Harvesting wild seaweeds has a long history and is still relevant today, even though aquaculture now supplies >96% of global seaweed production. Current wild harvests mostly target canopy-forming kelp, rockweed and red macroalgae that provide important ecosystem roles, including primary production, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, habitat provision, biodiversity and fisheries support. Harvest methods range from selective hand-cutting to bottom trawling. Resulting ecosystem impacts depend on extraction method and scale, ranging from changes in primary production to habitat disruption, fragmentation, food-web alterations and bycatch of non-target species. Current management often aims for sustainable harvesting in a single-species context, although some agencies acknowledge the wider ecosystem structure, functions and services seaweeds provide. We outline potential ecosystem-based management approaches that would help sustain productive and diverse seaweed-based ecosystems. These include maintaining high canopy biomass, recovery potential, habitat structure and connectivity, limiting bycatch and discards, while incorporating seasonal closures and harvest-exclusion zones into spatial management plans. Other sustainability considerations concern monitoring, enforcement and certification standards, a shift to aquaculture, and addressing cumulative human impacts, invasive species and climate change. Our review provides a concise overview on how to define and operationalize ecosystem-based management of seaweed harvesting that can inform ongoing management and conservation efforts.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
The Arctic is a complex geographical area to govern sustainably due to strong geopolitical and socio-economic interests, high ecological vulnerability and importance, and significant legal and institutional fragmentation. Intensifying human pressures in this area necessitate an ecosystem-based and adaptive governance approach, an approach that enables managing socio-ecological resilience in the Arctic. As the Arctic is a large geographic area crossing multiple national jurisdictions and maritime zones, including high seas areas, regionally coordinated and coherent governance approaches would be desirable. This paper assesses the status quo for ecosystem-based governance (EBG) in the Arctic, suggests a focus on three core components of EBG, and proposes three forms of legal coherence to foster these core components. The paper concludes with examining what role the Arctic Council plays and could play to strengthen EBG in the Arctic.
Managing coastal areas under an Ecosystem Based Approach–Marine Spatial Planning framework acknowledges the complexity associated with the need to address multiple environmental and socioeconomic issues. The development of efficient management plans is critical to the implementation success of the framework; in this regard, unresolved challenges remain for measuring the effectiveness of planning plans and monitoring implementation progress. This paper describes the development of a Bayesian Belief Network as a prototype Decision Support Tool to assist coastal planning in the catchment areas of the Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. The model was co-designed with local managers, underpinned by the Drivers-Pressures-States-Impacts-Responses analytical framework to identify key coastal cause-effect relationships, and by the Recreational Opportunity Spectrum framework to account for significant recreational areas. The Bayesian Belief Network was structured on a conceptualisation of the relationships between key pressures affecting coastal management targets (biological areas and human activities) and their impacts on the state of the variables, with emphasis on the beach ecosystem. The socio-economic component of the model consists of predictive socio-economic modelling on preferred beach activities, the assessment of beach recreational settings, and a beach quality survey. Conditional probability tables were derived from local and regional databases. The model structure allows decision makers enhanced understanding of key interactions between management variables, assessment of management scenarios, and increased accountability of planning decisions. Future work on the prototype could expand the model to become a Bayesian Decision Network, through the integration of proposed management actions and their utilities, thereby helping managers identify optimal decisions.
We introduce an innovative value- and ecosystem-based management approach (VEBMA) that exposes resource policy tradeoffs, fosters good governance, and can help to resolve conflicts. We apply VEBMA to the Pacific herring Clupea pallasii fishery in British Columbia, Canada, which is mired in conflict between local and indigenous communities and the fishing industry over the management of herring, a forage fish with significant socioeconomic, ecological, and cultural value. VEBMA integrates an ecosystem-based approach (ecological modelling) with a value-based approach (practical ethics) to examine the ecological viability, economic feasibility, and societal desirability of alternative fishery management scenarios. In the ecosystem-based approach, we applied the Management Strategy Evaluation module within the Ecopath with Ecosim modelling framework to explore scenarios with harvest-control rules specified by various herring fishing mortalities and biomass cutoff thresholds. In the value-based approach, Haida Gwaii community and herring industry participants ranked a set of values and selected preferred scenarios and cutoff thresholds. The modelled ecological impacts and risks and stakeholder preferences of the scenarios are synthesized in a deliberation and decision-support tool, the VEBMA science-policy table. VEBMA aims to facilitate inclusive, transparent, and accountable decision-making among diverse stakeholders, such as local communities, industries, scientists, managers, and policy-makers. It promotes compromise, rather than consensus solutions to resolve ‘wicked’ problems at the science-policy interface.
The Maltese Islands have a very active recreational fishing community which may affect the coastal marine ecosystem. Despite this, studies to scientifically document the effects of this activity have been lacking prior to works between July 2012 and June 2017 presented here as a case study. This project, with the aim of collecting long-term data on the characteristics, trends, catches and impacts to fish populations of the recreational shore sport fishery at the national level also involved a pilot study on hobby shore angling. Two thousand five hundred and eighty nine roving-access creel surveys conducted during 132 sport fishing events and 159 catches from hobby fishers were documented with the methodology used also applicable to shore fishing taking place in the Mediterranean and elsewhere. Ninety species belonging to twenty-nine families were documented with the most common being the Sparidae and Labridae. Catch per unit effort was higher for sport fishers with hobby fishers targeting larger fish. Results from this case study go to augment the limited and necessary knowledge on this fishing sector in the Mediterranean. Findings also indicate that recreational fisheries need to be taken into account when considering conservation measures for national, regional and global fisheries management.
In the context of ecosystem-based fisheries management, which should consider changing and uncertain environmental conditions, the development of ecosystem-based biological reference points (EBRPs) to account for important multi-species (MS) interactions, fishery operations, and climate change, is of paramount importance for sustainable fisheries management. However, EBRPs under varying plankton productivity states and fisheries management strategies are seldom developed, and the ecosystem effects of these changes are still largely unknown. In this study, ecosystem-based FMSY(fishing mortality rate at MSY) values were estimated within an end-to-end ecosystem model (OSMOSE) for three focused fish species (Pacific Herring, Clupea pallasii; Pacific Cod, Gadus macrocephalus; Lingcod, Ophiodon elongatus) under three plankton productivity states of differing plankton biomass at high, current, and low levels. In addition, ecosystem effects were compared across different plankton productivity and fisheries management strategies with the latter consisting of two fishery scenarios (i.e. single-species-focused (SS) and MS-focused), various fishing mortality rates, and two harvest policies (with and without harvest control rules, HCRs). Main findings of this study include: (i) plankton productivity change affected the values of ecosystem-based FMSY, which increased as plankton productivity states changed from low to high plankton biomass; (ii) ecosystem-based FMSY for Pacific Herring and Pacific Cod stocks increased when fishery scenarios shifted from SS-focused to MS-focused; (iii) fisheries management incorporating HCR yielded more stable system catch and system biomass; and (iv) high plankton biomass combined with fisheries management using HCR could maintain stable ecosystem production and sustainable fisheries. Based on our findings, we highlight possible adaptive fisheries management strategies in the face of future climate and ocean changes. Overall, EBRPs complement SS stock assessments by incorporating key ecological processes and ecosystem properties, thus providing supporting evidence for better incorporation of ecosystem considerations into scientific advice for sustainable fisheries management.
This thematic issue on Asian Large Marine Ecosystems focuses attention on a major geographic area of the world where the goods and services of 13 Large Marine Ecosystems (LMEs) are serving the needs of three billion people inhabiting the region. The stressors affecting the sustainable development of the Asian LMEs are impacting the economies of the bordering countries from overfishing, pollution, nutrient overenrichment, habitat degradation, biodiversity loss, and climate change. The papers in this issue represent a cross-section of assessment studies underway by marine scientists, policy specialists, and resource managers in the region engaged in a movement to introduce ecosystem-based management practices for mitigating stressors on LMEs. This movement is supported, in part, by an independent international financial entity, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), which exists to help meet the objectives of international environmental conventions and agreements. The movement towards ecosystem-based management is supported by the GEF to advance a United Nations effort to assist economically developing nations in the Asian region and in other regions around the globe towards sustainable development of the oceans.
The expectations on marine spatial planning to improve environmental governance of the Baltic Sea are high, not least for helping to close the huge gaps between environmental objectives and the state of the marine environment. This article focuses on the on-going implementation of marine spatial planning in Sweden, well-known to be a forerunner in environmental policy. Aiming to identify governance recommendations, the study analyses how the first consultation document for the Baltic Sea may complement existing governance systems and promote gap closure. A particular focus is placed on the potential impact of the plan on the implementation of an ecosystem approach to management (EAM) and how these issues are regarded by involved stakeholders. It is shown that the planning process promotes participation, but that the studied plan as such most likely does not significantly help to close any larger environmental goal-state gaps. A number of recommendations on how to develop the plan are discussed, but significant improvements require broader governance reforms, in particular concerning coordination and integration in relation to legislation on other marine and water strategies, as well as policies and laws for fisheries, agriculture and industrial chemicals. Major policy development is thus needed in order to allow marine spatial planning in Sweden, and most likely in several other geographical areas as well, to significantly help closing goal-state gaps in the future.
East Asia encompasses six large marine ecosystems (LME): the South China Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, the East China Sea, the Yellow Sea, the Sulu-Celebes Sea, and the Indonesian Sea. Despite occupying only 3 percent of the world’s ocean surface, portions of this area are considered to be the global center of marine biodiversity. Since the early 1990s, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia (PEMSEA) has refined the Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) methodology and fostered a collaborative, partnership approach in the region to implement sustainable coastal and ocean development of these LMEs. ICM provided the foundational delivery system promoting interdisciplinary approaches and cooperation among users and beneficiaries to address complex development issues. While addressing marine pollution at the beginning, it became obvious that it had to be tackled in the context of the whole marine environment and sustainable development. PEMSEA developed and adopted the Sustainable Development Strategy for the Seas of East Asia (SDS-SEA) as the regional policy instrument from which countries of the region and other partners, individually or in groups, could apply the action programmes relevant to them. This in-depth review article describes the evolution of PEMSEA from a regional marine pollution project to an international organization, highlighting key developments, such as the SDS-SEA, the ICM Code, and the Ocean Investment Service, as well the advancement of ICM throughout the East Asian region and the adoption of the State of Oceans and Coasts reporting system to track progress. Looking forward, we summarize a United Nations Environment and IOC-UNESCO assessment of the current baseline status of these East Asian LMEs to examine future key areas for intervention by PEMSEA.
The history of commercial exploitation of fish stocks is replete with instances of over-exploitation and stock collapse. Particularly in situations where little is known about a species or a particular fish stock, unregulated expansion into new fisheries may effectively wipe out a species or stock before its existence is even formally recognised or understood. Globally, there has been a strong interest in ensuring that such a fate does not befall any fish stocks that either exist in or may migrate in future into the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean. The Agreement to Prevent Unregulated High Seas Fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean establishes a framework for the acquisition of science upon which precautionary, ecosystem-based management measures can be based, if and when they become necessary in the future. This article examines the role of international law in facilitating both the adoption of the Agreement and the adaptive management of fisheries in the high seas portion of the Central Arctic Ocean. It will be shown that the Agreement provides the initial framework for precautionary, ecosystem-based, adaptive and environmentally sound decision making regarding potential future fisheries in the Central Arctic Ocean.