Resilience, regime shifts and ecosystem services: The case of offshore wind farm installation in the German North Sea

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The Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) Newsletter features an article on Resilience, regime shifts and ecosystem services: The case of offshore wind farm installation in the German North Sea. You may download the full-text PDF for free following the link below.

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Table of Contents

Journal Articles

Valuing marine parks in a small island developing state: a travel cost analysis in Seychelles. Paul Mwebaze and Alan MacLeod (2013). Environment and Development Economics, 18, pp 405-426 doi:10.1017/S1355770X12000538.

Efficacy of rights-based management of small pelagic fish within an ecosystems approach to fisheries in South Africa. M M Hara (2013) African Journal of Marine Science, 35:3, 315-322.

A Race for Marine Space: Science, Values, and Aquaculture Planning in New Zealand. Michael Vincent McGinnis & Meghan Collins (2013) Coastal Management, 41:5, 401-419, DOI: 10.1080/08920753.2013.822284.

Wave resource assessment in Oregon and southwest Washington, USA. Gabriel García-Medina, H. Tuba Özkan-Haller, Peter Ruggiero. Renewable Energy, Volume 64, April 2014, Pages 203–214.

Dynamic connectivity patterns from an insular marine protected area in the Gulf of California. Gaspar Soria, Jorge Torre-Cosio, Adrián Munguia-Vega, Silvio Guido Marinone, Miguel F. Lavín, Ana Cinti, Marcia Moreno-Báez. Journal of Marine Systems, Volume 129, January 2014, Pages 248–258.

Ecological damage compensation for coastal sea area uses. Huanhuan Rao, Chenchen Lin, Hao Kong, Di Jin, Benrong Peng. Ecological Indicators, Volume 38, March 2014, Pages 149–158.

Managing Natura 2000 in the marine environment – An evaluation of the effectiveness of ‘management schemes’ in England. Roger K.A. Morris, Teresa Bennett, Rob Blyth-Skyrme, Peter J. Barham, Andrena Ball. Ocean & Coastal Management, Volume 87, January 2014, Pages 40–51.

The Art of Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management. Michael J Fogarty. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences, DOI: 10.1139/cjfas-2013-0203.

Free: Marine Plastic Pollution in Waters around Australia: Characteristics, Concentrations, and Pathways. Reisser J, Shaw J, Wilcox C, Hardesty BD, Proietti M, et al. (2013) PLoS ONE 8(11): e80466. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080466.

Free: Bleaching Susceptibility and Recovery of Colombian Caribbean Corals in Response to Water Current Exposure and Seasonal Upwelling. Bayraktarov E, Pizarro V, Eidens C, Wilke T, Wild C (2013) PLoS ONE 8(11): e80536. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080536.

Free: Determining the Extent and Characterizing Coral Reef Habitats of the Northern Latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County). Walker BK, Gilliam DS (2013) PLoS ONE 8(11): e80439. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080439.

Free: Coastal Fish Assemblages Reflect Geological and Oceanographic Gradients Within An Australian Zootone. Harvey ES, Cappo M, Kendrick GA, McLean DL (2013) PLoS ONE 8(11): e80955. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0080955.

Free: Heterotrophic Compensation: A Possible Mechanism for Resilience of Coral Reefs to Global Warming or a Sign of Prolonged Stress? Hughes AD, Grottoli AG (2013) PLoS ONE 8(11): e81172. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0081172.

Free: Ecological effects of ocean acidification and habitat complexity on reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities. K. E. Fabricius, G. De'ath, S. Noonan and S. Uthicke. Proc. R. Soc. B 22 January 2014 vol. 281 no. 1775 20132479.

The consequences of balanced harvesting of fish communities. Nis S. Jacobsen, Henrik Gislason and Ken H. Andersen. Proc. R. Soc. B 22 January 2014 vol. 281 no. 1775 20132701.

Ignoring discards biases the assessment of fisheries' ecological fingerprint. Mafalda Viana, Luke McNally, Norman Graham, David G. Reid and Andrew L. Jackson. Biol. Lett. 23 December 2013 vol. 9 no. 6 20130812.

Reports

Free: Regional Strategy for the Control of Invasive Lionfish in the Wider Caribbean. Gómez Lozano, R., L. Anderson, J.L. Akins, D.S.A. Buddo, G. García-Moliner, F. Gourdin, M. Laurent, C. Lilyestrom, J.A. Morris, Jr., N. Ramnanan, and R. Torres. 2013. International Coral Reef Initiative, 31 pp.

Newsletters

Free: LOICZ Newsletter, Resilience, regime shifts and ecosystem services: The case of offshore wind farm installation in the German North Sea. Benjamin Burkhard and Kira Gee. Land-Ocean Interactions in the Coastal Zone (LOICZ) 2013, Issue 2. ISSN: 2070-2000.


Valuing marine parks in a small island developing state: a travel cost analysis in Seychelles

A major problem facing the Seychelles islands is the decline in the quality and the value of marine protected areas (MPAs). Economic valuation can help guide policy makers to understand the value of marine resources and the cost of neglecting MPAs by expressing the value of their goods and services in monetary terms. This paper presents an analysis of the economic value of a group of marine parks in Seychelles. The travel cost method is used to establish willingness-to-pay of international tourists for trips to marine parks in Seychelles from their observed behaviour. The average per-trip consumer surplus is approximately €128 for single-site visitors and €65 for multiple-site visitors. The total social welfare value attributable to the recreational opportunity in marine parks is approximately €3.7million annually. These results provide policymakers with a strong justification for government investment needed to maintain marine sites in Seychelles.


Efficacy of rights-based management of small pelagic fish within an ecosystems approach to fisheries in South Africa

South Africa's small pelagics fishery is moving towards a management strategy using an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF), with rights-based management (RBM) as the key rights allocation system. While EAF strives to balance between, among others, ecological and social-economic objectives, RBM is driving the sector towards economic efficiency. Within EAF itself, there are still underlying mismatches between the two top objectives, ‘human wellbeing’ and ‘ecological wellbeing’, in effect requiring a better balance between these objectives than there is currently. For example, fishers do not believe they should be competing with marine mammals and birds for allocation of the resource, yet this is one of the primary trade-offs that have to be made when setting the annual total allowable catches (TACs) under EAF. A balance between the two objectives could be achieved through acceptable trade-offs between them among all stakeholders within inclusive governance. Implementation of RBM has had both positive and negative effects on the objectives for EAF. Of concern are the negative effects of RBM on human wellbeing. For example, fishers feel that RBM has weakened their bargaining position, thereby reducing their benefits. In addition, RBM has resulted in job losses and insecurity of employment within the fisheries sector. The most affected have been the most vulnerable — the low level workers — who ought to be the key beneficiaries of RBM. Thus prioritising and protecting vulnerable groups and fishing communities need careful consideration when creating RBM, even in the context of EAF. Rights-based management has also had negative effects on ecological wellbeing through practices such as increased dumping and ‘high grading’ as part of industry's drive for increased efficiency under RBM. Whereas scientists believe that variability is largely due to environmental conditions, fishers strongly feel that dumping, high grading and high fishing pressure are the main factors. One of the positive aspects of RBM has been improved understanding among rights-holders and fishers of the need to consider other organisms in the TAC and to protect these through establishment of marine protected areas, island perimeter closures and limiting bycatch, thereby impacting positively on ecological wellbeing.


A Race for Marine Space: Science, Values, and Aquaculture Planning in New Zealand

New Zealand (NZ) has developed a coastal management framework that includes large watersheds and territorial waters (out to 12 nautical miles). The article describes the developing conflicts associated with the biophysical and epistemological dimensions of expanding coastal marine space for aquaculture. We first review aquaculture policy in NZ, and recent evidence of the biophysical impacts from increasing terrestrial inputs on marine ecosystems. We provide a case study of conflict over a recent proposal to expand salmon aquaculture in the Marlborough Sounds, which covers some 4,000 km2 of sounds, islands, and peninsulas. Based on information and data from interviews of stakeholders involved in the aquaculture planning, we describe three diverse epistemologies of science—client-based science, civic science, and Māori traditional ecological knowledge. We conclude the article with a critical review of how to better resolve spatial conflicts that often emerge in coastal management and planning.


Wave resource assessment in Oregon and southwest Washington, USA

Detailed wave energy resource assessments are necessary for the planning and design of wave energy converters. The waves in the U.S. Pacific Northwest have been identified as very energetic making this coast potentially suitable for wave energy harvesting. Several efforts to harvest this resource are under way in this region, however no long term, high resolution description of the resource is presently available. Here, the results of a 7 year hindcast are presented at a 30 arc-second resolution using the numerical models WAVEWATCH III and SWAN. The hindcast accuracy was quantified by comparing to measured buoy data yielding linear correlation coefficients ∼0.90 for the significant wave height. This study describes the alongshore variability of the resource over the continental shelf. The general decline of the wave power with depth is explained by considerations of wave refraction and shoaling. Further, due to wave refraction, areas off the central and southwest Oregon coast are identified that show increased wave power at 50 m of water in comparison with the 250 m value. These areas also show increased temporal variability. In addition, areas with preferentially narrower wave spectra in both frequency and direction are identified off southwest Oregon. Further, general trends in the directionality of the resource indicate a systematic switch in the wave direction with latitude. The seasonality of the resource is also assessed in terms of variability and trends relevant to the planning and deployment of wave energy converters. The continental shelf is mapped in terms of the coefficient of variability, which is greater (smaller) than unity during the summer (winter) and regardless of the season smaller in southwest Oregon.


Dynamic connectivity patterns from an insular marine protected area in the Gulf of California

We studied connectivity patterns from a small and isolated island in the Gulf of California (San Pedro Mártir Island Biosphere Reserve), as a source of propagules to surrounding Marine Protected Areas and fishing sites. We used a particle-tracking scheme based on the outputs of a three-dimensional numerical hydrodynamic model to assess the spatial domain to which the island exports larvae as well as larvae retention. We modeled the release of passive particles from locations around the island during the four release dates (May 15 and 31, and June 14 and 30), matching the lunar phases and the peak of the reproductive season for several commercial invertebrates and fish, at the time when currents in the Gulf typically reverse. For each simulation we analyzed the data at 15, 20 and 30 days after the release to represent different planktonic propagule durations. Particle dispersion was highly dynamic and spread over ~ 600 km along the coast over the study period. Overall, we observed potential ecological connectivity with a few key distant fishing sites that changed trough time, and potential genetic connectivity towards many near and distant sites, including all neighboring Marine Protected Areas, although not simultaneously. The percentages of particles remaining within the boundaries of the island tended to decline from May to June, and decreased with delayed planktonic propagule duration. The design of effective Marine Protected Areas should acknowledge the dynamic nature of connectivity patterns, for instance, by establishing adaptive network reserves to respond to changing ocean features that match reproductive patterns of target species and fisheries behavior.


Ecological damage compensation for coastal sea area uses

Rapid economic growth has resulted in significant ecological degradation in many coastal areas in China. Control measures involving marine ecological damage compensation (MEDC) have been introduced to curb unsustainable development. The study presents a practical framework for developing the MEDC standard. The standard considers spatial variation in ecological services and includes many different types of ocean uses that are common in coastal waters around the world. We illustrate the framework and specific procedures through a case study of Xiamen. Results of our calculation show that damages from many ocean uses to the ecosystems are not adequately compensated under current management regime, and a carefully designed MEDC standard is crucial for sustainable development.


Managing Natura 2000 in the marine environment – An evaluation of the effectiveness of ‘management schemes’ in England

The EU Habitats Directive (1992) has been a major mechanism for conservation of marine biodiversity in the UK. It involves rigorous scrutiny of new plans or projects combined with the use of local regulatory powers to limit detrimental impacts on important wildlife assets. UK law requires the statutory nature conservation adviser to establish conservation objectives for sites, but the management mechanism is effectively voluntary. The ‘management scheme’ was developed in the latter part of the 1990s and has been in place for more than a decade. This paper describes the lessons learned following a review commissioned to determine the effectiveness of management schemes.

Strong local commitment and leadership of management schemes have helped to improve the conservation status of some sites. Elsewhere, the absence of legal provision for a designated leadership structure means that some management schemes may not have performed as effectively as they could have. Weaknesses in the feedback loop between monitoring and assessment of the need for corrective action were also detected. In addition, insecure funding provisions mean that staff turnover can be high and this limits scheme effectiveness, which is dependent upon the maintenance of a sound knowledge base.

The strengths of well-led and proactive management approaches could be fostered elsewhere provided relevant authorities and their staff are empowered to do so. The lessons arising from this approach are relevant to management initiatives worldwide, even though different legislative frameworks will apply. They emphasise the importance of matching legal provisions with the necessary capacity to make sure that management interventions are implemented and are respected.


The Art of Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management

The perception that Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management is too complex and poorly defined remains a primary impediment to its broad scale adoption and implementation. Here, I attempt to offer potential solutions to these concerns. Specifically, I focus on potential pathways that can contribute to overall simplification by moving toward integrated place-based management plans and away from large numbers of species-based plans; by using multispecies or ecosystem models that permit the simultaneous and consistent assessment of ecosystem components while also incorporating broader environmental factors; and by consolidating individual administrative and regulatory functions now mostly dealt with on a species-by-species basis to a more integrated framework for system-wide decision-making. The approach focuses on emergent properties at the community and ecosystem levels and seeks to identify simpler modeling and analysis tools for evaluation. Adoption of Ecosystem-based Management Procedures, relying on simple decision rules and metrics is advocated. It is recommended that we replace static concepts for individual species focusing on Maximum Sustainable Yield with a focus on a Dynamic Ecosystem Yield framework that involves setting system-wide reference points along with constraints to protect individual species, habitats, and non-target organisms in a dynamic environmental setting.


Marine Plastic Pollution in Waters around Australia: Characteristics, Concentrations, and Pathways

Plastics represent the vast majority of human-made debris present in the oceans. However, their characteristics, accumulation zones, and transport pathways remain poorly assessed. We characterised and estimated the concentration of marine plastics in waters around Australia using surface net tows, and inferred their potential pathways using particle-tracking models and real drifter trajectories. The 839 marine plastics recorded were predominantly small fragments (“microplastics”, median length = 2.8 mm, mean length = 4.9 mm) resulting from the breakdown of larger objects made of polyethylene and polypropylene (e.g. packaging and fishing items). Mean sea surface plastic concentration was 4256.4 pieces km−2, and after incorporating the effect of vertical wind mixing, this value increased to 8966.3 pieces km−2. These plastics appear to be associated with a wide range of ocean currents that connect the sampled sites to their international and domestic sources, including populated areas of Australia's east coast. This study shows that plastic contamination levels in surface waters of Australia are similar to those in the Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Maine, but considerably lower than those found in the subtropical gyres and Mediterranean Sea. Microplastics such as the ones described here have the potential to affect organisms ranging from megafauna to small fish and zooplankton.


Bleaching Susceptibility and Recovery of Colombian Caribbean Corals in Response to Water Current Exposure and Seasonal Upwelling

Coral bleaching events are globally occurring more frequently and with higher intensity, mainly caused by increases in seawater temperature. In Tayrona National Natural Park (TNNP) in the Colombian Caribbean, local coral communities are subjected to seasonal wind-triggered upwelling events coinciding with stronger water currents depending on location. This natural phenomenon offers the unique opportunity to study potential water current-induced mitigation mechanisms of coral bleaching in an upwelling influenced region. Therefore, coral bleaching susceptibility and recovery patterns were compared during a moderate and a mild bleaching event in December 2010 and 2011, and at the end of the subsequent upwelling periods at a water current-exposed and -sheltered site of an exemplary bay using permanent transect and labeling tools. This was accompanied by parallel monitoring of key environmental variables. Findings revealed that in 2010 overall coral bleaching before upwelling was significantly higher at the sheltered (34%) compared to the exposed site (8%). Whereas 97% of all previously bleached corals at the water current-exposed site had recovered from bleaching by April 2011, only 77% recovered at the sheltered site, but 12% had died there. In December 2011, only mild bleaching (<10% at both sites) was observed, but corals recovered significantly at both sites in the course of upwelling. No differences in water temperatures between sites occurred, but water current exposure and turbidity were significantly higher at the exposed site, suggesting that these variables may be responsible for the observed site-specific mitigation of coral bleaching. This indicates the existence of local resilience patterns against coral bleaching in Caribbean reefs.


Determining the Extent and Characterizing Coral Reef Habitats of the Northern Latitudes of the Florida Reef Tract (Martin County)

Climate change has recently been implicated in poleward shifts of many tropical species including corals; thus attention focused on higher-latitude coral communities is warranted to investigate possible range expansions and ecosystem shifts due to global warming. As the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract (FRT), the third-largest barrier reef ecosystem in the world, southeast Florida (25–27° N latitude) is a prime region to study such effects. Most of the shallow-water FRT benthic habitats have been mapped, however minimal data and limited knowledge exist about the coral reef communities of its northernmost reaches off Martin County. First benthic habitat mapping was conducted using newly acquired high resolution LIDAR bathymetry and aerial photography where possible to map the spatial extent of coral reef habitats. Quantitative data were collected to characterize benthic cover and stony coral demographics and a comprehensive accuracy assessment was performed. The data were then analyzed in a habitat biogeography context to determine if a new coral reef ecosystem region designation was warranted. Of the 374 km2 seafloor mapped, 95.2% was Sand, 4.1% was Coral Reef and Colonized Pavement, and 0.7% was Other Delineations. Map accuracy assessment yielded an overall accuracy of 94.9% once adjusted for known map marginal proportions. Cluster analysis of cross-shelf habitat type and widths indicated that the benthic habitats were different than those further south and warranted designation of a new coral reef ecosystem region. Unlike the FRT further south, coral communities were dominated by cold-water tolerant species and LIDAR morphology indicated no evidence of historic reef growth during warmer climates. Present-day hydrographic conditions may be inhibiting poleward expansion of coral communities along Florida. This study provides new information on the benthic community composition of the northern FRT, serving as a baseline for future community shift and range expansion investigations.


Coastal Fish Assemblages Reflect Geological and Oceanographic Gradients Within An Australian Zootone

Distributions of mobile animals have been shown to be heavily influenced by habitat and climate. We address the historical and contemporary context of fish habitats within a major zootone: the Recherche Archipelago, southern western Australia. Baited remote underwater video systems were set in nine habitat types within three regions to determine the species diversity and relative abundance of bony fishes, sharks and rays. Constrained ordinations and multivariate prediction and regression trees were used to examine the effects of gradients in longitude, depth, distance from islands and coast, and epibenthic habitat on fish assemblage composition. A total of 90 species from 43 families were recorded from a wide range of functional groups. Ordination accounted for 19% of the variation in the assemblage composition when constrained by spatial and epibenthic covariates, and identified redundancy in the use of distance from the nearest emergent island as a predictor. A spatial hierarchy of fourteen fish assemblages was identified using multivariate prediction and regression trees, with the primary split between assemblages on macroalgal reefs, and those on bare or sandy habitats supporting seagrass beds. The characterisation of indicator species for assemblages within the hierarchy revealed important faunal break in fish assemblages at 122.30 East at Cape Le Grand and subtle niche partitioning amongst species within the labrids and monacanthids. For example, some species of monacanthids were habitat specialists and predominantly found on seagrass (Acanthaluteres vittiger, Scobinichthys granulatus), reef (Meuschenia galii, Meuschenia hippocrepis) or sand habitats (Nelusetta ayraudi). Predatory fish that consume molluscs, crustaceans and cephalopods were dominant with evidence of habitat generalisation in reef species to cope with local disturbances by wave action. Niche separation within major genera, and a sub-regional faunal break, indicate future zootone mapping should recognise both cross-shelf and longshore environmental gradients.


Heterotrophic Compensation: A Possible Mechanism for Resilience of Coral Reefs to Global Warming or a Sign of Prolonged Stress?

Thermally induced bleaching has caused a global decline in corals and the frequency of such bleaching events will increase. Thermal bleaching severely disrupts the trophic behaviour of the coral holobiont, reducing the photosynthetically derived energy available to the coral host. In the short term this reduction in energy transfer from endosymbiotic algae results in an energy deficit for the coral host. If the bleaching event is short-lived then the coral may survive this energy deficit by depleting its lipid reserves, or by increasing heterotrophic energy acquisition. We show for the first time that the coral animal is capable of increasing the amount of heterotrophic carbon incorporated into its tissues for almost a year following bleaching. This prolonged heterotrophic compensation could be a sign of resilience or prolonged stress. If the heterotrophic compensation is in fact an acclimatization response, then this physiological response could act as a buffer from future bleaching by providing sufficient heterotrophic energy to compensate for photoautotrophic energy losses during bleaching, and potentially minimizing the effect of subsequent elevated temperature stresses. However, if the elevated incorporation of zooplankton is a sign that the effects of bleaching continue to be stressful on the holobiont, even after 11 months of recovery, then this physiological response would indicate that complete coral recovery requires more than 11 months to achieve. If coral bleaching becomes an annual global phenomenon by mid-century, then present temporal refugia will not be sufficient to allow coral colonies to recover between bleaching events and coral reefs will become increasingly less resilient to future climate change. If, however, increasing their sequestration of zooplankton-derived nutrition into their tissues over prolonged periods of time is a compensating mechanism, the impacts of annual bleaching may be reduced. Thus, some coral species may be better equipped to face repeated bleaching stress than previously thought.


Ecological effects of ocean acidification and habitat complexity on reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities

The ecological effects of ocean acidification (OA) from rising atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) on benthic marine communities are largely unknown. We investigated in situ the consequences of long-term exposure to high CO2 on coral-reef-associated macroinvertebrate communities around three shallow volcanic CO2 seeps in Papua New Guinea. The densities of many groups and the number of taxa (classes and phyla) of macroinvertebrates were significantly reduced at elevated CO2 (425–1100 µatm) compared with control sites. However, sensitivities of some groups, including decapod crustaceans, ascidians and several echinoderms, contrasted with predictions of their physiological CO2 tolerances derived from laboratory experiments. High CO2 reduced the availability of structurally complex corals that are essential refugia for many reef-associated macroinvertebrates. This loss of habitat complexity was also associated with losses in many macroinvertebrate groups, especially predation-prone mobile taxa, including crustaceans and crinoids. The transition from living to dead coral as substratum and habitat further altered macroinvertebrate communities, with far more taxa losing than gaining in numbers. Our study shows that indirect ecological effects of OA (reduced habitat complexity) will complement its direct physiological effects and together with the loss of coral cover through climate change will severely affect macroinvertebrate communities in coral reefs.


The consequences of balanced harvesting of fish communities

Balanced harvesting, where species or individuals are exploited in accordance with their productivity, has been proposed as a way to minimize the effects of fishing on marine fish communities and ecosystems. This calls for a thorough examination of the consequences balanced harvesting has on fish community structure and yield. We use a size- and trait-based model that resolves individual interactions through competition and predation to compare balanced harvesting with traditional selective harvesting, which protects juvenile fish from fishing. Four different exploitation patterns, generated by combining selective or unselective harvesting with balanced or unbalanced fishing, are compared. We find that unselective balanced fishing, where individuals are exploited in proportion to their productivity, produces a slightly larger total maximum sustainable yield than the other exploitation patterns and, for a given yield, the least change in the relative biomass composition of the fish community. Because fishing reduces competition, predation and cannibalism within the community, the total maximum sustainable yield is achieved at high exploitation rates. The yield from unselective balanced fishing is dominated by small individuals, whereas selective fishing produces a much higher proportion of large individuals in the yield. Although unselective balanced fishing is predicted to produce the highest total maximum sustainable yield and the lowest impact on trophic structure, it is effectively a fishery predominantly targeting small forage fish.


Ignoring discards biases the assessment of fisheries' ecological fingerprint

Understanding the pressures of fisheries on the ecosystem is crucial for effective management. Fishery removals, or catch, are composed of both landings and discards. However, the use of discards data in studies investigating the effect of the fishing pressures is sparse. Here, we explore the individual contribution of both these catch components to the overall pressure of fisheries on the ecosystem metrics. Using Irish observer data, we compare the linear relationship between several ecological metrics calculated for landings and discards with those of catch. Our results show that in fisheries with high discarding rates, discards can drive the fisheries’ ecological fingerprint and highlight the need to rectify landings-based estimates to make them representative of those of catch in order to gain a robust picture of the impact of fisheries.


Regional Strategy for the Control of Invasive Lionfish in the Wider Caribbean

Lionfishes are venomous species of scorpionfishes which are native to Indo-Pacific coral reef ecosystems and adjacent habitats. Because of their colorful and dramatic appearance, they are prized by aquarists around the world. Through accidental and/or purposeful release into warm Atlantic waters, they have become established as a highly problematic alien species that poses a serious threat to coral reefs in Bermuda, Florida, the Gulf of Mexico, the Caribbean islands, Central America, and northern South America. Invasive lionfish populations can reach high densities and cause extreme disruption to native fish communities; they have been shown to reduce biodiversity, are responsible for the decline of ecologically important species, and hinder stock-rebuilding efforts for economically important species.

In January 2010, in recognition of the severity of the lionfish invasion and its impact on coral reefs and local communities, the 24th General Meeting of the International Coral Reef Initiative (ICRI) agreed to set up an Ad Hoc Committee to develop a strategic plan for the control of lionfish in the Wider Caribbean. The Strategy described in this document is one of the actions implemented by the Ad Hoc Committee, known as the Regional Lionfish Committee (RLC). It seeks to build on the existing programs and efforts aimed at minimizing the impacts of the lionfish in the region, and to provide a framework for action to provide a regionally coordinated response to the lionfish threat. The Strategy is based on the following objectives:

i) Facilitate collaboration among governments, reef-reliant industries, civil society, and academia by providing mechanisms for coordination of efforts across political and geographical boundaries,

ii) Encourage a coordinated research and monitoring agenda,

iii) Encourage governments to review and amend relevant legislation and, if necessary, develop new regulations and policies to control lionfish,

iv) Control invasive lionfish populations using regionally coordinated, effective methods, and

v) Provide education, information and outreach mechanisms to generate public support and foster stewardship in invasive lionfish programs.

Each of the objectives is supported by strategies and actions with specific stakeholders identified as possible implementers. It is expected that this Strategy will be used by governments and other stakeholders to create plans to implement many of the actions identified in this strategy. The action plans would include timelines and indicators to measure effectiveness in achieving the objectives of this Strategy. Local government, coastal communities, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and marine industries will play an important role in implementing onground actions to reduce lionfish impacts and enhance the resilience of reefs in the Wider Caribbean region.


LOICZ Newsletter, Resilience, regime shifts and ecosystem services: The case of offshore wind farm installation in the German North Sea

This article considers the resilience of the social-ecological system to the introduction of offshore wind farming in a northern German case study region. A conceptual framework is outlined for tracing change across scales based on the concepts of resilience, regime shifts and ecosystem services. Drawing on empirical results from the research project “Zukunft Küste – Coastal Futures”, we illustrate the system response to OWF introduction at the scale of the marine ecosystem, the seascape and the socio-economic system of the case study region. Shifts in the marine ecosystem are linked to changes in the available ecosystem services, leading to confl icts between new and traditional seascape values. This in turn has impacts on the socio-economic system on the coast. We set out the current system constraints and argue that the future trajectory of the system depends on an internal socio-political shift and willingness to change.