Marine protected areas (MPAs) have been used widely as a conservation and fisheries management tool to protect fish and habitats. We used a time series (2001–2014) of underwater videos from submersibles and remotely operated vehicles to determine whether a series of MPAs established in early 2009 along the southeast United States Atlantic coast has increased the number of fish species, density of fished species, or the density of Rhomboplites aurorubens (Cuvier, 1829) compared to adjacent, non-reserve areas. We used univariate and multivariate approaches at two spatial scales (region-wide and MPA-specific) to test for a change in the number or density of fish species inside compared to outside MPAs. Overall, 185 fish taxa were observed from 1021 video transects across all years of the study. We did not observe a higher number of species, density of fished species, or density of R. aurorubens inside compared to outside MPAs, either after region-wide standardization using generalized additive models or for nominal analyses focusing on two (Edisto or North Florida) MPAs. Using non-metric multidimensional scaling and analysis of similarity, we did not observe any change in community structure occurring inside the MPAs that was not simultaneously occurring outside the MPAs, both at the region-wide or MPA-level scale. We did not detect unique changes to the fish community inside MPAs after their creation, which could be due to low statistical power, not enough data post-MPA creation, low compliance rates, or suboptimal MPA shape and size, or some combination thereof. Given their current relatively low abundances, the sampling effort required to effectively assess potential MPA effects for most grouper species is well beyond current or historical levels of sampling.
The European Union (EU) has taken the lead to promote the management of coastal systems. Management strategies are implemented by the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), as well as the recent Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) Directive. Most EU directives have a strong focus on public participation; however, a recent review found that the actual involvement of stakeholders was variable. The “Architecture and roadmap to manage multiple pressures on lagoons” (ARCH) research project has developed and implemented participative methodologies at different case study sites throughout Europe. These cases represent a broad range of coastal systems, and they highlight different legislative frameworks that are relevant for coastal zone management. Stakeholder participation processes were subsequently evaluated at 3 case study sites in order to assess the actual implementation of participation in the context of their respective legislative frameworks: 1) Byfjorden in Bergen, Norway, in the context of the WFD; 2) Amvrakikos Gulf, Greece, in the context of the MSFD; and 3) Nordre Älv Estuary, Sweden, in the context of the MSP Directive. An overall assessment of the evaluation criteria indicates that the ARCH workshop series methodology of focusing first on the current status of the lagoon or estuary, then on future challenges, and finally on identifying management solutions provided a platform that was conducive for stakeholder participation. Results suggest that key criteria for a good participatory process were present and above average at the 3 case study sites. The results also indicate that the active engagement that was initiated at the 3 case study sites has led to capacity building among the participants, which is an important intermediary outcome of public participation. A strong connection between participatory processes and policy can ensure the legacy of the intermediary outcomes, which is an important and necessary start toward more permanent resource management outcomes such as ecological and economic improvement.
Spatial management planning for vulnerable marine ecosystems (VME) across broad areas of un-sampled seafloor requires detailed predictions of species distribution. We utilised two habitat suitability modelling techniques, boosted regression trees (BRT) and maximum entropy (MaxEnt), to create potential distribution maps for 11 VME indicator taxa in the New Zealand area and adjacent seas. New bathymetry data were combined with existing environmental, chemical and physical data to produce a set of 45 predictor variables describing conditions at the seafloor. Nine of these variables were selected for use in the models based on low covariance and high explanatory power. Historical biological survey data were used to provide models with absence data (BRT) or target-group background data (MaxEnt). Model agreement was high, with each model predicting similar areas of suitable habitat both in the vicinity of known VME indicator taxa presence locations as well as across broad regions of un-sampled seafloor. Model performance measures, including cross-validation testing against sets of spatially independent data, did not clearly indicate a preferred modelling method across all taxa. Previous habitat suitability modelling efforts have rarely accounted for model precision, and in this study we used a bootstrap re-sampling technique to produce model uncertainty maps to accompany each habitat suitability map. Because of the similar performance of BRT and MaxEnt methods in this study, we conclude that the best approach to incorporating the results into decision-support tools for spatial conservation planning is to average predictions and uncertainty from both.
Sponge aggregations have been recognised as key component of shallow benthic ecosystems providing several important functional roles including habitat building and nutrient recycling. Within the deep-sea ecosystem, sponge aggregations may be extensive and available evidence suggests they may also play important functional roles, however data on their ecology, extent and distribution in the North Atlantic is lacking, hampering conservation efforts. In this study, we used Maximum Entropy Modelling and presence data for two deep-sea sponge aggregation types, Pheronema carpenteriaggregations and ostur aggregations dominated by geodid sponges, to address the following questions: 1) What environmental factors drive the broad-scale distribution of these selected sponge grounds? 2) What is the predicted distribution of these grounds in the northern North Atlantic, Norwegian and Barents Sea? 3) How are these sponge grounds distributed between Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) and High Seas areas? 4) What percentage of these grounds in High Seas areas are protected by the current High Seas MPA network? Our results suggest that silicate concentration, temperature, depth and amount of particulate organic carbon are the most important drivers of sponge distribution. Most of the sponge grounds are located within national EEZs rather than in the High Seas. Coordinated conservation planning between nations with significant areas of sponge grounds such as Iceland, Greenland and Faroes (Denmark), Norway (coastal Norway and Svalbard), Portugal and the UK, should be implemented in order to effectively manage these communities in view of the increasing level of human activity within the deep-sea environment.
This article shares the experiences, observations, and discussions that occurred during the completing of an ecosystem services (ES) indicator framework to be used at European Union (EU) and Member States' level. The experience base was drawn from 3 European research projects and 14 associated case study sites that include 13 transitional-water bodies (specifically 8 coastal lagoons, 4 riverine estuaries, and 1 fjord) and 1 coastal-water ecosystem. The ES pertinent to each case study site were identified along with indicators of these ES and data sources that could be used for mapping. During the process, several questions and uncertainties arose, followed by discussion, leading to these main lessons learned: 1) ES identification: Some ES that do not seem important at the European scale emerge as relevant at regional or local scales; 2) ES indicators: When direct indicators are not available, proxies for indicators (indirect indicators) might be used, including combined data on monitoring requirements imposed by EU legislation and international agreements; 3) ES mapping: Boundaries and appropriate data spatial resolution must be established because ES can be mapped at different temporal and spatial scales. We also acknowledge that mapping and assessment of ES supports the dialogue between human well-being and ecological status. From an evidence-based marine planning-process point of view, mapping and assessment of marine ES are of paramount importance to sustainable use of marine natural capital and to halt the loss of marine biodiversity.
Within few years before, the urge to implement the marine spatial planning is due to increasing numbers of marine activities that will lead into uncertainties of rights, restrictions and responsibilities of the maritime nations. Marine authorities in this situation that deal with national rights and legislations are the government institutions that engage with marine spatial information. There are several elements to be considered when dealing with the marine spatial planning; which is institutional sustainability governance. Providing the importance of marine spatial planning towards sustainable marine spatial governance, the focus should highlight the role marine institutions towards sustainable marine plan. The iterative process of marine spatial planning among marine institutions is important as the spatial information governance is scattered from reflected rights, restrictions and responsibilities of marine government institutions. Malaysia is one of the maritime nations that conjures the initial step towards establishing the sustainable marine spatial planning. In order to have sustainable institutions in marine spatial planning process, it involves four main stages; planning phase, plan evaluation phase, implementation phase and post implementation phase. Current situation has witnessed the unclear direction and role of marine government institutions to manage the marine spatial information. This review paper is focusing on the institutional sustainability upon interaction of marine government institutions in the marine spatial planning process based on Institutional Analysis Framework. The outcome of the integration of institutional sustainability and marine spatial planning process will propose a framework of marine institutional sustainable plan.
Regions and countries manage and sustain oceanic resources and services with varying degrees of success. Our empirical analysis discusses the extent to which this variation can be explained by common-pool resource (CPR) characteristics, controlling for institutional quality, island status, the existence of marine-protected areas, and the ratification of marine environmental agreements. Using data from the Ocean Health Index (OHI), we confirm that the problems related to CPRs are not restricted to fisheries. Other oceanic services and assets, including the provision of oceanic natural products, habitat health, and species richness, also decline with the number of neighboring countries. By contrast, the aspects of ocean health-like sustainable tourism, the preservation of iconic species, or the mitigation of trash pollution benefit from neighborhood stress. Overall, there is little evidence that economic development (expressed in per capita gross domestic product [GDP] and used as a proxy for institutional quality) contributes to sustaining oceanic resources. In general, the OHI appears to capture the established characteristics of various oceanic resources and services very well. Accordingly, it represents an important data source for improving our understanding of the variation in oceanic resources and services, an indispensable factor in developing and achieving sustainable development strategies for the ocean.
Understanding the drivers and barriers to participation in citizen science initiatives for conservation is important if long-term involvement from volunteers is expected. This study investigates the motivations of individuals from five marine protected areas (MPAs) in the Dutch Caribbean to (not) participate in different initiatives around lionfish. Following an interpretive approach, semi-structured interviews with seventy-eight informants were conducted and analyzed using thematic network analysis. Approximately 60% (n = 48) of informants indicated that they had participated in citizen science initiatives at the outset of the invasion. From this group, almost half said that they still participated in some type of data collection, but only a few did so within a citizen science context. Many informants were initially motivated to participate in lionfish detection and response initiatives due to concern for the environment. Personal meanings attached to both the data collection experiences and to the data influenced informants’ motivations to sustain or cease data collection and/or sharing. In time, the view of lionfish as a threat changed for many informants as this species’ recreational and/or commercial value increased. Enabling and constraining factors for data collection and sharing were identified at the personal, interpersonal, organizational and technical levels. Our findings have implications for the design of future citizen science initiatives focused on invasive species.
Restoration projects require an underpinning of science to maximise success at restoring ecological function. Occasionally wetland restoration objectives focus on clearing intertidal vegetation, including removal of introduced and rapidly expanding native species, such as the expansion of mangrove forests in New Zealand. Typical objectives of these restoration projects addressing mangrove expansion include restoring intertidal sites to historically sand-dominated substrates that are associated with higher societal and cultural values through recreational access, natural character (e.g., viewscape) and enhancement of shellfish resources. Historically, mangrove management occurred with minimal or no monitoring to confirm if these objectives were achieved, and with no consistent approach in terms of restoration methodology or monitoring used across the various management jurisdictions. This paper reviews the monitoring programs associated to date with restoration projects in New Zealand involving mangrove removal, with an aim to outline the key management considerations and environmental measures that should be included in future monitoring programs. Monitoring techniques that should be included in management activities that involve mangrove removals are summarised, highlighting methodologies to document changes in surface topography, sediment characteristics and various biological changes. The monitoring objectives have been categorised in three levels, relative to the complexity of the technique and the cost. We hope that this paper will be useful to any group or organisation around the globe who wish to document the extent and rate of change where mangrove vegetation has been cleared. Better documentation on successes and failures of management actions related to mangrove expansion can inform future management strategies, and prioritise cost-effective actions in locations that are likely to result in successful restoration of ecological function of estuarine habitats.
Mid-Atlantic Bight (MAB) warming accompanied by a decline in recruitment has slowly reduced surfclam abundance. Simulations examined fishery dynamics during an extended period of low recruitment followed by stock recovery after a high-recruitment event. The model assigned performance characteristics to each vessel and gave captains defined behavioral proclivities including a tendency to search, to communicate with other captains, to use survey data, and to integrate variable lengths of past-history performance in targeting fishing trips. During the simulated excursion in abundance, LPUE (landings per unit effort) declined as lower abundance required an extended time at sea to catch a full load. Captains expanded their geographic range of interest steaming farther from port in an effort to maintain their performance. Net revenue declined. Use of survey data significantly improved performance. About equal in positive effect was moderate searching. Other behaviors incurred penalties. Communication failed to improve performance because both poor and good information was transferred. Reliance on a long period of catch history failed to improve performance because information was out of date during a time of rapidly changing conditions. In these simulations, no captains' behaviors prevented a collapse in vessel economics at low abundance, but certain behaviors limited the degree and duration of economic dislocation.