Mapping the Global Distribution of Locally Generated Marine Ecosystem Services: The Case of the West and Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Fisheries

Ecosystem service maps are instrumental for the assessment and communication of the costs and benefits of human-nature interactions. This article in the journal Ecosystem Services proposes an integrated way of assessing and mapping global flows of marine ecosystem services. It proposes a conceptual framework that integrates ecosystem service provision principles with value chain analysis and human well-being assessment methods, while considering the spatial dimension of these components in ecosystem service mapping. It applies this framework to the case of seafood provision from purse seine tuna fisheries in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean. 

Measuring the Human “So What” of Large-Scale Coral Loss

Recent mass bleachings of coral reefs highlight the need to evaluate the human consequences of such large-scale coral damage—but scientists lack accurate, global, and empirical baseline data on the human dimensions of coral reefs. This article in Biodiversity explores this challenge.

When Ecosystems and Their Services Are Not Co-located: Oceans and Coasts

Local, regional, and global policies to manage protect and restore our oceans and coasts call for the inclusion of ecosystem services (ES) in policy-relevant research. Marine and coastal ES and the associated benefits to humans are usually assessed, quantified, and mapped at the ecosystem level to inform policy and decision-making. Yet those benefits may reach humans beyond the provisioning ecosystem, at the regional or even global level. Current efforts to map ES generated by a single ecosystem rarely consider the distribution of benefits beyond the ecosystem itself, especially at the regional or global level. This article in the ICES Journal of Marine Science elaborates on the concept of “extra-local” ES to refer to those ES-generating benefits that are enjoyed far from the providing ecosystem, focusing on the marine environment. 

Sustainable Ocean Economy, Innovation, and Growth: A G20 Initiative for the 7th Largest Economy in the World

The authors of this G20 Insights policy brief say that the G20 should initiate a global ocean governance process, and they call for ocean economy dialogues, strategies, and regional cooperation to ensure that investment and growth in ocean use become sustainable and reach their full potential. They note that the ocean is the largest and most critical ecosystem on Earth, with many interactions between the ocean Sustainable Development Goal (SDG14) and other SDGs. Though potentially the largest provider of food, materials, energy, and ecosystem services, the ocean is stressed by increasing demand for resources, technological advances, overfishing, climate change, pollution, biodiversity, and habitat loss. Moreover, inadequate stewardship and law enforcement are contributing to the ocean’s decline. As a standing agenda item for the G20, and with associated good governance, a sustainable ocean economy can improve the health and productivity of ocean ecosystems. 

Coral Reefs and People in a High CO2 World: Where Can Science Make a Difference to People?

Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere put shallow, warm-water coral reef ecosystems, and the people who depend upon them at risk from two key global environmental stresses: 1) elevated sea surface temperature that can cause coral bleaching and related mortality, and 2) ocean acidification. These rising CO2 levels may affect most of the world’s coral reefs and the populations which depend on them by 2050, according to a study the journal PLOS ONE. The study projects that countries in western Oceania would be amongst the first affected by CO2-driven coral reef stress, followed by Southeast Asian countries in the Coral Triangle such as Indonesia, which are highly dependent on coral reefs. 

Multiple Stressors and Ecological Complexity Require a New Approach to Coral Reef Research

Ocean acidification, climate change, and other environmental stressors threaten coral reef ecosystems and the people who depend upon them. New science reveals that these multiple stressors interact and may affect a multitude of physiological and ecological processes in complex ways. The interaction of multiple stressors and ecological complexity may mean that the negative effects on coral reef ecosystems will happen sooner and be more severe than previously thought. Yet, most research on the effects of global change on coral reefs focus on one or few stressors, pathways or outcomes. In the journal Frontiers in Marine Science, authors call for a regionally targeted strategy of mesocosm-level research that addresses this complexity and provides more realistic projections about coral reef impacts in the face of global environmental change.

Assessing the Economic Contribution of Marine and Coastal Ecosystem Services in the Sargasso Sea

This report, which was revised April 2015, provides a variety of measures of the Sargasso Sea’s economic value and impact, especially net and gross revenues associated with ecosystem services supported by the sea. It captures just a small portion of these services and does not reflect their complete and total net value. Yet analysis of data on even this small portion suggests that the economic importance of the Sargasso Sea is significant. Economic expenditures and revenues directly or potentially linked to that sea range from tens to hundreds of million of dollars a year.

Lessons Learned from an Ecosystem-Based Management Approach to Restoration of a California Estuary

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is the dominant paradigm, at least in theory, for coastal resource management. However, there are still relatively few case studies illustrating thorough application of principles of EBM by stakeholders and decision makers. This Marine Policy article details work done at Elkhorn Slough, a California estuary. There, stakeholders collaboratively developed and evaluated large-scale restoration alternatives designed to decrease two types of rapid habitat change occurring in the estuary, erosion of channels and dieback of salt marsh. In the end, decision makers rejected large-scale alternatives altering the mouth of the estuary, and instead opted for small- to medium-scale restoration projects and recommended an added emphasis on reduction of nutrient-loading. The article describes seven challenges encountered during the application of EBM principles.

Evaluating the Basic Elements of Transparency of Regional Fisheries Management Organizations

A new study in the journal Marine Policy examines, for the first time, the transparency of international fisheries management organisations operating on the high seas. Transparency is broadly recognized as an essential component of sustainable development and good governance, especially with regard to the management of natural resources. In order to develop a more secure investment environment and provide the public with knowledge of natural resource rents received by their governments, terrestrially-based standards such as the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative have been established to ensure greater fiscal transparency. The results that emerged from the study are mixed, highlighting a number of good and also weak practices. 

Signed Peer Reviews as a Means to Improve Scholarly Publishing

In a new article in the Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics, the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solution's Linwood Pendleton discusses peer review. Pendleton notes that peer review is necessary process with a long history of complaints, including over-solicitation of a small number of reviewers, delays, inadequate numbers of reviewers, and a lack of incentives to provide strong reviews or avoid reviews with little helpful information for the author. In the era of web-based distribution of research, through working paper or project reports, anonymous peer reviews are much less likely. The Journal of Ocean and Coastal Economics will use signed peer reviews and an open communication process among authors, reviewers, and editors. This approach, to be developed over time, should lead to stronger communication of research results for the journal's readers.