In the Anthropocene, marine ecosystems are rapidly shifting to new ecological states. Achieving effective conservation of marine biodiversity has become a fast-moving target because of both global climate change and continuous shifts in marine policies. How prepared are we to deal with this crisis? We examined EU Member States Programs of Measures designed for the implementation of EU marine policies, as well as recent European Marine Spatial Plans, and discovered that climate change is rarely considered operationally. Further, our analysis revealed that monitoring programs in marine protected areas are often insufficient to clearly distinguish between impacts of local and global stressors. Finally, we suggest that while the novel global Blue Growth approach may jeopardize previous marine conservation efforts, it can also provide conservation opportunities. Adaptive management is the way forward (e.g. preserving ecosystem functions in climate change hotspots, and identifying and targeting climate refugia areas for protection) using Marine Spatial Planning as a framework for action, especially given the push for Blue Growth.
Food for Thought
This article describes a 10 year regional ocean reanalysis of the western Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef (GBR) from 2006-2015. Here we use the Regional Ocean Modelling System (ROMS) at 4 km resolution and EnOI (Ensemble Optimal Interpolation) data assimilation. We also account for river freshwater discharge at the coast using hydrological stream gauge observations. The system appears to constrain features of the deep ocean circulation that are important for cross-shelf exchanges such as the spatio-temporal locations of mesoscale eddies and boundary currents. Accuracy is evaluated with forecast innovation errors respecting available observations. A four-dimensional climatological atlas of water mass properties and currents, respresenting 10 years of synthesis between model and data is then presented. This illustrates seasonal and climatic processes driving changes in the region, such as the El-Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and its influence on sea temperature and freshwater flux to the shelf from rivers. On the shelf where dense observation coverage is limited to satellite sea surface temperature (SST), we find where SST forecast errors are low and correlations between SST and bottom temperatures are significant and take this as a reliable predictor of bottom temperatures. Differences and correlations outside these parameters suggest areas where measurement of bottom temperature is likely to be important for a long-term and comprehensive monitoring and prediction system. The reanalysis provides a realistic physical and dynamic picture of the ocean at its given resolution that may be ammenable to a variety of marine and environmental studies.
Most assessments of coastal vulnerability are undertaken from the perspective of the risk posed to humans, their property and activities. This anthropocentric view is based on widespread public perception (a) that coastal change is primarily a hazard to property and infrastructure and (b) that sea defenses (whether soft or hard) are required to mitigate and eliminate coastal hazards. From the perspective of coastal ecosystems, such a view is both perverse and damaging. In this paper we present an alternative approach to coastal assessment that centers on the physical integrity of the coast and its associated ecosystems both now and in the near-future. The shoreline health approach represents a new paradigm for coastal management and is intended to provide a much-needed ecosystem perspective. Its premise is to categorize coasts on the degree to which their ability to function morphodynamically has been compromised by human intervention. We present an expert assessment approach involving five categories that range from “Good Health” (with “Health Warning” and “Minor Wounds” sub-divisions), through “Minor Injury,” “Major Injury,” “On Life Support” to “Deceased.” We illustrate the concept using tabulated examples of each category from cliffed, clastic and delta coasts and demonstrate its utility through two applications. This approach has the potential to quantify the degree to which coastal ecosystems have been damaged and to focus attention on the cumulative impact of human activities on coastal ecosystems.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an essential, omega-3, long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acid that is a key component of cell membranes and plays a vital role in vertebrate brain function. The capacity to synthesize DHA is limited in mammals, despite its critical role in neurological development and health. For humans, DHA is most commonly obtained by eating fish. Global warming is predicted to reduce the de novo synthesis of DHA by algae, at the base of aquatic food chains, and which is expected to reduce DHA transferred to fish. We estimated the global quantity of DHA (total and per capita) currently available from commercial (wild caught and aquaculture) and recreational fisheries. The potential decrease in the amount of DHA available from fish for human consumption was modeled using the predicted effect of established global warming scenarios on algal DHA production and ensuing transfer to fish. We conclude that an increase in water temperature could result, depending on the climate scenario and location, in a ~ 10 to 58% loss of globally available DHA by 2100, potentially limiting the availability of this critical nutrient to humans. Inland waters show the greatest potential for climate-warming-induced decreases in DHA available for human consumption. The projected decrease in DHA availability as a result of global warming would disproportionately affect vulnerable populations (e.g., fetuses, infants), especially in inland Africa (due to low reported per capita DHA availability). We estimated, in the worst-case scenario, that DHA availability could decline to levels where 96% of the global population may not have access to sufficient DHA.
Population persistence in the marine environment is driven by patterns of ocean circulation, larval dispersal, ecological interactions, and demographic rates. For habitat forming organisms in particular, understanding the relationship between larval connectivity and meta‐population dynamics aids in planning for marine spatial management. Here, we estimate networks of connectivity between fringing coral reefs in the North West Shelf of Australia by combining a particle tracking model based on shelf circulation with models of sub‐population dynamics of individual reefs. Coral cover data were used as a proxy for overall habitat quality, which can change as a result of natural processes, human‐driven impacts, and management initiatives.
We obtain three major results of conservation significance. First, the dynamics of the ecological network result from the interplay between network connectivity and ecological processes on individual reefs. The maximum coral cover a zone can sustain imposes a significant non‐linearity on the role an individual reef plays within the dynamics of the network, and thus on the impact of conservation interventions on specific reefs. Second, the role of an individual reef within these network dynamics changes considerably depending on the overall state of the system: a reef’s role in sustaining the system’s state can be different from the same reef’s role in helping the system recover following major disturbance. Third, patterns of network connectivity change significantly as a function of yearly shelf circulation trends, and non‐linearity in network dynamics make mean connectivity a poor representation of yearly variations.
From a management perspective, the priority list of reefs that are targets for management interventions depends crucially on what type of stressors (system‐wide vs localised) need addressing. This choice also depends not only on the ultimate purpose of management, but also on future oceanographic, climate change and development scenarios that will determine the network connectivity and habitat quality.
Nature-based solutions attract more and more interest due to increasing maintenance costs of grey infrastructure, increasing design conditions and growing environmental awareness. Integrating ecosystems in coastal engineering practice not only scores with societal and ecological benefits, such as biodiversity and cultural services, but also provides coastal protection services by attenuating waves and stabilizing sediments. Although nature-based solutions can already be found along many coasts around the globe, coastal engineers are still posed to challenges when evaluating, designing, implementing or maintaining nature-based solutions as guidance and in-depth investigations on efficiency, vulnerabilities and natural dynamics are often lacking. Current challenges for science and practice relate to the general requirements of nature-based solutions, the determination of fundamental data and insecurities and knowledge gaps. To overcome these challenges, close collaboration of engineers and ecologists is necessary.
Climate change and dramatic change to ocean ecosystems are two of the leading indicators of the proposed ‘Anthropocene’ epoch. As knowledge of feedbacks between climate change and damage to ocean ecosystems has improved, the case for addressing these interrelated challenges concurrently has strengthened. This chapter begins by reviewing the relationship between climate change and the state of the ocean as explained in recent scientific publications. It proceeds from this to summarise how this ocean-climate nexus is addressed in current and developing international law, before focusing on three particular examples: first, regulation of international shipping emissions; second, management of coastal ecosystems (‘blue carbon’); and third, the current negotiation on a new treaty to protect the high seas. These three examples illustrate the diversity of regulation undertaken within a four-square matrix of processes under the Climate Convention, or under the Law of the Sea Convention, which are based on either mandatory commitments or non-binding facilitative measures. The chapter concludes that there are further opportunities to address ocean-climate feedbacks in a targeted and timely manner, including through additional linkages between UNFCCC- and UNCLOS-based processes.
This presentation aims to consider the process of inclusion and development of science and technology in developed and industrialized countries based on the experience of Japan’s efforts as well as to present some observations on its prospects.
After the Meiji Restoration, Japan aimed at catching up with the Western Great Powers and pushed for the rapid modernization with “Wealth and military strength”. At that time, Japan was not only changing political systems drastically but also integrating the Western Great Powers’ advanced science and technology positively. As a result, in the days of World War I, Japan achieved entering permanent member of the League of Nations and came to occupy a big position globally. Although Japan was put under the control of allied powers, after the World War II, Japan planed integrating the overseas advanced technology again and will have current prosperity in one’s hand afterwards.
On the other hand, when we pay more attention abroad, the utilization of science and technology is essential to the right profit in the achievement of “Sustainable Development Goals” that is an action plan shown in “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” adopted in the United Nations General Assembly of September 2015.
In Japan, 3rd Basic Plan on Ocean Policy approved by the Cabinet in May 2018 prescribes about promoting measures such as “Improve scientific knowledge”, “Promote Arctic policy” and others based on science and technology. Therefore, we must consider modality of science and technology for save the ocean as Japan’s lifeline.
In this presentation, we will focus on inclusion and development of science and technology in Japan’s ocean policy and present modality of science and technology in developed and industrialized countries.
The historical background of the establishment and development of Marine Policy is briefly considered, followed by an overview of the methodology employed in the analysis of the journal content spanning the four decades from January 1977 to December 2016. There follows an account of the three phases in the development of the journal, which in turn forms the basis for a discussion of the content primarily based upon fundamental groupings of sea uses. The paper concludes by highlighting the major themes emerging in terms of the relationships between marine policy as a field of academic inquiry on the one hand and how this is reflected in the content of Marine Policy on the other; overall patterns in the publication of the papers; and the nature and balance of coverage of the topics covered by the journal. These three considerations form the basis of selection of the 21 papers of this Virtual Special Issue.
The Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and its partners have worked together over the past decade to break down barriers between open-ocean and coastal observing, between scientific disciplines, and between operational and research institutions. Here we discuss some GOOS successes and challenges from the past decade, and present ideas for moving forward, including highlights of the GOOS 2030 Strategy, published in 2019. The OceanObs’09 meeting in Venice in 2009 resulted in a remarkable consensus on the need for a common set of guidelines for the global ocean observing community. Work following the meeting led to development of the Framework for Ocean Observing (FOO) published in 2012 and adopted by GOOS as a foundational document that same year. The FOO provides guidelines for the setting of requirements, assessing technology readiness, and assessing the usefulness of data and products for users. Here we evaluate successes and challenges in FOO implementation and consider ways to ensure broader use of the FOO principles. The proliferation of ocean observing activities around the world is extremely diverse and not managed, or even overseen by, any one entity. The lack of coherent governance has resulted in duplication and varying degrees of clarity, responsibility, coordination and data sharing. GOOS has had considerable success over the past decade in encouraging voluntary collaboration across much of this broad community, including increased use of the FOO guidelines and partly effective governance, but much remains to be done. Here we outline and discuss several approaches for GOOS to deliver more effective governance to achieve our collective vision of fully meeting society’s needs. What would a more effective and well-structured governance arrangement look like? Can the existing system be modified? Do we need to rebuild it from scratch? We consider the case for evolution versus revolution. Community-wide consideration of these governance issues will be timely and important before, during and following the OceanObs’19 meeting in September 2019.