Marine pollution due to littering from anthropogenic activities is a serious global environmental problem—the main reason accumulation of debris in the environment, including in the ocean. There is a significant hazard coming from plastic debris. Besides entanglement and ingestion, marine plastics debris has more complex problems and can release additional and by-product chemical substances. If we keep producing and not doing anything, a recent study said by 2050 there would be three times more plastic than fish in the ocean. We only have a limited understanding of marine plastic debris distribution, implication, fate, and behavior. Science is the key to getting the right alternative for processing debris. To prevent marine pollution successfully requires education and outreach programs, strong laws and policies, and law enforcement for government and private institutions. This chapter explores marine plastic debris.
Aquaculture, Seafood, and Food Security
Aquaculture represents an increasingly significant share of the global supply of freshwater and marine resources. The distribution of benefits from aquaculture development will largely depend on who has the resources necessary to participate in the sector and how the sector is governed. We investigate the extent to which aquaculture is being utilized by commercial fishermen to expand and diversify their livelihoods in Maine, USA. Here, a network approach is used to delineate individuals' participation in aquaculture and wild-capture fisheries. Results show that while some fishermen are starting aquaculture businesses, aquaculture has had a limited effect on livelihood diversification for those engaged in the commercial fishing sector to date. These findings raise questions about who will benefit from aquaculture and how the continued growth will compete with existing marine resource sectors, including wild-capture fisheries. We argue that the extent to which aquaculture can foster livelihood diversification in the long term and fit within existing coastal economies will largely depend on the institutions that are established to govern the sector.
The vaquita (Phocoena sinus) is the world's smallest cetacean and most endangered marine mammal. The species is under threat from illegal fishing activities that take place in the upper Gulf of California (UGC). Artisanal use of gillnets to catch shrimp and poach the endangered totoaba are the primary drivers of vaquita population declines due to bycatch. About 80% of shrimp caught in the UGC is sold to the United States, meaning Americans who consume shrimp may have a direct connection to the plight of the critically endangered vaquita. However, this issue as part of the human dimensions of vaquita conservation has been largely unstudied. Additionally, the majority of Americans are unfamiliar with the vaquita which hinders conservation efforts. This article calls for further research into the human dimensions of vaquita conservation, increased collaboration with fishing communities in the UGC, and connecting seafood sellers and consumers with the vaquita crisis.
Indonesia is the main tropical seaweed producer in the world with approximately 70,000 families depending on this activity. The red macroalgae Kappaphycus spp. and Eucheuma denticulatum are the most common species cultivated and used for carrageenan in the processed foods industry. Seaweed farming is an accessible form of mariculture requiring low capital investment and enabling improved living standards in different regions. Nevertheless, farmers suffer from boom and bust cycles due to seaweed price volatility and algal diseases. Limited research has been done on Rote Island, East Nusa Tenggara province, which is among one of the poorest regions in Indonesia where culturing seaweed has become popular. This study assesses seaweed farming practices and their impact on household economy by looking at the overall income generating activities of households involved in seaweed farming. The information was collected using structured interviews with questions related to socio-demographic characteristics, household income, farming practices and challenges. Findings of this study highlight farmers' dependence on seaweed farming activities in southwest Rote, where 50% of the households rely on the income through this activity as their only cash source. During the time of the study, two-thirds of the families were living under the poverty line. Seasonality played a crucial role in seaweed production with negative impacts during the dry season. Thus, families with additional livelihoods seemed to cope better during low production seasons. Seaweed farming practices show room for improvement, and farmers could benefit from activities targeting enhanced productivity of their farms.
The ecosystem approach to aquaculture (EAA) considers ecosystem services (ES) important, but does not provide a conceptual framework or a typology to integrate and assess them. To supplement the EAA, a literature review of the ES conceptual framework and ES typologies was combined with selected criteria from the EAA and ES literature. Eight criteria of transition from a conventional approach to aquaculture to the EAA were used as selection criteria to choose a conceptual framework of ES relevant with the EAA. To select a typology, we determined that ES must be distinguished from benefits, be a part of nature, be usable directly and indirectly, and not contain support or habitat ES. The conceptual framework of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES) is the most compatible with the EAA but does not provide an ES typology. The Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services (CICES) provides the ES typology most consistent with EAA criteria to supplement the conceptual framework. We identified 10 provisioning ES, 20 regulation and maintenance ES, and 11 cultural ES. Integration of the IPBES conceptual framework with the CICES typology preserves the generic approach of the EAA. This integration could highlight the main interactions among an aquaecosystem, its ES supply, its management, and its relevant stakeholders at multiple spatial and temporal scales. Moreover, it fulfils the three main goals of the EAA by identifying them in a clear and common framework.
The growth of marine aquaculture over the 21st century is a promising venture for food security because of its potential to fulfill the seafood deficit in the future. However, to maximize the use of marine space and its resources, the spatial planning of marine aquaculture needs to consider the regimes of climate variability in the oceanic environment, which are characterized by large-amplitude interannual to decadal fluctuations. It is common to see aquaculture spatial planning schemes that do not take variability into consideration. This assumption may be critical for management and for the expansion of marine aquaculture, because projects require investments of capital and need to be profitable to establish and thrive. We analyze the effect of climate variability on the profitability of hypothetical mussel aquaculture systems in the Southern California Bight. Using historical environmental data from 1981 to 2008, we combine mussel production and economics models at different sites along the coast to estimate the Net Present Value as an economic indicator of profitability. We find that productivity of the farms exhibits a strong coherent behavior with marketed decadal fluctuations that are connected to climate of the North Pacific Basin, in particular linked to the phases of the North Pacific Gyre Oscillation (NPGO). This decadal variability has a strong impact on profitability both temporally and spatially, and emerges because of the mussels’ dependence on multiple oceanic environmental variables. Depending on the trend of the decadal regimes in mussel productivity and the location of the farms, these climate fluctuations will affect cost recovery horizon and profitability for a given farm. These results suggest that climate variability should be taken into consideration by managers and investors on decision making to maximize profitability.
With the advent of DNA forensics, research on seafood fraud has increased drastically. The documentation of mislabeling has raised concern over the identity, value, and safety of seafood. However, the general characterization of mislabeling is limited. We conduct a Bayesian meta-analysis to estimate global mislabeling rates and their uncertainty across several factors. While the effort to document mislabeling is impressive, it is highly skewed toward certain taxa and geographies. For most products, including all invertebrates, there is insufficient data to produce useful estimates. For others, the uncertainty of estimates has been underappreciated. Mislabeling is commonly characterized by study-level means. Doing so often overestimates mislabeling, masks important product information, and is of limited utility—particularly given that studies often lack adequate sampling designs for parameter estimation. At the global level, overall mislabeling rates do not differ statistically across supply chain locations, product forms, or countries. Product-level estimates are the most informative. The majority of products, for which there is sufficient data, have mislabeling estimates lower than commonly reported. The most credible average mislabeling rate at the product-level is 8% (95% HDI: 4–14%). Importantly, some products have high estimates, which should be priorities for research and interventions. Estimates must be combined with other data in order to understand the extent and potential consequences of mislabeling, which is likely to vary drastically by product. Our meta-analysis, which can be updated with new data, provides a foundation for prioritizing research to inform programs and policies to reduce seafood fraud.
Canada is a signatory to United Nations conventions on sustainable development and has entrenched sustainability goals in legislation and policies relating to natural resource sectors including aquaculture. Monitoring and measuring progress towards sustainable development requires the development of sustainability indicators (SI) that, when measured, indicate movement towards or away from a stated policy objective, as well as providing the public with a measure of government accountability. This paper examined the SI used by the Canadian government to assess the social, economic and environmental sustainability of aquaculture production in Canada, whether they adequately measure policy outcomes, and whether national-level SI indicators are appropriate to assessing sustainability at the community-level. The analysis reveals that the Canadian government has made virtually no progress towards translating sustainable aquaculture policy aspirations into measurable SI that evaluate policy outcomes. The mismatch between national policy goals and on-the-ground consequences are highlighted in a community case study of finfish aquaculture in Port Mouton Bay (Nova Scotia). Aquaculture SI and sustainability narratives are discussed in relation to emergent governance arrangements (certification programs) and an international development initiative, Blue Growth, for the world's oceans.
This is a living document responding to common questions about marine aquaculture. The download featured on this page may not feature the most recent changes. The document in its most recent stage will exist at http://www.aquariumofpacific.org/seafoodfuture.
Science-based marine aquaculture, or mariculture, is expanding around the world. Nonetheless, how scientists engage in mariculture planning, and why particular types of data are used to inform development decision-making, is less clear. In the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, coastal managers and scientists embarked on an ambitious effort to establish shellfish farming and created a thriving mariculture industry. This study draws upon in-depth interviews with scientists, government officials, and shellfish growers to better understand the social forces that affected scientific engagement in mariculture planning in Santa Catarina. From agronomic insights about shellfish growth to microbiological understanding of pathogenic threats to seafood, wide-ranging types of science could inform mariculture planning. Our data show marked differences in 1) the involvement of scientists based on their disciplinary expertise and 2) the use of production versus impact or risk-related data to support decision-making. Utilizing conceptual insights from sociological study of science and institutions, we show how normative, cultural-cognitive, and regulative forces influence both scientists’ involvement in planning and the use of scientific data to inform mariculture-related decisions. Most notably, asymmetries appear in the effects of norms related to methodological practices among scientists focused on enhancing shellfish production versus those investigating potential health and environmental concerns. Cultural differences among scientists from different disciplines also affected their inclination to collaborate with government officials and growers. Finally, ambiguities in mariculture-related regulations led to the differential involvement of scientists, in particular hindering investigations focused on seafood safety and public health. These results illustrate that social forces influence how science is practiced and that this, in turn, shapes the course of science-based mariculture development. Given their key social role, broader sociological investigation of scientists as social actors could provide valuable insights to those seeking to ensure coastal development is both socially and ecologically sustainable.