Coral growth patterns result from an interplay of coral biology and environmental conditions. In this study colony size and proportion of live and dead skeletons in the cold-water coral (CWC) Lophelia pertusa(Linnaeus, 1758) were measured using video footage from Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) transects conducted at the inshore Mingulay Reef Complex (MRC) and at the offshore PISCES site (Rockall Bank) in the NE Atlantic. The main goal of this paper was to explore the development of a simple method to quantify coral growth and its potential application as an assessment tool of the health of these remote habitats. Eighteen colonies were selected and whole colony and dead/living layer size were measured. Live to dead layer ratios for each colony were then determined and analysed. The age of each colony was estimated using previously published data. Our paper shows that: (1) two distinct morphotypes can be described: at the MRC, colonies displayed a ‘cauliflower-shaped’ morphotype whereas at the PISCES site, colonies presented a more flattened ‘bush-shaped’ morphotype; (2) living layer size was positively correlated with whole colony size; (3) live to dead layer ratio was negatively correlated to whole colony size; (4) live to dead layer ratio never exceeded 0.27. These results suggest that as a colony develops and its growth rate slows down, the proportion of living polyps in the colony decreases. Furthermore, at least 73% of L. pertusa colonies are composed of exposed dead coral skeleton, vulnerable to ocean acidification and the associated shallowing of the aragonite saturation horizon, with significant implications for future deep-sea reef framework integrity. The clear visual contrast between white/pale living and grey/dark dead portions of the colonies also gives a new way by which they can be visually monitored over time. The increased use of marine autonomous survey vehicles offers an important new platform from which such a surveying technique could be applied to monitor deep-water marine protected areas in the future.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Mangrove forest ecosystems support aquatic species important to tropical fishing communities, but habitat degradation and over-fishing have caused coastal fishery stocks to decline. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are widely promoted as a management option to reverse this situation. Using swimming crabs as indicator species, this paper explores the ecological effectiveness of two community-led MPAs and one co-managed MPA in Ranong and Phang-nga Provinces in southern Thailand. Comparisons were made of two fisheries objectives: catch per unit effort (CPUE); and size frequency distribution of Portunus spp. and Scylla olivacea; and one conservation objective: catch composition on benthic aquatic species, between each managed area and an associated control site to look for effects of management. Eight replicates of each survey were undertaken in each site: four in the wet season, from May to July 2011; and four in the dry season, from February to March 2012.
Two of the MPAs, one a no-take zone and one a gear limitation zone, and both managed by local communities, showed a significant increase in CPUE of target species compared with their controls to the benefit of local fishers. There was little evidence of management impact on the composition of benthic aquatic species so community management is not achieving wider conservation in terms of increased biodiversity. The third MPA, a seasonal no-take zone, co-managed by local communities and local government, showed no significant effect on either CPUE of target species, or composition of benthic aquatic species when compared to its control. For size frequency distribution, a higher abundance of all size classes of Portunus pelagicus was observed in all MPAs compared to their control sites. The size distribution of animals suggests that the community-managed MPAs are supporting recruits and contributing to the fisheries by reducing the rates of growth overfishing. To conclude, the two community-led MPAs benefitted fishers but had no effect on marine biodiversity, while the co-managed MPA did not benefit fishers or marine biodiversity. However, all three MPAs showed increase crab abundance in each size class.
Marine Protected Areas (MPA) are important management tools shown to protect marine organisms, restore biomass, and increase fisheries yields. While MPAs have been successful in meeting these goals for many relatively sedentary species, highly mobile organisms may get few benefits from this type of spatial protection due to their frequent movement outside the protected area. The use of a large MPA can compensate for extensive movement, but testing this empirically is challenging, as it requires both large areas and sufficient time series to draw conclusions. To overcome this limitation, MPA models have been used to identify designs and predict potential outcomes, but these simulations are highly sensitive to the assumptions describing the organism’s movements. Due to recent improvements in computational simulations, it is now possible to include very complex movement assumptions in MPA models (e.g. Individual Based Model). These have renewed interest in MPA simulations, which implicitly assume that increasing the detail in fish movement overcomes the sensitivity to the movement assumptions. Nevertheless, a systematic comparison of the designs and outcomes obtained under different movement assumptions has not been done. In this paper, we use an individual based model, interconnected to population and fishing fleet models, to explore the value of increasing the detail of the movement assumptions using four scenarios of increasing behavioral complexity: a) random, diffusive movement, b) aggregations, c) aggregations that respond to environmental forcing (e.g. sea surface temperature), and d) aggregations that respond to environmental forcing and are transported by currents. We then compare these models to determine how the assumptions affect MPA design, and therefore the effective protection of the stocks. Our results show that the optimal MPA size to maximize fisheries benefits increases as movement complexity increases from ~10% for the diffusive assumption to ~30% when full environment forcing was used. We also found that in cases of limited understanding of the movement dynamics of a species, simplified assumptions can be used to provide a guide for the minimum MPA size needed to effectively protect the stock. However, using oversimplified assumptions can produce suboptimal designs and lead to a density underestimation of ca. 30%; therefore, the main value of detailed movement dynamics is to provide more reliable MPA design and predicted outcomes. Large MPAs can be effective in recovering overfished stocks, protect pelagic fish and provide significant increases in fisheries yields. Our models provide a means to empirically test this spatial management tool, which theoretical evidence consistently suggests as an effective alternative to managing highly mobile pelagic stocks.
This study assessed the coral reef condition of two marine protected areas in the Caribbean: Guanahacabibes National Park, Cuba, and Costa Occidental de Isla Mujeres-Punta Cancun-Punta Nizuc National Park, Mexico, in a two-year period. The analyzed indicators for corals were live coral cover, diameter and height of the colonies, ancient and recent mortalities and abundance of recruits, which were evaluated in quadrats of 1 m2. In addition, it was estimated the coverage by morphofunctional groups of macroalgae in 25 × 25 cm quadrats and the density of the Diadema antillarum urchin in 1 m2 quadrats. The results showed differences between countries at broad spatial scales (hundreds of kilometers). Reefs of both MPAs seem to be in different stages of changes, which have been associated with deterioration of Caribbean reefs, toward the dominance of more resistant, non-tridimensional coral species, causing a decrease of the reef complexity that may leads to the reefs to collapse. At scales of kilometers (within MPAs), a similar pattern was found in reefs of GNP-Cuba and different trends were observed in reefs of CNP-Mexico. The observed differences between CNP-Mexico sites appear to be associated with the current tourism use patterns.
The North American Marine Protected Area Rapid Vulnerability Assessment Tool was created to help marine protected area managers evaluate the implications of climate change for the habitats of their sites. This tool has three parts (a user guide, a set of blank worksheets, and a booklet containing sample completed worksheets) that are available as downloadable PDFs. The blank worksheets are in a dynamic PDF format so that users can easily fill, save and share their completed worksheets. The User Guide and sample worksheets provide the narrative explanation of how to use the tool, while the blank worksheets are the hands-on component. Together, they comprise a tool that can help marine protected area managers conduct a rapid vulnerability assessment and adaptation strategy development process.
- MPAs, primarily aimed to the conservation and restoration of nature, may provide, in parallel, some social and economic benefits.
- Benefits are likely to occur at different time scales, which need to be identified to prevent or act against short-term losses.
- Participatory approaches to MPA establishment and management, along with effective communication, lessen conflicts and enhance management effectiveness.
Systematic conservation planning (SCP) to design marine protected areas (MPAs) has traditionally focused on species distributions or benthic habitat features that drive the determination of conservation priorities. Pelagic ecosystem protection is usually incidental because these ecosystems are often data-poor and are difficult to visualize in a planning context. Pelagic ecosystems, however, face increasing and cumulative impacts from threats such as overfishing and climate change, and a precautionary approach is required to protect both known and unknown biodiversity patterns and ecosystem processes. Data-driven pelagic habitat classifications are important when planning for habitat protection in the absence of sufficient in-situ data. In this study, we describe a method for creating a bioregional map of the upper-mixed layer of South Africa's pelagic realm. We selected relevant variables and parameters that best reflect key ecosystem properties at broad, meso, and local scales. We conducted a hierarchal cluster analysis using open-access sea surface temperature (SST), chlorophyll-a (chl-a), net primary productivity (NPP), mean sea level anomalies (MSLA), and seabed slope and depth data. The resulting map delineates three bioregions subdivided into seven biozones and sixteen pelagic habitats within South Africa's continental Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). This habitat map was incorporated into SCP of a proposed expanded MPA network that includes offshore protected areas and meets National objectives. The proposed network will increase protection of the pelagic realm (>30 m depth) of the EEZ from 0.002% to 6.0%. We contend that bioregional analyses based on publicly available remote-sensing data are useful for identification of offshore habitats, especially when robust biological data are unavailable, as a framework for ecosystem reporting, and for inclusion in a systematic design for a representative offshore MPA network. Further research should focus on modelling and mapping the permanence of pelagic habitats and different spatio-temporal scales of variability, validating habitat boundaries with biological data, and understanding the threats and efficacy of achieving pelagic protection through management mechanisms like MPAs.
- The several forms of ecological spatial connectivity – population, genetic, community, ecosystem – are among the most important ecological processes in determining the distribution, persistence and productivity of coastal marine populations and ecosystems.
- Ecological marine protected areas (MPAs) focus on restoring or maintaining marine populations, communities, or ecosystems. All ecological MPAs – no matter their specific focus or objectives – depend for their success on incorporating ecological spatial connectivity into their design, use (i.e. application), and management.
- Though important, a synthesis of the implications of ecological spatial connectivity for the design, use, and management of MPAs, especially in the face of a changing global climate, does not exist. We synthesize this information and distill it into practical principles for design, use, and management of MPAs and networks of MPAs.
- High population connectivity among distant coastal ecosystems underscores the critical value of MPA networks for MPAs and the populations and ecosystems between them.
- High ecosystem connectivity among coastal ecosystems underscores the importance of protecting multiple connected ecosystems within an MPA, maximizing ecosystem connectivity across MPAs, and managing ecosystems outside MPAs so as to minimize influxes of detrimental organisms and materials into MPAs.
- Connectivity-informed MPAs and MPA networks – designed and managed to foster the ecological spatial connectivity processes important to local populations, species, communities, and ecosystems – can best address ecological changes induced by climate change. Also, the protections afforded by MPAs from direct, local human impacts may ameliorate climate change impacts in coastal ecosystems inside MPAs and, indirectly, in ecosystems outside MPAs.
- To meet the Convention on Biological Diversity's Aichi Target 11 on marine biodiversity protection and Aichi Target 6 on sustainable fisheries by 2020, as well as the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 2 on food security and SDG 14 on oceans by 2030, there is an urgent need to rethink how best to reconcile nature conservation and sustainable development.
- This paper argues for effective governance to support processes that apply principles of sustainable development and an ecosystem approach to decide about economic activities at sea such as aquaculture. It describes opportunities, benefits and synergies between aquaculture and MPAs as a basis for wider debate. The scope is not a comprehensive analysis of aquaculture and MPAs, but rather to present examples of positive interactions between aquaculture activities and MPAs. The unintended negative consequences are also discussed to present balanced arguments.
- This work draws from four workshops held in 2015 and 2016 and used to collect information from about 100 experts representing various sectors and perspectives.
- It is recognized that aquaculture is an important activity in terms of sustainable development. It can play a role in providing food security, poverty alleviation and economic resilience, in particular for MPA local communities, and contribute to wild stock enhancement, as an alternative to overfishing and for providing services to the ecosystem.
- This study showed that there is a need from both aquaculture and MPA sides for clarity of objectives and willingness for open and extensive dialogue. The paper concludes by describing a number of tools and methods for supporting greater synergies between aquaculture and MPAs.
- The results from this work have already helped to build a common understanding between conservation and aquaculture and initiate a rapprochement for increasing synergies.
Please note this is a pre-publication version, though we do not expect significant (if any) changes to content.
In 2011, at Big Ocean’s third network business meeting, the original six member LSMPAs began conceptualising these Guidelines as a repository of their collective experience in designing and managing LSMPAs. The hope was that they would provide useful resources and tools for existing, new, and future LSMPAs. The development of the first draft of a manuscript commenced in 2012 during the IUCN World Conservation Congress in Jeju, Republic of Korea. Big Ocean invited marine management professionals and international experts to contribute to the draft manuscript. In early 2013, the network established its partnership with IUCN and WCPA-Marine, which increased the momentum for the development of the manuscript. Shortly thereafter, Big Ocean was asked to help develop the IUCN WCPA LSMPA Task Force, and then became the network’s lead partner on this publication. The first publicly available consultative draft was reviewed in 2013 at the 3rd International Marine Protected Area Congress in Marseille, France. Two rounds of peer review followed, the second of which directly engaged members of IUCN’s WCPA Commission following the IUCN World Parks Congress 2014 in Sydney, Australia.
Intended to supplement and build upon the existing IUCN materials and MPA guidance cited throughout this document, the content for these Guidelines was extracted from four main sources: (1) shared experiences documented by Big Ocean members during the network’s first five business meetings, site-to-site exchange visits and other network events; (2) focus group interviews with senior managers, scientists and staff of member sites; (3) international partner and peer inputs, including contributions from hundreds of marine managers and conservation professionals, and (4) collaborations with key reviewers and subject matter experts. Relevant peer-reviewed and professional publications were also utilised.