Tundi Agardy, Executive Director, Sound Seas
MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: USES AND ABUSES WORLDWIDE
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are rapidly being implemented to stem the biodiversity loss caused by our inability to manage marine resource use effectively, protect ecologically important habitats, and resolve ever-growing conflicts around use of ocean space. Marine protected areas can be used to restore depleted fisheries, protect unique or fragile habitats, develop ecotourism, legitimize and protect rights of local users, safeguard areas of cultural or historical importance, create controlled areas for scientific research, or maintain biological diversity and productivity. Used within networks spanning large regions, MPAs become a critical method for doing all this and more, bringing us closer to the ideal of regional management. Yet marine protected area advocates will have to proceed carefully. To minimize potential backlash to restricted use of traditionally open areas by user groups, planners must be clear about MPA objectives and wherever possible let the user groups set objectives for themselves. Planners and scientists must also be more open about the limits to our predictive capabilities concerning MPA benefits and stress the value of adaptability. Marine protected areas that are designed in a participatory way to fit local circumstances will prove vital to stemming the degradation of oceans worldwide–and are quite possibly the only hope for our beleaguered seas.
Louis W. Botsford, Professor of Wildlife, Fish and Conservation Biology, University of California, Davis
THE ROLE OF UNCERTAINTY IN MARINE CONSERVATION
Because of the vast complexity of marine ecosystems, constant pressure for greater fish catches and other short-term gains usually cannot be counterbalanced by precise estimates of their deleterious effects. This leads to a constant, unidirectional increase in exploitation of marine ecosystems, a process termed the "ratchet effect." Here I will examine how current efforts in marine conservation fit together to attack the three components of the "ratchet effect" through (1) direct reduction of uncertainty (e.g., process research, monitoring effects of global change, meta-analysis of taxonomic similarity for parameter estimates); (2) reduction of socioeconomic pressure for greater exploitation (e.g., co-management, fishing rights, eco-certification); and (3) development of decision methods and institutions that are robust to uncertainty (e.g., marine reserves, adaptive management, decision analysis, the precautionary approach). These can best be understood by dividing uncertainty into two forms at the population level: (1) uncertainty in anthropogenic effects on the state of an ecosystem, and (2) uncertainty in the population state below which a population collapses, i.e., the sustainable state. As an example I will explore how the use of marine reserves alters the dependence of fishery management on different kinds of uncertainty.
Daniel Brumbaugh, Marine Program Manager, Center for Biodiversity and Conservation, AMNH
STUDYING THE FUNCTION OF MARINE RESERVE NETWORKS – A NEW INTEGRATED APPROACH (Bahamas)
Marine reserves, although simple in concept as ecosystem management tools, may exhibit complex indirect effects as, for instance, fishing effort and its impacts on biological communities are displaced to surrounding areas. Since these biological and socioeconomic effects of reserves are intrinsically spatial–with various changes occurring inside the reserves, in adjacent outside areas, and potentially in distant sites as well–the natural and human dynamics of a network of reserves may become even more complex and difficult to predict as reserves are multiplied and connected across space.
This presentation describes a new interdisciplinary project, focused on the Bahamas as a model system, that seeks to integrate theory and data from oceanography, biology, and social sciences to untangle these complexities and address several major questions about the design of marine reserve networks: (1) What are the crucial couplings among physical, biological, and social systems that influence how reserve networks function? (2) What are the roles of different stakeholder groups, such as various fisher groups, local residents, and tourists? and (3) How compatible are networks based largely on socioeconomic criteria versus those more centrally optimized around biophysical function? In addition to addressing these conceptual questions, the project team is also working to support on-going decision-making and educational activities in the Bahamas in partnership with various governmental and non-governmental organizations.
Claudio Campagna, Conservation Zoologist, Wildlife Conservation Society/National Research Council of Argentina (COCINET)
CONSERVATION PARADIGMS AND THE FUTURE OF MARINE WILDLIFE IN PATAGONIAN WATERS (Argentina)
The Patagonian Large Marine Ecosystem (P-LME) is the epicenter of biological productivity in the southwest Atlantic. The richness of the area rests on the largest continental shelf in the Southern Hemisphere and on two major counter-current streams (Brazil and Falklands). The system has global importance for marine biodiversity in general and for high trophic level species in particular. Satellite-tracking studies show that the P-LME serves as feeding ground and migration route for seals, whales, otariids, dolphins, albatrosses, petrels, and penguins breeding along coastal Patagonia, the Falkland-Malvinas and South Georgia Islands, and even the Antarctic Peninsula and New Zealand.
Biodiversity conservation in the southwest Atlantic strongly depends on managing coastal development and regulating the expanding fisheries in pelagic waters, a hot spot for conflicting political interests. The GEF-UNDP-funded Patagonian Coastal Zone Management Plan has been a strategic approach regarding coastal development, while the Sea and Sky project is a vision concerning open ocean conservation. Both projects demonstrate science-based, sustainable and integrated management of entire ecosystems. This "magic" recipe contributed by the liberal democracies to world biodiversity conservation does not, however, mix well with the instability, opportunism, and attendance to pressing needs typical of emerging economies. The conservation community would benefit from a more critical attitude about the ideological background that frames its actions.
Billy D. Causey, Superintendent, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (NOAA)
SUSTAINING SEASCAPES THROUGH THE USE OF MARINE ZONING IN THE FLORIDA KEYS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY (USA)
The management plan for the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary contains a variety of innovative tools for protecting and sustaining coral reefs and their surrounding marine communities. Sanctuary managers have implemented a comprehensive network of marine zones. Marine zoning is the setting aside of areas for specific activities, balancing commercial and recreational interests with agency mandates to protect marine resources. Comprehensive marine zoning is a fairly recent concept in the management of marine protected areas within the United States, but has been successfully implemented internationally for decades.
Marine zoning ensures that areas of high ecological importance evolve in a natural state, with minimal human influence. Marine zoning also promotes sustainable use of Sanctuary resources, protects diverse habitats, and preserves important natural resources and ecosystem functions.
Results from the Sanctuary’s zone monitoring program indicate that three years after zone implementation some heavily exploited species exhibit differences in abundance and size between the Sanctuary’s no-take areas and reference sites. Overall, a high degree of variability has been documented with regard to reef fish abundance and size between no-take areas and reference sites. However, as would be expected with the added protection of no-take management, some species have shown increased abundance over time.
Anthony Chatwin, Staff Scientist, Conservation Law Foundation
SEASCAPES OF THE GULF OF MAINE: USING GIS TO DEVELOP AN NGO PROPOSAL FOR A REGIONAL NETWORK OF MPAS AND FULLY PROTECTED MARINE RESERVES (USA/Canada)
Marine protected areas (MPAs) established in the Gulf of Maine to protect the marine environment against specific threats such as coastal development, mineral extraction, pollution, and overfishing have not been effective in restoring the health of the region. They have produced a mosaic of threat-specific protection areas that are not ecologically integrated, and failed to protect the marine environment proactively. We believe that a well-designed system of MPAs and fully protected marine reserves is necessary to provide a rational, scientifically driven mechanism to conserve and restore the magnificent biodiversity of the Gulf of Maine.
The Conservation Law Foundation is currently working with World Wildlife Fund-Canada to propose a system of MPAs and reserves for the Gulf of Maine and Scotian Shelf. The first step consists of developing a seascape map of the entire region. Seascape mapping involves the identification of physical habitat types. Geographic Information Systems are used to compile existing data for each environmental variable into distinct layers. Overlaying the various layers produces the Seascapes map. This work will result in a cross-border, Gulf of Maine–wide seascapes map that will be used in consultations with scientists, resource managers, resource users and other stakeholders in planning for the establishment of an ecologically representative network of MPAs and fully protected marine reserves.
Robert K. Cowen, Professor and Maytag Chair of Ichthyology, Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science, University of Miami
THE ROLE OF LONG-DISTANCE DISPERSAL VERSUS LOCAL RETENTION IN REPLENISHING MARINE POPULATIONS
Population connectivity is an important component of resource management options, including the use of marine sanctuaries as spawning refugia. But what are the appropriate scales for connectivity of different areas? Different areas need only exchange very few individuals to maintain a genetically homogeneous population; however, if a protected area is intended to support downstream populations on ecological time scales, then exchange needs to occur at higher orders of magnitude. Early models and evidence from genetics suggested that long-distance dispersal of marine larvae is likely a common event, leading to considerable population connectivity among distant populations. Here a model is presented that not only incorporates typical advective and diffusive properties of larval transport by the ambient flow field, but also propagule production and mortality rates, to determine if and over what area sufficient numbers of larvae can be transported to sustain downstream populations. Through repeated runs of a high-resolution three-dimensional ocean circulation model, coupled with a random flight model estimating larval sub-grid turbulent motion, and active larval behaviors, probabilities of larval dispersal to various downstream locations within the Caribbean are estimated. These findings suggest the need to rethink the paradigm of largely open population structure of marine populations, and are consistent with the hypothesis that marine populations must rely on mechanisms enhancing self-recruitment rather than depend on distant "source" populations.
Gary E. Davis, Science Advisor, Channel Islands National Park, U.S. National Park Service
LESSONS FROM DESIGNING A MARINE RESERVE NETWORK BY COMMITTEE AT THE CALIFORNIA CHANNEL ISLANDS (USA)
The collapse of marine life populations and the loss of 80% of the kelp forests in Channel Islands National Park since 1980, apparently caused by fishing, prompted requests in April, 1999 for a network of marine reserves. A two-year attempt to build a science-based, community consensus for a reserve network successfully identified five goals for the network, but failed to find unanimous support for a network design of specific reserves. In August 2001, the two relevant management agencies (state and federal), supported by 15 of 17 members of the appointed working group, jointly recommended a network of 11 no-take reserves encompassing approximately 25% (12,650 ha) of park waters. The recommendation awaits political decisions regarding establishment. Fatal flaws in working-group structure and function prevented a more timely and positive outcome.
Rili Djohani, Director, Coastal and Marine Indonesia Program, The Nature Conservancy
TOWARDS AN EFFECTIVE NETWORK OF MPAS: BUILDING LOCAL CAPACITY AND FINANCING MECHANISMS (Indonesia)
Stretching 3,200 miles from Australia to Southeast Asia, Indonesia’s 17,500 islands make up the world’s largest archipelago and fourth most populous nation. The country contains over 85,000 square kilometers of coral reefs, or about 14% of the world’s total. Destructive fishing practices, coupled with rapid and poorly planned rural and coastal development, are devastating Indonesia’s coral reefs at a staggering rate. As resources decline, the livelihoods of coastal villages become increasingly threatened.
Officially there are a large number of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) in Indonesia, but most of these reserves are merely unmanaged "paper parks." Two key constraints to proper MPA management are the lack of training and experienced human resources to support MPA planning and management, and the long-term financing of MPAs.
In collaboration with the Ministry of Forestry, The Nature Conservancy developed a comprehensive 25-year management framework for Komodo National Park. First priority was to develop management strategies to halt destructive fishing practices. Five major management modules have been developed and implemented: 1) park planning and evaluation, 2) enforcement, 3) awareness and education, 4) alternative livelihood programs, and 5) monitoring.
The next challenge is to make the park financially self-reliant and build up local capacity. Komodo National Park has become an important platform site for the Indonesian government to develop a comprehensive and innovative financing plan as well as a co-management model that may become a first step towards mainstreaming conservation management concessions in Indonesia.
Kalli De Meyer, Director, Coral Parks Program, Coral Reef Alliance (CORAL)
TRANSFORMING SCIENCE INTO POLICY: AN EXAMPLE OF THE VALUE OF RESEARCH TO THE MANAGEMENT OF A SMALL – SCALE CORAL PARK (Bonaire National Marine Park, Dutch Antilles)
Three keystone pieces of research became available to the Bonaire Marine Park early in its development, providing information on the long-term trends in coral cover within the park, the impact of divers on both the reef and fish biota, and an ecological and economic valuation of the park. These studies provide a "wake-up call" for Bonaire with regard to the value and importance of the Marine Park, as well as an acknowledgment of the island’s reefs as a finite resource. This culminated in the Marine Park being declared a National Park by Central Government and the Island Government pledging to address the major threats to Bonaire’s reefs. On a more pragmatic level, the scientific information provided by these studies gave the Marine Park a solid framework for policy decision-making and prioritization of day-to-day management efforts. It reinforced and validated Marine Park policy of co-operative management with the local dive and tourism industry and resulted in a refocusing on the indirect impacts of tourism such as coastal development. The economic valuation in particular provided the opportunity for the Marine Park to influence island policy decision-making by providing a dollar value for island’s reefs. However it was difficult to find acceptance for the concept of maximum sustainable levels of visitation, and it can be argued that focusing on diver admission fees as the sustainable source of revenue hampered the park’s efforts to diversify its funding base.
Michael Eng, Senior Program Manager, U.S. Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution
SEEKING AGREEMENT ON MARINE PROTECTED AREAS: A FACILITATOR’S LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE DRY TORTUGAS AND THE CHANNEL ISLANDS PROCESSES
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with the California Department of Fish and Game, convened and sponsored collaborative multi-stakeholder processes to seek agreement on science-based recommendations regarding "no-take" marine reserves. Participants in the Dry Tortugas process were able to achieve a consensus recommendation, which is currently being implemented. The Channel Islands process was able to build consensus around a number of issues, but did not succeed in reaching agreement on a comprehensive marine reserve recommendation. The presenter, a neutral facilitator for both efforts, will identify lessons to be learned regarding the convening, as well as the design and facilitation of these collaborative agreement-seeking processes. "Best practices" for conveners of collaborative processes that are emerging from the new field of environmental conflict resolution will be used as criteria for comparing and evaluating the two multi-stakeholder processes. Lessons to be learned from these processes will provide a practical guide for conveners and sponsors of future collaborative MPA efforts.
Leanne Fernandes, Manager, Representative Areas Program, Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority
A REPRESENTATIVE NETWORK OF MARINE RESERVES (Australia)
The Australian Government has committed to establishing a National Representative System of Marine Protected Areas. The goal is to contribute to the long-term viability of marine and estuarine systems, to maintain ecological processes and systems and to protect biological diversity at all levels. Guiding principles, developed nationally, require that this network be comprehensive, adequate and representative. Selection of the new no-take areas (reserves) will occur through public consultation to address social, cultural and economic issues.
At the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority (GBRMPA), these general goals and principles have been refined to a more operational level. Data, analyses and expertise were combined to define 70 bioregions in the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area. The Representative Areas Program at GBRMPA will enhance the existing network of no-take areas to include examples of all 70 bioregions. Currently, we continue to collate social, economic, and cultural data for use with custom-designed software and for use in post-hoc accounting of networks of candidate areas for protection.
Michael J. Fogarty, Senior Scientist, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center
IMPACTS OF SPATIAL MANAGEMENT CLOSURES ON FISHERIES PRODUCTION AND BIODIVERSITY ON GEORGES BANK (USA)
Seasonal closures have been used as a fisheries management tool on Georges Bank, located off the northeastern United States, for over three decades, and year-round closures have been in place there since 1994. Over-fishing of key components of the Georges Bank system resulted in declines in abundance of economically important species and changes in community composition. The imposition of year-round closures on Georges Bank, coupled with strong constraints on fishing effort has resulted in increases in biomass in commercially important fish and invertebrate resources. We show that enhanced biomass levels are attributable to increases in mean size within the closed areas and, for some species, increases in recruitment. Case studies are provided for sea scallop and groundfish resources.
The spatial management strategies employed on Georges Bank were specifically undertaken to reduce fishing mortality on exploited species. Issues related to protection of vulnerable habitats and preservation of biodiversity are also critically important in this system. We provide an analysis of patterns of biodiversity of nektonic organisms and explore options for placement of closed areas to meet multiple management objectives including reducing fishing mortality and protecting biodiversity.
Stephanie Fried, Senior Scientist, Oceans Program, Environmental Defense
NEW MATH: THE POLITICAL ECOLOGY OF THE PROTECTION OF THE NORTHWESTERN HAWAIIAN ISLANDS
This paper explores the political ecology of what seems to be, in theory, a simple situation for Marine Protected Area establishment—a remote, largely uninhabited area where little fishing occurs; where clear scientific evidence exists for strong protection measures; and where there is public support for such measures.
In December, 2000, then-President Clinton issued the first of two executive orders designed to protect the waters surrounding the most isolated archipelago in the world, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). This marked the establishment of the largest marine protected area under United States jurisdiction, in a state with a dismal record of protecting its marine ecosystems, during a time when such protections were under attack throughout the country. Strong leadership by Hawaiian cultural-rights activists, local fishers, and community-based non-governmental organizations, backed by experienced scientists proved crucial to altering the political landscape of marine resource protection in Hawaii.
This paper explores the factors—including the emergence of broad local and national coalitions in support of protection measures, and the response by some political figures—that have, to date, continued to ensure protection for the NWHI. It also explores those factors—including national politics, the politics of science, and the corrosive impacts of corruption and conflicts of interest—that have weighed against the establishment of meaningful protection measures for the NWHI.
Karen Garrison, Senior Policy Analyst, Natural Resources Defense Council
CALIFORNIA’S MARINE LIFE PROTECTION ACT: BY POPULAR DEMAND
In late 1999, the California legislature passed, without opposition, the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA)—the first state law in the nation to require a comprehensive network of marine reserves and other protected areas throughout state marine waters. A January 2002 oversight hearing confirmed continued strong popular and legislative support for the act and for networks of marine reserves. Yet the first set of draft siting maps for an MPA network, intended as a starting point for discussion, ran into such intense opposition from sport and commercial fishing interests that extensive changes were rapidly made in the MLPA schedule and public process. A look at passage and implementation efforts to date (and their unintended consequences) sheds light on a range of questions many reserve designation efforts face, for example: how to avoid blowing it with your maps; how to allow enough time for a constructive public process without providing a blank check for stalling; how to strike a balance between top down vs. bottom up control; how to give an agency (even a fishery management agency) an investment in making marine reserves work; and how to base the process as firmly as possible on the best science.
Jeremy Jackson, William and Mary B. Ritter Professor of Oceanography, Scripps Institute of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego
Ecological understanding of the oceans is based on an unnatural mix of mostly small species whose trophic relations are distorted to an unknown degree by the overfishing of megafauna, including sharks, sea turtles, sea cows, seals, and whales. Living habitats like seagrass beds, kelp forests, and coral reefs that once provided critical three-dimensional habitats for refuge and reproduction of most of the biodiversity of the oceans are also greatly reduced by fishing and other factors. Successful restoration and conservation require a more realistic understanding of the ecology of pristine marine ecosystems, which can only be obtained by a combination of retrospective analyses, modeling, and intensive studies of succession in very large marine reserves.
Bonnie J. McCay, Professor, Department of Human Ecology, Cook College, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
COMEDIES OF THE COMMONS: MECHANISMS FOR MANAGING SHARED RESOURCES
A popular way of understanding problems in marine ecosystems is to characterize them as "tragedies of the commons," with the implication that anything not private property, or, on the other hand, not tightly controlled by government, is subject to abuse and over-use. An alternative view has developed over the past 30 years that is very critical of this idea, and demands closer attention to the potentials for "comedies of the commons," situations where people or organizations that share rights to a resource come up with reasonable ways of regulating their uses of it. In contemporary societies, such "comedies" can be seen in isolated areas where people are actively resisting government intervention or privatization. "Community-based management" is one outcome. The "comedies" are also found where resource users develop working relationships with government agencies, for purposes of research or management decision-making. "Co-management" is the term for this outcome. There are also "comedies" involving attempts to reclaim "public trust" rights to seascapes. Illustrations are offered from several "new" places: Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, and New Jersey.
Nyawira Muthiga, Head, Coastal Wetlands Program, Kenya Wildlife Service
Tim R. McClanahan, Coral Reef Research and Conservation Programs, Wildlife Conservation Society
LESSONS LEARNED FROM LONG-TERM MONITORING AND MANAGEMENT OF MPAs (Kenya)
There is a growing recognition that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are highly effective management tools in the conservation and management of fisheries and biodiversity. Long-term ecological data to assess this effectiveness, however, are lacking for many tropical areas. Although Kenya has had MPAs since 1969, it is only in the last 15 years that regular research and monitoring of them has been implemented. This paper summarizes the long-term ecological monitoring program that has been carried out on sites in protected and unprotected reefs and a fished reef recently converted into a protected reef. A number of changes in reef ecology and management and resulting management experiments are discussed, including reef restoration options such as algal removal, sea urchin reductions, and coral transplantation. In most cases protection resulted in ecological improvements. Creation of the Diani marine reserve, however, led to conflicts between the fishers and the management authority that evolved into an adaptive fisheries management and ICM system rather than the traditional closed-area system.
Daniel Pauly, Professor of Fisheries, Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia
THE CRISIS IN FISHERIES AND MARINE BIODIVERSITY
Fisheries have a long history of absent sustainability, aggravated by industrial fishing vessels being added, from the end of the 19th century, to the smaller craft used to exploit coastal fish populations. Until the 1970s, this expansion of fishing capacity led to an enormous increase of catches from offshore and distant areas not previously exploited. Then, a series of massive fisheries collapses occurred in various parts of the world, many involving seemingly well-studied fish populations. In the late 1980s, these collapses ceased to be compensated for by the "opening up" of new fisheries, and global catches began to decline from a peak of about 85 million tonnes, making incontestable the industry’s depletion of "resource populations, habitat destruction, and increasing reliance, in their landings, on smaller organisms lower in marine food webs."
Traditional fisheries management measures such as restrictions on gear, mesh size, or composition of landings have mostly failed to solve these problems. Alternative approaches, such as networks of marine reserves, which have a great potential for rehabilitating fisheries, will fail as well if the key problem is not addressed: excess fishing capacity, and excessive expectations from fisheries by both governments and the consuming public.
Richard B. Pollnac, Professor, Departments of Anthropology and Marine Affairs and Coastal Resources Center, University of Rhode Island
QUANTITATIVE APPROACHES TO THE ANALYSIS OF HUMAN FACTORS INFLUENCING MPA SUCCESS
The presentation explores the utility of using multivariate statistical techniques in a comparative analysis of a sample of sites to discover human factors influencing the success of community-based MPAs. A comparative analysis requires the use of strictly comparable data. Most current discussions of human factors and MPAs are based on case studies. Case studies, while providing some insights, are questionable as a basis for making generalizations. Commonly, little or no information concerning methods is presented; hence, it is difficult to ascertain if certain variables are present, absent or simply not reported—the data is not strictly comparable. In this presentation, strictly comparable data collected in 45 communities with community-based MPAs in the Visayas, Philippines, are analyzed using a variety of multivariate statistical techniques. Strengths and weaknesses of the techniques are discussed. The findings, while supporting some existing generalizations concerning human factors involved in MPA success, suggest that some may be inaccurate. Implications for further development of community-based MPAs are discussed.
Mark Ridgley, Professor, Department of Geography, University of Hawaii at Manoa
CONFLICT, COMPLEXITY, UNCERTAINTY, AND THE EVALUATION OF MPAs
The evaluation of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is complicated by uncertainty, complexity, and conflicting values. Uncertainty is present because there is a lot we do not know about how marine ecological systems function, how their behavior affects and is affected by human actions. And, since we cannot predict the future, we cannot be certain how such relationships might change over time. Some of the uncertainty takes the form of imprecision, as we grapple with the myriad intangibles that influence the behaviors in question, while some is due to lack of information or failure to integrate disparate kinds of information from different sources. The behaviors in turn are complex, reflecting nonlinearities, feedback, and contingency. Finally, designing and selecting among alternative MPAs depends on people’s multiple and conflicting objectives, the source of which are values. Since the choice of MPA should be based on how well it meets those objectives, there is a need to measure the relative importance of each one and how those priorities might change under different futures and time periods. Despite all these challenges, decisions must be made and there is need for a rigorous yet easy-to-implement methodology to support and improve them. This paper describes such an approach, the Analytic Hierarchy Process (AHP), and illustrates its workings through application to a hypothetical yet realistic case study.
Mark Sagoff, Senior Research Scholar, Institute for Philosophy and Public Policy, University of Maryland, College Park
NATURE VS. AQUACULTURE: IS THERE A COMPROMISE?
John Muir had it right: the reasons to preserve nature are largely spiritual, aesthetic, and moral; our economic interests tend to weigh in favor of development. The Chesapeake Bay—the major economic uses of which are fairly indifferent to water quality—will illustrate the point. The toll aquaculture takes on natural ecosystems well represents the conflict between preserving nature and maximizing economic returns. Using as an example proposals to introduce a non-native oyster into the Chesapeake to improve ecosystem structure and function, the talk reflects on the possibility that aquaculture can help restore marine systems. We can no longer think in terms of the extremes Muir made familiar—either preserve Creation or surrender to the Almighty Dollar. The talk ends with the suggestion that society should try to accommodate economic use within a preservationist ethic but not try to justify preservation in terms of economics.
Enric Sala, Deputy Director, Center for Marine Biodiversity and Conservation and Assistant Professor of Marine Ecology and Conservation, Scripps Institute of Oceanography
SCIENCE-BASED DESIGN OF A NETWORK OF MARINE RESERVES IN THE GULF OF CALIFORNIA (Mexico)
The marine biodiversity of the Gulf of California, Mexico, is threatened by intense fishing. The mean trophic level of coastal fisheries has decreased dramatically in the last 30 years. The solutions to this threat include stronger fisheries regulations and the creation of a network of marine reserves. We collected data on reef fishes and benthic habitats and quantified patterns of reef fish biodiversity in the region, including patterns of species richness and abundance and the distribution and surface of benthic habitats, and determined the locations of spawning aggregation sites and nurseries for species vulnerable to fishing. We also studied the dispersal of grouper larvae to estimate connectivity between regions. We used a GIS-based optimization model to design a network of marine reserves covering >20% of all coastal habitats, biodiversity hotspots, 100% of spawning aggregations and 50% of nurseries of vulnerable fishes. The network ensures connectivity through larval dispersal among reserves. We compared the conservation value of this network with networks designed at random. The results of these studies are being used by the World Wildlife Fund and other NGOs to help create a network of reserves in the Gulf of California.
Robert S. Steneck, Professor, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine
FISHERIES, TROPHIC CASCADES, AND MARINE BIODIVERSITY
In North America, oceanography, evolutionary origins, biogeography, and Pleistocene history shaped the assembly of three distinctly different kelp forest ecosystems. The three systems, New England, Alaska, and California, represent a natural species diversity gradient from the most species-depauperate to the most species-diverse, respectively. All systems are structured by consumers at two nodes: top ("apex") predators, and sea urchin herbivores. Although each system was exploited by human fishers for thousands of years, only since commercial export harvesting began did these three systems change profoundly. Overfishing of sea otters in the eastern North Pacific and cod in the North Atlantic resulted in the loss of these apex predators from kelp forests, the overpopulation of sea urchins, and the subsequent deforestation of kelp beds. Over the past century the kelp forests in southern California were most diverse and most stable, and suffered the least from the loss of single consumer species such as sea otters or sea urchins. The opposite was true for the species-depauperate western North Atlantic, which has been unstable in recent decades, fluctuating rapidly between forested and deforested states. The highly unstable kelp forests of the western North Atlantic may have facilitated the emergence of new apex predator and non-native competitor species that now dominate the structure and functioning of this profoundly altered system. Fishing down foodwebs reduces biodiversity and could contribute to widespread instability of marine ecosystems.
Joeli Veitayaki, Coordinator, Marine Affairs Programme, University of the South Pacific
COMBINING TRADITIONAL CULTURAL VALUES AND SCIENCE FOR MARINE-RESOURCE MANAGEMENT (Fiji)
The periodic declaration of no-take zones or "fisheries refugia" is part of traditional management practice in Fiji and other Pacific Island countries. These practices are part of the culture, and may not have been performed solely for resource management purposes. However, some of the practices have been revived as village communities in modernizing Fiji attempt to address the issues associated with their depleting marine resources. Unlike contemporary management measures such as legislation, policy, and strategies, these traditional resources-use practices were easier to implement and were observed extensively within the communities. The results of these interventions have been very encouraging. Using simple biological monitoring methods, the villagers are showing a 13-fold increase in clams inside the managed areas and a 4-fold increase in the non-managed areas. The early signs are good that these initiatives combining traditional cultural values and science can make marine-resource management at the local community level more effective.
Susan White, MPA Inventory, Fish and Wildlife Service
FROM SINGLE SPECIES TO ECOSYSTEMS: MANAGEMENT CHALLENGES FOR INSTITUTIONS
Marine resources and fisheries management literature and discussions over the last decade have increasingly fostered the idea that effective management and resource conservation can best be achieved by taking a more holistic approach. Shifting out of the single-species management regimes to the approach of "ecosystem management" has emerged as the preferred concept. Many parts of our society, including federal agencies, states, and the private sector (individuals, conservation groups, and industry) are experimenting with ecosystem-based approaches. As resource managers move into the realm of ecosystem management, a number of challenges are presented that must be overcome. Lessons learned from agencies currently undergoing this management transition can be extremely useful for planning for wise and effective ecosystem management. Some of the challenges to the implementation of ecosystem management are discussed, along with lessons that continue to be learned.
To meet future needs, conventional tools of resource management must evolve. The rise in overfished fisheries, estuarine eutrophication, human health hazards along the coasts, and the loss of habitats, indicate that our best management efforts have not been enough. Resource managers must accept the reality that wildlife populations and habitats will experience increasing impacts from human activities, the threat of which will require extraordinary flexibility and innovation on the part of our management systems. An ecosystem approach offers a promising method of meeting this challenge.
James A. Wilson, Professor of Marine Sciences and Resource Economics and Associate Director, School of Marine Sciences, University of Maine
MATCHING SOCIAL AND ECOLOGICAL SCALE – THE LOBSTER FISHERY
The biological and human activity relevant to the conservation of marine resources is complex and occurs at multiple scales. Currently, fisheries management tends to concentrate on the larger-scale aspects and finds it difficult to deal effectively with local dimensions. Habitat and other local aspects of the biology relevant to sustainability tend to be treated fairly superficially, as are many important local aspects of the fishery’s human dimension.
There have been many calls from both biologists and social scientists for greater attention to these local aspects. There are two principal problems with greater localization: first, the coordination of biological and social policy across multiple scales and, second, the potential information overload that might occur if too much detail were brought into the management process. These problems are not unique to fisheries, and are usually dealt with through hierarchical governance regimes.
Over the last decade deliberate steps have been taken to develop hierarchical governance in the U.S. North Atlantic lobster fishery. The idea is to better adapt the fishery to the particular social and biological attributes of different locations.