- New report describes expected impacts of climate change on global ocean economy
- Ocean acidification could cost US fisheries, tourism, and coastal communities billions
- Ocean deoxygenation increasingly threatens species and ecosystems
- Global wave patterns will change drastically with further global warming
- New research able to link frequency of most damaging hurricanes to climate change
- New study assesses changes in fish distribution due to climate change
- Draft treaty on conservation and sustainable use of high seas marine life available for review
- Wales publishes new national marine plan
- New tool helps coastal cities identify financial, political, ecological risks from climate change
- New underwater robotic gliders measure ocean noise levels
- New tool tracks vessels at high risk for IUU fishing
- Project will enable study of environmental changes on ocean microbes
- Larval fish eating microplastics in their nursery habitats
- Latest studies suggest Arctic Ocean may be ice-free for part of year by 2044
- Oldest and thickest Arctic Ocean sea ice disappearing twice as fast as other sea ice
- Input requested on coastal management challenges, will inform US national research investments
Latest Skimmer Articles
It’s no secret that news about the ocean is pretty disheartening these days. So, as we get started with 2020, we here at The Skimmer want to highlight a new report that looks at ocean potential. The High Level Panel for a Sustainable Ocean Economy recently released “The Ocean as a Solution for Climate Change: Five Opportunities for Action”, which quantifies contributions that ocean-based mitigation strategies can make in reducing global greenhouse gas emissions, while also delivering other ecosystem services. The report considers the potential contributions of:
- Scaling up ocean-based renewable energy (e.g., wind, wave, and tidal power)
- Reducing emissions from freight and passenger shipping
- Increasing protection and restoration of coastal and marine ecosystems (particularly “blue carbon” habitats such as mangroves, tidal marshes, and seagrasses), which would provide carbon mitigation as well as other ecosystem service benefits
- Shifting diets towards low-carbon sources of protein from the ocean
- Storing carbon in the seabed.
Aquaculture production is an increasingly important component of global seafood production. Seafood production from aquaculture has expanded nearly six-fold since 1990, while capture fisheries production has remained relatively stagnant. According to the UN Food and Agricultural Organization’s most recent analysis of global fisheries and aquaculture, seafood production from aquaculture (excluding seaweeds) exceeded production from marine capture fisheries for the first time in 2016.[i]
Aquaculture’s reputation is mixed, however. It obviously has the potential to feed many people, but it has is associated with a number of observed and potential negative environmental impacts, including:
- Altering and destroying habitat, such as mangrove forests, for aquaculture facilities
- Escapes of farmed species into the wild, enabling species invasions and altering the genetics of wild populations
- Spreading diseases and parasites to wild populations
- Releasing fecal waste, uneaten food, and pesticides into the local environment, decreasing water quality
- Contributing to the overfishing of wild fish populations because of the use of wild fish to feed farmed fish.
This negative view obscures the incredible diversity of aquaculture types and their diverse interactions with marine environments. Aquaculture enterprises vary in:
- What species are cultivated (e.g., seaweeds, mollusks, crustaceans, finfish) and what they feed on (e.g., whether they are photosynthesizers, filter feeders, deposit feeders, herbivores, carnivores)
- How intense production is (e.g., total biomass per cage, the degree to which fertilizer and supplementary feeds are used)
- The type of environment production takes place in (e.g., freshwater streams or lakes, fully enclosed tanks, ponds, intertidal, sheltered bays, open ocean, sea pens, ponds, tanks).
- UN publishes evaluation of global progress towards 2030 Sustainable Development Goals
- Over US$63 billion pledged at Our Ocean conference to improve ocean health and productivity (view pledges in map form)
- New elevation data triples estimate of global population vulnerable to sea-level rise and coastal flooding (explore data with Coastal Risk Screening Tool)
- Meta-analysis of MPA coverage highlights gaps in Caribbean, Madagascar, southern Africa, Mediterranean, and Coral Triangle
- Global subsidies to fishing industry more than US$35 billion in 2018 [Read Skimmer coverage of why this matters for marine ecosystems]
- Study finds MPA benefits and drawbacks roughly equal for local communities
- Analysis predicts continued ocean warming will trigger more extreme El Niños
- Sea levels will continue to rise even after global temperatures stabilize
- Offshore wind report offers comprehensive global look at latest technology, market developments, and geospatial analysis
- New report illuminates activities of distant water fishing fleets including IUU fishing and illicit activity
- New guide details how to insure a natural asset [Read Skimmer coverage about insurance coverage for Mesoamerican Reef]
- Tool helps design accurate, statistically meaningful ocean research experiments
- Communications tool to help scientists engage public and decisionmakers now available in Spanish
- Workbook for strategic communication for conservation available
- Nike joins coalition pledged to not ship through Arctic; Exxon partner plans to ship liquid natural gas through Arctic
- Final approval given for first commercial offshore wind installation in US federal waters
- China's ocean waste up 27% in 2018
- Marine planning and management trainings added to Skimmer database
Editor’s note: Thierry Chopin is a professor of marine biology and director of the Seaweed and Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture Research Laboratory at the University of New Brunswick in Canada. He is also president of Chopin Coastal Health Solutions Inc. His research focuses on the ecophysiology/biochemistry/cultivation of seaweeds and the development of Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture (IMTA) for environmental sustainability, economic stability, and societal acceptability.
The Skimmer: Can you tell us a little bit about what IMTA is?
Chopin: With IMTA, farmers cultivate species from different trophic levels and with complementary ecosystem functions in proximity. They combine fed species (e.g., finfish that need to be provided with feed) with extractive species (e.g., seaweeds, aquatic plants, shellfish, and other invertebrates that extract their food from the environment) to take advantage of synergistic interactions among them. In these systems, biomitigation operates as part of a circular economy (i.e., nutrients are no longer considered wastes or by-products of one species, but instead are co-products for the other species).
By Tundi Agardy, Contributing Editor, The Skimmer. Email: tundiagardy [at] earthlink.net
A recent publication “Marine zoning revisiting: How decades of zoning the Great Barrier Reef has evolved an effective spatial planning approach for marine ecosystem-based management” published in Aquatic Conservation: Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems distills important lessons from Australia’s evolving commitment to manage the world’s most iconic multiple use marine protected area. It casts a critical eye on what has worked and what has not, and it pushes us beyond our marine comfort zone to face the challenge of true ecosystem-based management (EBM), which neither ocean zoning nor marine spatial planning (MSP) in their current applications can adequately provide. With this publication, Jon Day and his coauthors have given the world a valuable gift that will keep on giving – if we can acknowledge this gift and heed it.
Day and his colleagues (including Richard Kenchington, who like Day has been intimately involved in the design and management of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park [GBRMP] through its various iterations over the years) recount how zoning both set the stage for multiple use management and evolved to provide the legal framework for regulations to protect the world’s largest barrier reef. The use of zoning had to be adapted over decades because the GBRMP Authority was a pioneer in spatial management and the allocation of space to uses of the marine environment. Zoning on land may have provided a glimpse of the possible, but adapting zoning approaches to the fluid and obscured ocean realm required experimentation and a fair amount of risk taking.
OCTO and its services (The Skimmer, EBM Tools Network, OpenChannels.org, MPA News, and more) are currently scheduling their 2020 webinar series. If there any topics you would like to see covered or presenters that you would like to hear from, please let us know at skimmer [at] octogroup.org!
Examples of topics we have covered in the past year (recordings available) include:
- New opportunities for reducing coastal risk with natural defenses
- Financing coral reef conservation and management with tourism-related tools
- Conservation targets and how much of the world do we need to protect?
- A toolkit for managing cultural resources in marine protected areas
- The impact of human-caused ocean noise pollution on fish, invertebrates, and ecosystem services
- Managing the ocean in real-time: Tools for dynamic management
- Unmanned systems (UxS): Transforming how we study and manage the marine environment
- Not all those who wander are lost – Fishers communities’ responses to shifts in the distribution and abundance of fish resources
Editor’s note: In 2016, roughly one-third of the total value of the world’s trade of fish and fish products was invertebrates. (They were approximately one-fifth of the global fish trade by live weight.) To learn more about the state and future of invertebrate fisheries management, The Skimmer interviewed Heike Lotze, a professor in the Department of Biology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada. In this interview, we discuss several of her papers published over the past decade on the recent expansion, ecosystem effects, and management of invertebrate fisheries, including a recent synthesis “Ecosystem effects of invertebrate fisheries” published in Fish and Fisheries in 2017.
The Skimmer: As global catch of invertebrates increases, what impacts are invertebrate fisheries having on marine ecosystems?
Lotze: Invertebrate catches have increased more than six-fold globally since the 1950s. Catches include all major species groups – from lobster, shrimp, and crabs (crustaceans) to octopus, cuttlefish and squid (cephalopods) to mussels and snails (mollusks) to sea urchins and sea cucumbers (echinoderms). In many countries, invertebrates are some of the most lucrative commercial fisheries and provide coastal communities with valuable livelihoods and associated benefits. The global increase in catches has been accompanied by the spatial expansion of invertebrate fisheries: many more countries are engaging in fishing invertebrates, and many more areas within countries are now fishing invertebrates. For example, sea urchin and sea cucumber are now fished around the globe, and fishing for invertebrates has expanded from shallow to deeper waters to maintain or enhance catch levels. Fisheries have further shifted from large- to smaller-sized individuals and from high- to lesser-valued species, usually in response to declining catches and following a ‘fishing down the value-chain’ pattern.
Many people may think it is ‘just’ invertebrates, but these species play important ecological roles in marine ecosystems. These roles are often more diverse than the roles that fish play, consequently the impacts of invertebrate fisheries on other species and marine ecosystems are more varied than those of finfish fisheries. For example:
- Many invertebrates are important prey for higher trophic level species, such as fish, whales, turtles, and seabirds, and reducing invertebrate abundance can have ripple effects through marine food webs, comparable to those of forage fish;
- Many mussels, oysters, and sponges enhance biodiversity by creating three-dimensional structures that are important habitat for other species – for settlement, finding food, finding shelter, breeding, and nursery grounds;
- Many invertebrates filter feed which improves water quality and clarity and provides benefits to other organisms, including humans;
- Herbivore grazers, such as many urchins and gastropods, act as lawn mowers keeping algal carpets in check; and
- Detritivore sea stars and sea cucumbers clean up ocean floors as the scavengers of the sea.
- New IPCC Oceans and Cryosphere special report paints dire picture of ocean health
- Experts describe best options for using oceans to mitigate climate change
- UN International Seabed Authority continuing discussions on regulations for deep-seabed mining; environmental organization seeks mining moratorium until deep sea better understood
- Scientists assess what is needed for restoring deep sea ecosystems
- Study provides new framework for understanding blue carbon ecosystem dynamics
- Marine heatwave in eastern North Pacific weakening
- New report describes best policies for reducing ocean plastic pollution
- Publication describes ways microplastics research needs to improve
- New online tool will provide easy access to migratory patterns of oceanic endangered species
- Oceanscape portal maps ocean organizations and their connections
- Input requested on information needs for coral reef management
Coverage of social media usually focuses on how social media platforms (e.g., Twitter, Facebook) can be used to communicate with and educate stakeholders and the general public. But social media also provides publicly available information on how people are using and feeling about the marine environment. Learn how social media and other digital data are being used for marine conservation and management.