Life in the Pacific is characterised by interconnected, fast and slow socio-ecological change. These changes inevitably involve navigating questions of justice, as they shift who benefits from, owns, and governs resources, and whose claims and rights are recognized. Thus, greater understanding of perceptions of environmental justice within communities will be crucial to support fair adaptation. We contend that an environmental justice approach offers a theoretical foundation to help illuminate key concerns and trade-offs as communities navigate global change. Here, we apply an empirical environmental justice lens to the use and customary management of coastal resources in Papua New Guinea. Through two case studies, we examine perceptions of distributional, procedural and recognitional justice. We find similarities and differences. There were common concerns about the injustice of unequal fishing pressure and destructive methods, but in one case, concerns about people’s material needs overrode concerns about non-compliance and unequal costs. In the other case, deliberative decision-making served as a platform for not only negotiating and re-defining the distribution of costs and benefits, but also airing grievances, thereby strengthening recognition of different people’s values and concerns. In addition, we find that recognitional aspects of justice, such as respect, can confer or undermine the legitimacy of procedures for governing resources and thus making fair decisions about distribution. The heterogeneity of justice criteria in our cases emphasizes the need to elicit and understand plural justice perceptions in different contexts.
Food for Thought
The ocean plays a crucial role in the functioning of the Earth System and in the provision of vital goods and services. The United Nations (UN) declared 2021–2030 as the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development. The Roadmap for the Ocean Decade aims to achieve six critical societal outcomes (SOs) by 2030, through the pursuit of four objectives (Os). It specifically recognizes the scarcity of biological data for deep-sea biomes, and challenges the global scientific community to conduct research to advance understanding of deep-sea ecosystems to inform sustainable management. In this paper, we map four key scientific questions identified by the academic community to the Ocean Decade SOs: (i) What is the diversity of life in the deep ocean? (ii) How are populations and habitats connected? (iii) What is the role of living organisms in ecosystem function and service provision? and (iv) How do species, communities, and ecosystems respond to disturbance? We then consider the design of a global-scale program to address these questions by reviewing key drivers of ecological pattern and process. We recommend using the following criteria to stratify a global survey design: biogeographic region, depth, horizontal distance, substrate type, high and low climate hazard, fished/unfished, near/far from sources of pollution, licensed/protected from industry activities. We consider both spatial and temporal surveys, and emphasize new biological data collection that prioritizes southern and polar latitudes, deeper (> 2000 m) depths, and midwater environments. We provide guidance on observational, experimental, and monitoring needs for different benthic and pelagic ecosystems. We then review recent efforts to standardize biological data and specimen collection and archiving, making “sampling design to knowledge application” recommendations in the context of a new global program. We also review and comment on needs, and recommend actions, to develop capacity in deep-sea research; and the role of inclusivity - from accessing indigenous and local knowledge to the sharing of technologies - as part of such a global program. We discuss the concept of a new global deep-sea biological research program ‘Challenger 150,’ highlighting what it could deliver for the Ocean Decade and UN Sustainable Development Goal 14.
Relating the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14 for Ocean and Life Below Water to the 16 remaining SDGs in the UN 2030 sustainable development agenda. A holistic approach that embraces sustainable Ocean stewardship informed by best available science, data and services to support society and the economy is required to create the ‘Future We Want’. The UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development is an essential foundation to achieve this objective.
• The implementation of evidence in policymaking requires a guideline referenced by scientists and political makers.
• Five perspectives cover the points that should be considered in the process of producing and using evidence.
• Institutionalization via the science-policy interaction prescribes a way of evaluating the process of producing and using evidence.
• Reference framework promotes evidence-based policymaking and its implementation.
• Case study on mercury pollution proves how the framework provides specific guidance that can promote evidence-based policy and practice.
To generate innovative solutions for marine sustainability challenges, scientists, policymakers, and funders are increasingly calling for interdisciplinary research that transcends disciplinary boundaries. However, challenges associated with doing interdisciplinary research persist and undermine progress toward tackling the complex challenges faced by marine social-ecological systems. One barrier for engaging in effective interdisciplinary research is a lack of understanding about the institutional capacities that support interdisciplinary knowledge production. Based on in-depth qualitative interviews with members of the Centre for Marine Socioecology in Australia, we identify five principles that underpin effective interdisciplinary research organizations. The principles are: (1) support female leadership; (2) forge partnerships outside of academia; (3) develop impact-based performance metrics; (4) focus on long-term funding; and (5) cultivate a visible brand. Going forward, these principles could be used to inform organizational design that transforms institutional barriers into enablers of innovative interdisciplinary research for more sustainable, desirable, and equitable futures.
Male fin whales sing by producing 20 Hz pulses in regular patterns of inter-note intervals. While singing, fin whales may also alternate the frequency ranges of their notes. Different song patterns have been observed in different regions of the world's oceans. New song patterns suddenly emerging in an area have been hypothesized to either be indicators of new groups of whales in the area or signs of cultural transmission between groups. Since the status of fin whales around Hawaii is unknown and visual surveys are expensive and difficult to conduct in offshore areas, passive acoustic monitoring has been proposed as a way to monitor these whales. We used passive acoustic recordings from an array of 14 hydrophones to analyze the song patterns of 115 fin whale encounters made up of 50,034 unique notes off Kauai, Hawaii from 2011 to 2017. Fin whale singing patterns were more complicated than previously described. Fin whales off Hawaii sang in five different patterns made of two 20 Hz note types and both singlet and doublet inter-note interval patterns. The inter-note intervals present in their songs were 28/33 s for the lower frequency doublet, 30 s for the lower frequency singlet, 17/24 s for the higher frequency doublet, 17 s for the higher frequency singlet, and 12/20 s for the doublet that alternated between both note types. Some of these song patterns were unique to these fin whales in Hawaiian waters, while others were similar to song patterns recorded from fin whales off the U.S. west coast. Individual fin whales often utilized several different song patterns which suggests that multiple song patterns are not necessarily indicators of different individuals or groups. The dominant song pattern also changed over these years. Cultural transmission may have occurred between fin whales in Hawaiian waters and off the U.S. west coast, which has resulted in similar songs being present at both locations but on lagged timescales. Alternatively, groups occupying the Hawaiian waters could shift over time resulting in different song patterns becoming dominant. This work has implications for the population structure and behavior of Hawaii fin whales.
Considerable effort is being deployed to predict the impacts of climate change and anthropogenic activities on the ocean's biophysical environment, biodiversity, and natural resources to better understand how marine ecosystems and provided services to humans are likely to change and explore alternative pathways and options. We present an updated version of EcoOcean (v2), a spatial-temporal ecosystem modeling complex of the global ocean that spans food-web dynamics from primary producers to top predators. Advancements include an enhanced ability to reproduce spatial-temporal ecosystem dynamics by linking species productivity, distributions, and trophic interactions to the impacts of climate change and worldwide fisheries. The updated modeling platform is used to simulate past and future scenarios of change, where we quantify the impacts of alternative configurations of the ecological model, responses to climate-change scenarios, and the additional impacts of fishing. Climate-change scenarios are obtained from two Earth-System Models (ESMs, GFDL-ESM2M, and IPSL-CMA5-LR) and two contrasting emission pathways (RCPs 2.6 and 8.5) for historical (1950–2005) and future (2006–2100) periods. Standardized ecological indicators and biomasses of selected species groups are used to compare simulations. Results show how future ecological trajectories are sensitive to alternative configurations of EcoOcean, and yield moderate differences when looking at ecological indicators and larger differences for biomasses of species groups. Ecological trajectories are also sensitive to environmental drivers from alternative ESM outputs and RCPs, and show spatial variability and more severe changes when IPSL and RCP 8.5 are used. Under a non-fishing configuration, larger organisms show decreasing trends, while smaller organisms show mixed or increasing results. Fishing intensifies the negative effects predicted by climate change, again stronger under IPSL and RCP 8.5, which results in stronger biomass declines for species already losing under climate change, or dampened positive impacts for those increasing. Several species groups that win under climate change become losers under combined impacts, while only a few (small benthopelagic fish and cephalopods) species are projected to show positive biomass changes under cumulative impacts. EcoOcean v2 can contribute to the quantification of cumulative impact assessments of multiple stressors and of plausible ocean-based solutions to prevent, mitigate and adapt to global change.
Knowledge mobilisation is required to “bridge the gap” between research, policy and practice. This activity is dependent on the amount, richness and quality of the data published. To understand the impact of a changing climate on commercial species, stakeholder communities require better knowledge of their past and current situations. The common cockle (Cerastoderma edule) is an excellent model species for this type of analysis, as it is well-studied due to its cultural, commercial and ecological significance in west Europe. Recently, C. edule harvests have decreased, coinciding with frequent mass mortalities, due to factors such as a changing climate and diseases. In this study, macro and micro level marine historical ecology techniques were used to create datasets on topics including: cockle abundance, spawning duration and harvest levels, as well as the ecological factors impacting those cockle populations. These data were correlated with changing climate and the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO) index to assess if they are drivers of cockle abundance and harvesting. The analyses identified the key stakeholder communities involved in cockle research and data acquisition. It highlighted that data collection was sporadic and lacking in cross-national/stakeholder community coordination. A major finding was that local variability in cockle populations is influenced by biotic (parasites) and abiotic (temperature, legislation and harvesting) factors, and at a global scale by climate (AMO Index). This comprehensive study provided an insight into the European cockle fishery but also highlights the need to identify the type of data required, the importance of standardised monitoring, and dissemination efforts, taking into account the knowledge, source, and audience. These factors are key elements that will be highly beneficial not only to the cockle stakeholder communities but to other commercial species.
Ecological indicator approaches typically compare the prevailing state of an ecosystem component to a reference state reflecting good environmental conditions, i.e. the desirable state. However, defining the reference state is challenging due to a wide range of uncertainties related to natural variability and measurement error in data, as well as ecological understanding. This study propose a novel probabilistic approach combining historical monitoring data and ecological understanding to estimate the uncertainty associated with the boundary value of an ecological indicator between good and poor environmental states. Bayesian inference is used to estimate the epistemic uncertainty about the true state of an indicator variable during an historical reference period. This approach replaces the traditional boundary value with probability distribution, indicating the uncertainty about the boundary between environmental states providing a transparent safety margin associated with the risk of misclassification of the indicator’s state. The approach is demonstrated by applying it to a time-series of an ecological status indicator, ‘Abundance of coastal key fish species’, included in HELCOM’s Baltic Sea regional status assessment. We suggest that acknowledgement of the uncertainty behind the final classification leads to more transparent and better-informed decision-making processes.
Pressure in academia and science is rapidly increasing and early career researchers (ECRs) have a lot to gain from being involved in research initiatives such as large international projects. But just how inclusive are they? Here we discuss experiences of ECRs directly involved in the Marine Ecosystem Assessment for the Southern Ocean (MEASO), an Australian led international research project to assess the status and trends of Southern Ocean ecosystems. We review the benefits of ECR involvement in large-scale initiatives to the project deliverables, the leadership team and ECRs themselves. Using insights from MEASO, we outline the obstacles that may become barriers to ECRs in scientific research in general but with a focus on large-scale research projects and suggest potential actions to overcome these at the individual, institutional and scientific community level. We consider the potential for ECRs to lead future Antarctic science programmes with a focus on science communication and applied research for policy makers within a global setting.