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State of the World's Sea Turtles
Ecology and Society
John N. (Jack) Kittinger, L.B. Crowder
Coral reefs are among the most diverse ecosystems on the planet but are declining because of human activities. Despite general recognition of the human role in the plight of coral reefs, the vast majority of research focuses on the ecological rather than the human dimensions of reef ecosystems, limiting our understanding of social relationships with these environments as well as potential solutions for reef recovery. We synthesize existing concepts related to SESs and present a human dimensions framework that explores the linkages between social system structural traits, human activities, ecosystem services, and human well-being in coral reef SESs.
In response to the organizer's of the Washington State's Blue Ribbon Panel on Ocean Acidification, the Center for Ocean Solutions (COS) contributed a legal and policy analysis to support the Panel's deliberations. The charge was to provide a toolbox of existing and potential options for combating acidification in Washington's State waters that the Panel could consider in its final policy recommendations. On Nov. 27, 2012, the Blue Ribbon Panel announced its recommendations which included a copy of this report.
Nature Climate Change
To manage marine ecosystems proactively, it is important to identify species at risk and habitats critical for conservation. Climate change scenarios have predicted an average sea surface temperature (SST) rise of 1–6 °C by 2100, which could affect the distribution and habitat of many marine species. Here we examine top predator distribution and diversity in the light of climate change using a database of 4,300 electronic tags deployed on 23 marine species from the Tagging of Pacific Predators project, and output from a global climate model to 2100. On the basis of models of observed species distribution as a function of SST, chlorophyll a and bathymetry, we project changes in species-specific core habitat and basin-scale patterns of biodiversity. We predict up to a 35% change in core habitat for some species, significant differences in rates and patterns of habitat change across guilds, and a substantial northward displacement of biodiversity across the North Pacific. For already stressed species, increased migration times and loss of pelagic habitat could exacerbate population declines or inhibit recovery. The impending effects of climate change stress the urgency of adaptively managing ecosystems facing multiple threats.
ABSTRACT: Seafood is widely considered to be either fished or farmed. In contrast to this perception, many types of seafood are produced by enterprises using a combination of techniques traditionally ascribed to either fisheries or aquaculture. Categorizing seafood as either fished or farmed obfuscates the growth potential and environmental impacts of global seafood production. To better capture seafood data, national and international record-keeping organizations should add a new hybrid category for seafood produced using both fisheries and aquaculture methods.
Limnology and Oceanography
We show that ocean fronts set recruitment patterns among both community-building invertebrates and commercially important fishes in nearshore intertidal and rocky reef habitats. Chlorophyll concentration and recruitment of several species of intertidal invertebrates (Balanus spp., Chthamalus spp., Mytilus spp.) and rockfishes (Sebastes spp.) are positively correlated with front probability along the coast of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Abundances of recent settlers and adults for nearshore rockfish species are also positively correlated with front probability. The interaction of coastal topography and bathymetry sets spatial scales of fronts and consequently recruitment at approximately 50 km during active upwelling, compared to 200 km or greater during non-upwelling periods. Such relationships between fronts and recruitment are likely to be consistent across other marine ecosystems—from coastal waters to the open ocean—and provide a critical link between adults and widely dispersing young. Ocean fronts, already known as features with high biodiversity and resilience in pelagic habitats, also set recruitment and connectivity patterns across multiple taxa for intertidal and rocky reef communities, thus linking biodiversity and resilience in coastal and benthic habitats as well.
Fish and Fisheries
Loren McClenachan, John N. ("Jack") Kittinger
Global overfishing indicates a need to define fisheries sustainability thresholds and identify social factors promoting successful management, but rates of fishing and factors mediating sustainability over long timescales are largely unknown. Here, we reconstruct fisheries yield for the entire period of human habitation (five to seven centuries) for two coral reef ecosystems with substantially different fisheries histories (Florida Keys and the Hawaiian Islands) and evaluate the management strategies associated with periods of sustainable fishing. This involved a mixed methods approach, in which we estimated yield by fishery sector (commercial, subsistence, recreational and aquaculture) and characterized management strategies associated with periods of sustained high yields. We found differences between the two locations, with Hawai‘i sustaining yields of more than 12 mt km−2 for four centuries prior to the arrival of Europeans. This period was characterized by adaptive management whose design and enforcement exhibited characteristics of common property resource governance systems, and which effectively protected reef habitat, vulnerable life-history stages for fish, and species with high susceptibilities to overfishing. Reefs in both Florida and Hawai‘i were exploited intensively after European contact, with sequential export-driven depletion evident in Florida over the past century. Today, both exhibit strikingly similar modern catch levels, with landings exceeding 10 mt km−2 and evidence of overfishing. Our results demonstrate that management strategies and social institutions that support strict enforcement by a local rule-making authority have had substantial impacts on fisheries yields in the past and suggest that long-term sustainability of fisheries is possible, although rare today.
Why Ocean Acidification Matters to California, and What California Can Do About It: A Report on the Power of California's State Government to Address Ocean Acidification in State Waters
California’s ocean is becoming more acidic as a result of increased atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) and other pollutants. This fundamental change is likely to have substantial ecological and economic consequences for California and worldwide.
This document is intended to be a toolbox for understanding and addressing the drivers of an acidifying ocean. We first provide an overview of the relevant science, highlighting known causes of chemical change in the coastal ocean. We then feature a wide variety of legal and policy tools that California’s government agencies can use to mitigate the problem.
The State has ample legal authority to address the causes of ocean acidification; what remains is to implement that authority to safeguard California’s iconic coastal resources.
Finkbeiner, E. M., Wallace, B. P., Moore, J. E., Lewison, R. L., Crowder, L. B., and A. J. Read
Sea turtles interact with a variety of fishing gears across their broad geographic distributions and ontogenetic habitat shifts. Cumulative assessments of multi-gear bycatch impacts on sea turtle populations are critical for coherent fisheries bycatch management, but such estimates are difficult to achieve, due to low fisheries observer effort, and a single-species, single-fishery management focus. We compiled the first cumulative estimates of sea turtle bycatch across fisheries of the United States between 1990 and 2007, before and after implementation of fisheries-specific bycatch mitigation measures. An annual mean of 346,500 turtle interactions was estimated to result in 71,000 annual deaths prior to establishment of bycatch mitigation measures in US fisheries. Current bycatch estimates (since implementation of mitigation measures) are ∼60% lower (137,800 interactions) and mortality estimates are ∼94% lower (4600 deaths) than pre-regulation estimates. The Southeast/Gulf of Mexico Shrimp Trawl fishery accounts for the overwhelming majority of sea turtle bycatch (up to 98%) in US fisheries, but estimates of bycatch in this fishery are fraught with high uncertainty due to lack of observer coverage. Our estimates represent minimum annual interactions and mortality because our methods were conservative and we could not analyze unobserved fisheries potentially interacting with sea turtles. Although considerable progress has been made in reducing sea turtle bycatch in US fisheries, management still needs improvement. We suggest that sea turtle bycatch limits be set across US fisheries, using an approach similar to the Potential Biological Removal algorithm mandated by the Marine Mammal Protection Act.
The Role of the Regional Fishery Management Councils in Multi-Sector Spatial Planning: Exploring existing tools and future opportunities
Coastal and marine spatial planning (“CMSP”) is an evolving tool to help support ecosystem-based management through coordinated management and integrated ocean governance. CMSP is a process that proactively manages the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities and provides a means of managing potentially conflicting activities and accounting for cumulative impacts to ensure sustainable use of marine resources. From a fisheries management perspective, the role of the Regional Fishery Management Councils (“RFMCs” or “Councils”) in the broader CMSP framework remains an outstanding question. Understanding the nature and extent of their authority under existing laws, the types of information and data that are useful to spatial planning efforts, and what opportunities exist for them to contribute and influence the process can help federal fishery managers engage constructively in these types of coordinated planning processes.
There are numerous ways in which Councils can contribute constructively to multi-sector spatial planning and plenty of benefits that fisheries management may derive from a more coordinated marine management system. The first part of the paper considers the origins and drivers of CMSP and contemplates the potential role and value of Councils within a regional CMSP framework.
Recognizing that user-user and user-ecosystem conflicts will continue to persist in the marine environment regardless of whether a formal CMSP is developed and implemented, the second part of this paper explores existing tools and strategies to engage the fisheries sector in broader ocean planning efforts. Examining the current legal framework, we highlight incentives and avenues for Council involvement and identify ways that Councils can capitalize on their existing authority to influence and coordinate with other ocean users.
The analysis focuses on the relevant statutes and associated regulations of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, the National Environmental Policy Act, the Clean Water Act, the Coastal Zone Management Act and the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act; however there are a range of other legal instruments that may provide Councils with some authority to engage in multi-sector spatial planning and decision making. The statutory and/or regulatory provisions highlighted here contain area-based mechanisms, tools for establishing activity restrictions, provisions supporting ecosystem-based management approaches, coordination and consultation requirements, and/or permitting and licensing processes in the marine environment.
With input from current fishery managers including Council members and staff as well as representatives of NOAA Fisheries, this report also explores some of the current challenges and opportunities associated with multi-sector spatial planning and outlines some potential strategies by which Councils can play a more active role in spatial planning in our oceans – with or without the development and implementation of a regional CMSP.