Following a multi-decadal decline of the European eel stock all across the continent, the EU adopted a protection and recovery plan in 2007, known as the Eel Regulation. Implementation, however, has come to a standstill: in 2015, the agreed goals had not been realised, the required protection had not been achieved, and from 2012 to 2015, no further reduction in mortality has been accomplished—while the stock is at a historical minimum. To analyse this manifest impasse, this article characterises the steering framework of the Eel Regulation as a governance problem. The Eel Problem is found to be extremely complex, due to many knowledge uncertainties and countless societal forces having an influence. The Eel Regulation divides this complexity along geographical lines, obliging national governments to implement national protection plans. This deliberate distribution of control has improved communication between countrymen-stakeholders, and has stimulated protective action in most EU Member States and elsewhere. In the absence of adequate international coordination and feedback on national plans, however, coherence is lacking and the common goals are not met. Actions and achievements have been assessed at the national level, but these assessments have not been evaluated internationally. Full geographical coverage has not been attained, nor is that plausible in future. Meanwhile, ICES’ advice remained focused on whole-stock management, a conservative approach not matching the structure of the Eel Problem or the approach of the Eel Regulation. Hence, essentially localised problems (non-reporting, insufficient action) now lead to a hard fail, paralysing the whole European eel recovery plan. Here, I argue that immediate re-focusing protective actions, assessments, evaluations and advice on mortality goals and indicators, for each management area individually, will enable feedback on national protection plans, and in that way, will break the impasse.
Demonstrating the benefits that marine ecosystems provide to society can support marine spatial planning and enhance the protection of fragile, biodiverse habitats. However, the importance of ecosystem services provided by such habitats is rarely accounted for in spatial management due to a lack of detailed information. The present study investigated the ‘habitat provision’ ecosystem service delivered by horse mussel (Modiolus modiolus (L.)) reefs, a ‘Priority Marine Habitat’ in the NE Atlantic. By working with local fishers, the abundance and demographics of commercially important whelks (Buccinum undatum) were examined. B. undatum catches were three times higher on reef sites and a greater number of smaller individuals were caught on the reefs compared to off-reef habitats. We therefore show that these productive and physically complex mussel reefs are important feeding and nursery areas for whelks, demonstrating the ‘essential fish habitat’ value of the now rare M. modiolus reefs. The results are discussed in the context of marine spatial planning and the potential for historically more widespread shellfish habitats to have been capable of providing substantial ecosystem services.
Accurate mapping of marine species and habitats is an important yet challenging component of establishing networks of representative marine protected areas. Due to limited biological data, marine classifications based on abiotic data are often used as surrogates to represent biological patterns. We tested the surrogacy of an existing physiographic marine classification using non-metric multidimensional scaling and permutational analysis of variance to determine whether species composition was significantly different among physiographic units. We also present an alternative ecological classification that incorporates biological and environmental data in a community modeling approach. We use data on 174 species of demersal fish and benthic invertebrates to identify mesoscale biological assemblages in a 100,000 km2 study area in the northeast Pacific Ocean. We identified assemblages using cluster analysis then used a random forest model with 12 environmental variables to delineate mesoscale ecological units. Our community modelling approach resulted in five geographically coherent ecological units that were best explained by changes in depth, temperature and salinity. Our model showed high predictive performance (AUC = 0.93) and the resulting ecological units represent more distinct species assemblages than those delineated by physiographic variables alone. A strength of our analysis is the ability to map model uncertainty to identify transition zones at unit boundaries. The output of this study provides a biotic driven classification that can be used to better achieve representativity in the MPA planning process.
Marine Protected Areas in International law – an Arctic perspective, introduces and analyzes the legal rights and obligations of states under international law, using Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) as a tool to protect marine biodiversity. The fragile Arctic marine environment is under growing pressure from climate change and the prospect of increasing human activity affecting previously untouched areas. The conservation of Arctic marine biodiversity is a pressing and global concern, not least because the melting of sea ice will have widespread effects. By analyzing regional cooperation through the OSPAR Convention and under the Arctic Council, Jakobsen examines the implementation of the global legal framework for biodiversity protection and conservation in the Arctic. The book has a particular focus on the possibilities of the states to regulate shipping within the MPAs, as the increasing shipping activities represent a major threat to the sensitive marine Arctic.
Recent shifts towards ecosystem-based management and other holistic and participatory forms of oceans governance and management have come with demands for ways to better incorporate social data into decision-making processes such as integrated ecosystem assessments. This includes information related to a wide range of values associated with different aspects of marine social-ecological systems. This paper addresses that demand by first discussing various notions of value in the literature, and then presenting two case studies from British Columbia, Canada that illuminate some of the opportunities and complexities of using a mix of quantitative and qualitative approaches to bear on the challenge. Findings suggest that values are diverse and are contextually dependent, varying at small scales. Findings further suggest that values are hierarchically arranged and grouped differently by individuals into what might be called perspectives. Finally, the findings highlight that mixed-methods approaches featuring qualitative and quantitative elements may provide a step towards resolving tensions between, on one the one hand, a need to distil complex systems into observable, measurable indicators where the inevitable tradeoffs involved in resource management can be articulated, weighed, and on the other hand, a sense that characterizing the broad range of values that are relevant in shaping attitudes and conceptions of “what should be” in marine systems requires holistic thinking and attention to scale, context, relationality, subjectivity and rich detail.
The Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is arguably Australia’s most iconic natural asset. But virtually all of the relevant science indicates that the GBR is in decline. While there has been a significant increase in resources dedicated to the protection of the GBR in recent years, particularly in addressing rural runoff with voluntary practice change programs, it is recognised that these alone will not be enough to meet the water quality targets. Therefore, there is an urgent need to better understand the broad magnitude of investment required and the actions and approaches that are most likely to be cost effective, in order to inform changes to the long-term management of the GBR.
This document summarises the key findings from a project to:
Estimate the costs of undertaking a number management action based solutions sets designed to make significant progress towards the 2025 reef targets (i.e. a 20 per cent reduction in anthropogenic end-of-catchment fine sediment loads for Mackay Whitsunday and Burnett Mary with a 50 per cent reduction in the Fitzroy, Burdekin and Wet Tropics catchment by 2025; a 50 per cent reduction in anthropogenic end-of-catchment dissolved inorganic nitrogen (DIN) for Mackay Whitsunday and Burnett Mary catchments and an 80 per cent reduction in the Burdekin and Wet Tropics catchments by 2025).
Identify potentially more efficient pathways to achieve those targets using total and marginal abatement cost curve approaches.
We have undertaken a review of the project and are pleased to provide our comments on this version of the report. We note that our review complements an internal peer review by DEHP (completed) and a second national and international peer review process planned prior to the report’s release in July.
Temporal dimensions are highly relevant to the analysis of ecosystem services and their economic value. In this paper, we provide a framework that can be used for analyzing temporal dimensions of ecosystem services, we present a case study including an analysis of the supply of three ecosystem services in a Dutch national park, the Hoge Veluwe, over a time span of around a century, and we analyze the implications of temporal scales for ecosystem services analysis and valuation and ecosystem management. Our paper shows there can be major shifts in the values attributed to specific ecosystem services at time scales of decades or less. Changes in values at these time scales and are not commonly included in cost benefit analysis of ecosystem management options or natural capital accounts. Yet – given the long time lapse with which ecosystems may respond to management – these changes are highly relevant. We argue that ecosystem managers using cost benefit analysis should be aware of both uncertainties and of temporal changes in ecosystem values, and – to deal with unexpected changes in ecosystem services values - consider management strategies that target multiple ecosystem services.
In response to growing international interest regarding the consideration of ecosystem services (ES) in the framework of biodiversity offsetting (BO) and the current lack of guidelines on the subject, we investigated the potential inclusion of ES in BO, highlighting the risks and opportunities. Our argument is premised on the assumption that a practical link already exists between the two and that most of the tools required to make this approach operational are available. But so far, ES are not explicitly taken into account when calculating and designing offsets (whether regulatory or voluntary). One way to integrate ES in BO is to use the Environmental Impact Assessments' framework, here we propose a logical way to integrate ES at each step of the implementation of the mitigation hierarchy and provide details on the links with existing practice. In our proposal, the inclusion of ES is presented as a way to complement current approaches based on the assessment of habitats/species/ecological functions rather than to replace them. We argue that measures proposed to offset biodiversity losses, in addition to respecting ecological performance standards, should equally be chosen to minimize residual losses of ES. The latter require offsetting by different types of complementary measures. Implementing these recommendations as good practice should strengthen the weight of biodiversity, demonstrate consideration of social equity, and result in better acceptance of development projects and the measures proposed to offset them.
The identification and economic valuation of ecosystem services (ES) are becoming important components of coral reef management. In many contexts, protection of human assets against coastal floods is one of the most important ES provided by coral reefs. The methods utilized to characterize this ES should be able to accommodate situations with low data availability, without sacrificing robustness. In this paper, we suggest such an approach that utilizes expert opinion and does not require copious amounts of data. Our primary objective is to find a balance between simple and complex models that can be used in a data scarce environment, to produce an economic valuation of the coral reef ES of protection against coastal floods. The approach has three steps: (i) identify geographic zones and assets at risk, (ii) identify the contributing role of coral reefs in the protection of coasts and, (iii) value the annual repair costs of assets through the avoided damage cost approach. The proposed method seems appropriate for advocacy with policy makers, but appears to be less effective for small scale approaches, such as those required for Payment for ES negotiations or marine spatial planning.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are considered key elements to the achievement of conservation and sustainable marine management targets. Yet, even if recently the number of MPAs has increased rapidly worldwide, the area of ocean under some type of MPA classification is far behind the international targets (e.g. Convention on Biological Diversity) considered essential for conservation of the world's oceans. Furthermore, coherence, representativeness and effectiveness of existing MPAs are largely unknown or even weakly defined. In this study, general characteristics of MPAs from Portugal, Spain and France were collected and used to evaluate conservation progress in this geographic area. In addition, an online questionnaire was administered to the MPAs managers, and focused on multiple processes inherent to each MPA, namely on the characteristics and suitability of planning, management, monitoring, governance and enforcement. Obtained responses were used to calculate the overall level of MPA management effectiveness, and multivariate analyses were used to identify the factors that most contributed to differences in effectiveness. Most MPAs are adjacent to the coast, are small in area (near 50% have less than 20 km2) and were established with multiple goals concerning species conservation and sustainable development of economic activities (e.g. fisheries). Only 9% of analysed MPAs are larger than 1000 km2and are unequally distributed among the study area. Overall, 46% of MPAs and 59% of total area covered were established during the last five years, while only 3 of the 35 no-take areas (22% in area) were implemented during this period. High MPA effectiveness (i.e. the extent to which an MPA is protecting values and achieving its goals and objectives) was related with high levels of stakeholders support, with suitable goals, management and enforcement. Results highlighted the need to improve MPA coverage taking into account other existing MPAs to increase coherence and representativeness of networks, that new no-take areas should be implemented in key conservation sites and that management strategies (e.g. enforcement and monitoring) should be strengthened. These findings are applicable to the study area yet methodology and outcomes are pertinent to MPA management worldwide. Ultimately, strategies aiming at maximizing MPA performance are probably as important as the increase of MPA coverage.