Spatial planning increasingly incorporates theoretical predictions that artificial habitats assist species movement at or beyond range edges, yet evidence for this is uncommon. We conducted surveys of highly mobile fauna (fishes) on artificial habitats (reefs) on the southeastern USA continental shelf to test whether, in comparison to natural reefs, artificial reefs enhance local abundance and biomass of fishes at their poleward range margins. Here, we show that while temperate fishes were more abundant on natural reefs, tropical, and subtropical fishes exhibited higher abundances and biomasses on deep (25–35 m) artificial reefs. Further analyses reveal that this effect depended on feeding guilds because planktivorous and piscivorous but not herbivorous fishes were more abundant on artificial reefs. This is potentially due to heightened prey availability on and structural complexity of artificial reefs. Our findings demonstrate that artificial habitats can facilitate highly mobile species at range edges and suggest these habitats assist poleward species movement.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Spatial protection measures have become ubiquitous in fisheries management and marine conservation. Implemented for diverse objectives from stock rebuilding to biodiversity protection and ecosystem management, spatial measures range from temporary fisheries closures to marine protected areas with varying levels of protection. Ecological and economic benefits from spatial protection have been demonstrated for many reef and demersal species, but remain debated and understudied for highly migratory fishes, such as tunas, billfishes, and pelagic sharks. Here we summarize the spatial extent of fisheries closures implemented by the tuna RFMOs as well as marine protected areas worldwide, which together cover ∼15% of global ocean area. We furthermore synthesize results from modeling and tagging studies as well as fisheries-dependent research to provide an overview of the efficacy and benefits of present spatial protection measures for large pelagic fishes and their associated fisheries. We conclude that (1) many species with known migration routes, aggregating behavior, and philopatry can benefit from spatial protection; but (2) spatial protection alone is insufficient and should be integrated with effective fisheries management to protect and rebuild stocks of highly migratory species. We suggest tailoring spatial protection to the biology of large pelagic fishes, including improved protection for aggregation sites and migration corridors. These features currently appear to be an important—yet overlooked— opportunity to safeguard depleted and recovering stocks and protect pelagic biodiversity. New remote-sensing tools that track pelagic fishes and fishing vessels may provide timely support for improved spatial management in waters that were previously difficult to observe.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is occurring throughout the world, as communities and nation-states seek to resolve spatial conflicts and competition in coastal areas and reduce the impacts of human uses on marine biodiversity. The Marine Plan Partnership (MaPP) in British Columbia, Canada, is a successful example of collaborative marine planning between First Nations governments and the British Columbia provincial government, achieving the protection of ecological and cultural values, while supporting sustainable economic activities. The collaborative planning process was pre-dated by territorial marine planning by each participating First Nation, which allowed for the protection of First Nations governance and economy, cultural values and activities, and resource management priorities.
In 2017, South Africa became the first African country to draft Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) legislation. The underlying legal framework supports the achievement of ecological, social and economic objectives, but a national policy to fast track the oceans economy provides a challenge for ecosystem-based approaches to MSP. During the 2018 International Marine Conservation Congress, we convened a session to present particular challenges that will likely apply to any developing country seeking to increase profits from existing, or proposed, marine activities. Here we present six multi-disciplinary research projects that support ecosystem-based approaches to MSP in South Africa, by addressing the following knowledge gaps and specific key challenges: (1) the lack of data-derived measurements of ecosystem condition (and the need to validate commonly-used proxy measures); (2) the need to develop models to better understand the potential impacts of climate change on food webs and fisheries; (3) the slow implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, and the need to implement existing legal instruments that can support such an approach; (4) the paucity of evidence supporting dynamic ocean management strategies; (5) the requirement to manage conflicting objectives in growing marine tourism industries; and (6) the need to adopt systems thinking approaches to support integrated ocean management. We provide examples of specific research projects designed to address these challenges. The ultimate goal of this research is to advance a more integrated approach to ocean management in South Africa, using tools that can be applied in countries with similar socio-political and environmental contexts.
Coastal and marine areas represent an increasingly important and relevant action space for spatial planning. However, to a large extent marine (or maritime) spatial planning has emerged separately from terrestrial spatial planning, constituting its own epistemic community. In particular, previous studies indicate that Marine Spatial Planning often follows an expert-driven resource management rationale focused on sea-use regulation. This paper examines practices of Marine Spatial Planning and Integrated Coastal Zone Management at the German North Sea coast. The paper focuses in particular on the engagement of spatial planners with these practices and their perception of their role therein. We seek to understand what form spatial planning at the coast and at sea currently takes and how this might develop in the future in response to current and anticipated policy developments. We argue for the necessity of a communicative, cross-sectoral approach to spatial planning at sea, providing a spatial vision for the future that extends from the Exclusive Economic Zone to encompass both the coastal waters of the federal states and the land-sea interface in a substantive manner.
The “Joint Roadmap to Accelerate Marine Spatial Planning Processes Worldwide”, adopted by IOC-UNESCO and the European Commission (DG-MARE) in 2017, highlights the growing commitment of policy and decision-makers in developing transboundary collaboration relevant to Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) as a mechanism for promoting sustainable sea use. While collaboration across borders represents positive progress towards global environmental stewardship and international cooperation, transboundary MSP can present challenges and obstacles as it can be a complex process involving different parties and stakeholders across multiple levels of governance. In this article, we examine the different enabling factors and good practices that emerge from two different DG-MARE-funded knowledge exchange projects on transboundary MSP, whose findings led to the development of the Joint Roadmap: the Baltic SCOPE Project, and the Study on International Best Practices for Cross-Border MSP. Recognising that MSP processes are specific to their respective contexts, we aim to provide guidance and support towards the development of effective collaboration in future transboundary MSP initiatives by offering inspiration in the approaches and tools used elsewhere. We hope this will enable others to reflect on the benefits of adopting a strategic approach to transboundary collaboration designed to align marine plans across different jurisdictions.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) processes seek to better manage ocean spaces by balancing ecological, social and economic objectives using public and participatory processes. To meet this challenge, MSP approaches and tools have evolved globally, from local to national scales. At two International Marine Conservation Congresses (2016 and 2018), MSP practitioners and researchers from diverse geographic, technical and socio-economic contexts met to share advances in practical approaches and spatial tools to achieve multi-objective MSP. Here we share the lessons learned and commonalities that emerged from studies conducted in Belize, Canada, South Africa, Seychelles, the United Kingdom and the United States on a number of topics related to advancing MSP. We identify seven important themes that we believe are broadly relevant to any multi-objective MSP process: (1) indigenous and local knowledge should inform planning goals and objectives; (2) transparent and evidence-based approaches can reduce user conflict; (3) simple ecosystem service models and scenarios can facilitate multi-objective planning; (4) trade-off analyses can help balance diverse objectives; (5) ecosystem services may assist planning for high value-data poor Blue Economy sectors; (6) game theoretic decision rules can help to deliver fair, equitable and win–win spatial allocation solutions; and (7) strategic mapping products can facilitate decision making amongst stakeholders from different sectors. Some of these themes are evident in MSP processes that have been completed in the previous decade, but the fast-evolving field of MSP is addressing increasingly more complex objectives, and practitioners need to respond with practical approaches and spatial tools that can address this complexity.
Ship traffic in Northwestern European seas is intense and continuing to increase, posing a threat to vulnerable seabird species as a result of disturbance. However, information on species-specific effects of ship traffic on seabirds at sea is limited, and tools are needed to prioritize species and areas to support the integration of conservation needs in Marine Spatial Planning. In this study, we investigated the responses of 26 characteristic seabird species in the German North and Baltic Seas to experimental ship disturbance using large datasets collected as part of the seabirds at Sea counts. We developed a Disturbance Vulnerability Index (DVI) for ship traffic combining indicators for species’ shyness, escape costs, and compensatory potential, and analyzed the relationships among shyness, escape costs, and vulnerability. The DVI was calculated using the following eight indicators: escape distance, proportion of escaping birds, proportion of birds swimming prior to disturbance, wing loading, habitat use flexibility, biogeographic population size, adult survival rate, European threat and conservation status. Species-specific disturbance responses differed considerably, with common scoters (Melanitta nigra) and red-throated loons (Gavia stellata) showing the longest escape distances and highest proportions of escaping individuals. Red-throated loon, black guillemot (Cepphus grylle), Arctic loon (Gavia arctica), velvet scoter (Melanitta fusca), and red-breasted merganser (Mergus serrator) had the highest DVI values, and gulls and terns had the lowest. Contrary to theoretical considerations, shyness correlated positively with escape costs, with the shyest species also being the most vulnerable among the species studied. The strong reactions of several species to disturbance by ships suggest the need for areas with little or no disturbance in some marine protected areas, to act as a refuge for vulnerable species. This DVI can be used in combination with distribution data to identify the areas most vulnerable to disturbance.
The implementation of maritime/marine spatial planning (MSP) strategies and management actions is often sought out by means of holistic, sustainability seeking processes, recognizing the connectivity and interdependences of all ecosystem elements, including humans. In this context, overall sustainability is reached when social, environmental and economic sustainability are equally considered. However, the integration of social aspects and views, alongside other, non-political, elements of the social dimension, has been found to lack well-rounded consideration in processes supporting decision-making. One identified problem is the absence of an existing framework that defines social variables and dimension components in ocean management approaches. This paper assesses the social context important to build such a definition within MSP. Based on existing literature and social sciences research it provides an outline for the concept of a social dimension in MSP and suggests definitions to further discussion and aid in the development of socially integrative guidelines. Recommendations are provided to support necessary future research and enhance social justice and inclusion within existing planning processes. This is important to avoid and mitigate negative implications at social levels and to motivate the development of a new approach to ocean sustainability and integration of all planning dimensions.
As one of the first countries to implement marine spatial planning, known in China as marine functional zoning (MFZ), China has developed MFZ into an integral part in its territorial spatial planning. Today, MFZ has become an important basis for the development, regulation and integrated management of marine space as well as an important tool for the management of its sea area, the protection of the marine environment, and development of its marine economy. This paper reviews China's MFZ system from a perspective of institutions, technologies and management requirements, and studies the resultant effects of MFZ in applications for sea-use projects, marine environmental monitoring and marine ecosystem protection by means of quantitative and comparative analysis. It is concluded that China's MFZ promotes the rational allocation of marine resources and the coordination of marine spaces for social and economic development based on its important role in sea-use project approval, marine environmental monitoring, and marine environmental protection. After three generations of evolution, it has formed a relatively mature classification system, technical system and institutional arrangement for China's MFZ with targets specified at three administrative levels and management requirements defined for different marine functional zones, which in turn facilitate the implementation of MFZ. China now is aiming to build the next generation of MFZ into a land and sea integrated zoning plan guided by the principles of ecosystem-based management. The well-established institutional arrangement and technical systems of MFZ, and the experiences accumulated in practice are available for reference by other countries.