- The global environmental crisis (characterized by declines in biodiversity, transboundary pollution, habitat degradation, and climate change) has inspired international environmental regimes, such as the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR), to establish large‐scale networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) in areas beyond national jurisdiction.
- The Southern Ocean surrounding Antarctica comprises roughly 10% of the global ocean and plays a crucial role in regulating global climate and marine ecosystems. Although the Antarctic marine environment currently remains one of the most intact on Earth, it is threatened by fishery expansion and a rapidly changing climate. In response, CCAMLR has been developing a representative network of MPAs to sustain ecosystem structure and function, protect areas vulnerable to human activities, and conserve biodiversity.
- Whereas significant research has focused on the role of formal mechanisms and state power in international environmental regimes, very little is known about the role of non‐state actors and informal approaches, particularly in the negotiation of agreements to establish large‐scale networks of MPAs.
- Case analysis of the 2016 Ross Sea Region MPA agreement reveals that CCAMLR is undergoing a significant period of learning and institutional evolution, as actors seek novel ways to negotiate a network of Southern Ocean MPAs. Key drivers of consensus include external political dynamics, internal leadership and group dynamics, and shared concern for the future of CCAMLR and Antarctic MPAs.
- Actors also rely on informal principles of negotiation (such as increasing transparency, developing trust, and engaging in dialogue) to fill institutional gaps in both CCAMLR's formal structure and the current process for developing and negotiating MPAs.
- As environmental threats grow in complexity and scale, non‐state actors and informal negotiations will become increasingly critical to support the ongoing success of formal international institutions dedicated to protecting the ecological integrity and function of the global environment.
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs)
Debates surrounding governance strategies for marine protected areas (MPAs) have to date largely focused on top-down, bottom-up or market-based approaches. Whilst co-management approaches for governing MPAs are widely accepted as a way forward for combining these three strategies, many interpretations of this concept exist and it is applied in many different ways in MPAs in different contexts. This study aimed to explore governance through a case-study approach based on a specifically developed empirical framework – the marine protected area governance (MPAG) analysis framework – to increase understanding of how to combine the three governance approaches. A dialogue with MPA practitioners in 20 case studies helped shape the MPAG analysis framework as it developed, and an international workshop was held on ‘Governing MPAs’, bringing the practitioners together to compare results and further develop the framework. This paper provides an overview of the topic and research methodology and briefly introduces the case studies further explored in this special issue.
Worldwide, the loss of predatory fish due to overexploitation has altered the structure of native communities and caused ecosystem shifts. Ecosystems deprived of high-level predators may be more vulnerable to invasive alien species as the latter are subject to reduced predation control. Marine protected areas (MPAs), and particularly no-take reserves where fishing is banned, can be effective tools for the restoration of predatory relationships within their boundaries. We explored whether the restoration of high-level predatory fish populations within Mediterranean MPAs can exert top-down control on alien fish. Fish tethering experiments, including native (Sardina pilchardus, Boops boops) and alien (Siganus rivulatus) dead specimens, were conducted to quantify predation within the no-take zones of three MPAs and in unprotected areas, and to assess potential differences in predation rates and prey type preferences. A subsample of experimental units was filmed to document predation events and related fish behavior. More high-level predators interacted with the tethered fish inside the MPAs than in unprotected areas. Yet we did not find significant differences in the consumption of alien or native fishes between MPAs and unprotected areas. The native S. pilchardus was consumed more in comparison to the other tethered fishes, regardless of protection status and location. Interestingly, the alien S. rivulatus was consumed by native predators in the western Mediterranean locations where this alien fish is not established. Despite its limitations, our study provides evidence on the ability of some native predators to feed on and potentially control certain alien species without requiring ‘adaptive’ time-lag periods.
Marine ecosystems are facing major anthropogenic disturbances, including loss of biodiversity, eutrophication, and biological invasions. Thus, attention has raised on marine conservation actions to preserve habitat resilience and biodiversity. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) play an essential role in marine conservation as they are usually designated to provide marine ecosystem resilience of native communities to human-induced impacts (including non-native introductions) while contributing with positive effects on other ecosystem services. The introduction of a new species in novel marine habitats has been attributed to biotic, abiotic, and anthropogenic factors. In the present study, the effects of native functional diversity, wave exposure were studied, and for the first time, marine protection was addressed concerning the invasion success of six macroalgae in two MPAs in the NW Iberian Peninsula. The correlation between the presence/absence of some native functional groups and the invasion success of some invasive species highlighted the importance of conserving native canopy-formers. Despite local differences, wave exposure did not affect invasion success. The protection provided by both MPAs was very limited to prevent the establishment and spread of the most abundant invasive macroalgae. Therefore, stricter management plans should be implemented to ensure native ecosystem resilience within the MPAs.
There is an on-going process to establish Marine Conservation Zones (MCZs) in England, to form part of a coherent and representative network of marine protected areas under national and EU legislation. From 2009 to 2011, the MCZ process included strong participatory elements. Four regional multi-sector stakeholder groups developed MCZ recommendations collaboratively, in line with ecological guidance provided by the Government's nature conservation advisers. This guidance was based on Government policy principles, including that MCZs should be designated based on ‘best available evidence’. This paper analyses the multi-dimensional conflicts that emerged within the stakeholder group in south-west England, which were magnified by uncertainty about future MCZ management. In September 2011, after working through these conflicts through trade-offs and negotiations, the stakeholder groups jointly recommended 127 MCZs to Government. The process subsequently shifted to a top-down approach, with further stakeholder engagement limited to bilateral consultation. There was a concurrent shift in policy, from a broad-scale network-level focus towards single-feature conservation. A lengthy series of evidence reviews concluded that the existing evidence at the time was insufficient to progress with the designation of most sites, marking a clear departure from the policy principle of proceeding with the designation of a representative network based on ‘best available evidence’, and effectively undermining the work carried out by stakeholder groups. Though MCZ designation was originally timetabled for 2012, in November 2013 just 27 of the recommended 127 MCZs were designated in a first tranche. At the time, no clear timetable was in place for subsequent tranches.
- Marine protected areas (MPAs) are widely used as management tools to conserve species and ecosystems at risk from human impact. Coastal managers often focus MPA designation on biogenic reef environments due to their value and sensitivity to damage. However, difficulties in enforcement and a lack of capacity to adequately monitor MPAs often make it hard for managers to assess the effectiveness of MPAs, particularly in under‐resourced, low‐income coastal countries.
- Reef community data were collected at three long‐term managed reserves within the Western Visayas region of the central Philippines in order to assess the state of reef community structure inside and outside of these small‐scale locally managed MPAs. In addition, 3D structural data were captured using recently developed 'Structure from Motion' photogrammetry techniques, demonstrating how multiple quantitative metrics of physical structural complexity and health can be recorded in such analyses.
- These community‐run MPAs were shown to be effective even when small (10–20 ha). Mean fish biomass density was five times greater within present‐day protected sites, alongside significantly increased levels of fish diversity, richness, and size. No significant structural differences were observed inside and outside of MPAs; however, average reef rugosity, height, and roughness were significantly higher in unfished reefs compared to blast‐fished reefs. Reef substrate complexity, coral composition, and level of management, were also shown to structure fish community assemblages, with the link between reef structure and fish richness/abundance disrupted outside of MPAs.
- The Structure from Motion technique allows a greater range of quantitative morphometrics to be assessed than traditional methods and at relatively low cost. The technique is rapid, non‐destructive and can be archived, increasing the value of data for managers wishing to quantify reef health and efficiently monitor benthic changes through time. We discuss both the limitations and benefits of this technology's future use.
Fully protected areas (FPAs) help preserving biodiversity and reversing the global decline of fishery resources. Stocks of the European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabr. 1787), among the most precious gourmet seafood worldwide, are currently facing a dramatic decline. Previous attempts of recovery based on fishery restrictions or active post-larval restocking in marine reserves provided unsuccessful outcomes. Here we present results of a 5-year restocking program carried through a Collaborative Fishery Research (CFR) project, in three ad-hoc established FPAs replenished using below-legal size wild juveniles. Results showed that Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) in terms of both density and biomass burst (by ca. 300–700%) just 2 years since FPAs establishment, regardless of location. We also report tangible spillover effects (ca. 30–50% increase in density and biomass CPUE outside the FPAs) by the end of the program. Data from a 15-years lasting monitoring of a pilot FPA established in 1998, where the restocking protocol was conducted and protection kept in force once restocking ceased, demonstrated the persistence in time of restocking’ benefits. We foster that creation of FPAs assisted with local restocking under oriented CFR programs can represent an option for the recovery of European spiny lobster stocks from overfishing
The dissemination of marine environmental protection information in social networks is not comprehensive and objective. In order to remedy this defect, this paper proposes a dynamic analysis method of marine environmental protection information dissemination oriented to social network. The dynamic analysis method is introduced into the social marine environmental protection information dissemination to achieve regional dissemination of marine environmental protection information. This method is more efficient and easier to operate. It can effectively spread the expanding operation of social marine environmental protection information, and the amount of marine environmental protection information dissemination on the network unit can be obtained by dynamic analysis. The experiment shows that compared with the previous algorithms, the proposed method has better performance and more prominent expansibility.
Fully protected areas (FPAs) help preserving biodiversity and reversing the global decline of fishery resources. Stocks of the European spiny lobster Palinurus elephas (Fabr. 1787), among the most precious gourmet seafood worldwide, are currently facing a dramatic decline. Previous attempts of recovery based on fishery restrictions or active post-larval restocking in marine reserves provided unsuccessful outcomes. Here we present results of a 5-year restocking program carried through a Collaborative Fishery Research (CFR) project, in three ad-hoc established FPAs replenished using below-legal size wild juveniles. Results showed that Catch per Unit Effort (CPUE) in terms of both density and biomass burst (by ca. 300–700%) just 2 years since FPAs establishment, regardless of location. We also report tangible spillover effects (ca. 30–50% increase in density and biomass CPUE outside the FPAs) by the end of the program. Data from a 15-years lasting monitoring of a pilot FPA established in 1998, where the restocking protocol was conducted and protection kept in force once restocking ceased, demonstrated the persistence in time of restocking’ benefits. We foster that creation of FPAs assisted with local restocking under oriented CFR programs can represent an option for the recovery of European spiny lobster stocks from overfishing.
Numerous marine reserves worldwide are losing their ability to protect wild endemic species due to surrounding ecological deterioration caused by coastal landscape artificialization. Such risk of becoming invalid nature reserves is particularly high in China's Bohai Sea coastal zone, a region with rapid urbanization and industrialization. In this study, the ecological quality (EQ) status around Laizhou Bay Ostrea rivularis germplasm reserve (R1), Yellow River Estuary Meretrix meretrix germplasm reserve (R2), and Taoer Estuary Sinonovacula constricta germplasm reserve (R3) was dynamically diagnosed using seven indicators characterizing ecological support and threat from peripheral environments. A series of thresholds indicating EQ and corresponding landscape artificialization intensity (LAI) were determined based on multi-factor clustering analysis and relational regression simulation. The results show that the surroundings of these three reserves were favorable in 1984, insufficient in 2000, and unfavorable in 2015. With an average 7.5 times increase in LAI over the past three decades, the EQ levels around R1-R3 declined significantly and have deviated greatly from their optimal reference status by 2015, which stemmed mainly from intertidal landscape artificialization, such as establishing salt pans, industrial areas and ports after reclaiming wetlands. It was found that R3 > R1 > R2 in terms of overall peripheral ecological degradation, implying that the closer the marine reserve is to the land, the more likely it is to lose its effectiveness. The changes in EQ status and LAI were well indicated by the proportion of natural ecosystems, the distance between seawalls and protected boundaries, and the reserves' enclosed degree by artificial systems, which, as a quick and simple diagnostic approach, can facilitate spatial planning and management practices around marine reserves in the Bohai Sea coastal zone and elsewhere.