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Effective conservation planning (to include EBM and MPAs, cumulative impacts)

Room: Carron A     2014-08-16; 17:30 - 19:15

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

Chair(s)/Moderator(s): Alvarez-filip, Lorenzo

C8.1  17:30  Coupled reproduction and settlement in a coastal metapopulation: evidence of low connectivity in a network of marine protected areas. Hameed, SO *, Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis; White, JW University of North Carolina, Wilmington; Miller, SH Smithsonian Environmental Research Center; Nickols, KJ Hopkins Marine Station, Stanford University; Morgan, SG Bodega Marine Laboratory, University of California, Davis;

Abstract: Quantifying marine population connectivity is important for designing networks of marine protected areas (MPAs) that will sustain persistent metapopulation. However, empirically determining population connectivity is challenging, particularly for the many species with microscopic planktonic larvae that develop for weeks in the water column. Many estimates of larval dispersal patterns have relied solely on coastal oceanography and larval settlement patterns while neglecting the important role of spatial variability in reproductive output. We estimated population connectivity of a model species of crab, Petrolisthes cinctipes, using empirical data combined with a Bayesian modeling approach similar to that used in terrestrial seed dispersal studies. We combined prior estimates of larval dispersal kernels based on nearshore current velocities with habitat quality, larval production, and settlement from populations within California’s network of MPAs. Despite the high dispersal potential of larvae develop in a region of persistent coastal upwelling, our results suggest high rates of local retention and low connectivity, indicating that populations in MPAs are self-persistent rather than dependent on contributions from other populations in the MPA network. Our integrated approach improves quantitative estimates of marine population connectivity and may be used to understand the capacity for California’s MPAs to function as a network, imperative to adaptive management.

C8.2  17:45  Establishing the largest Marine Protected Area in the world: Scientific justification and management challenges for the Pitcairn Islands. Dawson, T.P. *, School of the Environment, University of Dundee; Irving, R. Sea-Scope Marine Environmental Consultants; Koldewey, H. Zoological Society of London;

Abstract: The Pitcairn Islands, a British Overseas Territory, lie in the central South Pacific between latitudes 23° and 26° south and longitudes 124° and 131° west, within an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of over 830,000 km2. Their nearest neighbours (and closest airport access) are the Gambier Islands in the Tuamoto archipelago of French Polynesia, which lie some 450 km to the west-north-west of Pitcairn. To the east, Easter Island is 1,900 km away, which makes the Pitcairn group of four islands some of the most remote in the world. Since 2011, the islanders, with support from the Pew Charitable Trusts have been advocating to British government to establish the Pitcairn EEZ as a marine protected area, which would make it the largest in the world. There are significant management challenges however, with difficult access and only one island (Pitcairn) populated with around 55 people. However, the islands’ coral reefs do not suffer from the usual threats associated with human interference, largely on account of their isolation. Their near-shore waters have escaped the ravages of industrial fishing and degradation associated with coastal industries and development. The geographical setting of the Pitcairn islands results in a fusion of biodiversity having origins from both the eastern tropical pacific and indo-pacific regions. These factors create a unique repository – a veritable ‘ark’ of species – in one of the most pristine marine environments in the world.

C8.3  18:00  Darwin Initiative to enhance an establshed marine protected area system, Cayman Islands. McCoy.C. , Deaprtment of Environment, Cayman Islands and Bangor University, Wales, UK; Turner, J.R Bangor University, Wales, UK; Richardson, L Bangor University, Wales, UK and Department of Environment, Cayman Islands; Byrne, J The Nature Conservancy, USA; Austin, T *Department of Environment, Cayman Islands; Ebanks-Petrie,G. Department of Environment, Cayman Islands;

Abstract: MPAs may be a viable solution for survival of coral reef communities, providing refuge from overfishing, habitat fragmentation, and increasing resilience against local and regional stressors. We reviewed 25 year old MPAs in the Cayman Islands to assess their capacity to maintain ecosystem resilience in response to direct human impact and climate change. The project aimed to assess and enhance the MPA system, ensuring it is optimal in size and area, appropriately located, and providing maximum resilience. Key outcomes: 1) Reef health measured at 62 permanently established monitoring sites inside and outside MPAs: showed that MPAs provide local resilience (higher coral cover and recruitment; lower coral bleaching, disease prevalence and algal cover). 2) Assessment of benefit: overspill of fish into surrounding waters was evident at some MPA boundaries, and number, size and biomass of 63 target fish species were greater in MPAs than outside. However, invasive lionfish threaten fish communities. 3) Assessment of fisheries: recreational, artisanal and illegal fishing are significant on local reefs, and fishers exploit MPA boundaries. Consideration of legal and illegal fishing behaviours was included in MPA design. 4) Stakeholder consultation, ecological survey and MPA planning tools were used to plan an enhanced MPA system increasing No-Take protection from 15 to 47%. A campaign of public awareness, education and consultation is maximizing support for the new MPA system.

C8.4  18:15  Measuring MPA performance, “ Fit or Unfit for purpose”; an evaluation of Caymanian MPAs after 26 years on target reef fish assemblages. Croy McCoy *, Department of Environment, Cayman Islands; John Turner Bangor University, Wales UK; Gina Ebanks-Petrie Department of Environment, Cayman Islands; Timothy Austin Department of Environment, Cayman Islands; James Bryne The Nature Conservancy, USA; Laura Richardson Department of Environment, Cayman Islands;

Abstract: For decades, scientific studies in the Cayman Islands, located in the remote north-west Caribbean have focused on their benthic communities, not on their reef fish assemblages. Due to its small insular shelf area, landmass and remoteness, to date there are no commercial fisheries in this small British overseas territory. In 1986, Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) were established by the Cayman Government, with the main objective of protecting coral reefs and their associated organisms from the emerging Scuba diving and tourism industry. In this 4 year study (2009-2012), populations of important fish species for reef health function and species most commonly targeted by recreational fishers have been compared between protected areas and non-protected fished areas across the three islands of Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman during the months of January to April. For 48 target species, biomass, size and density were compared between MPA sites and non-MPA sites. Additionally, the relationships between the different trophic groups were explored. The exportation of individuals by spillover effects were measured at each MPA boundary using linear regression of the mean biomass per site over distance from the MPAs. Reserve effect on fish was evaluated for the first time for each island after more than two decades of protection. Spillover effect was only evident in Grand Cayman, suggesting that MPA size and adjacent habitat play a role in migration of fish out of MPAs.

C8.5  18:30  Scotland’s Marine Protected Area Network: A set of guidelines for considering climate change. Hopkins, CH *, University of Glasgow; Bailey, DM University of Glasgow; Potts, Tavis SAMS;

Abstract: Climate change is a serious threat to the functioning of marine ecosystems. Decisions regarding MPAs have not always considered changing ocean conditions and it is possible that traditional MPA design may not be sufficient to protect species and habitats as climatic impacts become increasingly severe. With the Scottish MPA process nearing completion, it is imperative to understand how this MPA network can be managed and monitored under changing conditions. A working knowledge of climate change in relation to MPA design will be needed, in conjunction with an understanding of the interface between socio-economic, political and ecological factors. This research draws on methodology from the field of environmental policy and social science to examine the issues surrounding climate change and MPAs. Following the Scottish MPA process it asks whether we are designing and managing MPAs to mitigate climate change or whether current design and management promotes resilience to climate change impacts. This research discusses how using the Delphi technique to bring together policy makers and stakeholders in Scotland, and drawing on international experience of MPAs, has resulted in a set of guidelines for considering climate change in the monitoring and management of MPAs.

C8.6  18:45  Modeling Distribution of Fish Species in three Large Marine Regions using GIS and Satellite Data. Kaimuddin, A.H. *, UBO/LEMAR; Lae, R. IRD/LEMAR; Tito de Morais, L. IRD/LEMAR;

Abstract: Predicting species’ distributions has become an important component of conservation planning in recent years. The process incorporates known species’ occurrence records and environmental variables to identify environmental conditions within which populations can be maintained. We collected 581829 geo-referenced occurrence records of 483 fish that have been observed outside their known natural area in three large marine regions (Canary Current, South European Atlantic Shelf, and Celtic Sea) obtained from Fishbase, GBIF, OBIS and ISTAM Project. Environmental values from satellite data (AVHRR and MODIS) and bathymetry from SRTM30plus were downloaded and processed to be used in the model. The process is conducted mainly using arcpy module of Python programming language under ArcGIS’ environment. Current species distribution maps are produced with maps of environmental condition. Predictive maps are created as the final result. The results enhances the predictive maps available online since it used various environmental variables from satellite data with respect to the time when the species was actually observed. This approach is valuable for generating biogeographical information that can be applied across a broad range of fields, including conservation biology, MPA planning and ecology. The method is also applicable to a wide range of marine organisms thus allows for modeling of other species.

C8.7  19:00  Recent ecological changes in the Mesoamerican Reef: What is the effect of protected areas? Lorenzo Alvarez-Filip *, Unidad Académica de Sistemas Arrecifales. Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México;

Abstract: The Mesoamerican Reef (MAR) is a biologically and economically important eco-region, but is also among the most threatened by rapid human expansion. In response to anthropogenic impacts, the network of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) has grown considerably during the last decade. Currently there are 54 MPAs covering ~35% of the MAR territorial seas. Assessing ecological changes and the effects of protection is crucial to provide insights to reef health and assist the focus of management and conservation efforts. Here I used 90 temporally replicated reef-sites to compare rates of change of four reef health indicators inside and outside MPAs. The results show mixed effects. The biomass of herbivores and commercially important fishes declined outside MPAs, while remained stable in protected sites. Coral cover and fleshy macroalgae cover increased significantly in both protected and unprotected sites, although macroalgae increased at considerably higher rates. When these indicators are integrated in an index of reef health, the pattern of decline is evident, but with significant country-level differences. These finding suggest that, although MPAs reduce the negative effects of overexploitation, these benefits are not necessarily transferred to benthic communities. In order to improve rates of reef recovery mangers and policy makers must complement the existing network of MPAs with regulations that control threats originated outside MPAs.

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