This study aims to evaluate the potential for impacts of ocean acidification on North Atlantic deep-sea ecosystems in response to IPCC AR5 Representative Concentration Pathways (RCPs). Deep-sea biota is likely highly vulnerable to changes in seawater chemistry and sensitive to moderate excursions in pH. Here we show, from seven fully coupled Earth system models, that for three out of four RCPs over 17% of the seafloor area below 500 m depth in the North Atlantic sector will experience pH reductions exceeding −0.2 units by 2100. Increased stratification in response to climate change partially alleviates the impact of ocean acidification on deep benthic environments. We report on major pH reductions over the deep North Atlantic seafloor (depth >500 m) and at important deep-sea features, such as seamounts and canyons. By 2100, and under the high CO2 scenario RCP8.5, pH reductions exceeding −0.2 (−0.3) units are projected in close to 23% (~15%) of North Atlantic deep-sea canyons and ~8% (3%) of seamounts – including seamounts proposed as sites of marine protected areas. The spatial pattern of impacts reflects the depth of the pH perturbation and does not scale linearly with atmospheric CO2 concentration. Impacts may cause negative changes of the same magnitude or exceeding the current target of 10% of preservation of marine biomes set by the convention on biological diversity, implying that ocean acidification may offset benefits from conservation/management strategies relying on the regulation of resource exploitation.
Over the past 20 years, most of the worldwide hectares set aside for environmental protection have been added to marine protected areas. Moreover, these areas are under tremendous pressure from negative anthropogenic impacts. Given this growth and pressure, there is a need to increase the understanding of the connection between people and marine environments in order to better manage the resource. One construct that researchers have used to understand human-environment connections is place meanings. Place meanings reflect the value and significance of a setting to individuals. Most investigations of place meanings have been confined to terrestrial settings. Moreover, most studies have had small sample sizes or have used place attachment scales as a proxy to gage the meanings individuals ascribe to a setting. Hence, it has become necessary to develop a place meaning scale for use with large samples and for use by those who are concerned about the management of marine environments. Therefore, the purpose of this investigation was to develop a scale to measure the importance people associate with the meanings they ascribe to tropical marine settings and empirically test the scale using two independent samples; that is, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary stakeholders.
Marine defaunation, or human-caused animal loss in the oceans, emerged forcefully only hundreds of years ago, whereas terrestrial defaunation has been occurring far longer. Though humans have caused few global marine extinctions, we have profoundly affected marine wildlife, altering the functioning and provisioning of services in every ocean. Current ocean trends, coupled with terrestrial defaunation lessons, suggest that marine defaunation rates will rapidly intensify as human use of the oceans industrializes. Though protected areas are a powerful tool to harness ocean productivity, especially when designed with future climate in mind, additional management strategies will be required. Overall, habitat degradation is likely to intensify as a major driver of marine wildlife loss. Proactive intervention can avert a marine defaunation disaster of the magnitude observed on land.
People depend on the ocean to provide a range of ecosystem services, including sustaining economies and providing nutrition. We demonstrate how a global ocean health index framework can be applied to a data-limited scenario and modified to incorporate the objectives and context of a developing island nation like Fiji. Although these changes did not have a major effect on the total index value, two goals had substantial changes. The artisanal opportunities goal increased from 46 to 92 as a result of changes to the model for Fiji, which looks at the stock status of artisanally-caught species. The lasting special places sub-goal decreased from 96 to 48, due to the use of Fiji-specific data and reference points that allow policymakers to track progress towards national goals. Fiji scored high for the tourism and recreation goal, but low for the production-oriented natural products goal and mariculture sub-goal, which may reflect national values and development priorities. By measuring ocean health across a portfolio of goals and re-calculating scores over time, we can better understand potential trade-offs between goals. Our approach for measuring ocean health in Fiji highlights pathways for improvements and approaches that may help guide other data-limited countries in assessing ocean health.
Short, 6-page leaflet summarizing the European Union's Maritime Spatial Planning directive.
Climate-induced coral bleaching is among the greatest current threats to coral reefs, causing widespread loss of live coral cover1. Conditions under which reefs bounce back from bleaching events or shift from coral to algal dominance are unknown, making it difficult to predict and plan for differing reef responses under climate change2. Here we document and predict long-term reef responses to a major climate-induced coral bleaching event that caused unprecedented region-wide mortality of Indo-Pacific corals. Following loss of >90% live coral cover, 12 of 21 reefs recovered towards pre-disturbance live coral states, while nine reefs underwent regime shifts to fleshy macroalgae. Functional diversity of associated reef fish communities shifted substantially following bleaching, returning towards pre-disturbance structure on recovering reefs, while becoming progressively altered on regime shifting reefs. We identified threshold values for a range of factors that accurately predicted ecosystem response to the bleaching event. Recovery was favoured when reefs were structurally complex and in deeper water, when density of juvenile corals and herbivorous fishes was relatively high and when nutrient loads were low. Whether reefs were inside no-take marine reserves had no bearing on ecosystem trajectory. Although conditions governing regime shift or recovery dynamics were diverse, pre-disturbance quantification of simple factors such as structural complexity and water depth accurately predicted ecosystem trajectories. These findings foreshadow the likely divergent but predictable outcomes for reef ecosystems in response to climate change, thus guiding improved management and adaptation.
Naturalists as early as Darwin observed terrestrial basking in green turtles (Chelonia mydas), but the distribution and environmental influences of this behaviour are poorly understood. Here, we examined 6 years of daily basking surveys in Hawaii and compared them with the phenology of local sea surface temperatures (SST). Data and models indicated basking peaks when SST is coolest, and we found this timeline consistent with bone stress markings. Next, we assessed the decadal SST profiles for the 11 global green turtle populations. Basking generally occurs when winter SST falls below 23°C. From 1990 to 2014, the SST for these populations warmed an average 0.04°C yr−1 (range 0.01–0.09°C yr−1); roughly three times the observed global average over this period. Owing to projected future warming at basking sites, we estimated terrestrial basking in green turtles may cease globally by 2100. To predict and manage for future climate change, we encourage a more detailed understanding for how climate influences organismal biology.
It has long been recognised that there are strong interactions and feedbacks between climate, upper ocean biogeochemistry and marine food webs, and also that food web structure and phytoplankton community distribution are important determinants of variability in carbon production and export from the euphotic zone. Numerical models provide a vital tool to explore these interactions, given their capability to investigate multiple connected components of the system and the sensitivity to multiple drivers, including potential future conditions. A major driver for ecosystem model development is the demand for quantitative tools to support ecosystem-based management initiatives. The purpose of this paper is to review approaches to the modelling of marine ecosystems with a focus on the North Atlantic Ocean and its adjacent shelf seas, and to highlight the challenges they face and suggest ways forward. We consider the state of the art in simulating oceans and shelf sea physics, planktonic and higher trophic level ecosystems, and look towards building an integrative approach with these existing tools. We note how the different approaches have evolved historically and that many of the previous obstacles to harmonisation may no longer be present. We illustrate this with examples from the on-going and planned modelling effort in the Integrative Modelling Work Package of the EURO-BASIN programme.
Most coastal degradation has been caused by anthropogenic actions, threatening the ecosystem services (ESs) humans depend on. Marine protected areas are a solution to protect ESs, such as fish stocks, although this could potentially lead to conflicts with fisheries and tourism. We investigated how fisheries and tourism in the SE Brazil interact with conservation, evaluating their potential for synergistic interactions. We sampled fish landings (n=823) in two villages and performed interviews with fishers and middlemen regarding fisheries and tourism, besides using secondary information regarding the MPA effectiveness. Fish production was high outside the MPA (9.25 t/day), and could be profitable, resulting in reduced fishing pressure, but a faulty market chain prevents this. Fishers involved with coastal tourism had better incomes than those who engaged in only fisheries. Tourism in permitted areas outside the MPA could benefit both fisheries and biodiversity conservation by reducing the time fishers allocate to fishing and by attracting visitors for wildlife viewing. Nonconflicting uses of ESs can be achieved by assuring that the local poor population benefits from more than one ES in a sustainable way, but that requires alternatives such as adding value to ESs and paying for environmental services.
In 1983, Meinesz et al. provided an exhaustive survey of the number, surface area and status of the 17 marine areas protected by the banning of at least one type of fishing then in existence along the whole of the 2057 km French Mediterranean coastline. In 2013, there were 20 MPAs of this kind. Between 1983 and 2013, the overall surface area protected by the banning of at least one type of fishing increased by 18%, and no take areas by 28%. But the situation has remained virtually unchanged within the 0 to −50 m zone. In this depth range, the total surface area with MPA status in 2013 only represented 3% of the total area and no take areas only 1%. The MPAs in the zone with the richest biodiversity and the most affected by all types of fishing (0 to −20 m zone) only covered 3.1% of the total area in 2013, a drop of 9% over the past 30 years. Similarly, no take areas represented less than 1% of the total area between 0 and −20 m. In 2013, intensified special surveillance is in operation for 71% of the total surface area of the MPAs (42% for the no take areas). Overall, these descriptive criteria show that the situation falls far short of the Aichi target (target no. 11 of the ten-year framework for action by all countries to save biodiversity presented at Aichi (Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011–2020): “By 2020, at least 10% of coastal and marine areas, especially areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services, must be conserved through effectively and equitably managed./.systems” http://www.cbd.int/sp/targets/) and that a major effort is required in order to better protect the zone that is the primary target of a wide range of human activities: the 0/−20 m littoral zone.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are used to protect species, communities, and their associated habitats, among other goals. Measuring MPA efficacy can be challenging, however, particularly when considering responses at the community level. We gathered 36 abundance and 14 biomass data sets on fish assemblages and used meta-analysis to evaluate the ability of 22 distinct community diversity metrics to detect differences in community structure between MPAs and nearby control sites. We also considered the effects of 6 covariates—MPA size and age, MPA size and age interaction, latitude, total species richness, and level of protection—on each metric. Some common metrics, such as species richness and Shannon diversity, did not differ consistently between MPA and control sites, whereas other metrics, such as total abundance and biomass, were consistently different across studies. Metric responses derived from the biomass data sets were more consistent than those based on the abundance data sets, suggesting that community-level biomass differs more predictably than abundance between MPA and control sites. Covariate analyses indicated that level of protection, latitude, MPA size, and the interaction between MPA size and age affect metric performance. These results highlight a handful of metrics, several of which are little known, that could be used to meet the increasing demand for community-level indicators of MPA effectiveness.
The interface between terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems contributes to the provision of key ecosystem services including improved water quality and reduced flood risk. We develop an ecological–economic model using a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) to assess and value the delivery of ecosystem services from riparian buffer strips. By capturing the interactions underlying ecosystem processes and the delivery of services we aim to further the operationalization of ecosystem services approaches. The model is developed through outlining the underlying ecological processes which deliver ecosystem services. Alternative management options and regional locations are used for sensitivity analysis.
We identify optimal management options but reveal relatively small differences between impacts of different management options. We discuss key issues raised as a result of the probabilistic nature of the BBN model. Uncertainty over outcomes has implications for the approach to valuation particularly where preferences might exhibit non-linearities or thresholds. The interaction between probabilistic outcomes and the statistical nature of valuation estimates suggests the need for further exploration of sensitivity in such models. Although the BBN is a promising participatory decision support tool, there remains a need to understand the trade-off between realism, precision and the benefits of developing joint understanding of the decision context.
We conducted a socioeconomic assessment of the commercial weathervane scallop (Patinopecten caurinus) fishery off Alaska. The research was structured within the framework of an SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, a strategy commonly used to analyze the internal (strengths, weaknesses) and external (opportunities, threats) components of an industry. Specifically, we focused on five categories: social, technological, economic, environmental, and regulatory. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 27 participants who had detailed knowledge of the fishery, including industry members, fishery managers, biologists, and members of coastal communities who interact with the fishery. We addressed topics such as attitudes of the Alaskan public towards scallop dredging, impacts of the scallop industry on Alaskan coastal communities, market influences of U.S. east coast and imported scallops, changes in the management of the fishery, and a number of environmental considerations. Several unifying opinions emerged from this study, including a lack of awareness of the fishery in many Alaskan communities and fears about rising fuel costs and diminishing harvest levels. Whereas the data-poor status of the stock appears to be the fishery's biggest weakness, the greatest strengths come in the form of conservative management, industry self-regulation, and the small footprint of the fishery. Impending threats include stock decline, unknown long-term detrimental effects of dredging, and changes in the management and structure of the fishery with the sunset of the State of Alaska's limited entry permit program. Most participants consider the fishery to be managed sustainably, although lack of data on scallop recruitment and abundance is a large concern. This analysis provides relevant information to both fishery managers and scallop industry members to contribute to the environmental, economic, and social sustainability of the scallop fishery.
Integrated coastal management (ICM) is the paradigm for sustainable coastal development in South Africa and has been, since 2008, entrenched in government decision-making by the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act, Act No. 24 of 2008 (ICM Act). The coast is a complex and dynamic space as a nexus of widely ranging and often conflicting socio-economic interests. ICM requires understanding and management of coastal systems at national and provincial policy-level but, more importantly, at the local government level. The ICM Act devolves some responsibility to municipalities, the smallest autonomous administrative management unit on the coast. However, this Act and the international literature are virtually silent on the most effective institutional arrangements to progress towards ICM within municipalities. This study is a “bottom-up” or examination of a number of internal institutional arrangements deemed appropriate to affect an increased degree of ICM within the City of Cape Town. This paper presents data and information that were collected during an institutional assessment of the coastal management competency in that city. Using a combination of qualitative methods, it was possible to assess three a priori scenarios of institutional arrangements for ICM in a large well-resourced municipality. The assessment resulted in a number of principles for the structuring of municipal institutions to increase the degree of ICM. The authors (from local government and the private, and research sector) contend that these principles are first applicable to metropolitan cities of South Africa but that it could also apply to local-level administrative units elsewhere. The data from the City of Cape Town indicate relatively low degrees of ICM, commensurately low degrees of political interest and constrained institutions, even within the buoyant and well-structured national ICM framework. Political interest; interpersonal and departmental conflicts; institutional idiosyncrasies, and overlapping operational mandates are not empirically measurable but are fundamentally rooted to the effectiveness of ICM.
Entered into force in 2011, the Protocol on Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) in the Mediterranean is a major innovation in that it is the first supra-State legal instrument aimed at coastal zone management. However, the nature and magnitude of change it is actually generating, or is likely to generate, in domestic coastal zones management systems, are highly uncertain. Investigating such prospects for change in contrasted contexts around the Mediterranean, and therefore providing a critical view of the Protocol as a game-changer, is the aim of this article. Results call for vigilance: the risk is real that the Protocol will not change much and that it will become a paper-protocol only. Ratifying it is – relatively – easy. Avoiding “ratifications of convenience” is more demanding. For various reasons the Protocol is likely to have mostly limited impacts on domestic coastal law development. It probably has more potential in terms of influencing changes in governance processes and increasing the social demand for ICZM. But this potential may only be translated into facts under stringent conditions on political will and good faith from Parties to adopt an ambitious understanding of the Protocol, and on appropriation by civil societies around the Mediterranean.
The need for a statutory framework to manage valuable marine resources in the United States is highlighted by problems such as fragmented ocean governance and increasing conflict over the use of ocean spaces. On July 19, 2010 President Obama signed Executive Order 13547 to create a National Ocean Policy (NOP) for the United States. A subsequent Implementation Plan, released in 2013, set up hundreds of actions to be accomplished between 2013 and 2025 to address economic, community, scientific and other issues. Progress implementing the NOP appears to have stalled. The purpose of this paper is to give an overview of the NOP and its Implementation Plan, and then discuss what needs to be done to bring the vision it set forth to fruition.
Non-indigenous species (NIS) are recognized as a global threat to biodiversity and monitoring their presence and impacts is considered a prerequisite for marine environmental management and sustainable development. However, monitoring for NIS seldom takes place except for a few baseline surveys. With the goal of serving the requirements of the EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the EU Regulation on the prevention and management of the introduction and spread of invasive alien species, the paper highlights the importance of early detection of NIS in dispersal hubs for a rapid management response, and of long-term monitoring for tracking the effects of NIS within recipient ecosystems, including coastal systems especially vulnerable to introductions. The conceptual framework also demonstrates the need for port monitoring, which should serve the above mentioned requirements but also provide the required information for implementation of the International Convention for the Control and Management of Ships Ballast Water and Sediments. Large scale monitoring of native, cryptogenic and NIS in natural and man-made habitats will collectively lead to meeting international requirements. Cost-efficient rapid assessments of target species may provide timely information for managers and policy-advisers focusing on particular NIS at particular localities, but this cannot replace long-term monitoring. To support legislative requirements, collected data should be verified and stored in a publicly accessible and routinely updated database/information system. Public involvement should be encouraged as part of monitoring programs where feasible.
Automatic identification system (AIS) is becoming increasingly popular with marine vessels providing accessible, up-to-date information on vessel activity in the marine environment. Although AIS has been utilised in several different fields to address specific questions, no published work has outlined the potential of AIS as a tool for a wide range of industries and users of the marine environment such as spatial planning, developments, and local marine industries (e.g. fisheries). This work demonstrates a procedure for processing, analysing, and visualisation of AIS data with example outputs and their potential uses. Over 730 000 data points of AIS information for 2013 from around Shetland were processed, analysed, and mapped. Tools used included density mapping, vessel tracks, interpolations of vessel dimensions, and ship type analysis. The dataset was broken down by sector into meaningful and usable data packets which could also be analysed over time. Density mapping, derived from both point and vessel track data, proved highly informative but were unable to address all aspects of the data. Vessel tracks showed variation in vessel routes, especially around island groups. Additional uses of AIS data were addressed and included risk mapping for invasive non-native species, fisheries, and general statistics. Temporal variation of vessel activity was also discussed.
Models are increasingly used to support decision-making in the management of natural resources. They can provide system understanding, learning, a platform for stakeholder engagement, projections of system behaviour and an environment for virtual testing of alternative management strategies. However, rarely is a single numerical model suitable for all these purposes. Our experience is that a suite of models of different size, complexity and scope can be more effective and can better address the needs of environmental management projects. Models of different complexity can address different needs, but can also be combined as a flexibly sculpted tool kit – as they require very different development effort they can be deployed at different stages during a project. Using rapidly deployed qualitative, or simple quantitative, models stakeholders can be exposed to models very early in the project, eliciting feedback on appropriate model content and familiarity with the modelling process without affecting the development of more complex, resource intensive, models aimed at answering core management questions. This early and continuous stakeholder exposure to models provides flexibility in addressing specific novel questions as they arise during project development, as well as an opportunity for developing skills and changing both modellers and stakeholders’ attitudes, as is often needed when facing complex problems.
Using an example where we used five different model types in an effort to inform policy-making around regional multiple use management in north-western Australia, we describe (i) how each model type can be used, (ii) the different roles the models cover, and (iii) how they fit into a full decision making process and stakeholder engagement. We conclude by summarising the lessons we learnt.
We are at a key juncture in history where biodiversity loss is occurring daily and accelerating in the face of population growth, climate change, and rampant development. Simultaneously, we are just beginning to appreciate the wealth of human health benefits that stem from experiencing nature and biodiversity. Here we assessed the state of knowledge on relationships between human health and nature and biodiversity, and prepared a comprehensive listing of reported health effects. We found strong evidence linking biodiversity with production of ecosystem services and between nature exposure and human health, but many of these studies were limited in rigor and often only correlative. Much less information is available to link biodiversity and health. However, some robust studies indicate that exposure to microbial biodiversity can improve health, specifically in reducing certain allergic and respiratory diseases. Overall, much more research is needed on mechanisms of causation. Also needed are a re-envisioning of land-use planning that places human well-being at the center and a new coalition of ecologists, health and social scientists and planners to conduct research and develop policies that promote human interaction with nature and biodiversity. Improvements in these areas should enhance human health and ecosystem, community, as well as human resilience.