Over 1.3 billion people — one fifth of humanity — mostly in developing countries, live in coastal communities bordering tropical seas. These waters host a wide array of ecosystems that are subjected to an equally diverse set of human impacts by societies with different traditions, beliefs, expertise and governance styles. Many of these communities depend greatly on coastal ecosystems for food and livelihoods.
It is now uncertain whether these very ecosystems can continue providing the crucial goods and services such communities need. On top of local stressors like overfishing and pollution, coastal seas now suffer from warming, ocean acidification, and catastrophic weather events directly related to our releases of greenhouse gases, particularly CO2. Climate change and associated impacts between now and 2050 will exacerbate the stresses on tropical seas, even as rapidly growing coastal communities demand more of the oceans’ goods and services.
Despite the clear benefits of sustainably managed coastal seas, the widespread goal of improved coastal management remains thwarted by fragmented, intermittent and unsuccessful approaches and practices, and, in many places, by a belief in simple technological ‘fixes’ without structural changes to management. Continuing to promote the same types of interventions and short-term development assistance is not going to result suddenly in success.
With the continuing growth in coastal aquaculture, the pressure to improve management of coastal ecosystems may seem lessened but it is not the same communities (nor as wide a range of individuals) who profit from aquaculture. Food security thus remains an urgent issue. Many aquaculture operations currently degrade natural habitats and ecological processes, putting coastal communities and economies at risk from loss of fishery production, shoreline stabilization, hazard mitigation and pollution filtering. Burgeoning coastal populations, growing international trade in fishery products, and climate change simply ensure that current management approaches are becoming ever less effective.
A New Way Forward
While global efforts might reduce the effects of greenhouse gas emissions and rising socio-economic status may slow population growth, whether tropical nations are bordered by sustainable coastal ecosystems or substantially degraded ones in 2050 will be determined by the effectiveness of local management. This is what my colleagues and I conclude in our recent research published 在 海洋污染公告.
While there are a few exceptional places, all too often current management of development, habitat degradation, pollution and overfishing is seriously inadequate. And if this management is not improved we are confident in stating the following:
- Most coastal fisheries will be chronically overfished,
- Loss of reef habitat will reduce capacity for fisheries production and further strain food security.
- Land-based pollution will increase to the extent that hypoxia and harmful algal blooms are routinely present.
- Pressures of coastal development will combine with sea level rise and more intense storms to further intrude on and erode natural coastlines, severely reducing mangrove, salt marsh and sea grass habitats.
- The cost of dealing with these impacts will further strain coastal economies and the future for people on tropical coasts in 2050 will be substantially more bleak than at present.
Management — of coastal development, habitat, water quality, biodiversity, or fisheries — requires locally focused interventions to change human activities and lower impacts, all coordinated across ecologically appropriate spatial scales.
In the past, a great deal of management effort focused on the use of no-take marine reserves and other marine protected areas (MPAs). Suitably placed and sized MPAs can help sustain multi-species fisheries and reduce the broader ecosystem impacts of fishing where such effects are a major concern, although MPAs are not effective tools for addressing pollution, inappropriate coastal development and many other issues. Further, while some MPAs have proven effective in stemming biodiversity loss, maintaining fish populations and keeping habitats physically intact, the vast majority of MPAs around the world are not as effective as hoped, due to a failure to enforce, and a lack of compliance with, regulations that govern their use.
MPAs are perhaps the most widely implemented spatial management measures and experience in designing and zoning MPAs or MPA networks could provide a major impetus for development of the broad-based spatial governance that is needed as our uses of the coastal ocean intensify. However, the policy shift needed for more effective management will not come about simply through the designation of more MPAs unless these are embedded in broader, more systematic spatial planning and ocean zoning that can deal with a broader range of human impacts while fostering appropriate types of use. The mismatch between local scale establishment of MPAs and national or international scale policies and agreements aiming to conserve marine biodiversity, coupled with the natural tendency of administrative bodies to be insular, leads to piecemeal efforts.
Integrated coastal management or ICM, now subsumed within ecosystem-based management or EBM, is a set of contextual and design principles to accommodate the need for seamless, cross-sectoral, regional-scale care of coastal ecosystems. But while ICM has been discussed for over 20 years, examples of its effective implementation are rare, partially because of the lack of effective interaction across management agencies and among political jurisdictions.
Similarly, while it is increasingly recognized that management should be done at ecologically appropriate scales — including through a framework that identifies 64 large marine ecosystems (LMEs) — large-scale management efforts frequently fail to generate the essential buy-in (active support) by local communities and stakeholders that is necessary for success.
What appears to be needed is a technically simple set of procedures that can enforce a multi-scale perspective and a strongly holistic approach to management despite the diversity of agencies, stakeholders and goals inherent in any attempt to manage coastal waters on a regional scale. We propose making expanded use of marine spatial planning (MSP) and zoning as a framework that will apportion coastal waters for differing activities, while forcing a multi-target and multi-scale approach, and achieving agreed ecological, economic and social objectives.
The Promise of Marine Spatial Planning and Zoning
Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a tool for objectively partitioning marine space among competing uses. It has been used in conservation planning, largely in developed countries. Use of MSP to facilitate prioritization of the full array of uses to which we subject coastal waters has received very little attention, yet our use of coastal waters is now sufficiently intensive to require such spatial planning.
In tropical developing countries, effective coastal management must acknowledge the widespread dependence of poor and politically weak communities on the use of fish for food. Acknowledging this dependence on artisanal fisheries is pivotal to reconciling the largely separate agendas for food security and biodiversity conservation. MSP can accommodate both coastal fisheries and aquaculture in coastal waters while adjudicating the access conflicts between them and other legitimate uses of the coastal seas.
Beyond addressing food security challenges, MSP can be expected to help address the issues faced by managers of tropical coastal waters in several ways:
- Protecting ecologically critical areas to allow healthy ecosystem function.
在提出扩大使用MSP，我们不是说空间规划是一个快速修复海岸管理迄今为止的恶性故障。 我们提出管理的实质振兴，采用MSP为木马，将迅速启动，需要在管理和政策的变化。 我们将天真暗示成功将来之不易。 它不会。
我们在研究中所描述的一般原理可以告知各种管理工具和框架。 应用这些将是非常具有挑战性。 将需要清晰的视野，并取得成功的坚定承诺。 新管理制度的建立很可能是最好的做递增，从现有的可持续发展实践和培育许多地方，自下而上的努力建设，而在某种程度上是合理的生态和societally守得住他们整合在较宽的区域。
这将需要一个长远的眼光和使用自适应规划过程，直接关系到社会和生态监测。 那些导致这个过程将需要维持一个更宽的区域，国家或LME-规模目标，而不是与实现为单个本地社区短期改善来满足。 这种情况下，即使其最初的成功将在地方社区正是这些小规模（经常短期）的改进。 到现在为止，这些成功的溢出效应上已经微乎其微，只有在地方一级的感觉。 那是不够的。
Leading ecologist Peter F. Sale, in this crash course on the state of the planet, draws from his own extensive work on coral reefs, and from recent research by other ecologists, to explore the many ways we are changing the earth and to explain why it matters. Weaving into the narrative his own firsthand field experiences around the world, the author brings ecology alive while giving a solid understanding of the science at work behind today’s pressing environmental issues. Most important, this passionately written book emphasizes that a gloom-and-doom scenario is not inevitable, and as Peter explores alternative paths, he considers the ways in which science can help us realize a better future.
Prof. Peter Sale is a marine ecologist with over 40 years experience in tropical coastal ecosystems, particularly coral reefs. He is senior advisor to the director of the UNU Institute for Water, Environment and Health (UNU-INWEH). Prior to UNU-INWEH he was a faculty member at the University of Sydney in Australia, University of New Hampshire in the US, and University of Windsor, Canada, where he remains Professor Emeritus. His work has focused primarily on reef fish ecology, most recently on aspects of juvenile ecology, recruitment and connectivity. He has done research in Hawaii, Australia, the Caribbean, and the Middle East and visited reefs in many places in between. He has successfully used his fundamental science research to develop and guide projects in international development and sustainable coastal marine management in the Caribbean and the Indo-Pacific. His laboratory has produced over 200 technical publications and he has edited three books dealing with marine ecology.