The coasts hold great potential for ‘Blue Growth’, and major industrial and infrastructural developments are already happening there. Such growth, however, comes with risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Competition for space and resources intensifies, turning the coast into an area of social and political conflict, including contestation about knowledge. I argue that there is a need for institutional innovation that allows knowledge integration and conflict resolution to be more interactive and synergistic. The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. This is followed by a discussion of multiple governance paths and their different combinations of resources and forms of expert and local social and ecological knowledge so as to see how they can help resolve conflicts, and enhance governability within maritime spatial planning (MSP) in a way that also serves to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A particular focus will be on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is the lest powerful stakeholder and the most vulnerable to external pressures. Will MSP help to empower or further marginalize small-scale fishers and fisheries communities?
The protection of species requires an understanding of their habitat requirements and how habitat characteristics affect their distribution, survival and growth. This need is especially important in areas where anthropogenic pressures can not only have a significant direct impact on the survival of the species but also damage their habitat. The Firth of Clyde in southwestern Scotland was an important commercial fishing area for a variety of demersal fish species up until 1973. However, stocks rapidly declined thereafter and the catch of targeted species ceased in 2005, despite fisheries measures put in place to aid recovery. Changes in the availability and quality of fish habitat are possible explanations for this lack of recovery. Here, we report on stereo baited remote underwater video surveys in the Firth of Clyde between June and September in 2013 and 2014 to determine the habitat of juvenile Atlantic cod Gadus morhua, haddock Melanogrammus aeglefinus and whiting Merlangius merlangus. Habitat predictor variables explored included substratum type, depth, wave fetch, and epibenthic and demersal fauna diversity. G. morhua were most abundant in shallow, sheltered areas composed of gravel-pebble containing maerl. M. aeglefinus and M. merlangus predominated over deeper sand and mud. Ontogenetic shifts in all 3 species were also observed. Relative abundances of G. morhua and M. merlangus were positively related to the diversity of epibenthic and demersal fauna. Our results indicate that spatial conservation measures to benefit demersal fish should be advised by patterns of epibenthic and demersal fauna diversity as well as physical substratum types.
The exploitation status of marine fisheries stocks worldwide is of critical importance for food security, ecosystem conservation, and fishery sustainability. Applying a suite of data-limited methods to global catch data, combined through an ensemble modeling approach, we provide quantitative estimates of exploitation status for 785 fish stocks. Fifty six percent (439 stocks) are below BMSY and of these, 261 are estimated to be below 80% of the BMSYlevel. While the 178 stocks above 80% of BMSY are conventionally considered “fully exploited”, stocks staying at this level for many years, forego substantial yield. Our results enable managers to consider more detailed information than simply a categorization of stocks as “fully” or “over” exploited. Our approach is reproducible, allows consistent application to a broad range of stocks, and can be easily updated as new data become available. Applied on an ongoing basis, this approach can provide critical, more detailed information for resource management for more exploited fish stocks than currently available.
Humanity is facing a biodiversity crisis. To solve environmental problems, we bring people from Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority to the same table. Conservation efforts are beneficial for all communities and facilitate constructive dialog across divides in conflict zones. This pleads for the integration of nature conservation into peacebuilding interventions.
Dredging can have significant impacts on benthic marine organisms through mechanisms such as sedimentation and reduction in light availability as a result of increased suspension of sediments. Phototrophic marine organisms and those with limited mobility are particularly at risk from the effects of dredging. The potential impacts of dredging on benthic species depend on biological processes including feeding mechanism, mobility, life history characteristics (LHCs), stage of development and environmental conditions. Environmental windows (EWs) are a management technique in which dredging activities are permitted during specific periods throughout the year; avoiding periods of increased vulnerability for particular organisms in specific locations. In this review we identify these critical ecological processes for temperate and tropical marine benthic organisms; and examine if EWs could be used to mitigate dredging impacts using Western Australia (WA) as a case study. We examined LHCs for a range of marine taxa and identified, where possible, their vulnerability to dredging. Large gaps in knowledge exist for the timing of LHCs for major species of marine invertebrates, seagrasses and macroalgae, increasing uncertainty around their vulnerability to an increase in suspended sediments or light attenuation. We conclude that there is currently insufficient scientific basis to justify the adoption of generic EWs for dredging operations in WA for any group of organisms other than corals and possibly for temperate seagrasses. This is due to; 1) the temporal and spatial variation in the timing of known critical life history stages of different species; and 2) our current level of knowledge and understanding of the critical life history stages and characteristics for most taxa and for most areas being largely inadequate to justify any meaningful EW selection. As such, we suggest that EWs are only considered on a case-by-case basis to protect ecologically or economically important species for which sufficient location-specific information is available, with consideration of probable exposures associated with a given mode of dredging.
North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Gulf of Maine overlap with both recreational and commercial vessel activity. Vessel strikes are one source of anthropogenic impact that has the potential to inhibit the recovery of this protected species. There are currently no regulations or guidelines specifically devised to reduce the likelihood of collisions for vessels transiting in the vicinity of humpback whales, except for vessels actively engaged in whale watching. To understand interactions between vessels and humpback whales better, we analyzed injuries on 624 individuals photographed in the southern Gulf of Maine from 2004 to 2013. Multiple reviewers evaluated 210,733 photos for five categories of injury consistent with a vessel strike. In total, 14.7% (n = 92) of individuals photographed showed injuries consistent with one or more vessel strikes. These results likely underestimate vessel collision rates and impacts because multiple events, events resulting in mortality, and those that involved only blunt force trauma could not be detected. Nevertheless, our results indicate that vessel strikes are underreported and that healing is dependent on the severity and location of the injury. We recommend that a management strategy be developed for all classes of vessels transiting in the vicinity of whales.
For several decades, fishing sharks for their fins has provided important livelihoods for eastern Indonesian coastal communities that fish the Halmahera, Arafura and Timor Seas. Fishery and interview data collected in 2012-13 from three case studies on the islands of Seram, Aru and Rote were used to examine changes in shark fishers’ livelihoods over the preceding 20 years. While recent declines in catches and shark fin prices have had a substantial impact on fishers’ livelihoods, the fishery's low visibility in some areas of its geographic range and its political complexity in general have meant that government and international development agencies have largely been unaware of this impact. Many respondents remembered the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-98 and the turn of the millennium as a time when sharks were still abundant and shark fin prices high, but were concerned about the on-going fall of shark fin prices since March 2012. High-value species, particularly guitarfish, hammerhead and sandbar sharks were most affected, losing up to 40% of their pre-2012 value. These changes, combined with the loss of fishing grounds, few attractive options for alternative income and restrictive debt relationships with shark fin bosses, have led some fishers to resort to high-risk activities such as blast fishing, illegal transboundary fishing, and people smuggling. This paper examines the multi-layered causes and consequences of fishers’ decision-making in response to adverse changes in their fishery, and explores options and obstacles to pursuing livelihoods that carry lower environmental, financial and personal risks.
In the Salish Sea, the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) is a high trophic indicator of ecosystem health. Three major threats have been identified for this population: reduced prey availability, anthropogenic contaminants, and marine vessel disturbances. These perturbations can culminate in significant morbidity and mortality, usually associated with secondary infections that have a predilection to the respiratory system. To characterize the composition of the respiratory microbiota and identify recognized pathogens of SRKW, exhaled breath samples were collected between 2006–2009 and analyzed for bacteria, fungi and viruses using (1) culture-dependent, targeted PCR-based methodologies and (2) taxonomically broad, non-culture dependent PCR-based methodologies. Results were compared with sea surface microlayer (SML) samples to characterize the respective microbial constituents. An array of bacteria and fungi in breath and SML samples were identified, as well as microorganisms that exhibited resistance to multiple antimicrobial agents. The SML microbes and respiratory microbiota carry a pathogenic risk which we propose as an additional, fourth putative stressor (pathogens), which may adversely impact the endangered SRKW population.
A 2 °C increase in global temperature above pre-industrial levels is considered a reasonable target for avoiding the most devastating impacts of anthropogenic climate change. In June 2015, sea surface temperature (SST) of the South China Sea (SCS) increased by 2 °C in response to the developing Pacific El Niño. On its own, this moderate, short-lived warming was unlikely to cause widespread damage to coral reefs in the region, and the coral reef “Bleaching Alert” alarm was not raised. However, on Dongsha Atoll, in the northern SCS, unusually weak winds created low-flow conditions that amplified the 2 °C basin-scale anomaly. Water temperatures on the reef flat, normally indistinguishable from open-ocean SST, exceeded 6 °C above normal summertime levels. Mass coral bleaching quickly ensued, killing 40% of the resident coral community in an event unprecedented in at least the past 40 years. Our findings highlight the risks of 2 °C ocean warming to coral reef ecosystems when global and local processes align to drive intense heating, with devastating consequences.
Citizen science is often assumed to increase public science engagement; however, little is known about who is likely to volunteer and the implications for greater societal impact. This study segments 1,145 potential volunteers into six groups according to their current engagement in science (EiS). Results show groups with high levels of EiS are significantly more interested in volunteering and more likely to participate in various research roles than those with lower EiS scores. While citizen science benefits some in science and society, its use as a strategy to bring about positive shifts in public science engagement needs to be reconsidered.
Dredging can have significant impacts on aquatic environments, but the direct effects on fish have not been critically evaluated. Here, a meta-analysis following a conservative approach is used to understand how dredging-related stressors, including suspended sediment, contaminated sediment, hydraulic entrainment and underwater noise, directly influence the effect size and the response elicited in fish across all aquatic ecosystems and all life-history stages. This is followed by an in-depth review summarizing the effects of each dredging-related stressor on fish. Across all dredging-related stressors, studies that reported fish mortality had significantly higher effect sizes than those that describe physiological responses, although indicators of dredge impacts should endeavour to detect effects before excessive mortality occurs. Studies examining the effects of contaminated sediment also had significantly higher effect sizes than studies on clean sediment alone or noise, suggesting additive or synergistic impacts from dredging-related stressors. The early life stages such as eggs and larvae were most likely to suffer lethal impacts, while behavioural effects were more likely to occur in adult catadromous fishes. Both suspended sediment concentration and duration of exposure greatly influenced the type of fish response observed, with both higher concentrations and longer exposure durations associated with fish mortality. The review highlights the need for in situ studies on the effects of dredging on fish which consider the interactive effects of multiple dredging-related stressors and their impact on sensitive species of ecological and fisheries value. This information will improve the management of dredging projects and ultimately minimize their impacts on fish.
In 2010, Canada committed to a set of 20 targets known as the Aichi Targets established under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Target 11 commits parties to an aspirational goal of protecting at least 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The target also mandates that protection focus on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services and that protected areas be well-managed, ecologically representative, well-connected and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes. Canada’s achievement of target 11 formed the foundation of the Committee’s study.
Intact, functional ecosystems – both terrestrial and marine – provide habitat needed to maintain biodiversity and its inherent value as well as ecosystem services essential for human well-being. As Canada’s natural spaces are threatened by human activity, Canada urgently needs to establish an integrated network of protected areas of high ecological value across the land and water.
In addition to the benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services, investments in protected areas bring jobs and other long-term economic benefits, often to rural, economically underdeveloped communities. Establishing protected areas in partnership with Indigenous peoples provides a means of advancing shared conservation objectives while simultaneously advancing reconciliation.
Canada has a long way to go to meet Aichi Target 11. Currently, 10.57% of terrestrial and 0.98% of marine areas are counted as protected. However, target 11 is an interim goal toward more comprehensive protection. It has been suggested that perhaps 50% of terrestrial and marine areas is needed to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage. It is clear that a great deal of work remains to be done.
Federal protected areas account for about half – 45% terrestrial and 83% marine – of Canada’s total protected areas. Accordingly, collaborative action by all levels of government including Indigenous governments, landowners, industrial stakeholders and civil society is required to resolve issues of competing uses for land and water in order to achieve and exceed our targets. Protecting areas in the Arctic marine and boreal regions are of particular importance.
The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet our targets. It must provide the leadership needed to ensure coherent and coordinated plans are developed to reach the targets. It must partner with Indigenous peoples to establish and recognize new types of protected areas in Indigenous territories while providing new opportunities for Indigenous economic development and advancing reconciliation. The federal government must also put its own house in order by coordinating its efforts, accelerating the establishment of federal protected areas and demonstrating political will, including through the provision of funding.
Marine ecosystems provide a range of valuable services, some of which come with market prices to quantify value and others for which markets have not set prices. Lacking perfect information, policy makers are at risk of undercounting non-priced values and services, leading to biases in policy decisions in favor of services valued through markets. Furthermore, understanding users’ valuation of specific site attributes, such as marine biodiversity, can contribute to effective policy decisions. This paper presents a non-market valuation of private recreational boaters (PRBs) in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary located in California, USA, using data from an intercept survey conducted in 2006 and 2007. A Random Utility Model is used to estimate PRBs’ daily trip values and the importance of specific site attributes. The average consumer surplus was estimated at $48.62 per trip, with a total non-market value of non-consumptive private recreational boating of $86,325 annually. PRBs show a preference for visiting locations with lower exposure to prevailing winds and greater species richness and abundance, which to the authors’ knowledge is the first time that PRBs have been found to value biological diversity in site choices. Furthermore, this suggests that improved biodiversity and productivity of marine ecosystems contribute to better recreational experiences. The results from this study reveal the importance of including non-market services and stakeholder's preferences into policy decisions.
This study presents an analysis of marine resource management activities designed to ameliorate concerns over fish stocks, food and livelihood insecurity in the coastal Asia Pacific region, with a specific focus on the area encompassed by the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). Firstly, the study explores how the CTI-CFF framing of food insecurity as symptomatic of economic deficiencies at the household level reflects the broader neoliberal conservation agenda driving the CTI-CFF and serves to legitimate the latter as the natural authority for intervention. Secondly, the paper uses an example of local level fishery management to demonstrate how the logic of neoliberalism translates to regulations which fail to recognise social and political complexities confronting fishers, thereby exacerbating the precarity of food and livelihood security in these communities. Thirdly, the paper contrasts the Western scientific emphasis on maintaining food security through managing coral reef fisheries with evidence from Indonesia and the Philippines which demonstrates the much larger contribution from pelagic fisheries and aquaculture to food security. The paper concludes with a call for research and aid-funded interventions on fishery management, livelihoods and food security to better reflect the needs of coastal people in the Asia-Pacific region, rather than the values commonly espoused by Western scientists and conservationists.
Marine debris' transboundary nature and new strategies to identify sources and sinks in coastal areas were investigated along the Paranaguá estuarine gradient (southern Brazil), through integration of hydrodynamic modelling, ground truthing estimates and regressive vector analysis. The simulated release of virtual particles in different parts of the inner estuary suggests a residence time shorter than 5 days before being exported through the estuary mouth (intermediate compartment) to the open ocean. Stranded litter supported this pathway, with beaches in the internal compartment presenting proportionally more items from domestic sources, while fragmented items with unknown sources were proportionally more abundant in the oceanic beaches. Regressive vector analysis reinforced the inner estuarine origin of the stranded litter in both estuarine and oceanic beaches. These results support the applicability of simple hydrodynamic models to address marine debris' transboundary issues in the land-sea transition zone, thus supporting an ecosystem transboundary (and not territorial) management approach.
Biological oceanic processes, principally the surface production, sinking and interior remineralization of organic particles, keep atmospheric CO2 lower than if the ocean was abiotic. The remineralization length scale (RLS, the vertical distance over which organic particle flux declines by 63%, affected by particle respiration, fragmentation and sinking rates) controls the size of this effect and is anomalously high in oxygen minimum zones (OMZ). Here we show in the Eastern Tropical North Pacific OMZ 70% of POC remineralization is due to microbial respiration, indicating that the high RLS is the result of lower particle fragmentation by zooplankton, likely due to the almost complete absence of zooplankton particle interactions in OMZ waters. Hence, the sensitivity of zooplankton to ocean oxygen concentrations can have direct implications for atmospheric carbon sequestration. Future expansion of OMZs is likely to increase biological ocean carbon storage and act as a negative feedback on climate change.
The increased number of human activities within the marine environment and the demand for maritime space has increased to a point where in some parts of the globe the demand for maritime space has exceeded the available area. The overlapping objectives and activities have caused severe conflicts among users and with the natural marine environment itself. For that reason, holistic strategies such as Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) and Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) have been evolved and developed to sustainably manage the marine environment, avoiding conflicts and creating synergies.
Spatial analysis tools like Marxan have been used for several years as decision support tools mostly for conservation plans, such as design and establishment of protected areas. In this study we approach the potential of this tool with a different purpose in mind: instead of using the available information of the region for the development of a conservation plan, we used this tool and the available information to select areas to establish Aquaculture Management Areas (AMAs). We also intended to analyse how the existing features of the region would affect the final result of a spatial plan aimed to establish areas for economic and development purposes.
We conclude that the use of Marxan can be advantageous to support the planning and development of coastal regions, not only in a conservationist point of view (as it has been mostly used), but also into a developing and economic driven approach. This tool can be particularly useful in regions or situations where there is a large number of stakeholders, ecological and geographical features that could potentially conflict with the establishment, the management and the success of the proposed management areas.
The oceans provide food, employment and income for billions of people. We analyzed data from scientific stock assessments, and from a statistical model for other fish stocks, to summarize the past and present status, and the potential catch, abundance and profit for 4713 fish stocks constituting 78% of global fisheries. Three major scenarios of future trends are considered; business as usual (BAU) in which largely unmanaged fisheries move towards bioeconomic equilibrium but where well-managed fisheries maintain their management, maximum sustainable yield (MSY) in which fisheries are managed to maximize yield, and fisheries reform (REF) where the competitive race to fish is eliminated and fisheries are managed to maximize profit. The future prospects differ greatly based on region of the world and product type. This analysis forecasts that yield in major tuna and forage fish species will remain roughly the same as current levels under all three scenarios, while there does appear to be potential for increased yield of whitefish. There is considerable room for increased profit in most of these fisheries from better management. Increased yield will come from rebuilding overexploited stocks, reducing fishing mortality on stocks that are still abundant but fished at high rates, and surprisingly from fishing some stocks harder. Indeed in Europe and North America the primary potential for increased yield comes from fully exploiting stocks that are now lightly exploited. Asia provides the greatest opportunity for increased fish abundance and increased profit by fisheries reform that would lead to reduced fishing pressure.
Management strategies for fisheries typically do not account for environmental stressors, such as hypoxia (dissolved oxygen < 2 mg·L−1). Hypoxia can lead to shoaling of organisms into normoxic habitats, enhancing catchability, which could reduce the performance of fishery management strategies. Here, we conducted a management strategy evaluation of Dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) fisheries in Hood Canal, Washington, a seasonally hypoxic fjord in Puget Sound. Specifically, we asked whether the current management strategy was robust to hypoxia-induced catchability changes under alternative scenarios of illegal take, incidental capture mortality, and reproductive limitation. We find that the management strategy performed well to changes in catchability when illegal and incidental fishing mortality was low and fishing did not lead to reproductive limitation. However, the performance eroded markedly (reduced long-term catch and (or) population and higher catch variation) under the alternative scenarios. These findings underscore the benefit of applying an ecosystem approach to fisheries management because it identifies potential risks to management strategies in systems subject to environmental change.
Understanding how information flows between scientific and decision-making communities is essential for the creation of effective strategies to link scientific advice to management decisions. Interviews of scientists and managers in two inter-related fisheries management organizations – the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) and the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) – and direct observations at science and management meetings revealed important organizational characteristics that influence the production, communication, and use of scientific information in decision-making. Formal processes for communicating scientific advice to managers – DFO's Canadian Scientific Advisory Secretariat (CSAS) and NAFO's Fisheries Commission's Request for Advice – demonstrate the use of credible, relevant, and legitimate advice for operational decision-making for fisheries management. Such defined processes, in addition to governmental bureaucracy, departmentalization, and de-centralization, can limit communication as highlighted for Canada as a Contracting Party to NAFO. Administrative mechanisms can pose challenges to implementing ecosystem approaches to fisheries management (EAF) and to addressing the impacts of climate change. Emerging organizational structures and behaviours facilitate communication at the science-policy interface, within and between the organizations, thereby improving understanding of science and management needs and promoting trust relationships between scientists and managers. The involvement of multiple stakeholders in the information pathways addresses concerns about scientific uncertainty in assessment advice. A linear model of information flow typifies operational decision-making; however, collaborative models that incorporate different types of information, apart from fisheries science, are required to enable ecosystem-based management. The characteristics of the information pathways are particularly relevant as the organizations address their EAF mandates.