Despite the recognized important ecological role that cetaceans play in the marine environment, their protection is still scarcely enforced in the Mediterranean Sea even though this area is strongly threatened by local human pressures and climate change. The piecemeal of knowledge related to cetaceans' ecology and distribution in the basin undermines the capacity of addressing cetaceans' protection and identifying effective conservation strategies. In this study, an Ecosystem-Based Marine Spatial Planning (EB-MSP) approach is applied to assess human pressures on cetaceans and guide the designation of a conservation area in the Gulf of Taranto, Northern Ionian Sea (Central-eastern Mediterranean Sea). The Gulf of Taranto hosts different cetacean species that accomplish important phases of their life in the area. Despite this fact, the gulf does not fall within any area-based management tools (ABMTs) for cetacean conservation. We pin down the Gulf of Taranto being eligible for the designation of diverse ABMTs for conservation, both legally and non-legally binding. Through a risk-based approach, this study explores the cause-effect relationships that link any human activities and pressures exerted in the study area to potential effects on cetaceans, by identifying major drivers of potential impacts. These were found to be underwater noise, marine litter, ship collision, and competition and disturbance on preys. We draw some recommendations based on different sources of available knowledge produced so far in the area (i.e., empirical evidence, scientific and grey literature, and expert judgement) to boost cetaceans’ conservation. Finally, we stress the need of sectoral coordination for the management of human activities by applying an EB-MSP approach and valuing the establishment of an ABMT in the Gulf of Taranto.
Marine/Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP)
Indonesia harbours a high diversity of cetaceans, yet effective conservation is hampered by a lack of knowledge about cetacean spatial distribution and habitat preferences. This study aimed to address this knowledge gap at an adequate resolution to support national cetacean conservation and management planning. Maximum Entropy (Maxent) modelling was used to map the distribution of 15 selected cetacean species in seven areas within Indonesian waters using recent cetacean presence datasets as well as environmental predictors (topographic and oceanographic variables). We then combined the individual species suitable habitat maps and overlaid them with provincial marine spatial planning (MSP) jurisdictions, marine protected areas (MPAs), oil and gas contract areas, and marine traffic density. Our results reflect a great heterogeneity in distribution among species and within species among different locations. This heterogeneity reflects an interrelated influence of topographic variables and oceanographic processes on the distribution of cetacean species. Bathymetry, distance to- coast and the −200m isobaths, and chlorophyll-a concentration and sea surface temperature were important variables influencing distribution of most species in many regions. Areas rich in species were mainly related to coastal areas or insular-reef complexity, representing high productivity and upwelling-modified waters. Although some important suitable habitats currently fall within MPAs, other areas are not and overlap with oil and gas exploration activities and marine traffic, indicating potentially high risk areas for cetaceans. The results of this study can support national cetacean conservation and management planning, and be used to reduce or avoid adverse anthropogenic threats. We advise to consider currently unprotected suitable cetacean habitats in MPA and MSP development.
Tropical reefs are declining rapidly due to climate changes and local stressors such as water quality deterioration and overfishing. The so-called marginal reefs sustain significant coral cover and growth but are dominated by fewer species adapted to suboptimal conditions to most coral species. However, the dynamics of marginal systems may diverge from that of the archetypical oligotrophic tropical reefs, and it is unclear whether they are more or less susceptible to anthropogenic stress. Here, we present the largest (100 fixed quadrats at five reefs) and longest time series (13 years) of benthic cover data for Southwestern Atlantic turbid zone reefs, covering sites under contrasting anthropogenic and oceanographic forcing. Specifically, we addressed how benthic cover changed among habitats and sites, and possible dominance-shift trends. We found less temporal variation in offshore pinnacles’ tops than on nearshore ones and, conversely, higher temporal fluctuation on offshore pinnacles’ walls than on nearshore ones. In general, the Abrolhos reefs sustained a stable coral cover and we did not record regional-level dominance shifts favoring other organisms. However, coral decline was evidenced in one reef near a dredging disposal site. Relative abundances of longer-lived reef builders showed a high level of synchrony, which indicates that their dynamics fluctuate under similar drivers. Therefore, changes on those drivers could threaten the stability of these reefs. With the intensification of thermal anomalies and land-based stressors, it is unclear whether the Abrolhos reefs will keep providing key ecosystem services. It is paramount to restrain local stressors that contributed to coral reef deterioration in the last decades, once reversal and restoration tend to become increasingly difficult as coral reefs degrade further and climate changes escalate.
Ocean and coastal states around the world are increasingly seeking to better utilize and benefit from their ocean environments, which can be vast in comparison to their land areas. Conflicting human uses, a changing climate, and a desire to ensure long-term sustainability compound the challenge to grow a robust “blue economy.” Consequently, countries are turning to marine spatial planning as a comprehensive management tool to assess and organize present uses of their ocean environments and map for future uses. A wealth of literature describes the importance of marine spatial planning and how it can be used to organize a country’s ocean activities. To date, little attention has been paid to how countries can give their marine spatial planning initiatives the force of law. Designing Marine Spatial Planning Legislation for Implementation: A Guide for Legal Drafters is intended to fill this gap by providing a starting point for the busy government lawyer who has been asked to “draft a marine spatial planning law.” The Guide contains information about essential components and subcomponents of marine spatial planning legislation, describing each and highlighting its role and significance. The Guide also provides examples of textual provisions from existing marine spatial planning laws and regulations, along with sample provisions prepared by the authors, to illustrate how legislative or regulatory language can address each component.
Coastal zones are affected by ocean–land interaction and furthermore, are areas of intense human activity. Exploitation and utilisation of coastal zones directly affect the sustainable development of coastal cities; therefore, it is necessary to conduct space suitability evaluation of such areas to facilitate the rational allocation and sustainable development of coastal resources. In this study, we selected the following factors for a relevant evaluation index, namely land and ocean natural conditions, resource and environmental bearing capacity, exploitation intensity, economic foundation, and social structure. We constructed a guidance and constraint model to evaluate the land and marine spaces of the coastal zone and, subsequently, established criteria for land–sea coordination and integration to facilitate optimum utilisation of coastal zones. Finally, we established an optimal land-use allocation model and relative deviation index to evaluate the scientificity and feasibility of our results. Taking the coastal zone of Ningbo in Zhejiang province, China, as an example, our results showed that (1) The ecological space comprises 5984 km2, accounting for 49.58% of the coastal zone in Ningbo, urban and construction space comprises 997.76 km2, accounting for 8.27%, and agriculture and fishery space comprises 5088.15 km2, accounting for 42.16%, with the ratio of the three types of space being 5:4:1. (2) Generally, the development intensity of the coastal zone in Ningbo is strong in the north and weak in the south, and the overall spatial pattern is urban exploitation in the north, industrial and port traffic areas in the east, and ecological, agricultural, and fishery areas in the south. (3) The relative deviation index of urban and construction space is 1.21, the planned land use exceeds the reasonable demand, the relative deviation indices of ecological space and agricultural and fishery spaces are 0.13 and −0.08, respectively, with the land area showing a decreasing trend. Clearly, development in the coastal zone in Ningbo is too intense. Consequently, it is necessary to strengthen the management and control of land use in this coastal zone to protect its ecological, agricultural, and fishery resources.
There is a growing recognition that conservation strategies should be designed accounting for cross-realm connections, such as freshwater connections to land and sea, to ensure effectiveness of marine spatial protection and minimize perverse outcomes of changing land-use. Yet, examples of integration across realms are relatively scarce, with most targeting priorities in a single realm, such as marine or freshwater, while minimizing threats originating in terrestrial ecosystems. To date, no study has optimized priorities across multiple realms to produce a spatially explicit integrated conservation plan that simultaneously accounts for multiple human activities at a national scale. This represents a major gap in the application of existing cross-realm planning theory. We present a national scale conservation framework for selecting protected areas using a case study of Papua New Guinea (PNG) that integrates multiple systems and ecological connectivity to account for cross-realm benefits and minimize threats of land-use and climate change. The relative importance of both the forests and inshore reef environments to PNG subsistence and commercial livelihoods emphasizes the importance of considering the connections between the land and sea. The plan was commissioned by the PNG Conservation and Environment Protection Authority and identifies a comprehensive set of priorities that meet conservation targets in both the land and sea. Our national-scale prioritization framework is useful for agencies and managers looking to implement actions given multiple objectives, including watershed management and biodiversity protection, and ensures actions are efficient and effective across the land and sea.
Quantitative measurement of the heterogeneity in the intensity of human interference is key to accurately assessing the impact of human activity. The same human activities in different landscape configurations should have different impacts. This study constructed a weighted analysis to describe and measure heterogeneity under the Hemeroby index model framework, based on gradient structures analysis of coastal landscape patterns and dynamic changes in landscape patterns. Shenzhen’s coastal landscape in 2015 was selected as a case study for this method. The results showed heterogeneity in the intensity of human interference that meaning more information with clearer details. The intensity of human interference was generally stronger in the west than in the east. High-intensity human (0.95) were continuously distributed in the west, while in the east these were scattered in towns, ports, coastal beach resorts, etc. The highest intensity human activities were clustered in the 6 km band, and from here these decreased inland but increased to the coastline. The lowest intensity human activities were clustered in the east of the 2 km band.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are essential to human well-being and usually part of spatial planning processes for managing coastal and marine areas. In Brazil, national-level spatial planning processes are still incipient. This article offers a systematic review through a comparative meta-analysis of the literature on MPAs and spatial planning based on the following questions: (I) What topics are investigated in spatial planning in MPAs worldwide? and (II) What are the advances and trends of these topics in Brazilian MPAs? Specific goals of this study are (I) to identify studies on Brazil; and (II) to compare and contrast these with studies performed elsewhere. The PRISMA report was used to select literature, with a focus on three spatial contexts (I) outside Brazil, analyzing studies from other countries; (II) in Brazil; and (III) a case study in Brazil that focuses on a sustainable-use area in northeastern Pará. Studies outside Brazil showed three major groups of themes: (I) planning and tools; (II) stakeholders; and (III) the ecology of non-human species. For the Brazilian context, studies were grouped into five major themes: (I) small-scale fishing practices and conflicts; (II) participation in protected areas; (III) technical aspects of the planning process, (IV) zoning; and (V) mapping. The local case study investigates socio-cultural sustainability and tourism. All identified studies relate to use, but have a greater focus on conservation and, especially abroad, on species and ecosystems. There are few reviews or comparative studies that could help to draw parallels between the different spatial planning settings. We conclude that synthesis work on spatial management strategies worldwide is needed, including the elaboration of frameworks to develop measures to address the widespread lack of data and spatial planning expertise. Collaborative networks of researchers and practitioners are needed for this. The novelty in our study is that it examines MPAs and spatial planning research at three spatial contexts with innovative methodologies to represent the current state of the spatial planning discourse in coastal and marine conservation.
Marine turtles are of conservation concern throughout their range, with past population declines largely due to exploitation through both legal and illegal take, and incidental capture in fisheries. Whilst much research effort has been focused on nesting beaches and elaborating migratory corridors, these species spend the vast majority of their life-cycle in foraging grounds, which are, in some species, quite discrete. To understand and manage these populations, empirical data are needed on distribution, space-use, and habitats to best inform design of protective measures. Here we describe space-use, occupancy, and wide-ranging movements derived from conventional flipper tagging and satellite tracking of sub-adult green turtles (Chelonia mydas) within the coastal waters of the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI; 2011–2017). 623 turtles were fitted with flipper tags, with 69 subsequently recaptured, five of which in international waters. Sixteen individual turtles of between 63 and 81 cm curved carapace length were satellite tracked for a mean 226 days (range: 38–496). Data revealed extended periods of occupancy in the shallow coastal waters within a RAMSAR protected area. Satellite tracking and flipper tagging showed wide-ranging movements, with flipper tag recaptures occurring in waters off Nicaragua (n = 4), and Venezuela (n = 1). Also, four of 16 satellite tracked turtles exhibiting directed movements away (displaced >450 km) from TCI waters traveling through nine geo-political zones within the Caribbean-Atlantic basin, as well as on the High Seas. One turtle traveled to the Central American coast before settling on inshore habitat in Colombia’s waters for 162 days before transmission ceased, indicating ontogenetic dispersal to a distant foraging habitat. These data highlight connectivity throughout the region, displaying key linkages between countries that have previously only been linked by genetic evidence. This study also provides evidence of the importance of the Turks and Caicos Islands marine protected area network and importance of effective management of the sea turtle fishery for regional green turtle populations.
Realistic predictions of climate change effects on natural resources are central to adaptation policies that try to reduce these impacts. However, most current forecasting approaches do not incorporate species-specific, process-based biological information, which limits their ability to inform actionable strategies. Mechanistic approaches, incorporating quantitative information on functional traits, can potentially predict species- and population-specific responses that result from the cumulative impacts of small-scale processes acting at the organismal level, and can be used to infer population-level dynamics and inform natural resources management. Here we present a proof-of-concept study using the European anchovy as a model species that shows how a trait-based, mechanistic species distribution model can be used to explore the vulnerability of marine species to environmental changes, producing quantitative outputs useful for informing fisheries management. We crossed scenarios of temperature and food to generate quantitative maps of selected mechanistic model outcomes (e.g., Maximum Length and Total Reproductive Output). These results highlight changing patterns of source and sink spawning areas as well as the incidence of reproductive failure. This study demonstrates that model predictions based on functional traits can reduce the degree of uncertainty when forecasting future trends of fish stocks. However, to be effective they must be based on high spatial- and temporal resolution environmental data. Such a sensitive and spatially explicit predictive approach may be used to inform more effective adaptive management strategies of resources in novel climatic conditions.