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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.

Stranded capital: environmental stewardship is part of the economy, too

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.

Fewer young people are joining small-scale fishery co-ops in Chile

Chile is known for important work on their Territorial User Rights Fishery (TURF). Back in the 90s, the government enacted policies to give small-scale fishers more control over fisheries management. To participate in the TURF system, fishers join licensed fishery associations called caletas. Children of TURF members typically join the same caletas as their family. However, this is starting to change as fewer young people follow in their parents’ footsteps.

Perception is everything: how people see ecosystem services can guide management and modeling efforts

People's perceptions of the world around them can be quite different from reality. Other times, perceptions may be the only source of information if robust scientific data collection has not occured. Knowing what people perceive about their environment can be a useful tool for managers: one could determine where restoration efforts need to be focused, or if more communication and outreach efforts are needed to correct misinformation.

In data-limited situations, stakeholder advice can help shore-up your conservation solutions

In areas without robust surveys of species distributions, proxies are often used to estimate where marine flora and fauna reside. The authors tested a number of environmental proxies to see how well they could be used to predict both the distribution and abundance of species, using the Solitary Islands Marine Park in south-eastern Australia as a case study. Merging the outputs from both species- and habitat-oriented models with stakeholder advice is likely the best bet for planning conservation actions in data-limited situations.

Recreational uses might predict who's against desalination plants, and why

The authors of this study sought to find “if perceived threats to the local marine environment and marine activities influenced the degree of support for the desalination facility” in the small, coastal town of Carlsbad, California, USA. 1500 questionnaires were mailed out to random residents of the town in 2015, with a 25% response rate. “The questionnaire included closed questions about the importance of the marine ecosystem, concerns about impacts of the plant on marine areas in California and in Carlsbad, the importance of mitigation measures to reduce impacts on marine areas, and trust in organizations to implement mitigation measures”, in addition to demographic data and how often respondents engaged in marine activities.

Drones can monitor beach litter 40x faster than people

Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), colloquially known as drones, could offer a much faster and efficient monitoring process. The authors present a methodology for using drones to take pictures of beaches, and then using machine learning techniques to automatically count and categorize litter in these photos. Ideally, this methodology would take just one trained individual a few minutes to sample an entire beach.

Even in the remote South Pacific, fish are eating plastic – and so are the people who eat those fish

Plastics are universally associated with pollutants. Chemicals like bisphenol-A (BPA) and phthalates are commonly bonded to plastics during manufacturing. Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and other persistent organic pollutants (POPs) often adsorb onto plastics from surrounding waters when they are released into the ocean. Fish have been shown to ingest plastic and integrate these adsorbed pollutants into their tissues. Since fish are commonly served for human consumption, there are potential risks to human health and development from eating contaminated fish.

Marine ecosystems will soon start to feel the effects of climate change

The effects of climate change can be perceived when the signal of human-altered climate is louder than the noise of natural climatic variations. The point at which the signal outweighs the noise is called the time of emergence (TOE). If the signal of climate-change is predicted to be statistically greater than the noise in, for example, 20 years, you would say the TOE is 20 years. In this example, in 20 years from now, one would be expected to legitimately notice an altered climate. Using climate models under a high-emission scenario, the authors predicted the TOE for perceivable changes in temperature and precipitation for a variety of both marine and terrestrial habitats, and major population centers.