Mass coral bleaching events can drive reefs from being the domains of corals to becoming dominated by seaweed. But longitudinal data show that more than half of the reefs studied rebound to their former glory.
The management of the coastal environment is a complex issue, which needs for appropriate methodologies. Erosional processes and longshore currents present in the submerged beach represent a serious danger for both people and human infrastructures. A proper integration between traditional and innovative techniques can help in the characterization and management of the beach environment. Several different multispectral and hyperspectral techniques were used to retrieve information about the hydro and morphodynamic settings of the Pisa province coast (Tuscany, Italy). Results were validated using about 130 samples collected along the study area, between the mouths of the Serchio river and the Scolmatore canal. The composition of sand samples was evaluated by means of petrographic microscopy and grain size analyses. The same samples were analyzed using an Analytical Spectral Device (ASD) Fieldspec. The obtained sediment spectral library was used to evaluate the differences in mineralogical composition, which can be related to different source areas. Results coming from spectroscopy were compared to those obtained from the petrographic and grain size analysis. Furthermore a multispectral aerial image was used to evaluate sediment distribution along the submerged beach, to map the geomorphic features and to detect the presence of longshore and rip currents. This works suggests that optical remote sensing technique can be profitably used in order to reduce the need for expensive and time consuming conventional analysis.
Much knowledge is emerging about the past and potential effects of climate change on the unique and complex marine ecosystems of Canada's Pacific, including variations in the resilience, sensitivities, responsiveness, and non-stationarity of the biota. Such knowledge, however, is rarely synthesized or summarized with any overall integrated analyses that could guide the development of proactive planning for the effects of climate change. Regional and local planning of climate adaptation strategies, for example, requires an examination of ecological sensitivities and vulnerabilities at relevant spatial resolutions. We developed an illustrative example of a habitat-based ecological vulnerability assessment for the whole of Canada's Pacific marine area using existing spatial information from this region and from the California Current ecosystem. Potential climate impacts were calculated as the product of estimated exposure (E) of habitats to multiple dimensions of changing climate variables and expert-derived sensitivity (S) ratings of those habitats to changes in those climate variables. Vulnerability was then derived as the product of the estimated potential climate impacts in a location and the estimated cumulative impacts (CI) of non-climate stressors there, which we considered to be an inverse proxy of the adaptive capacity (AC) of the biota in those habitats. We found considerable spatial variability of potential climate impacts and vulnerability on the scales of the 12 Ecosections of Canada's Pacific, 25 habitat categories, and at finer scales. We produced maps of ecological vulnerability to climate change as an example output for use in spatially-oriented adaptation planning. Our initial assessment indicated that the Strait of Georgia in particular followed by Queen Charlotte Strait, Juan de Fuca Strait, Vancouver Island Shelf, and Johnstone Strait have relatively high vulnerabilities to climate change, in part due to concentrations of local stressors there. On a coast wide basis the habitats that were indicated as most vulnerable are shallow rocky reefs, seagrass habitats, kelp habitats, and deep rocky reefs. This approach for mapping vulnerability to climate change could be improved with finer scale climate data, additional climate variables, and stressor-habitat sensitivity estimates derived specifically for this system. We provide a stepwise manual for policy-makers, managers, or other practitioners to map ecological vulnerability to climate change in other marine settings.
Activities and resources found in the ocean and coastal realm of Trinidad and Tobago contribute critically to the identity and well-being of the country's citizenry. However, the current governance framework and capacity to manage facets of the coastal zone is proving to be inadequate, with resource mismanagement, degradation and depletion evident. This is compounded by the absence of a co-ordinating mechanism and collaborative process through which stakeholders can seek to cohesively manage the ocean and coastal sphere in order to minimise conflict and maintain its flows of ecosystem goods and services in the long term.
This paper recommends more sustainable, equitable and feasible means to manage the ocean and coastal realm for which Trinidad and Tobago has claimed stewardship. It critically analyses the current governance framework and juxtaposes it against identified theoretical and observed ICZM best practices worldwide. A more co-ordinated, cohesive and collaborative approach to governance is proposed that is participatory and co-operative in nature and underpinned by principles aligned to achieving sustainability in economic, social and ecological realms.
The wave energy resource is usually characterized by a significant variability throughout the year. In estimating the power performance of a Wave Energy Converter (WEC) it is fundamental to take into account this variability; indeed, an estimate based on mean annual values may well result in a wrong decision making. In this work, a novel decision-aid tool, iWEDGE (intra-annual Wave Energy Diagram GEnerator) is developed and implemented to a coastal region of interest, the Death Coast (Spain), one of the regions in Europe with the largest wave resource. Following a comprehensive procedure, and based on deep water wave data and high-resolution numerical modelling, this tool provides the monthly high-resolution characterization matrices (or energy diagrams) for any location of interest. In other words, the information required for the accurate computation of the intra-annual performance of any WEC at any location within the region covered is made available. Finally, an application of iWEDGE to the site of a proposed wave farm is presented. The results obtained highlight the importance of the decision-aid tool herein provided for wave energy exploitation.
Regional efforts have increased the number and amount of marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Caribbean, yet few studies have examined how these MPAs are progressing toward their goals and objectives. Using social and ecological data from a rapid assessment of 31 MPAs and their associated human communities in the wider Caribbean, this study investigates (1) the stated social and ecological objectives of MPAs; (2) the extent to which MPAs are making progress toward their stated social and ecological objectives; and (3) tradeoffs in progress toward social and ecological objectives. Findings indicate that Caribbean MPAs have multiple objectives related to both social and ecological conditions, and that most MPAs are making at least some progress towards achieving these objectives. Those MPAs with stated objectives to promote education and serve as a model for other MPAs seem to be making good progress on these objectives, while those with the objective of reducing conflict are not. Where MPAs are not meeting their goals and objectives, planners and managers should consider reallocating human and financial resources to address deficiencies and re-evaluating existing goals and objectives. It is important to consider how existing marine protected areas are performing as efforts in the Caribbean region and elsewhere continue to promote the establishment of new MPAs.
We engaged in collaborative research with two small-scale fishing communities inside the Upper Gulf of California Biosphere Reserve in Mexico, San Felipe (SF) and El Golfo de Santa Clara (GSC), to test how well the geographic heterogeneity of fishing activities within the reserve coincided with current regulations. We compared the two communities in terms of catch composition, fishing effort, ex-vessel prices and revenues, seasonal patterns in fishing activities in relation to the reproductive seasons of target species, and spatial patterns of fishing in relation to managed zones within the reserve. The top four species (Cynoscion othonopterus, Micropogonias megalops, Scomberomorus concolor, Litopenaeus stylirostris) in terms of relative effort, catch, and revenues were the same for both communities but overall fisheries production, effort, and revenues were higher in GSC than SF for these species. Fishing activities in GSC followed a predictable annual cycle that began with L. stylirostris and were followed sequentially by the harvesting of C. othonopterus, M. megalops, and S. concolor during their respective spawning seasons, which were associated with seasonal variations in ex-vessel prices. Conversely, catch and revenues in SF were more diversified, less dependent on those four species, less seasonal, and did not show seasonal variations in prices. Interactions between fisheries and managed zones also differed such that SF interacted mainly with the southwest portion of the vaquita (Phocoena sinus) refuge, whereas GSC fished over a larger area and interacted mainly with the northeast portion of the vaquita refuge and the no-take zone. Our results indicate the two communities differ markedly in their socio-economic dependence on fisheries, their spatio-temporal patterns of fishing, their use of and impacts on species, coastal ecosystems and managed areas, and how different regulations may affect livelihoods. Regional management and conservation efforts should account for these differences to ensure the protection of endangered species and to sustain ecosystem services that maintain livelihoods and healthy coastal ecosystems. This study provides further evidence of the ability of collaborative research between scientists and fishers to produce robust and fine-scale fisheries and biological information that improves the collective knowledge and management of small-scale fisheries within marine protected areas.
The designation of marine protected areas (MPAs) may have intense social and economic effects on human communities. Driven by overarching global and European policies and national legislations, current systematic conservation planning in the UK and France requires an ecosystem approach that takes into account not only nature but also the human activities that take place in an area. Here, we identified a set of 64 socioeconomic variables potentially relevant for marine and coastal stakeholders in a European context and a comprehensive set of 20 marine and coastal stakeholder categories. Ninety national organisations in the UK and France belonging to those categories and potentially affected by/interested in the designation of multiple-use MPAs were identified and surveyed. Results show that environmental NGOs, research centres, local councils, managing agencies and statutory nature conservation bodies perceived that they are positively affected by these MPAs, whereas fishers’ organisations, shipping and aggregate industrial organisations and recreational organisations perceived to be chiefly negatively affected by MPAs. On average, the ecological effects of multiple-use MPAs are perceived as ‘largely positive’, though 30% of respondents did not perceive any positive ecological effects from these MPAs. The social, economic and cultural effects of such MPAs are perceived as ‘moderately positive’. Most respondents perceived broad range (>10 km) and permanent ecological, social, economic and cultural effects from multiple-use MPA designation suggesting high societal expectations towards these areas. However, only five variables were perceived to vary in intensity after the designation of multiple-use MPAs: ‘research’, ‘environmental performance by citizens, businesses and towns’, ‘number of green businesses’, ‘tourism’ and ‘economic activities’. The most important ‘social’ variables for stakeholder organisations referred to local populations’ engagement with the MPA, tourism and research. The most important ‘economic’ variables were linked to fishing, shipping and aquaculture activities. These variables highlight relevant topics to be considered in MPA planning, designation and management processes, especially in the UK and France. There were statistically significant differences in the ratings of socioeconomic variables between many organisations belonging to the same intuitive stakeholder categories, suggesting the importance of including as wide a range of stakeholder organisations as feasible in MPA socioeconomic-related processes. Our methods and findings can help to inform and streamline ongoing and future participatory MPA planning, management and monitoring processes in Europe and in other regions with similar socioeconomic characteristics.
Value achieved from time spent at sea is a central driver of fishing decisions and fishing behaviors. Value per unit effort (VPUE) is an important indicator of economic performance in itself and a useful metric within integrated mixed fisheries models. A time series of Irish first sale prices and total per trip landings values (VPT) highlight heterogeneity in fish prices and VPTs achieved by the Irish fleet spatially and temporally, as well as variability with species targeting. This investigation compared models to standardize fishing trip VPUE accounting for species targeting (métier groupings), engine power (a kW proxy for vessel size), seasonal and annual variability, fishing effort, and individual vessels (encompassing variability in vessel characteristics and skipper effects). Linear mixed effects models incorporating random vessel effects and within-group variance between métier groupings performed best at describing the variability in the dataset. All investigated factors were important in explaining variability, and thus important in standardizing VPUE. Models incorporating fishing days (days with reported fishing activity) and engine power as separate variables resulted in improved AIC values. Therefore, fishing days were considered to be the most appropriate effort measure to generate VPUE. The effort unit traditionally applied in measures of per unit effort, fishing hours, performed comparatively poorly in relation to VPT.
Fishery management measures to reduce interactions between fisheries and endangered or threatened species have typically relied on static time-area closures. While these efforts have reduced interactions, they can be costly and inefficient for managing highly migratory species such as sea turtles. The NOAA TurtleWatch product was created in 2006 as a tool to reduce the rates of interactions of loggerhead sea turtles with shallow-set longline gear deployed by the Hawaii-based pelagic longline fishery targeting swordfish. TurtleWatch provides information on loggerhead habitat and can be used by managers and industry to make dynamic management decisions to potentially reduce incidentally capturing turtles during fishing operations. TurtleWatch is expanded here to include information on endangered leatherback turtles to help reduce incidental capture rates in the central North Pacific. Fishery-dependent data were combined with fishing effort, bycatch and satellite tracking data of leatherbacks to characterize sea surface temperature (SST) relationships that identify habitat or interaction ‘hotspots’. Analysis of SST identified two zones, centered at 17.2° and 22.9°C, occupied by leatherbacks on fishing grounds of the Hawaii-based swordfish fishery. This new information was used to expand the TurtleWatch product to provide managers and industry near real-time habitat information for both loggerheads and leatherbacks. The updated TurtleWatch product provides a tool for dynamic management of the Hawaii-based shallow-set fishery to aid in the bycatch reduction of both species. Updating the management strategy to dynamically adapt to shifts in multi-species habitat use through time is a step towards an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management in pelagic ecosystems.
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.