The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), adopted in September 2015, are accompanied by targets which have to be met individually and collectively by the signatory states. SDG14 Life Below Water aims to lay the foundation for the integrated and sustainable management of the oceans. However, any environmental management has to be based around targets which are SMART – specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bounded – otherwise it is not possible to determine whether management actions are successful and achieve the desired aims. The discussion here shows that many of the targets adopted for SDG14, and especially a detailed analysis of Target 1, are aspirational rather than fully quantified. In order to move towards making the targets operational, we advocate merging the language of environmental management with that used by industry for linking risks to the environment, management performance and ensuing controls. By adopting an approach which uses Key Performance Indicators (‘KPIs’), Key Risk Indicators (‘KRIs’) and Key Control Indicators (‘KCIs’), we advocate that a degree of rigour leading to defendable actions can be brought to marine management.
Food for Thought
Recent research has suggested that decision makers may misunderstand public attitudes regarding natural resource use. Using research on Integrated Multi-trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) in six European countries, we illustrate one case in which this is true. We describe two studies: one revealing stakeholders’ beliefs about the environmental sustainability of IMTA in addition to their beliefs regarding public perceptions of the same; and a second investigating perceptions held by the public. In comparing the studies, we identified a gap between what decision-makers believe the public perceives and what the public actually perceives. There is reason to believe that this phenomenon is not sector-specific because policy and planning mechanisms for incorporating the views of stakeholders and the larger public tend to be the similar, regardless of sector. This may cause a dilemma for developing natural-resource based industries, as well as public policy. For this reason, we suggest, as an alternative to over-reliance on citizens’ initiative, making greater use of mechanisms that actively elicit opinions, such as deliberative consultation/engagement models that both inform and elicit pReferences
Laterally bent dorsal fins are rarely observed in free-ranging populations of cetaceans, contrary to captivity, where most killer whale Orcinus orca adult males have laterally collapsed fins. This topic has been poorly explored, and data/information on its occurrence and possible causes are limited. The present study: (i) undertakes a review of the available information on bent dorsal fins in free-ranging cetaceans, and updates it with new records, (ii) reports on the proportion of bent fins in different study populations, and (iii) discusses possible causes. An empirical approach based on bibliographic research and compilation of 52 new records collected worldwide resulted in a total of 17 species of cetaceans displaying bent dorsal fins. The species with the highest number of records (64%) and from most locations was O. orca. On average, individuals with bent dorsal fins represent < 1% of their populations, with the exception of false killer whales Pseudorca crassidens and O. orca. While line injuries associated with fisheries interactions may be the main cause for P. crassidens, and the vulnerability to health issues caused by the evolutionary enlargement of the fin may be the cause for O. orca adult males, factors contributing to this abnormality for other species are still unclear. The occurrence of bent dorsals could be influenced by a set of variables rather than by a single factor but, irrespective of the cause, it is suggested that it does not directly affect the animals' survivorship. While still rare in nature, this incident is more common (at least 101 known cases) and widespread (geographically and in species diversity) than hypothesized, and is not confined only to animals in captive environments. Investigation into the occurrence of bent fins may be an interesting avenue of research.
The ocean is increasingly facing direct and indirect threats from multiple human activities that alter marine ecosystems worldwide. Mitigating these threats requires a global shift in the way people perceive and interact with the marine environment. Marine public perceptions research has emerged as a useful tool to understand public awareness and attitudes towards the sea. This study compares available surveys of public perceptions of marine threats and protection involving >32,000 respondents across 21 countries. Results indicate that 70% of respondents believe the marine environment is under threat from human activities, and 45% believe the threat is high or very high. Yet when asked about the ocean's health, only 15% thought it was poor or threatened. Respondents consistently ranked pollution issues as the highest threat, followed by fishing, habitat alteration and climate change. With respect to ocean protection, 73% of respondents support marine protected areas in their region. Most respondents overestimated the area of ocean currently protected, and would like to see much larger areas protected in the future. Overall, a clear picture emerged of the perceived threats and support for protection which can inform marine managers, policy makers, conservation practitioners and educators to improve marine management and conservation programs.
In this article, we focus on the potential influence of a scientist’s advocacy position on the public’s perceived credibility of scientists as a whole. Further, we examine how the scientist’s solution position (information only, non-controversial, and controversial) affects the public’s perception of the scientist’s motivation for sharing information about specific issues (flu, marijuana, climate change, severe weather). Finally, we assess how perceived motivations mediate the relationship between solution position and credibility. Using data from a quota sample of American adults obtained by Qualtrics (n = 2,453), we found that in some conditions advocating for a solution positively predicted credibility, while in one condition, it negatively predicted scientist credibility. We also found that the influence of solution position on perceived credibility was mediated by several motivation perceptions; most notably through perception that the scientist was motivated to: (a) serve the public and (b) persuade the public. Further results and implications are discussed.
The Larkin lectures are held every two years at the University of British Columbia in recognition of Dr. Peter Larkin's contributions to fisheries science. The lecture I presented in November 2015 coincided with an announcement that the Institute of Fisheries that Peter Larkin founded in the 1960s would be restructured as the “Institute for Oceans and Fisheries” with an emphasis on fisheries and oceans issues important to British Columbia as well as the rest of the world. I decided to look back at research issues that Peter Larkin thought would be important for Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) in the future and see what has happened as a way of identifying the complexity that the Institute for Oceans and Fisheries in particular and the science community in general will face. I chose five themes from Peter Larkin's talks: 1 understanding marine survival, 2 ocean carrying capacity, 3 aquaculture, 4 climate, Pacific salmon and climate change and 5 informing the public, and then added my opinion about research priorities for the future. Peter Larkin recognized the future relevance of these examples, but he probably could not have imagined how these and related issues will challenge his renamed institute and the rest of the research community over the next 50 years.
The future is uncertain for Antarctica, with many possibilities – some more plausible, others more preferable. Indeed, the region and its governance regime may be reaching (or may have reached) a crossroads moment as a result of a series of challenges, including the changing Antarctic climate and environment, increasing human activity, shifting values among Antarctic states and a low-cost, somewhat benign governance regime (the Antarctic Treaty System). Within this context there are a number of interdependent drivers that are likely to influence Antarctica's future over, say, 25 years: global environmental and socio-economic developments; Antarctic governance; Antarctic research, including national Antarctic programme operations; and Antarctic tourism. The research presented here involved a thorough examination of Antarctic literature on current Antarctic developments and challenges, and an assessment of global trends. Scenarios were developed through a facilitated workshop process. From these, four future scenarios were developed based on interactions between these drivers. The resulting scenarios provide a dynamic, evolving possibility space to be explored as a means of understanding where Antarctic issues might evolve, depending on the growth or diminishing importance of drivers. In turn these suggest that more structured polar futures are needed based on formal quantitative and qualitative data.
A review of coastal national park stewardship reveals a rich history that provides evidence of how nature and human history shaped current conditions along America's coasts. Case studies of Dry Tortugas National Park and Everglades National Park in Florida, and Channel Islands National Park in California exemplify how such experiences can help identify future directions and challenges for protecting coastal areas. Discoveries include (1) ecological and political borders are often incompatible because shorelines are ineffective ecological boundaries, (2) scales of protection are critical for management efficacy, (3) forging effective management solutions requires strategic, innovative public involvement, and (4) misperceptions of connectivity, sustainability, and relevance impair effective coastal conservation. This history and these stewardship experiences also demonstrated the potential power of protected areas to halt shifting ecological and moral baselines, thereby defining realistic imagination and hope for the future. Learning from national park experiences how to understand ecosystems, how to repair damage to their integrity, how to protect and mitigate human stresses to them, and how to better connect people to these special places has not only improved the condition of nature and human heritage in parks, but also has enhanced society's capacity to improve the human condition more broadly with small, but critical success stories.
Scientists who perform environmental research on policy-relevant topics face challenges when communicating about how values may have influenced their research. This study examines how citizens view scientists who publicly acknowledge values. Specifically, we investigate whether it matters: if citizens share or oppose a scientist’s values, if a scientist’s conclusions seem contrary to or consistent with the scientist’s values, and if a scientist is assessing the state of the science or making a policy recommendation. We conducted two 3x2 factorial design online experiments. Experiment 1 featured a hypothetical scientist assessing the state of the science on the public-health effects of exposure to Bisphenol A (BPA), and Experiment 2 featured a scientist making a policy recommendation on use of BPA. We manipulated whether or not the scientist expressed values and whether the scientist’s conclusion appeared contrary to or consistent with the scientist’s values, and we accounted for whether or not subjects’ values aligned with the scientist’s values. We analyzed our data with ordinary least squares (OLS) regression techniques. Our results provide at least preliminary evidence that acknowledging values may reduce the perceived credibility of scientists within the general public, but this effect differs depending on whether scientists and citizens share values, whether scientists draw conclusions that run contrary to their values, and whether scientists make policy recommendations.
Short-term physical disturbances occur amid a backdrop of longer-term biotic interactions, including predation, which shape communities. Effects of consumer interactions typically begin in early stages of assembly and continue throughout post-disturbance recovery. Despite decades of predation and disturbance research, few studies examine how consumer interactions during these different time periods may affect community responses to disturbance. Here we use replicate communities of tropical, sessile invertebrates to ask whether fish predation during initial assembly (before) and recovery (after) influences community resistance to a hurricane-level low-salinity event. Results revealed that pre-event predation determined whether communities shifted in biomass and community structure following disturbance. Communities that assembled without predators responded to the low-salinity event strongly, with large shifts in community composition and a mean loss of 54% of pre-disturbance biomass after a one-month recovery period. In contrast, those that experienced predation during initial assembly were strikingly resistant to disturbance, which had no effect on species composition or biomass. Results were driven by predator removal of a dominant competitor, which gave rise to more disturbance-resistant communities. These findings highlight the potential for past trophic interactions to shape community stability in the face of physical disturbances predicted to escalate with global change.