The Use of a Predictive Habitat Model and a Fuzzy Logic Approach for Marine Management and Planning

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From PLOS ONE comes, The Use of a Predictive Habitat Model and a Fuzzy Logic Approach for Marine Management and Planning. The "fuzzy logic" approach was used to model the effects of 27 commercially-exploited species from bottom-trawl survey data. The model had a "high" predictive accuracy. You may download the full-text PDF from the link below.

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Table of Contents

Journal Articles

Free Summary: Changing states of North Atlantic large marine ecosystems. K. Sherman, I. Belkin, K.D. Friedland, J. O'Reilly. Environmental Development, Volume 7, July 2013, Pages 46–58.

Free: Ecoregion-Based Conservation Planning in the Mediterranean: Dealing with Large-Scale Heterogeneity. Giakoumi S, Sini M, Gerovasileiou V, Mazor T, Beher J, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e76449. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076449.

Free: The Use of a Predictive Habitat Model and a Fuzzy Logic Approach for Marine Management and Planning. Hattab T, Ben Rais Lasram F, Albouy C, Sammari C, Romdhane MS, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e76430. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0076430.

Free: Environmental Records from Great Barrier Reef Corals: Inshore versus Offshore Drivers. Walther BD, Kingsford MJ, McCulloch MT (2013) PLoS ONE 8(10): e77091. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0077091.

Validation of a fish larvae dispersal model with otolith data in the Western Indian Ocean and implications for marine spatial planning in data-poor regions. Estelle Crochelet, Pascale Chabanet, Karine Pothin, Erwann Lagabrielle, Jason Roberts, Gwenaëlle Pennober, Raymonde Lecomte-Finiger, Michel Petit. Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 86, December 2013, Pages 13–21.

The Reef Corridor of the Southwest Gulf of Mexico: Challenges for its management and conservation. Leonardo Ortiz-Lozano, Horacio Pérez-España, Alejandro Granados-Barba, Carlos González-Gándara, Ana Gutiérrez-Velázquez, Javier Martos. Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 86, December 2013, Pages 22–32.

Explaining and Controlling Illegal Commercial Fishing: An Application of the CRAVED Theft Model. Gohar A. Petrossian and Ronald V. Clarke. Br J Criminol (2013) doi: 10.1093/bjc/azt061.


Free: Indispensable Ocean: Aligning ocean health and human well-being. Global Partnership for Oceans, October 2013.

Changing states of North Atlantic large marine ecosystems

Effects of climate forcing are examined for 15 large marine ecosystems bordering the North Atlantic basin. Trends in multi-decadal time-series data of temperature, chlorophyll, primary productivity, nutrients, and fisheries yields, differed among the LMEs. Responses to climate warming varied between northwestern and northeastern Atlantic LMEs, with warming rates influencing changes in northeast Atlantic LME plankton production and fisheries yields more directly than in LMEs of the northwest Atlantic, where warming rates are lower. In contrast, negative effects of nutrient over-enrichment in relation to harmful algal blooms and hypoxic conditions were greater in the northwest Atlantic LMEs. Forecasts suggest significant increases in nutrient over-enrichment of North Atlantic LMEs by 2050. Fishery time-series analyses suggest increases in fishery yields for sub-arctic LMEs, and declines in LMEs of more southerly latitudes.

Ecoregion-Based Conservation Planning in the Mediterranean: Dealing with Large-Scale Heterogeneity

Spatial priorities for the conservation of three key Mediterranean habitats, i.e. seagrass Posidonia oceanica meadows, coralligenous formations, and marine caves, were determined through a systematic planning approach. Available information on the distribution of these habitats across the entire Mediterranean Sea was compiled to produce basin-scale distribution maps. Conservation targets for each habitat type were set according to European Union guidelines. Surrogates were used to estimate the spatial variation of opportunity cost for commercial, non-commercial fishing, and aquaculture. Marxan conservation planning software was used to evaluate the comparative utility of two planning scenarios: (a) a whole-basin scenario, referring to selection of priority areas across the whole Mediterranean Sea, and (b) an ecoregional scenario, in which priority areas were selected within eight predefined ecoregions. Although both scenarios required approximately the same total area to be protected in order to achieve conservation targets, the opportunity cost differed between them. The whole-basin scenario yielded a lower opportunity cost, but the Alboran Sea ecoregion was not represented and priority areas were predominantly located in the Ionian, Aegean, and Adriatic Seas. In comparison, the ecoregional scenario resulted in a higher representation of ecoregions and a more even distribution of priority areas, albeit with a higher opportunity cost. We suggest that planning at the ecoregional level ensures better representativeness of the selected conservation features and adequate protection of species, functional, and genetic diversity across the basin. While there are several initiatives that identify priority areas in the Mediterranean Sea, our approach is novel as it combines three issues: (a) it is based on the distribution of habitats and not species, which was rarely the case in previous efforts, (b) it considers spatial variability of cost throughout this socioeconomically heterogeneous basin, and (c) it adopts ecoregions as the most appropriate level for large-scale planning.

The Use of a Predictive Habitat Model and a Fuzzy Logic Approach for Marine Management and Planning

Bottom trawl survey data are commonly used as a sampling technique to assess the spatial distribution of commercial species. However, this sampling technique does not always correctly detect a species even when it is present, and this can create significant limitations when fitting species distribution models. In this study, we aim to test the relevance of a mixed methodological approach that combines presence-only and presence-absence distribution models. We illustrate this approach using bottom trawl survey data to model the spatial distributions of 27 commercially targeted marine species. We use an environmentally- and geographically-weighted method to simulate pseudo-absence data. The species distributions are modelled using regression kriging, a technique that explicitly incorporates spatial dependence into predictions. Model outputs are then used to identify areas that met the conservation targets for the deployment of artificial anti-trawling reefs. To achieve this, we propose the use of a fuzzy logic framework that accounts for the uncertainty associated with different model predictions. For each species, the predictive accuracy of the model is classified as ‘high’. A better result is observed when a large number of occurrences are used to develop the model. The map resulting from the fuzzy overlay shows that three main areas have a high level of agreement with the conservation criteria. These results align with expert opinion, confirming the relevance of the proposed methodology in this study.

Environmental Records from Great Barrier Reef Corals: Inshore versus Offshore Drivers

The biogenic structures of stationary organisms can be effective recorders of environmental fluctuations. These proxy records of environmental change are preserved as geochemical signals in the carbonate skeletons of scleractinian corals and are useful for reconstructions of temporal and spatial fluctuations in the physical and chemical environments of coral reef ecosystems, including The Great Barrier Reef (GBR). We compared multi-year monitoring of water temperature and dissolved elements with analyses of chemical proxies recorded in Porites coral skeletons to identify the divergent mechanisms driving environmental variation at inshore versus offshore reefs. At inshore reefs, water Ba/Ca increased with the onset of monsoonal rains each year, indicating a dominant control of flooding on inshore ambient chemistry. Inshore multi-decadal records of coral Ba/Ca were also highly periodic in response to flood-driven pulses of terrigenous material. In contrast, an offshore reef at the edge of the continental shelf was subject to annual upwelling of waters that were presumed to be richer in Ba during summer months. Regular pulses of deep cold water were delivered to the reef as indicated by in situ temperature loggers and coral Ba/Ca. Our results indicate that although much of the GBR is subject to periodic environmental fluctuations, the mechanisms driving variation depend on proximity to the coast. Inshore reefs are primarily influenced by variable freshwater delivery and terrigenous erosion of catchments, while offshore reefs are dominated by seasonal and inter-annual variations in oceanographic conditions that influence the propensity for upwelling. The careful choice of sites can help distinguish between the various factors that promote Ba uptake in corals and therefore increase the utility of corals as monitors of spatial and temporal variation in environmental conditions.

Validation of a fish larvae dispersal model with otolith data in the Western Indian Ocean and implications for marine spatial planning in data-poor regions

The pelagic larval period is probably the least understood life stage of reef fish, yet the processes of larval dispersal and settlement exert a strong influence on the persistence of reef fish populations. A thorough understanding of these processes is essential to determining whether distant populations are connected and how to adapt management plans to patterns in connectivity. Managers may erroneously assume that local populations are isolated when they are actually replenished by distant reefs beyond their jurisdiction. Researchers increasingly rely on numerical hydrodynamic models that simulate the spatiotemporal dispersal of larvae by ocean currents to elucidate these connections and guide marine spatial planners, yet relatively little work has been done to validate these models with empirical data. In this study, we tested a dispersal simulation model against in situ observations of young post-larval fish to investigate a whether larvae settling at La Réunion (in the western Indian Ocean) might have originated at Mauritius, 200 km distant. First, we collected post larval specimens of honeycomb grouper (Epinephelus merra) shortly after an episodic mass settlement that occurred in 2002 at La Réunion. Using sclerochronology, we established the age of the fish from their otoliths. Finally, we simulated dispersal of larvae from La Réunion, Mauritius, and other reefs in the region by ocean currents using a 2D Eulerian advection-diffusion model driven by current velocities derived from satellite remote sensing. The simulation suggested that larvae spawned at La Réunion were carried away from the island while larvae spawned at Mauritius were carried to La Réunion. The otolith-derived ages of the fish were compatible with this hypothesis, when we accounted for the time required for larvae to drift from Mauritius to La Réunion. The combined results suggest a dispersal connection from Mauritius to La Réunion. To best maintain populations of adult reef fish at La Réunion, managers should protect stocks spawning at Mauritius. Although more study is needed to characterize patterns of regional connectivity and account for seasonal and inter-annual variations in these patterns, the example presented here demonstrates the possibility of distant connections in the western Indian Ocean. We urge managers in the region to look beyond their own jurisdictions, view their jurisdictions as part of a connected network, and undertake a collaborative approach to protecting the network as a whole.

The Reef Corridor of the Southwest Gulf of Mexico: Challenges for its management and conservation

Flow of species and spatial continuity of biological processes between geographically separated areas may be achieved using management tools known as Ecological Corridors (EC). In this paper we propose an EC composed of three highly threatened coral reef systems in the Southwest Gulf of Mexico: Sistema Arrecifal Lobos Tuxpan, Sistema Arrecifal Veracruzano and Arrecifes de los Tuxtlas. The proposed EC is supported by the concept of Marine Protected Areas Networks, which highlights the biogeographical and habitat heterogeneity representations as the main criteria to the establishment of this kind of networks. These three reef systems represent the coral biodiversity of the western Gulf of Mexico. Nevertheless there are serious shortcomings in its protection. Under this approach, the challenges that Mexican government will face for management and conservation of this EC are discussed. There is an obvious lack of an adequate legal framework to establish networks of protected areas in Mexico, mainly because national legislation does not consider connectivity as an important factor in the selection of MPA.

Explaining and Controlling Illegal Commercial Fishing: An Application of the CRAVED Theft Model

The study explores why certain fish are at risk of being taken illegally by commercial fishers. Fifty-eight illegally caught species were individually matched with 58 controls using a standard classification of fish. Consistently with the CRAVED model of theft, illegally caught species were more Concealable (sold through more ports of convenience), more Removable (caught with longline vessels), more Abundant and Accessible (to known illegal fishing countries), more Valuable (larger), more Enjoyable (more often found in recipes) and more Disposable (highly commercial). Fisheries authorities should: (1) focus on ports of convenience, (2) monitor longliners, (3) exert pressure on known illegal fishing countries and (4) educate consumers about vulnerable species.

Indispensable Ocean: Aligning ocean health and human well-being

A unique panel of business, government, conservation and academic leaders has agreed a global strategy for aligning ocean health and human well-being. The Blue Ribbon Panel, which includes 21 global experts from 16 countries, emphasizes that without action to turn around the declining health of the ocean, the consequences for economies, communities and ecosystems will be irreversible.

Recent science from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the International Programme on the State of the Ocean (IPSO) has intensified the focus on declining ocean health.

“Ocean change is climate change and vice versa,” said panel chair and ocean adviser to the IPCC Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “With looming threats of rising sea levels, warmer waters and a growing human population we need healthy oceans and coasts to mitigate climate change, feed billions and protect coastal communities.”

But there is good news: solutions exist that benefit both oceans and economies, according to the panel’s report.

Convened by the World Bank to advise the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), the Panel includes high-level players ranging from CEOs of some of the largest seafood companies in the world - including Thai Union Frozen Products, Bumble Bee Foods and High Liner Foods - to government officials and prominent marine conservationists.

According to the panel, fragmented approaches that fail to consider social, political, economic and ecological relationships will fail to meet the complex challenges facing ocean health. The report calls for an integrated approach to ocean investment and emphasizes the essential role of public-private partnerships.

The panel agreed that the Global Partnership for Oceans is a platform that brings together the multi-stakeholder support, technical expertise and finance needed to change the course on oceans.

“Getting to healthy oceans is a global challenge that needs the concentrated effort of big and small business, government and science,” said Ove Hoegh-Guldberg. “Though they brought very different world views, everyone on this panel agreed that we can’t keep going with business-as-usual and all parts of society must be part of the solution.”

The panel agreed there is no “silver bullet” to resolving urgent ocean challenges. Therefore, it proposes these five principles to ensure effective GPO investments: (1) sustainable livelihoods, social equity and food security; (2) a healthy ocean; (3) effective governance systems; (4) long-term viability and (5) capacity building and innovation.

“Being a member of the Blue Ribbon Panel has been a rewarding opportunity to collaborate with key players and thought leaders in ocean sustainability." said panelist Chris Lischewski, President and CEO of Bumble Bee Foods. “The process reinforces that improving ocean health is a complex process that requires participation and interaction across a broad sphere of communities, industries and governments.”

The Panel’s principle-based strategy provides an approach to prioritize where, when and how the GPO can take action with high impact. The panel recommends that the principles be incorporated into all levels of reform - from fisheries management to incentives for pollution reduction to habitat restoration.

“Bringing this diverse and powerful group together to reach consensus on the challenges and what needs to be done shows what is possible through effective global partnership,” said Juergen Voegele of the World Bank. “The panel’s top priorities build naturally from the GPO’s objectives of healthy oceans and poverty alleviation and their recommendations will make this partnership strategic in how and where it works.”

“This is a critical time in history,” said panelist Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum. “All levels of society and all stakeholders need to combine in joint action as a response to this very global problem.”