Mapping Reef Fish and the Seascape: Using Acoustics and Spatial Modeling to Guide Coastal Management

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New from PLoS ONE comes, Mapping Reef Fish and the Seascape: Using Acoustics and Spatial Modeling to Guide Coastal Management. The authors used acoustic sensors to map the size, density, and location of reef fish in two test locations in the US Virgin Islands. You may download the full-text PDF for free using the link below.

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Table of Contents

Planning & Management

Integrating connectivity and climate change into marine conservation planning. Rafael A. Magris, Robert L. Pressey, Rebecca Weeks, Natalie C. Ban. Biological Conservation, Volume 170, February 2014, Pages 207–221.

Free: Mapping Reef Fish and the Seascape: Using Acoustics and Spatial Modeling to Guide Coastal Management. Costa B, Taylor JC, Kracker L, Battista T, Pittman S (2014) PLoS ONE 9(1): e85555. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085555.

Linking removal targets to the ecological effects of invaders: a predictive model and field test. Stephanie J. Green, Nicholas K. Dulvy, Annabelle L. M. Brooks, John L. Akins, Andrew B. Cooper, Skylar Miller, and Isabelle M. Côté In press. Ecological Applications.

Free: Joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group Report 2010-2013. HELCOM & VASAB (2013) 63 pp.

Insights from experimental economics on local cooperation in a small-scale fishery management system. Shankar Aswani, Georgina G. Gurney, Sara Mulville, Jaime Matera, Michael Gurven. Global Environmental Change; Volume 23, Issue 6, December 2013, Pages 1402–1409.

Regulation of pesticides in Australia: the Great Barrier Reef as a case study for evaluating effectiveness. Juliette King, Frances Alexander, Jon Brodie. Agriculture, Ecosystems & Environment; Volume 180, 1 November 2013, Pages 54–67; Catchments to Reef continuum: Minimising impacts of agriculture on the Great Barrier Reef.

Fisheries & Ecosystem-based Management

Free: Report of the Workshop to Review and Advise on Seabird Bycatch. ICES 14–18 October 2013, Copenhagen, Denmark. ICES CM 2013/ACOM:77. 79 pp.

Ecosystem-Based Management for Rocky Shores of the Galapagos Islands. Luis Vinueza, Annie Post, Paulina Guarderas, Franz Smith, Federico Idrovo. The Galapagos Marine Reserve: Social and Ecological Interactions in the Galapagos Islands 2014, pp 81-107; DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-02769-2_5.

The ecological foundation for ecosystem-based management of fisheries: mechanistic linkages between the individual-, population-, and community-level dynamics. Persson, L., Van Leeuwen, A., and De Roos, A. M. ICES Journal of Marine Science, doi:10.1093/icesjms/fst231.

Free: Combining Telephone Surveys and Fishing Catches Self-Report: The French Sea Bass Recreational Fishery Assessment. Rocklin D, Levrel H, Drogou M, Herfaut J, Veron G (2014) PLoS ONE 9(1): e87271. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087271.

Species Conservation

A spatial conservation prioritization approach for protecting marine birds given proposed offshore wind energy development. Kristopher J. Winiarski, David L. Miller, Peter W.C. Paton, Scott R. McWilliams. Biological Conservation, Volume 169, January 2014, Pages 79–88.

Movement and spawning migration patterns suggest small marine reserves can offer adequate protection for exploited emperorfishes. B. M. Taylor, J. S. Mills. Coral Reefs, Volume 32, Issue 4, pp 1077-1087.

Free: Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays. Nicholas K Dulvy, Sarah L Fowler, John A Musick, Rachel D Cavanagh, Peter M Kyne, Lucy R Harrison, John K Carlson, Lindsay NK Davidson, Sonja V Fordham, Malcolm P Francis, Caroline M Pollock, Colin A Simpfendorfer, George H Burgess, Kent E Carpenter, Leonard JV Compagno, David A Ebert, Claudine Gibson, Michelle R Heupel, Suzanne R Livingstone, Jonnell C Sanciangco, John D Stevens, Sarah Valenti, William T White. eLife 2014;3:e00590.

Conservation of migratory Magellanic penguins requires marine zoning. David L. Stokes, P. Dee Boersma, Javier Lopez de Casenave, Pablo García-Borboroglu. Biological Conservation, Volume 170, February 2014, Pages 151–161.

Human Impacts

Free: Ocean Warming, More than Acidification, Reduces Shell Strength in a Commercial Shellfish Species during Food Limitation. Mackenzie CL, Ormondroyd GA, Curling SF, Ball RJ, Whiteley NM, et al. (2014) PLoS ONE 9(1): e86764. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0086764.

Free: Reduced Diversity and High Sponge Abundance on a Sedimented Indo-Pacific Reef System: Implications for Future Changes in Environmental Quality. Powell A, Smith DJ, Hepburn LJ, Jones T, Berman J, et al. (2014) PLoS ONE 9(1): e85253. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0085253.

Free: Mapping Cold-Water Coral Habitats at Different Scales within the Northern Ionian Sea (Central Mediterranean): An Assessment of Coral Coverage and Associated Vulnerability. Savini A, Vertino A, Marchese F, Beuck L, Freiwald A (2014) PLoS ONE 9(1): e87108. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0087108.

Deep Sea

Free: Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific Islands Region. Baker, E., and Beaudoin, Y. (Eds.) Vol. 1B, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, 2013.

General

Free: World Ocean Journal - Inaugural Issue. Peter Neill, Ed. World Ocean Journal, Volume 1, Number 1, 2014.


Integrating connectivity and climate change into marine conservation planning

Most applications of systematic conservation planning have not effectively incorporated biological processes or dynamic threats. We investigated the extent to which connectivity and climate change have been considered in an ecologically meaningful way in marine conservation planning, as an attempt to help formulate conservation objectives for population persistence, over and above representation. Our review of the literature identified 115 marine planning studies that addressed connectivity and 47 that addressed the effects of climate change. Of the statements identified that related to goals and objectives, few were quantitative and justified by ecological evidence for either connectivity (13%) or climate change (8.9%). Most studies addressing connectivity focused on spatial design (e.g. size and spacing) of marine protected areas (MPAs) or clustering of planning units. Climate change recommendations were primarily based on features related to MPA placement (e.g. preferences for areas relatively resilient and resistant to climate change impacts). Quantitative methods to identify spatial or temporal dynamics of features related to connectivity and/or climate change (e.g. functionally well-connected or thermal refugia areas) were rare, and these accounted for the majority of ecologically justified statements. Given these shortcomings in the literature, we outline a framework for setting marine conservation planning objectives that describes six key approaches to more effectively integrate connectivity and climate change into conservation plans, aligning opportunities and minimizing trade-offs between both issues.


Mapping Reef Fish and the Seascape: Using Acoustics and Spatial Modeling to Guide Coastal Management

Reef fish distributions are patchy in time and space with some coral reef habitats supporting higher densities (i.e., aggregations) of fish than others. Identifying and quantifying fish aggregations (particularly during spawning events) are often top priorities for coastal managers. However, the rapid mapping of these aggregations using conventional survey methods (e.g., non-technical SCUBA diving and remotely operated cameras) are limited by depth, visibility and time. Acoustic sensors (i.e., splitbeam and multibeam echosounders) are not constrained by these same limitations, and were used to concurrently map and quantify the location, density and size of reef fish along with seafloor structure in two, separate locations in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Reef fish aggregations were documented along the shelf edge, an ecologically important ecotone in the region. Fish were grouped into three classes according to body size, and relationships with the benthic seascape were modeled in one area using Boosted Regression Trees. These models were validated in a second area to test their predictive performance in locations where fish have not been mapped. Models predicting the density of large fish (≥29 cm) performed well (i.e., AUC = 0.77). Water depth and standard deviation of depth were the most influential predictors at two spatial scales (100 and 300 m). Models of small (≤11 cm) and medium (12–28 cm) fish performed poorly (i.e., AUC = 0.49 to 0.68) due to the high prevalence (45–79%) of smaller fish in both locations, and the unequal prevalence of smaller fish in the training and validation areas. Integrating acoustic sensors with spatial modeling offers a new and reliable approach to rapidly identify fish aggregations and to predict the density large fish in un-surveyed locations. This integrative approach will help coastal managers to prioritize sites, and focus their limited resources on areas that may be of higher conservation value.


Linking removal targets to the ecological effects of invaders: a predictive model and field test

Species invasions have a range of negative effects on recipient ecosystems, and many occur at a scale and magnitude that preclude complete eradication. When complete extirpation is unlikely with available management resources, an effective strategy may be to suppress populations of invaders below levels predicted to cause undesirable ecological change. We illustrate this approach by developing and testing targets for controlling Indo-Pacific lionfish on Western Atlantic coral reefs. We first developed a size-structured simulation model of predation by lionfish on native fish communities, which we used to predict threshold densities of lionfish beyond which native fish biomass should decline. We then tested our predictions by experimentally manipulating lionfish densities above or below reef-specific thresholds, and monitoring the consequences for native fish populations on 24 Bahamian patch reefs over 18 months. Reducing lionfish below predicted threshold densities effectively protected native fish community biomass from predation-induced declines. Reductions in density of 75- 95%, depending on the reef, were required to suppress lionfish below levels predicted to over-consume prey. On reefs where lionfish were kept below threshold densities, native prey fish biomass increased by 50-70%. Gains in small (<6cm) sizes of native fishes translated into lagged increases in larger size classes over time, with ecologically important grazers and economically important fisheries species increasing by 10-65% by the end of the experiment. Gains in native fish biomass were similar on reefs subjected to partial and full removal of lionfish, but partial removals took 30% less time to implement. Biomass of small native fishes declined by > 50% on all reefs with lionfish densities exceeding reef-specific thresholds. Large inter-reef variation in the biomass of prey fishes at the outset of the study, which influences the threshold density of lionfish, means that we could not identify a single rule-of-thumb for guiding control efforts. However, our model provides a method for setting reef-specific targets for population control using local monitoring data. Our work demonstrates that for ongoing invasions, suppressing invaders below densities that cause environmental harm can have a similar effect, in terms of protecting the native ecosystem on a local scale, to achieving complete eradication.


Joint HELCOM-VASAB Maritime Spatial Planning Working Group Report 2010-2013

This is a report on the activities and key outcomes for 2010-2013 of the joint HELCOM- VASAB intergovernmental Working Group on Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) in the Baltic Sea (HELCOM-VASAB MSP WG).

In addition to an introduction to the working group and its background it includes completed work on legislative basis, the Baltic Sea broad-scale MSP principles as well as a compilation table of national legislation and processes on MSP in the region (Annex 1). The mandate, work plan, as well as a list of meetings and participants during 2010-2013 are also provided.

Some products of the group, such as a draft document on the ecosystem approach and MSP and a draft regional Baltic MSP roadmap for the period 2013-2020, submitted to HELCOM and VASAB for adoption, are not covered and will be released separately.


Insights from experimental economics on local cooperation in a small-scale fishery management system

Cooperation is central to collective management of small-scale fisheries management, including marine protected areas. Thus an understanding of the factors influencing stakeholders’ propensity to cooperate to achieve shared benefits is essential to accomplishing successful collective fisheries management. In this paper we study stakeholders’ cooperative behavioral disposition and elucidate the role of various socio-economic factors in influencing it in the Roviana Lagoon, Western Solomon Islands. We employed a Public Goods Game from experimental economics tailored to mimic the problem of common pool fisheries management to elucidate peoples’ cooperative behavior. Using Ostrom's framework for analyzing social-ecological systems to guide our analysis, we examined how individual-scale variables (e.g., age, education, family size, ethnicity, occupational status, personal norms), in the context of village-scale variables (e.g., village, governance institutions, group coercive action), influence cooperative behavior, as indexed by game contribution. Ostrom's framework provides an effective window for conceptually peeling back the various socio-economic and governance layers which influence cooperation within these communities. The results of our research show that the most important resource user characteristics influencing cooperative behavior were age, occupation and beliefs about giving access to others to fish for commercial gain. Through elucidating the factors affecting stakeholders’ propensity to cooperate to achieve shared benefits, our analysis provides guidance in understanding cooperation in relation to collective management of marine resources.


Regulation of pesticides in Australia: the Great Barrier Reef as a case study for evaluating effectiveness

Globally coral reefs are at threat from land-sourced pollution. In Australia it is well established that the largest reef system in the world, the Great Barrier Reef, has been seriously damaged by land-sourced pollution primarily from agricultural activities. The Great Barrier Reef is Australia's best documented case of contamination of an ecosystem by pesticides. We describe Australia's current regulatory arrangements for managing pesticide risks to the environment at both national and state level and evaluate the regulatory response to pesticide pollution of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and its catchments as a case study. It is argued that the relatively advanced state of knowledge about the problem and the Great Barrier Reef's World Heritage status means that it presents the best case scenario for Australia's ability to respond to pesticide risks to the environment. Yet the only regulatory action taken to date – restricted conditions of use for particular chemical products introduced by the Queensland Government – has occurred outside of the dedicated regulatory regime for managing pesticide risks. Other lower profile and less-studied Australian water bodies are likely to be even less protected. The ad hoc, case-by-case and very slow chemical review process administered by Australia's national pesticide regulator has not effectively assessed or addressed chemical risks to the GBR. Some failures of the current system would be addressed by a systematic re-registration program of the kind in place in the European Union and United States. We conclude that to adequately protect the GBR, given its marine protected area and World Heritage status, both the special management provisions for the area already existing plus an effective national pesticide regulatory regime of the standard of the European Union are the minimum requirements.


Report of the Workshop to Review and Advise on Seabird Bycatch

An ICES-convened Workshop to Review and Advise on Seabird Bycatch (WKBYCS) met from 14 to18 October 2013 at ICES HQ, Copenhagen. Chaired by Jim Reid (UK). Ten participants, invited either by ICES Secretariat or the Chair, attended the meet-ing. The objective of the meeting was to consider three Terms of Reference relating to seabird bycatch in European waters, including the Baltic, Mediterranean, and Black Seas. This report includes three chapters that address each Term of Reference.

In support of a proposed EC Plan of Action to reduce the incidental catch of seabirds in fisheries, the ICES Working Group on Seabird Ecology (WGSE) has considered and reported on seabird bycatch in commercial fisheries on four previous occasions from 2008 to 2011. Following publication of the Action Plan in 2012, an updated, regional-ised review and summary of research on seabird bycatch undertaken since the earlier reviews is now presented here, although reference to older material is made where appropriate. This shows that the incidental bycatch of seabirds in most fishing gears persists throughout European waters, including the Baltic Sea, the North Atlantic, the North Sea, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Black Sea. There is some geographical variation in patterns of bycatch that result from fishing effort in the various métiers as well as the distributions of seabird species. Most new information comes from the Baltic and Mediterranean Seas, with little information available from the Black Sea. Set gillnets catch possibly unsustainably large numbers of diving birds in the Baltic, whereas longlines pose a particular problem for predominantly surface-feeding shearwaters in the Mediterranean.

The issue of what actually constitutes a bycatch “problem” is discussed. The first step in defining a problem needs to be an assessment of the size of the bycatch in the fisheries of interest, and the necessary and desirable metrics that contribute to this assessment are identified and reiterated from previous initiatives. Defining a seabird bycatch “problem” is less straightforward. The very large bycatch (tens of thousands of birds) of great shearwater in one fishery might well be sustainable in a population context as the species’ global population numbers many millions of individuals. However, this level of bycatch might not be acceptable from a cultural or societal point of view. The mortality of Balearic shearwater in longline, purse-seine and other fisheries off Iberia and in the Mediterranean, however, is probably not sustainable for the population; this is shown to be so by application of the Potential Biological Re-moval (PBR) tool. PBR would appear to be an appropriate method, although there are others, to assess the conservation consequences of bird bycatch.

In assessing bird bycatch levels in fisheries, reporting and database formats are con-sidered. The recommendation is that reporting should be at EU fishery métiers level 5 (or 6 where feasible), and that fishing effort should be described at least in terms of days at sea, but where feasible using more gear-specific metrics. The workshop saw no need to design a new database to host bird bycatch data; the existing bycatch da-tabase for protected species compiled by the ICES Working Group on Bycatch of Pro-tected Species (WGBYC) should be adequate and be maintained by the ICES DataCentre.


Ecosystem-Based Management for Rocky Shores of the Galapagos Islands

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is an emerging tool that considers humans as an integral part of the ecosystem (Arkema et al. 2006). EBM is different from other marine management tools (i.e., marine protected areas (MPAs), fishing regulations, quotas) because it does not deal with only one sector, resource, or impact. These strategies are not suitable because they fail to acknowledge the complex dynamics that affect social–ecological interactions. Instead, EBM attempts to embrace the complexity that drives the interactions between humans, their multiple impacts, and their environment (McLeod et al. 2005; Tallis et al. 2010). EBM assesses how multiple sectors and cumulative impacts interact to affect the capacity of marine systems to deliver benefits to humans (Arkema et al. 2006; Ruckelshaus et al. 2008). The main goal of EBM is to build resilient social–ecological systems that can secure the long-term provision of ecosystem services and goods to humans (McLeod et al. 2005).


The ecological foundation for ecosystem-based management of fisheries: mechanistic linkages between the individual-, population-, and community-level dynamics

Food-dependent growth and size-dependent interactions form cornerstones in the dynamics of fish populations. Using two freshwater examples, we illustrate the importance of considering both these cornerstones for understanding system dynamics. Moreover, a proper understanding of the dynamics requires mechanistic linkages between individual-, population-, and community-level processes based on mass conservation principles. In one example, we further find that quantitative predictions of individual-level energy flows are essential for understanding the community dynamics. This mechanistic approach to understanding system dynamics is generally not reflected in fisheries models as an overview shows that only half of them incorporate food-dependent growth, and none fully observe the principles of mass conservation. As a marine example we examine patterns in the Baltic Sea system and show that no relationship between cod growth and sprat biomass is present related to the low size resolution in prey fish. Linking individual cod performance to its resource base is complicated by the many prey types cod uses over its life cycle. We conclude that an ecological perspective including size- and food-dependent processes is vital for ecosystem-based fisheries management making necessary a proper description of the interactive trophic structure as a result of mechanistic linkages between individual, population, and community processes.


Combining Telephone Surveys and Fishing Catches Self-Report: The French Sea Bass Recreational Fishery Assessment

Fisheries statistics are known to be underestimated, since they are mainly based on information about commercial fisheries. However, various types of fishing activities exist and evaluating them is necessary for implementing effective management plans. This paper assesses the characteristics and catches of the French European sea bass recreational fishery along the Atlantic coasts, through the combination of large-scale telephone surveys and fishing diaries study. Our results demonstrated that half of the total catches (mainly small fish) were released at sea and that the mean length of a kept sea bass was 46.6 cm. We highlighted different patterns of fishing methods and type of gear used. Catches from boats were greater than from the shore, both in abundance and biomass, considering mean values per fishing trip as well as CPUE. Spearfishers caught the highest biomass of sea bass per fishing trip, but the fishing rod with lure was the most effective type of gear in terms of CPUE. Longlines had the highest CPUE value in abundance but not in biomass: they caught numerous but small sea bass. Handlines were less effective, catching few sea bass in both abundance and biomass. We estimated that the annual total recreational sea bass catches was 3,173 tonnes of which 2,345 tonnes were kept. Since the annual commercial catches landings were evaluated at 5,160 tonnes, recreational landings represent 30% of the total fishing catches on the Atlantic coasts of France. Using fishers' self-reports was a valuable way to obtain new information on data-poor fisheries. Our results underline the importance of evaluating recreational fishing as a part of the total amount of fisheries catches. More studies are critically needed to assess overall fish resources caught in order to develop effective fishery management tools.


A spatial conservation prioritization approach for protecting marine birds given proposed offshore wind energy development

There are currently no offshore wind energy developments (OWEDs) in North America, although numerous OWEDs have been proposed along the Atlantic Coast. Development pressure has been a catalyst for marine spatial planning (MSP) to identify suitable areas for OWED. However, integrating complex ecological information to guide OWED siting remains a substantial challenge. We developed spatial distribution models of marine birds from aerial surveys that we conducted from 2010 to 2012 throughout a 3800 km2 area off the coast of Rhode Island. For seven groups of marine birds, we constructed either a density surface model or a presence–absence model that incorporated relevant environmental covariates. We integrated our spatial models, along with uncertainty, using spatial conservation prioritization (SCP) software. This identified sites with high marine bird conservation priority that aided evaluation of proposed OWED sites. We found that shallow nearshore waters had the highest conservation priority overall, but we also detected key offshore areas of high priority. Hypothetical OWEDs placed in conservation priority areas significantly reduced the overall distribution of focal species. Currently proposed OWED sites are located in areas of relatively low conservation priority and so would not substantially reduce the overall distribution of marine birds. This SCP approach when combined with quantitative models of bird distribution given relevant environmental covariates provides a robust framework that satisfies the principles of ecosystem-based MSP. Thus, this combined SCP-distribution modeling framework should be extremely helpful to decision makers as they evaluate proposed siting locations of OWEDs in the context of a dynamic marine system.


Movement and spawning migration patterns suggest small marine reserves can offer adequate protection for exploited emperorfishes

A critical feature of effective marine reserves is to be large enough to encompass home ranges of target species, thereby allowing a significant portion of the population to persist without the threat of exploitation. In this study, patterns of movement and home range for Lethrinus harak and Lethrinus obsoletus were quantified using an array of 33 acoustic receivers that covered approximately three quarters of Piti Marine Reserve in the Pacific island of Guam. This array was designed to ensure extensive overlap of receiver ranges throughout the study area. Eighteen individuals (12 L. harak and 6 L. obsoletus) were surgically implanted with ultrasonic transmitters and passively tracked for 4 months. Both species displayed high site fidelity and had relatively small home ranges. The home ranges of L. harak expanded with increasing body size. Feeding of fish by humans, which was common but restricted to a small area within the study site, had little effect on the distribution of the resident populations. L. harak made nightly spawning migrations within the reserve between full moon and last quarter moon of each lunar cycle, coinciding with a strong ebbing tide. Results indicate that even small reserves can include many individual home ranges of these emperorfishes and can protect spawning sites for L. harak. These species are heavily targeted in Guam, and there are major demographic differences between fished and protected sites. This study shows the potential for protected areas to sustain reproductive viability in exploited populations.


Extinction risk and conservation of the world’s sharks and rays

The rapid expansion of human activities threatens ocean-wide biodiversity. Numerous marine animal populations have declined, yet it remains unclear whether these trends are symptomatic of a chronic accumulation of global marine extinction risk. We present the first systematic analysis of threat for a globally distributed lineage of 1,041 chondrichthyan fishes—sharks, rays, and chimaeras. We estimate that one-quarter are threatened according to IUCN Red List criteria due to overfishing (targeted and incidental). Large-bodied, shallow-water species are at greatest risk and five out of the seven most threatened families are rays. Overall chondrichthyan extinction risk is substantially higher than for most other vertebrates, and only one-third of species are considered safe. Population depletion has occurred throughout the world’s ice-free waters, but is particularly prevalent in the Indo-Pacific Biodiversity Triangle and Mediterranean Sea. Improved management of fisheries and trade is urgently needed to avoid extinctions and promote population recovery.


Conservation of migratory Magellanic penguins requires marine zoning

Conservation of migratory species requires an understanding of their migration path and pattern. We used band returns and satellite tracking to characterize the seasonal migration of Magellanic penguins breeding in southern Argentina, with the purpose of identifying an effective conservation approach for this species. Band returns show these penguins migrate annually to the coastal waters of northern Argentina, Uruguay, and southern Brazil, an average one-way distance of approximately 2000 km, and a modal distance of 2300–2400 km. Satellite data indicate that the penguins follow a migration corridor within 250 km of shore. Mean migration distance varied among years. Juveniles migrated farther on average than older birds, although migration distance of different age classes overlapped substantially. Mortality rates during migration were higher among younger birds, and juvenile mortality rate during migration was inversely correlated with cohort survival, indicating that mortality during migration is an important determinant of population recruitment. A minimum of 13% of the migration-period mortality we recorded resulted from fisheries bycatch and oil pollution. Because of the penguin’s mode of travel (swimming at or near the surface), the large spatial extent of its migration, and the intensity of human use of the area, effective conservation through conventional coastal marine reserves is unlikely. Marine zoning is an alternative that could provide the spatial scale and flexibility necessary to accommodate both penguin migration and human activities. As the waters traversed by Magellanic penguins are among the most threatened in Latin America, zoning for protection of this wide-ranging and charismatic species can also protect regional biodiversity.


Ocean Warming, More than Acidification, Reduces Shell Strength in a Commercial Shellfish Species during Food Limitation

Ocean surface pH levels are predicted to fall by 0.3–0.4 pH units by the end of the century and are likely to coincide with an increase in sea surface temperature of 2–4°C. The combined effect of ocean acidification and warming on the functional properties of bivalve shells is largely unknown and of growing concern as the shell provides protection from mechanical and environmental challenges. We examined the effects of near-future pH (ambient pH –0.4 pH units) and warming (ambient temperature +4°C) on the shells of the commercially important bivalve, Mytilus edulis when fed for a limited period (4–6 h day−1). After six months exposure, warming, but not acidification, significantly reduced shell strength determined as reductions in the maximum load endured by the shells. However, acidification resulted in a reduction in shell flex before failure. Reductions in shell strength with warming could not be explained by alterations in morphology, or shell composition but were accompanied by reductions in shell surface area, and by a fall in whole-body condition index. It appears that warming has an indirect effect on shell strength by re-allocating energy from shell formation to support temperature-related increases in maintenance costs, especially as food supply was limited and the mussels were probably relying on internal energy reserves. The maintenance of shell strength despite seawater acidification suggests that biomineralisation processes are unaffected by the associated changes in CaCO3 saturation levels. We conclude that under near-future climate change conditions, ocean warming will pose a greater risk to shell integrity in M. edulis than ocean acidification when food availability is limited.


Reduced Diversity and High Sponge Abundance on a Sedimented Indo-Pacific Reef System: Implications for Future Changes in Environmental Quality

Although coral reef health across the globe is declining as a result of anthropogenic impacts, relatively little is known of how environmental variability influences reef organisms other than corals and fish. Sponges are an important component of coral reef fauna that perform many important functional roles and changes in their abundance and diversity as a result of environmental change has the potential to affect overall reef ecosystem functioning. In this study, we examined patterns of sponge biodiversity and abundance across a range of environments to assess the potential key drivers of differences in benthic community structure. We found that sponge assemblages were significantly different across the study sites, but were dominated by one species Lamellodysidea herbacea (42% of all sponges patches recorded) and that the differential rate of sediment deposition was the most important variable driving differences in abundance patterns. Lamellodysidea herbacea abundance was positively associated with sedimentation rates, while total sponge abundance excluding Lamellodysidea herbacea was negatively associated with rates of sedimentation. Overall variation in sponge assemblage composition was correlated with a number of variables although each variable explained only a small amount of the overall variation. Although sponge abundance remained similar across environments, diversity was negatively affected by sedimentation, with the most sedimented sites being dominated by a single sponge species. Our study shows how some sponge species are able to tolerate high levels of sediment and that any transition of coral reefs to more sedimented states may result in a shift to a low diversity sponge dominated system, which is likely to have subsequent effects on ecosystem functioning.


Mapping Cold-Water Coral Habitats at Different Scales within the Northern Ionian Sea (Central Mediterranean): An Assessment of Coral Coverage and Associated Vulnerability

In this study, we mapped the distribution of Cold-Water Coral (CWC) habitats on the northern Ionian Margin (Mediterranean Sea), with an emphasis on assessing coral coverage at various spatial scales over an area of 2,000 km2 between 120 and 1,400 m of water depth. Our work made use of a set of data obtained from ship-based research surveys. Multi-scale seafloor mapping data, video inspections, and previous results from sediment samples were integrated and analyzed using Geographic Information System (GIS)-based tools. Results obtained from the application of spatial and textural analytical techniques to acoustic meso-scale maps (i.e. a Digital Terrain Model (DTM) of the seafloor at a 40 m grid cell size and associated terrain parameters) and large-scale maps (i.e. Side-Scan Sonar (SSS) mosaics of 1 m in resolution ground-truthed using underwater video observations) were integrated and revealed that, at the meso-scale level, the main morphological pattern (i.e. the aggregation of mound-like features) associated with CWC habitat occurrences was widespread over a total area of 600 km2. Single coral mounds were isolated from the DTM and represented the geomorphic proxies used to model coral distributions within the investigated area. Coral mounds spanned a total area of 68 km2 where different coral facies (characterized using video analyses and mapped on SSS mosaics) represent the dominant macro-habitat. We also mapped and classified anthropogenic threats that were identifiable within the examined videos, and, here, discuss their relationship to the mapped distribution of coral habitats and mounds. The combined results (from multi-scale habitat mapping and observations of the distribution of anthropogenic threats) provide the first quantitative assessment of CWC coverage for a Mediterranean province and document the relevant role of seafloor geomorphology in influencing habitat vulnerability to different types of human pressures.


Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific Islands Region

Rising global demand for metals and developments in technology have recently renewed industry interest in exploring, and exploiting, deposits of deep sea minerals (‘DSM’). The 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea gives coastal states exclusive sovereign rights over the DSM contained within national marine boundaries. For many Pacific islands, this means that over 99% of their national jurisdiction is ocean. Surveys indicating abundant and promising mineral deposits in the Pacific Island region therefore suggest a potential economic opportunity for Pacific islands.

Volume 1A, B and C, Deep Sea Minerals: A physical, biological, environmental, and technical review, examine the geology and associated biology of the three principal deep sea mineral deposit types found in the Pacific Region. They also look at the environmental and technical aspects related to deep sea mineral extraction.

Volume 2, Deep Sea Minerals and the Green Economy

Volume 2 looks at the socio economic, legal and fiscal aspects of the emerging deep sea minerals industry. It provides a green economy context for examining how deep sea mining could be profitable, sustainable and meet the needs of Pacific Island people without sacrificing cultural heritage, community values or the health of ocean ecosystems.

The Deep Sea Minerals series, involving a network of some 60 of the world’s best experts, has been compiled as part of the European Union funded, Deep Sea Minerals in the Pacific Islands Region: a Legal and Fiscal Framework for Sustainable Resource Management Project.


World Ocean Journal - Inaugural Issue

World Ocean Journal is a bi-annual e-magazine on ocean culture, issues and solutions to today's ocean issues. In this inaugural volume we'll include essays, interviews, art, exhibits and performances which profile some of the vital impacts of the ocean on our lives.

In the FIRST EDITION of World Ocean Journal (released in January, 2014) you will find:

An excerpt from the introduction to Lincoln Paine's extraordinary new book, The Sea & Civilization, a one volume maritime history of the world, just released by Knopf and sure to be one of the most important publications of its kind in 2014.

A video interview with Dr. Darron Collins, President of the College of the Atlantic in Bar Harbor, Maine. He'll talk about the synergistic relationship between the ocean and human ecology, providing a refreshingly optimistic view of the inter-relationship between social conduct and the sustainability of Nature. He will focus on new interdisciplinary alternatives, economic practices, and individual and collection behaviors.

The emphasis on change and revolutionary solutions continues in a conversation with Wendi Goldsmith, founder and CEO of the Bioengineering Group. She and Trisha Badger of the World Ocean Observatory discuss new engineering practices, ecological design, and innovative restoration projects in coastal wetlands, municipal parks, and inland waterways.

Internationally, you will find a survey of artistic representations of Mami Wata, an African goddess of the sea, by Dr. Henry John Drewal, a colorful portfolio of artistic representations of this sea spirit who has found her way into the material and religious culture of Africa and the African diaspora.

You will hear a live performance of "Visions at Sea" by The Rubens Quartet, a young Dutch chamber ensemble, composed by Joey Roukens and commissioned for the 2013 re-opening of the National Maritime Museum of The Netherlands in Amsterdam.

And you will hear a plea for international consideration of the impacts of climate change and sea level rise on small island nations by Ronnie Jumeau, Seychelles Ambassador to the United Nations and United States, excerpted from a video interview at the Climate Summit in Copenhagen in 2009. Produced by the World Ocean Observatory and Compass Light Productions.

Finally you will see World Ocean Observatory Director Peter Neill's own reflections on “reciprocity” as a rationale and framework for exchange of value and engagement between the ocean and us, between civil society and the natural world that sustains it. This essay was first heard on World Ocean Radio on 2013.

We hope you enjoy this inaugural issue of World Ocean Journal. If you like what you see, please share it with your e-mail contacts, colleagues at work, friends old and new, and other CITIZENS of the OCEAN through your own organizational links and personal connections. Help us by introducing this new tool to everyone you know!

And why not help us evaluate the results? Please do not hesitate to contact us at editor[email protected] with your reactions, comments, and suggestions. The next issue will come out in late 2014; we welcome ideas for future content and connections. Thank you for your interest and commitment to the world ocean.