Polar oceans, though remote in location, are not immune to the accumulation of plastic debris. The present study, investigated for the first time, the abundance, distribution and composition of microplastics in sub-surface waters of the Arctic Central Basin. Microplastic sampling was carried out using the bow water system of icebreaker Oden (single depth: 8.5 m) and CTD rosette sampler (multiple depths: 8–4369 m). Potential microplastics were isolated and analysed using Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (FT-IR). Bow water sampling revealed that the median microplastic abundance in near surface waters of the Polar Mixed Layer (PML) was 0.7 particles m−3. Regarding the vertical distribution of microplastics in the ACB, microplastic abundance (particles m−3) in the different water masses was as follows: Polar Mixed Layer (0–375) > Deep and bottom waters (0–104) > Atlantic water (0–95) > Halocline i.e. Atlantic or Pacific (0–83).
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Marine Protected Areas are considered key tools for conservation of coastal ecosystems. However, many reserves are characterized by several problems mainly related to inadequate zonings that often do not protect high biodiversity and propagule supply areas precluding, at the same time, economic important zones for local interests. The Gulf of Naples is here employed as a study area to assess the effects of inclusion of different conservation features and costs in reserve design process. In particular eight scenarios are developed using graph theory to identify propagule source patches and fishing and exploitation activities as costs-in-use for local population. Scenarios elaborated by MARXAN, software commonly used for marine conservation planning, are compared using multivariate analyses (MDS, PERMANOVA and PERMDISP) in order to assess input data having greatest effects on protected areas selection.
MARXAN is heuristic software able to give a number of different correct results, all of them near to the best solution. Its outputs show that the most important areas to be protected, in order to ensure long-term habitat life and adequate propagule supply, are mainly located around the Gulf islands. In addition through statistical analyses it allowed us to prove that different choices on conservation features lead to statistically different scenarios. The presence of propagule supply patches forces MARXAN to select almost the same areas to protect decreasingly different MARXAN results and, thus, choices for reserves area selection.
The multivariate analyses applied here to marine spatial planning proved to be very helpful allowing to identify i) how different scenario input data affect MARXAN and ii) what features have to be taken into account in study areas characterized by peculiar biological and economic interests.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) seeks to reduce conflicts and environmental impacts, and promote sustainable use of marine ecosystems. Existing MSP approaches have successfully determined how to achieve target levels of ocean area for particular uses while minimizing costs and impacts, but they do not provide a framework that derives analytical solutions in order to co-ordinate siting of multiple uses while balancing the effects of planning on each sector in the system. We develop such a framework for guiding offshore aquaculture (bivalve, finfish, and kelp farming) development in relation to existing sectors and environmental concerns (wild-capture fisheries, viewshed quality, benthic pollution, and disease spread) in California, USA. We identify > 250,000 MSP solutions that generate significant seafood supply and billions of dollars in revenue with minimal impacts (often < 1%) on existing sectors and the environment. We filter solutions to identify candidate locations for high-value, low-impact aquaculture development. Finally, we confirm the expectation of substantial value of our framework over conventional planning focused on maximizing individual objectives.
Presentation given at the Kick Off Meeting of the EU funded project I-STORMS, Venice, 2 March 2018.
In recent years very large marine protected areas (VLMPAs) have become the dominant form of spatial protection in the marine environment. Whilst seen as a holistic and geopolitically achievable approach to conservation, there is currently a mismatch between the size of VLMPAs, and the data available to underpin their establishment and inform on their management. Habitat mapping has increasingly been adopted as a means of addressing paucity in biological data, through use of environmental proxies to estimate species and community distribution. Small-scale studies have demonstrated environmental-biological links in marine systems. Such links, however, are rarely demonstrated across larger spatial scales in the benthic environment. As such, the utility of habitat mapping as an effective approach to the ecosystem-based management of VLMPAs remains, thus far, largely undetermined.
The aim of this study was to assess the ecological relevance of broadscale landscape mapping. Specifically we test the relationship between broad-scale marine landscapes and the structure of their benthic faunal communities. We focussed our work at the sub-Antarctic island of South Georgia, site of one of the largest MPAs in the world. We demonstrate a statistically significant relationship between environmentally derived landscape mapping clusters, and the composition of presence-only species data from the region. To demonstrate this relationship required specific re-sampling of historical species occurrence data to balance biological rarity, biological cosmopolitism, range-restricted sampling and fine-scale heterogeneity between sampling stations. The relationship reveals a distinct biological signature in the faunal composition of individual landscapes, attributing ecological relevance to South Georgia's environmentally derived marine landscape map. We argue therefore, that landscape mapping represents an effective framework for ensuring representative protection of habitats in management plans. Such scientific underpinning of marine spatial planning is critical in balancing the needs of multiple stakeholders whilst maximising conservation payoff.
To design effective marine reserves and support fisheries, more information on fishing patterns and impacts for targeted species is needed, as well as better understanding of their key habitats. However, fishing impacts vary geographically and are difficult to disentangle from other factors that influence targeted fish distributions. We developed a set of fishing effort and habitat layers at high resolution and employed machine learning techniques to create regional-scale seascape models and predictive maps of biomass and body length of targeted reef fishes for the main Hawaiian Islands. Spatial patterns of fishing effort were shown to be highly variable and seascape models indicated a low threshold beyond which targeted fish assemblages were severely impacted. Topographic complexity, exposure, depth, and wave power were identified as key habitat variables which influenced targeted fish distributions and defined productive habitats for reef fisheries. High targeted reef fish biomass and body length were found in areas not easily accessed by humans, while model predictions when fishing effort was set to zero showed these high values to be more widely dispersed among suitable habitats. By comparing current targeted fish distributions with those predicted when fishing effort was removed, areas with high recovery potential on each island were revealed, with average biomass recovery of 517% and mean body length increases of 59% on Oahu, the most heavily fished island. Spatial protection of these areas would aid recovery of nearshore coral reef fisheries.
Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is defined as an integrated and comprehensive approach to ocean governance. Planning has the potential to ensure ecosystem and biodiversity conservation and establish rational use of marine space, combining activities relating to extraction industries, maritime transport, fisheries and related services and infrastructure. This article looks at what part transnational and national marine spatial planning can play in the Arctic. There is no international convention on marine spatial planning, and there are no requirements under international law that marine plans, as such, should be prescribed by law. MSP-regulation in different jurisdictions is diversified. It is difficult to claim that the international rights and obligations of a state under UNCLOS, CBD or regional instruments such as OSPAR, need to be fulfilled through the instrument of marine spatial planning. The comprehensive EU approach to marine planning is thus of particular interest. The EU members Denmark, Finland and Sweden do not have coastlines bordering the Arctic. EU has no direct influence over the regulation of marine spatial planning in Arctic marine areas through its relationship to Greenland or Norway, states with a close connection to the EU. The status of marine spatial planning in the European Arctic is thus dependent on the policies of Norway, Greenland and Russia. It is an open question whether spatial planning will be used for preventive and precautionary purposes in the Arctic, before the area is overwhelmed by marine activities and spatial conflicts.
Wind energy is considered one of the most promising clean technologies for power generation. For the sustainable development of this industry, it is essential that planning integrate spatial zoning with estimates of installed capacity and energy production. A Geographic Information System-based methodology was developed to propose planning for wind farms from a spatial perspective in the extreme south of Brazil. Through multi-criteria evaluation, the feasibility of the study area for this activity was analyzed according to suitability and constraint criteria. The assessment of suitability was based on wind energy exploitation, while the constraint analysis was based on the environmental legislation, social aspects and exclusion areas. In the suitability analysis, importance weights were assigned to the variables according to the unprecedented combination of the Delphi, linear and geometric Analytic Hierarchy Process methods. Constraint and suitability maps were established for the wind farms. The integration of both aspects allowed the generation of a spatial zoning map. Based on this zoning, installed capacity was calculated according to technical characteristics of a reference wind turbine. Finally, energy production of the suitable zones was estimated. The proposed spatial planning aims to contribute to the licensing processes in southern Brazil. Furthermore, the methodology developed can be replicated in other similar case studies.
Oceans and seas are adversely affected by a large number of anthropogenic pressures. The need to better integrate the policies of different sectors, which impact the oceans is generally seen. Different countries strive to implement a more integrated approach for the management and protection of their marine areas. Important tools which can support this process are marine spatial planning and marine protected areas. If a single administrative body is made responsible for the entire task of sustainable marine use and conservation, this could help to bundle responsibilities. Existing approaches often do not meet expectations. Reasons for this are diverse, ranging from insufficient governmental and scientific resources, lack of political will or a federal political system that complicates cooperation and coordination.
Ocean governance frameworks are aimed at achieving sustainable use of the marine environment and its finite resources. They are increasingly being developed and implemented worldwide. Although the importance of evaluating the success of integrated ocean management initiatives is widely recognized, so is its complexity, and there is still limited knowledge or empirical experience on how to actually carry out such an evaluation. This research aims to develop a framework to evaluate the performance of marine spatial planning (MSP) (focusing on the tangible outcomes of such initiatives). Portugal’s maritime area totals c. 3,800,000 km2. As one of the world’s largest maritime nations, and with its ocean governance framework finalised in 2015, Portugal emerges as a relevant case study for the development of a mechanism to evaluate performance of its MSP system. A step-by-step participatory approach was designed to develop a set of indicators that could constitute the core of an evaluation mechanism of the performance of the Portuguese MSP system. The resulting fifteen indicators cover all aspects of an IPOO framework (inputs, process, outputs, outcomes) relevant in an MSP context (data and information base, transparency, aspects related to conflict, and to economic activities such as levels of investment and jobs), while including contextual indicators related to the state of the marine environment. These indicators thus simultaneously allow an assessment of the economic, social, and environmental effects of MSP, including some integrative high-level indicators such as well-being. This research demonstrates the interest and usefulness of using a participatory approach to the development of a comprehensive performance evaluation mechanism of Portuguese MSP. It exemplifies a shift towards a new, participatory, approach to the monitoring and evaluation stages of the MSP cycle, which may constitute a useful tool in the emerging field of MSP evaluation in Europe and beyond.