Ecosystems are commonly exploited and manipulated to maximize certain human benefits. Such changes can degrade systems, leading to cascading negative effects that may be initially undetected, yet ultimately result in a reduction, or complete loss, of certain valuable ecosystem services. Ecosystem-based management is intended to maintain ecosystem quality and minimize the risk of irreversible change to natural assemblages of species and to ecosystem processes while obtaining and maintaining long-term socioeconomic benefits. We discuss policy decisions in fishery management related to commonly manipulated environments with a focus on influences to ecosystem services. By focusing on broader scales, managing for ecosystem services, and taking a more proactive approach, we expect sustainable, quality fisheries that are resilient to future disturbances. To that end, we contend that: (1) management always involves tradeoffs; (2) explicit management of fisheries for ecosystem services could facilitate a transition from reactive to proactive management; and (3) adaptive co-management is a process that could enhance management for ecosystem services. We propose adaptive co-management with an ecosystem service framework where actions are implemented within ecosystem boundaries, rather than political boundaries, through strong interjurisdictional relationships.
Previous studies hailed thermal tolerance and the capacity for organisms to acclimate and adapt as the primary pathways for species survival under climate change. Here we challenge this theory. Over the past decade, more than 365 tropical stenothermal fish species have been documented moving poleward, away from ocean warming hotspots where temperatures 2–3 °C above long-term annual means can compromise critical physiological processes. We examined the capacity of a model species – a thermally sensitive coral reef fish, Chromis viridis(Pomacentridae) – to use preference behaviour to regulate its body temperature. Movement could potentially circumvent the physiological stress response associated with elevated temperatures and may be a strategy relied upon before genetic adaptation can be effectuated. Individuals were maintained at one of six temperatures (23, 25, 27, 29, 31 and 33 °C) for at least 6 weeks. We compared the relative importance of acclimation temperature to changes in upper critical thermal limits, aerobic metabolic scope and thermal preference. While acclimation temperature positively affected the upper critical thermal limit, neither aerobic metabolic scope nor thermal preference exhibited such plasticity. Importantly, when given the choice to stay in a habitat reflecting their acclimation temperatures or relocate, fish acclimated to end-of-century predicted temperatures (i.e. 31 or 33 °C) preferentially sought out cooler temperatures, those equivalent to long-term summer averages in their natural habitats (~29 °C). This was also the temperature providing the greatest aerobic metabolic scope and body condition across all treatments. Consequently, acclimation can confer plasticity in some performance traits, but may be an unreliable indicator of the ultimate survival and distribution of mobile stenothermal species under global warming. Conversely, thermal preference can arise long before, and remain long after, the harmful effects of elevated ocean temperatures take hold and may be the primary driver of the escalating poleward migration of species.
The creation of marine protected areas (“MPAs”) has for decades been an important mechanism for the conservation of offshore habitats and biodiversity. In recent years, huge swathes of ocean have been designated for protection as states announced successively larger MPAs. Where maritime territory is disputed, the unilateral declaration of MPAs can arouse suspicions that states have harnessed conservation as a continuation of geopolitics by other means. This paper identifies the combustible interplay between conservation and territorial and strategic competition, with particular reference to, first, the recent arbitration concerning the United Kingdom’s Chagos Archipelago MPA under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and, second, ongoing maritime territorial disputes in the Indo-Pacific region. The paper discusses what happens when states are accused of creating MPAs to serve a hidden agenda. The relationship of marine conservation with territorial competition emerges as a complex one, in which power differentials and strategic conditions are important determinants of state behavior. Moreover, the hard choices inherent in this area of policy will be exacerbated by climate change. The developments discussed in the paper challenge unilateral MPAs as a means of protecting marine ecosystems. As a response, the paper identifies the objective of reducing incentives for states to play geopolitics with conservation.
Ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM) has been studied for over twenty years, but has rarely been fully utilized in practice. EBFM utilizes multispecies management and ecosystem information, including physical oceanographic information and predator-prey relationships, to better manage fisheries. Regional fishery management councils started incorporating ecosystem information for management on an ad hoc basis in the mid-1990s, and suggestions to use ecosystem information appeared in legislation in 2007 (18 USC § 1882). Since that time, implementation has increased slowly at a national level, and is still virtually unused in some councils. One possible reason for the slow implementation is that institutional barriers have prevented EBFM from being embraced by managers. These barriers can be in the form of legislation and regulation, issues within the regional fishery management councils, judicial challenges, and budgetary or staffing shortages. The legislation has not been much of a barrier to EBFM, but regulations have been more troublesome for some regions. Institutional momentum may be one reason EBFM is not more common in US fisheries as regions face different levels of support for new management schemes due to factors like staffing, budget, and litigation.
Maritime Spatial Planning (MSP) needs to incorporate spatial information on human impacts. As human activities and uses increase in marine and coastal waters around the world, pressures in ecosystems are also increasing, leading to multiple adverse effects on different species and habitats. The European Directive on MSP aims to achieve an integrated approach to marine governance, whilst securing and maintaining the healthy status of marine and coastal waters, in accordance with the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. The latter requires Member States to develop assessments not only on pressures and impacts, but also on the state of the marine environment and then take measures towards reaching a Good Environmental Status by 2020.
The Portuguese Maritime Spatial Plan – Plano de Ordenamento do Espaço Marítimo (POEM) was developed between 2009 and 2012. In 2014 a law establishing the Basis for the Spatial Planning and Management of the National Maritime Space was enacted and in 2015 the framework for the elaboration of a new national Maritime Spatial Plan, named Situation Plan, was established. Portugal will face, in the next five years, the challenge of planning and managing its marine space, whilst promoting its sustainable use and protection.
This study adapted a cumulative effects assessment model to understand how the impacts from multiple threats affect the marine and coastal ecosystems and, how this information can be used to improve the management process. Information was gathered on intensity and distribution of activities and uses for the Portuguese continental subdivision marine area, quantified and mapped their cumulative impacts in marine ecosystems, and overlapped with the POEM. Results show that impacts are spreading from the coast up to the Contiguous Zone. Higher scores appear in Transitional and Coastal Waters in the north (Viana do Castelo/Figueira da Foz), centre (Peniche/Setúbal) and south (Lagos/Faro). In some areas with higher ranks, statutes of nature conservation are already in place, but potential activities may still occur on top of existing ones. This study shows that the adapted model is a helpful tool to clarify ocean planning, identify areas of potential conflicts among users and support the decision making process.
The large increase in number and extent of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) over the last few decades has been an important step towards the conservation of marine environments. However, it is not clear whether these important conservation tools are effectively managed, especially in the developing world where resources are limited and there are frequent conflicts with traditional resource users. An innovative approach was used to identify the most important governance, socioeconomic and biophysical variables that are associated with the management effectiveness of Brazilian MPAs. Management effectiveness data was extracted from Rapid Assessment and Prioritization of Protected Areas Management (RAPPAM), applied by World Wildlife Fund-Brazil in 2005 and 2010. This comprehensive dataset was summarized in a single management effectiveness metric and related to a set of 15 explanatory variables using generalized linear models (GLMs). An innovative multi-model averaging approach was employed to identify the most important variables relating to management effectiveness. As a result, five main indicators showed high influence on management effectiveness: 1) higher levels of monitoring/research; 2) higher investment; 3) greater human resources; 4) greater social participation, and; 5) lower levels of conflicts between users and managers. managerial effectiveness of Brazilian MPAs could be significantly improved by adopting an indicator based approach to management prioritization. Specifically, MPA managers should dedicate special attention to the highlighted factors when choosing how to allocate available resources in order to boost the overall effectiveness of their protected area.
Although the existence of coral-reef habitats at depths to 165 m in tropical regions has been known for decades, the richness, diversity, and ecological importance of mesophotic coral ecosystems (MCEs) has only recently become widely acknowledged. During an interdisciplinary effort spanning more than two decades, we characterized the most expansive MCEs ever recorded, with vast macroalgal communities and areas of 100% coral cover between depths of 50–90 m extending for tens of km2 in the Hawaiian Archipelago. We used a variety of sensors and techniques to establish geophysical characteristics. Biodiversity patterns were established from visual and video observations and collected specimens obtained from submersible, remotely operated vehicles and mixed-gas SCUBA and rebreather dives. Population dynamics based on age, growth and fecundity estimates of selected fish species were obtained from laser-videogrammetry, specimens, and otolith preparations. Trophic dynamics were determined using carbon and nitrogen stable isotopic analyses on more than 750 reef fishes. MCEs are associated with clear water and suitable substrate. In comparison to shallow reefs in the Hawaiian Archipelago, inhabitants of MCEs have lower total diversity, harbor new and unique species, and have higher rates of endemism in fishes. Fish species present in shallow and mesophotic depths have similar population and trophic (except benthic invertivores) structures and high genetic connectivity with lower fecundity at mesophotic depths. MCEs in Hawai‘i are widespread but associated with specific geophysical characteristics. High genetic, ecological and trophic connectivity establish the potential for MCEs to serve as refugia for some species, but our results question the premise that MCEs are more resilient than shallow reefs. We found that endemism within MCEs increases with depth, and our results do not support suggestions of a global faunal break at 60 m. Our findings enhance the scientific foundations for conservation and management of MCEs, and provide a template for future interdisciplinary research on MCEs worldwide.
This study investigated the effects of a community-led temperate marine reserve in Lamlash Bay, Firth of Clyde, Scotland, on commercially important populations of European lobster (Homarus gammarus), brown crab (Cancer pagurus), and velvet swimming crabs (Necora puber). Potting surveys conducted over 4 years revealed significantly higher catch per unit effort (cpue 109% greater), weight per unit effort (wpue 189% greater), and carapace length (10–15 mm greater) in lobsters within the reserve compared with control sites. However, likely due to low levels of recruitment and increased fishing effort outside the reserve, lobster catches decreased in all areas during the final 2 years. Nevertheless, catch rates remained higher within the reserve across all years, suggesting the reserve buffered these wider declines. Additionally, lobster cpue and wpue declined with increasing distance from the boundaries of the marine reserve, a trend which tag–recapture data suggested were due to spillover. Catches of berried lobster were also twice as high within the reserve than outside, and the mean potential reproductive output per female was 22.1% greater. It was originally thought that higher densities of lobster within the reserve might lead to greater levels of aggression and physical damage. However, damage levels were solely related to body size, as large lobsters >110 mm had sustained over 218% more damage than smaller individuals. Interestingly, catches of adult lobsters were inversely correlated with those of juvenile lobsters, brown crabs, and velvet crabs, which may be evidence of competitive displacement and/or predation. Our findings provide evidence that temperate marine reserves can deliver fisheries and conservation benefits, and highlight the importance of investigating multispecies interactions, as the recovery of some species can have knock-on effects on others.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have historically been implemented and managed in a top-down way, excluding resource-dependent users from planning and management. In response to conflict and non-compliance, the governance of marine resources is increasingly embracing community-based approaches, assuming that by putting communities at the forefront of planning and management, participation will increase, causing positive social and ecological impacts. Given the relative newness of community-based MPAs, this study explores how resource users perceive their impacts on ecosystem services (ES) and human well-being (HWB). This study explores two community-based MPAs called tengefus in Kenya using mixed qualitative methods, including a participatory photography method called photovoice. Participation in and donor support for tengefus influences how resource users perceived tengefus and their impacts on ES and HWB. Individuals who were engaged in the tengefu from the inception or held official positions perceived more positive impacts on ES and HWB compared to those not as involved. Tengefus were often viewed by communities as attractors for external support and funding, positively influencing attitudes and feelings towards conservation. One site, the first tengefu in Kenya, had more external support and was surrounded by positive perceptions, while the other site had little external support and was surrounded by more conflict and mixed perceptions. This study exemplifies the complex social-political dynamics that MPAs create and are embedded within. Community-based MPA initiatives could benefit from ensuring widespread engagement throughout the inception, implementation and management, recognizing and managing expectations around donor support, and not assuming that benefits spillover throughout the community.
We examined the habitat of juvenile haddock on the eastern Scotian Shelf (off Nova Scotia, Canada) in relation to grab-sampled benthic macrofaunal invertebrate species assemblages in order to determine whether there were significant differences in benthic macrofauna between areas of historically persistent high and low juvenile haddock abundance. Our analyses were conducted over two spatial scales in each of two years: among banks (Emerald, Western and Sable Island), approximately 60 km distant from each other, and between areas of high and low juvenile haddock abundance at distances of 10 to 30 km–all in an area that had not experienced groundfishing in the decade prior to sampling. We also examined fine-scale (10s of metres) within-site variability in the macrofauna and used surficial sediment characteristics, along with hydrographic variables, to identify environmental correlates. PERMANOVA identified statistically significant differences in biomass, density and composition of the benthos associated with juvenile haddock abundance; however it was difficult to determine whether the results had biological relevance. Post hoc tests showed that these differences occurred only on Sable Island Bank where both fish and benthos may have been independently responding to sediment type which was most different there (100% sand in the area of low haddock abundance vs. 22% gravel in the area of high haddock abundance). In total, 383 benthic taxa representing 13 phyla were identified. Annelida was the most specious phylum (36.29% of taxa, representing 33 families), followed by Arthropoda (with Crustaceans, mostly Amphipoda, accounting for 25.07% of the total number of taxa). The strongest pattern in the macrofauna was expressed at the largest scale, between banks, accounting for approximately 25% of the variation in the data. Emerald Bank, deeper, warmer and saltier than the Western and Sable Island Banks, had a distinctive fauna.