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.
Coral reef fishes, like many other marine organisms, are affected by anthropogenic stressors such as fishing and pollution and, owing to climate change, are experiencing increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification. Against the backdrop of these various stressors, a mechanistic understanding of processes governing individual organismal performance is the first step for identifying drivers of coral reef fish population dynamics. In fact, physiological measurements can help to reveal potential cause-and-effect relationships and enable physiologists to advise conservation management by upscaling results from cellular and individual organismal levels to population levels. Here, we highlight studies that include physiological measurements of coral reef fishes and those that give advice for their conservation. A literature search using combined physiological, conservation and coral reef fish key words resulted in ~1900 studies, of which only 99 matched predefined requirements. We observed that, over the last 20 years, the combination of physiological and conservation aspects in studies on coral reef fishes has received increased attention. Most of the selected studies made their physiological observations at the whole organism level and used their findings to give conservation advice on population dynamics, habitat use or the potential effects of climate change. The precision of the recommendations differed greatly and, not surprisingly, was least concrete when studies examined the effects of projected climate change scenarios. Although more and more physiological studies on coral reef fishes include conservation aspects, there is still a lack of concrete advice for conservation managers, with only very few published examples of physiological findings leading to improved management practices. We conclude with a call to action to foster better knowledge exchange between natural scientists and conservation managers to translate physiological findings more effectively in order to obtain evidence-based and adaptive management strategies for the conservation of coral reef fishes.
Sustainable stewardship of the marine environment necessitates a holistic approach encompassing all the relevant drivers, activities and pressures causing problems for the natural state of the system and their impact on human societies today and in the future. This article provides a framework as well as a decision support process and tool that could guide such an approach. In this process, identifying costs and benefits of mitigation is a first step in deciding on measures and enabling instruments, which has to be accompanied by analyses regarding distributional effects (i.e. who gains or loses) related to different targets and policy instruments. As there are risks of future irreversible regime shifts and even system collapses, the assessments have to be broadened to include scenarios on possible future developments as well as ethical considerations. In particular, a deeper sustainable management strategy may be needed to respond to possible future increases in the rate of environmental change, amongst growing evidence of external pressures, interactions and non-linear dynamics. This adaptive management strategy should focus on building the resilience required to cope with and adapt to change.
This paper investigates the ecological, social and institutional dimensions of the synergies and trade-offs between seagrasses and human activities operating in the Natura 2000 protected site of San Simón Bay (Galicia, NW Spain). By means of a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the development of a biological inventory combined with participatory mapping processes we get key spatial and contextual understanding regarding how, where and why marine users interact with seagrasses and how seagrasses are considered in policy making. The results highlight the fisheries' reliance on seagrass meadows and the controversial links with shellfisheries. The study also reveals unresolved conflicts among those management plans that promote the protection of natural values and those responsible for the exploitation of marine resources. We conclude that the adoption of pre-planning bottom-up participatory processes is crucial for the design of realistic strategies where both seagrasses and human activities were considered as a couple system.