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Capture of pregnant sharks, skates, and rays can induce abortion

In this MarXiv Summary audio-edition, we interview Kye Adams about his recent research which shows that fishing capture of pregnant elasmobranchs (sharks, skates, and rays) can cause these animals to abort their young. The findings suggest that gear restrictions and seasonal closures around the breeding season might be warranted in areas where endangered elasmobranchs are prevalent.

To be found on the internet, try framing ocean conservation issues around ‘sustainability’

Mass media can help share environmental messages and inform audiences about public policy decisions that might otherwise only be known to those in the industry. The authors sought to determine how much marine-related news was being covered in the Chilean media: namely broadcast television, newspapers, and internet searches. The results indicated rather limited coverage of marine issues in the country. For some topics that were widely disseminated, through, positive public policy changes were implemented. This demonstrates the power of the press in the country and the importance of these issues reaching a wider audience.

Women are often overlooked in ocean governance

The authors offer a short review of gendered issues in ocean governance, here defined as "the political, social, economic, and administrative systems and related formal and informal institutional arrangements involved in the management of natural resources."

Aquaculture farms can have many, highly-variable impacts on nearby wildlife

Aquaculture farms have the potential to impact nearby wildlife in a number of ways: an individual study alone would be unable to measure all the impacts. So the authors performed a meta-analysis and review of the scientific literature, examining over 9000 research papers published through November 2017, to determine the consensus on both positive and negative impacts from aquaculture farms.

Determining an acceptable number of cruise ships in a US national park based on incidents of ship-strikes with whales

While national parks in the US are intended to conserve natural resources for the public to enjoy, those visitors can negatively impact resources: vehicles may collide with and kill wildlife; traffic can contribute to noise, water, and air pollution; human waste must be removed, etc. When these impacts are sufficiently large to threaten the sustainability of the resource, mangers should curtail the activities because it runs counter to the conservation mandate. However, when these impacts are smaller, managers must decide the impact level at which to curtail visitor volume or activities, which runs counter to the visitation mandate. The authors use the example of cruise-ship strikes with humpback whales in Glacier Bay National Park as a case study for this type of use-impact trade-off and the difficult decisions it creates.

In some situations, simpler models can produce better forecasts

Big data is in fashion these days, especially for modelling ecosystems in ocean science. But how much data do you really need? And does adding more data, and building more complex models, actually give you better results? To find out, the authors used the case of kelp forests on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Their results show how, depending on the objective, simpler models can actually be better.

Determining historical distribution patterns of fur seals to aid management efforts in the Southern Ocean

Determining how species distributions have changed due to human activity can be difficult without robust historical records. In the absence of such data, species distribution models can be used to predict where a species might have lived based on the environmental variables that support the species. The authors used satellite data of the Southern Ocean to predict the historical distribution patterns of Antarctic fur seals within the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to aid management efforts in the region.

Environmental stewardship contributes more to the Massachusetts economy than whale watching, fin-fish fisheries

Commercial fishery interests and other extractive industries typically dominate discussions for environmental decision-making for the oceans and coasts. These industries can claim millions of dollars in benefits to local communities by simply adding up their sales. But there are lots of other coastal activities with less visible economic impacts. How can the economic benefits of marine stewardship and conservation activities be estimated? The authors used donations to coastal and marine civil society organizations, and volunteer efforts, to provide a conservative estimate the economic benefits provided to the state.

Lessons from fisheries industry-led data collection efforts in the UK

With many fisheries management organizations operating with lean budgets, finding funding to collect necessary data on how to properly manage fisheries can be difficult; let alone fill gaps in existing data collection efforts. In some instances in the UK, fishers have begun data collection projects of their own. To understand the reasoning behind and effectiveness of these projects, the authors investigated case studies engaging commercial fisheries with industry-led data collection efforts to supplement existing data sources.