Climate change poses significant and increasing risks for Pacific Island communities. Sea-level rise, coastal flooding, extreme and variable storm events, fish stock redistribution, coral bleaching, and declines in ecosystem health and productivity threaten the wellbeing, health, safety, and national sovereignty of Pacific Islanders, and small-scale fishers in particular. Fostering the response capacity of small-scale fishing communities will become increasingly important for the Pacific Islands. Challenging decisions and trade-offs emerge when choosing and mobilizing different responses to climate change. The trade-offs inherent in different responses can occur between various exposures, across spatial and temporal scales, among segments of society, various objectives, and evaluative criteria. Here we introduce a typology of potential trade-offs inherent in responses, elaborated through examples from the Pacific. We argue that failure to adequately engage with trade-offs across human responses to climate change can potentially result in unintended consequences or lead to adverse outcomes for human vulnerability to climate change. Conversely, proactively identifying and addressing these trade-offs in decision-making processes will be critical for planning hazard mitigation and preparing island nations, communities, and individuals to anticipate and adapt to change, not only for Pacific Islands, but for coastal communities around the world.
We used an integrated bio-economic model to explore the nature of tradeoffs between conservation of fisheries resources and their use for socioeconomic benefit, as realized through the stock enhancement of recreational fisheries. The model explicitly accounted for the dynamics of wild, stocked, and naturally recruited hatchery-type fish population components, angler responses to stocking, and alternative functional relationships that defined conservation and socioeconomic objectives. The model was set up to represent Florida’s red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) fishery as a case study. Stock enhancement produced strong trade-offs characterized by frontiers indicating that maximizing socioeconomic objectives could only be achieved at great losses to conservation objectives when the latter were based exclusively on abundance of wild-type fish. When naturally recruited hatchery-type fish were considered equivalent to wild fish in conservation value, this tradeoff was alleviated. Frontier shapes were sensitive to alternative assumptions regarding how conservation objectives were formulated, differential harvesting of stocked and wild-type fish, and potential inherent stakeholder satisfaction from the act of stocking. These findings make more explicit the likely opportunity costs associated with recreational stock enhancement and highlight the utility of trade-off frontiers for evaluating management actions.
A coupled ecosystem modeling approach was used to evaluate how select combinations of large-scale river diversions in the lower Mississippi River Deltaic Plain may affect the distribution, biomass, and landings of fish and shellfish over decades relative to a future without action. These river diversions are controlled openings in the riverbank of the Mississippi River designed to reintroduce sediment, water, and nutrients into hydrologically isolated coastal wetlands in order to mitigate wetland loss. We developed a spatial ecosystem model using Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE) software, and prepared it to receive output from a Delft3D hydrodynamic model coupled to primary production models. The Delft3D model provided environmental drivers including salinity, temperature, Chl a, total suspended solids, and change in wetland cover as a result of simulated river diversions over decadal model runs. Driver output was averaged either daily, monthly, or annually depending on the parameter. A novel oyster-specific subroutine is introduced in this paper to incorporate information at daily intervals in Ecospace, while Ecospace runs on a monthly time step. The ecosystem model simulates biomass and distribution of fish and shellfish species, and landings of targeted fisheries species, as a result of environmental changes projected for a preliminary set of management scenarios designed to evaluate and screen select combinations of river diversions. Abundant local field samples and landings data allowed for model calibration and validation. The results of simulations indicate that inflow of Mississippi River water in estuaries may cause local shifts in species assemblages. These changes were in some cases direct effects of decreased salinity, such as locally reduced Spotted Seatrout biomass. Changes in some other species in the affected areas resulted from indirect effects; for example, reduced Chl a (as a result of increased TSS) resulted in near-field reductions of Gulf Menhaden. The simulations also showed that local biomass reductions were mostly the result of redistribution, since the scenario with the proposed diversions open had minimal impact on the total biomass or landings of species simulated in the Mississippi River Delta as compared to a future without action. The model and its output were used as a decision support tool to help evaluate and compare alternative management actions. The results of this study played a role in the decision by the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority to prioritize moving forward to conduct more detailed analyses through engineering and design of the two middle diversions but not the two lower diversions that were tested in this study.
Managing multiple ecosystem services (ESs) across landscapes presents a central challenge for ecosystem-based management, because services often exhibit spatiotemporal variation and weak associations with co-occurring ESs. Further focus on the mechanistic relationships among ESs and their underlying biophysical processes provides greater insight into the causes of variation and covariation among ESs, thus serving as a guide to enhance their supply while preventing adverse outcomes. Here, we used the U.S. Pacific Northwest coastal dune ecosystem to examine how invasive beachgrass management affects three ESs: coastal protection, western snowy plover conservation, and endemic foredune plant conservation. At seven coastal dune habitat restoration areas, we observed spatial variation in the supply of each ES and further identified a tradeoff between western snowy plover conservation and coastal protection. While the ESs were collectively influenced by the invasive beachgrasses and the foredunes they create, the magnitude of the synergies and tradeoffs were influenced by numerous non-shared drivers, including nearshore geomorphology, changes in foredune shape as a result of restoration, and other management actions irrespective of restoration. Incorporation of these shared and non-shared drivers into future coastal management planning may reduce tradeoffs among Pacific Northwest dune ESs. With better understanding of ES relationships, it becomes possible to identify management actions that may enhance synergies and mitigate tradeoffs, leading to better decisions for nature and people.
This paper aims to inform forward-planning policies in the face of sea-level rise due to climate change, focusing on the choice of reducing the vulnerability of property at risk through managed retreat or protection behind seawalls. This adaptation is important not only to reduce the cost of future damage but also to maintain the beaches which are an attractive feature for tourism, of vital importance for coastal areas. Some 421 residents with main and secondary homes were surveyed in Hyères-les-palmiers in the Var department (Southeast France). The survey sought to compare the willingness of residents to contribute financially to building a seawall or to relocating sea-front property. Preferences depend both on common variables and variables specific to the proposed arrangement. They reveal common concerns focused on effectiveness and the determining factor of property ownership. The results also show some awareness of the long-term advantages of managed retreat, despite some opposition from older people, who are also more skeptical about the reality of the risk incurred.
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is an emerging responsibility of resource managers around the United States and elsewhere. A key proposed advantage of MSP is that it makes tradeoffs in resource use and sector (stakeholder group) values explicit, but doing so requires tools to assess tradeoffs. We extended tradeoff analyses from economics to simultaneously assess multiple ecosystem services and the values they provide to sectors using a robust, quantitative, and transparent framework. We used the framework to assess potential conflicts among offshore wind energy, commercial fishing, and whale-watching sectors in Massachusetts and identify and quantify the value from choosing optimal wind farm designs that minimize conflicts among these sectors. Most notably, we show that using MSP over conventional planning could prevent >$1 million dollars in losses to the incumbent fishery and whale-watching sectors and could generate >$10 billion in extra value to the energy sector. The value of MSP increased with the greater the number of sectors considered and the larger the area under management. Importantly, the framework can be applied even when sectors are not measured in dollars (e.g., conservation). Making tradeoffs explicit improves transparency in decision-making, helps avoid unnecessary conflicts attributable to perceived but weak tradeoffs, and focuses debate on finding the most efficient solutions to mitigate real tradeoffs and maximize sector values. Our analysis demonstrates the utility, feasibility, and value of MSP and provides timely support for the management transitions needed for society to address the challenges of an increasingly crowded ocean environment.
Conservation planners must reconcile trade-offs associated with using biodiversity data of differing qualities to make decisions. Coarse habitat classifications are commonly used as surrogates to design marine reserve networks when fine-scale biodiversity data are incomplete or unavailable. Although finely-classified habitat maps provide more detail, they may have more misclassification errors, a common problem when remotely-sensed imagery is used. Despite these issues, planners rarely consider the effects of errors when choosing data for spatially explicit conservation prioritizations. Here we evaluate trade-offs between accuracy and resolution of hierarchical coral reef habitat data (geomorphology and benthic substrate) derived from remote sensing, in spatial planning for Kubulau District, Fiji. For both, we use accuracy information describing the probability that a mapped habitat classification is correct to design marine reserve networks that achieve habitat conservation targets, and demonstrate inadequacies of using habitat maps without accuracy data. We show that using more detailed habitat information ensures better representation of biogenic habitats (i.e. coral and seagrass), but leads to larger and more costly reserves, because these data have more misclassification errors, and are also more expensive to obtain. Reduced impacts on fishers are possible using coarsely-classified data, which are also more cost-effective for planning reserves if we account for data collection costs, but using these data may under-represent reef habitats that are important for fisheries and biodiversity, due to the maps low thematic resolution. Finally, we show that explicitly accounting for accuracy information in decisions maximizes the chance of successful conservation outcomes by reducing the risk of missing conservation representation targets, particularly when using finely classified data.
This study investigated the effects of a community-led temperate marine reserve in Lamlash Bay, Firth of Clyde, Scotland, on commercially important populations of European lobster (Homarus gammarus), brown crab (Cancer pagurus), and velvet swimming crabs (Necora puber). Potting surveys conducted over 4 years revealed significantly higher catch per unit effort (cpue 109% greater), weight per unit effort (wpue 189% greater), and carapace length (10–15 mm greater) in lobsters within the reserve compared with control sites. However, likely due to low levels of recruitment and increased fishing effort outside the reserve, lobster catches decreased in all areas during the final 2 years. Nevertheless, catch rates remained higher within the reserve across all years, suggesting the reserve buffered these wider declines. Additionally, lobster cpue and wpue declined with increasing distance from the boundaries of the marine reserve, a trend which tag–recapture data suggested were due to spillover. Catches of berried lobster were also twice as high within the reserve than outside, and the mean potential reproductive output per female was 22.1% greater. It was originally thought that higher densities of lobster within the reserve might lead to greater levels of aggression and physical damage. However, damage levels were solely related to body size, as large lobsters >110 mm had sustained over 218% more damage than smaller individuals. Interestingly, catches of adult lobsters were inversely correlated with those of juvenile lobsters, brown crabs, and velvet crabs, which may be evidence of competitive displacement and/or predation. Our findings provide evidence that temperate marine reserves can deliver fisheries and conservation benefits, and highlight the importance of investigating multispecies interactions, as the recovery of some species can have knock-on effects on others.
To demonstrate how ecosystem service tradeoff models might help decision makers predict the effects of proposed management approaches, SeaPlan collaborated with research teams from New England and the West Coast in 2009 to conduct a two and a half year pilot study analyzing multi-use issues in Northern Massachusetts Bay. The area includes active maritime commerce, two provisional wind energy areas and well-studied, protected waters in the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The two research teams applied different modeling approaches intended to support resource managers during decision making processes. One team led by researchers from the National Center for Ecological Analysis and Synthesis (NCEAS) used the concept of efficiency frontiers from the field of economics to examine how siting an offshore wind farm would affect the ecological and economic aspects of commercial fishing and whale watching. The other team led by researchers from Boston University and University of Vermont used a complex platform called Multiscale Integrated Model of Ecosystem Services (MIMES) to simulate the interplay between commercial fishing, whale watching, offshore wind energy and conservation. To make the technical results understandable to a broad audience, researchers created a user-friendly interface called the Marine Integrated Decision Analysis System (MIDAS). The Northern Massachusetts Bay pilot study demonstrated that ecosystem service tradeoff models can improve understanding of complex interactions within human-marine ecosystems and help visualize likely outcomes resulting from management actions taken across multiple sectors. The research suggests such tools can point to options that are more comprehensive and cost-effective when compared to typical sector-by-sector ocean management.
Many countries are legally obliged to embrace ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries management. Reductions in bycatch and physical habitat damage are now commonplace, but mitigating more sophisticated impacts associated with the ecological functions of target fisheries species are in their infancy. Here we model the impacts of a parrotfish fishery on the future state and resilience of Caribbean coral reefs, enabling us to view the tradeoff between harvest and ecosystem health. We find that the implementation of a simple and enforceable size restriction of >30 cm provides a win:win outcome in the short term, delivering both ecological and fisheries benefits and leading to increased yield and greater coral recovery rate for a given harvest rate. However, maintaining resilient coral reefs even until 2030 requires the addition of harvest limitations (<10% of virgin fishable biomass) to cope with a changing climate and induced coral disturbances, even in reefs that are relatively healthy today. Managing parrotfish is not a panacea for protecting coral reefs but can play a role in sustaining the health of reefs and high-quality habitat for reef fisheries.