North Atlantic humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in the Gulf of Maine overlap with both recreational and commercial vessel activity. Vessel strikes are one source of anthropogenic impact that has the potential to inhibit the recovery of this protected species. There are currently no regulations or guidelines specifically devised to reduce the likelihood of collisions for vessels transiting in the vicinity of humpback whales, except for vessels actively engaged in whale watching. To understand interactions between vessels and humpback whales better, we analyzed injuries on 624 individuals photographed in the southern Gulf of Maine from 2004 to 2013. Multiple reviewers evaluated 210,733 photos for five categories of injury consistent with a vessel strike. In total, 14.7% (n = 92) of individuals photographed showed injuries consistent with one or more vessel strikes. These results likely underestimate vessel collision rates and impacts because multiple events, events resulting in mortality, and those that involved only blunt force trauma could not be detected. Nevertheless, our results indicate that vessel strikes are underreported and that healing is dependent on the severity and location of the injury. We recommend that a management strategy be developed for all classes of vessels transiting in the vicinity of whales.
For several decades, fishing sharks for their fins has provided important livelihoods for eastern Indonesian coastal communities that fish the Halmahera, Arafura and Timor Seas. Fishery and interview data collected in 2012-13 from three case studies on the islands of Seram, Aru and Rote were used to examine changes in shark fishers’ livelihoods over the preceding 20 years. While recent declines in catches and shark fin prices have had a substantial impact on fishers’ livelihoods, the fishery's low visibility in some areas of its geographic range and its political complexity in general have meant that government and international development agencies have largely been unaware of this impact. Many respondents remembered the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-98 and the turn of the millennium as a time when sharks were still abundant and shark fin prices high, but were concerned about the on-going fall of shark fin prices since March 2012. High-value species, particularly guitarfish, hammerhead and sandbar sharks were most affected, losing up to 40% of their pre-2012 value. These changes, combined with the loss of fishing grounds, few attractive options for alternative income and restrictive debt relationships with shark fin bosses, have led some fishers to resort to high-risk activities such as blast fishing, illegal transboundary fishing, and people smuggling. This paper examines the multi-layered causes and consequences of fishers’ decision-making in response to adverse changes in their fishery, and explores options and obstacles to pursuing livelihoods that carry lower environmental, financial and personal risks.
In the Salish Sea, the endangered Southern Resident Killer Whale (SRKW) is a high trophic indicator of ecosystem health. Three major threats have been identified for this population: reduced prey availability, anthropogenic contaminants, and marine vessel disturbances. These perturbations can culminate in significant morbidity and mortality, usually associated with secondary infections that have a predilection to the respiratory system. To characterize the composition of the respiratory microbiota and identify recognized pathogens of SRKW, exhaled breath samples were collected between 2006–2009 and analyzed for bacteria, fungi and viruses using (1) culture-dependent, targeted PCR-based methodologies and (2) taxonomically broad, non-culture dependent PCR-based methodologies. Results were compared with sea surface microlayer (SML) samples to characterize the respective microbial constituents. An array of bacteria and fungi in breath and SML samples were identified, as well as microorganisms that exhibited resistance to multiple antimicrobial agents. The SML microbes and respiratory microbiota carry a pathogenic risk which we propose as an additional, fourth putative stressor (pathogens), which may adversely impact the endangered SRKW population.
A 2 °C increase in global temperature above pre-industrial levels is considered a reasonable target for avoiding the most devastating impacts of anthropogenic climate change. In June 2015, sea surface temperature (SST) of the South China Sea (SCS) increased by 2 °C in response to the developing Pacific El Niño. On its own, this moderate, short-lived warming was unlikely to cause widespread damage to coral reefs in the region, and the coral reef “Bleaching Alert” alarm was not raised. However, on Dongsha Atoll, in the northern SCS, unusually weak winds created low-flow conditions that amplified the 2 °C basin-scale anomaly. Water temperatures on the reef flat, normally indistinguishable from open-ocean SST, exceeded 6 °C above normal summertime levels. Mass coral bleaching quickly ensued, killing 40% of the resident coral community in an event unprecedented in at least the past 40 years. Our findings highlight the risks of 2 °C ocean warming to coral reef ecosystems when global and local processes align to drive intense heating, with devastating consequences.
Citizen science is often assumed to increase public science engagement; however, little is known about who is likely to volunteer and the implications for greater societal impact. This study segments 1,145 potential volunteers into six groups according to their current engagement in science (EiS). Results show groups with high levels of EiS are significantly more interested in volunteering and more likely to participate in various research roles than those with lower EiS scores. While citizen science benefits some in science and society, its use as a strategy to bring about positive shifts in public science engagement needs to be reconsidered.
Dredging can have significant impacts on aquatic environments, but the direct effects on fish have not been critically evaluated. Here, a meta-analysis following a conservative approach is used to understand how dredging-related stressors, including suspended sediment, contaminated sediment, hydraulic entrainment and underwater noise, directly influence the effect size and the response elicited in fish across all aquatic ecosystems and all life-history stages. This is followed by an in-depth review summarizing the effects of each dredging-related stressor on fish. Across all dredging-related stressors, studies that reported fish mortality had significantly higher effect sizes than those that describe physiological responses, although indicators of dredge impacts should endeavour to detect effects before excessive mortality occurs. Studies examining the effects of contaminated sediment also had significantly higher effect sizes than studies on clean sediment alone or noise, suggesting additive or synergistic impacts from dredging-related stressors. The early life stages such as eggs and larvae were most likely to suffer lethal impacts, while behavioural effects were more likely to occur in adult catadromous fishes. Both suspended sediment concentration and duration of exposure greatly influenced the type of fish response observed, with both higher concentrations and longer exposure durations associated with fish mortality. The review highlights the need for in situ studies on the effects of dredging on fish which consider the interactive effects of multiple dredging-related stressors and their impact on sensitive species of ecological and fisheries value. This information will improve the management of dredging projects and ultimately minimize their impacts on fish.
In 2010, Canada committed to a set of 20 targets known as the Aichi Targets established under the Convention on Biological Diversity. Target 11 commits parties to an aspirational goal of protecting at least 17% of terrestrial and inland waters and 10% of coastal and marine areas by 2020. The target also mandates that protection focus on areas of particular importance for biodiversity and ecosystem services and that protected areas be well-managed, ecologically representative, well-connected and integrated into the wider landscapes and seascapes. Canada’s achievement of target 11 formed the foundation of the Committee’s study.
Intact, functional ecosystems – both terrestrial and marine – provide habitat needed to maintain biodiversity and its inherent value as well as ecosystem services essential for human well-being. As Canada’s natural spaces are threatened by human activity, Canada urgently needs to establish an integrated network of protected areas of high ecological value across the land and water.
In addition to the benefits for biodiversity and ecosystem services, investments in protected areas bring jobs and other long-term economic benefits, often to rural, economically underdeveloped communities. Establishing protected areas in partnership with Indigenous peoples provides a means of advancing shared conservation objectives while simultaneously advancing reconciliation.
Canada has a long way to go to meet Aichi Target 11. Currently, 10.57% of terrestrial and 0.98% of marine areas are counted as protected. However, target 11 is an interim goal toward more comprehensive protection. It has been suggested that perhaps 50% of terrestrial and marine areas is needed to safeguard Canada’s natural heritage. It is clear that a great deal of work remains to be done.
Federal protected areas account for about half – 45% terrestrial and 83% marine – of Canada’s total protected areas. Accordingly, collaborative action by all levels of government including Indigenous governments, landowners, industrial stakeholders and civil society is required to resolve issues of competing uses for land and water in order to achieve and exceed our targets. Protecting areas in the Arctic marine and boreal regions are of particular importance.
The federal government has a variety of roles to play to meet our targets. It must provide the leadership needed to ensure coherent and coordinated plans are developed to reach the targets. It must partner with Indigenous peoples to establish and recognize new types of protected areas in Indigenous territories while providing new opportunities for Indigenous economic development and advancing reconciliation. The federal government must also put its own house in order by coordinating its efforts, accelerating the establishment of federal protected areas and demonstrating political will, including through the provision of funding.
Marine ecosystems provide a range of valuable services, some of which come with market prices to quantify value and others for which markets have not set prices. Lacking perfect information, policy makers are at risk of undercounting non-priced values and services, leading to biases in policy decisions in favor of services valued through markets. Furthermore, understanding users’ valuation of specific site attributes, such as marine biodiversity, can contribute to effective policy decisions. This paper presents a non-market valuation of private recreational boaters (PRBs) in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary located in California, USA, using data from an intercept survey conducted in 2006 and 2007. A Random Utility Model is used to estimate PRBs’ daily trip values and the importance of specific site attributes. The average consumer surplus was estimated at $48.62 per trip, with a total non-market value of non-consumptive private recreational boating of $86,325 annually. PRBs show a preference for visiting locations with lower exposure to prevailing winds and greater species richness and abundance, which to the authors’ knowledge is the first time that PRBs have been found to value biological diversity in site choices. Furthermore, this suggests that improved biodiversity and productivity of marine ecosystems contribute to better recreational experiences. The results from this study reveal the importance of including non-market services and stakeholder's preferences into policy decisions.
This study presents an analysis of marine resource management activities designed to ameliorate concerns over fish stocks, food and livelihood insecurity in the coastal Asia Pacific region, with a specific focus on the area encompassed by the Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF). Firstly, the study explores how the CTI-CFF framing of food insecurity as symptomatic of economic deficiencies at the household level reflects the broader neoliberal conservation agenda driving the CTI-CFF and serves to legitimate the latter as the natural authority for intervention. Secondly, the paper uses an example of local level fishery management to demonstrate how the logic of neoliberalism translates to regulations which fail to recognise social and political complexities confronting fishers, thereby exacerbating the precarity of food and livelihood security in these communities. Thirdly, the paper contrasts the Western scientific emphasis on maintaining food security through managing coral reef fisheries with evidence from Indonesia and the Philippines which demonstrates the much larger contribution from pelagic fisheries and aquaculture to food security. The paper concludes with a call for research and aid-funded interventions on fishery management, livelihoods and food security to better reflect the needs of coastal people in the Asia-Pacific region, rather than the values commonly espoused by Western scientists and conservationists.
Marine debris' transboundary nature and new strategies to identify sources and sinks in coastal areas were investigated along the Paranaguá estuarine gradient (southern Brazil), through integration of hydrodynamic modelling, ground truthing estimates and regressive vector analysis. The simulated release of virtual particles in different parts of the inner estuary suggests a residence time shorter than 5 days before being exported through the estuary mouth (intermediate compartment) to the open ocean. Stranded litter supported this pathway, with beaches in the internal compartment presenting proportionally more items from domestic sources, while fragmented items with unknown sources were proportionally more abundant in the oceanic beaches. Regressive vector analysis reinforced the inner estuarine origin of the stranded litter in both estuarine and oceanic beaches. These results support the applicability of simple hydrodynamic models to address marine debris' transboundary issues in the land-sea transition zone, thus supporting an ecosystem transboundary (and not territorial) management approach.