Tag Archives: oceans

Buying time for coral reefs by reducing local threats

Coral reefs provide ecosystem services, such as coastal protection, fisheries and tourism that are vital to the livelihoods of millions of people. These services are dependent upon healthy living corals and the structure they create. Corals generate skeletons of calcium carbonate (limestone) as they grow which provide a natural breakwater and the complex three dimensional habitat that is essential to
support the high biodiversity of coral reefs. Other processes (e.g., cementation by coralline algae) also add to the growth of reef structure, while bioerosion helps further create complexity and is essential in determining the balance between reef growth and disintegration.

Climate change is expected to reduce the ability of corals to form reef structure. Rising ocean temperatures are projected to disrupt growth rates for many corals and increase the frequency of coral bleaching. Ocean acidification will also slow coral growth and weaken reefs, at the same time as increasing the rate of bioerosion. In the face of such impacts, local efforts to improve reef health
might seem hopeless. However, recent research has shown that local management of reefs is vital to maintain the continued net production of reef structure, and therefore the provision of the important ecosystem services that reefs provide.

Read the full brief and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/6649134-Mumby-Buying%20time%20for%20coral%20reefs%20by%20reducing%20local%20threats.pdf

Contributions from Future of Reefs in a Changing Environment (FORCE) project towards ecological and social research on coral reef ecosystems

Most of the functions of reefs, such as the provision of productive fisheries, tourism appeal, and coastal protection from storms, are founded on having a complex reef structure that keeps accreting (growing). A structurally complex reef provides habitat (and hiding places) to support high levels of biodiversity (Gratwicke and Speight 2005). If a reef is to continue functioning then it must at least have net growth – i.e., that the deposition of a carbonate skeleton by corals and calcareous algae must exceed the rate at which the skeleton is removed by physical damage and the erosion caused by a host of taxa including burrowing algae, sponges, and worms. The balance of reef construction and erosion is known as a carbonate budget (Stearn et al. 1977). Perhaps that greatest threat to coral reef biodiversity is the long-term loss of reef habitat that could occur if carbonate budgets become persistently negative (erosive).

Read the full brief and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/6644133-Griffith-Mumby-Coral%20reefs%20FORCE%20project.pdf

Healthy oceans, healthy people, healthy economies: Integrating fisheries management and protected areas for environmental, economic, and social benefits

Ocean and coastal resources are increasingly recognized as critical to sustaining life and livelihoods across the globe. Seafood provide 4.3 billion people with 15-20% of their protein intake, and fisheries, aquaculture, recreation, tourism, and other coastal industries provide income that supports an estimated 660 to 820 million people (HLPE 2014). Many nations are seeing the ‘Blue Economy’ – or economic benefits derived from the ocean – as a viable pathway to economic development and poverty alleviation. Incorporating explicit environmental goals into this strategy, such as ending overfishing and restoring ecosystem health, enables economic progress by aligning short- and long-term outcomes, and reflects how an improved environment can also improve the economy. The current draft of the UN Sustainable
Development Goals considers Oceans and Coasts an economically and environmentally important area that can help to improve ecosystem health and socio-economic well-being of coastal communities, particularly in developing countries (Goal #14).

Over the past 15 years, new marine management schemes have emerged, supported by science and integrating physical, biological, and human dimensions of ecosystems (Pew Oceans Commission 2003, FAO 2003). This promising framework is known as a marine ecosystem approach to management and is increasingly considered to be
essential for sustainable marine development (e.g. Ruckelshaus et al. 2008, Curtin and Prellezo 2010). Here we will review the science behind an emerging marine ecosystem management approach – the implementation of paired secure-access fisheries and conservation areas – that integrates economic, social, and environmental health, the three pillars of sustainable development.

Read the full brief and share your comments below.
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/6549120_Reimer_HealthyOceans_HealthyPeople_HealthyEconomies.pdf

Marine litter: microplastics

The problem of marine litter was recognized by the UN General Assembly, which in its Resolution A/60/L.22 -Oceans and the Law of the Sea – of 29 November 2005 in articles 65-70 calls for national, regional and global actions to address the problem of marine litter. In response to the GA call, UNEP (GPA and the Regional Seas Programme), through its Global Marine Litter Initiative took an active lead in addressing the challenge, among others, by assisting 11 Regional Seas around the world in organizing and implementing regional activities on marine litter….

Read the full brief and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5854Marine%20Litter%20-%20Microplastics.pdf

Ocean acidification

Scientists, organizations at the national, regional and global level, especially the United Conference for sustainable development in 2012, so called RIO+20, stressed ocean acidification as a threat for the marine environment. The final outcome document of Rio+20 ‘the future we want’ highlighted the critical role the oceans play in all three pillars of sustainable development, and “commit[ed] to protect, and restore, the health, productivity and resilience of oceans and marine ecosystems, and to maintain their biodiversity, enabling their conservation and sustainable use for present and future generations.” It contains 20 paragraphs in a dedicated section on oceans and seas, and an additional three paragraphs on Small Island Developing States (SIDS), and last but not least one paragraph urging the emerging issue of Ocean acidification.

After months of work from individuals and organizations all around the world an ocean acidification specific outcome (Number 166) is: “We call for support to initiatives that address ocean acidification and the impacts of climate change on marine and coastal ecosystems and resources. In this regard, we reiterate the need to work collectively to prevent further ocean acidification, as well as to enhance the resilience of marine ecosystems and of the communities whose livelihoods depend on them, and to support marine scientific research, monitoring and observation of ocean acidification and particularly vulnerable ecosystems, including through enhanced international cooperation in this regard.” …

Read the full brief below and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5844Ocean%20acidification.pdf

The ocean is losing its breath

Decreased oxygen concentrations in the ocean, as a result of climate change and other anthropogenic stressors, e.g. nutrient input due to inefficient fertilizer use, was discussed in the latest IPCC report (2014). However, so far this emerging threat for the ocean is not fully acknowledged by policymakers and stakeholders at the global level. Systematic deoxygenation of the ocean will have widespread consequences. O2 plays a direct role in the biogeochemical cycling of carbon, nitrogen, and many other biogeochemically important elements (P, Fe, Mn, etc.). O2 is also fundamental for all aerobic life, including organisms living in the dark ocean interior. Deoxygenation (reduced oxygen concentration) mostly affects the marine environment at the local level, nevertheless economic and socio-economic impacts will impair the human society at the regional and global level….

Read the full brief below and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5849The%20Ocean%20is%20Losing%20its%20Breath.pdf

Advancing governance of marine areas beyond national jurisdiction

Marine areas beyond national jurisdiction (ABNJ) — the high seas and the deep seabed located beyond the limits of States’ continental shelves covering almost two-thirds of the global ocean — represent around half of the Planet’s surface. In ABNJ, biodiversity is at significant risk. Threats to biodiversity include the intensification and expansion of human activities into previously inaccessible locations as well as the growing impacts of climate change and ocean acidification (Census of Marine Life, 2011). This requires an urgent action from the international community at several levels…

Read the full brief below and share your comments:
https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/content/documents/5774Brief%20ABNJ%20GSDR_rev.pdf