Many coastal habitats are actually replaced with hard infrastructures which alter the taxonomic/functional structure of natural ecosystems worldwide. Few information about habitat loss and species composition in South American coasts are available compared with other coasts. Here, I examine the distribution and identity of coastal artificial infrastructures, especially artificial breakwaters, present along the coast of Chile and the proportion of natural habitat loss derived from their construction. Differences in species taxonomic/functional composition in artificial breakwaters and natural habitats present in northern Chile are also examined. I also propose/discuss opportunities for coastal planning based on habitat rehabilitation and ecological engineering in Chile, which could guide future marine infrastructures construction. An important proportion of natural habitat has been replaced by artificial coastal defences along the coast of Chile, accounting for about 200 km of total coastal length. Given their specific uses and functions, artificial granite breakwaters are one of the most important coastal infrastructures present in Chile (62% of the total of artificial breakwaters present). Differences in taxonomic/functional structure between artificial breakwaters and natural adjacent habitats are significant, and appear related to contrasting spatial heterogeneity. Artificial infrastructures like granite breakwaters can facilitate presence of native and non-native species, which live in the marine-terrestrial interphase (crabs, rats). The present study highlights how the recent proliferation of coastal artificial infrastructures is replacing important natural habitats in Chile, and how the taxonomic/functional structure of coastal ecosystems can be negatively impacted. Furthermore, this study showed how artificial infrastructures can have direct consequences for human-health security and specific guidelines can be conducted to buffer impacts on ecosystem structure to match social livelihood and wellness.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Sustainable development is the framing concept assuring that resources are exploited while maintaining the ability of these natural resources to provide for future generations. With human dependence on marine resources increasing, Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) has been identified as a suitable approach to ensure sustainable development. In order to achieve this, the core principles and elements of EBM should be operational in the maritime/marine spatial planning (MSP) process to ensure that human activities in marine space are ordered to attain ecological, economic and social objectives. However, policies from various states and organizations sometimes do not set a clear precedence for translating principles of EBM and present different and complex approaches to an ecosystem-based marine spatial planning (EB-MSP). Again, a feasible methodology for EBM to be operational in MSP is still vague. This paper therefore presents results from a survey and review of MSP initiatives in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Results showed that essential MSP steps and elements such as adaptive management, setting of planning boundaries, understanding and analysing the ecosystem and future conditions are not fully operational. This paper focuses on a methodology for EB-MSP and gives recommendations on how to ensure that EBM is operational at each stage of an MSP process. It stresses the importance of setting planning boundaries beyond jurisdictional borders to consider bio/eco-regions and cover near-shore waters, the need to have a cross-sector integration, understanding the ecosystem through having an ecosystem service perspective and having a legal framework to ensure that results from monitoring and evaluating of plans are adapted through review and revision.
Effective coastal management is integrative and aims to incorporate the wide variety of user needs, values and interests associated with coastal environments. This requires understanding how different user groups relate to coastal environments as ‘places’, imbued with values and meanings, rather than simply ‘spaces’. Accordingly, tools and techniques that can capture and convey place-based information have potential for supporting coastal management strategies. This suggests a role for geovisualizations that inclusively reflect the range of values and meanings through immersion and realism. The current paper aims to advance coastal geovisualization research by firstly, examining relationships with, understandings of, and behaviours toward coastal places, and secondly, using this insight to create recommendations for building geovisualizations that can effectively facilitate collaboration among conflicting user groups. The paper identifies different coastal user groups using a cultural model framework, and through a review of previous research on coastal communities, it examines how the values and interests of these user groups influence understandings and perceptions of coastal places. Recommendations for geovisualizations emerging from this research include full navigability, dynamic elements, and flexibility in the way that they allow for continual modification and scenario building.
Marine spatial planning (MSP), a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic, and social objectives, is today generally accepted as the preferred tool to promote sustainable development of our increasingly degrading marine environment. However, as implementation of MSP grows worldwide, so does the realisation of the importance of effectively assessing performance of that implementation, to ensure that MSP delivers its maximum potential. While some evaluation initiatives are already in place, dedicated research on the evaluation component of MSP is a pressing need. Portugal is one of Europe’s and the world’s largest maritime nations, and, in line with EU policy and guidelines, has just completed its legal framework for MSP. As the spatial plan for the c. 4 M km2 of Portugal’s national maritime space (NMS) is being developed, it is critical that it is coupled from the onset with the discussion on how its performance (the success of those actions) will be evaluated. This study aimed to assist the emerging Portuguese MSP system, in the development of an evaluation mechanism to assess its performance, based on a set of national, strategic level indicators scoped out through a participatory approach. The methodology used was based on a combination of secondary research (literature review) and primary research (data production). The latter included two components both involving MSP stakeholders: i) an analysis of the Portuguese legal framework for MSP; ii) the development of an indicator system to evaluate MSP performance designed as a five-step iterative process and based on legally stated objectives of MSP. A framework for evaluating performance of Portuguese MSP is proposed. Indicators selected are related to the EU’s eleven principles for MSP and the legally stated objectives of Portuguese MSP. They cover key aspects of MSP: the ecosystem-approach to management, data and knowledge base, transparency, stakeholder participation, improved coordination, legal certainty, and articulation at the boundaries of MSP (land-sea integration, and cross-border cooperation). This research constituted a first approach to a mechanism to evaluate MSP performance for the entire Portuguese NMS from the outset of the planning process. It was unique in Portugal in fully engaging a diversity of MSP practitioners and stakeholders in this stage of planning evaluation, a burgeoning approach at the international level. As such, while the proposed mechanism was focused on the Portuguese case, it has the potential to be useful, relevant and adaptable to other coastal nations in Europe and beyond.
Effective coastal planning incorporates the variety of user needs, values, and interests associated with coastal environments. This requires understanding how people relate to coastal environments as “places,” imbued with values and meanings, and accordingly, tools that can capture place and connect with people's “sense of place” have the potential for supporting effective coastal management strategies. Realistic, immersive geographical visualizations, i.e., geovisualizations, theoretically hold potential to serve such a role in coastal planning; however, significant research gaps exist around this application context. Firstly, place theory and geovisualizations are rarely explicitly linked in the same studies, leaving questions around how to model “coastal place,” as well as coastal space. Secondly, geovisualization work has focused on terrestrial environments, and research on how to realistically model coastal places is currently in its infancy. The current study addresses the research gaps by developing a coastal geovisualization under place-based considerations, and then examining its capacity as a tool for connecting with people's sense of place. The research uses Sidney Spit in the Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (BC, Canada) as a study site, and a geovisualization was developed using a combination of ArcGIS, Adobe Photoshop, Trimble SketchUp, and Unity3D. Focus groups were assembled involving Parks Canada staff and Greater Victoria Area residents, and the geovisualization was assessed in terms of its representation of a real-world coastal place and ability for connecting with sense of place. Findings from the study indicate that the presence of certain elements in coastal geovisualizations can contribute to realism and sense of place, such as people, dogs, birds, marine life, vegetation, and boats; however, simultaneously, deficiencies in numbers and varieties of these elements can detract from realism and sense of place. In addition, incorporation of soundscape and viewshed elements both demonstrated as significant to the tool's ability to connect with sense of place, with the latter potentially being more significant among those with higher familiarity with the real-world place. Beach textures were also found to be important for the geovisualization's ability to connect with sense of place; however, this ability can be compromised when running versions of the tool with lower graphical resolution.
Vessel collision is a recognised threat to sea turtles residing in coastal waters. Although management systems (i.e. Go Slow Zones) are in place in some areas to minimise vessel-turtle collisions, incidents may persist when the spatial extent of the protection and habitat use by animals do not match or when turtle populations increase. In Queensland, Australia, most incidents are recorded in the Moreton Bay region despite enforcement of the Go Slow Zones in some of the bay's shallow water zones (water depth ≤ 5 m). Our study investigated the degree to which the current Go Slow Zones provide protection to sea turtles in Moreton Bay, and the potential for improvement of current management initiatives. We tracked 18 green (Chelonia mydas) and 20 loggerhead (Caretta caretta) turtles using Argos-linked Fastloc GPS tags for periods between 22 and 999 d, and examined how they used habitat in relation to the Go Slow Zones and water depth. We found that the highest protection was provided to green turtles (39%) and loggerhead turtles (55%) residing in the eastern side of Moreton Bay, where most of the current Go Slow Zones are located. However, we also found that the current Go Slow Zones offer little or no protection to turtles using southern, western and northern Moreton Bay, or any deeper water zones (water depth > 5 m). Given the frequent use of the shallow areas by our study turtles, if all shallow zones in Moreton Bay were to be designated as Go Slow Zones, nearly a half or more of their habitats could be protected from vessel operation. Additionally shallow zones plus a 1.2 km, 2.4 km, or 3.6 km buffer could protect ≥80%, ≥90% or ≥95% of their habitats as the extra areas cover the deeper zones adjacent to the shallow zones. Our findings are highly informative to conservation managers when revising or developing Go Slow Zones in Moreton Bay, with potential application to the management of other coastal areas used by sea turtles globally.
Around the globe, increasing human activities in coastal and offshore waters have created complex conflicts between different sectors competing for space and between the use and conservation of ocean resources. Like other users, aquaculture proponents evaluate potential offshore sites based primarily on their biological suitability, technical feasibility, and cost considerations. Recently, Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) has been promoted as an approach for achieving more ecosystem-based marine management, with a focus on balancing multiple management objectives in a holistic way. Both industry-specific and multiple-use planners all rely heavily on spatially-referenced data, Geographic Information System (GIS)-based analytical tools, and Decision Support Systems (DSS) to explore a range of options and assess their costs and benefits. Although ecological factors can currently be assessed fairly comprehensively, better tools are needed to evaluate and incorporate the economic and social considerations that will also be critical to identifying potential sites and achieving successful marine plans. This section highlights the advances in GIS-based DSS in relation to their capability for aquaculture site selection and their integration into multiple-use MSP. A special case of multiple-use planning—the potential co-location of offshore wind energy and aquaculture—is also discussed, including an example in the German EEZ of the North Sea.
The ecosystem services approach has increasingly emerged as a core requirement of ecosystem-based management of the marine space. In this context, explicit quantification and mapping of ecosystem services is considered key. This research proposes a methodological framework that combines Geographic Information Systems and participatory techniques to map the ecosystem service of recreation opportunities, provided by coastal and marine ecosystems. Attributes selected to represent the ecosystem service were scenic beauty, unique natural resources, accessibility, cultural sites and tourism use aptitude. High values of the indicator concentrated on areas that combined the presence of unique marine fauna (e.g. Southern Elephant Seal, Mirounga leonina), terrestrial and marine routs, and areas of high scenic beauty, associated to the presence of glaciers. These areas corresponded to the southern part of Almirantazgo Sound, the northern part of Navarino Island on the coast of the Beagle Channel, and to areas surrounding Wulaia fishermen's cove. Zones showing highest values of the indicator 81–100) comprised 0.89% of the study area and a small proportion of them coincided with areas of aptitude for aquaculture, which represents potential use conflicts, as long as aquaculture concessions remain operative. In turn, the areas of lowest values 0–20) were located offshore in open sea, and comprised 0.49% of the study area. Overall, the methodology demonstrated the capacity to identify potential recreation areas to inform regional decision making regarding marine use planning.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) should assist managers in guiding human activities toward sustainable practices and in minimizing user conflicts in our oceans. A necessary first step is to quantify spatial patterns of marine assemblages in order to understand the ecosystem's structure, function, and services. However, the large spatial scale, high economic value, and density of human activities in nearshore habitats often makes quantifying this component of marine ecosystems especially daunting. To address this challenge, we developed an assessment method that employs abiotic proxies to rapidly characterize marine assemblages in nearshore benthic environments with relatively high resolution. We evaluated this assessment method along 300 km of the State of Maine's coastal shelf (<100 m depth), a zone where high densities of buoyed lobster traps typically preclude extensive surveys by towed sampling gear (i.e., otter trawls). During the summer months of 2010–2013, we implemented a stratified-random survey using a small remotely operated vehicle that allowed us to work around lobster buoys and to quantify all benthic megafauna to species. Stratifying by substrate, depth, and coastal water masses, we found that abiotic variables explained a significant portion of variance (37–59%) in benthic species composition, diversity, biomass, and economic value. Generally, the density, diversity, and biomass of assemblages significantly increased with the substrate complexity (i.e., from sand-mud to ledge). The diversity, biomass, and economic value of assemblages also decreased significantly with increasing depth. Last, demersal fish densities, sessile invertebrate densities, species diversity, and assemblage biomass increased from east to west, while the abundance of mobile invertebrates and economic value decreased, corresponding mainly to the contrasting water mass characteristics of the Maine Coastal Current system (i.e., summertime current direction, speed, and temperature). Integrating modeled predictions with existing GIS layers for abiotic conditions allowed us to scale up important assemblage attributes to define key foundational ecological principles of MSP and to find priority regions where some bottom-disturbing activities would have minimal impact to benthic assemblages. We conclude that abiotic proxies can be strong forcing functions for the assembly of marine communities and therefore useful tools for spatial extrapolations of marine assemblages in congested (heavily used) nearshore habitats.
The coasts hold great potential for ‘Blue Growth’, and major industrial and infrastructural developments are already happening there. Such growth, however, comes with risks to marine ecosystems and coastal communities. Competition for space and resources intensifies, turning the coast into an area of social and political conflict, including contestation about knowledge. I argue that there is a need for institutional innovation that allows knowledge integration and conflict resolution to be more interactive and synergistic. The paper critically analyses discourses and practices of interactive governance and co-management while visiting Foucault’s power/knowledge concept for investigating the normativity and effects of participation discourses and practices. This is followed by a discussion of multiple governance paths and their different combinations of resources and forms of expert and local social and ecological knowledge so as to see how they can help resolve conflicts, and enhance governability within maritime spatial planning (MSP) in a way that also serves to create a level playing field for all stakeholders. A particular focus will be on the small-scale fisheries sector, which is the lest powerful stakeholder and the most vulnerable to external pressures. Will MSP help to empower or further marginalize small-scale fishers and fisheries communities?