Eight urgent, fundamental and simultaneous steps needed to restore ocean health, and the consequences for humanity and the planet of inaction or delay

The ocean crisis is urgent and central to human wellbeing and life on Earth; past and current activities are damaging the planet’s main life support system for future generations. We are witnessing an increase in ocean heat, disturbance, acidification, bio‐invasions and nutrients, and reducing oxygen levels. Several of these act like ratchets: once detrimental or negative changes have occurred, they may lock in place and may not be reversible, especially at gross ecological and ocean process scales.

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 impact on Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystem: the current state of knowledge.

Global warming is already affecting the oceans through changes in water temperature, acidification, oxygen content and sea level rise, amongst many others. These changes are having multiple effects on marine species worldwide, with subsequent impacts on marine fisheries, peoples’ livelihoods and food security.

Illicit trade in the marine resources of West Africa

The goals of this paper are threefold. First, it quantitatively and qualitatively determines the economic and social cost of illicit trade in marine resources of West Africa. Second, the paper discusses the channels and scale of illicit trade in fish and fish products. Third, the economic loss and impacts from illicit trade are determined and policy options for curbing this trade suggested. We found substantial effects of illicit trade in the marine resources of West Africa, in terms of economic impact (defined as the added value through the fish value chain generated from the revenues earned from fishing), income, jobs and tax revenue impacts. For instance, the region as a whole is estimated to be losing economic and income impacts of nearly US$1,950 million and US$593 million, per year, respectively.

In political seas: engaging with political ecology in the ocean and coastal environment

The world’s oceans and coasts are awash in a sea of politics. The marine environment is increasingly busy, changing, and a site of degradation, marginalization, injustice, contestation and conflict over declining resources and occupied spaces at local to global scales. Themes of political ecology, such as power and politics, narratives and knowledge, scale and history, environmental justice and equity, are thus salient issues to understand in ocean and coastal governance and management. This subject review examines research on these themes of political ecology in the ocean and coastal environment and reflects on how the insights gained might be applied to governance and management. Political ecology provides important insights into: the influence of power in ocean management and governance processes; the manner in which narratives, knowledge, and scale are used to legitimize and shape policies and management efforts; the effects of historical trajectories on present circumstances, options, and practices; and the nature of inequities and environmental injustices that can occur in the marine environment. Moreover, ocean and coastal researchers, practitioners, and decision makers ought to engage with the political processes and injustices occurring in the ocean. Moving from critical insights to constructive engagements will ensure that political ecology helps to plant seeds of hope in the Anthropocene ocean.

Establishing company level fishing revenue and profit losses from fisheries: A bottom-up approach

A third of global fish stocks are overexploited and many are economically underperforming, resulting in potential unrealized net economic benefits of USD 51 to 83 billion annually. However, this aggregate view, while useful for global policy discussion, may obscure the view for those actors who engage at a regional level. Therefore, we develop a method to associate large companies with their fishing operations and evaluate the biological sustainability of these operations. We link current fish biomass levels and landings to the revenue streams of the companies under study to compute potentially unrealized fisheries revenues and profits at the level of individual firms. We illustrate our method using two case studies: anchoveta (Engraulis ringens; Engraulidae) in Peru and menhaden in the USA (Brevoortia patronus and B. tyrannus;Clupeidae). We demonstrate that both these fisheries could potentially increase their revenues compared to the current levels of exploitation. We estimate the net but unrealized fishery benefits for the companies under question. This information could be useful to investors and business owners who might want to be aware of the actual fisheries performance options of the companies they invest in.

Potential impacts of finfish aquaculture on eelgrass (Zostera marina) beds and possible monitoring metrics for management: a case study in Atlantic Canada

Eelgrass (Zostera marina) has been designated an Ecologically Significant Species in Atlantic Canada. The development and rapid expansion of netpen finfish aquaculture into sensitive coastal habitats has raised concerns about the impacts of finfish aquaculture on eelgrass habitats. To date, no studies have been done in Atlantic Canada to examine these impacts or to identify potential monitoring variables that would aid in the development of specific conservation and management objectives. As a first step in addressing this gap, we examined differences in environmental variables, eelgrass bed structure and macroinfauna communities at increasing distances from a finfish farm in Port Mouton Bay, a reference site in adjacent Port Joli Bay, and published survey results from other sites without finfish farms along the Atlantic Coast of Nova Scotia. Drawing on research done elsewhere and our results, we then identified possible metrics for assessing and monitoring local impacts of finfish aquaculture on eelgrass habitats. Our results suggest some nutrient and organic enrichment, higher epiphyte loads, lower eelgrass cover and biomass, and lower macroinfauna biomass closer to the farm. Moreover, community structure significantly differed between sites with some species increasing and others decreasing closer to the farm. Changes in the macroinfauna community could be linked to observed differences in environmental and eelgrass bed variables. These results provide new insights into the potential impacts of finfish aquaculture on eelgrass habitats in Atlantic Canada. We recommend a suite of measures for assessment and monitoring that take into account response time to disturbance and account for different levels of eelgrass organizational response (from physiological to community).

Shared stocks and fisheries subsidies disciplines: definitions, catches, and revenues.

This information note sets out how the distinction between shared and non-shared fish stocks has been drawn in the academic literature and what the potential implications are of such distinctions within the context of subsidy disciplines and multilateral fisheries subsidies negotiations at the World Trade Organization.

The future of fishes and fisheries in the changing oceans

This paper aims to highlight the risk of climate change on coupled marine human and natural systems and explore possible solutions to reduce such risk. Specifically, it explores some of the key responses of marine fish stocks and fisheries to climate change and their implications for human society. It highlights the importance of mitigating carbon emission and achieving the Paris Agreement in reducing climate risk on marine fish stocks and fisheries. Finally, it discusses potential opportunities for helping fisheries to reduce climate threats, through local adaptation. A research direction in fish biology and ecology is proposed that would help support the development of these potential solutions.

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