In the North-east Atlantic Ocean there are 550 inshore and offshore MPAs established to accomplish a high diversity of objectives, which can be classified into 24 different types of MPA designations. Only 153 of these MPAs have a management plan (MgP) --the basic tool required for an effective management. Amongst these, only 66 are actually managed, i.e. they have the staff and resources required to operate the plan. A common characteristic of these MPAs is the lack of standardized indicators of their performance. In order to address this issue, an alternative approach was developed based on the assessment of management performance using the expert knowledge and perceptions of managers operating MPAs, a universal source of information that could allow overcoming the usual gaps due to the restrictions in coverage of scientific monitoring and assessments. MgPs showed differences among countries but were homogeneous within each country, reflecting the usual top-down approach in the establishment of MPAs. Compliance with the qualitative objectives present in MgPs was higher than compliance with quantitative ones (87% versus 50%), and the MPAs that most successfully achieved their objectives were those with regular monitoring. This analysis also shows that beyond these objectives, the establishment of an MPA and the activities developed as a consequence of its creation have a positive socio-economic impact on the local human community.
This document provides a clear and comprehensive account for the application of marine spatial planning (MSP) within the Regional Commission for Fisheries (RECOFI) region. It builds on regional technical workshops, held under the auspices of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), aimed principally at improving the prospects for fisheries and aquaculture in the Near East.
Marine spatial planning provides a step-by-step process that allows for the cooperative integration of the major marine uses and users within a defined marine area. These ordered procedures allow all stakeholders to work towards ensuring the long-term sustainability of identified marine activities. The principles of the ecosystem approach to both fisheries and aquaculture can readily be incorporated into the process. The output of MSP is the development of a plan that addresses any potentially conflicting uses of the sea, thus enabling the strategic, forward-looking planning for the regulation, zoning, management, protection and sustainability of the marine environment. MSP can best function if it includes continuing reinforcement and adjustments of learned experiences over a long time period.
The document includes three important annexes. The first includes the main recommendations concerning the adoption of marine spatial planning taken from the RECOFI (FAO) Cairo workshop in 2012. The second exemplifies how MSP might best be adopted in Saudi Arabia, with emphasis being placed on the types of marine activities that must be considered and the range of data and their sources that should be procured. The third annex provides a comprehensive listing of additional information about MSP, including worldwide examples where MSP has been applied under varied local conditions at highly variable geographic scales.
Calcification and reef growth processes dominated by corals and calcifying algae are threatened by climate and fishing disturbances. Twenty-seven environmental, habitat, and species interaction variables were tested for their influence on coral and calcifier cover in 201 western Indian Ocean coral reefs distributed across ~20° of latitude and longitude and up to 20 m deep. These variables predicted more of the total between-site variance of calcifying organism cover (~50%) than coral cover (~20%). Satellite-derived environmental variables of temperature, light, and water quality predicted more of the coral and calcifier cover than feeding interactions when groups of related variables were analyzed separately. Nevertheless, when simultaneously evaluating all variables, the environmental variables better predicted coral cover, but proxies of feeding interactions better predicted calcifier cover. Coral and calcifier cover were most consistently negatively influenced by sea surface temperature distributions (right skewness), but the orange-lined triggerfish Balistapus undulatus consistently had a strong positive association with coral and calcifier cover. Herbivorous fish and Diadematidae sea urchins were not positively associated with coral and calcifier cover. A primary prey of B. undulatus, the rock-boring sea urchin Echinometra mathaei, had a strong negative association with coral cover and particularly calcifier cover. Island reefs had higher calcifier abundance than fringing reefs, which probably results from high Acropora and B. undulatus but low E. mathaei abundance. When comparing all variables and models, these taxonomic associations had more influence than environmental stress variables on calcifiers. Given the important predatory role of B. undulatus in controlling E. mathaeipopulations, fishing restrictions on this species could help attenuate calcification losses predicted by climate change.
To improve the management of the warrior swimming crab (Callinectes bellicosus, Stimpson 1859) fishery along the west coast of Baja California Sur, Mexico, catch, economic value and trip ticket frequency data, from 1998 to 2010, were analyzed by month and locality. Based on the geographic locations of fishing localities and their use frequencies, five fishing zones were identified. The relative contributions to the regional catch, economic value and frequency of use, as well as catch trends and fishing seasons, revealed differences between zones. The proposed zones can be used to design spatial management units that facilitate the monitoring of fishing efforts and evaluate the impacts of these efforts on the resource, economic performance and interactions with other fisheries. We discuss the advantages of the method used and its potential for identifying benchmarks, mainly related to fleet dynamics, in the absence of information regarding resource dynamics.
Fisheries bycatch is a major threat to seabird populations, and understanding sex- and age-biases in bycatch rates is important for assessing population-level impacts. We analysed 44 studies to provide the first global assessment of seabird bycatch by sex and age, and used generalised models to investigate the effects of region and fishing method. Bycatch was highly biased by sex (65% of 123 samples) and age (92% of 114 samples), with the majority of samples skewed towards males and adults. Bycatch of adults and males was higher in subpolar regions, whereas there was a tendency for more immatures and females to be killed in subtropical waters. Fishing method influenced sex- and age-ratios only in subpolar regions. Sex- and age-biases are therefore common features of seabird bycatch in global fisheries that appear to be associated largely with differences in at-sea distributions. This unbalanced mortality influences the extent to which populations are impacted by fisheries, which is a key consideration for at-risk species. We recommend that researchers track individuals of different sex and age classes to improve knowledge of their distribution, relative overlap with vessels, and hence susceptibility to bycatch. This information should then be incorporated in ecological risk assessments of effects of fisheries on vulnerable species. Additionally, data on sex, age and provenance of bycaught birds should be collected by fisheries observers in order to identify regions and fleets where bycatch is more likely to result in population-level impacts, and to improve targeting of bycatch mitigation and monitoring of compliance.
Scholars and policy makers have increasingly emphasized the role of market-based instruments (MBIs) for the governance of ecosystem services (ESs). Limited focus however exists on a systematic understanding of how coastal and marine governance facilitates MBIs to sustain ESs. This paper develops a framework for analyzing the governance of MBIs on the basis of four distinctive aspects, including price, regulatory support, coordination, and spatial consideration. This framework can be used to analyze how MBIs are reflected in the governance of coastal and marine ESs and to understand to what extent a market environment is created for ESs. This study focuses on one in-depth case, namely Chinese national coastal and marine governance. The case suggests that existing MBIs are based on ES valuation and impacts and serve for understanding transactions. Moreover, the MBIs tend to show a clear focus on improving policy coordination. Finally, a further understanding of MBIs for coastal and marine governance is needed to also explore the role of voluntary choice.
Despite rapid advances in development of the ecosystem services (ES) concept, challenges remain for its use in decision making. Cultural ES (CES) have proven particularly difficult to pin down and resultant “shades of grey” impede their consideration by decision-makers. This study undertakes a literature review of CES to highlight the shades of grey, briefly illustrates findings by reference to the Swedish mountain landscape, then addresses potential implications for practical decision making. The concept of CES is complex and difficult to operationalize. The root of confusion appears to be a lack of rigour in identifying CES, hindering identification of proper methods for determining: the ecosystem elements that underpin CES; the beneficiaries of CES and how they value benefits delivered; and how CES may vary in space and time. We conclude by proposing a framework of questions, which we relate to the ES cascade model, that is intended to help researchers and decision-makers to reflect when considering CES. Answers to the questions should enable decision-makers to prioritise policy development or implementation in relation to the differing needs of potentially competing beneficiaries and what needs to be done or not done to the ecosystem, where, when and by whom.
Conservation planners must reconcile trade-offs associated with using biodiversity data of differing qualities to make decisions. Coarse habitat classifications are commonly used as surrogates to design marine reserve networks when fine-scale biodiversity data are incomplete or unavailable. Although finely-classified habitat maps provide more detail, they may have more misclassification errors, a common problem when remotely-sensed imagery is used. Despite these issues, planners rarely consider the effects of errors when choosing data for spatially explicit conservation prioritizations. Here we evaluate trade-offs between accuracy and resolution of hierarchical coral reef habitat data (geomorphology and benthic substrate) derived from remote sensing, in spatial planning for Kubulau District, Fiji. For both, we use accuracy information describing the probability that a mapped habitat classification is correct to design marine reserve networks that achieve habitat conservation targets, and demonstrate inadequacies of using habitat maps without accuracy data. We show that using more detailed habitat information ensures better representation of biogenic habitats (i.e. coral and seagrass), but leads to larger and more costly reserves, because these data have more misclassification errors, and are also more expensive to obtain. Reduced impacts on fishers are possible using coarsely-classified data, which are also more cost-effective for planning reserves if we account for data collection costs, but using these data may under-represent reef habitats that are important for fisheries and biodiversity, due to the maps low thematic resolution. Finally, we show that explicitly accounting for accuracy information in decisions maximizes the chance of successful conservation outcomes by reducing the risk of missing conservation representation targets, particularly when using finely classified data.
Policies to protect coastal resources may lead to greater social, economic, and ecological returns when they consider potential co-benefits and trade-offs on land. In Guánica Bay watershed, Puerto Rico, a watershed management plan is being implemented to restore declining quality of coral reefs due to sediment and nutrient runoff. However, recent stakeholder workshops indicated uncertainty about benefits for the local community. A total of 19 metrics were identified to capture stakeholder concerns, including 15 terrestrial ecosystem services in the watershed and 4 metrics in the coastal zone. Ecosystem service production functions were applied to quantify and map ecosystem service supply in 1) the Guánica Bay watershed and 2) a highly engineered upper multi-watershed area connected to the lower watershed via a series of reservoirs and tunnels. These two watersheds were compared to other watersheds in Puerto Rico. Relative to other watersheds, the Upper Guánica watershed had high air pollutant removal rates, forest habitat area, biodiversity of charismatic and endangered species, but low farmland quality and low sediment retention. The Lower Guánica watershed had high rates of denitrification and high levels of marine-based recreational and fishing opportunities compared to other watersheds, but moderate to low air pollutant removal, soil carbon content, sediment and nutrient retention, and terrestrial biodiversity. Our results suggest that actions in the watershed to protect coral reefs may lead to improvements in other ecosystem services that stakeholders care about on land. Considering benefits from both coastal and terrestrial ecosystems in making coastal management decisions may ultimately lead to a greater return on investment and greater stakeholder acceptance, while still achieving conservation goals.
Valuation of biodiversity and ecosystem services (ES) is widely recognized as a useful, though often controversial, approach to conservation and management. However, its use in the marine environment, hence evidence of its efficacy, lags behind that in terrestrial ecosystems. This largely reflects key challenges to marine conservation and management such as the practical difficulties in studying the ocean, complex governance issues and the historically-rooted separation of biodiversity conservation and resource management. Given these challenges together with the accelerating loss of marine biodiversity (and threats to the ES that this biodiversity supports), we ask whether valuation efforts for marine ecosystems are appropriate and effective. We compare three contrasting systems: the tropical Pacific, Southern Ocean and UK coastal seas. In doing so, we reveal a diversity in valuation approaches with different rates of progress and success. We also find a tendency to focus on specific ES (often the harvested species) rather than biodiversity. In light of our findings, we present a new conceptual view of valuation that should ideally be considered in decision-making. Accounting for the critical relationships between biodiversity and ES, together with an understanding of ecosystem structure and functioning, will enable the wider implications of marine conservation and management decisions to be evaluated. We recommend embedding valuation within existing management structures, rather than treating it as an alternative or additional mechanism. However, we caution that its uptake and efficacy will be compromised without the ability to develop and share best practice across regions.