The Bay of Bengal Large Marine Ecosystem (BOBLME) is one of the largest and most important globally. In recent years Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Thailand have come together to build consensus around a Strategic Action Programme (SAP) with the support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) International Waters, Norway, Sweden and the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO). The Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (TDA) process identified a number of key issues including overexploitation of marine living resources, degradation of critical habitats and pollution and water quality. The TDA process identified several key drivers which contribute to these issues. These include socio-economic drivers, institutional, legal and administrative drivers and climate change. The agreed SAP identified four key objectives including that fisheries and other marine living resources are restored and managed sustainably; degraded, vulnerable and critical marine habitats are restored, conserved and maintained; coastal and marine pollution and water quality are controlled to meet agreed standards for human and ecosystem health; and social and economic constraints are addressed, which should lead to increased resilience and empowerment of coastal people. Analysis of the BOBLME SAP shows that just over 70% of the identified activities are being undertaken to some extent by countries already. SAP implementation recognises the importance of approaches such as the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), Integrated Coastal Management (ICM) and the focus on Small Scale Fisheries. Whilst BOBLME countries vary considerably in their governance arrangements and capacity to implement, they recognise the importance of regional coordination and cooperation to address transboundary issues.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
The Ecosystem Approach in Ocean Planning and Governance takes stock of the challenges associated with implementing an ecosystem approach in ocean governance. In addition to theorizing the notion of Ecosystem Approach and its multifaceted implications, the book provides in depth analyses of lessons learned and remaining challenges associated with making the Ecosystem Approach fully relevant and operational in different marine policy fields, including marine spatial planning, fisheries, and biodiversity protection. In doing so, it adds much needed legal and social science perspectives to the existing literature on the Ecosystem Approach in relation to the marine environment. While focusing predominantly on the European context, the perspective is enriched by analyses from other jurisdictions, including the USA.
Principal approaches to ecosystem-based ocean management in the United States include five major strands: Legislation for EBM, Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management, Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning and Marine Protected Areas. The presence of multiple strands of action is indicative of a lack of an agreed goal for what ecosystem-based management of the ocean is expected to achieve. It also leads to uncoordinated and sometimes competitive processes that are confusing to ocean users and observers. This paper identifies the principal evolving trends in ecosystem-based approaches in the federal arena in the United States in both sectoral and integrated regional approaches. How these emerging national policies work illustrates how such approaches are generally inadequate to implement EBM.
The sustainable use of global marine resources depends upon science-based decision processes and systems. Informing decisions with science is challenging for many reasons, including the nature of science and science-based institutions. The complexity of ecosystem-based management often requires the use of models, and model-based advice can be especially difficult to convert into policies or decisions. Here, we suggest five characteristics of model-based information and advice for successfully informing ocean management decision-making, based on the Ocean Modeling Forum framework. Illustrated by examples from two fisheries case studies, Pacific sardines Sardinops sagaxand Pacific herring Clupea pallasii, we argue that actionable model-based output should be aspirational, applicable, parsimonious, co-produced, and amplifying.
Although ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been adopted by many management organisations in principle, operationalising EBM has been problematic. A mismatch in institutional arrangements, created by the traditional sectoral focus of marine environmental and resource management, may be one factor acting against EBM implementation. To investigate this potential issue, this study focused on ‘sectoral interplay’, the challenges and tensions that prevent ‘whole of government’ cooperation, political consensus among conflicting user and interest groups, and collaboration between government and stakeholders that preconditon implementation of EBM. Four key challenges/tensions to sectoral interplay in marine EBM were found, including: governance structures and mechanisms, communication and sharing, participation and exclusion and fragmentation. Several ways in which these challenges/tensions could be addressed are proposed such as creating co-ordinating structures which operate across sectors and clarifying mandates and precedence between decision-making agencies. There are myriad case study examples from which to learn how to manage, and how not to manage, sectoral interplay in marine governance, and this should be the focus of future research.
Three decades following the onset of efforts to revert widespread eutrophication of coastal ecosystems, evidence of improvement of ecosystem status is growing. However, cumulative pressures have developed in parallel to eutrophication, including those associated with climate change, such as warming, deoxygenation, ocean acidification and increased runoff. These additional pressures risk countering efforts to mitigate eutrophication and arrest coastal ecosystems in a state of eutrophication despite the efforts and significant resources already invested to revert coastal eutrophication. Here we argue that the time has arrived for a broader, more comprehensive approach to intervening to control eutrophication. Options for interventions include multiple levers controlling major pathways of nutrient budgets of coastal ecosystems, i.e., nutrient inputs, which is the intervention most commonly deployed, nutrient export, sequestration in sediments, and emissions of nitrogen to the atmosphere as N2 gas (denitrification). The levers involve local-scale hydrological engineering to increase flushing and nutrient export from (semi)enclosed coastal systems, ecological engineering such as sustainable aquaculture of seaweeds and mussels to enhance nutrient export and restoration of benthic habitats to increase sequestration in sediments as well as denitrification, and geo-engineering approaches including, with much precaution, aluminum injections in sediments. These proposed supplementary management levers to reduce eutrophication involve ecosystem-scale intervention and should be complemented with policy actions to protect benthic ecosystem components.
To implement ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), there is a need to comprehensively examine fundamental components of fisheries ecosystems and ascertain the characteristics and strategies facilitating this more systematic approach. Coupled natural and human factors, inherent biological productivities, and systematic governance measures all influence living marine resource (LMR) and socioeconomic status within a given socio-ecological system (SES). Determining the relative prominence of these factors remains a challenge. Examining these facets to determine how much EBFM and wise LMR management occurs is timely and warranted given the many issues facing marine fisheries ecosystems. Here we characterize major United States (U.S.) marine fishery ecosystems by examining these facets and compiling a consistent, multidisciplinary view of these coupled SESs using commonly available, integrated data for each ecosystem. We then examine if major patterns and lessons emerge when comparing across SESs. This work also seeks to elucidate what are the determinants of successful LMR management. Although U.S.-centric, the breadth of the ecosystems explored here are likely globally applicable. Overall, we observed that inherent biological productivity was a major driver determining the level of fisheries biomass, landings, and LMR economic value for a given region, but that human interventions can offset basal production. We observed that good governance could overcome certain ecosystem limitations, and vice versa, especially as tradeoffs within regions have intensified over time. We also found that all U.S. regions are performing well in terms of certain aspects of LMR management, with unique successes and challenges observed in all regions. Although attributes of marine fisheries ecosystems differ among regions, there are commonalities that can be applied and transferred across them. These include having: clear stock status identified; relatively stable but attentive management interventions; clear tracking of broader ecosystem considerations; landings to biomass exploitation rates at typically < 0.1; areal landings at typically < 1 t km2year−1; ratios of landings relative to primary production at typically < 0.001; and explicit consideration of socio-economic factors directly in management. Integrated, cross-disciplinary perspectives and systematic comparative syntheses such as this one offer insight in determining regionally-specific and overarching approaches for successful LMR management.
The Brandt's Cormorant of the California Current is a “boom-or-bust” species like its congeners in other eastern boundary, upwelling driven ecosystems, and like many of the prey upon which they depend. These birds produce many recruits when fish availability is high, leading to rapidly increasing populations, but few recruits, and may even exhibit die-offs, when the opposite is true. Unlike cormorants in the Peru and Benguela currents, however, Brandt's Cormorant population changes have yet to be correlated with those of its prey. Herein, using multi-decadal time series of cormorant colony size, diet, prey availability and mortality, in the context of changes in breeding site and fishery management, we provide insight into why central California colonies near San Francisco — a major portion of this species' global population — expanded from principally one offshore island in the 1960–70s to include a large mainland component by the 1990s. Involved were increases and decreases, respectively, of northern anchovy, a coastal forage species, and young-of-the year rockfish, more prevalent offshore. With protection of breeding sites and a shift towards ecosystem-based fisheries management by the 1990s, variations of the central California Brandt's Cormorant population are now driven naturally by forage fish availability, and perhaps inter- and intraspecific competition for prey and space when population sizes are high. This species, owing to its “boom-or-bust” natural history and the relative ease of assessing breeding population size and diet, may be ideal for monitoring the state of the central California Current food web.
The lack of a strategic planning to order a defined marine territory may result in a patchwork of overlapping policies, sometimes reinforcing the legislation, but sometimes contradicting it. In Brazil, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) policies have been implemented to marine management, however, in an independent way. This article presents the patchwork of marine policies in the State of São Paulo (Southeast of Brazil) and analyses their implementation process, symmetry and the integration between them. The policies analysed were the State Plan for Coastal Zone Management and the Marine Protected Areas of São Paulo Coast. Four main procedures were conducted: 1) a historical survey of marine policies legal establishment; 2) the analysis of criteria used to determine the marine zonings, 3) the production of maps to identify policies and marine zonings overlaps and; 4) the analysis of the implementation stage of policies by comparing the procedures accomplished by the policies analysed with the procedures proposed by the marine planning, management and conservation (MPMC) frameworks. It was observed that the policies analysed have not fully implemented the management procedures yet, such as the plans of management and monitoring programs, accomplishing only the basic procedures recommended by the MPMC frameworks. Marine zonings' criteria were mainly derived from political-economic interests at the expense of ecological features. Asymmetry and little integration between policies were verified. It resulted in the MPAs being ruled in part by the ICZM policy. A wider Ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Planning strategy (EBM-MSP), supported by a committee of integration, could sew this “blue patchwork”, considering the multiple uses in the territory and fostering policies full implementation. To achieve coherence on this decision-making process, MPMC policies' instruments should be founded on ecosystem-based management and on governance mechanisms with representatives' parity. Future studies should advance in investigating marine policies' symmetry and integration, stakeholders' dynamics and zoning criteria towards the sustainability of ecosystems services.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) necessarily requires a degree of coordination across countries that share ocean ecosystems, and among national agencies and departments that have responsibilities relating to ocean health and marine resource utilization. This requires political direction, legal input, stakeholder consultation and engagement, and complex negotiations. Currently there is a common perception that within and across national jurisdictions there is excessive legislative complexity, a relatively low level of policy coherence or alignment with regards to ocean and coastal EBM, and that more aligned legislation is needed to accelerate EBM adoption. Our Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) task group was comprised of a small, focused and interdisciplinary mix of lawyers, social scientists, and natural scientists from Canada, the USA, and the EU. We characterized, compared, and synthesized the mandates that govern marine activities and ocean stressors relative to facilitating EBM in national and international waters of the North Atlantic, and identified formal mandates across jurisdictions and, where possible, policy and other non-regulatory mandates. We found that irrespective of the detailed requirements of legislation or policy across AORA jurisdictions, or the efficacy of their actual implementation, most of the major ocean pressures and uses posing threats to ocean sustainability have some form of coverage by national or regional legislation. The coverage is, in fact, rather comprehensive. Still, numerous impediments to effective EBM implementation arise, potentially relating to the lack of integration between agencies and departments, a lack of adequate policy alignment, and a variety of other socio-political factors. We note with concern that if challenges regarding EBM implementation exist in the North Atlantic, we can expect that in less developed regions where financial and governance capacity may be lower, that implementation of EBM could be even more challenging.