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Various Topics in Marine Conservation

Room: Boisdale     2014-08-18; 15:00 - 17:00

NB: Unless specified otherwise, presentations are 15 minutes in length, and speed presentations are 5 mins in length.

Chair(s)/Moderator(s): Boyd, Charlotte

C29.1  15:00  Retrospective analysis of U.S. Endangered Species Act listing decisions reveals consistent standards for extinction risk. Boyd, Charlotte *, Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service; Taylor, Barbara Southwest Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service;

Abstract: The Endangered Species Act (ESA) provides for the conservation of endangered and threatened species in the United States. The ESA is a powerful act — it is important that listing decisions are consistent, transparent, and scientifically and legally defensible. The ESA defines ‘endangered’ and ‘threatened’, but does not provide specific guidance on how these definitions should be interpreted. The purpose of the research presented here was to assess whether past listing decisions could be used to inform a set of standards with quantitative reference points to guide future listing decisions. We developed quantitative risk estimates for a range of marine and anadromous species, including marine mammals, birds, turtles, fishes, and invertebrates, based on data available at the time they were considered for listing under the ESA. We assessed how well predicted decisions based on IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Criterion E (quantitative analysis) compared with actual listing decisions. The results depend significantly on whether a critically-low population size threshold is incorporated into decision rules and how that threshold is set. We conclude that using standards based on past listing decisions to guide future decisions would promote consistency and transparency while allowing for arguments to be made for exceptions to those standards needed to accommodate the full range of factors that may contribute to endangered or threatened status.

C29.2  15:15  Are ship strikes sustainable for the population of sperm whales in the Canary Islands? Fais, A. *, Biología, Ecología Marina y Conservación (BIOECOMAC), Dept. Animal Biology, La Laguna University, Canary Islands, Spain.; Lewis, T indeterminate; Zitterbart, D Ocean Acoustics Lab, Alfred-Wegener-Institut Helmholtz-Zentrum für Polar- und Meeresforschung, Germany.; Martínez, O. Biología, Ecología Marina y Conservación (BIOECOMAC), Dept. Animal Biology, La Laguna University, Canary Islands, Spain.; Aguilar Soto, N. Biología, Ecología Marina y Conservación (BIOECOMAC), Dept. Animal Biology, La Laguna University, Canary Islands, Spain.;

Abstract: The Canary Islands have one of the highest rate of sperm whale ship strikes in the world. The archipelago fosters sperm whales year-round, and thus seem to be critical area for this species in the North Atlantic. Here we explore if the current rate of strike mortality is sustainable in the archipelago and propose mitigation measures. The abundance of sperm whales in a 52933 km² area, covering the territorial waters of the Canary Islands, was estimated using Distance sampling in a 2668 km long acoustic line-transect survey. Biologging data of sperm whale diving behaviour was used to calculate g(0)=0.92, improving the accuracy of the abundance estimation (220 CI 117-41 sperm whales in the study area). The minimum annual collision rate recorded in the Canary Islands likely exceeds the recruitment capability of this number of whales. We found the same aggregation areas over more than a decade, suggesting that the archipelago is high in habitat quality, and thus may be acting as an attractive sink. In absence of data on population dynamics, female philopatry and dispersal rates of sperm whales in the Canary Islands, it is essential to apply mitigation measures immediately to prevent the risk of depleting the number of sperm whales in the archipelago. Such measures include: relocation of International Maritime Organization shipping lanes crossing high-use areas, visual and acoustic monitoring, and speed limits in preferred areas for sperm whales in the Canary Islands.

C29.3  15:30  The importance of social and cultural adaptation in locally managed marine areas in Vietnam, case study Trao reef. Abelshausen, Bieke *, Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Vanwing, Tom Vrije Universiteit Brussel; Le Xuan, Tuan Hanoi University of Education;

Abstract: The sustainable management of marine protected areas entails the premise that conservation goals cannot be achieved sustainably without a governance model that aligns social and cultural behaviours and traditions specific to marine communities. A multi-disciplinary research is conducted to answer the research questions using a mixed method approach based on focus groups and questionnaires in a locally managed marine area (LMMA). The research has shown that decision making processes in the marine community demonstrate significant similarities with comparable processes used in an LMMA. Religious and social traditions are respected and even incorporated to the LMMA’s advantage. No great reluctance for change was detected if there are viable and valuable alternatives present, with the exception of incentives. Incentives are limited to monetary support as a means to break the poverty cycle, however these incentives should also be of a social and cultural nature in order to achieve sustainability. In a small-scale LMMA social and cultural traditions and functions are respected to a relatively high degree, indicating that sustainability is achievable. The notion of incentives however poses great challenges, even threats, to the current sustainability of the LMMA. Therefore it is necessary to further adapt LMMAs to the site-specific social and cultural context if sustainable conservation is to be achieved.

C29.6  16:00  Testing MPA resilience after a submarine volcanic eruption. Hernández, JC *, (1) Biodiversidad, Ecología Marina y Conservación. Dpto. Biología Animal, Edafología y Geología. UDI Ciencias Marinas. Facultad de Biología. Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. ; Salinas, P (2) Charles Darwin Research Station, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.; Mendoza, JC (1) Biodiversidad, Ecología Marina y Conservación. Dpto. Biología Animal, Edafología y Geología. UDI Ciencias Marinas. Facultad de Biología. Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. ; Hereu, B (3) Departament d’Ecologia, Universitat de Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain.; Lazzari, N (1) Biodiversidad, Ecología Marina y Conservación. Dpto. Biología Animal, Edafología y Geología. UDI Ciencias Marinas. Facultad de Biología. Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. ; Clemente, S (1) Biodiversidad, Ecología Marina y Conservación. Dpto. Biología Animal, Edafología y Geología. UDI Ciencias Marinas. Facultad de Biología. Universidad de La Laguna, Tenerife, Spain. ;

Abstract: We provide the first evidence to date of the immediate and catastrophic effect of a submarine volcanic eruption on the marine reef communities in the subtropical Atlantic Archipelagos. In understanding the ecological effects of these catastrophic events, being in the right place at the right time is of the same importance as understanding the ecosystem before the catastrophe. In this case, the eruption affected a well monitored MPA and adjacent non-protected areas which offered an unprecedented opportunity for testing resilience of protected areas. Results showed significant differences before and after the eruption at the area closer to the impact, while sites within the east and north of the island showed no variation in fish assemblages, neither on key sea urchin abundances through time. Results suggest that despite sea urchins did comprise the dominant component of the fauna in the early stages of the successional response to the disturbance, and fish communities have not yet achieved a complete recovery, protection measures were effective in controlling the sudden recruitment of sea urchins. The higher resilience of the marine protected area accelerated the rebound of reef assemblages towards a more equilibrated system, avoiding long-lasting structural consequences for the reef system. Given the lessons learnt from this catastrophe and the El Hierro Island’s commitment with environmental sustainability, a network of MPAs is essential in any future post-eruption planning.

C29.7  16:15  The scientific value of scientific whaling. Cote, IM *, Simon Fraser University; Favaro, C Simon Fraser University;

Abstract: Since the global moratorium on the commercial exploitation of whales in 1986, most legal whaling has been carried out for scientific purposes under permits by the International Whaling Commission. Our goal was to measure the scientific output of such whaling programs. We specifically asked whether scientific whaling countries have produced more publications relevant to the ecological and conservation goals stated on IWC permits than socio-economically similar countries (Australia, Canada, Sweden, The Netherlands and the USA) that conducted whale research using non-lethal methods. We searched the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA) database to locate relevant articles published between 1986 and 2005, distinguishing between peer-reviewed publications and grey literature. Over 20 years, whaling countries published significantly more articles per year than non-whaling countries, but only 25% of publications by whaling countries were peer-reviewed, compared to ~70% for non-whaling countries. The total number of publications in two decades was not related to the number of whales taken. The number of whales taken per publication ranged from 2 (for fin whale Balaenoptera physalus) to 142 (for minke whale B. acutorostrata). Few hunts are as controversial as whaling, and the decision to exploit whales is as much an ethical matter as a conservation concern. This first evaluation of the science produced by scientific whaling informs both aspects of this issue.

C29.8  16:45  Key research questions of global importance for cetacean conservation. Produced during the 2013 International Marine Conservation Think Tank *, Think Tank;

Abstract: Limited resources and increasing environmental concerns have prompted calls to prioritize scientific research and identify critical questions that most need to be answered to advance conservation. Cetaceans are high profile, charismatic, keystone, indicator and flagship species that capture public and media attention as well as political interest and thus a dedicated workshop was held at the conference of the Society for Marine Mammalogy (December 2013, New Zealand) to develop a list of research questions that urgently needed to be answered, because a lack of data was hindering cetacean conservation. This paper summarizes 15 themes and component questions prioritized during this workshop, which we hope will encourage cetacean conservation-orientated research and help agencies and policy makers to prioritize funding and future activities, and ultimately remove some of the current obstacles to science-based cetacean conservation.

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