Globally, coral reef monitoring programmes conducted by volunteer-based organizations or local communities have the potential to collect large quantities of marine data at low cost. However, many scientists remain sceptical about the ability of these programmes to detect changes in marine systems when compared with professional techniques. A limited number of studies have assessed the efficacy and validity of volunteer-based monitoring, and even fewer have assessed community-based methods. This study in Cambodia investigated the ability of surveyors of different levels of experience to conduct underwater surveys using a simple coral reef methodology. Surveyors were assigned to four experience categories and conducted a series of six 20 × 5 m belt transects using five benthic indicator species. Results show decreased variation in marine community assessments with increasing experience, indicating that experience, rather than cultural background, influences survey ability. This suggests that locally based programmes can fill gaps in knowledge with suitable ongoing training and assessment.
Ensuring sustainability of livelihoods for communities residing in coastal environments of the Global South has gained considerable attention across policy making, practice and research fields. Livelihood enhancement programs commonly strategize around developing people's resilience by diversification of income and subsistence activities, but are criticised for inadequate appreciation of local contexts. This in part results from the application of theoretical approaches in practice which are informed disproportionately by dominant science-based narratives and utilised by actors in higher level political arenas. This leads to the prioritization of objectives that do not necessarily reflect local livelihood conditions. There is an urgent need to address the multiple challenges that limit the possibility for sustainable livelihoods in spatially and temporally dynamic environments. This paper presents an analysis of the policy landscape in which intervention strategies for sustainable coastal livelihoods emerge. It examines how livelihood improvement approaches take shape in the context of conservation, rural development, and regional resource governance. Drawing from analyses of broader regional policies and an extensive literature review, a conceptual framework is presented. It details various influences that can flow up or down multi-scaled governance structures to affect policy and management - from agenda-setting narratives of policy makers to the dynamic and changeable nature of livelihoods. Case studies from the Arafura and Timor Seas region are introduced to illustrate some of these trends. The discussion highlights challenges encountered in the pursuit of sustainability for coastal and marine-based livelihoods, and suggests directions for more effective long term policy, management and strategic interventions.
This article presents a case study of the ecosystem-based management model embedded within British Columbia’s Marine Plan Partnership for the Pacific North Coast and the Great Bear Initiative. These are two distinct, yet linked, examples of resource management and economic development that use ecosystem-based management in a way that incorporates indigenous perspectives and aspirations. The model potentially provides a framework that other countries, including Aotearoa (New Zealand), could examine and adapt to their own contexts using new governance structures and working with indigenous perspectives that include traditional ecological knowledge and aspirations. The case study is presented from a Māori perspective that represents both an insider (indigenous) and outsider (non-First Nations) view.
Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats can form complex structures which provide refuge, nursery grounds and physical support for a diversity of other living organisms, but despite their ecological significance, CWCs are still vulnerable to human pressures such as fishing, pollution, ocean acidification and global warming
Providing coherent and representative conservation of vulnerable marine ecosystems including CWCs is one of the aims of the Marine Protected Areas networks being implemented across European seas and oceans under the EC Habitats Directive, the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the OSPAR Convention. In order to adequately represent ecosystem diversity these initiatives require a standardised habitat classification that organises the variety of biological assemblages and provides consistent and functional criteria to map them across European Seas (Howell 2010). One such classification system, EUNIS, enables a broad level classification of the deep sea based on abiotic and geomorphological features. More detailed lower biotope-related levels are currently under-developed, particularly with regards deep-water habitats (>200 m depth).
This paper proposes a hierarchical CWC biotope classification scheme that could be incorporated by existing classification schemes such as EUNIS. The scheme was developed within the EU FP7 project CoralFISH to capture the variability of CWC habitats identified using a wealth of seafloor imagery datasets from across European seas and oceans. Depending on the resolution of the imagery being interpreted, this hierarchical scheme allows data to be recorded from broad CWC biotope categories down to detailed taxonomy-based levels, thereby providing a flexible yet valuable information level for management. The CWC biotope classification scheme identifies 81 biotopes and highlights the limitations of the classification framework and guidance provided by EUNIS, the EC Habitats Directive, OSPAR and FAO; with limited categories for identifying and classifying these CWC habitats.
Notwithstanding a complex array of international, national, and local policies designed to protect biodiversity and manage human activities, the condition of Australia's Great Barrier Reef has been deteriorating. This trend indicates that policy settings are inadequate or the right policies have been prescribed but not effectively implemented. This study aimed to determine which policies influenced on-ground management of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area and Marine Park, how they were implemented, and the challenges encountered by practitioners in applying policies. The research required content analysis of policy instruments relevant to various jurisdictional levels, and surveys and interviews with 19 key informants across jurisdictions and agencies. This study found that policy intent is not automatically translated into practice: international agreements are interpreted and reinterpreted along the policy pathway to on-ground management and, consequently, the aspirations of these agreements can be frustrated and their effectiveness diluted. Due to limits of jurisdictional responsibility, practitioners within the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority are constrained in influencing key factors that impact on their capacity to address threats and manage outcomes. The major policy gap affecting management outcomes was the absence of a mechanism with which to manage cumulative impacts responsible for deterioration of key ecosystem processes and biodiversity. These findings highlight that effective policy implementation is a challenging task, limited by gaps between intentions and outcomes, inconsistencies, and conflicting agendas. An improved understanding of the policy implementation process and the policy-practitioner relationship is essential to enhancing links between policy and on-ground management.
Although the (perceived) biodiversity of a natural environment can influence people's actual, or predicted, restorative experiences, little is known about the generality of these effects or the importance of other aspects such as wildlife behaviour. The current research used an experimental approach (with photographs and videos of coastal scenes) to investigate these issues among a large heterogeneous UK sample (n=1,478). On average, coastal settings with higher perceived biodiversity were rated as offering greater restorative potential and were associated with higher willingness-to-visit. Men, and people with lower overall ratings, tended to be more sensitive to biodiversity levels, and older respondents believed coastal settings in general offered more restorative potential. Locations where a species was exhibiting High vs. Low fascination behaviours (e.g. murmurating vs. sleeping) were also rated more positively, highlighting the importance of wildlife behaviour on psychological outcomes, in addition to biodiversity. Implications for conservation and communication are discussed.
The yearly influx of Sargassum onto the beaches of northwest Florida is considered a nuisance to some and a necessity to others. In Pensacola Beach, the Santa Rosa Island Authority rakes the wrack with mechanical beach cleaners to improve the aesthetic quality for beachgoers. The purpose of this study was three-fold: to evaluate the local faunal use of Sargassum wrack, to gauge public perception of Sargassum on the beach, and to test whether public perception of the beauty of the beach, the necessity of raking, and the likelihood of visiting could be influenced by a simple educational sign. A two-part methodology consisted of 1) systematic observation of faunal use, and 2) interviews of 200 beachgoers via a detailed pre-post/post only public use survey. Results showed that 11 of the 22 species of shorebirds documented, including two uncommon migrants, were observed using Sargassum wrack to forage, rest, and hide. Public survey results demonstrated that although beachgoers generally considered themselves to be “ecofriendly”, their perceptions of Sargassum wrack can be positively influenced through environmental education such as informative signage on the beach. In conclusion, Sargassum wrack provides valuable additional habitat to shorebirds and other critters, and that leaving the beach wrack to naturally become part of the ecosystem would not deter most beachgoers (70%) from visiting Pensacola Beach. This research contributes valuable information to coastal managers and other stakeholders for improved ecosystem protection and management.
Climate change and ocean acidification are altering marine ecosystems and, from a human perspective, creating both winners and losers. Human responses to these changes are complex, but may result in reduced government investments in regulation, resource management, monitoring and enforcement. Moreover, a lack of peoples’ experience of climate change may drive some towards attributing the symptoms of climate change to more familiar causes such as management failure. Taken together, we anticipate that management could become weaker and less effective as climate change continues. Using diverse case studies, including the decline of coral reefs, coastal defences from flooding, shifting fish stocks and the emergence of new shipping opportunities in the Arctic, we argue that human interests are better served by increased investments in resource management. But greater government investment in management does not simply mean more of “business-as-usual.” Management needs to become more flexible, better at anticipating and responding to surprise, and able to facilitate change where it is desirable. A range of technological, economic, communication and governance solutions exists to help transform management. While not all have been tested, judicious application of the most appropriate solutions should help humanity adapt to novel circumstances and seek opportunity where possible.
For many marine migratory fish, comparatively little is known about the movement of individuals rather than the population. Yet, such individual-based movement data is vitally important to understand variability in migratory strategies and fidelity to foraging locations. A case in point is the economically important European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax L.) that inhabits coastal waters during the summer months before migrating offshore to spawn and overwinter. Beyond this broad generalisation we have very limited information on the movements of individuals at coastal foraging grounds. We used acoustic telemetry to track the summer movements and seasonal migrations of individual sea bass in a large tidally and estuarine influenced coastal environment. We found that the vast majority of tagged sea bass displayed long-term residency (mean, 167 days) and inter-annual fidelity (93% return rate) to specific areas. We describe individual fish home ranges of 3 km or less, and while fish clearly had core resident areas, there was movement of fish between closely located receivers. The combination of inter-annual fidelity to localised foraging areas makes sea bass very susceptible to local depletion; however, the designation of protected areas for sea bass may go a long way to ensuring the sustainability of this species.
The net export of adults (spillover) is an important though contentious benefit of marine protected areas (MPAs). Controversy over spillover often exists because it is difficult to discern empirically. In addition, of those studies that have provided empirical evidence, nearly all are from shallow reef ecosystems. Here we examined 2 deepwater MPAs in the main Hawaiian Islands, established to benefit a complex of species called the ‘Deep 7.’ To study these fishes, we used baited cameras and commercial fishery data. Relative abundance, fish size, and species richness observed using camera data declined with distance from MPAs, signifying that species had begun to spill over the MPA boundaries into fishing grounds. Further, temporal analyses of these spatial trends indicated that they did not always exist but developed in the fifth and sixth years of sampling. Changes in fish size over time supported these results, with asymptotes in fish size seen inside and increases seen outside MPAs in the fifth and sixth years of sampling. Displaced fishing effort may have also caused initial declines in Etelis coruscans size and catch data that increased in later years. Further, low sample sizes and public announcements prior to sampling in Year 8 may have contributed to the decline in E. carbunculus sizes inside, and spatial trends outside, an MPA that were no longer significant in Year 8. Identifying the ability and time span for an MPA to begin to benefit a fishery and how quickly fishing may remove those benefits is crucial to resolving debates regarding the use of MPAs in fisheries management.