Environmental variability can be an important factor in the population dynamics of many species. In marine systems, for instance, whether environmental conditions facilitate or impede the movements of juvenile animals to nursery habitat can have a large influence on subsequent population abundance. Both subtle differences in the position of oceanographic features (such as meandering currents) and major disturbances (such as hurricanes) can greatly alter dispersal outcomes. Here, we use an ocean circulation model to explore seasonal and annual variation in the dispersal of post-hatchling Kemp’s ridley sea turtles (Lepidochelys kempii). We simulated the transport of 24 cohorts of young-of-the-year Kemp’s ridley sea turtles dispersing from the three primary nesting areas in the western Gulf of Mexico to describe variability in transport during the main hatching season and across years. We examined whether differences in transport distance among Kemp’s ridley cohorts could be explained by hurricane events. We found that years with high numbers of hurricanes corresponded to shorter dispersal distances and less variance within the first 6 months. Our findings suggest that differences in dispersal among sites and the impact of hurricane frequency and intensity could influence the survivorship and somatic growth rates of turtles from different nesting sites and hatching cohorts, either improving survival by encouraging retention in optimal pelagic habitat or decreasing survival by pushing hatchlings into dangerous shallow habitats. Considering such factors in future population assessments may aid in predicting how the potential for increasing tropical storms, a phenomenon linked to climate change, could affect Kemp’s ridley and other populations of sea turtles in the Atlantic Ocean.
The harbor seal (Phoca vitulina richardii) population in the Salish Sea has been at equilibrium since the mid-1990s. This stable population of marine mammals resides relatively close to shore near a large human population and offers a novel opportunity to evaluate whether disease acts in a density-dependent manner to limit population growth. We conducted a retrospective analysis of harbor seal stranding and necropsy findings in the San Juan Islands sub-population to assess age-related stranding trends and causes of mortality. Between January 01, 2002 and December 31, 2018, we detected 882 harbor seals that stranded and died in San Juan County and conducted necropsies on 244 of these animals to determine primary and contributing causes of death. Age-related seasonal patterns of stranded animals were evident, with pups found in the summer, weaned pups primarily recovered during fall, and adults and sub-adults recovered in summer and fall. Pups were the most vulnerable to mortality (64% of strandings). Pups predominantly died of nutritional causes (emaciation) (70%), whereas sub-adults and adults presented primarily with clinical signs and gross lesions of infectious disease (42%) and with non-anthropogenic trauma (27%). Primary causes of weaned pup mortality were distributed equally among nutritional, infectious, non-anthropogenic trauma, and anthropogenic trauma categories. Nutritional causes of mortality in pups were likely related to limitations in mid- and late-gestational maternal nutrition, post-partum mismothering, or maternal separation possibly related to human disturbance. Infectious causes were contributing factors in 33% of pups dying of nutritional causes (primarily emaciation–malnutrition syndrome), suggesting an interaction between poor nutritional condition and enhanced susceptibility to infectious diseases. Additional primary causes of harbor seal mortality were related to congenital disorders, predation, human interaction, and infections, including zoonotic and multidrug-resistant pathogens. Bottom-up nutritional limitations for pups, in part possibly related to human disturbance, as well as top-down predatory influences (likely under-represented through strandings) and infectious disease, are important regulators of population growth in this stable, recovered marine mammal population.
Bycatch is a significant cause of population declines of marine megafauna globally. While numerous bycatch mitigation strategies exist, acoustic alarms, or pingers, are the most widely adopted strategy for small cetaceans. Although pingers have been shown to be an effective measure for numerous species, there are some concerns about their long-term use. Bycatch is recognized as a persistent problem in waters around Cornwall, United Kingdom, where several cetacean species are resident, with harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena) being the most-commonly sighted. In this study, we assessed the effects of a Banana Pinger (Fishtek Marine Limited) on harbour porpoises in Cornwall between August 2012 and March 2013. Two passive acoustic loggers (C-PODs; Chelonia Limited) were deployed 100 m apart to record cetacean activity during cycles of active and inactive pinger periods. Harbour porpoises were 37% less likely to be detected at the C-POD near the pinger when the pinger was active, while they were only 9% less likely to be detected 100 m further away. The effect of the pinger was constant over the study period at both C-PODs despite the temporal variation in harbour porpoise detections. In addition, we found no evidence of reduced pinger effect with changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, harbour porpoise detections at the C-POD near the pinger did not depend on the time elapsed since the pinger turned off, with harbour porpoises returning to the ensonified area with no delay. Together these results suggest that (1) harbour porpoises did not habituate to the pinger over an 8-month period, (2) the pinger effect is very localized, and (3) pinger use did not lead to harbour porpoise displacement over the study period, suggesting an absence of long-term behavioral effects. We suggest that the deployment of pingers on fishing nets would likely reduce net-porpoise interactions, thereby mitigating bycatch of harbour porpoises and potentially other cetacean species. As the small-scale fishery dominates in United Kingdom waters, there is an acute need for cost-effective mitigation strategies with concurrent monitoring to be implemented rapidly in order to address the problem of harbour porpoise, and more generally, cetacean bycatch.
Artificial light at night (ALAN) has been recently recognized as a globally widespread anthropogenic disturbance, characterized by different intensities and spectra, as well as spatial and temporal variability. Among marine organisms, those living on coastal areas are particularly exposed to artificial light. Some recent studies anticipated a potential for influences of ALAN on microphytobenthos (MPB) on rocky shores, either direct or indirectly mediated by trophic relationships. Here we emphasize the need for further investigations in different habitats, as well as on synergistic interferences with other stressors already impinging on coastal areas. The study of effects of ALAN poses new challenges in MPB research, including those related to the use of instruments for measuring both the light environment and the functioning of microbial photoautotrophs at night, and to the development of common monitoring approaches and manipulative experiments.
Due to limited data availability, only a small subset of the exploited fish and invertebrate populations have been assessed along Chinese coasts, which precludes comprehensive management of the fisheries. Here, we applied a length-based Bayesian biomass estimator (LBB) to 14 fish and invertebrate stocks in China’s coastal waters to estimate their growth, length at first capture and current relative biomass (B/B0, B/BMSY) from length-frequency (LF) data. Of the 14 populations assessed, one have collapsed, nine are grossly over-exploited, and three are overfished. Moreover, 13 populations have smaller mean lengths at first capture (Lc) than the optimal length at first capture (Lc_opt), indicating that they are suffering from growth overfishing. Thus, larger mesh sizes in commercial fishery would increase both the catch and biomass for these species, given current levels of fishing mortality. Our results confirm that fishery resources in China’s coastal waters are strongly depleted, and that stricter management measures are needed to restore the abundance of China’s marine fisheries resources.
Approaches toward habitat conservation and restoration often include supplementing or enhancing existing, degraded, or lost natural habitats. In aquatic environments, a popular approach toward habitat enhancement is the introduction of underwater human-made structures or artificial reefs. Despite the nearly global prevalence of artificial reefs deployed to enhance habitat, it remains debated whether these structures function similarly to comparable natural reefs. To help resolve this question, we conducted a literature review and accompanying meta-analysis of fish community metrics on artificial reefs within the coastal ocean and made comparisons with naturally-occurring reference reefs (rocky reefs and coral reefs). Our findings from a synthesis of 39 relevant studies revealed that, across reef ecosystems, artificial reefs support comparable levels of fish density, biomass, species richness, and diversity to natural reefs. Additional analyses demonstrated that nuances in these patterns were associated with the geographic setting (ocean basin, latitude zone) and artificial reef material. These findings suggest that, while artificial reefs can mimic natural reefs in terms of the fish assemblages they support, artificial reefs are not one-size-fits-all tools for habitat enhancement. Instead, artificial reefs should be considered strategically based on location-specific scientific assessments and resource needs to maximize benefits of habitat enhancement.
The efficacy of large marine protected areas (MPA) for the conservation of mobile pelagic species is widely debated. Here, we quantified spatial and temporal trends in standardized catch per unit effort (CPUE) of two target pelagic species, yellowfin (Thunnus albacares) and bigeye tuna (Thunnus obesus) in the Indian Ocean to analyze the impact of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) MPA’s creation in 2010. We applied generalized additive mixed effects models to historical BIOT longline fishery logbooks and official catch and effort statistics from the Indian Ocean Tuna Commission (IOTC) to standardize CPUEs and to evaluate long-term trends and distribution patterns across the equatorial Indian Ocean. We find that trends in population indices from within BIOT prior to the MPA’s establishment mirror those of the wider Indian Ocean. We also suggest that there may be behavioral plasticity within the yellowfin tuna stock, with some individuals possibly undertaking alternative migration patterns or exhibiting residency behavior within BIOT. Yet, we find no direct evidence of any improvement in standardized CPUE indices of either species in the area surrounding the BIOT MPA, nearly 8 years after its establishment. The average size of yellowfin and bigeye tunas caught both increased after the MPA’s establishment. These patterns were also evident across the equatorial Indian Ocean, suggesting that any MPA effect is in combination with other regional drivers, such as behavioral changes in the fishing fleets in response to the threat of Somali Piracy. We therefore conclude that BIOT MPA may be providing local conservation value to tunas, but it is not significant enough to halt the overall regional decline in yellowfin tuna stocks. Thus, we emphasize that large MPAs should be considered in conjunction with other fishery management regulations and wider regional processes, rather than as a silver bullet, in order to provide the conservation and management benefits needed for mobile species like tunas.
Rehabilitated and restored mangrove ecosystems have important ecological, economic, and social values for coastal communities. Although a sine qua non of successful mangrove rehabilitation or restoration projects is accurate attention to local hydrology and basic biology of mangrove trees and their associated fauna, their long-term success depends on far more axes, each with their own challenges. Rehabilitation projects: are planned, designed, executed, and managed by people with diverse backgrounds and different scientific and socio-political agendas; need to be responsive to these multiple stakeholders and agents who hold different values; are often influenced by laws and treaties spanning local to international scales; and must be able to adapt and evolve both geomorphologically and socioeconomically over decades-to-centuries in the context of a rapidly changing climate. We view these challenges as opportunities for innovative approaches to rehabilitation and restoration that engage new and larger constituencies. Restored mangrove ecosystems can be deliberately designed and engineered to provide valuable ecosystem services, be adaptable to climatic changes, and to develop platforms for educating nonspecialists about both the successes and failures of restored mangrove ecosystems. When mangrove rehabilitation or restoration projects are developed as experiments, they can be used as case-studies and more general models to inform policy- and decision-makers and guide future restoration efforts. Achieving this vision will require new investment and dedication to research and adaptive management practices. These ideas are illustrated with examples from mangrove restoration and rehabilitation projects in the Indo-West Pacific and Caribbean regions, the two hotspots of mangrove biodiversity and its ongoing loss and degradation.
The prevalence of coral disease is steadily increasing throughout the global ocean, and there is a growing need for efficient methods for detecting and monitoring coral health. At present, coral health assessments are primarily conducted using in-situ surveys, which record visual observations of disease in the field. Recent technological advancements allow researchers to instead collect high-resolution imagery of benthic habitats, and these images can be used in conjunction with digital tools to assess the health of coral colonies at a later time. However, little is known about the relative efficacy or diagnostic accuracy of these two approaches. This study contrasts the diagnostic accuracy of in-situ and digital methodologies for detecting diseases and adverse health conditions affecting corals. Multiple 1 m2 plots are surveyed on coral reefs located on both the windward and leeward side of Hawaii Island. For each plot, an in-situ visual analysis of coral health is conducted by a diver and images are collected and rendered into a high-resolution orthomosaic for subsequent digital analysis. Both methods assess the same coral colonies, resulting in paired health diagnoses for multiple health conditions. Lacking a gold-standard diagnosis of health conditions, a latent class model is used to estimate the sensitivity (true positive rate) and specificity (true negative rate) of both methods. We find that in-situ assessments of coral health have a higher sensitivity and lower specificity in detecting health conditions when compared to digital analyses based on orthomosaics. However, the effect size is relatively modest, indicating that while the in-situ method provides a more sensitive diagnostic approach, the techniques are of comparable accuracy, and should both be considered viable methods of characterizing and monitoring coral health.
Connectivity between coral reefs is critical to ensure their resilience and persistence against disturbances. It is driven by ocean currents, which often have very complex patterns within reef systems. Only biophysical models that simulate both the fine-scale details of ocean currents and the life-history traits of larvae transported by these currents can help to estimate connectivity in large reef systems. Here we use the unstructured-mesh coastal ocean model SLIM that locally achieves a spatial resolution of ~100 m, 10 times finer than existing models, over the entire Florida Reef Tract (FRT). It allows us to simulate larval dispersal between the ~1,000 reefs composing the FRT. By using different connectivity measures and clustering methods, we have identified two major connectivity pathways, one originating on the westernmost end of the outer shelf and the other originating on the inner shelf, North of the Lower Keys. We introduce new connectivity indicators, based on the PageRank algorithm, to show that protection efforts should be focused on the most upstream reefs of each pathway, while reefs best suited for restoration are more evenly spread between the Lower and Upper Keys. We identify one particular reef, North of Vaca Key, that is a major stepping stone in the connectivity network. Our results are the first reef-scale connectivity estimates for the entire FRT. Such fine-scale information can provide knowledge-based decision support to allocate conservation and restoration resources optimally.
Fishing strategies, effort and harvests of small-scale fishers are important to understand for effective planning of regulatory measures and development programs. Gender differences in fishing can highlight inequities deserving transformative solutions, but might mask other important factors. We examined fishing modes, fishing frequency, catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE), resource preferences and perceptions of fishery stock among artisanal gastropod (trochus) fishers in Samoa using structured questionnaires and mixed effects models. The fishery has an extremely modest carbon footprint of 18–23 tons of CO2 p.a., as few fishers used motorized boats. Trochus (Rochia nilotica), an introduced gastropod, was the second-most harvested resource, after fish, despite populations only being established in the past decade. Daily catch volume varied according to gender and villages (n = 34), and was also affected by fishing effort, experience, assets (boat), and fishing costs of fishers. Boat users had much higher CPUE than fishers without a boat. Fishers who practised both gleaning and diving caught a greater diversity of marine resources; effects that explained otherwise seeming gender disparities. Trochus tended to be ranked more important (by catch volume) by women than men, and rank importance varied greatly among villages. Local ecological knowledge of fishers informed the historical colonization of trochus around Samoa and current trends in population abundance. Fishing efficiency, catch diversity and perspectives about stocks were similar between fishermen and fisherwomen, when accounting for other explanatory variables. Greater importance of these shellfish to women, and gender similarities in many of the fishing responses, underscore the need to ensure equal representation of women in the decision making in small-scale fisheries.
Number of attempts have been made to cryopreserve fish and shellfish gametes. Success has been achieved to establish only sperm banks in case of some commercially important fish. In shellfish, also particularly in shrimps, though the sperm cryopreservation was successful, no attempts were made to develop sperm banks. As far as cryopreservation of egg and embryos of fish and shellfish is concerned, less research efforts were made with limited success. Number of reasons have been given for the failure of egg/embryo cryopreservation and the main barriers speculated are low membrane permeability in the eggs, the large yolk mass of the oocyte, and the presence of compartments in early developing embryos. These factors result in ice crystal formation during the freezing process. In addition, the oocytes and embryos are prone to chilling injuries unrelated to ice crystal damage. There are number of other problems reported by several researchers in the egg/embryo cryobanking protocols which are elaborately discussed in the present paper. There is an urgent need to develop a viable cryobanking technology for fish egg/embryos to enhance fish production in captive condition. Attempts to cryopreserve larvae of aquatic animals is another challenge occurring in the recent past. The aim of the present review is to collect comprehensive information on the efforts so far made on fish and shellfish egg and embryo cryobanking; and to assess the challenges in the development of viable technology and plan for future research for making this technology viable and cost effective.
The adoption of sovereign blue bonds by the Republic of Seychelles, hereafter referred to as Seychelles, focuses on resource sustainability and illustrates options for island countries to use their ocean resources for years into the future. The fishing industry is one of the main pillars of Seychelles’ economy and is of crucial importance for domestic food- and employment-security. In order to promote long-term ecological sustainability and economic viability of domestic fisheries, accurate and long-term baseline information is required. Such baseline data were derived here with a reconstruction of the Seychelles’ domestic fisheries catches and fishing effort within its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) from 1950 to 2017, coupled with resulting Catch Per Unit Effort data (CPUE). The total reconstructed domestic catch was approximately 1.5 times larger than the baseline as reported by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on behalf of Seychelles from 1950 to 2017 after adjustment for fully domestic catches within the EEZ. Domestic catches (i.e., excluding the large-scale industrial pelagic catches) increased by over 500% throughout the time period, growing from 1,900 t⋅year−1 in the 1950s to around 11,200 t in 2017. The major targeted taxa were jacks (Carangidae), tuna-like fishes (Scombridae) and snappers (Lutjanidae). Total fishing effort in the form of fishing capacity grew from 21,500 kWdays in 1950 to over 3.4 million kWdays in 2017. The resultant artisanal CPUE displayed a declining trend over time, suggesting a potential decline in relative abundance of fish populations within the Seychelles EEZ or targeted fishing areas.
Differential migration—increased migration propensity with increasing individual size—is common in migratory species. Like other forms of partial migration, it provides spatial buffering against regional differences in habitat quality and sources of mortality. We investigated differential migration and its consequences to survival and reproductive patterns in striped bass, a species with well-known plasticity in migration behaviors. A size-stratified sample of Potomac River (Chesapeake Bay) Morone saxatilis striped bass was implanted with acoustic transmitters and their subsequent coastal shelf migrations recorded over a 4-yr period by telemetry receivers throughout the Mid-Atlantic Bight and Southern New England. A generalized linear mixed model predicted that ≥ 50% of both males and females depart the Chesapeake Bay at large sizes >80 cm total length. Egressing striped bass exited through both the Chesapeake Bay mouth and Delaware Bay (via the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal), favoring the former. All large fish migrated to Massachusetts shelf waters and in subsequent years repeatedly returned to regions within Massachusetts and Cape Cod Bays. Within this dominant behavior, minority behaviors included straying, skipped spawning, and residency by large individuals (those expected to migrate). Analysis of the last day of transmission indicated that small resident striped bass experienced nearly 2-fold higher loss rates (70% yr-1) than coastal shelf emigrants (37% yr-1). The study confirmed expectations for a threshold size at emigration and different mortality levels between Chesapeake Bay (resident) and ocean (migratory) population contingents; and supported the central premise of the current assessment and management framework of a two-contingent population: smaller Chesapeake Bay residents and a larger ocean contingent. An improved understanding of differential migration thus affords an opportunity to specify stock assessments according to different population sub-components, and tailor reference points and control rules between regions and fishing stakeholder groups.
The marine phase of anadromous Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is the least known yet one of the most crucial with regards to population persistence. Recently, declines in many salmon populations in eastern Canada have been attributed to changes in the conditions at sea, thus reducing their survival. However, marine survival estimates are difficult to obtain given that many individuals spend multiple winters in the ocean before returning to freshwater to spawn; therefore, multiple parameters need to be estimated. We develop a model that uses an age-structured projection matrix which, coupled with yearly smolt and return abundance estimates, allows us to resample a distribution of matrices weighted by how close the resulting return estimates match the simulated returns, using a sample-importance-resampling algorithm. We test this model by simulating a simple time series of salmon abundances, and generate six different scenarios of varying salmon life histories where we simulate data for one-sea-winter (1SW)-dominated and non-1SW dominated populations, as well as scenarios where the proportion returning as 1SW is stable or highly variable. We find that our model provides reasonable estimates of marine survival for the first year at sea (S1), but highly uncertain estimates of proportion returning as 1SW (Pr) and survival in the second year at sea (S2). Our exploration of variable scenarios suggests the model is able to detect temporal trends in S1 for populations that have a considerable 1SW component in the returns; the ability of the model to detect trends in S1 diminishes as the proportion of two-sea-winter fish increases. Variability in the annual proportion of fish returning as 1SW does not seem to impact model accuracy. Our approach provides an instructive stepping-stone towards a model that can be applied to empirical abundance estimates of Atlantic salmon, and anadromous fishes in general, and therefore improve our knowledge of the marine phase of their life cycles as well as examining spatial and temporal trends in their variability.
Leatherback sea turtles (Dermochelys coriacea) migrate to temperate Canadian Atlantic waters to feed on gelatinous zooplankton (‘jellyfish’) every summer. However, the spatio-temporal connection between predator foraging and prey-field dynamics has not been studied at the large scales over which these migratory animals occur. We use 8903 tows of groundfish survey jellyfish bycatch data between 2006–2017 to reveal spatial jellyfish hot spots, and matched these data to satellite-telemetry leatherback data over time and space. We found highly significant overlap of jellyfish and leatherback distribution on the Scotian Shelf (r = 0.89), moderately strong correlations of jellyfish and leatherback spatial hot spots in the Gulf of St. Lawrence (r = 0.59), and strong correlations in the Bay of Fundy (r = 0.74), which supports much lower jellyfish density. Over time, jellyfish bycatch data revealed a slight northward range shift in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, consistent with gradual warming of these waters. Two-stage generalized linear modelling corroborated that sea surface temperature, year, and region were significant predictors of jellyfish biomass, suggesting a climate signal on jellyfish distribution, which may shift leatherback critical feeding habitat over time. These findings are useful in predicting dynamic habitat use for endangered leatherback turtles, and can help to anticipate large-scale changes in their distribution in response to climate-related changes in prey availability.
Effective biological treatment of marine wastewater is not well-known. Accumulation of nitrogen and phosphorus from land-based effluent is a crucial cause of red-tide in marine systems. The purpose of the study is to reduce nitrogen and phosphorus in marine wastewater with a pilot plant-scale sequencing batch reactor (SBR) system by using marine sediment as eco-friendly and effective biological materials, and elucidate which bacterial strains in sludge from marine sediment influence the performance of SBR. By applying eco-friendly high efficiency marine sludge (eco-HEMS), the treatment performance was 15 m3 d-1 of treatment amount in 4.5 m3 of the reactor with the average removal efficiency of 89.3% for total nitrogen and 94.9% for total phosphorus at the optimal operation condition in summer. Moreover, the average removal efficiency was 84.0% for total nitrogen and 88.3% for total phosphorus in winter although biological treatment efficiency in winter is generally lower due to bacterial lower activity. These results were revealed by the DNA barcoding analysis of 16s rRNA amplicon sequencing of samples from the sludge in winter. The comparative analysis of the bacterial community composition in sludge at the high efficiency of the system showed the predominant genera Psychromonas (significantly increased to 45.6% relative abundance), Vibrio (13.3%), Gaetbulibacter (5.7%), and Psychroserpens (4.3%) in the 4 week adaptation after adding marine sediment, suggesting that those predominant bacteria influenced the treatment performance in winter.
Spatial conservation prioritization is used worldwide for designing marine protected areas (MPA) that achieve set conservation objectives with minimal impacts to marine users. People involved in small-scale fisheries (SSF) may incur negative and disproportionate impacts from implementing MPAs, yet limited available data often restricts their representation in MPA planning. Using a Philippines case study, we focus here on the systematic design of a MPA network that aims to minimize and distribute costs equitably for SSF whilst achieving representation targets for biodiversity conservation. The objectives of the study are to: (1) document a participatory mapping approach for collecting SSF data for prioritization using the local knowledge of fishers; and (2) examine how the completeness and resolution of SSF data may affect prioritization outputs in terms of biodiversity representation, spatial efficiency, and distribution equity. In the data-poor region, we conducted participatory mapping workshops with fishers in 79 communities to collect data on the spatial distribution patterns of different SSF fisheries and communities, and employed remote sensing techniques to define coastal habitats, which were targeted for inclusion in MPAs. The datasets were integrated within the decision-support tool Marxan with Zones to develop three scenarios. The SSF data incorporated in each scenario varied based on their completeness (considered all fishing methods or only dominant methods) and resolution (fishing methods itemized by community or municipality). All scenarios derived MPA plans that met representation targets with similar area coverage. The outputs, however, varied in terms of distribution equity, measured by the distribution of opportunity costs (loss of fishing grounds) across different fisheries and communities. Scenarios that did not include minority fisheries or variations between communities, led to inequitable costs. These results highlight the need to incorporate detailed data on SSF at appropriate resolutions, and how this can be achieved through participatory approaches.
The search for potential investors in the conversion of ocean thermal energy to power or hydrogen, and its spinoff projects in Malaysia and the region, continues. In the meantime, several pre-feasibility studies have been completed for selected sites, including that of Pulau Layang-Layang and Pulau Kalumpang (Sabah, Malaysia); Timor-Leste, and off Pulau Weh (Aceh, Indonesia). Various research projects have been completed such as the conversion of solar-thermal to the chilled-water system; the cooling of tropical soils for the culture of temperate crops; the design of offshore structure off the continental slope; hydrogen fuel production and distribution, deep seawater properties to reduce obesity, cholesterol and blood pressure; and the legal-institutional framework for the development of ocean thermal energy conversion. UTM Ocean Thermal Energy Centre (UTM OTEC) has entered into the Collaborative Research Agreement with the Institute of Ocean Energy of Saga University (Japan) to undertake joint research for the development of an experimental rig that introduces a hybrid system with stainless steel heat exchanger. Other aspects of this joint research would include a new design for 3 kW turbine, the introduction of nano-working fluids, the eDNA of intake waters, and improved productivity in the culture of high-value marine produce and products.
Alongside government driven management initiatives to achieve sustainable fisheries management, there remains a role for market-based mechanisms to improve fisheries outcomes. Market-based mechanisms are intended to create positive economic incentives that improve the status and management of fisheries. Research to understand consumer demand for certified fish is central but needs to be mirrored by supply side understanding including why fisheries decide to gain or retain certification and the impact of certification on them and other stakeholders involved. We apply semi-structured interviews in seven different Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certified fisheries that operate in (or from) Western Australia with the aim of better understanding fisheries sector participation in certification schemes (the supply side) and the impacts and unintended benefits and costs of certification. We find that any positive economic impacts of certification were only realised in a limited number of MSC fisheries in Western Australia, which may be explained by the fact that only a small proportion of Western Australian state-managed fisheries are sold with the MSC label and ex-vessel or consumer market price premiums are therefore mostly not obtained. Positive impacts of certification in these Western Australian fisheries are more of a social and institutional nature, for example, greater social acceptability and increased efficiency in the governance process respectively. However, opinion is divided on whether the combined non-monetary and monetary benefits outweigh the costs.