This report presents the health status of 319 sites along the MAR, analyzes the changes over the last decade for several indicators and proposes actions to improve reef health.
Anthropic activities are directly related to the contamination of aquatic ecosystems owing to the release of numerous chemicals from agricultural and urban waste. These contaminants cause environmental degradation and a decrease in the availability of water quality. The objective of this search was to evaluate the efficiency of physicochemical, chemical, and microbiological tests; extraction of chlorophyll a; and genetic parameters to identify anthropic activities and weather condition effects on the stream water quality and the consequences of its use by the population. The physicochemical parameters were within the limits allowed by the Brazilian law. However, contamination by metals (Cd 0.510 mg L−1, Co 0.405 mg L−1, and Ni 0.316 mg L−1) has been found at various collection points to be more than the allowable values. The antibiotic oxytetracycline was detected in stream water in quantities of up to 89 μg L−1. In relation to microbiological contamination, Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas spp. have been isolated. The averages of chlorophyll a were up to 0.15558 mg cm−2. Genetic tools identified greater number of micronuclei and DNA damage in periods that showed lower rainfall rates and lower amounts of metals. The analysis used for monitoring was efficient to verify the interference that animal breeding and planting of different cultures have caused on that stream. Thus, the continued use of this water for drinking, irrigation of vegetables, and recreational activities makes the population susceptible to contamination by bacteria and creates conditions for the development of genetic alterations in the long run.
Sustainable fisheries management is key to restoring and maintaining ecological function and benefits to people, but it requires accurate information about patterns of resource use, particularly fishing pressure. In most coral reef fisheries and other data-poor contexts, obtaining such information is challenging and remains an impediment to effective management. We developed the most comprehensive regional view of shore-based fishing effort and catch published to date, to show detailed fishing patterns from across the main Hawaiian Islands (MHI). We reveal these regional patterns through fisher “creel” surveys conducted by local communities, state agencies, academics, and/or environmental organizations, at 18 sites, comprising >10,000 h of monitoring across a range of habitats and human influences throughout the MHI. All creel surveys included in this study except for one were previously published in some form (peer-reviewed articles or gray literature reports). Here, we synthesize these studies to document spatial patterns in nearshore fisheries catch, effort, catch rates (i.e., catch-per-unit-effort (CPUE)), and catch disposition (i.e., use of fish after catch is landed). This effort provides for a description of general regional patterns based on these location-specific studies. Line fishing was by far the dominant gear type employed. The most efficient gear (i.e., highest CPUE) was spear (0.64 kg h−1), followed closely by net (0.61 kg h−1), with CPUE for line (0.16 kg h−1) substantially lower than the other two methods. Creel surveys also documented illegal fishing activity across the studied locations, although these activities were not consistent across sites. Overall, most of the catch was not sold, but rather retained for home consumption or given away to extended family, which suggests that cultural practices and food security may be stronger drivers of fishing effort than commercial exploitation for coral reef fisheries in Hawai‘i. Increased monitoring of spatial patterns in nearshore fisheries can inform targeted management, and can help communities develop a more informed understanding of the drivers of marine resource harvest and the state of the resources, in order to maintain these fisheries for food security, cultural practices, and ecological value.
Understanding the decision-making process of fish when they escape from approaching spearfishers has a crucial role in elucidating the management conflicts in reef systems. Here, we used the Flight Initiation Distances – FID metric to assess how the management strategies, including fishing and tourism reef sites, could distinctively influence the escape behavior of the target reef fish. This work presents the differences in wariness of three reef fish species with a distinctive history of catches by spearfishing, Epinephelus adscensionis, Acanthurus bahianus, and Chaetodon striatus, in a multiple-use Marine Protected Area (MPA) in the Brazilian Northeastern coast. Our findings demonstrate that the protection level has a consistent effect on wariness of the target species, but the use of tourism sites as a conservation strategy to fishing pressure could be controversial. Furthermore, the species-specific traits can clearly express how the risk perception varies among species and can simplify the understanding of flight measure results. Taken together with other data, e.g. quantitative data (biomass, abundance), changes in the fish behavior, such as escape decisions, may add important knowledge to the monitoring of marine protected areas, especially in the Brazilian coast where the effectiveness of these MPAs is often questioned. The use of FID measurements as a management tool could improve the monitoring policies in MPAs, and reveal reefs systems where human activities should be reduced or banned.
Databases are systematic tools to archive and manage information related to marine mammal stranding and mortality events. Stranding response networks, governmental authorities and non-governmental organizations have established regional or national stranding networks and have developed unique standard stranding response and necropsy protocols to document and track stranded marine mammal demographics, signalment and health data. The objectives of this study were to (1) describe and review the current status of marine mammal stranding and mortality databases worldwide, including the year established, types of database and their goals; and (2) summarize the geographic range included in the database, the number of cases recorded, accessibility, filter and display methods. Peer-reviewed literature was searched, focussing on published databases of live and dead marine mammal strandings and mortality and information released from stranding response organizations (i.e. online updates, journal articles and annual stranding reports). Databases that were not published in the primary literature or recognized by government agencies were excluded. Based on these criteria, 10 marine mammal stranding and mortality databases were identified, and strandings and necropsy data found in these databases were evaluated. We discuss the results, limitations and future prospects of database development. Future prospects include the development and application of virtopsy, a new necropsy investigation tool. A centralized web-accessed database of all available postmortem multimedia from stranded marine mammals may eventually support marine conservation and policy decisions, which will allow the use of marine animals as sentinels of ecosystem health, working towards a ‘One Ocean-One Health’ ideal.
Due to large-scale habitat losses and increasing pressures, benthic habitats in general, and perhaps oyster beds in particular, are commonly in decline and severely threatened on regional and global scales. Appropriate and cost-efficient methods for mapping and monitoring of the distribution, abundance and quality of remaining oyster populations are fundamental for sustainable management and conservation of these habitats and their associated values. Towed video has emerged as a promising method for surveying benthic communities in a both non-destructive and cost-efficient way. Here we examine its use as a tool for quantification and monitoring of oyster populations by (i) analysing how well abundances can be estimated and how living Ostrea edulis individuals can be distinguished from dead ones, (ii) estimating the variability within and among observers as well as the spatial variability at a number of scales, and finally (iii) evaluating the precision of estimated abundances under different scenarios for monitoring. Overall, the results show that the can be used to quantify abundance and occurrence of Ostrea edulis in heterogeneous environments. There was a strong correlation between abundances determined in the field and abundances estimated by video-analyses (r2= 0.93), even though video analyses underestimated the total abundance of living oysters by 20%. Additionally, the method was largely repeatable within and among observers and revealed no evident bias in identification of living and dead oysters. We also concluded that the spatial variability was an order of magnitude larger than that due to observer errors. Subsequent modelling of precision showed that the total area sampled was the main determinant of precision and provided general method for determining precision. This study provides a thorough validation of the application of towed video on quantitative estimations of live oysters. The results suggest that the method can indeed be very useful for this purpose and we therefor recommend it for future monitoring of oysters and other threatened habitats and species.
The importance of long-term environmental monitoring and research for detecting and understanding changes in ecosystems and human impacts on natural systems is widely acknowledged. Over the last decades, a number of critical components for successful long-term monitoring have been identified. One basic component is quality assurance/quality control protocols to ensure consistency and comparability of data. In Norway, the authorities require environmental monitoring of the impacts of the offshore petroleum industry on the Norwegian continental shelf, and in 1996, a large-scale regional environmental monitoring program was established. As a case study, we used a sub-set of data from this monitoring to explore concepts regarding best practices for long-term environmental monitoring. Specifically, we examined data from physical and chemical sediment samples and benthic macroinvertebrate assemblages from 11 stations from six sampling occasions during the period 1996–2011. Despite the established quality assessment and quality control protocols for this monitoring program, we identified several data challenges, such as missing values and outliers, discrepancies in variable and station names, changes in procedures without calibration, and different taxonomic resolution. Furthermore, we show that the use of different laboratories over time makes it difficult to draw conclusions with regard to some of the observed changes. We offer recommendations to facilitate comparison of data over time. We also present a new procedure to handle different taxonomic resolution, so valuable historical data is not discarded. These topics have a broader relevance and application than for our case study.
Estimates of fish biomass collated at the community level are reliable indicators of fish and ecosystem health. Data to calculate fish biomass is routinely collected using either underwater visual census (UVC) or stereo diver operated video (DOV), although the compatibility of UVC and DOV based estimates are yet to be assessed. Accordingly, we calculated and compared community level measures of coral reef fish biomass at Ningaloo reef (Western Australia) using both UVC and DOV. The UVC based biomass estimates were 788 kg/Ha, which was ∼50% greater than those from DOV (500 kg/Ha). Differences between the methods were primarily due to DOV measuring the length of only ∼40% of fish detected by video, preventing fish specific weight calculations for all fish encountered. When the size of unmeasured fish was assumed to be the median value of fish measured by DOV, revised DOV+ estimates of community biomass (778 kg/Ha) were similar to those from UVC. However, even when unmeasured fish were included in DOV calculations, biomass of some families (serranids) were still higher when using UVC. Conversely, DOV adjusted estimates of pomacentrid biomass were higher than those from UVC, due to DOV measuring fewer small bodied fish (<3 cm), thus having a larger median size for the high number of unmeasured pomacentrids compared to UVC. Our results suggest that community measures of fish biomass from DOV and UVC are broadly comparable once weights of unmeasured fish are incorporated into DOV estimates. This may increase the spatial and temporal scales at which fish biomass can be monitored, although compatibility of data will depend on the composition and size distribution of the fish assemblages.
Electronic tags are significantly improving our understanding of aquatic animal behavior and are emerging as key sources of information for conservation and management practices. Future aquatic integrative biology and ecology studies will increasingly rely on data from electronic tagging. Continued advances in tracking hardware and software are needed to provide the knowledge required by managers and policymakers to address the challenges posed by the world's changing aquatic ecosystems. We foresee multiplatform tracking systems for simultaneously monitoring the position, activity, and physiology of animals and the environment through which they are moving. Improved data collection will be accompanied by greater data accessibility and analytical tools for processing data, enabled by new infrastructure and cyberinfrastructure. To operationalize advances and facilitate integration into policy, there must be parallel developments in the accessibility of education and training, as well as solutions to key governance and legal issues.
Species surrogates, the use of particular species to index habitat condition or to represent ecological assemblages are commonly identified in many ecosystems, but are less tested, and therefore less employed in estuaries. Estuaries provide important ecosystem goods (e.g. harvestable species) and services (e.g. carbon processing, coastal armouring), but require protection from multiple human activities, meaning that finding surrogates for estuarine condition or faunal assemblages is a significant knowledge gap. In this study, we test the efficacy of the threatened estuary ray Hemitrygon fluviorum, as a suitable indicator of ecosystem condition and management umbrella surrogate species for conservation prioritisation and monitoring purposes within estuaries. We surveyed fish assemblages and ray presence at ten sites within each of 22 estuaries in southeast Queensland, Australia, using one hour deployments of baited video arrays. We then tested for correlations between ray presence, a series of environmental variables considered important to ecosystem management within estuaries (i.e. testing rays as indicator species), and the co-occurring fish species (i.e. testing rays as umbrella species). Estuary rays function as both umbrella species and ecological indicators of habitat status in subtropical Australian estuaries. As umbrellas, ray occurrence concords with elevated species richness. As ecological indicators, ray distribution concords with habitats of good water quality (especially low turbidity) and more natural vegetation remaining in the catchment. These results highlight the potential for other threatened aquatic vertebrates that are both readily detectable and that are reliable proxies for ecosystems status to be become useful management tools in estuaries. The protection of such large, threatened species in coastal seascapes allows managers to address multiple targets for conservation, especially; (1) protecting species of conservation concern; (2) maintaining diversity; and (3) protecting optimal habitats by better placing reserves.