Scientific understanding of coupled social-ecological systems has grown considerably in recent years, especially for fisheries and ocean management. However, few studies test the utility of approaches that capture multiple interactions between people and ecosystems within a real-world planning process. We developed a set of quantitative models that estimate catch and revenue from the Caribbean spiny lobster (Panulirus argus) fishery as a function of coastal habitat extent and quality. We applied the models iteratively, with input from stakeholders, to assess fisheries outcomes of alternative scenarios for integrated coastal zone management in Belize and sustainable development planning in The Bahamas. We found that integrated management reduces risk to nursery habitats from multiple coastal and marine activities and increases lobster catch and revenue by large margins. In Belize, siting activities such as marine transportation and tourism development to explicitly reduce risk to nursery and adult habitats enhanced returns from the lobster fishery. In The Bahamas, strategic investments in economic development that focused on updating existing infrastructure, such as roads, rather than expanding the footprint of development, increased the catch of lobster by approximately half again as much relative to a business as usual scenario. Our findings show how models that link spatial information about coastal habitats and the dynamics of a key fishery can inform expected change in catch and revenue as a result of coastal management. In addition to strengthening stakeholder understanding of social-ecological relationships and highlighting national-scale outcomes of regional development decisions, modeled results allowed us to transparently and effectively improve coastal plans to achieve the goals of the citizens and governments of Belize and The Bahamas. These cases illustrate how models that account for relationships between development, nursery habitats, and fishing catch and revenue can elevate the importance of fisheries management in national development decisions.
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
Overfishing is a major threat to the survival of shark species, primarily driven by international trade in high-value fins, as well as meat, liver oil, skin and cartilage. The Convention on the International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) aims to ensure that commercial trade does not threaten wild species, and several shark species have recently been listed on CITES as part of international efforts to ensure that trade does not threaten their survival. However, as international trade regulations alone will be insufficient to reduce overexploitation of sharks, they must be accompanied by practical fisheries management measures to reduce fishing mortality. To examine which management measures might be practical in the context of a targeted shark fishery, we collected data from 52 vessels across 595 fishing trips from January 2014 to December 2015 at Tanjung Luar fishing port in East Lombok, Indonesia. We recorded 11,920 landed individuals across 42 species, a high proportion of which were threatened and regulated species. Catch per unit effort depended primarily on the number of hooks and type of fishing gear used, and to a lesser degree on month, boat engine power, number of sets and fishing ground. The most significant factors influencing the likelihood of catching threatened and regulated species were month, fishing ground, engine power and hook number. We observed significant negative relationships between standardised catch per unit effort and several indicators of fishing effort, suggesting diminishing returns above relatively low levels of fishing effort. Our results suggest that management measures focusing on fishing effort controls, gear restrictions and modifications and spatiotemporal closures could have significant benefits for the conservation of shark species, and may help to improve the overall sustainability of the Tanjung Luar shark fishery. These management measures may also be applicable to shark fisheries in other parts of Indonesia and beyond, as sharks increasingly become the focus of global conservation efforts.
As the ocean has moved into the focus of the political discourse on the “blue economy“, ocean industry plays a key role in shaping “blue growth” as sustainable. However, little is known about the meaning of sustainability and the status of its implementation by corporations invested in the maritime economy. The present paper addresses this gap. Drawing on the discourse theory of Laclau and Mouffe (2001 ), the study explores the discourse on corporate sustainability. It was found that of 396 surveyed companies only 61 provide commitments to and reporting on the issue of sustainability. A detailed analysis of these companies showed that there has been a shift from a voluntary to a mandatory commitment to the concept as a direct consequence of being exposed to massive pressures to meet the expectations of their employees, customers and shareholders to prevent any harm to the environment, to save resources, and follow international regulations. It is argued that Laclau and Mouffe's discourse theory provides an approach to help to explain the practice of corporations in re-framing these challenges as an entrepreneurial opportunity to save costs, i.e. by avoiding fines, lawsuits, and clean-up costs, to optimize efficiency in all business sectors, to stay competitive, and to gain a better public image. The paper concludes that it is likely that the current efforts of companies with regard to the anticipated increases in the exploitation of marine resources will not be sufficient to preserve ocean health in the long run. However, there are corporate opportunities for strengthening the SDGs and contributing to a “sustainable blue growth”.
A holistic basis for achieving ecosystem‐based management is needed to counter the continuing degradation of coral reefs. The high variation in recovery rates of fish, corresponding to fisheries yields, and the ecological complexity of coral reefs have challenged efforts to estimate fisheries sustainability. Yet, estimating stable yields can be determined when biomass, recovery, changes in per area yields and ecological change are evaluated together. Long‐term rates of change in yields and fishable biomass‐yield ratios have been the key missing variables for most coral reef assessments. Calibrating a fishery yield model using independently collected fishable biomass and recovery data produced large confidence intervals driven by high variability in biomass recovery rates that precluded accurate or universal yields for coral reefs. To test the model's predictions, I present changes in Kenyan reef fisheries for >20 years. Here, exceeding yields above 6 tonnes km−2 year−1 when fishable biomass was ~20 tonnes/km2 (~20% of unfished biomass) resulted in a >2.4% annual decline. Therefore, rates of decline fit the mean settings well and model predictions may therefore be used as a benchmark in reefs with mean recovery rates (i.e. r = 0.20–0.25). The mean model settings indicate a maximum sustained yield (MSY) of ~6 tonnes km−2 year−1 when fishable biomass was ~50 tonnes/km2. Variable reported recovery rates indicate that high sustainable yields will depend greatly on maintaining these rates, which can be reduced if productivity declines and management of stocks and functional diversity are ineffective. A number of ecological state‐yield trade‐off occurs as abrupt ecological changes prior to biomass levels that produce MSY.
We assess progress towards Aichi Biodiversity Target 6, which aims to achieve global fisheries sustainability by 2020. Current trends suggest that the proportion of fish stocks within safe ecological limits is likely to decline until 2020. While model projections show a considerable reduction in overexploited stocks by 2050 if climate change is not considered, there will be a substantial increase in the risk of overexploited fish stocks if climate change is taken into account. Overall, although there is progress toward rebuilding fisheries in some developed nations, this improvement is insufficient to meet the Aichi Target by 2020; there is a need for substantial changes to current fisheries policy and management if Target 6 is to be met.
The Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) eco—label certifies that seafood comes from a sustainable source. The use of this eco—label lags behind in the developing world, where ecosystem approaches to fishery management have not yet been widely implemented. However, the Food and Agriculture Organization under its REBYC—II LAC project is addressing ecosystem concerns within the shrimp trawl fisheries of a number of developing countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by helping them to improve management of the negative ecosystem impacts by modifying their gear to reduce by—catch and habitat damage. This study investigates how the potential improvements identified by the REBYC—II LAC project will help in satisfying the requirements for obtaining an MSC certification in the Campeche shrimp fishery in Mexico. The feasibility and desirability of obtaining an MSC certification in this fishery was assessed by interviewing managers, fishers, processors, and other relevant stakeholders of the fishery. By comparing the MSC certification requirements with the current conditions of the Campeche shrimp fishery, this paper shows that the fishery is currently not certifiable. Although the REBYC—II LAC project could represent a significant step towards the potential certification of the fishery, further actions will need to be implemented by the Mexican management authorities and private sector, if certification is sought. This paper should help guide the Campeche shrimp industry and fishery managers towards the necessary steps for achieving sustainability.
Within the discussion around sustainable diets, seafood consumption is still a relatively neglected field. This article discusses relevant behaviours consumers can perform to consume seafood sustainably. The predictive power of intention, descriptive social norms, trust, awareness and pro-environmental attitudes are theoretically discussed and statistically tested across two studies in regards to (a) using sustainable seafood labels, and (b) using sustainable seafood guides. Data analysis (N1 = 309, N2 = 881 Norwegian adults) shows that intentions, social norms and trust predict seafood label use across studies. The variables predicting seafood guide use are less stable which might be due to this behaviour being performed by a very small fraction of consumers only. Causal relationships have been identified in study 2 by applying cross-lagged panel analyses between intentions, trust and social norms and seafood label use. Further causal relationships were found between intentions, trust and awareness and seafood guide use. A bidirectional relationship was confirmed between descriptive social norms and seafood guide use. Potential strategies to promote seafood label- and seafood guide use, are discussed based on these results.
Evaluating progress towards environmental sustainability goals can be difficult due to a lack of measurable benchmarks and insufficient or uncertain data. Marine settings are particularly challenging, as stakeholders and objectives tend to be less well defined and ecosystem components have high natural variability and are difficult to observe directly. Fuzzy logic expert systems are useful analytical frameworks to evaluate such systems, and we develop such a model here to formally evaluate progress towards sustainability targets based on diverse sets of indicators. Evaluation criteria include recent (since policy enactment) and historical (from earliest known state) change, type of indicators (state, benefit, pressure, response), time span and spatial scope, and the suitability of an indicator in reflecting progress toward a specific objective. A key aspect of the framework is that all assumptions are transparent and modifiable to fit different social and ecological contexts. We test the method by evaluating progress towards four Aichi Biodiversity Targets in Canadian oceans, including quantitative progress scores, information gaps, and the sensitivity of results to model and data assumptions. For Canadian marine systems, national protection plans and biodiversity awareness show good progress, but species and ecosystem states overall do not show strong improvement. Well-defined goals are vital for successful policy implementation, as ambiguity allows for conflicting potential indicators, which in natural systems increases uncertainty in progress evaluations. Importantly, our framework can be easily adapted to assess progress towards policy goals with different themes, globally or in specific regions.
Scuba diving has attracted increased numbers of tourists on a global scale. While the beneficial as well as detrimental impacts of scuba diving tourism have been well documented, limited research attention is given to the perspectives of dive operators with respect to sustainable development. This study examined the perspectives and experiences of dive operators in relation to sustainable resource use in Mozambique and Italy, two countries that are home to popular coastal destinations and offshore marine parks. Interviews suggested that overall operators have positive attitudes towards sustainable resource use, engaging in actions such as deploying four-stroke engines, recycling equipment and waste, and favouring electric-over fuel-powered vehicles. Yet, they do not promote sustainable resource use at the dive centre, with reasons including limited time, lack of government incentives, and absence of rebate systems. Implications were discussed for sustainable diving operations in the study areas and generally.
With over 1 billion people currently relying on the services provided by marine ecosystems – e.g. food, fibre and coastal protection – governments, scientists and international bodies are searching for innovative research to support decision-makers in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Valuing past and present ecosystem services allows investigation into how different scenarios impact the SDGs, such as economic growth, sustainability, poverty and equity among stakeholders. This paper investigates the past and current value of the lobster fishery located in the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area. It then uses InVEST to highlight future changes under different scenarios. While we found a significant decline in fishery value over the next ten years under all three scenarios, the exclusion of large-scale fisheries from the marine protected area seems to yield the most positive results in regard to South Africa’s SDG commitments. This scenario has the potential to generate approximately 50% more revenue, while also producing the highest available protein to local communities, highest quantity of spawners and highest economic distribution to small-scale fisheries. It is clear through this research that valuing ecosystem services can enable a future of healthy economies, people and environments; the highly sought-after triple-bottom line.