Continental boundary currents are projected to be altered under future scenarios of climate change. As these currents often influence dispersal and connectivity among populations of many marine organisms, changes to boundary currents may have dramatic implications for population persistence. Networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) often aim to maintain connectivity but anticipation of the scale and extent of climatic impacts on connectivity is required to achieve this critical conservation goal in a future of climate change. For 2 key marine species (kelp and sea urchins) we use oceanographic modelling to predict how continental boundary currents are likely to change connectivity among a network of MPAs spanning over 1000 km of coastline off the coast of eastern Australia. Overall change in predicted connectivity among pairs of MPAs within the network did not change significantly over and above temporal variation within climatic scenarios, highlighting the need for future studies to incorporate temporal variation in dispersal to robustly anticipate likely change. However, the intricacies of connectivity between different pairs of MPAs were noteworthy. For kelp, poleward connectivity among pairs of MPAs tended to increase in the future whereas equatorward connectivity tended to decrease. In contrast, for sea urchins, connectivity among pairs of MPAs generally decreased in both directions. Self-seeding within higher-latitude MPAs tended to increase and the role of low latitude MPAs as a sink for urchins changed significantly in contrasting ways. These projected changes have the potential to alter important genetic parameters with implications for adaptation and ecosystem vulnerability to climate change. Considering such changes, in the context of managing and designing MPA networks, may ensure that conservation goals are achieved into the future.
The overarching goal of Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) is to sustain the long-term capacity of marine ecosystems to deliver a range of ecosystem services (ES). Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) can be considered as a part of the efforts made towards EBM focusing in area planning. The implementation of MPAs with the objective of assuring the flow of ES and its benefits towards society is currently in its initial stages due to lack of specific information about the operation and value of the ES offered by MPAs. In Mexico, MPAs represent one of the main conservation and management tools of the territory and its resources. In order to identify the level of legal protection of ES provided by the federal decrees that create MPAs, in this article we present as a case study the analysis of the specific protection of ES in MPAs in this country. We compiled the creation decrees of the 66 Mexican MPAs. Our analysis adopted three perspectives: ES explicitly mentioned in the decrees, ES indirectly mentioned in the decrees, and ES actually present in each MPA. The analyzed MPA decrees recognize that these areas provide four types of ecosystem functions (provision services, regulation services, support services, and cultural services). Of all existing Mexican MPAs, more than half of them (54.5%) have decrees of creation in which an ES is directly mentioned as a cause of their creation. 39.3% of the MPAs decrees contain paragraphs or words describing an ES. All the MPA categories actually provide a larger number of ES than those mentioned or alluded to in official decrees. We conclude that although there are legal frameworks for the protection of specific elements of marine and coastal ecosystems, MPAs represent the legal tool allowing for their integration under the ecosystem approach. In the Mexican case, there are voids to be filled in order for MPAs to fulfill the function assigned to them by Mexican laws.
We have developed a set of tools that operate within an aquatic geographic information system to improve the accessibility, and usability of remote-sensed satellite and computer-modeled oceanographic data for marine science and ecosystem-based management. The tools form the Pelagic Habitat Analysis Module (PHAM), which can be applied as a modeling platform, an investigative aid in scientific research, or utilized as a decision support system for marine ecological management. Applications include fisheries, marine biology, physical and biological oceanography, and marine spatial management. The GIS provides a home for diverse data types and automated tools for downloading remote sensed and global circulation model data. Within the GIS environment, PHAM provides a framework for seamless interactive four-dimensional visualization, for matching between disparate data types, for flexible statistic or mechanistic model development, and for dynamic application of user developed models for habitat, density, and probability predictions. Here we describe PHAM in the context of ecosystem-based fisheries management, and present results from case study projects which guided development. In the first, an analysis of the purse seine fishery for tropical tuna in the eastern Pacific Ocean revealed oceanographic drivers of the catch distribution and the influence of climate-driven circulation patterns on the location of fishing grounds. To support management of the Common Thresher Shark (Alopias vulpinus) in the California Current Ecosystem, a simple empirical habitat utilization model was developed and used to dynamically predict the seasonal range expansion of common thresher shark based on oceanographic conditions.
The effects of ocean acidification (OA) on the structure and complexity of coastal marine biogenic habitat have been broadly overlooked. Here we explore how declining pH and carbonate saturation may affect the structural complexity of four major biogenic habitats. Our analyses predict that indirect effects driven by OA on habitat-forming organisms could lead to lower species diversity in coral reefs, mussel beds and some macroalgal habitats, but increases in seagrass and other macroalgal habitats. Available in situ data support the prediction of decreased biodiversity in coral reefs, but not the prediction of seagrass bed gains. Thus, OA-driven habitat loss may exacerbate the direct negative effects of OA on coastal biodiversity; however, we lack evidence of the predicted biodiversity increase in systems where habitat-forming species could benefit from acidification. Overall, a combination of direct effects and community-mediated indirect effects will drive changes in the extent and structural complexity of biogenic habitat, which will have important ecosystem effects.
Only a limited number of studies on the effects of boats on cetaceans have been published, most concentrating on dolphin species (Family Delphinidae), with restricted research findings published regarding harbour porpoises (Phocoena phocoena). From February 2011–May 2013, a count of boats (n = 2153) was conducted from seven land-based sites - Port Talbot deep water harbour, Tutt Head, Mumbles (39% of all vessel traffic occurred here), Pwll Du Head, Southgate, Port Eynon Point, Rhossili and Burry Holms, all located in the Swansea Bay and South Gower area of the UK - to give an analysis of boat traffic volume. A variety of vessel types was observed: large commercial cargo ship, kayak, recreational fishing, commercial fishing, rib, jet-ski, speedboat, cruiser, yacht, cargo or stand-up paddle board (SUP). Interactions between vessels and porpoise were noted during these surveys. During 729 h of survey effort (268 total surveys), 38% (n = 103) of surveys had no corresponding porpoise sightings, while 62% (n = 165) were porpoise positive. With regard to vessel/porpoise interactions, there were 39 occasions when porpoise exhibited only neutral or negative behaviour. Groups of two porpoise were the modal group size, accounting for 61% (n = 24) of porpoise/vessel interactions, with peak interactions documented in May (n = 9) and July (n = 8). Vessel type and speed rather than presence seemed to be the relevant factors; 75% of all negative reactions were in response to high-speed planing-hulled vessels, the remainder being neutral responses.
Twenty-six beaches belonging to Atlántico department, Caribbean coast of Colombia, were surveyed to determine magnitudes, sources, and management of litter. Beach litter was observed along the entire coastline, and a total of 7,597 items weighing 412 kg were collected from all 26 beaches surveyed. The average abundance of litter found along the study area was 2.9 items m−1. Vegetation debris and plastic items dominated the samples respectively with 59% (Avg: 1.72 items m−1) and 27% (Avg: 0.82 items m−1). Other litter groups were polystyrene 3% (Avg: 0.1 items m−1), rubber 3% (Avg: 0.08 items m−1) and glass 2% (Avg: 0.04 items m−1). Metal, organic, processed wood, paper and biohazards items reached 5%, while textiles and miscellaneous represented less than 1%. Concerning buoyancy characteristics, the most represented litter category was persistent buoyant litter (with 91% of items), followed by short-term (6%) and non-buoyant litter (3%). The primary source of litter corresponds to litter transported by rivers, mainly the Magdalena River, together with human activities related to beach use (i.e.tourism). Litter produced poor scenic scores along the Atlántico department coastline and improvement can easily upgrade scenic beach quality scores. Results such as those given are necessary to identify, improve and conserve beaches standards together with the contribution that they make to the environmental, social and economic, well-being of local communities. Beach litter management along the study area (as well along the Caribbean coast of Colombia) must be based on strategies to reduce or eliminate litter sources. For that, it is necessary to consider beach types to define the intensity and periodicity of actions to be implemented.
The ecological status of coastal and marine waterbodies world-wide is threatened by multiple stressors, including nutrient inputs from various sources and increasing occurrences of invasive alien species. These stressors impact the environmental quality of the Baltic Sea. Each Baltic Sea country contributes to the stressors and, at the same time, is affected by their negative impacts on water quality. Knowledge about benefits from improvements in coastal and marine waters is key to assessing public support for policies aimed at achieving such changes. We propose a new approach to account for variability in benefits related to differences in socio-demographics of respondents, by using a structural model of discrete choice. Our method allows to incorporate a wide range of socio-demographics as explanatory variables in conditional multinomial logit models without the risk of collinearity; the model is estimated jointly and hence more statistically efficient than the alternative, typically used approaches. We apply this new technique to a study of the preferences of Latvian citizens towards improvements of the coastal and marine environment quality. We find that overall, Latvians are willing to pay for reducing losses of biodiversity, for improving water quality for recreation by reduced eutrophication, and for reducing new occurrences of invasive alien species. However a significant group within the sample seems not to value environmental improvements in the Baltic Sea, and, thus, is unwilling to support costly measures for achieving such improvements. The structural model of discrete choice reveals substantial heterogeneity among Latvians towards changes in the quality of coastal and marine waters of Latvia.
We describe and analyse data on fishing effort collected by interviewing 1914 fishermen between 2007 and 2010. Combining socio-spatial data collected through a voluntary mapping project called “FisherMap” with UK and European vessel satellite monitoring data provides high resolution, national-scale maps of distribution and relative intensity of fishing for six gear types. The effort maps show, for the first time, a large scale and holistic approach to mapping fishing effort by including the under-reported, yet significant, inshore fishing fleet (85% of registered vessels,<15 m). The data from this study have been used to facilitate the planning, management advice and subsequent designation of 38 inshore Marine Conservation Zones. The authors conclude that, effective management of the inshore marine environment requires up-to-date, high resolution and holistic maps of fishing effort that can be obtained only through validated interpretation of inshore vessel monitoring system data.
A holistic methodological procedure to assess estuarine vulnerability within a spatio-temporal framework is presented. This approach quantifies the vulnerability of estuaries to point-source pollution considering the physical processes, the ecological features, and the social aspects related to the existing estuarine ecosystem services. Estuarine vulnerability is referred to those characteristics of an estuarine ecosystem that describe its potential to be harmed. Thus, vulnerability is presented as a combination of four parameters: Tidal Zoning (TZ), State of Conservation (SC), Susceptibility (SU), and Stratification (ST). TZ differs between intertidal and subtidal zones. SC is determined as a combination of Naturalness (NA) and Ecological Value (EV). NA is defined as the absence of physical anthropogenic modifications, and EV is described as the presence of singular flora and fauna. While SU is related to the flushing or cleaning capacity, ST accounts for the location of mixed, partially mixed/stratified and stratified areas in the estuary. Subsequently, categories, thresholds and assessment criteria for every parameter, and a composite index to integrate all of them, namely the Estuarine Vulnerability Index (EVI), are presented. EVI has been applied to the Suances Estuary (N Spain) to find out the optimal locations for hypothetical point discharges. The results obtained for the Suances Estuary confirm the suitability of the proposed methodology and its conceptual approach as a comprehensive and practical management tool to quantify and prioritize estuarine areas receiving point-source pollution.
An early step toward successful coordination with other West Coast ocean interests involves preparing and implementing a Communications and Engagement (C&E) Plan. The purpose of this C&E Plan is to identify key goals for communicating and engaging with diverse ocean stakeholders on the West Coast (i.e., what needs to be done), and then to articulate a clear strategy toward successfully achieving these goals (i.e., how best to do it).
While this C&E Plan lays out a thoughtful approach for achieving its communications and engagement goals, it is important to recognize that implementation of the plan is ultimately dependent on the availability of funding and staffing resources. Additional resources will have to be secured by the WCRPB to implement some of the activities outlined below. As such, the Plan provide guidance but does not, by itself, guarantee implementation. This C&E plan is intended to be a “living document” that will be updated at regular intervals by WCRPB staff and members.