Skip to main content

Hope and doubt for the world’s marine ecosystems

In June 5–9, 2017, during the United Nations (UN) Ocean Conference, 143 governments, signatory parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) declared their commitment and strategies to reach several objectives of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 14, which stands to “conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development”.

Monitoring Coral Reefs from Space

Coral reefs are one of the world’s most biologically diverse and productive ecosystems. However, these valuable resources are highly threatened by human activities. Satellite remotely sensed observations enhance our understanding of coral reefs and some of the threats facing them by providing global spatial and time-series data on reef habitats and the environmental conditions influencing them in near-real time.

Remote Sensing and Modeling of Coral Reef Resilience

A new paradigm has emerged for management of coral reefs in an era of changing climate – managing for resilience. A fundamental need for such management to be effective is our ability to measure and map coral reef resilience. We review the resilience concept and factors that may make a coral reef more or less resilient to climate-driven impacts, and focus on recent advances in a trio of technologies – remote sensing, spatial distribution modeling, and ecosystem simulation – that promise to improve our ability to quantify coral reef resilience across reefs.

Adaptive marine conservation planning in the face of climate change: What can we learn from physiological, ecological and genetic studies?

Rapid anthropogenic climate change is a major threat to ocean biodiversity, increasing the challenge for marine conservation. Strategic conservation planning, and more recently marine spatial planning (MSP) are among the most promising management tools to operationalize and enforce marine conservation. As yet, climate change is seldom incorporated into these plans, potentially curtailing the effectiveness of designated conservation areas under novel environmental conditions.

Agreeing to disagree on what we have or have not agreed on: The current state of play of the BBNJ negotiations on the status of marine genetic resources in areas beyond national jurisdiction

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 69/292 has committed States to develop an international legally binding instrument under the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ). The instrument must address a ‘package deal’ including questions relating to access and benefit sharing in relation to marine genetic resources (‘MGRs’) in areas beyond national jurisdiction (‘ABNJ’).

A framework for understanding climate change impacts on coral reef social–ecological systems

Corals and coral-associated species are highly vulnerable to the emerging effects of global climate change. The widespread degradation of coral reefs, which will be accelerated by climate change, jeopardizes the goods and services that tropical nations derive from reef ecosystems. However, climate change impacts to reef social–ecological systems can also be bi-directional. For example, some climate impacts, such as storms and sea level rise, can directly impact societies, with repercussions for how they interact with the environment.

Climate change and the future for coral reef fishes

Climate change will impact coral-reef fishes through effects on individual performance, trophic linkages, recruitment dynamics, population connectivity and other ecosystem processes. The most immediate impacts will be a loss of diversity and changes to fish community composition as a result of coral bleaching. Coral-dependent fishes suffer the most rapid population declines as coral is lost; however, many other species will exhibit long-term declines due to loss of settlement habitat and erosion of habitat structural complexity.

The current application of ecological connectivity in the design of marine protected areas

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are an area-based conservation strategy commonly used to safeguard marine biodiversity and ecosystem services. Ecological connectivity governs the exchange of individuals among spatially fragmented habitats and is often highlighted as an important element in the design of MPAs. However, the degree to which measured or modelled representations of connectivity are applied to marine management decisions worldwide remains unclear.

Marine spatial planing and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act 1975: An evaluation

The Great Barrier Reef is internationally recognised for its natural and heritage value. Australian Government established the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park under the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Act, 1975. The Act provides a legal regime for the protection of the natural and heritage values of the Reef. The Act incorporated spatial zoning and Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) to achieve the objective of ecologically sustainable use and management. The Act applies many principles including Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) to achieve the objective.

Future Pacific Ocean managers: Scoping skills and knowledge needs

Formal education at the regional University of the South Pacific (USP) needs to continue to evolve in order to prepare students from Pacific Island countries (PICs) to meet future challenges as ocean managers. In this article we report on the findings of a scoping survey done with 30 USP students. The survey found high levels of satisfaction among undergraduates admitted directly from high school, but among students who had prior work experience there was less satisfaction.