- Award ID(s):
- NSF-PAR ID:
- Date Published:
- Journal Name:
- Biological conservation
- Medium: X
- Sponsoring Org:
- National Science Foundation
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Uncertainties about the magnitude of bycatch in poorly assessed fisheries impede effective conservation management. In northern Peru, small-scale fisheries (SSF) bycatch negatively impacts marine megafauna populations and the livelihoods of fishers which is further elevated by the under-reporting of incidents. Within the last decade, accounts of entangled humpback whales (HBW) ( Megaptera novaeangliae ) off the northern coast of Peru have increased, while Eastern Pacific leatherback turtles (LBT) ( Dermochelys coriacea ) have seen over a 90% decline in nesting populations related in large part to bycatch mortality. By leveraging the experience and knowledge of local fishers, our research objectives were to use a low-cost public participation mapping approach to provide a spatio-temporal assessment of bycatch risk for HBW and LBT off two Peruvian fishing ports. We used an open-source, geographic information systems (GIS) model, the Bycatch Risk Assessment (ByRA), as our platform. Broadly, ByRA identifies high bycatch risk areas by estimating the intersection of fishing areas (i.e., stressors) with species habitat and evaluating the exposure and consequence of possible interaction between the two. ByRA outputs provided risk maps and gear risk percentages categorized as high, medium, and low for the study area and seven subzones for HBW in the austral winter and LBT in the austral summer. Overall, the highest bycatch risk for both species was identified within gillnet fisheries near the coast. Bycatch risk for most gear types decreased with distance from the coast. When we separated the ByRA model by port, our map outputs indicate that bycatch management should be port specific, following seasonal and spatial variations for HBW, and specific fishing gear impacts for HBW and LBT. Combined with direct bycatch mitigation techniques, ByRA can be a supportive and informative tool for addressing specific bycatch threats and marine megafauna conservation goals. ByRA supports a participatory framework offering rapid visual information via risk maps and replicable methods for areas with limited resources and data on fisheries and species habitat.more » « less
Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are being implemented worldwide, yet there are few cases where managers make specific predictions of the response of previously harvested populations to MPA implementation.
Such predictions are needed to evaluate whether MPAs are working as expected, and if not, why. This evaluation is necessary to perform adaptive management, identifying whether and when adjustments to management might be necessary to achieve MPA goals.
Using monitoring data and population models, we quantified expected responses of targeted species to MPA implementation and compared them to monitoring data.
The model required two factors to explain observed responses in MPAs: (a) pre‐MPA harvest rates, which can vary at local spatial scales, and (b) recruitment variability before and after MPA establishment. Low recruitment years before MPA establishment in our study system drove deviations from expected equilibrium population size distributions and introduced an additional time lag to response detectability.
Synthesis and applications. We combined monitoring data and population models to show how (a) harvest rates prior to Marine Protected Area (MPA) implementation, (b) variability in recruitment, and (c) initial population size structure determine whether a response to MPA establishment is detectable. Pre‐MPA harvest rates across MPAs plays a large role in MPA response detectability, demonstrating the importance of measuring this poorly known parameter. While an intuitive expectation is for response detectability to depend on recruitment variability and stochasticity in population trajectories after MPA establishment, we address the overlooked role of recruitment variability before MPA establishment, which alters the size structure at the time of MPA establishment. These factors provide MPA practitioners with reasons whether or not MPAs may lead to responses of targeted species. Our overall approach provides a framework for a critical step of adaptive management.
Coll, Marta (Ed.)Abstract The efficacy of marine protected areas (MPAs) may be reduced when climate change disrupts the ecosystems and human communities around which they are designed. The effects of ocean warming on MPA functioning have received attention but less is known about how multiple climatic stressors may influence MPAs efficacy. Using a novel dataset incorporating 8.8 million oceanographic observations, we assess exposure to potentially stressful temperatures, dissolved oxygen concentrations, and pH levels across the California MPA network. This dataset covers more than two-thirds of California’s 124 MPAs and multiple biogeographic domains. However, spatial-temporal and methodological patchiness constrains the extent to which systematic evaluation of exposure is possible across the network. Across a set of nine well-monitored MPAs, the most frequently observed combination of stressful conditions was hypoxic conditions (<140 umol/kg) co-occurring with low pH (<7.75). Conversely, MPAs exposed most frequently to anomalously warm conditions were less likely to experience hypoxia and low pH, although exposure to hypoxia varied throughout the 2014–2016 marine heatwaves. Finally, we found that the spatial patterns of exposure to hypoxia and low pH across the MPA network remained stable across years. This multiple stressor analysis both confirms and challenges prior hypotheses regarding MPA efficacy under global environmental change.more » « less
Marine protected areas (MPAs) have gained attention as a conservation tool for enhancing ecosystem resilience to climate change. However, empirical evidence explicitly linking MPAs to enhanced ecological resilience is limited and mixed. To better understand whether MPAs can buffer climate impacts, we tested the resistance and recovery of marine communities to the 2014–2016 Northeast Pacific heatwave in the largest scientifically designed MPA network in the world off the coast of California, United States. The network consists of 124 MPAs (48 no‐take state marine reserves, and 76 partial‐take or special regulation conservation areas) implemented at different times, with full implementation completed in 2012. We compared fish, benthic invertebrate, and macroalgal community structure inside and outside of 13 no‐take MPAs across rocky intertidal, kelp forest, shallow reef, and deep reef nearshore habitats in California's Central Coast region from 2007 to 2020. We also explored whether MPA features, including age, size, depth, proportion rock, historic fishing pressure, habitat diversity and richness, connectivity, and fish biomass response ratios (proxy for ecological performance), conferred climate resilience for kelp forest and rocky intertidal habitats spanning 28 MPAs across the full network. Ecological communities dramatically shifted due to the marine heatwave across all four nearshore habitats, and MPAs did not facilitate habitat‐wide resistance or recovery. Only in protected rocky intertidal habitats did community structure significantly resist marine heatwave impacts. Community shifts were associated with a pronounced decline in the relative proportion of cold water species and an increase in warm water species. MPA features did not explain resistance or recovery to the marine heatwave. Collectively, our findings suggest that MPAs have limited ability to mitigate the impacts of marine heatwaves on community structure. Given that mechanisms of resilience to climate perturbations are complex, there is a clear need to expand assessments of ecosystem‐wide consequences resulting from acute climate‐driven perturbations, and the potential role of regulatory protection in mitigating community structure changes.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are a key tool for achieving goals for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, including improving climate resilience and equitable access to nature. At a national level, they are central components in the U.S. commitment to conserve at least 30% of U.S. waters by 2030. By definition, the primary goal of an MPA is the long-term conservation of nature; however, not all MPAs provide the same ecological and social benefits. A U.S. system of MPAs that is equitable, well-managed, representative and connected, and includes areas at a level of protection that can deliver desired outcomes is best positioned to support national goals. We used a new MPA framework, The MPA Guide, to assess the level of protection and stage of establishment of the 50 largest U.S. MPAs, which make up 99.7% of the total U.S. MPA area (3.19 million km2). Over 96% of this area, including 99% of that which is fully or highly protected against extractive or destructive human activities, is in the central Pacific ocean. Total MPA area in other regions is sparse – only 1.9% of the U.S. ocean excluding the central Pacific is protected in any kind of MPA (120,976 km2). Over three quarters of the non-central Pacific MPA area is lightly or minimally protected against extractive or destructive human activities. These results highlight an urgent need to improve the quality, quantity, and representativeness of MPA protection in U.S. waters to bring benefits to human and marine communities. We identify and review the state of the science, including focal areas for achieving desired MPA outcomes and lessons learned from places where sound ecological and social design principles come together in MPAs that are set up to achieve national goals for equity, climate resilience, and biodiversity conservation. We recommend key opportunities for action specific to the U.S. context, including increasing funding, research, equity, and protection level for new and existing U.S. MPAs.