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Marine conservation in a rapidly changing world

Marine conservation in a rapidly changing world
Marine conservation in a rapidly changing world
The Earth and its oceans are going through a period of unprecedented change driven by increasing human population and economic development. Increasing greenhouse gases are influencing climate; temperatures are rising (IPCC, 2007; Burrows et al., 2011); sea levels are rising and conditions are getting stormier (Lowe and Gregory, 2005); stratification of shelf seas may intensify (Richardson and Schoeman, 2004); ocean circulation patterns may change (Bryden et al., 2005). While not strictly a climate effect, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is leading to a reduction of the pH of the oceans (‘Ocean Acidification’) (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003; Orr et al., 2005).

Superimposed on these physical and chemical changes are biological impacts at global scales such as homogenization of floras and faunas by species invading from other biogeographic realms (Maggs et al., 2010) and overfishing of large pelagic species (Myers and Worm, 2005). Marine plastic litter is a global problem (Thompson et al., 2004). On a regional scale all seas are showing signs of overfishing for demersal species and to some extent smaller pelagic species. Some enclosed seas (e.g. Baltic, N. Adriatic) are showing the impacts of eutrophication which can interact with fishing to reshape ecosystems (Österblom et al., 2007). Local scale impacts are myriad from point source pollution, recreational use of coastal areas, marine noise and most pervasive of all, coastal development leading to habitat degradation and total loss (Airoldi and Beck, 2007). Such local degradation can scale up to whole regions (i.e. coastal defences in the Northern Adriatic and the southern North-Sea, Airoldi et al., 2005).

In this brief article I will consider the major issues facing marine conservation in a rapidly changing world. I will outline an approach based on managing the interactions between global climate change and other global, regional and local impacts. This builds on work published elsewhere (Hiscock et al., 2004; Hawkins et al., 2008, 2009, 2010a,2010b; Firth and Hawkins, 2011). I will then give some brief pointers for the way forward for conservation including marine protected areas (MPAs). The crucial need for understanding connectivity better is emphasized. As this article has a 10–25 year time horizon, I will not consider the longer-term threat of reducing pH of the ocean as much has been written about ‘Ocean Acidification’ elsewhere, although some recent work has suggested that effects may already be occurring (Wootton et al., 2008).
1052-7613
281-287
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa
Hawkins, S.J.
758fe1c1-30cd-4ed1-bb65-2471dc7c11fa

Hawkins, S.J. (2012) Marine conservation in a rapidly changing world. Aquatic Conservation Marine and Freshwater Ecosystems, 22, 281-287. (doi:10.1002/aqc.2239).

Record type: Article

Abstract

The Earth and its oceans are going through a period of unprecedented change driven by increasing human population and economic development. Increasing greenhouse gases are influencing climate; temperatures are rising (IPCC, 2007; Burrows et al., 2011); sea levels are rising and conditions are getting stormier (Lowe and Gregory, 2005); stratification of shelf seas may intensify (Richardson and Schoeman, 2004); ocean circulation patterns may change (Bryden et al., 2005). While not strictly a climate effect, increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is leading to a reduction of the pH of the oceans (‘Ocean Acidification’) (Caldeira and Wickett, 2003; Orr et al., 2005).

Superimposed on these physical and chemical changes are biological impacts at global scales such as homogenization of floras and faunas by species invading from other biogeographic realms (Maggs et al., 2010) and overfishing of large pelagic species (Myers and Worm, 2005). Marine plastic litter is a global problem (Thompson et al., 2004). On a regional scale all seas are showing signs of overfishing for demersal species and to some extent smaller pelagic species. Some enclosed seas (e.g. Baltic, N. Adriatic) are showing the impacts of eutrophication which can interact with fishing to reshape ecosystems (Österblom et al., 2007). Local scale impacts are myriad from point source pollution, recreational use of coastal areas, marine noise and most pervasive of all, coastal development leading to habitat degradation and total loss (Airoldi and Beck, 2007). Such local degradation can scale up to whole regions (i.e. coastal defences in the Northern Adriatic and the southern North-Sea, Airoldi et al., 2005).

In this brief article I will consider the major issues facing marine conservation in a rapidly changing world. I will outline an approach based on managing the interactions between global climate change and other global, regional and local impacts. This builds on work published elsewhere (Hiscock et al., 2004; Hawkins et al., 2008, 2009, 2010a,2010b; Firth and Hawkins, 2011). I will then give some brief pointers for the way forward for conservation including marine protected areas (MPAs). The crucial need for understanding connectivity better is emphasized. As this article has a 10–25 year time horizon, I will not consider the longer-term threat of reducing pH of the ocean as much has been written about ‘Ocean Acidification’ elsewhere, although some recent work has suggested that effects may already be occurring (Wootton et al., 2008).

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Published date: 9 May 2012
Organisations: Ocean and Earth Science

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 340979
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/340979
ISSN: 1052-7613
PURE UUID: 4b8990bd-3f2f-4868-a342-4a6862827a8f

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Date deposited: 16 Jul 2012 13:33
Last modified: 08 Jan 2022 11:59

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