This paper describes an optimal sampling approach to support glider fleet operators and marine scientists during the complex task of planning the missions of fleets of underwater gliders. Optimal sampling, which has gained considerable attention in the last decade, consists in planning the paths of gliders to minimize a specific criterion pertinent to the phenomenon under investigation. Different criteria (e.g., A, G, or E optimality), used in geosciences to obtain an optimum design, lead to different sampling strategies. In particular, the A criterion produces paths for the gliders that minimize the overall level of uncertainty over the area of interest. However, there are commonly operative situations in which the marine scientists may prefer not to minimize the overall uncertainty of a certain area, but instead they may be interested in achieving an acceptable uncertainty sufficient for the scientific or operational needs of the mission. We propose and discuss here an approach named sampling on-demand that explicitly addresses this need. In our approach the user provides an objective map, setting both the amount and the geographic distribution of the uncertainty to be achieved after assimilating the information gathered by the fleet. A novel optimality criterion, called A η , is proposed and the resulting minimization problem is solved by using a Simulated Annealing based optimizer that takes into account the constraints imposed by the glider navigation features, the desired geometry of the paths and the problems of reachability caused by ocean currents. This planning strategy has been implemented in a Matlab toolbox called SoDDS (Sampling on-Demand and Decision Support). The tool is able to automatically download the ocean fields data from MyOcean repository and also provides graphical user interfaces to ease the input process of mission parameters and targets. The results obtained by running SoDDS on three different scenarios are provided and show that SoDDS, which is currently used at NATO STO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE), can represent a step forward towards a systematic mission planning of glider fleets, dramatically reducing the efforts of glider operators.
solating the relative effects of episodic disturbances and chronic stressors on long-term community change is challenging. We assessed the impact of an episodic disturbance associated with human visitation (boat anchoring) relative to other drivers of long-term change on coral reefs. A one-time anchoring event at Crab Cove, British Virgin Islands, in 2004 caused rapid losses of coral and reef structural complexity that were equal to the cumulative decline over 23 years observed at an adjacent site. The abundance of small site-attached reef fishes dropped by approximately one quarter after the anchoring event, but this drop was not immediate and only fully apparent two years after the anchoring event. There was no obvious recovery from the impact, and no evidence that this episodic impact accelerated or retarded subsequent declines from other causes. This apparent lack of synergism between the effect of this episodic human impact and other chronic stressors is consistent with the few other long-term studies of episodic impacts, and suggests that action to mitigate anchor damage should yield predictable benefits.
Management responses to reconcile declining fisheries typically include closed areas and times to fishing. This study evaluated this strategy for a beach clam fishery by testing the hypothesis that changes in the densities and size compositions of clams from before to during harvesting would differ between commercially fished and non-fished beaches. Sampling was spatially stratified across the swash and dry sand habitats on each of two commercially fished and two non-fished beaches, and temporally stratified across three six-week blocks: before, early and late harvesting. Small-scale spatio-temporal variability in the densities and sizes of clams was prevalent across both habitats and the components of variation were generally greatest at the lowest levels examined. Despite this, differences in the densities and sizes of clams among individual beaches were evident, but there were few significant differences across the commercially fished versus non-fished beaches from before to during harvesting. There was no evidence of reduced densities or truncated size compositions of clams on fished compared to non-fished beaches, contrasting reports of some other organisms in protected areas. This was probably due to a combination of factors, including the current levels of commercial harvests, the movements and other local-scale responses of clams to ecological processes acting independently across individual beaches. The results identify the difficulties in detecting fishing-related impacts against inherent levels of variability in clam populations. Nevertheless, continued experimental studies that test alternate management arrangements may help refine and determine the most suitable strategies for the sustainable harvesting of beach clams, ultimately enhancing the management of sandy beaches.
Tropical marine molluscs are traded globally. Larger species with slow life histories are under threat from over-exploitation. We report on the trade in protected marine mollusc shells in and from Java and Bali, Indonesia. Since 1987 twelve species of marine molluscs are protected under Indonesian law to shield them from overexploitation. Despite this protection they are traded openly in large volumes.
We collected data on species composition, origins, volumes and prices at two large open markets (2013), collected data from wholesale traders (2013), and compiled seizure data by the Indonesian authorities (2008–2013). All twelve protected species were observed in trade. Smaller species were traded for <USD1.00 whereas prices of larger species were USD15.00–40.00 with clear price-size relationships. Some shells were collected locally in Java and Bali, but the trade involves networks stretching hundreds of kilometres throughout Indonesia. Wholesale traders offer protected marine mollusc shells for the export market by the container or by the metric ton. Data from 20 confiscated shipments show an on-going trade in these molluscs. Over 42,000 shells were seized over a 5-year period, with a retail value of USD700,000 within Indonesia; horned helmet (Cassis cornuta) (>32,000 shells valued at USD500,000), chambered nautilus (Nautilus pompilius) (>3,000 shells, USD60,000) and giant clams (Tridacna spp.) (>2,000 shells, USD45,000) were traded in largest volumes. Two-thirds of this trade was destined for international markets, including in the USA and Asia-Pacific region.
We demonstrated that the trade in protected marine mollusc shells in Indonesia is not controlled nor monitored, that it involves large volumes, and that networks of shell collectors, traders, middlemen and exporters span the globe. This impedes protection of these species on the ground and calls into question the effectiveness of protected species management in Indonesia; solutions are unlikely to be found only in Indonesia and must involve the cooperation of importing countries.
The coral reefs at the northernmost tip of Sabah, Borneo will be established under a marine protected area: the Tun Mustapha Park (TMP) by the end of 2015. This area is a passage where the Sulu Sea meets the South China Sea and it is situated at the border of the area of maximum marine biodiversity, the Coral Triangle. The TMP includes fringing and patch reefs established on a relatively shallow sea floor. Surveys were carried out to examine features of the coral reefs in terms of scleractinian species richness, and benthic reef assemblages following the Reef Check substrate categories, with emphasis on hard coral cover. Variation in scleractinian diversity was based on the species composition of coral families Fungiidae (n = 39), Agariciidae (n = 30) and Euphylliidae (n = 15). The number of coral species was highest at reefs with a larger depth gradient i.e. at the periphery of the study area and in the deep South Banggi Channel. Average live hard coral cover across the sites was 49%. Only 7% of the examined reefs had > 75% hard coral cover, while the majority of the reef sites were rated fair (51%) and good (38%). Sites with low coral cover and high rubble fragments are evidence of blast fishing, although the observed damage appeared old. Depth was a dominant factor in influencing the coral species composition and benthic reef communities in the TMP. Besides filling in the information gaps regarding species richness and benthic cover for reef areas that were previously without any data, the results of this study together with information that is already available on the coral reefs of TMP will be used to make informed decisions on zoning plans for conservation priorities in the proposed park.
Natural resource-related conflicts can be extremely destructive and undermine environmental protection. Since the 1990s co-management schemes, whereby the management of resources is shared by public and/or private sector stakeholders, have been a main strategy for reducing these conflicts worldwide. Despite initial high hopes, in recent years co-management has been perceived as falling short of expectations. However, systematic assessments of its role in conflict prevention or mitigation are non-existent. Interviews with 584 residents from ten protected areas in Colombia revealed that co-management can be successful in reducing conflict at grassroots level, as long as some critical enabling conditions, such as effective participation in the co-management process, are fulfilled not only on paper but also by praxis. We hope these findings will re-incentivize global efforts to make co-management work in protected areas and other common pool resource contexts, such as fisheries, agriculture, forestry and water management.
Human-induced changes to river loads of nutrients and sediments pose a significant threat to marine ecosystems. Ongoing land-use change can further increase these loads, and amplify the impacts of land-based threats on vulnerable marine ecosystems. Consequently, there is a need to assess these threats and prioritise actions to mitigate their impacts. A key question regarding prioritisation is whether actions in catchments to maintain coastal-marine water quality can be spatially congruent with actions for other management objectives, such as conserving terrestrial biodiversity. In selected catchments draining into the Gulf of California, Mexico, we employed Land Change Modeller to assess the vulnerability of areas with native vegetation to conversion into crops, pasture, and urban areas. We then used SedNet, a catchment modelling tool, to map the sources and estimate pollutant loads delivered to the Gulf by these catchments. Following these analyses, we used modelled river plumes to identify marine areas likely influenced by land-based pollutants. Finally, we prioritised areas for catchment management based on objectives for conservation of terrestrial biodiversity and objectives for water quality that recognised links between pollutant sources and affected marine areas. Our objectives for coastal-marine water quality were to reduce sediment and nutrient discharges from anthropic areas, and minimise future increases in coastal sedimentation and eutrophication. Our objectives for protection of terrestrial biodiversity covered species of vertebrates. We used Marxan, a conservation planning tool, to prioritise interventions and explore spatial differences in priorities for both objectives. Notable differences in the distributions of land values for terrestrial biodiversity and coastal-marine water quality indicated the likely need for trade-offs between catchment management objectives. However, there were priority areas that contributed to both sets of objectives. Our study demonstrates a practical approach to integrating models of catchments, land-use change, and river plumes with conservation planning software to inform prioritisation of catchment management.
Temperature controls important physiological processes in fish and determines aspects of their niches. In an effort to inform selective fishing and spatiotemporal management in the U.S. Northeast Multispecies fishery, we used 16 years of data from the Northeast Fisheries Science Center Spring and Fall Scientific Trawl Surveys to determine if bottom temperature can be used to differentiate the distribution of Atlantic cod (Gadus morhua) from other species within the fishery management plan (FMP). We identified two separate regimes in spring temperatures and used empirical cumulative distribution functions to calculate biomass availability by temperature for each species. We applied a bagged approach to find optimum thermal threshold values that maximize the difference in cod biomass from each of the other species. For our study area, 38% to 54% of the species considered were well separated from cod by temperature in spring, whereas only 17% were separable in the fall. This study suggests that temperature targeting can be used seasonally to separate cod from many other species in the FMP including top catches and no-retention species. The use of temperature targeting may allow fishermen to better meet multiple quotas while avoiding choke species. Our results also suggested increasing thermal overlap between cod and species inhabiting higher median temperatures (e.g., spiny dogfish, Squalus acanthias) under the current warming temperature regime. These results indicate that the ability to selectively fish in the US Northeast Multispecies fishery will become more difficult under a warming ocean.
In response to the inherent dynamic nature of the oceans and continuing difficulty in managing ecosystem impacts of fisheries, interest in the concept of dynamic ocean management, or real-time management of ocean resources, has accelerated in the last several years. However, scientists have yet to quantitatively assess the efficiency of dynamic management over static management. Of particular interest is how scale influences effectiveness, both in terms of how it reflects underlying ecological processes and how this relates to potential efficiency gains. Here, we address the empirical evidence gap and further the ecological theory underpinning dynamic management. We illustrate, through the simulation of closures across a range of spatiotemporal scales, that dynamic ocean management can address previously intractable problems at scales associated with coactive and social patterns (e.g., competition, predation, niche partitioning, parasitism, and social aggregations). Furthermore, it can significantly improve the efficiency of management: as the resolution of the closures used increases (i.e., as the closures become more targeted), the percentage of target catch forgone or displaced decreases, the reduction ratio (bycatch/catch) increases, and the total time–area required to achieve the desired bycatch reduction decreases. In the scenario examined, coarser scale management measures (annual time–area closures and monthly full-fishery closures) would displace up to four to five times the target catch and require 100–200 times more square kilometer-days of closure than dynamic measures (grid-based closures and move-on rules). To achieve similar reductions in juvenile bycatch, the fishery would forgo or displace between USD 15–52 million in landings using a static approach over a dynamic management approach.