Fisheries subsidies wreck ecosystems, don’t bring them back

In a major policy reversal, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union are on the brink of lifting a ban from 2004 on subsidies for building new fishing vessels. Reintroducing these subsidies contravenes the international consensus to end them by 2020 in order to meet United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14.6.

Climate change impacts on marine biodiversity, fisheries and society in the Arabian Gulf.

Climate change–reflected in significant environmental changes such as warming, sea level rise, shifts in salinity, oxygen and other ocean conditions–is expected to impact marine organisms and associated fisheries. This study provides an assessment of the potential impacts on, and the vulnerability of, marine biodiversity and fisheries catches in the Arabian Gulf under climate change. To this end, using three separate niche modelling approaches under a ‘business-as-usual’ climate change scenario, we projected the future habitat suitability of the Arabian Gulf (also known as the Persian Gulf) for 55 expert-identified priority species, including charismatic and non-fish species. Second, we conducted a vulnerability assessment of national economies to climate change impacts on fisheries. The modelling outputs suggested a high rate of local extinction (up to 35% of initial species richness) by 2090 relative to 2010. Spatially, projected local extinctions are highest in the southwestern part of the Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While the projected patterns provided useful indicators of potential climate change impacts on the region’s diversity, the magnitude of changes in habitat suitability are more uncertain. Fisheries-specific results suggested reduced future catch potential for several countries on the western side of the Gulf, with projections differing only slightly among models. Qatar and the UAE were particularly affected, with more than a 26% drop in future fish catch potential. Integrating changes in catch potential with socio-economic indicators suggested the fisheries of Bahrain and Iran may be most vulnerable to climate change. We discuss limitations of the indicators and the methods used, as well as the implications of our overall findings for conservation and fisheries management policies in the region.

How just and just how? A systematic review of social equity in conservation research.

Background: Conservation decisions not only impact wildlife, habitat, and environmental health, but also human wellbeing and social justice. The inclusion of safeguards and equity considerations in the conservation field has increasingly garnered attention in international policy processes and amongst conservation practitioners. Yet, what constitutes an ‘equitable’ solution can take many forms, and how the concept is treated within conservation research is not standardized. This review explores how social equity is conceptualized and assessed in conservation research.

Investments to reverse biodiversity loss are economically beneficial

Reversing biodiversity loss by 2020 is the objective of the 193 countries that are party to the 43 global Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In this context, the Aichi Biodiversity 44 Targets 2020 were agreed upon by the CBD in Nagoya, Japan in 2010 and this was followed 45 by asking a high-level panel to make an assessment of the financial resources needed to 46 achieve these targets globally. First, we review the literature on the costs and benefits of 47 meeting the Aichi Targets.

An approach to assess learning conditions, effects and outcomes in environmental governance.

We empirically examine relationships among the conditions that enable learning, learning effects and sustainability outcomes based on experiences in four biosphere reserves in Canada and Sweden. In doing so, we provide a novel approach to measure learning and address an important methodological and empirical challenge in assessments of learning processes in decision-making contexts. Findings from this study highlight the effectiveness of different measures of learning, and how to differentiate the factors that foster learning with the outcomes of learning. Our approach provides a useful reference point for future empirical studies of learning in different environment, resource and sustainability settings.

Future marine ecosystem drivers, biodiversity, and fisheries maximum catch potential in Pacific Island countries and territories under climate change.

The increase in anthropogenic CO2 emissions over the last century has modified oceanic conditions, affecting marine ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide to society. Pacific Island countries and territories are highly vulnerable to these changes because of their strong dependence on ocean resources, high level of exposure to climate effects, and low adaptive capacity. Projections of mid-to-late 21st century changes in sea surface temperature (SST), dissolved oxygen, pH, and net primary productivity (NPP) were synthesized across the tropical Western Pacific under strong climate mitigation and business-as-usual scenarios. These projections were used to model impacts on marine biodiversity and potential fisheries catches. Results were consistent across three climate models, indicating that SST will rise by ≥ 3 °C, surface dissolved oxygen will decline by ≥ 0.01 ml L−1, pH will drop by ≥ 0.3, and NPP will decrease by 0.5 g m−2 d−1 across much of the region by 2100 under the business-as-usual scenario. These changes were associated with rates of local species extinction of > 50% in many regions as fishes and invertebrates decreased in abundance or migrated to regions with conditions more suitable to their bio-climate envelope. Maximum potential catch (MCP) was projected to decrease by > 50% across many areas, with the largest impacts in the western Pacific warm pool. Climate change scenarios that included strong mitigation resulted in substantial reductions of MCP losses, with the area where MCP losses exceeded 50% reduced from 74.4% of the region under business-as-usual to 36.0% of the region under the strong mitigation scenario.

Equity trade-offs in conservation decision making.

Conservation decisions increasingly involve multiple environmental and social objectives, which result in complex decision contexts with high potential for trade-offs. Improving social equity is one such objective that is often considered an enabler of successful outcomes and a virtuous ideal in itself. Despite its idealized importance in conservation policy, social equity is often highly simplified or ill-defined and is applied uncritically.

Large marine protected areas represent biodiversity now and under climate change.

Large marine protected areas (>30,000 km2) have a high profile in marine conservation, yet their contribution to conservation is contested. Assessing the overlap of large marine protected areas with 14,172 species, we found large marine protected areas cover 4.4% of the ocean and at least some portion of the range of 83.3% of the species assessed. Of all species within large marine protected areas, 26.9% had at least 10% of their range represented, and this was projected to increase to 40.1% in 2100. Cumulative impacts were significantly higher within large marine protected areas than outside, refuting the critique that they only occur in pristine areas. We recommend future large marine protected areas be sited based on systematic conservation planning practices where possible and include areas beyond national jurisdiction, and provide five key recommendations to improve the long-term representation of all species to meet critical global policy goals (e.g., Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets).