In many coastal areas, high numbers of recreationists may exceed ecological capacities. Careful monitoring of visitor flows is a first prerequisite for coastal area management. We show how AIS ship data can be translated into interpretable information on recreational boats and investigate whether AIS can provide monitoring information when compared to nature conservation policy targets. In the Wadden Sea UNESCO World Heritage Site we used nearly 9 million data points to create spatiotemporal patterns for the 2018 recreation season. We combined this with shipping lanes and bathymetry data and compared the resulting patterns with nature protection regulations. Our results show that most of the traffic is concentrated around tidal channels. We also show that exceeding speed limits is not predominant behaviour, but the effect of speeding on birds and seals might be more severe than the data suggests. We mapped favourite tidal flat moor activities, and observed where this occurs in Marine Protected Areas. We conclude that AIS analysis can provide valuable recreational boating monitoring, relevant to sensitive coastal area management in the entire Dutch Wadden Sea for the full recreational season. Broader integration of AIS with radar data and ecological data can add to the power of using AIS.
Vessel Traffic and Tracking, Shipping, and Ports
Increased maritime vessel activity has adversely affected the conservation of marine environments. The mobility and diverse operations of vessels increase the difficulty of marine spatial planning and protected-area management. This study proposed a “source-pathway-carrier-impact-response” (SPCIR) model to describe marine ecological stress caused by vessels (VES) and constructed a comprehensive assessment index system. The method was applied to the Bohai Sea in China using automatic identification system (AIS) data and geographic information system (GIS) spatial analysis. The results showed an obvious increase in VES from 2014 to 2018, with noise pollution, light pollution, and hydrodynamic interaction being the most prominent. Cargo vessels and oil tankers were the main stressors. Vessel activity seriously affected agriculture and fishery functions as well as marine-reserved zones in the Bohai Sea. The proposed SPCIR model can effectively identify the level and spatiotemporal characteristics of various vessel-related impacts and efficiently determine management priorities. It can provide a theoretical basis for marine area management and be conveniently adopted by management departments in various regions.
In the Mediterranean Sea unique environmental characteristics and sensitive assets coexist with intense maritime traffic that is represented by frequent daily passages of vessels along the main waterways. In order to assess the risk of oil stranding in case of at-sea emergencies and provide key products for environmental agencies or policymakers preparedness, a geographically relocatable, operational numerical system is implemented and tested. The system relies on the application of oceanographic and particle tracking models and is able to provide, on a high-resolution and unstructured computational grid, a 3-days forecast of those variables known as the main drivers of oil slicks at sea. The risk of potential oil stranding is computed through a combination of anthropogenic hazard and shoreline vulnerability. The sources of hazard vary on time and space in relation to local maritime vessel traffic. The shoreline vulnerability is based on the current knowledge of slope, main grain size, geology of rocks, and occurrence of manmade structures at coast. The operational system is enriched by a web graphical user interface and includes automatic and on-demand working modes. Its functionality is demonstrated in the Strait of Bonifacio (western Mediterranean Sea), area with a high potential risk of oil stranding due to an intense maritime traffic. Risk assessment is hence computed for a test year, the 2018. Critical values of risk are found in correspondence of long stretches of littoral while many of them are currently characterized by a low anthropogenic pressure. The results emphasize the geomorphological features of the shorelines as reducing or amplifying factors to any potential impact of oil stranding at coast.
Vessels cause considerable disturbance to cetaceans world-wide, with potential long-term impacts to population viability. Here we present a comprehensive review of vessel impacts to cetacean behavior in Australian waters (2003–2015), finding inadequate protections to be in place. The majority of these studies found trends of decreased animal travel and resting behavioral states as well as low compliance to regulations, and they recommended further regulatory action such as greater enforcement or monitoring, or passive management strategies. As a case study, we conducted the first field assessment of vessel compliance with the Wildlife (Marine Mammal) Regulations 2009 in Gippsland Lakes, Australia, and provide the first assessment of the endangered Gippsland Lakes Burrunan dolphin (Tursiops australis) population’s behavioral ecology. Dolphin behavior and vessel regulation compliance data were collected during boat-based surveys of Gippsland Lakes from July 2017 to January 2018, with a total of 22 dolphin group sightings resulting in 477 five-minute point samples. 77% of dolphin sightings involved vessel interactions (within 400 m), and 56 regulation breaches were observed. These breaches were most severe in summer (mean = 4.54 breaches/hour). Vessels were found to alter dolphin behavior before, during, and after interactions and regulation breaches, including increased mating (mate guarding) and milling behavioral states, and increased ‘fish catch’, ‘high leap’ and ‘tail slap’ behavioral events. These behavioral changes may indicate masking of the dolphins' acoustic communication, disturbance of prey, increased dolphin transition behaviors, and/or induced stress and changes to group structure (including increased mate guarding). While our results provide evidence of short-term altered behavior, the potential for long-term effects on population dynamics for this threatened species is high. In the context of reported inadequate cetacean protection Australia-wide, our management recommendations include greater monitoring and enforcement, and the utilisation of adaptive management.
Monitoring compliance and enforcing laws are integral to ensuring the success of marine protected areas (MPAs), but traditional monitoring techniques are costly and resource demanding. Three SoundTrap 300 recorders were deployed for one month between 1 July and September 12, 2018 to collect acoustic data in two marine parks off southeastern Australia: one recorder in Cod Grounds Marine Park (CGMP) and two in the Solitary Islands Marine Park National Park Zone (SIMP NPZ). Extractive activities such as fishing are not permitted in these zones. Raven Pro 2.0 was used to analyze data for vessel presence. Transmission loss equations for each site were generated using patrol boat GPS tracks and used to predict if acoustically recorded vessels were inside park boundaries based on received sound levels. In CGMP, 41 vessels were predicted within the park during the recording period; 34 vessels were predicted within the SIMP NPZ. Thursdays and Saturdays were identified as peak days for vessel presence in CGMP while Thursdays were the peak day in the SIMP NPZ. Most vessel activity at both locations took place between 06:00 and 17:00 AEST. Peak vessel presence in CGMP occurred at 09:00 AEST while the peak vessel presence in the SIMP NPZ occurred at 16:00 AEST. Approximately 12.7 h of vessel sounds were recorded within CGMP; approximately 3.8 h of vessel noise were recorded within the SIMP NPZ. Passive acoustic monitoring of vessel patterns in Australian Marine Parks has provided valuable insight to redirect compliance decisions on how to focus surveillance efforts.
Concern about the effects of maritime vessel collisions with marine animals is increasing worldwide. To date, most scientific publications on this topic have focused on the collisions between large vessels and large whales. However, our review found that at least 75 marine species are affected, including smaller whales, dolphins, porpoises, dugongs, manatees, whale sharks, sharks, seals, sea otters, sea turtles, penguins, and fish. Collision incidents with smaller species are scarce, likely as a result of reporting biases. Some of these biases can be addressed through the establishment of species-specific necropsy protocols to ensure reliable identification of collision-related injury, particularly blunt force trauma. In addition, creating a ship strike database for smaller species can assist in identifying the species most frequently involved in collisions, identifying high-risk areas, and determining species-specific relationships between vessel speed and lethal injury. The International Whaling Commission database on collisions with large whales provides a good example of this type of database and its potential uses. Prioritizing the establishment of a species-specific necropsy protocol and a database for smaller species as well as the identification of high-risk areas for species other than large whales, would be a valuable step toward the mitigation of collisions with smaller species.
Various national maritime authorities and international organizations show strong interest to implement risk management processes to decision making for shipping accident prevention in waterway areas. There is a recurring need for approaches, models, and tools for identifying, analysing, and evaluating risks of shipping accidents, and for strategies for preventively managing these in (inter-)organizational settings. This article presents a comprehensive review of academic work in this research area, aiming to identify patterns, trends, and gaps, serving as a guide for future research and development, with a particular focus on the Baltic Sea Region. To understand the links between research in the Baltic Sea area and the global community, a bibliometric analysis is performed, focusing on identifying dominant narratives and social networks in the research community. Articles from the Baltic Sea area are subsequently analysed more in-depth, addressing issues like the nature of the academic work done, the risk management processes involved, and the underlying accident theories. From the results, patterns in the historical evolution of the research domain are detected, and insights about current trends gained, which are used to identify future avenues for research.
Invasive species pose a significant threat to a primary objective of marine conservation, protecting native biodiversity. To-date, research quantifying invasion risk to marine protected areas (MPAs) is limited despite potential negative consequences. As a first step towards identifying invasion risk to MPAs via vessel ballast or biofouling, we evaluated vessel traffic patterns by applying graph-theoretic concepts for 1346 vessels that connected invaded areas (‘invasion nodes’) along the Northeast Pacific coast to MPAs within Canadian waters in 2016. We found that 29% of MPAs overlapped with invasion nodes and 70% were connected to invasion nodes via vessel traffic. Recreational vessels were most prevalent within invasion and MPA nodes, made the most connections between invasion nodes and MPAs, and spent the most time within nodes. Vessel connections increased in summer and with spatial extent and dock area at invasion and MPA nodes, as well as for MPAs with minimal regulatory protection. Results from this work highlight risk posed by vessels as a vector for nonindigenous species spread and present an opportunity to develop improved management measures to help protect MPAs. Such an approach can be applied to vector interactions with protected areas across biomes for targeted invasion management.
Oil is a main driver for the growth of modern economies because of its multifaceted use in transport, energy and manufacturing. Due to uneven distribution of petroleum products across the world, maritime transportation of mineral oils has increased. The main objective of the paper is to examine data on oil spills created by oil tankers for the past 50 years and to examine trends in oil trading and oil spill pollution in an effort to analyse the state of pollution in major oil disasters. The paper also considers the key factors of tanker oil spills and summarizes strategies and directions for the global maritime transport industry to prevent oil tanker pollution in the future.