Environmental degradation continues in Thailand, despite the establishment of several environmental protected areas (EPAs) since their inception in 1992. EPAs aim to promote the conservation and sustainability of natural resources through decentralization and improving the participation of local governments and communities. Not all EPAs are successful, however. The purpose of this paper is to examine factors affecting the implementation of the EPAs program in Thailand, using the Phetchaburi and Prachuap Kirikhan EPA, in southern Thailand as a case study. Following the governability assessment framework, natural, social, and governing systems associated with the EPA were first described in terms of diversity, complexity, dynamics, and spatial and jurisdictional scale. Next, we examined the extent to which the EPA, as a participatory regulatory tool, corresponded with the natural and social systems it aimed to govern. The analysis reveals that the EPA did not function as effectively as it should be, even though the governing system was well structured to deal with complex coastal ecosystems in the area. The deficiency in the function of the EPA was due largely to poor sectoral coordination, weak financial commitments, and uncoordinated governing interactions. Based on these findings, we suggest that the EPA should be situated in a broader context of land and marine spatial planning and that it needs to be attuned to existing policies in a way that collaboration between agencies and policy integration is possible.
Anthropogenic noise is a by-product from human activity that impacts protected species and is increasingly being considered in environmental management decisions. Offshore energy development presents a navigational hazard to existing shipping, making the locations of these two sources of noise mutually exclusive. This fact means that licensing decisions are stepping into the realm of coastal and marine spatial planning (CMSP). To be effective, conservation measures must also be considered in the CMSP process to mitigate potential cumulative adverse effects associated with resource development, particularly with multiuse conflicts. Thus managers should consider shipping lane relocation to make environmentally optimal decisions.
The paper examines the process and context of international efforts to designate Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in the Southern Ocean. The relationship between the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CAMLR Convention) and the Madrid Protocol is examined in relation to legal, political and administrative norms and practices. A contextual overview of the Antarctic MPA system is considered, followed by an analysis of the overlapping competencies of the CAMLR Commission (CCAMLR) and the Madrid Protocol. The Antarctic MPA debate is placed in a wider international legal context of the management of global oceans space in areas beyond national jurisdiction. We provide an analysis of the politico-legal discourse and point to complicating factors within, and external to, the Antarctic system. The concluding section suggests options for breathing new life into the Southern Ocean MPA discourse.
The accumulation of domoic acid (DA) and saxitoxins (STX), phycotoxins produced by some species of Pseudo-nitzschia and Alexandrium, respectively, in coastal food webs are a focus of research on the West Coast of the United States due to the deleterious effects they have on coastal ecosystems and economies. Results are presented from the 2007–2012 Monitoring Oregon Coastal Harmful Algae (MOCHA) project, the Oregon coast's first HAB monitoring and research program. Both historical toxin databases and more detailed case-study observations of individual HAB events are compiled to provide the first detailed overview of HAB occurrence in this region. These results are also presented in the context of informing future HAB monitoring in this and other upwelling regimes affected by STX and DA. A 2009–2010 warming event was associated with the greatest HAB activity during the MOCHA project, including anomalously high sea surface temperatures and shellfish harvesting closures due to STX and DA in 2009 and 2010, respectively. In regards to HAB monitoring, it is shown that (1) razor clams are a more sensitive indicator of DA than mussels; (2) water column concentrations of particulate domoic acid greater than 103 ng L−1 can be used as a threshold for early-warning of shellfish DA toxicity and (3) approximately bi-weekly, or shorter, monitoring of Alexandrium in the surf zone and/or offshore can provide advance notice of STX contamination of shellfish. Both of the latter two metrics gain added value when coupled with local wind stress, a proxy of downwelling/relaxation events that facilitate greater interaction between offshore blooms and shellfish.
Aquaculture is the fastest-growing animal food production sector worldwide and is becoming the main source of aquatic animal food in human consumption. Depletion of wild fishery stocks, rising global populations, continuing demand for food fish, and international trade has driven aquaculture's tremendous expansion during the last decades – in terms of production volume and value. Farmed aquatic products are among the most widely traded commodities in the world food economy. Aquaculture has mainly been developed in valuable fertile coastal environments and caused large-scale land use changes, destruction and loss of coastal wetlands and pollution of waters and soils. This article presents an overview of the relevance, current status and distribution of aquaculture in global and regional scales and depicts its key environmental impacts. Quantitative assessment of the spatial extent, distribution, and dynamics of aquaculture is of utmost importance for a sustainable management of our planet's land and water resources ensuring human and environmental health. The article points to the potential of remote sensing to detect, map and monitor large-scale aquaculture areas and gives a complementary review of satellite remote sensing studies addressing the observation of aquaculture including site selection, site detection and monitoring of related impacts on the environment.
Halting biodiversity loss is one of the major conservation challenges of our time and science-based conservation actions are required to safeguard the survival of endangered species. However the establishment of effective conservation strategies may be hampered by inherent difficulties of studying elusive animals. We used analysis of control region sequences to obtain baseline information on the genetic diversity and population structure and history of the elusive and critically endangered Mediterranean monk seal that will help define an effective conservation strategy for the species. We analyzed 165 samples collected throughout the entire extant range of the species and identified 5 haplotypes. Based on levels of genetic diversity (haplotypic diversity: 0.03; variable sites: 0.6%) the Mediterranean monk seal appears to be one of the most genetically depauperate mammals on Earth. We identified three genetically distinct monk seal subpopulations: one in the north Atlantic [Cabo Blanco vs. Aegean Sea (FST = 0.733; P = 0.000); Cabo Blanco vs. Ionian Sea (FST = 0.925; P = 0.000)] and two in the Mediterranean, one in the Ionian and another one in the Aegean Sea (Ionian vs. Aegean Sea FST = 0.577; P = 0.000). Results indicate a recent divergence and short evolutionary history of the extant Mediterranean monk seal subpopulations. Based on the results we recommend continuation of the monitoring efforts for the species and systematic collection of genetic samples and storage in dedicated sample banks. On a management level we argue that, based on genetic evidence, it is justified to manage the Atlantic and Mediterranean monk seal subpopulations as two separate management units. In Greece, the existence of two subpopulations should guide efforts for the establishment of a network of protected areas and identify the monitoring of habitat availability and suitability as an important conservation priority.
Seismic surveys are widely used in marine geophysical oil and gas exploration, employing airguns to produce sound-waves capable of penetrating the sea floor. In recent years, concerns have been raised over the biological impacts of this activity, particularly for marine mammals. While exploration occurs in the waters of at least fifty countries where marine turtles are present, the degree of threat posed by seismic surveys is almost entirely unknown. To investigate this issue, a mixed-methods approach involving a systematic review, policy comparison and stakeholder analysis was employed and recommendations for future research were identified. This study found that turtles have been largely neglected both in terms of research and their inclusion in mitigation policies. Few studies have investigated the potential for seismic surveys to cause behavioural changes or physical damage, indicating a crucial knowledge gap. Possible ramifications for turtles include exclusion from critical habitats, damage to hearing and entanglement in seismic survey equipment. Despite this, the policy comparison revealed that only three countries worldwide currently include turtles in their seismic mitigation guidelines and very few of the measures they specify are based on scientific evidence or proven effectiveness. Opinions obtained from stakeholder groups further highlight the urgent need for directed, in-depth empirical research to better inform and develop appropriate mitigation strategies. As seismic surveying is becoming increasingly widespread and frequent, it is important and timely that we evaluate the extent to which marine turtles, a taxon of global conservation concern, may be affected.
Atlantic bluefin tuna (ABFT) fattening activities began in the eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus, Greece, and Turkey) in 2002. The total potential production is estimated at 11,240 tons. However, the actual production fluctuates depending on catch quota. ABFT farming in the region uses traditional methods of catching tuna with purse seiners and transferring them to grow-out cages, where they are fed small pelagic fishes until they reach the size and fat level required by the high-end market. ABFT farming in the region has had some conflicts with other human activities such as tourism.
The boom in tuna farming in the Mediterranean over a relatively short period of time has caused overfishing, which in turn has led to a decreasing spawning stock. The ABFT has disappeared from the Black Sea, and their spawning ground in the eastern Mediterranean needs to be regulated and protected to ensure the long-term sustainability of the stock. Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing practices should be strictly regulated by the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT) members and nonmember countries. The development of hatchery and sustainable aquaculture technologies will decrease the pressure on wild stocks and in the future may enable stock enhancement, mitigating overfishing, and decreasing the high market price of the ABFT in the eastern Mediterranean and elsewhere.
Recreational and professional clam fishing was an important activity on the extensive intertidal zone of the western Cotentin coast (western English Channel). A variety of fishing gear was used to harvest the target species: the European clam Ruditapes decussatus (Linnaeus, 1758) and the introduced Manila clam R. philippinarum (Adams and Reeve, 1850). In this study, we studied the effect of rake harvesting during the spring tides of February–March 2014, following an experimental design with a control station and three stations impacted by rake harvesting in three sediment types: sandy, gravelly, and mixed gravelly rocky habitats. No significant sediment and macrofauna changes occurred at the three sites after rake harvesting. Nevertheless, the number of clams decreased significantly after raking on the gravelly habitat, whereas in the other two habitats, sediment transport in this high-energy hydrodynamic environment was able to transfer clams and other macrofauna species across the fishing sites, thus minimizing the effects of rake harvesting. Therefore, although the effect of rake harvesting appeared limited during winter, the regional impact (high fishing pressure along 60 km of coast) and increase of recreational fishers during summer needed to be studied in the future.
Discarding of commercially important fish species in the bottom trawl fisheries in the northern Mediterranean Sea was investigated by soliciting the long-term recollections of fishers engaged or formerly engaged in such fisheries. The main aim of our investigation was to describe the prevalence of discarding and its evolution over the past 70 years using information gathered through individual questionnaire-based interviews with fishers from ports in Spain, Italy, and Greece, following a standardized sampling protocol. Although it proved impossible to derive absolute estimates of the volume of discarded catches over the period investigated, we conclude that over the past 70 years, discarding as a practice has gradually increased in the northern Mediterranean trawl fisheries and has been accompanied by a shift in the species composition of the discarded catch. While discarding can occur for a number of reasons, our investigations indicate that discarding in the past was mostly driven by market demand, but recent legal and regulatory constraints have led to changes in fishing strategies and became a significant reason for discards.