The Ocean Tracking Network is a major global project to establish tracking of endangered fish and marine mammal species through acoustic telemetry. The project has only begun to generate the policy-related outcomes that may be utilized as benchmarks for evaluating the success of the project. We propose that projects like this one make technical advances before scientific ones, and that scientific advances may be quite long term. Further, the development of policy outcomes is shaped by the larger political economies in which the technologies are located; scientists are quite used to “flying under the radar”, waiting for more propitious circumstances. There are serious questions regarding which actors are capable of making matters of fact issues of public debate.
This thematic series, entitled “Enhancing Stewardship in Latin America and Caribbean Small-Scale Fisheries”, emerged as part of a joint effort to bridge Latin-American scholars interested in networking on small-scale fisheries in the region. Built on results presented at two meetings (‘Too Big to Ignore’ (TBTI) Workshop in Curitiba, Brazil, and the 2nd World Small-Scale Fisheries Congress in Merida, Mexico), this issue combines a unique collection of emergent and pressing issues related to small-scale fisheries in Latin America. It comprises of theoretical, methodological and policy-related aspects across a range of topics such as co-management, biodiversity conservation, governance challenges, and territorial tenure, in seven countries - predominantly from South America. In this Introduction, we provide some background to the similarities and diversity within the Latin America and Caribbean region, and their relevance to small-scale fisheries stewardship. Subsequently, we briefly introduce the contributions that range from cross-scale governance in Chile, cooperativism in Mexico, species introduction in Bolivia, interactive governance in the Galápagos and co-management in Uruguay, Brazil and Colombia, to territorial losses in Brazil. Multiple contexts and processes, theoretical and analytical perspectives (multi-stakeholders, socio-ecological systems, cross-scale issues, territorial approach) are highlighted, as well as the policy challenges to safeguard small-scale fisheries from numerous pressures such as urbanization, industrial expansion, tourism, pollution, and conservation policies. This series aims at inciting further consideration of innovative perspectives to bridge local communities, academics, practitioners and policy makers in joint efforts to promote priority action on issues that require immediate attention and transdisciplinary multidimensional outlooks on that important sector.
Healthy ocean ecosystems are needed to sustain people and livelihoods and to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Using the ocean sustainably requires overcoming many formidable challenges: overfishing, climate change, ocean acidification, and pollution. Despite gloomy forecasts, there is reason for hope. New tools, practices, and partnerships are beginning to transform local fisheries, biodiversity conservation, and marine spatial planning. The challenge is to bring them to a global scale. We dissect recent successes using a complex adaptive-systems (CAS) framework, which acknowledges the interconnectedness of social and ecological systems. Understanding how policies and practices change the feedbacks in CASs by altering the behavior of different system components is critical for building robust, sustainable states with favorable emergent properties. Our review reveals that altering incentives—either economic or social norms, or both—can achieve positive outcomes. For example, introduction of well-designed rights-based or secure-access fisheries and ecosystem service accounting shifts economic incentives to align conservation and economic benefits. Modifying social norms can create conditions that incentivize a company, country, or individual to fish sustainably, curb illegal fishing, or create large marine reserves as steps to enhance reputation or self-image. In each example, the feedbacks between individual actors and emergent system properties were altered, triggering a transition from a vicious to a virtuous cycle. We suggest that evaluating conservation tools by their ability to align incentives of actors with broader goals of sustainability is an underused approach that can provide a pathway toward scaling sustainability successes. In short, getting incentives right matters.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have largely proven to be effective tools for conserving marine ecosystem, while socio-economic benefits generated by MPAs to fisheries are still under debate. Many MPAs embed a no-take zone, aiming to preserve natural populations and ecosystems, within a buffer zone where potentially sustainable activities are allowed. Small-scale fisheries (SSF) within buffer zones can be highly beneficial by promoting local socio-economies. However, guidelines to successfully manage SSFs within MPAs, ensuring both conservation and fisheries goals, and reaching a win-win scenario, are largely unavailable. From the peer-reviewed literature, grey-literature and interviews, we assembled a unique database of ecological, social and economic attributes of SSF in 25 Mediterranean MPAs. Using random forest with Boruta algorithm we identified a set of attributes determining successful SSFs management within MPAs. We show that fish stocks are healthier, fishermen incomes are higher and the social acceptance of management practices is fostered if five attributes are present (i.e. high MPA enforcement, presence of a management plan, fishermen engagement in MPA management, fishermen representative in the MPA board, and promotion of sustainable fishing). These findings are pivotal to Mediterranean coastal communities so they can achieve conservation goals while allowing for profitable exploitation of fisheries resources.
SeaStates is a rigorous, quantitative account of strongly protected MPAs in the waters of US coastal states and territories updated annually by the team at MPAtlas.org. First published in 2013, our annual reports are intended to be a tool to measure and evaluate the progress towards effective marine protection in US waters.
Microplastic debris is a pervasive type of contaminant in marine ecosystems, being considered a major threat to marine biota. One of the problems of microplastics is that they can adsorb contaminants in extremely high concentrations. When released from the particle, these contaminants have the potential to cause toxic effects in the biota. So far, reports of toxic effects are mostly linked with the direct exposure of organisms through ingestion of contaminated microplastics. There is little information on the toxicity of leachates from microplastics to marine organisms. In this study, we conducted experiments to evaluate the toxicity of leachates from virgin and beached plastic pellets to embryo development of the brown mussel (Perna perna). We compared the efficiency of two test procedures, and evaluated the toxicity of beached pellets collected in a coastal marine protected area. We observed that mussel embryo is sensitive to leachate from both virgin and beached pellets. However, the toxicity of the leachate from beached pellets was much higher than that of virgin pellets. We suggest contaminants adsorbed onto the surface of beached pellets were responsible for the high toxicity of leachate from beached pellets, while the toxicity of leachate from virgin pellets was mainly due to plastic additives. Our results suggest microplastic debris may be harmful even if ingestion is not the only or main pathway of interaction of marine organisms with contaminated plastic debris.
There is a critical need to develop effective strategies for the long-term sustainability of Canada’s oceans. However, this is challenged by uncertainty over future impacts of global environmental and socioeconomic change on marine ecosystems, and how coastal communities will respond to these changes. Scenario analysis can address this uncertainty by exploring alternative futures for Canadian oceans under different pathways of climate change, economic development, social and policy changes. However, there has, to date, been no scenario analysis of Canada’s future ocean sustainability at a national scale. To facilitate this process, we review whether the literature on existing scenarios of Canada’s fisheries and marine ecosystems provides an integrative, social-ecological perspective about potential future conditions. Overall, there is sufficient national-level oceanographic data and application of ecosystem, biophysical, and socioeconomic models to generate projections of future ocean and socioeconomic trends in Canada. However, we find that the majority of marine-related scenario analyses in Canada focus on climate scenarios and the associated oceanographic and ecological changes. There is a gap in the incorporation of social, economic, and governance drivers in scenarios, as well as a lack of scenarios which consider the economic and social impact of future change. Moreover, available marine scenario studies mostly do not cover all three Canadian oceans simultaneously. To address these gaps, we propose to develop national-level scenarios using a matrix framework following the concept of Shared Socioeconomic Pathways, which would allow a social-ecological examination of Canada’s oceans in terms of the state of future uncertainties.
The present study analysed the major features of two important acts and an ordinance in Bangladesh that govern coastal and marine fishery exploitation and conservation. The problems with the implementation of these regulations were identified, and the level of compliance among fishers and reasons for their noncompliance were assessed. Based on two case studies on coastal and marine ecosystems, the findings revealed that the level of noncompliance is highly prevalent, particularly in hilsa sanctuaries in the Meghna River estuary. The study identified coastal poverty, the inadequate and improper distribution of incentives, insufficient logistic support, limited alternative occupations, political interference and a lack of awareness regarding fishery regulations as the major limitations in the implementation. The drawbacks of proper implementation and the noncompliance of fishery regulations lead to fishery degradation, directly affect the sustainability of the coastal and marine ecosystem of Bangladesh and may be barriers to achieving Goal 14 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Establishing a co-management mechanism for sanctuary management, creating economic opportunities outside of fishery sectors, declaring more protected areas in the coastal and marine ecosystem, enhancing logistic support to the enforcing agencies and building awareness are critical to improving the compliance level among fishers. Finally, the study submits that understanding the fishers’ reasons for compliance and noncompliance of the regulations is important for devising fishery policies through the consultation and engagement of stakeholders at all levels.
In this study, a multi-criteria index was developed to assess anthropogenic stressors along the Mediterranean coastline. The index aimed at geo-locating pollution hotspots for informed decision making related to coastal zone management. The index was integrated in a Geographical Information System based geodatabase implemented at several pilot areas along the Northern (Italy and France), Eastern (Lebanon), and Southern (Tunisia) Mediterranean coastlines. The generated stressor maps were coupled with a biodiversity richness index and an environmental sensitivity index to produce vulnerability maps that can form the basis for prioritizing management and mitigation interventions towards the identification of pollution hotspots and the promotion of sustainable coastal zone management. The results identified significant differences between the two assessment methods, which can bias prioritization in decision making and policy planning depending on stakeholders' interests. The discrepancies emphasize the need for transparency and understanding of the underlying foundations behind vulnerability indices and mapping development.
Designed artificial reefs (ARs) are deployed for various purposes including the enhancement of recreational fisheries. The ability to assess recreational harvest is important for determining the effectiveness of AR deployments. Harvest estimation at AR fisheries pose many logistical and budgetary challenges. We present a pragmatic approach to estimate harvest at an AR off coastal Sydney, Australia, that combines existing datasets and a cost-effective sampling design from two different time periods. Fishing effort data collected from June 2013 to May 2014 were derived directly from digital images of the AR and were validated by direct observation. Multiple datasets were then integrated to obtain a list of taxa that are harvested by recreational fishers within the AR area. Data from a series of probability-based surveys conducted prior to the deployment of the AR from March 2007 to February 2009 were used to obtain estimates of harvest rates for these taxa. Harvest at the reef was estimated by multiplying fishing effort and these harvest rates together. Total annual recreational harvest from the AR during June 2013–May 2014 was estimated to be 1016 ± 82 fish by number, 700 ± 59 kg of fish by weight, and 12,504 kg per km2. Standardized harvest at the Sydney AR was relatively high (2.3–43.6 times larger) compared to other fishery areas from which the fishable area is known. Harvest at the AR was dominated by 6 functional groups (ambush predators, leatherjackets, large to medium pelagic fish, small pelagic fish, medium demersal predators and large demersal predators), which accounted for 92% of the total annual harvest by number, and 95% of the total annual harvest by weight. Comparisons of standardized harvest between the Sydney AR and other fishery areas revealed two distinct groups, a) the AR and Swansea channel, a marine-dominated entrance to a large estuary, and b) all other fishery areas. The use of existing datasets from a previous time period to represent current conditions in a fishery can be subject to potential bias since harvest composition and harvest rates were calculated using data collected prior to the implementation of the AR. However, this pragmatic approach may be the only viable option when the implementation of probability-based survey methods is logistically complex and prohibitively costly.
Future studies attempting to estimate harvest at small, discrete AR fisheries located near large population centers should therefore consider an integrated methodology that combines existing datasets and cost-effective sampling designs.