Doubly lucky: economic impact of the English Bay bunker oil spill of April 2015.

On the 8th and 9th of April, 2015, less than a month after leaving Japan on its maiden voyage, the M.V. Marathassa leaked approximately 2,700 litres of fuel oil into English Bay, the body of water adjacent to downtown Vancouver, Canada. Although investigations into the exact cause of the leak are still ongoing, mechanical issues are thought to have contributed. All beaches affected by the oil were reopened by the end of April, and fishing was permitted in areas that had been closed to recreational and commercial fishing by mid-May. Here, we present an estimation of the economic impacts of this oil spill on Metro Vancouver’s marine-related economic activities, including commercial fishing and tourism activities. Total economic losses to local businesses and organizations as a result of the spill have been estimated to amount to between $25,805 to $31,105 in lost revenue, and between $45,655 and $46,005 in lost profit.

Adaptation strategies to climate change in marine systems

The world’s oceans are highly impacted by climate change and other human pressures, with significant implications for marine ecosystems and the livelihoods that they support. Adaptation for both natural and human systems is increasingly important as a coping strategy due to the rate and scale of ongoing and potential future change. Here, we conduct a review of literature concerning specific case studies of adaptation in marine systems, and discuss associated characteristics and influencing factors, including drivers, strategy, timeline, costs, and limitations. We found ample evidence in the literature that shows that marine species are adapting to climate change through shifting distributions and timing of biological events, while evidence for adaptation through evolutionary processes is limited. For human systems, existing studies focus on frameworks and principles of adaptation planning, but examples of implemented adaptation actions and evaluation of outcomes are scarce. These findings highlight potentially useful strategies given specific social–ecological contexts, as well as key barriers and specific information gaps requiring further research and actions.

Impact of high seas closure on food security in low income fish dependent countries.

We investigate how high seas closure will affect the availability of commonly consumed food fish in 46 fish reliant, and/or low income countries. Domestic consumption of straddling fish species (fish that would be affected by high seas closure) occurred in 54% of the assessed countries. The majority (70%) of countries were projected to experience net catch gains following high seas closure. However, countries with projected catch gains and that also consumed the straddling fish species domestically made up only 37% of the assessed countries. In contrast, much fewer countries (25%) were projected to incur net losses from high seas closure, and of these, straddling species were used domestically in less than half (45%) of the countries. Our findings suggest that, given the current consumption patterns of straddling species, high seas closure may only directly benefit the supply of domestically consumed food fish in a small number of fish reliant and/or low income countries.

Transform high seas management to build climate resilience in marine seafood supply.

Climate change is projected to redistribute fisheries resources, resulting in tropical regions suffering decreases in seafood production. While sustainably managing marine ecosystems contributes to building climate resilience, these solutions require transformation of ocean governance. Recent studies and international initiatives suggest that conserving high seas biodiversity and fish stocks will have ecological and economic benefits; however, implications for seafood security under climate change have not been examined. Here, we apply global-scale mechanistic species distribution models to 30 major straddling fish stocks to show that transforming high seas fisheries governance could increase resilience to climate change impacts. By closing the high seas to fishing or cooperatively managing its fisheries, we project that catches in exclusive economic zones (EEZs) would likely increase by around 10% by 2050 relative to 2000 under climate change (representative concentration pathway 4.5 and 8.5), compensating for the expected losses (around −6%) from ‘business-as-usual’. Specifically, high seas closure increases the resilience of fish stocks, as indicated by a mean species abundance index, by 30% in EEZs. We suggest that improving high seas fisheries governance would increase the resilience of coastal countries to climate change.

Winners and losers in a world where the high seas is closed to fishing.

Fishing takes place in the high seas and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of maritime countries. Closing the former to fishing has recently been proposed in the literature and is currently an issue of debate in various international fora. We determine the degree of overlap between fish caught in these two areas of the ocean, examine how global catch might change if catches of straddling species or taxon groups increase within EEZs as a result of protection of adjacent high seas; and identify countries that are likely to gain or lose in total catch quantity and value following high-seas closure. We find that <0.01% of the quantity and value of commercial fish taxa are obtained from catch taken exclusively in the high seas, and if the catch of straddling taxa increases by 18% on average following closure because of spillover, there would be no loss in global catch. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, would decrease from 0.66 to 0.33. Thus, closing the high seas could be catch-neutral while inequality in the distribution of fisheries benefits among the world’s maritime countries could be reduced by 50%.