Strategies aimed to conserve and manage rare species are often hindered by the lack of data needed for their effective design. Incomplete and inaccurate data on habitat associations and current species distributions pose a barrier to effective conservation and management for several species of endemic sea snakes in Western Australia that are thought to be in decline. Here we used a correlative modelling approach to understand habitat associations and identify suitable habitats for five of these species (Aipysurus apraefrontalis, A. foliosquama, A. fuscus, A. l. pooleorum and A. tenuis). We modelled species-specific habitat suitability across 804,244 km2 of coastal waters along the North-west Shelf of Western Australia, to prioritise future survey regions to locate unknown populations of these rare species. Model projections were also used to quantify the effectiveness of current spatial management strategies (Marine Protected Areas) in conserving important habitats for these species. Species-specific models matched well with the records on which they were trained, and identified additional regions of suitability without records. Subsequent field validation of the model projections uncovered a previously unknown locality for A. fuscus within the mid-shelf shoal region, outside its currently recognised global range. Defining accurate geographic distributions for rare species is a vital first step in defining more robust extent of species occurrence and range overlap with threatening processes.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
The promotion of tourism has been considered to be a key strategy in reducing people's dependence on marine resources and for creating alternative livelihoods for the communities living in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). This paper studies the determinants for the decision of participation in tourism-related activities and examines whether tourism could be regarded as an alternative livelihood for the local people living in the MPAs. The propensity score matching approach is employed and a case study of Nha Trang Bay MPA is used for analysis with data from 140 locals. The results show that the tourism industry in the MPAs does not secure a better income for the local people if they stop their traditional livelihoods and enter the tourism industry. In other words, tourism should not be viewed in isolation with other existing income generating activities. Furthermore, low education, long distances between home and tourism destinations, and the pressure of supporting the whole family are the primary rationales preventing local people living in MPAs from participating in tourism industry. This paper discusses implications for the management of MPAs in developing countries, where tourism is used as the main strategy to diversify the local people out of traditional fishing or aquaculture.
As “Canada’s Ocean Playground” Nova Scotia relies on a healthy ocean to support its economy and citizens’ livelihoods. As part of the economic development strategy, the province is seeking to significantly increase its tourism industry from $2 billion CAD to $4 billion CAD by 2024. Because much of the province’s tourism products is nature-based an increase in tourism will result in more pressure being put on coastal and marine ecosystems. With the government of Canada recently announcing the protection of 13.8 per cent of its ocean, the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs) may provide the opportunity for growth in ecotourism. As stakeholders, the view of tourism operators regarding marine protected areas and ecotourism are important to understand because they conduct their business in coastal areas that could become MPAs in the future. A case study method was used to describe tourism businesses perceptions of ecotourism and MPAs. Perceptions were derived from interviews with five tourism operators. Each case provided unique insights to the potential opportunities and concerns related to MPA designation in Nova Scotia. Although there are concerns about restricting regulations and the need for proper management and planning, ecotourism in MPAs provide a unique opportunity to advance conservation objectives and support the local economy of communities simultaneously through using MPAs may be a useful marketing tool for ecotourism leading to increased employment, cultural exchange, and environmental education.
The development of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada is increasing in order to maintain and conserve important fish and marine mammal species and habitats. However, with protection comes certain regulations that affect the use of marine spaces. Regulations can restrict access and use of the marine environment, including certain fishing practices or the harvesting of specific species and some are designated to be no-go and no-take areas. While MPAs are important for the conservation of marine ecosystems, it is important that the rights and values of Indigenous peoples are not being violated with their implementation. This study examines the British Columbia Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) MPA network to identify opportunities and constraints in the current process to identify governance mechanisms that can be incorporated to enhance MPA effectiveness and uphold Indigenous inherent and Treaty rights. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with First Nations staff and individuals, and federal and provincial government representatives to understand the perception of Indigenous participation in the MPA network process. Analysis of the interviews, along with evaluations of current MPA network strategies being used in the NSB have identified capacity building, respect and trust and past NSB initiatives as opportunities while existing governance structures and the non-inclusivity of all relevant First Nations in the NSB were highlighted as constraints. These findings have been used to inform management recommendations for the MPA process.
Many commercial species of the world are overexploited resulting in substantial reductions of biomass and ecological changes. Spatial-temporal restrictions of fishing activities are important measures used for the management of marine stocks. However, evidence of whether fishing bans benefit whole ecosystems is still scant. Here, we developed a food-web model approach using the Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) model representing the Fisheries Restricted Area (FRA) of the Gulf of Lion ecosystem (CoSEGoL model) prior to the establishment of the fisheries restrictions (2006-2008) to characterize the structure and functioning of the ecosystem before and after its establishment. The constructed food-web model was, then, fitted to available time series of data from 2008 to 2016 to verify whether this FRA has contributed to recovery of target demersal species and the demersal community. The fitted model was used to explore alternative future management scenarios to explore feasible management options in order to ensure a full ecosystem recovery under climate change conditions. Both small positive and negative ecosystem changes occurred between prior and after the establishment of the FRA, potentially revealing a lack of protection efficiency and/or enforcement. Scenarios of management options under plausible climate futures revealed possible recovery of targeted species, especially European hake. The study highlighted the importance of considering trophic interactions between predators and prey to identify trade-offs and synergies in fisheries management outcomes and the need to consider both fishing and climate dynamics.
WWF has developed a comparative analysis of the actions countries have taken in implementing conservation policies and creating effective marine protected areas.
In response to the 2015 and 2017 decisions of the World Heritage Committee, the Australian government submitted to the World Heritage Centre in December 2019 the State Party Report on the state of conservation of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) World Heritage Area (WHA). The 2017 decision of the World Heritage Committee (WHC) focussed on two areas in particular, namely:
4. .... accelerate efforts to ensure meeting the intermediate and long-term targets of the [Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability] plan ... in particular regarding water quality;
6. .... demonstrating the effective and sustained protection of the property’s Outstanding Universal Value and effective performance in meeting the targets established under the 2050 LTSP [Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan], linked to the findings of the 2014 and 2019 Great Barrier Reef Outlook Reports.
This review also focusses on these two areas, as well as the implications of Australia’s current climate change polices and the existing funding arrangements for management of the GBR.
Relative to previous GBR State Party Reports (2013, 2014, 2015) the 2019 Report provides more detail on funding arrangements and progress to achieving management targets. Overall, it is a more informative document. However, it still overstates the efficacy of existing management arrangements and understates the critical importance of effectively and immediately addressing the causes of climate change. We are concerned particularly by the present Australian government’s inadequate national climate change and energy policies and programs, and the implications these have for the future of the Great Barrier Reef.
WWF and CoNISMa outline an adaptive methodology for evaluating key economic benefits, potentially applicable in different Mediterranean Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). The study was piloted in 6 MPAs: 3 MPAs with an official mission and long-term management plans – Egadi Islands MPA (Italy), Telašćica Nature Park (Croatia), Torre Guaceto MPA (Italy) – and 3 not-yet officially gazetted MPA without an operational management plan – Gouraya National Park, Taza National Park in Algeria and Tabarka Marine and Coastal Protected Area in Tunisia.
Ecosystem Services (ESs) are assuming a constantly increasing importance in management practices due to their key role in ensuring a sustainable future to fauna and flora on Earth. In addition, ES degradation and quality loss jeopardize current human activities. For this reason, it is essential to develop methodologies and practices able to efficiently assess environmental and socio-economic impacts in terms of ES deterioration, especially within protected areas. Norms and regulations have to be able to identify habitat and species categories to be preserved, and to determine the cost of their destruction and decline, according to a holistic vision, which includes social and economic impacts, besides the environmental ones. The paper illustrates the case study of the “Isola dell’Asinara” Marine Protected Area (MPA) in Sardinia, where an experimental methodology was developed with the aim to draw new regulations that integrate conservation measures of Natura 2000 sites included in its territory, provisions determined by the integrated coastal zone management (ICZM) protocol and the Standardized Actions for Effective Management of MPAs (ISEA) project. Subsequently, in order to assess the status of ESs and impacts on ESs located within the MPA territory, an ecosystem-based approach was implemented and applied to the actions defined for the new regulation proposal. Results show that regulations are in this way valuably enriched by environmental aspects of the MPA that would otherwise be overlooked.
The beginning of 2015 saw a new era within the United Nations: the era of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Built off the previous Millennium Development Goals, this new set of goals included 17 target areas, including, for the first time, an explicit global goal related to the ocean. In June 2017, at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City, a high-level conference surrounding SDG 14: Life Under Water convened. One dimension of goal 14 calls for 10% of the ocean conserved by the year 2020, through sub-target 14.5. That 10% fulfillment is often thought of in terms of areal coverage via marine protected areas (MPAs). While many objectives were laid out for this conference, one of the most prominent objectives was to build on existing partnerships and foster new collaborations. One way to achieve this target was through the creation of the voluntary commitment program. This “Call for Action” came from heads of state and government, as well as high-level representatives from organizations and stakeholder groups. Under this “Call for Action,” 22 actions related to goal 14 were listed for stakeholders to partake in, including an appeal to create voluntary commitments surrounding the oceans. As of September 2017, 1,395 voluntary commitments had been registered through the voluntary commitment portal process, spanning across organizations and disciplines. Here, we analyze these commitments, specifically those related to the fifth sub-target of SDG 14. Commitments were further refined through spotlighting on those under 14.5 that focused on different forms of resilience. The resulting 133 separate codes covered over 12 distinct forms of resilience. Through analyzing commitments, we map out future plans and predict different forms of MPAs. This research shows collaboration and co-production of knowledge linking across the SDGs. This work can be seen as a stepping-stone to the fulfillment of 10% conservation by 2020.