In the Mediterranean Sea unique environmental characteristics and sensitive assets coexist with intense maritime traffic that is represented by frequent daily passages of vessels along the main waterways. In order to assess the risk of oil stranding in case of at-sea emergencies and provide key products for environmental agencies or policymakers preparedness, a geographically relocatable, operational numerical system is implemented and tested. The system relies on the application of oceanographic and particle tracking models and is able to provide, on a high-resolution and unstructured computational grid, a 3-days forecast of those variables known as the main drivers of oil slicks at sea. The risk of potential oil stranding is computed through a combination of anthropogenic hazard and shoreline vulnerability. The sources of hazard vary on time and space in relation to local maritime vessel traffic. The shoreline vulnerability is based on the current knowledge of slope, main grain size, geology of rocks, and occurrence of manmade structures at coast. The operational system is enriched by a web graphical user interface and includes automatic and on-demand working modes. Its functionality is demonstrated in the Strait of Bonifacio (western Mediterranean Sea), area with a high potential risk of oil stranding due to an intense maritime traffic. Risk assessment is hence computed for a test year, the 2018. Critical values of risk are found in correspondence of long stretches of littoral while many of them are currently characterized by a low anthropogenic pressure. The results emphasize the geomorphological features of the shorelines as reducing or amplifying factors to any potential impact of oil stranding at coast.
This paper investigates the linkage between the acute impacts on apex marine mammals with polar cod responses to an oil spill. It proposes a Bayesian network-based model to link these direct and indirect effects on the apex marine mammals. The model predicts a recruitment collapse (for the scenarios considered), causing a higher risk of mortality of polar bears, beluga whales, and Narwhals in the Arctic region. Whales (adult and calves) were predicted to be at higher risk when the spill was under thick ice, while adult polar bears were at higher risk when the spill occurred on thin ice. A spill over the thick ice caused the least risk to whale and adult polar bears. The spill's timing and location have a significant impact on the animals in the Arctic region due to its unique sea ice dynamics, simple food web, and short periods of food abundance.
Environmental risk assessments are necessary to understand the risk associated with enhanced oil recovery (EOR) solutions and to provide decision support for choosing the best technology and implementing risk-reducing measures. This study presents a review of potentially relevant environmental/ecological risk assessment (ERA) guidelines and, based on this review, proposes an initial suggestion of an ERA framework for understanding the environmental impacts from EOR solutions. We first shortlist the important elements necessary for conducting an ERA of EOR solutions from the selected guidelines. These elements are then used to build the suggested ERA framework for produced water discharges, drilling discharges and emissions to air from EOR solutions, which is the primary objective of the present study. Furthermore, the emphasis is placed on identifying the knowledge gaps that exist for conducting ERA of EOR processes. In order to link the framework with the current best environmental practices, a review of environmental policies applicable to the marine environment around the European Union (EU) was conducted. Finally, some major challenges in the application of ERA methods for novel EOR technologies, i.e. uncertainties in the ERA due to lack of data and aggregation of risk from different environmental impacts, are discussed in detail. The frameworks suggested in this study should be possible to use by relevant stakeholders to assess environmental risk from enhanced oil recovery solutions.
The impact of a range of different threats has resulted in the listing of six out of seven sea turtle species on the IUCN Red List of endangered species. Disease risk analysis (DRA) tools are designed to provide objective, repeatable and documented assessment of the disease risks for a population and measures to reduce these risks through management options. To the best of our knowledge, DRAs have not previously been published for sea turtles, although disease is reported to contribute to sea turtle population decline. Here, a comprehensive list of health hazards is provided for all seven species of sea turtles. The possible risk these hazards pose to the health of sea turtles were assessed and “One Health” aspects of interacting with sea turtles were also investigated. The risk assessment was undertaken in collaboration with more than 30 experts in the field including veterinarians, microbiologists, social scientists, epidemiologists and stakeholders, in the form of two international workshops and one local workshop. The general finding of the DRA was the distinct lack of knowledge regarding a link between the presence of pathogens and diseases manifestation in sea turtles. A higher rate of disease in immunocompromised individuals was repeatedly reported and a possible link between immunosuppression and environmental contaminants as a result of anthropogenic influences was suggested. Society based conservation initiatives and as a result the cultural and social aspect of interacting with sea turtles appeared to need more attention and research. A risk management workshop was carried out to acquire the insights of local policy makers about management options for the risks relevant to Queensland and the options were evaluated considering their feasibility and effectiveness. The sea turtle DRA presented here, is a structured guide for future risk assessments to be used in specific scenarios such as translocation and head-starting programs.
Fisheries bycatch has been identified as the greatest threat to marine mammals worldwide. Characterizing the impacts of bycatch on marine mammals is challenging because it is difficult to both observe and quantify, particularly in small-scale fisheries where data on fishing effort and marine mammal abundance and distribution are often limited. The lack of risk frameworks that can integrate and visualize existing data have hindered the ability to describe and quantify bycatch risk. Here, we describe the design of a new geographic information systems tool built specifically for the analysis of bycatch in small-scale fisheries, called Bycatch Risk Assessment (ByRA). Using marine mammals in Malaysia and Vietnam as a test case, we applied ByRA to assess the risks posed to Irrawaddy dolphins (Orcaella brevirostris) and dugongs (Dugong dugon) by five small-scale fishing gear types (hook and line, nets, longlines, pots and traps, and trawls). ByRA leverages existing data on animal distributions, fisheries effort, and estimates of interaction rates by combining expert knowledge and spatial analyses of existing data to visualize and characterize bycatch risk. By identifying areas of bycatch concern while accounting for uncertainty using graphics, maps and summary tables, we demonstrate the importance of integrating available geospatial data in an accessible format that taps into local knowledge and can be corroborated by and communicated to stakeholders of data-limited fisheries. Our methodological approach aims to meet a critical need of fisheries managers: to identify emergent interaction patterns between fishing gears and marine mammals and support the development of management actions that can lead to sustainable fisheries and mitigate bycatch risk for species of conservation concern.
In studies of habitat-forming species, those that are not spatially dominant are often considered “non-primary” habitat and may be overlooked. This is despite the fact that minority habitat formers can provide critical complexity, food, and other services that underpin ecosystem biodiversity. Octocorals and anemones are found in marine and estuarine habitats across all climate zones. Despite their potentially important ecological roles, to date there have been few studies of their specific threats and stressors or attempts at their restoration. Here we review studies of the ecology of octocorals and anemones with a focus on threats and restoration. We identify many threats including habitat damage, collection and trade, disease, predation, pollution, and the most wide-spread – climate change. While evidence suggests that some octocorals and anemone populations may be more resilient to disturbances than stony corals because they often recruit and grow quickly, resilience is not guaranteed. Instead, resilience or susceptibility within this large group is likely to be site and species specific. We find that the loss of octocorals and anemones has been difficult to quantify as most species have no hard structures that remain following a mortality event. Only through long-term monitoring efforts have researchers been able to document change in these populations. Due to the increasing extent and severity of human impacts in marine ecosystems, restoration of habitat forming species is becoming increasingly necessary after disturbance events. To illustrate the challenges ahead for octocoral and anemone restoration, we present two examples of ongoing restoration efforts assessed against the International Standards for the Practice of Ecological Restoration. Restoration planning and implementation progress are documented for the Mediterranean red coral Corallium rubrum and the temperate Australian cauliflower soft coral, Dendronephthya australis. This review and the detailed case studies demonstrate that while some octocorals and anemones can provide resilient habitat within reef systems, a greater research focus on their ecology, threats, and restoration potential is urgently required.
Over the past two decades, natural calamities like tsunamis and earthquakes occur more frequently, posing a serious threat to the human race. About 80% of these calamities have the “Ring of Fire” in the Pacific Ocean as its epicenter, causing extreme destructions due to the huge amount of energy and moving water bodies striking the adjoining land masses. Tsunamis cause heavy damage to human lives killing almost 430,000 lives since 1850, as it is almost impossible to flee from the mammoth waves. Huge waves collapse concrete buildings causing electrocution, explosion of gas plants, breakage of tanks and industries due to the floating debris that comes along with the killer waves. Following a tsunami, loss of infrastructures and economies is inevitable. This paper highlights the types of tsunamis and their potential effects on built structures and explains the association between tsunami related injuries and household level risk factors, including damages to built environment. Earlier studies have revealed that women, children and elderly citizens are at greater risk, and proximity to sea shores increase their risk of being affected. This finding, together with the risk of living in permanent structures in tsunami threatened areas should be an eye opener for the policy makers.
Coastal flood impact assessments are important tools for risk management and are performed by combining the hazard component with the vulnerability of exposed assets, to quantify consequences (or impacts) in terms of relative or absolute (e.g. financial) damage. The process generates uncertainties that should be taken into account for the correct representation of the consequences of floods. This study presents a coastal flood impact application at the spatial level of the Stavanger municipality (Norway), based on a multi-damage model approach able to represent impacts, and their overall uncertainty. Hazard modelling was performed using the LISFLOOD-FP code, taking into account historical extreme water level events (1988–2017) and relative sea level rise scenarios. Direct impacts were calculated in the form of relative and financial damage for different building categories, using flood damage curves. The results showed that the expected impacts are fewer than 50 flooded receptors and less than €1 million in damage in the current sea level scenario. The impacts could double by the end of the century, considering the most optimistic relative sea level scenario. The results were discussed considering the limitations of the approach for both hazard and impact modelling, that will be improved in future implementations. The outcome of this study may be useful for cost–benefit analyses of mitigation actions and local-scale plans for adaptation.
Owing to production, usage, and disposal of nano-enabled products as well as fragmentation of bulk materials, anthropogenic nanoscale particles (NPs) can enter the natural environment and through different compartments (air, soil, and water) end up into the sea. With the continuous increase in production and associated emissions and discharges, they can reach concentrations able to exceed toxicity thresholds for living species inhabiting marine coastal areas. Behavior and fate of NPs in marine waters are driven by transformation processes occurring as a function of NP intrinsic and extrinsic properties in the receiving seawaters. All those aspects have been overlooked in ecological risk assessment. This review critically reports ecotoxicity studies in which size distribution, surface charges and bio−nano interactions have been considered for a more realistic risk assessment of NPs in marine environment. Two emerging and relevant NPs, the metal-based titanium dioxide (TiO2), and polystyrene (PS), a proxy for nanoplastics, are reviewed, and their impact on marine biota (from planktonic species to invertebrates and fish) is discussed as a function of particle size and surface charges (negative vs. positive), which affect their behavior and interaction with the biological material. Uptake of NPs is related to their nanoscale size; however, in vivo studies clearly demonstrated that transformation (agglomerates/aggregates) occurring in both artificial and natural seawater drive to different exposure routes and biological responses at cellular and organism level. Adsorption of single particles or agglomerates onto the body surface or their internalization in feces can impair motility and affect sinking or floating behavior with consequences on populations and ecological function. Particle complex dynamics in natural seawater is almost unknown, although it determines the effective exposure scenarios. Based on the latest predicted environmental concentrations for TiO2 and PS NPs in the marine environment, current knowledge gaps and future research challenges encompass the comprehensive study of bio−nano interactions. As such, the analysis of NP biomolecular coronas can enable a better assessment of particle uptake and related cellular pathways leading to toxic effects. Moreover, the formation of an environmentally derived corona (i.e., eco-corona) in seawater accounts for NP physical–chemical alterations, rebounding on interaction with living organisms and toxicity.
Various national maritime authorities and international organizations show strong interest to implement risk management processes to decision making for shipping accident prevention in waterway areas. There is a recurring need for approaches, models, and tools for identifying, analysing, and evaluating risks of shipping accidents, and for strategies for preventively managing these in (inter-)organizational settings. This article presents a comprehensive review of academic work in this research area, aiming to identify patterns, trends, and gaps, serving as a guide for future research and development, with a particular focus on the Baltic Sea Region. To understand the links between research in the Baltic Sea area and the global community, a bibliometric analysis is performed, focusing on identifying dominant narratives and social networks in the research community. Articles from the Baltic Sea area are subsequently analysed more in-depth, addressing issues like the nature of the academic work done, the risk management processes involved, and the underlying accident theories. From the results, patterns in the historical evolution of the research domain are detected, and insights about current trends gained, which are used to identify future avenues for research.