Threats and vision for the conservation of Galápagos birds.

Threats that affect the avian diversity on the Galápagos Islands are increasing. We evaluated threats such as climate change and severe weather, human intrusions and disturbance, biological resource use, invasive and other problematic species, genes and diseases, pollution, geological events and loss of genetic diversity in relation with avian species enlisted in both the international and national (Ecuador) IUCN Red List, which can be used as sentinel species of the ecosystem. Here, the status of the threatened species for the next ten years (present time up to 2028), under two scenarios, including the status quo and the avian diversity vision for the species’ conservation, was assessed.

Projected amplification of food web bioaccumulation of MeHg and PCBs under climate change in the Northeastern Pacific

Climate change increases exposure and bioaccumulation of pollutants in marine organisms, posing substantial ecophysiological and ecotoxicological risks. Here, we applied a trophodynamic ecosystem model to examine the bioaccumulation of organic mercury (MeHg) and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a Northeastern Pacific marine food web under climate change. We found largely heterogeneous sensitivity in climate-pollution impacts between chemicals and trophic groups. Concentration of MeHg and PCBs in top predators, including resident killer whales, is projected to be amplified by 8 and 3%, respectively, by 2100 under a high carbon emission scenario (Representative Concentration Pathway 8.5) relative to a no-climate change control scenario.

Massive Chinese fleet jeopardizes threatened shark species around the Galápagos Marine Reserve and waters off Ecuador: implications for national and international fisheries policy. (Editorial)

Being a UNESCO-World Heritage Site, the Galápagos harbors the largest global shark biomass in the world’s oceans and a unique marine biodiversity. However, the waters around the Galapagos Islands have regularly been susceptible to fishing assaults by local and foreign industrial fleets, including Colombian, Costa Rican, Japanese, Taiwanese and Korean, which have illegally practiced shark fining, i.e. the wasteful practice of removing of dorsal, pelvic and pectoral fins from sharks. In 2001, the Galápagos National Park seized a Costa Rican vessel with > 1000 shark fins, killing at least 200 sharks, while an Ecuadorian vessel containing a total of 379 sharks from seven shark species was seized by the Ecuadorian Navy and Galápagos National Park in 2011. This has now obviously become a persistent, problem within and around the Galápagos Marine Reserve (GMR), evoking a classic case of the “Tragedy of the Commons”. The removal of high tropic level fish and marine predators such as groupers, dolphin fish, marlins, tuna and sharks can cause severe trophic cascade effects in the Galápagos marine ecosystem with serious consequences to the socio-economic welfare of Galápagos and Ecuador’s coastal small-scale fishing communities.

Fukushima-derived radioactivity measurements in Pacific salmon and soil samples collected in British Columbia, Canada

Despite the many studies that have shown minimal health risks to individuals living outside of Japan following the Fukushima Nuclear Accident, there are persisting concerns regarding the consumption of Pacific seafood that may be contaminated with radioactive species from Fukushima. To address these concerns, the activity concentrations of anthropogenic 134Cs and 137Cs, as well as naturally occurring 40K, were measured in Pacific salmon collected from Kilby Provincial Park, British Columbia (BC), in 2013 and from the Quesnel River, BC, in 2014 using low-background gamma-ray spectroscopy.

Mitigating cetacean bycatch in coastal Ecuador: governance challenges for small-scale fisheries.

Bycatch of marine fauna by small-scale (artisanal) fisheries is an important anthropogenic mortality source to several species of cetaceans, including humpback whales and odontocetes, in Ecuador’s marine waters. Long-term monitoring actions and varied conservation efforts have been conducted by non-governmental organizations along the Ecuadorian coast, pointing toward the need for a concerted mitigation plan and actions to hamper cetaceans’ bycatch. Nevertheless, little has currently been done by the government and regional authorities to address marine mammal interactions with fisheries in eastern Pacific Ocean artisanal fisheries. This study provides a review of Ecuador’s current status concerning cetacean bycatch, and explores the strengths and weaknesses of past and current programs aiming to tackle the challenges of bycatch mitigation. To bolster our appraisal of the policies, a synthesis of fishers’ perceptions of the bycatch problem is presented in concert with recommendations for fostering fishing community-based conservation practices integrated with policies to mitigate cetacean bycatch. Our appraisal, based upon the existing literature, indicates a situation of increasing urgency. Taking into consideration the fishers’ perceptions and attitudes, fisheries governance in Ecuador should draw inspiration from a truly bottom-up, participatory framework based on stakeholder engagement processes; if it is based on a top-down, regulatory approach, it is less likely to succeed. To carry out this process, a community-based conservation programs to provide conditions for empowering fishing communities is recommend. This would serve as an initial governance framework for fishery policy for conserving marine mammals while maximizing the economic benefits from sustainable small-scale fisheries in Ecuador.

Tropical pinnipeds: bio-ecology, threats and conservation.

Pinnipeds are a fascinating group of marine mammals that play a crucial role as apex predators and sentinels of the functioning and health of marine ecosystems. They are found in the most extreme environments from the Polar regions to the tropics. Pinnipeds are comprised of about 34 species, and of those at least 25% live permanently in tropical zones. This book reviews and updates current research on the biology, marine ecology, bio-monitoring, and conservation of tropical pinniped populations, including their behavior, anthropogenic stressors, and health. It also looks at challenges to be faced for the conservation of tropical pinnipeds, many of which are threatened species.

Climate change-contaminant interactions in marine food webs: towards a conceptual framework.

Climate change is reshaping the way in which contaminants move through the global environment, in large part by changing the chemistry of the oceans and affecting the physiology, health and feeding ecology of marine biota. Climate change-associated impacts on structure and function of marine food webs, with consequent changes in contaminant transport, fate and effects, is likely to have significant repercussions to those human populations that rely on fisheries resources for food, recreation or culture. Published studies on climate change-contaminant interactions with a focus on food web bioaccumulation were systematically reviewed to explore how climate change and ocean acidification may impact contaminant levels in marine food webs. We propose here a conceptual framework to illustrate the impacts of climate change on contaminant accumulation in marine food webs, as well as the downstream consequences for ecosystem goods and services. The potential impacts on social and economic security for coastal communities that depend on fisheries for food are discussed.

Pipelines imperil Canada’s ecosystem.

On 28 September 2016, the Canadian government approved what could become one of Canada’s largest CO2 emitters, the Petronas Pacific Northwest Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal project at the mouth of the Skeena River estuary in British Columbia. The Skeena River is Canada’s second-largest salmon producer, and First Nation communities rely on it.