Intact Oceans and Their Benefits, by Edward Lohnes, Conservation International

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"Intact Oceans and their Benefits" is posted by permission of Edward Lohnes and Conservation International to inform and inspire action for the conservation of marine wilderness.

"Intact Oceans and their Benefits" is posted by permission of Edward Lohnes and Conservation International to inform and inspire action for the conservation of marine wilderness.

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  • 1. “ Intact Oceans and their benefits”. Edward Lohnes (Conservation International)
  • 2. a. A brief introduction to the oceans b. Wide ranging threats c. Ocean protection including MPAs d. New literature that helps to illustrate the benefits of intact oceans
  • 3. - Life on earth and the entire global ecosystem depends in large part upon the oceans; their biodiversity and health - They provide essential services to humans such as the air we breath, the water we drink, the food we eat and the climate we live in Some Ocean Facts - Provide the main protein source for >25% of the world’s population - Yields medicines, genetic material and animal models for treating such things as cancer and heart disease - Mediates temperature; has absorbed 80% of heat produced by climate change - Produces 70-80% of the air we breath, and contains 50 times more carbon than the atmosphere - Recycles N, C, H 2 0 and other life supporting substances - Contains highest diversity and abundance of living organisms - Sustains fringing ecosystems which protect coastal cities and their residents - Generates $21 trillion in ecosystem services / year
  • 4. - The seas and oceans of the world were once healthy; it was thought that they had the capacity and ability to overcome any level of disruption due to their expansive size
  • 5. - Sadly this is no longer the case, and more than ever before, we are now seeing the effects of human activities - All of the world’s marine ecosystems show signs of human influence; in 41% of cases these systems are strongly influenced by humans and from multiple drivers
  • 6. Current wide ranging threats that face the world’s oceans - Human activities which impact the seas and oceans of the world at a variety of scales include: *overfishing / destructive fishing techniques *habitat destruction *ocean acidification *pollution *carbon sequestration *climate change *invasive species *marine debris *ocean dumping *underwater noise - These threats now affect ocean health and its ability to provide its essential services Ref: “A New Regime for the Conservation and Sustainable Use of Marine Biodiversity and Genetic Resources Beyond the Limits of National Jurisdiction” Louise Angélique de La Fayette
  • 7. - Approximately 30% of the world’s coral reefs are already severely damaged; close to 60% could disappear by 2030 - If the ice at both poles melted; sea level rise would reach 70 meters - Melting ice becomes problematic when you think that >150 million people live within 1m of high tide level; 250 million within 5m
  • 8. - In the second half of the last century, >66% of the North’s Sea’s fish species extended their ranges northward or to deeper water - In 2006, Science reported that 33% of worldwide fishing stocks have collapsed and with current trends will collapse in 50 years. This is problematic as worldwide fish consumption increased 300% from 1961-2001. - Analysis suggests that the global ocean has lost >90% of large predatory fishes - As oceans sequester carbon they become more acidic; the lowering pH and saturation levels of calcium carbonate effects marine animals and plants in their development and skeleton and shell formation; large scale changes in extinction rates and biodiversity are expected
  • 9. - >95% of the damage and change to seamount ecosystems is caused by bottom fishing, mostly unregulated and unreported with highly destructive gear; trawls, dredges and traps - The number of dead zones identified increased from 149 in 2003 to over 200 in 2006
  • 10. - In order to continue to benefit from the services that oceans provide we need to turn the tide and take urgent action
  • 11. A brief overview of ocean protection types including Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) - There are a variety of different terms used for different types of marine protection, and some of these depend on geography, types of restrictions etc. - One of these is MPAs - They are designed to protect “Natural and cultural” resources
  • 12.
    • There are various definitions available; the IUCN define them as:
    • “ any area of the intertidal or subtidal terrain, together with its overlying water and associated flora, fauna, historical and cultural features, which has been reserved by law or other effective means to protect part or all of the enclosed environment”
  • 13. - The IUCN uses the following categories to assist in the definition of protected areas: Created mainly for: Ia. Area managed mainly for science, or as a Strict Nature Reserve Ib. Area managed mainly for wilderness protection II. Area managed mainly for ecosystem protection/recreation III . Area managed mainly for conservation of specific natural features; often called a National Monument IV. Area managed mainly for conservation through management intervention V. Area managed mainly for land/seascape conservation and recreation VI. Area managed mainly for sustainable use of natural ecosystems Ref: http://www.wiomsa.org/mpatoolkit/Themesheets/A1_Types_and_categories_of_MPAs.pdf
  • 14. - The benefits that MPAs generate for the marine environment, fisheries and local communities include: a. Conservation of biodiversity and ecosystems b. Maintenance of genetic diversity c. Protects threatened or rare species and communities d. Broadens scientific knowledge and technology e. Conserves sites as a scientific baseline f. Conserves Cultural heritage g. Provides educational benefits and opportunities h. A source of sustainable tourism Ref - Australian Government – Department of the Environment
  • 15. - CI and its partners are helping to establish MPAs all over the world: From the vast Phoenix Islands Protected Area (PIPA) of Kiribati in the South Pacific to community reserves of Indonesia’s Raja Ampat region, conserving important marine biodiversity is helping protect fish resources while benefiting people by improving livelihoods and food security 
  • 16. Another form of protection that is afforded the marine environment are marine reserves. These fit under the MPA umbrella and are often referred to as ‘no-take’ zones - Marine reserves are areas of the ocean where no extraction is permitted of any kind and this includes the harming of plants or animals - Over the past two decades they have become a much more important tool for protecting the marine environment
  • 17. - Marine reserves tend to be set up for conservation purposes but there is now interest as a tool for managing fisheries. The aim is to increase the abundance and diversity of marine life - Over the last 10 years there has been exponential growth seen in scientific studies within marine reserves; studies in 124 marine reserves in over 29 worldwide nations and territories - The research has been broad focusing on such things as: species’ response to protection and the design of reserve networks that can minimize costs to users of ocean resources Refs: www.eoearth.org; www.piscoweb.org
  • 18. - The results show that the changes within marine reserves have been mostly positive - A global view has shown the following in seaweeds, invertebrates, and fishes: a. Biomass increased by an average of 446% b. Plants or animal numbers in a given area increased by an average of 166% c. Animal body size increased by an average of 28% d. The number of different species increased by an average of 21% (PISCO – The Science of Marine Reserves, 2007)
  • 19. - Two recent worldwide examples marine reserves networks; the channel islands off the coast of CA, and the Great Barrier Reef in Australia - Both drew a large amount of attention due to the size and comprehensiveness of the protection the networks provided and the fact that they were the first large scale network of marine reserves - In summary, the effects of marine reserves has a positive influence on both species abundance and diversity and consistently achieves both Ref: (Halpern et al, Marine Reserves, 2008)
  • 20. Recent literature that illustrates the benefits of intact oceans Lets now look at a handful of recent publications that help to demonstrate intact oceans are beneficial to species diversity and abundance, climate change etc. - The first was in Science “Rebuilding Global Fisheries” Worm et al. came out in July 2009 - Marine ecosystem restoration and the rebuilding of fisheries are under way following long term overexploitation. The paper analyzes current trends from a fisheries and conservation perspective
  • 21. - Marine ecosystems are currently subjected to a range of exploitation rates - 63% of assessed worldwide fish stocks require rebuilding; even lower exploitation rates are required to reverse vulnerable species collapse - This highlights the need for a global perspective on rebuilding marine resources
  • 22. - Exploitation rates in some regions have diminished through management action. However, without further reductions many stocks will remain collapsed - In the paper, ecosystems examined accounted for <25% of world fisheries area and catch, and of those <50% were lightly -> moderately fished and rebuilding ecosystems - In protected areas covering <1% of the worldwide ocean, similar recovery trends have been seen Together these examples provide hope that despite history, marine ecosystems can still recover if a substantial reduction in exploitation rates takes place
  • 23. - In fisheries science; there is a growing consensus that the exploitation rate that achieves maximum sustainable yield should not be a management target but instead re-interpreted as an upper limit This requires overall reductions in exploitation rates, achieved through a range of management tools; however, finding the best tool depends on the local context - A combination of traditional approaches (catch quotas, community management) in concert with strategically placed fishing closures, ocean zones, selective fishing gear, and economic incentives gives hope to marine fisheries and ecosystem restoration
  • 24. - In science, new cooperation of fisheries scientists and conservation biologists sharing the best data, and bridging disciplines, will help to inform and improve ecosystem management
  • 25. - Another recent paper is “A Global Map of Human Impact on Marine Ecosystems” Halpern et al - It focuses on the fact that conservation and management of the oceans of the world requires the synthesis of spatial data on the distribution and intensity of human activities in reference to the overlap of these impacts on the marine ecosystems
  • 26. - As human populations rise, their needs and demands upon the world’s oceans will grow - The approach of this paper provides a structured framework to quantify the ecological tradeoffs that are associated with the various human uses of marine ecosystems - They focus on locations and strategies that help to reduce ecological impacts and to maintain sustainable uses - Applications for this analytical framework can be used in both a local and regional context where data is more plentiful and with species diversity and distribution data; could help identify hot spots which possess high biodiversity but are highly impacted by human use. These areas could then become conservation priorities
  • 27. - Another recent report of note focuses on how healthy oceans are the new key to combating climate change - The report is an inter-agency collaboration led by the United Nation’s Environment Program (UNEP) and is entitled “Blue Carbon – The Role of Healthy Oceans in Binding Carbon” Nellemann et al. - This high profile rapid response assessment focuses upon the oceans and their ecosystems and the critical role they play in the global carbon cycle - Of all biological or green carbon that is captured worldwide, over half is done so by marine organisms, and thus is termed, ‘blue carbon’
  • 28. - Its estimated that an amount equivalent to 50% of the total CO 2 released by the worldwide transportation sector is being captured and stored by blue carbon sinks and estuaries - Reducing deforestation of tropical forests in concert with the restoration of the coverage and health of these marine ecosystems could mitigate emissions by 25% - The role of the oceans in the global carbon cycle is significant. They represent the largest long-term carbon sink and store and redistribute CO 2 . >90% of the earth’s CO 2 is stored and cycled through the oceans
  • 29. - The ocean’s vegetated habitats in particular; mangroves, seagrasses and saltmarshes cover <0.5% of the seabed yet these blue carbon sinks are responsible for 50-70% of all carbon stored in the ocean sediments - The rate of loss of these climate-combating marine ecosystems is the highest on the planet; further degradation needs to be prevented and recovery needs to take place - Loss of the blue carbon sinks and their role in managing the effects of climate change and providing food security creates a real threat - However, it remains difficult to get the marine environment on the global agenda and highlighting the importance of an integrated management plan for coastal and marine environments
  • 30. A number of key options in the report were proposed: a. The establishment of a global blue carbon fund b. Protect >80% of remaining salt marshes, seagrass meadows and mangrove forests through immediate effective management c. Reduce and remove threats which promote rapid recovery potential of blue carbon sink communities through the initiation of management practices d. Implement ecosystem approaches that are both comprehensive and integrated to increase the resilience of humans and natural systems to changes. These will help to maintain food and livelihood securities e. For the ocean-based sectors, implement win-win mitigation strategies such as preventing any activities that diminish the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon
  • 31. Another recent paper of note is; “Dynamic marine protected areas can improve the resilience of coral reef systems”; Game et al.
    • This focuses on MPA’s and whether there are benefits of adopting dynamic closures which moves the reserves over time and steers away from leaving them as static closed areas
    - The theoretical analysis looked at whether the mean biomass of herbivorous fish on coral reef systems can be improved through these dynamic closures, and effectively enhancing resilience to unwanted phase shifts
  • 32. - At current reservation levels (10-30%) it was determined that moving protection between all reefs in a system would likely not improve herbivorous biomass; however, it could lead to a more even biomass distribution - If protected areas are rotated among a subset of the entire system e.g. the rotation of 10 protected areas between only 20 reefs in a 100 reef system, then these types of closures always lead to increased mean herbivore biomass - Overall these types of systems may offer much to societies willing to tolerate high levels of protection if they are dynamically managed allowing less permanent exclusion. With current coral reef threats, it would seem that dynamic closures deserve further attention
  • 33. - The final paper to focus on is entitled “In the Zone Comprehensive Ocean Protection” Kappel et al. - It looks at how comprehensive ecosystem-based zoning could address critical problems with US ocean policy - It could provide a mechanism for coordinated ocean uses management that incorporates cumulative effects of multiple human uses
  • 34. - In the US, advocates are calling for this type of zoning – a form of ecosystem-based management where different zones are designated for different uses - This would help to separate incompatible activities, reduce conflict, and help to conserve ecosystems that are vulnerable to potential stressors - Thanks to the development of a new tool which is already guiding ecosystem-based management; managers are now able to assess, visualize and monitor cumulative effects - The resulting maps show the cumulative human impacts and highlight areas of ocean that are over-taxed and shows the need for careful zoning
  • 35. Refer to figure 1 from journal article: “A Global Map of Human Impact of Marine Ecosystems” Featured on page 949 of science Vol 319 - 15 Feb 2008
  • 36. - This framework moves managers towards the assessment of multiple sectors at the same time and avoids ad-hoc approaches: - Three recommendations come from this work: a. Repeatable and systematic data integration on multiple combined effects provides a means to measure ocean conditions against time and evaluate protection and restoration plans and proposed development b. As human uses of the ocean are wide-ranging, the cumulative effects on the marine ecosystems within the US EEZ can and must be dealt with through marine spatial planning c. Protection of any relatively pristine ecosystems in U.S. waters should be a priority
  • 37. Thank you.