In July 2015, Scotland became one of the first countries to sign up to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which, unlike their forerunner the Millennium Development Goals, are not restricted to developing nations. Their respective targets should drive policy decisions for Scottish fisheries, in keeping with the universal intent of the new goals. This paper explores the relevance of SDG 14 to the Scottish fishing industry, noting that there are a number of linkages with other goals and targets that should be considered within management frameworks. Scottish fishing has a long history, but the size of the inshore fleet has seen decline in recent decades, particularly of small-scale fishers in rural communities. Available literature was reviewed and a survey of active Scottish fishers conducted to explore the current availability and equality of distribution of benefits from ecosystem services to Scottish fisheries, and the factors that affect them. The findings suggest that benefits may not currently be equally distributed across Scottish fisheries; this is largely sector dependent and driven by market forces, but also relates to gaps in current management and monitoring systems. Furthermore, the potential benefits to fisheries of marine protected areas (MPAs) established for conservation purposes are not adequately assessed as part of their design, which may result in less support from fisheries stakeholders and reduce the benefit to ecosystem services. It concludes with some recommendations for consideration by decision-makers to improve how fishing businesses and communities could benefit more from ecosystem services whilst operating within environmental limits.
Ecosystem Services and Uses
The Arctic region is composed of unique marine and terrestrial ecosystems that provide a range of services to local and global populations. However, Arctic sea-ice is melting at an unprecedented rate, threatening many of these ecosystems and the services they provide. This short communication provides a preliminary assessment of the quantity, distribution and economic value of key ecosystem services as well as geological resources such as oil and minerals provided by Arctic ecosystems to beneficiaries in the Arctic region and globally. Using biophysical and economic data from existing studies, preliminary estimates indicate that the Arctic currently provides about $281 billion per year (in 2016 US$) in terms of food, mineral extraction, oil production, tourism, hunting, existence values and climate regulation. However, given predictions of ice-free summers by 2037, many of the ecosystem services may be lost. We hope that this communication stimulates discussion among policy-makers regarding the value of ecosystem services and such geological resources as minerals and oil provided by the Arctic region, and the potential ecosystem losses resulting from Arctic melt, so as to motivate decisions vis a vis climate change mitigation before Arctic ice disappears completely.
Coastal environments are some of the most populated on Earth, with greater pressures projected in the future. Managing coastal systems requires the consideration of multiple uses, which both benefit from and threaten multiple ecosystem services. Thus understanding the cumulative impacts of human activities on coastal ecosystem services would seem fundamental to management, yet there is no widely accepted approach for assessing these. This study trials an approach for understanding the cumulative impacts of anthropogenic change, focusing on Tasman and Golden Bays, New Zealand. Using an expert elicitation procedure, we collected information on three aspects of cumulative impacts: the importance and magnitude of impacts by various activities and stressors on ecosystem services, and the causal processes of impact on ecosystem services. We assessed impacts to four ecosystem service benefits — fisheries, shellfish aquaculture, marine recreation and existence value of biodiversity—addressing three main research questions: (1) how severe are cumulative impacts on ecosystem services (correspondingly, what potential is there for restoration)?; (2) are threats evenly distributed across activities and stressors, or do a few threats dominate?; (3) do prominent activities mainly operate through direct stressors, or do they often exacerbate other impacts? We found (1) that despite high uncertainty in the threat posed by individual stressors and impacts, total cumulative impact is consistently severe for all four ecosystem services. (2) A subset of drivers and stressors pose important threats across the ecosystem services explored, including climate change, commercial fishing, sedimentation and pollution. (3) Climate change and commercial fishing contribute to prominent indirect impacts across ecosystem services by exacerbating regional impacts, namely sedimentation and pollution. The prevalence and magnitude of these indirect, networked impacts highlights the need for approaches like this to understand mechanisms of impact, in order to develop strategies to manage them.
Managing multiple ecosystem services (ESs) across landscapes presents a central challenge for ecosystem-based management, because services often exhibit spatiotemporal variation and weak associations with co-occurring ESs. Further focus on the mechanistic relationships among ESs and their underlying biophysical processes provides greater insight into the causes of variation and covariation among ESs, thus serving as a guide to enhance their supply while preventing adverse outcomes. Here, we used the U.S. Pacific Northwest coastal dune ecosystem to examine how invasive beachgrass management affects three ESs: coastal protection, western snowy plover conservation, and endemic foredune plant conservation. At seven coastal dune habitat restoration areas, we observed spatial variation in the supply of each ES and further identified a tradeoff between western snowy plover conservation and coastal protection. While the ESs were collectively influenced by the invasive beachgrasses and the foredunes they create, the magnitude of the synergies and tradeoffs were influenced by numerous non-shared drivers, including nearshore geomorphology, changes in foredune shape as a result of restoration, and other management actions irrespective of restoration. Incorporation of these shared and non-shared drivers into future coastal management planning may reduce tradeoffs among Pacific Northwest dune ESs. With better understanding of ES relationships, it becomes possible to identify management actions that may enhance synergies and mitigate tradeoffs, leading to better decisions for nature and people.
Protection of ecosystem services is increasingly emphasized as a risk-assessment goal, but there are wide gaps between current ecological risk-assessment endpoints and potential effects on services provided by ecosystems. The authors present a framework that links common ecotoxicological endpoints to chemical impacts on populations and communities and the ecosystem services that they provide. This framework builds on considerable advances in mechanistic effects models designed to span multiple levels of biological organization and account for various types of biological interactions and feedbacks. For illustration, the authors introduce 2 case studies that employ well-developed and validated mechanistic effects models: the inSTREAM individual-based model for fish populations and the AQUATOX ecosystem model. They also show how dynamic energy budget theory can provide a common currency for interpreting organism-level toxicity. They suggest that a framework based on mechanistic models that predict impacts on ecosystem services resulting from chemical exposure, combined with economic valuation, can provide a useful approach for informing environmental management. The authors highlight the potential benefits of using this framework as well as the challenges that will need to be addressed in future work.
The rapid emergence of payments for ecosystem services (PES) schemes in China has been reported widely. However, it seems that the relevant policies and PES practices have not been fully documented. In this study, we provide insights into the overall status of PES schemes in China. We start by introducing the concept of eco-compensation, the equivalent of PES in China, and we describe its initiation and development. We then explore the institutional context upon which PES schemes are based on and we develop a classification system to interpret the different schemes. We employ the concept of PES-like scheme to reconcile divergent views on the scope of PES among researchers and decision makers. Subsequently, we describe the objectives, relevant policies from national to local level, implementation characteristics, funding sources, coverage, payment criteria, and primary effects of the major PES schemes. Broad institutional gaps, scheme overlaps, sole funding source, and the lack of effective tools in monitoring ecological outcomes are identified as major challenges for existing PES schemes. We conclude by proposing to reshape China’s PES frameworks and strengthen the market-based PES schemes, as well as scaling piloting PES schemes up to address pressing ecological issues in broader ecosystems and areas.
Capacity matrices are widely used for assessment of ecosystems services, especially when based on participatory approaches. A capacity matrix is basically a look-up table that links land cover types to ecosystem services potentially provided. The method introduced by Burkhard et al. in 2009 has since been developed and applied in an array of case studies. Here we adress some of the criticisms on the use of capacity matrices such as expert panel size, expert confidence, and scoring variability.
Based on three case-study capacity matrices derived from expert participatory scoring, we used three different approaches to estimate the score means and standard errors: usual statistics, bootstrapping, and Bayesian models. Based on a resampling of the three capacity matrices, we show that central score stabilizes very quickly but that intersample variability shrinks after 10–15 experts while standard error of the scores continues to decrease as sample size increases. Compared to usual statistics, bootstrapping methods only reduce the estimated standard errors for small samples. The use of confidence scores expressed by experts and associated with their scores on ecosystem services does not change the mean scores but slightly increases the standard errors associated with the scores on ecosystem services. Here, computations considering the confidence scores marginally changed the final scores. Nevertheless, many participants felt it important to have a confidence score in the capacity matrix to let them express uncertainties on their own knowledge. This means that confidence scores could be considered as supplementary materials in a participatory approach but should not necessarily be used to compute final scores.
We compared usual statistics, bootstrapping and Bayesian models to estimate central scores and standard errors for a capacity matrix based on a panel of 30 experts, and found that the three methods give very similar results. This was interpreted as a consequence of having a panel size that counted twice the minimal number of experts needed. Bayesian models provided the lowest standard errors, whereas bootrapping with confidence scores provided the largest standard errors.
These conclusions prompt us to advocate when the panel size is small (less than 10 experts), to use bootstrapping to estimate final scores and their variability. If more than 15 experts are involved, the usual statistics are appropriate. Bayesian models are more complex to implement but can also provide more informative outputs to help analyze results.
The ‘Wild Seafood’ Provisioning Service (WSPS), on which commercial fisheries rely, is probably one of the best studied marine ecosystem services due to its economic relevance and because extensive information sources exist for assessment purposes. Yet, the indicators often proposed are not suitable to describe the capacity of the ecosystem to deliver the WSPS. Therefore this study proposes surplus production (SP), a well-established concept in fisheries science, as the basis to calculate the capacity of marine ecosystems to provide the WSPS. SP is defined as the difference between stock production (through recruitment and body growth) and losses through natural mortality. This is, therefore, the production of the stock that could be harvested sustainably without decreasing the biomass. To assess the sustainability of the exploitation of the WSPS we also developed an indicator for this based on SP and compared it to existing fisheries management indicators. When both SP-based indicators showed a decreasing trend, contrasting with an increasing trend in the existing fisheries management indicators, the calculation of the SP-based indicators was scrutinized revealing that the weighting of the stocks into an aggregated indicator, strongly determines the indicator values, even up to the point that the trend is reversed. The aggregated indicators based on SP-weighted stocks can be considered complementary to existing fisheries management indicators as the former accurately reflect the capacity of the commercial fish to provide the WSPS and the sustainability of the exploitation of this service. In contrast the existing fisheries management indicators primarily reflect the performance of management towards achieving fisheries-specific policy goals.
Changes imposed to nature by human activities and related impacts on all environmental matrices have become a critical issue. Gradually, humans began to perceive and face the magnitude of the impact of human economy on natural ecosystems and the implications for human well-being. From this perception, the concepts of natural capital and ecosystem services arose, highlighting the relationships between natural and human economy while boosting environmental conservation and management. In this framework, the definition and application of metrics and models capable of accounting for natural capital value are much needed. This is even more important when a protection regime is established (such as in the case of marine protected areas) to evaluate the efficacy of undertaken conservation measures. In this study, a biophysical and trophodynamic environmental accounting model was developed to assess the value of natural capital in marine protected areas. The model of natural capital assessment is articulated in three main steps: 1) trophodynamic analysis, providing an estimate of the primary productivity used to support the benthic trophic web within the study area, 2) biophysical accounting, providing an estimate of the biophysical value of natural capital by means of emergy accounting, and 3) monetary conversion, expressing the biophysical value of natural capital into monetary units. This conversion does not change the biophysical feature of the assessment, but instead it has the merit of allowing an easier understanding and effective communication of the ecological value of natural capital in socio-economic contexts.
The ecosystem services approach has increasingly emerged as a core requirement of ecosystem-based management of the marine space. In this context, explicit quantification and mapping of ecosystem services is considered key. This research proposes a methodological framework that combines Geographic Information Systems and participatory techniques to map the ecosystem service of recreation opportunities, provided by coastal and marine ecosystems. Attributes selected to represent the ecosystem service were scenic beauty, unique natural resources, accessibility, cultural sites and tourism use aptitude. High values of the indicator concentrated on areas that combined the presence of unique marine fauna (e.g. Southern Elephant Seal, Mirounga leonina), terrestrial and marine routs, and areas of high scenic beauty, associated to the presence of glaciers. These areas corresponded to the southern part of Almirantazgo Sound, the northern part of Navarino Island on the coast of the Beagle Channel, and to areas surrounding Wulaia fishermen's cove. Zones showing highest values of the indicator 81–100) comprised 0.89% of the study area and a small proportion of them coincided with areas of aptitude for aquaculture, which represents potential use conflicts, as long as aquaculture concessions remain operative. In turn, the areas of lowest values 0–20) were located offshore in open sea, and comprised 0.49% of the study area. Overall, the methodology demonstrated the capacity to identify potential recreation areas to inform regional decision making regarding marine use planning.