by environmental change. Application of synthesis frameworks, such as the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP), can enhance our understanding of the responses to stressors identified in studies at each level, as well as the links among them. However, the use of such frameworks is often limited by a lack of data. In order to identify contexts with sufficient understanding to apply the AOP framework, we conducted a meta-analysis of studies considering ocean acidification effects on calcifying mollusks. Our meta-analysis identified that most studies considered the adult life history stage, bivalve taxonomic group, individual-level changes, and growth- and metabolism-related responses. Given the characteristics of the published literature, we constructed an AOP for the effects of ocean acidification on calcification in an adult bivalve, specifically the Pacific oyster (Magallana gigas). By structuring results within the AOP framework, we identify that, at present, the supported pathways by which ocean acidification affects oyster calcification are via the downregulation of cavortin and arginine kinase transcription. Such changes at the molecular level can prompt changes in cellular and organ responses, including altered enzyme activities, lipid peroxidation, and regulation of acid–base status, which have impacts on organism level metabolic rate and, therefore, calcification. Altered calcification may then impact organism mortality and population sizes. We propose that when developed and incorporated in future studies, the AOP framework could be used to investigate sources of complexity including varying susceptibility within and among species, feedback mechanisms, exposure duration and magnitude, and species interactions. Such applications of the AOP framework will allow more effective reflections of the consequences of environmental change, such as ocean acidification, on all levels of biological organization.
The growth of phytoplankton at high latitudes was generally thought to begin in open waters of the marginal ice zone once the highly reflective sea ice retreats in spring, solar elevation increases, and surface waters become stratified by the addition of sea-ice melt water. In fact, virtually all recent large-scale estimates of primary production in the Arctic Ocean (AO) assume that phytoplankton production in the water column under sea ice is negligible. However, over the past two decades, an emerging literature showing significant under-ice phytoplankton production on a pan-Arctic scale has challenged our paradigms of Arctic phytoplankton ecology and phenology. This evidence, which builds on previous, but scarce reports, requires the Arctic scientific community to change its perception of traditional AO phenology and urgently revise it. In particular, it is essential to better comprehend, on small and large scales, the changing and variable icescapes, the under-ice light field and biogeochemical cycles during the transition from sea-ice covered to ice-free Arctic waters. Here, we provide a baseline of our current knowledge of under-ice blooms (UIBs), by defining their ecology and their environmental setting, but also their regional peculiarities (in terms of occurrence, magnitude, and assemblages), which is shaped by a complex AO. To this end, a multidisciplinary approach, i.e., combining expeditions and modern autonomous technologies, satellite, and modeling analyses, has been used to provide an overview of this pan-Arctic phenological feature, which will become increasingly important in future marine Arctic biogeochemical cycles.
Shipping is the most pervasive source of anthropogenic underwater continuous noise and local intermittent noise. This study focused on the separation of anthropogenic intermittent noise from dynamic background noise in the Gulf of Finland using an adaptive threshold level (ATL) technique. The intermittent noise was validated with Automatic Identification System (AIS) data and the background noise with selected environmental factors. Separated components were characterized and compared with a sound exposure level (SEL) in three 1/3 octave bands. Intermittent noise can be separated with ATL in the Baltic Sea, and vessel traffic identified as the primary source. Background noise varies spatially and is partially explained by environmental factors. Intermittent noise has strong persisting influence on the acoustic environment near shipping lanes, elevating the SEL in each of the 1/3 octave bands: by 20–30 dB in the 63 Hz band, by 13–22 dB in the 125 Hz band and by 5–8 dB in the 2000 Hz band. We conclude that strong intermittent noise is characteristic to the underwater acoustic environment in the study area with heavy shipping traffic. By combining ATL with data from AIS, intermittent noise peaks in underwater hydrophone recordings can be associated with passages of individual vessels.
Developing a typology of heterogeneous fishing practices through the use of métier analysis is a useful step in understanding the dynamics of fishing fleets and enabling effective implementation of management outcomes. We develop a non-hierarchical clustering framework to quantitatively categorize individual fishing events to a particular métier based on corresponding catch composition, gear configuration, and spatial and temporal references. Our clustering framework has several innovations over predecessors including: (i) introducing alternative methods for encoding and transforming fisheries data; (ii) variable (feature) selection methods; (iii) complementary metrics and methods for internal métier validation; and (iv) use of a network science method to model and analyze fishing practices. To demonstrate applicability, we apply this framework to the Australian Eastern Tuna and Billfish Fishery (ETBF), a multispecies pelagic longline fishery with a diversity of fishing practices. We identified a total of seven stable métiers within the ETBF. While each métier was characterized by a predominant target species, they were differentiated more by seasonal and temporal references (e.g., time of set, month, latitude) than gear configuration (e.g., hooks per basket) or target species. By collapsing a large amount of high-dimensional operational data into a relatively uniform and limited number of components, decision-makers can more easily evaluate the likely consequences of management and design policies that target a particular métier.
Relating the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 for Ocean and Life Below Water to the 16 remaining SDGs in the UN 2030 sustainable development agenda. A holistic approach that embraces sustainable Ocean stewardship informed by best available science, data and services to support society and the economy is required to create the ‘Future We Want’. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is an essential foundation to achieve this objective.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) tend to accumulate in adipose tissue and induce toxicity due to their high lipophilicity and persistence. Tuna play an important role in the ocean food web and human diet. PCBs can damage the growth of tuna directly and have some adverse effects on human indirectly. This review aims to provide geographic variations, bioaccumulation factors and the toxic effects of PCBs in tuna. PCB levels found were varied significantly among the different regions and it showed a trend of offshore greater than pelagic, with the northern hemisphere higher than the southern hemisphere. The highest PCB concentration of tuna was in FAO area 37. Nearly all of the specimens presented similar domain configuration, while their concentrations varied significantly. PCB congeners and concentrations in tuna were affected by a vast of factors, such as geographical distribution, tissue types, trophic level and growth stage, gender, tuna species and physical and chemical properties of PCBs. They can damage reproductive, neurologic and development systems. This review gives a systematic insight into PCBs in tuna and highlights the more attention should be paid to the long-term changes of PCBs in tuna and oceans. There is also a need to strengthen the assessment of PCB impacts on tuna ecology.
• The implementation of evidence in policymaking requires a guideline referenced by scientists and political makers.
• Five perspectives cover the points that should be considered in the process of producing and using evidence.
• Institutionalization via the science-policy interaction prescribes a way of evaluating the process of producing and using evidence.
• Reference framework promotes evidence-based policymaking and its implementation.
• Case study on mercury pollution proves how the framework provides specific guidance that can promote evidence-based policy and practice.
This study presents wave measurements in the Marginal Ice Zone (MIZ) obtained from ship mounted sensors. The system combines altimeter readings from the ship bow with ship motion correction data to provide estimated single point ocean surface elevation. Significant wave height and mean wave period, as well as one-dimensional wave spectra are derived from the combined measurements. The results are compared with integrated parameters from two spectral wave models over a period of eight days in the open ocean, and with spectra and integrated parameters derived from motion detecting instruments placed on ice floes inside the MIZ. Mean absolute errors of the integrated parameters are in the range 13.4-29.9% when comparing with the spectral wave models and 1.0-9.6% when comparing with valid motion detecting instruments. The spatial wave damping coefficient is estimated by looking at the change in spectral wave amplitude found at discrete frequency values as the ship was moving along the longitudinal direction of the MIZ within time intervals where the wave field is found to be approximately constant in time. As expected from theory, high frequency waves are effectively dampened by the presence of sea ice. The observed wave attenuation rates compare favourably with a two-layer dissipation model. Our methodology can be regarded as a simple and reliable way to collect more waves-in-ice data as it can be easily added to any ship participating to ice expeditions, at little extra cost.
Despite increasing threats to Tonga’s coral reefs from stressors that are both local (e.g. overfishing and pollution) and global (e.g. climate change), there is yet to be a systematic assessment of the status of the country’s coral reef ecosystem and reef fish fishery stocks. Here, we provide a national ecological assessment of Tonga’s coral reefs and reef fish fishery using ecological survey data from 375 sites throughout Tonga’s three main island groups (Ha’apai, Tongatapu and Vava’u), represented by seven key metrics of reef health and fish resource status. Boosted regression tree analysis was used to assess and describe the relative importance of 11 socio-environmental variables associated with these key metrics of reef condition. Mean live coral cover across Tonga was 18%, and showed a strong increase from north to south correlated with declining sea surface temperature, as well as with increasing distance from each provincial capital. Tongatapu, the southernmost island group, had 2.5 times greater coral cover than the northernmost group, Vava’u (24.9% and 10.4% respectively). Reef fish species richness and density were comparable throughout Tongatapu and the middle island group, Ha’apai (~35 species/transect and ~2500 fish/km2), but were significantly lower in Vava’u (~24 species/transect and ~1700 fish/km2). Spatial patterns in the reef fish assemblage were primarily influenced by habitat-associated variables (slope, structural complexity, and hard coral cover). The biomass of target reef fish was greatest in Ha’apai (~820 kg/ha) and lowest in Vava’u (~340 kg/ha), and was negatively associated with higher human influence and fishing activity. Overall mean reef fish biomass values suggest that Tonga’s reef fish fishery can be classified as moderately to heavily exploited, with 64% of sites having less than 500 kg/ha. This study provides critical baseline ecological information for Tonga’s coral reefs that will: (1) facilitate ongoing management and research; and (2) enable accurate reporting on conservation targets locally and internationally.
The escalating rate at which coral communities are declining globally requires urgent intervention and new approaches to reef management to reduce and halt further coral loss. For reef systems with limited natural larval supply, the introduction of large numbers of competent coral larvae directly to natural reef substrata provides a potentially useful approach to replenish adult coral populations. While few experiments have tested this approach, only one experiment has demonstrated its long-term success to date. Given the differences in life-history traits among corals, and different sensitivities of larvae to abiotic and biotic factors, coupled with the dynamic nature of post-settlement survivorship and recruitment processes, trials of the larval enhancement technique with larvae of different coral species are needed to test the broader applicability and viability of this approach. Accordingly, in this paper we examine the applicability of the larval enhancement technique to restore a population of Acropora loripes in the Bolinao-Anda Reef Complex, Pangasinan, northwestern Philippines. Larvae were cultured ex situ following spawning of collected A. loripes colonies in June 2014. Competent larvae were transported to degraded reef areas and approximately 300,000 larvae were introduced in each of three 6 × 4 m plots directly on the reef. Fine mesh enclosures retained the larvae inside each treatment plot for five days. Three adjacent 6 × 4 m plots that served as controls were also covered with mesh enclosures, but no larvae were introduced. Each plot contained ten 10 × 10 cm conditioned settlement tiles cut from dead tabulate Acropora that were used to quantify initial larval settlement. After allowing larval settlement for five days, mean settlement on tiles from the larval enhancement plots that were monitored under stereomicroscopes was significantly higher (27.8 ± 6.7 spat per tile) than in control plots, in which not a single recruit was recorded. Post-settlement survivorship and growth of spat and coral recruits on tiles and reef substrata inside the experimental plots were monitored periodically for 35 months. After 35 months, the mean size of each of the remaining 47 A. loripes coral colonies surviving on the reef substrata was 438.1 ± 5.4 cm3, with a mean diameter of 7.9 ± 0.6 cm. The average production cost for each of the surviving A. loripes colonies at 35 months was USD 35.20. These colonies are expected to spawn and contribute to the natural larval pool when they become reproductively mature, thereby enhancing natural coral recovery in the area. This study demonstrates that mass coral larval enhancement can be successfully used for restoring populations of coral species with different life-history traits, and the techniques can rapidly increase larval recruitment rates on degraded reef areas, hence catalysing the regeneration of declining coral populations.