Cleaning is a fundamental concern of beach managers in many destinations as well as an important requirement in beach quality awards. However, it has been largely neglected in the literature. This paper provides an overview of empirical studies on beach cleaning and analyzes cleaning-related requirements of 11 beach awards that generate controversy in the literature. This study comments on key aspects of beach cleaning, resolves various misconceptions, and provides new perspectives by integrating related topics drawn from a wide range of literature. The arguments based on both the ecological and tourism managerial perspectives are presented, indicating the gaps and proposing research solutions. The paper calls for empirical studies with regard to the efficiency of different cleaning approaches on beaches with varying levels of use intensity and for methodological designs that separate the impacts of mechanical grooming from those of trampling, dune destruction, shore armoring, artificial lighting, among others.
Food for Thought
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Fisheries are responsible for the stewardship of the US living marine resources and their habitat and for providing productive and sustainable fisheries, safe sources of seafood, the recovery and conservation of protected resources, and healthy ecosystems to the nation. Their approach to conservation requires, by legislative mandates, that management be informed by science. It has evolved into a four-step approach to providing this advice: (i) the national framework for conservation science, (ii) region specific implementation, (iii) development of unbiased, scientific advice as required by the framework, and (iv) scientists acting, as appropriate, as advocates and science communicators. This approach has been a conservation success where, e.g. 92% of known managed fish stocks are no longer being overfished and 84% of known stocks are at healthy levels, with the latter including 43 stocks rebuilt from depleted levels. In a changing marine climate, it is all the more important that marine conservation decisions be driven by science.
Increasingly studies are reporting sudden and dramatic changes in the structure and function of communities or ecosystems. The prevalence of these reports demonstrates the importance for management of being able to detect whether these have happened and, preferably, whether they are likely to occur. Ecological theory provides the rationale for why such changes occur and a variety of statistical indicators of approach that have generic properties have been developed. However, whether the theory has successfully translated into monitoring programmes is unknown. We searched the literature for guidelines that would drive design of monitoring programmes able to detect past and approaching tipping points and analysed marine monitoring programmes in New Zealand. We found very few guidelines in the ecological, environmental or monitoring literature, although both simulation and marine empirical studies suggest that within-year sampling increases the likelihood of detecting approaching tipping points. The combination of the need to monitor both small and medium scale temporal dynamics of multiple variables to detect tipping points meant that few marine monitoring programmes in New Zealand were fit for that purpose. Interestingly, we found many marine examples of studies detecting past and approaching TP with fewer data than was common in the theoretical literature. We, therefore, suggest that utilizing ecological knowledge is of paramount importance in designing and analyzing time-series monitoring for tipping points and increasing the certainty for short-term or infrequent datasets of whether a tipping point has occurred. As monitoring plays an important role in management of tipping points by providing supporting information for other locations about when and why a tipping point may occur, we believe that monitoring for tipping points should be promoted.
Voluntary commitments by states, governmental or nongovernmental organizations, and other actors, aiming to deliver outcome-oriented activities, have become a well-recognized mechanism in international sustainability policy (1–3). For ocean governance, the calling for and pledging of voluntary commitments could become a game changer, with two major international processes harnessing such voluntary contributions in recent years: the Our Ocean conferences, an annual high-level series initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in 2014, and the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, which took place for the first time in June 2017. Such calls and commitments provide opportunities to raise awareness, promote engagement, and catalyze political will for action on the part of states as well as public and private sectors. However, without effective and transparent review systems, it is difficult to link pledged commitments to actual implementation. Quality control and ensuring that commitments are effective and impactful will be difficult to achieve. A uniform global process is required to register and assess commitments, including consistent reporting and monitoring systems with clear targets, baselines, and review systems.
Trait-based ecology merges evolutionary with classical population and community ecology and is a rapidly developing branch of ecology. It describes ecosystems as consisting of individuals rather than species, and characterizes individuals by few key traits that are interrelated through trade-offs. The fundamental rationale is that the spatio-temporal distribution of organisms and their functional role in ecosystems depend on their traits rather than on their taxonomical affiliation. The approach respects that interactions are between individuals, not between species or populations, and in trait-based models ecosystem structure emerges as a result of interactions between individuals and with the environments, rather than being prescribed. It offers an alternative to classical species-centric approaches and has the potential to describe complex ecosystems in simple ways and to assess the effects of environmental change on ecosystem structure and function. Here, we describe the components of the trait-based approach and apply it to describe and model marine ecosystems. Our description is illustrated with multiple examples of life in the ocean from unicellular plankton to fish.
The political boundaries used to territorialize ocean spaces are often negotiated as largely social relations, with little attention to material aspects. Material aspects of ocean spaces include physical forces, interacting life, and constant transformation. In this paper, we use Steinberg and Peters' (2015) “wet ontology” and concepts of the hydrosphere, liquidity, dynamism, and emergence to reflect on how the Sargasso Sea was located in geographic space through analysis of scientific data that revealed its complex materiality. Drawing from policy documents, white papers, presentations, and 14 semi-structured interviews with scientists, government officials, and NGO representatives, we then trace how the Sargasso Sea Alliance produced the linear boundaries that define the Sargasso Sea as an Ecologically and Biologically Significant Marine Area and, later, as an area for international collaboration on its conservation. Although the data used to locate the Sargasso Sea demonstrated its mobility and complexity, policymaking processes calling for legible boundaries produced a simplified and fixed Sargasso Sea that obscures its “wet” materiality. This ‘fixed’ Sargasso Sea was created, in part, to test the potential of existing high seas governing bodies in the lead-up to current negotiations for an international legally-binding instrument for high seas governance; this case thus demonstrates how the social relations that construct existing understandings of territory in oceans may continue to dictate policy options, even as new, more dynamic management techniques are developed. We conclude with a discussion of emerging governance possibilities that may better address and account for the entangled material and social realities of oceans.
Marine environments are complex and dynamic social-ecological systems, where social perceptions of ocean stewardship are diverse, resource use is potentially unsustainable, and conservation efforts rely strongly on public support or acceptance. Decreasing trust in science in recent years has led to weakened social acceptance and approval of marine conservation science. Social licence is a concept that reflects informal, unwritten public expectations about the impacts and benefits of industry and government practises, including research, on natural resources, including the ocean. Working toward improving social licence may provide opportunity to bolster support for marine conservation, by allowing communities to engage with marine issues and marine science, and voice their concerns and views. Here, we argue that marine conservation requires social licence and we highlight science advocacy, accomplished through outreach, as a means to achieve this. We identify a role for marine conservation science to engage with the public through advocacy to improve understanding and perceptions of conservation. Drawing from the literature, we describe how science advocacy can enhance social licence for marine conservation research and outline four steps that can advise marine conservation scientists to achieve and promote social licence for their research and the wider marine conservation community.
Polymer science is one of the most revolutionary research areas of the last century, instigated by the discovery of Bakelite, the first synthetic plastic. Plastic, once a revolutionary material, has gradually become a global environmental threat with ubiquitous distribution.
The term ‘microplastics’ coined in 2004, is used to describe the smaller plastic particles recorded, however there is still no all-inclusive definition that accurately encompasses all criteria that could potentially describe what a microplastic is.
Here, the authors focus on the currently reported methods for describing and identifying microplastics and propose a new definition that incorporates all the important descriptive properties of microplastics. This definition not only focuses on size and origin, but also considers physical and chemical defining properties. While this manuscript may promote debate, it aims to reach a consensus on a definition for microplastics which can be useful for research, reporting and legislative purposes.
Human-wildlife conflict has been receiving increased scientific and management attention, predominantly in terrestrial systems, as a side effect of successful predator conservation and recovery. These same conflicts exist in the ocean; however, they are mostly regarded in a region- or taxa-specific context despite evidence that human-wildlife conflict is prevalent across the global oceans and likely to increase as a result of successful conservation measures. Can the lessons learned from conflicts on land promote more sustainable success in the sea? Or, do ocean human-wildlife conflicts create unique challenges that require new solutions? This paper synthesizes evidence from human-wildlife conflicts in the ocean and provides initial suggestions for progressing with effective management in the ocean. Humans have extensive experience managing conflict with terrestrial predators and several of the strategies are transferable to marine predators, but several important differences between systems necessitate a marine-specific focus and evaluation of existing mitigation strategies. Further, in managing marine wildlife conflict, it is crucial to recognize that perceived conflicts can be just as important as actual conflict and that, in many cases, human-human conflict is at the root of human-wildlife conflict. As efforts to recover important predator populations continue, humans are faced with the exciting opportunity and a new necessity to constructively manage these recoveries to continue to meet goals for marine conservation while simultaneously promoting human safety and industry in the seas.
Artificial structures are proliferating in the marine environment, resulting in ‘ocean sprawl’. In light of the potential environmental impacts of this, such as habitat loss and alteration, it is becoming increasingly important to incorporate ecologically-sensitive design into artificial marine structures. The principles of eco-engineering and green infrastructure are embedded in urban planning practice for terrestrial and freshwater development projects. In marine planning, however, eco-engineering of blue-green infrastructure remains an emerging concept. This note provides a UK perspective on the progress towards uptake of eco-engineering approaches for enhancing biodiversity on artificial marine structures. We emphasise that, despite a clear ‘policy pull’ to incorporate biodiversity enhancements in marine structures, a range of proof-of-concept evidence that it is possible to achieve, and strong cross-sectoral stakeholder support, there are still few examples of truly and purposefully-designed blue-green artificial structures in the UK. We discuss the barriers that remain and propose a strategy towards effective implementation. Our strategy outlines a step-wise approach to: (1) strengthening the evidence base for what enhancements can be achieved in different scenarios; (2) improving clarity on the predicted benefits and associated costs of enhancements; (3) packaging the evidence in a useful form to support planning and decision-making; and (4) encouraging implementation as routine practice. Given that ocean sprawl is a growing problem globally, the perspective presented here provides valuable insight and lessons for other nations at their various states of progress towards this same goal.