The legal establishment of protected areas is often associated with a situation of conflict arising between conservation and other human activities in particular spaces. This is primarily due to the fact that protected areas law requires changes in the behaviour of resource users. Conservation conflicts arising from the establishment of protected areas are well documented in the social science literature and attempts are made to find ways to reduce such conflicts. Yet, what of cases in which the establishment of protected areas serves to officialise existing sustainable practices and may contain an element of future proofing? Do they still generate practices of resistance and conflict? These questions are answered in this paper comparing two case studies where the authors conducted primary qualitative research: the designation of new Marine Conservation Zones under the Marine and Coastal Access Act 2009 in the Isles of Scilly (South West of England) and the designation of a new Special Area of Conservation under Council Directive 92/43/EEC (the Habitats Directive) in Barra (Scottish Outer Hebrides). Both protected areas are highly unlikely to impose changes in local sea-users’ behaviour, as in both cases they validate existing practices and are future proofing, in the sense that they offer tools that can be used to minimize the effects of potential future shocks and stresses, presently unknown. Yet, while in Scilly the new Marine Conservation Zones have been perceived as a positive addition to the seascape, in Barra the Special Area of Conservation has been heavily contested by the local community. The islanders' different perspectives towards protected areas law can be described as divergent ‘legal consciousness’. ‘Legal consciousness’ is a socio-legal concept concerned with the ways in which the law is experienced, interpreted and re-shaped by ordinary people. In our case studies, legal consciousness is a dependent variable, being the product of three main causes: history, power relationships between regulators and regulatees and risk.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are one approach, amongst many, for the protection of marine biodiversity. Although proven to be effective at protecting biodiversity and to be supported by local and wider communities, the implementation of some MPAs has been very contentious especially with fishing stakeholders. We researched the causes of these issues by examining the experience of implementation of the Batemans Marine Park in New South Wales, Australia. While MPA selection and management need to be based on rigorous science, a commensurate level of attention needs to be applied to understanding the social systems that also play a role in determining the protection measures and approaches. The most pressing issue that needs to be resolved early on in a planning process is the MPA's objectives, and whether these objectives are well understood and accepted by the local community. Building community support for MPAs also involves taking into account the different systems of knowledge and views of the natural world that exist within the community. Science alone is not sufficient to convince communities of the need for MPAs or their value in achieving conservation outcomes. Incorporating ‘bottom-up’ approaches into communication and engagement strategies will allow for a greater diversity of voices to be heard and acknowledged, protecting the planning processes against polarisation. Engaging local communities needs to go beyond large-scale consultation processes to include more rigorous, integrated social, economic and ecological assessment exercises, involving a collaborative participatory approach. Context is important and planning processes need to recognise the individual and unique needs of each affected community. Rigid ideas around the best means of achieving biodiversity protection combined with ‘a one size fits all’ approach to planning and community engagement are likely to exacerbate conflict and division and stimulate opposition.
Since 1996, the watershed approach (i.e., the inclusive use of watershed information) has been a hallmark concept in ecosystem restoration site location. In 2008, federal regulators required use of the watershed approach in siting compensatory mitigation for aquatic impacts regulated under the U.S. Clean Water Act. However, regulations fell short of requiring full watershed plans, which could have required stakeholder involvement and inter-institutional coordination. Little work has evaluated how the watershed approach or planning position mitigation sites in the landscape. Has the watershed approach or watershed planning been successful in targeting restoration sites where they are needed? The North Carolina Division of Mitigation Services (DMS; formerly the NC Ecosystem Enhancement Program), a state agency, has implemented the watershed approach and extensive watershed planning to focus restoration investments. Through a multi-step planning program, the DMS employs a watershed approach to gauge the need of 12-digit watersheds for restoration. In some cases, an intensive local watershed planning process follows this targeting effort. We tested the effect of the program’s watershed targeting approach (n = 710) and local watershed planning efforts (n = 147) on increasing the frequency of wetland and stream mitigation projects (n = 480) in each of the state’s 1741 12-digit watersheds (1998–2012). We find that while the watershed approach is successful at guiding restoration to targeted watersheds over space and time, the impacts of watershed planning are more nebulous, with important but weaker panel-effects. Our findings highlight the importance of plan quality and data management in using a watershed approach to target restoration sites effectively.
In this study we describe a two-phase survey design and implications of approaches to non-response adjustments on estimates of the total catch taken by Dutch recreational fishers, including marine catches for Atlantic cod and European seabass and European eel in freshwater. The survey comprised three main elements which were executed online: a screening survey to estimate the characteristics of the population of recreational fishers (number of fishers, their demographic profile and stated fishing avidity); a 12 month logbook survey to estimate effort and catch rates; and non-response follow up surveys to adjust for non-response. A response rate of 80% was achieved for the screening survey and, following non-response adjustment and limited data imputation, 89% for the logbook survey. Some logbook participants reported no fishing activity (drop-outs) and were removed from the analysis. In addition, logbook data were weighted in accordance with the stated avidity distribution in the population to address potential response bias based on avidity. Imputation and weighting for avidity influenced the catch estimates a little, whereas the removal of the fisher drop-outs was influential, linked to the rates of fisher drop-outs (18% for freshwater and 55% for marine fishers). Freshwater recreational fishing was more popular than marine fishing; 9.7% of the Dutch population participating in the former and 4.1% fishing in marine waters. In total an estimated 53.6 million freshwater fish were caught (2.6 million retained) and 13.6 million marine fish were caught (9.6 million retained). Respective catch estimates for Atlantic cod, European seabass and European eel were 0.70, 0.35 and 1.23 million fish (0.53, 0.23 and 0.34 million retained). We conclude that the survey design using an online panel may serve as an example for future surveys because of its efficacy to collect a rich set of data at relatively low cost compared to traditional survey methods.
The ocean has recently taken a more prominent role on the international policy stage. In June, the United Nations (UN) initiated development of a treaty for conservation of biodiversity on the High Seas. One of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the UN in September focuses on the ocean. In early October, the second Our Ocean Conference (OO-2015) provided a high-profile platform for nations to tout progress or make promises to protect and restore the ocean. We discuss recent progress in creating and enforcing strongly protected areas, and we emphasize the need to accelerate the pace and draw on scientific knowledge.
Interactions between cetaceans and the purse-seine fishery operating along the whole Portuguese continental coast were studied based on on-board observations from 2010 to 2011. Cetacean presence and mortality were estimated and characteristics under which interactions were most likely to occur were identified. Observations were made on 163 fishing trips (0.7% of the average annual number of fishing trips) and 302 fishing operations/hauls. Cetaceans were present during 16.9% of fishing events; common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) accounted for 96% of occurrences, mostly overnight in summer and early autumn. Regression models showed that cetacean presence during a fishing set was significantly (p < 0.05) associated with sardine catches, effort, and latitude/longitude. Encirclement and mortality occurred in 2.3 and 1.0% of fishing events, respectively. Encircled species were the common dolphin, bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus), and harbour porpoise (Phocoena phocoena), but only common dolphin showed mortality (three individuals); raised to fleet level, estimated total mortality rates of common dolphins were 69 (95% CI 37–110) in the north and 91 (95% CI 55–165) in the south for 2010 and 78 (95% CI 47–140) in the south only for 2011. The estimated annual mortality rate due to purse seining is 113 (95% CI 3–264) common dolphins, which is ∼0.63% of the current most optimistic estimate of population size for the Portuguese fishing area (SCANS II). The wide confidence limits, as well as variation between years, reflect low observer coverage, emphasizing the need for increased monitoring to cover gaps in the spatial and seasonal distribution of observer effort and provide reliable estimates of bycatch.
Ecosystem models, specifically multispecies dynamic models, have been increasingly used to project impacts of fishing activity on the trophodynamics of ecosystems to support ecosystem-based fisheries management. Uncertainty is unavoidable in modelling processes and needs to be recognized and properly quantified before models are utilized. Uncertainty was assessed in this study for a multispecies size-spectrum model that quantifies community structure and ecological characteristics. The uncertainty was assumed to result from errors in fish life-history and metabolic scale parameters, environmental variability, fishing variability, and sampling errors. Given the same level of imprecision, metabolic scale parameters had the dominant influence on the uncertainty of the size spectrum modelling results, followed by life-history parameters. Both types of errors led to “scenario uncertainty”, suggesting the possible existence of alternative states of community structure. Environmental variability, fishing variability, and observation errors resulted in “statistical uncertainty”, implying that such uncertainty can be described adequately in statistical terms. The results derived from such a simulation study can provide guidance for identifying research priorities to help narrow the gap in scientific knowledge and reduce the uncertainty in fisheries management.
This study presents a state-space modelling framework for the purposes of stock assessment. The stochastic population dynamics build on the notion of correlated survival and capture events among individuals. The correlation is thought to arise as a combination of schooling behaviour, a spatially patchy environment, and common but unobserved environmental factors affecting all the individuals. The population dynamics model isolates the key biological processes, so that they are not condensed into one parameter but are kept separate. This approach is chosen to aid the inclusion of biological knowledge from sources other than the assessment data at hand. The model can be tailored to each case by choosing appropriate models for the biological processes. Uncertainty about the model parameters and about the appropriate model structures is then described using prior distributions. Different combinations of, for example, age, size, phenotype, life stage, species, and spatial location can be used to structure the population. To update the prior knowledge, the model can be fitted to data by defining appropriate observation models. Much like the biological parameters, the observation models must also be tailored to fit each individual case.
For several decades, the fisheries stock assessment paradigms of virtual population analysis (VPA) and statistical catch-at-age (SCA) models have been routinely applied to major fish stocks, and their prevalence often dictated by historical continuity, local experience, and geographical differences in standard practices. Similarly, there is a growing split among models using short and long time-series. In one approach, only the recent time-series, where the data are relatively complete, and the assumptions about stationarity in population and sampling processes are relatively simple, are included. In the other, long time-series include far more historical data, but necessitate the relaxation of many common assumptions regarding stationarity. Unlike scientific paradigms in fields outside of fisheries science where empirical validation can provide a growing body of irrefutable evidence (such as physics), there is no expectation that some “truth” will emerge or that a single best stock assessment modelling approach will ultimately displace the others. The 2013 Pacific halibut SCA stock assessment, with the addition of a VPA-based analysis, is used to illustrate how an ensemble approach can represent a more complete description of the uncertainty in management quantities, relative to selecting just one of these competing model paradigms. We suggest that risk assessment for fisheries management, based on stock assessment models, should seek to avoid binary decisions about which models to include, and instead seek better approaches to incorporate alternative models. The ensemble approach to stock assessment also provides a conceptual link between traditional “best model” analyses and fully developed management strategy evaluation of harvest policy and management procedures.
Coralline algae are susceptible to the changes in the seawater carbonate system associated with ocean acidification (OA). However, the coastal environments in which corallines grow are subject to large daily pH fluctuations which may affect their responses to OA. Here, we followed the growth and development of the juvenile coralline alga Arthrocardia corymbosa, which had recruited into experimental conditions during a prior experiment, using a novel OA laboratory culture system to simulate the pH fluctuations observed within a kelp forest. Microscopic life history stages are considered more susceptible to environmental stress than adult stages; we compared the responses of newly recruited A. corymbosa to static and fluctuating seawater pH with those of their field-collected parents. Recruits were cultivated for 16 weeks under static pH 8.05 and 7.65, representing ambient and 4× preindustrial pCO2 concentrations, respectively, and two fluctuating pH treatments of daily (daytime pH = 8.45, night-time pH = 7.65) and daily (daytime pH = 8.05, night-time pH = 7.25). Positive growth rates of new recruits were recorded in all treatments, and were highest under static pH 8.05 and lowest under fluctuating pH 7.65. This pattern was similar to the adults’ response, except that adults had zero growth under fluctuating pH 7.65. The % dry weight of MgCO3 in calcite of the juveniles was reduced from 10% at pH 8.05 to 8% at pH 7.65, but there was no effect of pH fluctuation. A wide range of fleshy macroalgae and at least 6 species of benthic diatoms recruited across all experimental treatments, from cryptic spores associated with the adult A. corymbosa. There was no effect of experimental treatment on the growth of the benthic diatoms. On the community level, pH-sensitive species may survive lower pH in the presence of diatoms and fleshy macroalgae, whose high metabolic activity may raise the pH of the local microhabitat.