Policy Forum

Measuring mercury levels in the ocean: A scientist at sea on the Research Vessel Endeavor

By Colin Thackray, Nereus Fellow at Harvard University

The oceans are very expansive. Their enormous size and distance from where people stay long term presents a challenge for scientists monitoring the oceans. Unlike many atmospheric measurements for meteorology which we can make just outside of cities, often at airports, to get good measurements for ocean science, a journey on the sea is often required. Around the world, there are many ships designed or outfitted specifically for bringing scientists to the ocean – so called Research Vessels (RVs).

The UN Oceans Conference and Sustainable Development Goals: Are partnerships providing the way forward?

The global oceans provide hundreds of millions of people with livelihoods, food and nutritional security, and are crucial for employment, economic development, and export earnings in many countries and coastal communities around the world. The status of these important ecosystems and its fisheries resources are however rapidly declining, following decades of unsustainable exploitation patterns, overcapacity, and unsuccessful governance interventions.

Global spatial distribution of marine species and diversity in the context of climate change

The world is intuitively divided by the existence of recognizable, bounded units of landscape with characteristic climatic regimes and land cover that drives the distribution of existing life on earth. On a global scale, terrestrial ecosystems are grouped into major biomes such as boreal forest, savannah, desert, tundra and grasslands, each with distinct climates, landscapes, species, and vegetation.

Reproductive strategies and rockfish: A life history traits framework for fisheries management

Any trip to an aquarium or seafood market reveals the incredible variety of fishes. These fishes not only differ in how they look, but in traits related to life history. Life history traits include maximum body size, longevity, age at maturity, and fecundity – the number of eggs produced. Fishes that have the same phylogeny, or evolutionary history, share similar traits. Conversely, unrelated fishes occasionally evolve similar traits independently.

From quiet meadows to open ocean: why seagrass meadows are important for fisheries

A meadow under the sea? Not to be confused with seaweeds, seagrasses are land plants that have adapted to living their entire lives submerged in saltwater. They are close relatives of terrestrial grasses, seagrasses are thought to have colonized marine environments several millions of years ago. Different species of seagrass are found in tropic and temperate regions around the world from Southeast Asia to Scandinavia and all around North America. They are known as a “foundation species” because they create important habitat for a wide array of other organisms.

Regulating New Fisheries: Emerging Rules for Emerging Stocks

By Richard Caddell, Nereus Program Fellow at Utrecht University

It is increasingly evident that profound changes will be necessary to current fishing practices in order to meet future global demand for seafood. Many fisheries are already operating at or beyond their ecological and economic capacity, while climate change and associated processes are projected to have significant impacts upon the future distribution of fish stocks.

Integrating Sea Around Us fishing catch data into the Madingley ecosystem model

Madingley is a General Ecosystem Model and hopes to indirectly represent all forms of life, terrestrial and marine. Nereus Fellow Phil Underwood works with the Madingley model to validate its use as a policy tool in relation to fisheries, ecosystem health, and food security. He is working to better understand the relationship between oceanic ecosystems and human societies.

Climate change could increase fishing fuel consumption

We know that fuel use contributes to climate change, but in a vicious circle, climate change could also increase fuel use in fishing. This is due to fish shifting their distributions due to warming waters. With this increased use of fuel and the increasing price, small-scale and artisanal fishers will have a harder time sustaining livelihoods and feeding their families under climate change.