Cuba is one of the few countries from the Small Island Developing States in the Caribbean region having solid coastal legislation: Decree Law 212 (DL-212) entitled “Coastal Zone Management”. However, that legal framework presents some deficiencies that need to be improved, wherefore an analysis of the major features of DL-212 and the identification of its main issues were conducted in the present study; some ways of implementing the DL-212 in the country were assessed as well. Regarding the Land-Sea Interaction, this work proposes a set of four variables linking geomorphological and human criteria with the aim of improving coastal zone characterization and boundary delimitation. The set of four variables falls into six types of Coastal Geomorphic-typological Units, which are also sub-classified according to the physical aspects and level of territorial urbanization of the Units. Standard nomenclature about boundaries, territorial planning in relation to land-sea interaction is provided in the present research, as well as nine guidelines and eleven recommendations for institutions responsible for physical use planning to implement, in order to obtain a better understanding and implementation of DL-212. The study makes a great contribution to decision-making processes regarding Land-Use Planning, Integrated Coastal Zone Management, and Marine Spatial Planning for future implementation in other Small Island Developing States.
Extracellular enzymatic activity (EEA) is performed by cell-associated and cell-free (i.e., “dissolved”) enzymes. This cell-free fraction is operationally defined as passing through a 0.22 μm filter. The contribution of cell-free to total EEA is comparable to the cell-associated counterpart, so it is critical to understand what controls the relative importance of cell-free versus cell-associated EEA. However, attempts to tease apart the contribution of EEAs in the so-called dissolved fraction (<0.22 μm) in general, and of the nanoparticlesize fraction (0.020–0.20 μm) in particular, to the total EEA pool are lacking. Here we performed experiments with Northern and Southern Hemispherecoastal waters to characterize the potential contribution of that nanoparticle fraction to the total EEA fraction of alkaline phosphatase, beta-glucosidase and leucine aminopeptidase. We found a significant contribution (in both hemispheres) of the nanoparticle fraction to the total EEA pool (up to 53%) that differed depending on the enzyme type and location. Collectively, our results indicate that a significant fraction of the so-called “dissolved EEA” is not really dissolved but associated to nanoparticles, colloidal nanogels and/or viruses. Thus, the total marine EEA pool can actually be divided into a cell-associated, undissolved-cell-free (associated to nano-particle of different origins such as viruses and nanogels) and a dissolved-cell-free pools. Our results also imply that the dissolved EEA pool is more complex than thus far anticipated. Future research will be now needed to further characterize the factors controlling the relative importance of these different pools of EEA, which are key in the recycling of organic matter in the ocean.
Anthropogenic effects have created various risks for wild animals. Boat traffic is one of the most fatal risks for marine mammals. Individual behavioral responses of cetaceans, including diving behavior such as changing swimming direction and lengthing inter-breath interval, to passing boats is relatively well known; however, the social function of cetacean responses to boat traffic in a natural setting remains poorly understood. We focused on describing the behavioral responses of single and aggregated finless porpoises to boats passing at Misumi West Port, Ariake Sound, Japan, by using a drone characterized with a high-precision bird’s-eye angle. During the study period, we collected 25 episodes of finless porpoise responses to boats passing by. A mean (± SEM) of 5.1 ± 1.0 individuals were observed for each episode. The primary response to passing boats was avoidance by dive, which implies boat traffic is a substantial disturbance to finless porpoises that travel along the seawater surface daily. The diving duration decreased significantly with an increase in the number of aggregated individuals. The diving and floating reaction times were 10.9 ± 2.3 s and 18.7 ± 5.0 s, respectively. There was no significant difference between the reaction times indicating that each individual was motivated to keep the group cohesion consistent when floating even after the risk had dissolved, which is comparable to the behavior of porpoises that dive when riskier conditions are present, such as when a boat approaches an aggregation. Our findings provide new insights on the sociality of finless porpoises even though there were limitations, like an inability to identify a specific individual. The drone enabled us to observe the social behavior of finless porpoises and other cetaceans at an unprecedented resolution, which may lead to a better understanding of the evolutionary diversity of intelligence and sociality and the bridge to human evolution.
Marine ecosystems of temperate regions are highly modified by human activity and far from their original natural status. The North Sea, known as an intensively used area, has lost its offshore oyster grounds due to overexploitation in a relatively short time. Native oyster beds as a once abundant and ecologically highly important biogenic reef-type have vanished from the North Sea ecosystem in most areas of both their former distribution and magnitude. Worldwide, oyster stocks have been severely exploited over the past centuries. According to estimates, about 85% of the worldwide oyster reef habitats have been destroyed over the course of the last century. This loss of oyster populations has meant far more than just the loss of a valuable food resource. Oyster reefs represent a characteristic benthic community which offers a variety of valuable ecosystem services: better water quality, local decrease of toxic algal blooms, increase in nutrient uptake, increase of bentho-pelagic coupling, increase in species richness, increase of multidimensional biogenic structures which provide habitat, food, and protection for numerous invertebrate and fish species. The aim of oyster restoration is to promote redevelopment of this valuable missing habitat. The development of strategies, methods, and procedures for a sustainable restoration of the European oyster Ostrea edulis in the German North Sea is currently a focus of marine nature conservation. Main drivers for restoring this ecological key species are the enhancement of biodiversity and ecosystem services in the marine environment. Results of these investigations will support the future development and implementation of a large-scale and long-term German native oyster restoration programme to re-establish a healthy population of this once-abundant species now absent from the region.
Coastal communities experience a wide array of environmental and social changes to which they must constantly adapt. Further, a community's perception of change and risk has significant implications for a community's willingness and ability to adapt to both current and future changes. As part of a larger study focusing on the adaptive capacity of communities on the Andaman Coast of Thailand, we used Photovoice to open a dialogue with communities about changes in the marine environment and in coastal communities. This article presents the results of two exploratory Photovoice processes and discusses prospects for using the Photovoice method for exploring social and environmental change. Changes examined included a number of broader environmental and social trends as well as ecological specifics and social particularities in each site. Participants also explored the social implications of environmental changes, the impacts of macro-scale processes on local outcomes, and emotive and active responses of individuals and communities to change. Photovoice is deemed a powerful method for: examining social, environmental, and socio-ecological change, triangulating to confirm the results of other scientific methods, revealing novel ecological interactions, and providing input into community processes focusing on natural resource management, community development, and climate change adaptation.
Vulnerability and adaptation to climate change have become a dominant theme in development and conservation research and work. Yet coastal communities are facing a wider array of different stressors that affect the sustainability of natural resources and the adaptive capacity of local residents. The ability of communities and households to adapt is influenced by the nature, number, and magnitude of the changes with which they have to contend. In this paper, we present the range of 36 socio-economic (i.e. economic, social, governance and conflict) and biophysical (i.e. climate change and other environmental) stressors that emerged from qualitative interviews in seven coastal communities on the Andaman coast of Thailand. These stressors were then integrated into a quantitative survey of 237 households wherein participants were asked to rate the level of impact of these stressors on household livelihoods. Ratings showed that economic and some climate change stressors – extreme weather events and changes in rainfall patterns and seasons – were scored higher than other stressors. The paper also examines the relationships between community and various individual and household characteristics – such as gender, age, livelihoods, levels of social capital, and socio-economic status – and the perceived level of impacts of various stressors on household livelihoods. Overall, community and livelihoods had the most differentiated impacts on perceptions of stressors but few other prominent patterns emerged. In conclusion, this paper discusses the implications of the results for current climate change vulnerability and adaptation policy and practice in Thailand and elsewhere.
Increases in seawater temperature associated with global climate change are causing the mutualistic relationship between reef-building corals and the symbiotic dinoflagellates (genus Symbiodinium) that reside within their cells to break down. There is consequently an urgent need to develop tools for modeling coral biology in response to environmental shifts, an enterprise that is complicated by the fact that no pristine reefs remain on Earth. This work sought to 1) uncover the environmental factors that contribute most to observed spatio-temporal variation in coral physiology and 2) devise means of detecting anomalous behavior in field corals by analyzing a dataset from the Austral (French Polynesia) and Cook Islands of the South Pacific with a multivariate statistical approach. Upon employing this multi-tiered analytical platform, host genotype was found to be the most significant driver of variation in physiology of the pocilloporid coral colonies sampled across the two archipelagos. Furthermore, those colonies demonstrating the most extensive variation across the seven response variables assessed tended to deviate most significantly from the global mean response calculated across all samples, suggesting that high within-sample physiological variability may be one means of delineating aberrant coral behavior in the absence of data from pristine control reefs.
Mitigating the negative impacts of invasive lionfish (Pterois volitans/milescomplex) is a top priority for marine reef fisheries management, with human removals considered the most viable approach to population control. Control efforts via diver spearfishing removals have annually removed tens of thousands of lionfish throughout their invasive range, but the effectiveness of removal efforts to remove 100% or achieve target lionfish densities in a given reef system has not been fully evaluated. Accounting for detection and removal efficacy is necessary for developing and evaluating lionfish management targets, as population- and community-level effects of lionfish removals may be diminished by undetected lionfish remaining in the system. This study quantified lionfish detection, catchability, and removal efficiency to evaluate the effectiveness of lionfish surveys and removal efforts on northern Gulf of Mexico (nGOM) artificial and natural reefs. Detection was assessed during crepuscular and midday time periods via diver and remotely operated vehicle (ROV) video surveys, with covariates for time of day and survey methodology assessed using generalized linear mixed models. Catchability and removal efficiency were estimated via depletion models based on serial removals via spearfishing on 6 artificial reefs and 9 natural reefs. A priori, we had expected lionfish detection to be higher during crepuscular periods given lionfish in the Caribbean and in their native range have been shown to foragemore actively away from reefs then. However, we found lionfish detection was not significantly different between midday and crepuscular periods. Survey methodology affected detection, with 24% fewer lionfish being detected via ROV surveys versus diver surveys at artificial reefs and 72% fewer lionfish detected via ROV surveys at natural reefs. Therefore, density estimates on nGOM natural reefs, which constitute of >99% of the region’s habitat, may be higher than previously reported and problematic for lionfish management. Mean catchability for spearfishing lionfish was 0.88 on artificial reefs and 0.69 on natural reefs standardized for area. Mean removal efficiency for the first removal event was 87% on artificial reefs and 67% on natural reefs, higher than removal efficiency computed for Caribbean reefs (47%). Incomplete detection and <100% removal efficiency, in concert with density-dependent processes, may explain recent findings that sustained lionfish removal efforts had no discernible positive impacts on native reef fish communities.
Micro(nano)plastics, as emerging contaminants, have attracted worldwide attention. Nowadays, the environmental distribution, sources, and analysis methods and technologies of micro(nano)plastics have been well studied and recognized. Nevertheless, the role of micro(nano)plastic particles as vectors for attaching organisms is not fully understood. In this paper, the role of micro(nano)plastics as vectors, and their potential effects on the ecology are introduced. Micro(nano)plastics could 1) accelerate the diffusion of organisms in the environment, which may result in biological invasion; 2) increase the gene exchange between attached biofilm communities, causing the transfer of pathogenic and antibiotic resistance genes; 3) enhance the rate of energy, material and information flow in the environment. Accordingly, the role of microplastics as vectors for organisms should be further evaluated in the future research.
Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is an important process for evaluating the effects of development, and to assist decisions to effectively manage potential deep-sea mining (DSM). However, although EIA is a widely used and accepted approach, there has been considerable debate over its effectiveness. In this paper, we summarise some of the key problems raised by previous EIA reviews, as well as examining several EIAs carried out in recent years for DSM, and highlight issues identified by management agencies. Scientific shortcomings are discussed, and recommendations provided on ways to improve performance. These include inadequate baseline data, insufficient detail of the mining operation, insufficient synthesis of data and the ecosystem approach, poor assessment and consideration of uncertainty, inadequate assessment of indirect impacts, inadequate treatmentof cumulative impacts, insufficient risk assessment, and consideration of linkages between EIA and other management plans. The focus of the paper is on scientific limitations, but we also consider some aspects of their application to elements of process and policy.
Designation of large expanses of the ocean as Marine Protected Area (MPA) is increasingly advocated and realised. The effectiveness of such MPAs, however, requires improvements to vessel monitoring and enforcement capability. In 2014 commercial fishing was excluded from the Ascension Island Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In 2015, through updated regulations, a licenced fishery re-opened in the northern half of the EEZ while the southern half remained closed. To assess compliance with these closures and regulations, several promising satellite technologies (Satellite Automatic Identification System (S-AIS), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Vessel Monitoring System (VMS) of two vessels), were trialled alongside at-sea patrols. Use of SAR enabled assessment of ‘dark’ (non-AIS transmitting) vessels, the scope of whose activities are hardest to gauge. The high level of compliance with regulations observed, suggests the MPA may prove effective, yet a need for vigilance remains. Vessels aggregate near the EEZ border and a quarter of vessels tracked across three years exhibited S-AIS transmission gaps and present a heightened compliance risk. Use of remote, rather than local, expertise and infrastructure provide a blue-print and economies of scalefor replicating monitoring across similarly sized MPAs; particularly for large (>~ 25 m) vessels with metallic superstructures conducive to SAR detection. Funding ongoing monitoring in Ascension is challenged by current levels of license uptake, which provides insufficient offsetting revenue. Satellite-derived intelligence, can be used to set risk thresholds and trigger detailed investigations. Planning long-term monitoring must, however, incorporate adequate resources for follow-up, through patrols and correspondence with flag-states and fisheries management organisations.
Spatio-temporal variability of surface geostrophic mesoscale currents in the Balearic Sea (western Mediterranean) is characterized from satellite altimetry in combination with in-situ velocity measurements collected, among others, by drifting buoys, gliders and high-frequency radar. Here, we explore the use of tracking data from living organisms in the Balearic Sea as an alternative way to acquire in-situ velocity measurements. Specifically, we use GPS-tracks of resting Scopoli’s shearwaters Calonectris diomedea, that act as passive drifters, and compare them with satellite-derived velocity patterns. Results suggest that animal-borne GPS data can be used to identify rafting behaviour outside of the breeding colonies and, furthermore, as a proxy to describe local sea surface currents. Four rafting patterns were identified according to the prevailing driving forces responsible for the observed trajectories. We find that 76% of the bird trajectories are associated with the combined effects of slippage and Ekman drift and/or surface drag; 59% are directly driven by the sea surface currents. Shearwaters are therefore likely to be passively transported by these driving forces while resting. The tracks are generally consistent with the mesoscale features observed in satellite data and identified with eddy-tracking software.
Acoustic tagging is typically used to gather data on the spatial ecology of diverse marine taxa, informing questions about spatio-temporal attributes such as residency and home range, but detection data may also reveal unanticipated insights. Many species demonstrate predictable site fidelity, and so a sudden cessation of detections for multiple individuals may be evidence of an atypical event. During 2013 and 2014, we acoustically tagged 47 grey reef sharks (Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos) and 48 silvertip sharks (Carcharhinus albimarginatus) near reefs in the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) Marine Protected Area (MPA). From March 2013 to November 2014 inclusive, tags were ‘lost’, i.e. permanently ceased to be detected within the monitoring area, at an average rate of 2.6 ± 1.0 tags per month. Between 1 and 10 December 2014, detection data suggest the near-simultaneous loss of 15 of the remaining 43 active tagged sharks, a monthly loss rate over five times higher than during the previous 21 months. Between 4 and 14 December of 2014, the BIOT patrol vessel encountered 17 vessels engaged in suspected illegal fishing in the northern BIOT MPA; such sightings averaged one per month during the previous 8 months. Two of these vessels were arrested with a total of 359 sharks on board, of which grey reef and silvertip sharks constituted 47% by number. The unusual and coincident peaks in tag loss and vessel sightings, and the catch composition of the arrested vessels, suggest illegal fishing as a plausible explanation for the unusual pattern in our detection data. A Cox proportional hazards model found that the presence of fishing vessels increased the risk of tag loss by a factor of 6.0 (95% CI 2.6–14.0, p < 0.001). Based on the number of vessels sighted and the average number of sharks on vessels arrested in BIOT during 2014, we conservatively estimate that over 2000 sharks may have been removed during the suspected fishing event. Based on average catch compositions, over 1000 would have been grey reef and silvertip sharks. Assuming a closed population mark-recapture model, over one-third of the locally resident reef sharks may have been removed from the monitoring area. The data suggest that even sporadic fishing events may have a marked impact on local reef shark populations, but also demonstrate the potential of electronic tagging a tool for detecting illegal or otherwise unreported fishing activity.
Offshore mariculture could enable increased seafood production and economic development while alleviating pressure on coastal ecosystems and wild fisheries. In the Caribbean, however, an integrated assessment of the ecological and economic potential for mariculture in the region is lacking. We assess site suitability and develop a spatial bioeconomic model to predict yields and profits for offshore cobia (Rachycentron canadum) mariculture across 30 jurisdictions in the Caribbean. We find that (1) approximately 1.4% of the study area may be technically feasible; (2) the model could avoid conflicts with other uses and sensitive habitats and protected areas; and (3) the model could be economically profitable, with the potential to produce almost half the amount of seafood that is currently harvested from wild fisheries globally. Here, we show that potential farm-scale production and profitability vary across and within countries and that accounting for the foreign investment risk associated with a country will impact estimated farm profitability.
The geometric accuracy of tens of millions of scenes of medium-resolution remote sensing(RS) images collected in the past 45 years has been systematically evaluated for land scenes, but the accuracy of ocean scenes is poorly known due to the lack of ground control points (GCPs). In this study, the locations of offshore platforms are first derived from time-series of Landsat-8 OLI images, and are then used as offshore reference points to systematically assess the geometric performance of RS images covering offshore oil/gas development areas. An inventory of 16,131 offshore platforms at the global scale is established, and then a novel method using the position-invariant characteristic of offshore platforms and the coherent characteristic of the geometric shift among tie-points (i.e. between sensed points from to-be-assessed images and the corresponding OLI-derived reference points) is developed for assessing the geometric accuracy of Landsat and other RS images. The method has been applied to 112,935 Landsat scenes (~1.87% of the entire archive) over oceans. The results indicate an optimal performance of Landsat OLI images (both pre-collection and Collection-1) but a less reliable performance of Landsat TM/ETM+ L1TP images. Approximately 50% of TM L1GS and ETM+ L1GT images have at least 2 pixels of geometric error. The new reference points inventory and the developed method were also applied to many other low-resolution and finer-resolution imagery (e.g. VIIRSNight-fire product, Terra/Aqua MODIS active fire product, ENVISAT ASAR, ALOS-1 PALSAR, Sentinel-1 SAR, Sentinel-2 MSI, the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP) aerial images, and images from several Chinese satellites), and a quantitative description of the geometric accuracy of these sensors is also presented. The findings suggest that the new offshore reference point inventory is probably useful to help establish more robust offshore GCPs for U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) GCP library and further improve the ongoing USGS Global GCP improvement plan and European Space Agency Global Reference Image plan.
Commercial small‐scale fishing in the Mediterranean Sea accounts for more than 80% of the commercial fishing fleet. Commercial small‐scale fishing competes with non‐professional fishing, such as recreational and illegal fishing. Fisheries statistics usually fail to report non‐professional fishing data. The aim of this study was to investigate the competition between fishing categories (commercial, recreational and illegal fishing) and their temporal variability in two future Marine Protected Areas in Tunisia. Over a 2‐year period, 213 small‐scale coastal fisheries landings were monitored. Additional socio‐economic information was collected using direct questionnaires. Results highlighted that: (a) at least 47.91% of non‐professional fishers admitted selling the catch (and so were classified as illegal fishers); (b) illegal and recreational fishing mean catch per fishers per day, represented, respectively, 40% and 20% of commercial fishing; (c) catch rates and species richness for illegal and commercial fishing followed the same temporal patterns at both locations; (d) all fishing categories fished high trophic levels and vulnerable species; and (e) potential economic values of illegal and recreational fishing catch were significantly higher than those of commercial fishing. These findings provide quantitative evidence of competition between illegal and legal (commercial and recreational) fishing in the Mediterranean Sea.
Ocean acidification and warming are known to alter, and in many cases decrease, calcification rates of shell and reef building marine invertebrates. However, to date, there are no datasets on the combined effect of ocean pH and temperature on skeletal mineralization of marine vertebrates, such as fishes. Here, the embryos of an oviparous marine fish, the little skate (Leucoraja erinacea), were developmentally acclimatized to current and increased temperature and CO2 conditions as expected by the year 2100 (15 and 20°C, approx. 400 and 1100 µatm, respectively), in a fully crossed experimental design. Using micro-computed tomography, hydroxyapatite density was estimated in the mineralized portion of the cartilage in jaws, crura, vertebrae, denticles and pectoral fins of juvenile skates. Mineralization increased as a consequence of high CO2 in the cartilage of crura and jaws, while temperature decreased mineralization in the pectoral fins. Mineralization affects stiffness and strength of skeletal elements linearly, with implications for feeding and locomotion performance and efficiency. This study is, to my knowledge, the first to quantify a significant change in mineralization in the skeleton of a fish and shows that changes in temperature and pH of the oceans have complex effects on fish skeletal morphology.
Marine litter is a pollution problem affecting thousands of marine species in all the world's seas and oceans. Marine litter, in particular plastic, has negative impacts on marine wildlife primarily due to ingestion and entanglement. Since most marine mammal species negatively interact with marine litter, a first workshop under the framework of the European CetaceanSociety Conference, was held in 2017 to bring together the main experts on the topic of marine mammals and marine litter from academic and research institutes, non-governmental organisations, foundations and International Agreements. The workshop was devoted to defining the impact of marine litter on marine mammals by reviewing current knowledge, methodological advances and new data available on this emerging issue. Some case studies were also presented from European waters, such as seals and cetaceans in the North, Baltic, and Mediterranean Seas. Here, we report the main findings of the workshop, including a discussion on the research needs, the main methodological gaps, an overview of new techniques for detecting the effects of marine litter (including microplastics) on marine mammals and, also, the use of citizen science to drive awareness. The final recommendations aim to establish priority research, to define harmonised methods to detect marine litter and microplastics, enforce networking among institutions and support data sharing. The information gathered will enhance awareness and communication between scientists, young people, citizens, other stakeholders and policy makers, and thereby facilitate better implementation of international directives (e.g., the Marine Strategy Framework Directive) in order to answer the question about the actual status of our oceans and finding solutions.