The aim of the present study was to risk screen 45 jellyfish species (30 hydromedusae, 14 scyphomedusae, one cubomedusa) for their potential invasiveness in the Mediterranean Sea to aid managers in making informed decisions on targeting appropriate species for management. Using the Aquatic Species Invasiveness Screening Kit (AS-ISK), calibrated basic and climate-change threshold assessment scores of 6.5 and 12.5, respectively, were identified for distinguishing reliably between species that pose ‘low-to-medium’ and ‘high’ risk of becoming invasive in the risk assessment area. Using these thresholds, 16 species were classified as high risk, 23 as medium risk and six as low risk under current climate conditions. Whereas, under future climate conditions, 13, 30 and two species, respectively, were classified as high, medium and low risk, respectively. Upside-down jellyfish Cassiopea andromeda, Australian spotted jellyfish Phyllorhiza punctata, sea nettle Chrysaora quinquecirrha and Rhopilema nomadica were the highest-scoring species, with the maximum increase in risk score under predicted climate change conditions being achieved by C. andromeda.
By 2050 the world population is expected to reach 10 billion people. This population needs food, water and energy. Increasingly, opportunities are sought out at sea to accommodate these needs. As there is already competition for space, especially in the near-shore, opportunities for multi-use, including the combination of, for example, food and energy production in a single location, are sought. One issue that needs to be addressed to allow for multi-use at sea is safety. Existing frameworks for (marine) risk assessment tend to be rather sector specific and, although existing models and frameworks for risk analysis provide useful elements for an integrated analysis, none of the approaches fully caters for the need of having a framework based on a cyclical process of stakeholder input in all steps of the process of risk identification, risk management and risk evaluation and communication, identifying actions to be taken and providing tools useful in each of the steps, while integrating the three perspectives of maritime safety, food (and feed) safety, and environmental impact assessment and the different perspectives of the actors involved. This study developed a common framework for the risk assessment of multi-use at sea, consisting of six steps (Exploring, Understanding, Appraising, Deciding, Implementing and Evaluating & Communication). The framework encompasses and integrates an analysis of food and feed safety aspects, the safety of people and equipment, and environmental safety aspects. For each step, actions are defined, tools that can be of help to stakeholders are presented, and stakeholder participation measures are described. The framework is iterative and dynamic in its nature; with constant communication and evaluation of progress, decisions can be taken to either take a step forward or back. The framework is developed to assist operators and producers, policymakers, and other stakeholders in assessing and managing risks of multi-use at sea.
In a nutshell,
- We used an insurance industry catastrophe model from RMS to quantify the flood reduction benefits of mangroves across Florida
- Annually, across multiple storms, mangroves reduce flood damages by 25.5% to properties behind them in Collier County
- During Hurricane Irma, over 626,000 people living behind mangrove forests saw reduced flooding in census tracts across Florida
- During Hurricane Irma, mangroves averted $1.5 billion in surge-related flood damages to properties; which represents a 25% savings in counties with mangroves
- Every hectare of mangroves with properties behind them provided, on average, $7,500 in risk reduction benefits during Hurricane Irma
In 2013, South Australia experienced unusually high and variable water temperatures (5°C above the historic average), with a peak sea surface temperature of approximately 27°C over a wide geographic area covering both gulfs and shelf waters. Over the same period and similar geographic area, a prolonged and widespread marine mortality event occurred. From January to May 2013, low level rates of incidental morbidity and mortality of abalone (Haliotis rubra and H. laevigata) and at least 29 fish species were observed. Mortalities were geographically extensive from Port MacDonnell on the South Coast of South Australia to Point Drummond on Eyre Peninsula, and including two gulf systems, spanning approximately 2,900 km of coastline. Mortalities were investigated using gross pathology, histopathology, bacterial culture and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) techniques. Water samples were collected to assess water column nutrient status and phytoplankton biomass levels and community composition. High nutrient concentrations were suggestive of high phytoplankton productivity, with conditions conducive to diatom blooms. A harmful (abrasive) diatom, Chaetoceros coarctatus, was observed in higher concentrations than the historical average. Observed fish mortalities were restricted to a small proportion of the populations and primarily comprised of temperate small-bodied benthic inshore species. Fish histopathology was suggestive of prolonged stress (melanomacrophage aggregation in spleens and kidneys), physical gill damage (focal gill lesions likely caused by C. coarctatus) and lethal bacterial septicaemia. Infectious and notifiable diseases were ruled out in all fish and abalone samples. Abalone mortalities were also restricted to a small proportion of the population with thermal stress a likely contributing factor that resulted in terminal secondary bacterial infections. A marine heatwave event, which promoted blooms of algae, including C. coarctatus, was likely the primary cause of widespread marine mortalities throughout South Australia in 2013. With marine heatwaves projected to increase in frequency, duration and spatial extent, this investigation demonstrated that most at risk will be temperate species in shallow water habitats already at their upper thermal tolerance limits, particularly those with high site fidelity. This should be considered in future climate proofing strategies, including risk and impact assessments underpinning the management of marine resources, fisheries, aquaculture and ecotourism.
Climate change and population growth are degrading coastal ecosystems and increasing risks to communities and infrastructure. Reliance on seawalls and other types of hardened shorelines is unsustainable in an era of rising seas, given the costs to build and maintain these structures and their unintended consequences on ecosystems. This is especially true for communities that depend on coastal and marine ecosystems for livelihoods and sustenance. Protecting and restoring coral reefs and coastal forests can be lower cost, sustainable alternatives for shoreline protection. However, decision-makers often lack basic information about where and under what conditions ecosystems reduce risk to coastal hazards and who would benefit. To better understand where to prioritize ecosystems for coastal protection, we assessed risk reduction provided by coral reefs, mangroves, and seagrass along the entire coast of The Bahamas, under current and future climate scenarios. Modeled results show that the population most exposed to coastal hazards would more than double with future sea-level rise and more than triple if ecosystems were lost or degraded. We also found that ecosystem-based risk reduction differs across islands due to variation in a suite of ecological, physical, and social variables. On some populated islands, like Grand Bahama and Abaco, habitats provide protection to disproportionately large numbers of people compared to the rest of the country. Risk reduction provided by ecosystems is also evident for several sparsely populated, remote coastal communities, which in some cases, have large elderly populations. The results from our analyses were critical for engaging policy-makers in discussions about employing natural and nature-based features for coastal resilience. After hurricanes Joaquin and Matthew hit The Bahamas in 2016 and 2017, our assessment of coastal risk reduction and the multiple benefits provided by coastal ecosystems helped pave the way for an innovative loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to the Government of The Bahamas to invest in mangrove restoration for coastal resilience. This work serves as an example for other regions and investors aiming to use assessments of ecosystem services to inform financing of natural and nature-based approaches for coastal resilience and climate adaptation.
With the anticipated boom in the ‘blue economy’ and associated increases in industrialization across the world’s oceans, new and complex risks are being introduced to ocean ecosystems. As a result, conservation and resource management increasingly look to factor in potential interactions among the social, ecological and economic components of these systems. Investigation of these interactions requires interdisciplinary frameworks that incorporate methods and insights from across the social and biophysical sciences. Risk assessment methods, which have been developed across numerous disciplines and applied to various real-world settings and problems, provide a unique connection point for cross-disciplinary engagement. However, research on risk is often conducted in distinct spheres by experts whose focus is on narrow sources or outcomes of risk. Movement toward a more integrated treatment of risk to ensure a balanced approach to developing and managing ocean resources requires cross-disciplinary engagement and understanding. Here, we provide a primer on risk assessment intended to encourage the development and implementation of integrated risk assessment processes in the emerging blue economy. First, we summarize the dominant framework for risk in the ecological/biophysical sciences. Then, we discuss six key insights from the long history of risk research in the social sciences that can inform integrated assessments of risk: (1) consider the subjective nature of risk, (2) understand individual social and cultural influences on risk perceptions, (3) include diverse expertise, (4) consider the social scales of analysis, (5) incorporate quantitative and qualitative approaches, and (6) understand interactions and feedbacks within systems. Finally, we show how these insights can be incorporated into risk assessment and management, and apply them to a case study of whale entanglements in fishing gear off the United States west coast.
The oil spill risk in the environments surrounding the Bohai Sea is aggravated by increasing marine petroleum exploitation. There is a growing need to assess the risk of oil pollution in sensitive marine areas and coastlines. Both the recurrence frequency of spill accidents and the duration of exposure in marine areas and coastal shorelines are considered in our statistical model, which consists of a probabilistic oil spill model used to simulate various oil spill scenarios at twenty oil fields in the Bohai Sea based on high-resolution oceanographic, meteorological, and geomorphological data. The statistical results of the risk to marine areas integrate the probability of pollution in marine areas, oil slick thickness, and duration of water surface covered by a floating slick. The coastal risk index includes the probability of a shoreline hit, average mass of stranding oil, and time of oil beaching. The spatial distributions of environmental triggering factors and coastal/marine vulnerability are merged, and a map of the oil spill risk in the Bohai Sea is presented, which is useful for contingency planning and the assessment of environmental risk of marine petroleum exploitation.
We present the first objective quantitative assessment of the threats to all 359 species of seabirds, identify the main challenges facing them, and outline priority actions for their conservation. We applied the standardised Threats Classification Scheme developed for the IUCN Red List to objectively assess threats to each species and analysed the data according to global IUCN threat status, taxonomic group, and primary foraging habitat (coastal or pelagic). The top three threats to seabirds in terms of number of species affected and average impact are: invasive alien species, affecting 165 species across all the most threatened groups; bycatch in fisheries, affecting fewer species (100) but with the greatest average impact; and climate change/severe weather, affecting 96 species. Overfishing, hunting/trapping and disturbance were also identified as major threats to seabirds. Reversing the top three threats alone would benefit two-thirds of all species and c. 380 million individual seabirds (c. 45% of the total global seabird population). Most seabirds (c. 70%), especially globally threatened species, face multiple threats. For albatrosses, petrels and penguins in particular (the three most threatened groups of seabirds), it is essential to tackle both terrestrial and marine threats to reverse declines. As the negative effects of climate change are harder to mitigate, it is vital to compensate by addressing other major threats that often affect the same species, such as invasive alien species, bycatch and overfishing, for which proven solutions exist.
Effective ocean management and the conservation of highly migratory species depend on resolving the overlap between animal movements and distributions, and fishing effort. However, this information is lacking at a global scale. Here we show, using a big-data approach that combines satellite-tracked movements of pelagic sharks and global fishing fleets, that 24% of the mean monthly space used by sharks falls under the footprint of pelagic longline fisheries. Space-use hotspots of commercially valuable sharks and of internationally protected species had the highest overlap with longlines (up to 76% and 64%, respectively), and were also associated with significant increases in fishing effort. We conclude that pelagic sharks have limited spatial refuge from current levels of fishing effort in marine areas beyond national jurisdictions (the high seas). Our results demonstrate an urgent need for conservation and management measures at high-seas hotspots of shark space use, and highlight the potential of simultaneous satellite surveillance of megafauna and fishers as a tool for near-real-time, dynamic management.
Scuba diving continues to be one of the most popular recreational activities in marine tourism, but its sustainability is currently threatened due to environmental, social, political, and economic risks. The East African Marine Ecoregion is renowned for its richness in marine fauna and flora, including some of the Indian Ocean's most diverse and abundant coral reef ecosystems, making it a popular destination for scuba divers. However, empirical evidence suggests that external risks (international and domestic) are impacting on dive operators in the region, creating the need to better understand these impacts. This research was therefore aimed at identifying the most significant of these external risks from the perspective of dive operators, via an explorative and descriptive study. The qualitative and quantitative primary data collected revealed that domestic and international economic and political risks have the greatest impact on dive operators in the East African Marine Ecoregion, and this trend is expected to continue. Environmental degradation of coral reefs, while not seen as a threat to dive operators at present, constitutes a key threat within the near future. In terms of the variation in perceived risk across the region, Kenya suffers most from social and political risks, Tanzania from environmental risks, Mozambique from political risks, and South Africa from economic risks. The research contributes to Africa's Blue Economy, which aims to guide African countries in sustainable use of the marine environment while harnessing its social and economic benefits. The findings create awareness of the impact of external risks on regional dive operators and their significance. Furthermore, they create an opportunity for decision makers and stakeholders in the region to craft solutions to improve the sustainability of the scuba diving industry.