Cuba is one of the few countries from the Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean region having solid coastal legislation: Decree Law 212 (DL-212) entitled “Coastal Zone Management”. However, that legal framework presents some deficiencies that need to be improved, wherefore an analysis of the major features of DL-212 and the identification of its main issues were conducted in the present study; some ways of implementing the DL-212 in the country were assessed as well. Regarding the Land-Sea Interaction, this work proposes a set of four variables linking geomorphological and human criteria with the aim of improving coastal zone characterization and boundary delimitation. The set of four variables falls into six types of Coastal Geomorphic-typological Units, which are also sub-classified according to the physical aspects and level of territorial urbanization of the Units. Standard nomenclature about boundaries, territorial planning in relation to land-sea interaction is provided in the present research, as well as nine guidelines and eleven recommendations for institutions responsible for physical use planning to implement, in order to obtain a better understanding and implementation of DL-212. The study makes a great contribution to decision-making processes regarding Land-Use Planning, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and Marine Spatial Planning for future implementation in other Small Island Developing States.
Management and Management Effectiveness
Ecological degradation on Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) still occur as a result of anthropogenic pressure and environmental variation. Considering that protected areas can be restrictive to human activities, it is essential to assess their effectiveness. In this study, we evaluated the spatial and temporal effects of management on the seascape of the Cozumel Reefs National Park (CRNP) in the Mexican Caribbean. Quantitative estimates of the percentage of coverage of benthic substrates, and the location of coral reefs, were used to construct benthic habitat maps based on the supervised classifications of high resolution satellite images. Using spatially explicit analyses, the variation of seascape metrics for the period 2004–2015, was compared between two adjacent areas (inside and outside the protected area). Habitat β-diversity and connectivity between the Marine Protected Area (MPA) and the adjacent uncontrolled area, suggest that the CRNP is having an effect over time on the coral reef seascape (p < 0.05). These metrics decreased over time, but change was reduced inside the protected area. The shape complexity of patches and benthic habitat coverage also changed over time, but with no relation to the MPA. In general, with the exception of the habitats dominated by sand over rock, sandy beds with minimum or no vegetation, and dominated by macroalgae, patches became less compact. Management in the CRNP limits the physical damage to benthic habitats and the protected area has characteristics that have been recognised as important on effective MPAs. However, our results indicate that the ability of this MPA to counteract change at a seascape scale is limited. Furthermore, funding on MPAs in the country has been consistently reduced over the last decade. Considering the importance of sufficient funding on effectiveness and the necessity to maintain ecological services provided by coral reef systems in the region, this needs to be re-considered.
Marine snakes represent the most speciose group of marine reptiles and are a significant component of reef and coastal ecosystems in tropical oceans. Research on this group has historically been challenging due to the difficulty in capturing, handling, and keeping these animals for field- and lab-based research. Inexplicable declines in marine snake populations across global hotspots have highlighted the lack of basic information on this group and elevated multiple species as conservation priorities. With the increased interest in research on marine snakes, we conducted a systematic survey of experts to identify twenty key questions that can direct future research. These questions are framed across a wide array of scientific fields to produce much-needed information relevant to the conservation and management of marine snakes.
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.
Randomised Control Trials (RCTs) are used in impact evaluation in a range of fields. However, despite calls for their greater use in environmental management, their use to evaluate landscape scale interventions remains rare. Payments for Ecosystem Services (PES) incentivise land users to manage land to provide environmental benefits. We present the first RCT evaluation of a PES program aiming to improve water quality. Watersharedis a program which incentivises landowners to avoid deforestation and exclude cattle from riparian forests. Using this unusual landscape-scale experiment we explore the efficacy of Watershared at improving water quality, and draw lessons for future RCT evaluations of landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
One hundred and twenty-nine communities in the Bolivian Andes were randomly allocated to treatment (offered Watershared agreements) or control (not offered agreements) following baseline data collection (including Escherichia coli contamination in most communities) in 2010. We collected end-line data in 2015. Using our end-line data, we explored the extent to which variables associated with the intervention (e.g. cattle exclusion, absence of faeces) predict water quality locally. We then investigated the efficacy of the intervention at improving water quality at the landscape scale using the RCT. This analysis was done in two ways; for the subset of communities for which we have both baseline and end-line data from identical locations we used difference-in-differences (matching on baseline water quality), for all sites we compared control and treatment at end-line controlling for selected predictors of water quality.
The presence of cattle faeces in water adversely affected water quality suggesting excluding cattle has a positive impact on water quality locally. However, both the matched difference-in-differences analysis and the comparison between treatment and control communities at end-line suggested Watershared was not effective at reducing E. coli contamination at the landscape scale. Uptake of Watershared agreements was very low and the most important land from a water quality perspective (land around water intakes) was seldom enrolled.
Although excluding cattle may have a positive local impact on water quality, higher uptake and better targeting would be required to achieve a significant impact on the quality of water consumed in the communities. Although RCTs potentially have an important role to play in building the evidence base for approaches such as PES, they are far from straightforward to implement. In this case, the randomised trial was not central to concluding that Watershared had not produced a landscape scale impact. We suggest that this RCT provides valuable lessons for future use of randomised experiments to evaluate landscape-scale environmental management interventions.
Successfully managing current threats to marine resources and ecosystems is largely dependent on our ability to understand and manage human behavior. In recent times we have seen increased growth in research to understand the human dimension of marine resource use, and the associated implications for management. However, despite progress to date, marine research and management have until recently largely neglected the critically important role of “sense of place,” and its role in influencing the success and efficacy of management interventions. To help address this gap we review the existing literature from various disciplines, e.g., environmental psychology, and sectors, both marine and nonmarine sectors, to understand the ways is which sense of place has been conceptualized and measured. Doing so we draw on three key aspects of sense of place, person, place, and process, to establish a framework to help construct a more organized and consistent approach for considering and representing sense of place in marine environmental studies. Based on this we present indicators to guide how sense of place is monitored and evaluated in relation to marine resource management, and identify practical ways in which this framework can be incorporated into existing decision-support tools. This manuscript is a first step toward increasing the extent to which sense of place is incorporated into modeling, monitoring, and management decisions in the marine realm.
Inland aquatic ecosystems play an important part in the delivery and support of ecosystem services. However, these ecosystems are subject to stressors associated with human activities such as invasive species introduction and landscape alteration. There is a delicate balance between maintaining good status of the ecosystem whilst meeting the needs of those stakeholders dependent on the ecosystem services it supplies, and where there are many different stakeholders, each with different aspirations and dependencies on the ecosystem, it can be difficult to strike a balance on suitable management measures to put in place. A better understanding of the interactions between the human and ecological functions of the ecosystem (a socio-ecological systems (SES) approach) can enable an effective dialogue to be opened to secure management solutions of best fit. In this study we took a SES approach to explore the dependencies and interactions in the Lough Erne catchment with a range of stakeholders representing the use of the Lough. In particular, we explored how individual stakeholder goals were perceived to be affected by both the biodiversity and activities found in the catchment. Results suggest there are distinct components deemed integral to the success of stakeholder goals in this system, including ‘key habitat components’ and ‘policy relevant species’, as well as activities associated with ‘conservation and recreation’ and ‘scientific research’. Those components which were seen to limit the potential achievement of most goals included invasive species, and in particular, more recently introduced invasives, as well as extractive industries. Consideration of the similarity in goals based on their perceived interactions with the activities and biodiversity of the system indicated that there were shared dependencies between some stakeholders, but also differences that highlight the potential for conflict. Future management scenarios should take consideration of the key limiting and enabling factors identified here.
Human-caused mortality due primarily to bycatch in fisheries is considered a major threat to some long-lived, slow-growing, and otherwise vulnerable marine species. Under many jurisdictions these species are designated as “protected”, and fisheries are subject to a management system that includes monitoring and assessment of bycatch impacts relative to management objectives. The US management system for marine mammals is one of the most sophisticated in the world, with a limit on human-caused mortality computed using the potential biological removal (PBR), formula. Fisheries are categorized according to their impact relative to PBR, and take reduction teams established to develop take reduction plans (TRPs) when bycatch exceeds PBR. The default values of the parameters of the PBR formula were selected in the late 1990s using management strategy evaluation (MSE), but the system, in particular the classification of fisheries, has yet to be evaluated in its entirety. A MSE framework is developed that includes the PBR formula, as well as the processes for evaluating whether a stock is “strategic”, assigning fisheries to categories, and implementing TRPs. The level of error associated with fisheries classification was found not to impact the ability to achieve the conservation objective established for a stock under the US Marine Mammal Protection Act (i.e. maintain or recover the stock to/at optimum sustainable population). However, this ability is highly dependent on the life history and absolute abundance of the species being managed, as well as on the premise that bycatch is reduced if bycatch is estimated to exceed the PBR. The probability of correctly classifying fisheries depends on both the coefficient of variations (CVs) of the estimates of bycatch and the marine mammal stock’s abundance because classification depends on the ratio of the estimate of bycatch by fishery-type to the stock’s PBR, and the precision of the former depends on the bycatch CV and the latter on the abundance estimate CV. Moreover, the probability of correctly classifying a fishery decreases for smaller populations, particularly when a fishery has low to moderate impact.
Scuba diving tourism may both positively and negatively affect the natural environment, as well as human economies and societies. Marine protected areas (MPAs) in particular attract scuba diving tourism. Even though the activities of scuba divers could conflict with the conservation agendas of MPAs, they also potentially could endorse and support the management of MPAs. Thus, depending on the types of interactions that develop between scuba diving tourism and MPAs, more or less rigid management actions may be required. Although studies in temperate locations are rare, there is evidence that scuba divers in these locations tend to be more experienced, knowledgeable about local issues, responsible towards the environment, and willing to participate in stewardship, compared with divers at tropical destinations. This study assessed the profile of scuba divers at a temperate MPA in Italy, to determine which types of diving management actions are needed, and to understand how the potential of scuba divers could be exploited for the management of temperate MPAs. Data on the profile of 279 scuba divers in the Portofino MPA, Italy, were collected during the summer of 2015. Scuba divers in Portofino are generally experienced, loyal, satisfied, aware of the code of underwater conduct, knowledgeable of ecosystems in the MPA, and willing to participate in marine conservation activities. Although some important considerations must be taken into account regarding the management of scuba diving activities, a case is made that scuba divers could exert many positive impacts on MPAs. A conceptual model of the conservation-oriented behavior of scuba divers and its impacts both inside and outside MPAs is proposed. The positive messages and actions of scuba divers inside MPAs appear to exert potentially positive effects on other diving destinations outside the MPAs.
Increasing accessibility of coral reefs from the latter third of the 20th century led quickly to recognition of the vulnerability of coral reef communities to a combination of direct and indirect human impacts. Coral reefs are confronted by the stark threats of climate and ocean changes from the increasing number, intensity and forms of human use impacting global and marine systems. Management, particularly of accessible coral reefs, occurs in the context of multiple scale transboundary water column linkages of lifecycle processes and increasing human use of coastal and marine space. Four decades of experience have demonstrated the combined importance of biophysical and socio-economic sciences and sharing knowledge with communities for developing implementing effective management. In the face of environmental and socio-economic change the challenge for science and management is to develop knowledge and management responses that can better understand and increase resilience to improve he outlook for coral reef communities.