Evaluating progress towards environmental sustainability goals can be difficult due to a lack of measurable benchmarks and insufficient or uncertain data. Marine settings are particularly challenging, as stakeholders and objectives tend to be less well defined and ecosystem components have high natural variability and are difficult to observe directly. Fuzzy logic expert systems are useful analytical frameworks to evaluate such systems, and we develop such a model here to formally evaluate progress towards sustainability targets based on diverse sets of indicators. Evaluation criteria include recent (since policy enactment) and historical (from earliest known state) change, type of indicators (state, benefit, pressure, response), time span and spatial scope, and the suitability of an indicator in reflecting progress toward a specific objective. A key aspect of the framework is that all assumptions are transparent and modifiable to fit different social and ecological contexts. We test the method by evaluating progress towards four Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Canadian oceans, including quantitative progress scores, information gaps, and the sensitivity of results to model and data assumptions. For Canadian marine systems, national protection plans and biodiversity awareness show good progress, but species and ecosystem states overall do not show strong improvement. Well-defined goals are vital for successful policy implementation, as ambiguity allows for conflicting potential indicators, which in natural systems increases uncertainty in progress evaluations. Importantly, our framework can be easily adapted to assess progress towards policy goals with different themes, globally or in specific regions.
Although tourism destination governance has been a subject of academic enquiry for some time now, in practice, governance is still a challenge for many tourism destinations around the world. Adaptive co-management (ACM) is a dynamic approach to governance whereby institutional arrangements and ecological knowledge are continually revised through a process of ‘learning-by-doing’. Founded on the active participation and collaboration of diverse stakeholder groups, ACM has been used extensively in the governance of natural resource contexts and so may offer valuable synergies for tourism governance; particularly the governance of tourism in protected areas. This review paper presents a critical review and synthesis of the ACM literature, identifying synergies and opportunities for enhancing tourism governance practices in protected area contexts through an ACM approach. A conceptual framework is developed from the review that identifies principles, stages, variables and expected outcomes of the ACM approach. Future research directions for ACM in tourism are proposed that incorporate governance, social learning and multi-stakeholder engagement.
There is an increasing concern that anthropogenic noise could have a significant impact on the marine environment, but there is still insufficient data for most invertebrates. What do they perceive? We investigated this question in oysters Magallana gigas (Crassostrea gigas) using pure tone exposures, accelerometer fixed on the oyster shell and hydrophone in the water column. Groups of 16 oysters were exposed to quantifiable waterborne sinusoidal sounds in the range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz at various acoustic energies. The experiment was conducted in running seawater using an experimental flume equipped with suspended loudspeakers. The sensitivity of the oysters was measured by recording their valve movements by high-frequency noninvasive valvometry. The tests were 3 min tone exposures including a 70 sec fade-in period. Three endpoints were analysed: the ratio of responding individuals in the group, the resulting changes of valve opening amplitude and the response latency. At high enough acoustic energy, oysters transiently closed their valves in response to frequencies in the range of 10 to <1000 Hz, with maximum sensitivity from 10 to 200 Hz. The minimum acoustic energy required to elicit a response was 0.02 m∙s-2 at 122 dBrms re 1 μPa for frequencies ranging from 10 to 80 Hz. As a partial valve closure cannot be differentiated from a nociceptive response, it is very likely that oysters detect sounds at lower acoustic energy. The mechanism involved in sound detection and the ecological consequences are discussed.
Anthropogenic disturbances are altering the functioning and provisioning of marine ecosystem services, and as such, affect marine wildlife profoundly. A major problem in this context is resource competition between marine predators and fisheries. Marine protected areas (MPAs) can be a powerful tool to provide protection to predators and their prey; however, effective management strategies are required. A case study of African penguin conservation in South Africa was used to illustrate the benefits of embracing adaptive and dynamic management in the marine environment. The South African government plans to implement 22 new MPAs, which will maximise socio-economic benefits, while ensuring adequate ocean environmental protection. In Algoa Bay, the main purpose of the proposed MPA is to increase populations of the endangered African penguin Spheniscus demersus. We used the results of a seven-year experiment, in which purse-seine fisheries were closed around penguin colonies in that area, and concluded that the new MPA would provide a legal improvement to the current situation, but would not be sufficient to increase numbers of African penguin populations. For this, larger no-take zones are necessary when prey availability is low. At the moment, ongoing acoustic surveys could provide recommendations on prey availability to design flexible MPA boundaries. More advanced surveys will be necessary in the future to allow for the MPA's criteria to be adapted, and fully benefit penguins and the coastal community. As such, this study illustrates the usefulness of an adaptive and dynamic management approach for the conservation of marine resources and endangered top predators.
With the high rate of ecosystem change, effective systematic conservation planning must account for ongoing and imminent threats to biodiversity to ensure its persistence. Accordingly, guidance on appropriate conservation actions in the face of climate change has been accumulating. We review this guidance and bring together the key recommendations needed to successfully account for climate change impacts, relevant to the scale at which natural resource management is carried out. We discuss how the traditional conservation tools of protection and restoration need to be adjusted to be effective in the face of climate change. We highlight the conservation innovations such as moveable and temporary reserves, and Targeted Gene Flow. We build on recent work to provide critical advice for considering climate change in conservation planning. In particular, we discuss how stating explicit objectives related to climate change adaptation, quantifying uncertainty, and exploring trade-offs will better place conservation plans to meet objectives for multiple goals such as protection of species, ecosystems, geophysical diversity and ecological processes.
Globally, tropical and subtropical regions have experienced an increased frequency and intensity in extreme weather events, ranging from severe drought to protracted rain depressions and cyclones, these coincided with an increased number of marine turtles subsequently reported stranded. This study investigated the relationship between environmental variables and marine turtle stranding. The environmental variables examined in this study, in descending order of importance, were freshwater discharge, monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall for the latitudinal hotspots (-27°, -25°, -23°, -19°) along the Queensland coast as well as for major embayments within these blocks. This study found that marine turtle strandings can be linked to these environmental variables at different lag times (3–12 months), and that cumulative (months added together for maximum lag) and non-cumulative (single month only) effects cause different responses. Different latitudes also showed different responses of marine turtle strandings, both in response direction and timing.Cumulative effects of freshwater discharge in all latitudes resulted in increased strandings 10–12 months later. For latitudes -27°, -25° and -23° non-cumulative effects for discharge resulted in increased strandings 7–12 months later. Latitude -19° had different results for the non-cumulative bay with strandings reported earlier (3–6 months). Monthly mean maximum and minimum air temperatures, monthly average daily diurnal air temperature difference and rainfall had varying results for each examined latitude. This study will allow first responders and resource managers to be better equipped to deal with increased marine turtle stranding rates following extreme weather events.
Adaptive management is essential to the practical application of the Ecosystem-Based Approach (EBA). Despite there are frequent assertions that adaptive management is being used, evidence on its success is still limited. Indeed, it is difficult to bring the different elements of adaptive management together in a robust way and to choose the appropriate tools to do it. Therefore, it is necessary to provide a practical framework for adaptive policy action, consistent with the EBA. Accordingly, to operationalize the design and implementation of adaptive policies on the basis of the EBA, the Adaptive Marine Policy toolbox has been developed. The objective of the toolbox is to provide policy-makers a practical framework to design and implement adaptive policies. To show the functionality of the toolbox, the guidelines and resources provided within the toolbox have been applied to the marine litter issue in the Mediterranean and Black Sea as an example. The example application has shown that the toolbox is a useful and operational framework to build a science-policy interface according to the EBA. Despite some resources could be missing from the toolbox, they provide a practical and useful starting point to support the application of the different steps and key activities.
As a consequence of global environmental change, management strategies that can deal with unexpected change in resource dynamics are becoming increasingly important. In this paper we undertake a novel approach to studying resource growth problems using a computational form of adaptive management to find optimal strategies for prevalent natural resource management dilemmas. We scrutinize adaptive management, or learning-by-doing, to better understand how to simultaneously manage and learn about a system when its dynamics are unknown. We study important trade-offs in decision-making with respect to choosing optimal actions (harvest efforts) for sustainable management during change. This is operationalized through an artificially intelligent model where we analyze how different trends and fluctuations in growth rates of a renewable resource affect the performance of different management strategies. Our results show that the optimal strategy for managing resources with declining growth is capable of managing resources with fluctuating or increasing growth at a negligible cost, creating in a management strategy that is both efficient and robust towards future unknown changes. To obtain this strategy, adaptive management should strive for: high learning rates to new knowledge, high valuation of future outcomes and modest exploration around what is perceived as the optimal action.
Marine ecosystems are subject to anthropogenic change at global, regional and local scales. Global drivers interact with regional- and local-scale impacts of both a chronic and acute nature. Natural fluctuations and those driven by climate change need to be understood to diagnose local- and regional-scale impacts, and to inform assessments of recovery. Three case studies are used to illustrate the need for long-term studies: (i) separation of the influence of fishing pressure from climate change on bottom fish in the English Channel; (ii) recovery of rocky shore assemblages from the Torrey Canyon oil spill in the southwest of England; (iii) interaction of climate change and chronic Tributyltin pollution affecting recovery of rocky shore populations following the Torrey Canyon oil spill. We emphasize that “baselines” or “reference states” are better viewed as envelopes that are dependent on the time window of observation. Recommendations are made for adaptive management in a rapidly changing world.
Fishing is an important recreational activity for many Australians, with one in every four people participating every year. There are however many different pressures exerted on Australian fish stocks, including climate-related changes that drive changes in local fish abundances. It is inevitable that recreational fishers will need to adapt to these changes. When resource abundance alters substantially, user adaptation to the new situation is required and policies and incentives may need to be developed to encourage behaviour change. It is important to correctly anticipate fisher's response to these policies and incentives as much as possible. Improved understanding of recreational fisher's likely adaptation decisions and the nature and timing of these decisions can help avoid unintended consequences of management decisions. Based on a survey of recreational fishers in the south-east Australian climate hotspot, we identify 4 relevant dimensions to recreational fisher's behavioural adaptation. There are differences in adaptation timing (early, late, and non-adaptors). Non-adaptors are characterised by greater cultural attachment to fishing and stronger perceptions of the factors that influence abundance change. The fisher's preferred adaptation responses and the timing of the behavioural response differs between decreasing versus increasing fish abundance. Insight into perspectives and expectations on how recreational fishers might adapt to changes is useful to develop a set of behavioural incentives that appeal to different groups but remain efficient and effective in their implementation. Such knowledge can create new pathways to achieve meaningful and targeted adaptation responses for different types of recreational fishers.