Abstract

The aim of this research is
an in-depth understanding of a Marine Ecosystem Based Management and how this
approach can be implemented in Mauritius. We will see how GIS can be applicable
in this field. The survey method has been used for data collection and the
results were analysed and summarized. The aim to be implementing MEBM in
Mauritius does not seem realizable as MEBM uses a large geographical scale to
function. Nevertheless, it is fair saying that the MEBM can be used as a
strategy in the Indian Ocean, where Mauritius is situated.

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Introduction

 

It is evident that the
marine ecosystems have an essential role in the world, as the ocean covers 70%
of the planet; so marine ecosystems make up most of the Earth. They support the
biodiversity in coastal and open ocean habitats, providing many resources that
are beneficial to society. A significant percentage of the world’s population
depends intimately on the oceans and coasts for survival and well-being. Apart
from the sea surface, the oceans are the most remote and least visited part of
the planet by humans, yet marine ecosystems are under increasing threat from a
range of human activities including pollution, mineral extraction, climate
change, fishing, habitat modification and shipping (which generates noise and
transports introduced species) (Brander et al, 2010).

Difficulties in
appropriately managing the impacts of the above factors are mostly, because of
our lack of familiarity with the ocean ecosystem, lack of data, high natural
variability and the fact that most of the life in the sea is microscopic and
almost unknown(Brander et al, 2010). The ineffectiveness of the traditional
systems has invoked a desire for change, as to rehabilitate and conserve the
health of our ecosystem.

A more holistic approach is
being implemented worldwide, that is the Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM). It
does not manage only the ecosystems but rather deals with the human activities
that affect the ecosystems and takes management decisions based on these
impacts. There is no one specific definition of EBM but rather different
definitions according to the environments or sectors to which it is applied or
the organizations using this approach. As a result, EBM implementation is
taking place in many different forms with various combinations of principles.

But is EBM reliable to
maintain ecosystem structure, thus allowing the ecosystem to maintain
redundancy and resilience to environmental change? In short, marine ecosystems
are in trouble, indicating that many previous attempts to manage individual
threats in the absence of a system-wide approach have not worked.

In this research, we will
see the principles being used globally, in different regions, in order to
implement the EBM. As for Mauritius, our marine ecosystem is indeed in danger.
But is this concept of EBM, too foreign and complex to be put into practice
locally?

 

Aim

The aim of this research is
to understand the Marine Ecosystem-Based Management and how to apply it in
Mauritius.

Objectives

      i.       
To understand the concept of Marine
Ecosystem-Based Management.

    ii.       
To learn how it is being applied worldwide.

   iii.       
To learn about the GIS applications that can
be used.

   iv.       
To use the concept in Mauritius and help the
related sectors.

Literature Review

 

What is an Ecosystem?

 

An ecosystem is a community
of organisms living together in a specific environment. The earth is considered
as a giant ecosystem where all organisms, together with their physical
environment influence and depend on each other. There are three main types of
ecosystem:

1.   
Freshwater ecosystem, which consists 1.8% of
the earth’s surface.

2.   
Ocean ecosystem, which
covers about 75% of the planet.

3.   
Terrestrial ecosystem, which
covers the remainder (Wee, 2017).

As seen, the ocean ecosystem
makes up to most of our planet. A marine ecosystem supports the organisms
living in coastal and open ocean habitats.

What
is an Ecosystem-Based Management?

“Marine Ecosystem-Based
Management seeks to manage marine resources in ways that protect ecosystem
health while providing the ecosystem services needed by people. Rather than
focusing solely on a single species or resource, MEBM incorporates science and
balances the demands of user groups in a manner that produces management
strategies that are more likely to be sustainable than traditional approaches (Yaffee,
2012).

An ecosystem based
management accounts to accentuate on the ecosystem structure, functioning and
key processes. It is most important to recognize the interconnectedness among
aerial, terrestrial and aquatic systems and to acknowledge the economical,
social and ecological interdependency.

It is being seen as the
cornerstone of a new vision for healthy, productive, resilient marine
ecosystems that provide stable fisheries, abundant wildlife, clean beaches,
vibrant coastal communities and healthy seafood (McLeod et al, 2005).

Key
principles of Marine Ecosystem-Based Management

 

The most common elements
that should be present in a marine ecosystem based management is

1.      
Scale

MEBM uses rather
ecologically relevant boundaries and often involves management at larger
geographic scales or longer time frames.

2.      
Complexity

It uses strategies that
acknowledge the complexity of the marine resources.

3.      
Balance

It balances the needs of
human and maintains the health of the system that supports these needs.

4.      
Collaboration

MEBM seeks to involve
several organizations and individuals in taking decisions as it manages at a
large geographical scale and the ocean complexity means more areas of
knowledge.

5.      
Adaptive management

It should keep an adaptive
approach to the existence of uncertainty, in monitoring changes in future
management decisions.

 

According to the U.S.
Commission on Ocean Policy and the Pew Oceans Commission, the main focus should
be on protecting and restoring the marine ecosystems as only a healthy
ecosystem will be able to fulfil human needs over long periods of time. It
should also consider the cumulative effects, activities bring on organisms. To
provide resilience to both natural and human induced changes, the levels of
native biodiversity should be maintained. Multiple indicators should be
developed to measure the status of ecosystem functioning, service provision and
effectiveness of management efforts. At last, stakeholders’ participation is
needed for public interest (McLeod et al, 2005).

EBM
application in the Global context

 

Using these
general principles, EBM is being implemented in marine and coastal areas around
the world and here, four such examples are shown.

1.    The waters of the Southern Ocean
surrounding Antarctica

Current strategies:

·        
Spatial boundaries are defined by
international agreement through the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic
Marine Living Resources (RUCKELSHAUS et al, 2008).

·        
The objectives are defined for fisheries and
few birds, but not for marine mammals.

·        
Commercial fishery is well supervised.

·        
 Zoning
method is used.

·        
Though the government is for the
ecosystem-based management (EBM) approach, but implementing and monitoring it,
is problematic.

Additional components for a
comprehensive EBM approach:

·        
Develop indicators of ecosystem status and
function

·        
Use different approaches and tools to tackle uncertainty
in food-web dynamics, future climate, and so on.

·        
Develop spatial strategies for each sector at
smaller, ecologically relevant scales using a mix of regulatory and
incentive-based approaches.

·        
The governance structure should be related fully
to scientific procedures and adaptive management.

 

 

 

2.    The Bering Sea–Aleutian Islands
ecosystem

Current strategies:

·        
Based on hydrographic, bathymetric, and
biogeographic measure,  boundaries of large
marine ecosystems are determined

·        
Fishery-based management objectives allow species
caught as bycatch.

·        
There is a monitoring of indicators for
fished part of food web and some habitats.

·        
Explicit fishing laws have been established.

·        
There are management sectors (i.e., central
and state governments, the fishing community) that make governance easy.

Additional components for a
comprehensive EBM approach:

·        
Identify subregions of the ecosystem that are
ecologically and politically appropriate for efficient management.

·        
Adopt broader ecosystem objectives, considering
habitats and species in higher and lower trophic levels.

·        
Include indicators for larger marine mammals,
climate-mediated processes for better predictions of ecosystem responses to
management.

·        
Integrate future set-ups of climate change
into fishery and habitat management strategies to add to the certainty of
ecosystem response.

·        
Include other managed parts of the ecosystem
(e.g., marine mammals, watershed influences) in the governance.

The
Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, Australia

Current strategies:

·        
The boundary of the managed area is defined
by the extent of the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and adjacent waters.

·        
The objectives adopted by a broad group of
users explicitly include ecological sustainability, through protection of
natural resources and human use and enjoyment of the Great Barrier Reef.

·        
There is monitoring of biophysical and some
socioeconomic attributes of the GBR Marine Park and no single report card for
reef “health.” A 25-year strategic plan outlines eight broad strategy areas; the
key is to educate the public.

·        
The different zones have been clearly mapped,
specifying the uses of the GBR Marine Park (e.g., commercial uses, tourism,
recreation, traditional uses, research) and the degree of protection (e.g
preservation).

·        
The GBR Marine Park Authority is related to
the Commonwealth and Queensland governmental organizations and Australia’s 1998
oceans policy provides a framework for EBM in marine waters.

Additional components for a
comprehensive EBM approach:

·        
Advance work on performance indicators and
monitor feedback into strategies.

·        
Emphasize social, economic and biophysical aspects
of research and adaptive management.

·        
Develop a plan for dealing with external
factors affecting the quality of resources within the GBR Marine Park, such as
water quality, climate change, coastal development, and fisheries.

·        
Education about the 2004 zoning plan, and
enforcement of it, are critical. Improve coordination between commonwealth and
state laws in managing the GBR Marine Park.

Ecosystem-based
management approaches in coastal California

Current strategies:

·        
Spatial boundaries are defined by state
statute.

·        
 There
are objectives concerning marine protected area and general coastal ocean
management.

·        
Commercial fishery is well supervised.

·        
Zoning framework is used.

Additional components for a
comprehensive EBM approach:

·        
Establish objectives for natural and human
ecosystem components.

·        
Identify a set of natural and human system
indicators for tracking progress.

·        
Identify and get commitments for the role of
different management sectors in contributing to ecosystem objectives.

·        
Link the governance structure to management
and scientific processes (RUCKELSHAUS et al, 2008).

 

 

 

Methodology

The objectives of this
research are to understand the concept of Marine Ecosystem-Based Management, to
learn how it is being applied worldwide, to learn about the GIS applications
that can be used and lastly to use the concept in Mauritius and help the
related sectors.

1.      
An in-depth understanding of Marine Ecosystem
Based Management is done through a literature review.

2.      
An international literature review is done to
understand the concepts being used worldwide and if they are being successfully
accomplished.

3.      
A map is generated to show the lagoon and
popular beaches in Mauritius. The lagoon is basically the area where almost all
human aquatic activities are done and the location of popular beaches will
indicate where the focus should be.

4.      
A survey is conducted to know

a)    Public
knowledge about a Marine Ecosystem and how it is being affected.

b)    Opinions
in implementing Marine Ecosystem Based Management in Mauritius.

5.      
The information is then analysed and
discussed.

6.      
Recommendations are given based on the best
practices in the world and most suitable for the study area.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questionnaire sample

 

University of Mauritius

Faculty of Engineering

Survey on Marine
Ecosystem Based Management in Mauritius

 

A
marine ecosystem supports the organisms living in coastal and open ocean
habitats, providing many resources that are beneficial to society. Marine
Ecosystem-Based Management seeks to manage marine resources in ways that
protect ecosystem health while providing the ecosystem services needed by
people. This survey is being carried out to know your knowledge about a marine ecosystem
and reasons it is being affected, along with your opinions on implementing a
Marine Ecosystem Based management in Mauritius.

 

1.     
What
is your age?

?       65

 

2.     
What
is your role or position in the community?

?       Student

?       Jobholder

?       Homemaker

?       Other

 

3.     
Did
you know what a marine ecosystem was earlier?

?       Yes

?       No

 

4.     
If
yes, how do you know about marine ecosystems?

?       Newspapers/Magazines

?       Online
publications

?       Research

?       Others

 

5.     
Do
you know if our marine ecosystem is danger?

?       Yes

?       No

 

 

 

 

 

6.     
How
do you think that marine ecosystems get affected?

?       Pollution

?       Mineral
extraction

?       Climate change

?       Fishing

?       Habitat
modification

?       Shipping

?       Intense coastal
activities

 

7.     
How
do you think that our marine ecosystem is getting affected?

?       Pollution

?       Mineral
extraction

?       Climate change

?       Fishing

?       Habitat
modification

?       Shipping

?       Intense coastal
activities

 

8.     
Suggest
solutions/recommendations that can be put forward to reduce the negative
impacts?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9.     
A
marine ecosystem based management is an approach being experimented worldwide.
Do you think that this system can be implemented in Mauritius? Give reasons
why.

 

 

 

The Study Area

 

The study area of this
project is Mauritius as our lagoons and its species are in a danger zone.
Mauritius is known for its blue lagoons, coral reefs and marine ecosystem which
provide a rare collection of flora and fauna. It is a renowned touristic
destination and offers the best environment for any kind of water sports.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                    Mauritius Beaches (www.mauritiusinsideout.com)

 

 

 

 

 

Data Collection

As
per suggested, a public survey was conducted. The aim was to know the public
knowledge about a marine ecosystem and reasons it is being affected, along with
their opinions on implementing a Marine Ecosystem Based management in
Mauritius. A sample questionnaire is attached in the appendix. The results of
20 questionnaires have been compiled and summarised below.

1.      
What is your
age?

2.      
What is your
role or position in the community?

 

3.      
Did you know
what a marine ecosystem was earlier?

4.      
If yes, how do
you know about marine ecosystems?

 

5.      

Do you know if our
marine ecosystem is danger?

 

 

 

 

 

1.      How do you think that marine ecosystems get
affected?

2.      How do you think that our marine ecosystem is
getting affected?

3.      Suggest solutions/recommendations that can be put
forward to reduce the negative impacts?

·        
More
protected marine areas

·        
Fish
farming

·        
Organise
regular beach clean-ups

·        
More
sensitization campaigns

·        
Sustainable
aquaculture

·        
Promote
sustainable marine tourism

·        
Review
sea zoning

·        
More
sophisticated tools for mining

·        
Prevent
waste dumping into sea

 

 

4.      A marine ecosystem based management is an approach
being experimented worldwide. Do you think that this system can be implemented
in Mauritius? Give reasons why.

a)     
Yes, to advance in our marine
development and to better protect our lagoons.

b)     
No, Mauritius is a too small island and
we are not qualified and experienced enough to handle such development.

 

Data Analysis

 

The above map was created
using ArcGIS, to demonstrate the sea boundaries and the famous beaches where
most focus should be; as where all activities are being done, is where the sea
most affected.

Analysis of survey

1.   
We can conclude that a majority of people
does know about a marine ecosystem and the fact that it is under threat.

2.   
People believe that pollution is the biggest
threat and it is indeed true. Others majors threats are climate change,
overfishing and intense coastal activities.

3.   
The solutions put forward are realizable and
shows that the public is in touch with the reality and shows interest in our
seas.

4.   
There is a fair amount of people who believe
that we should still opt for traditional methods to deal with the impacts while
others opted for the Marine Ecosystem Based Management.

Conclusion and Recommendations

 

As per the research done, we
have seen that the Marine ecosystem based management is an approach used on a
large geographical scale. That is why using this approach only for Mauritius
seems too unrealizable as our island is very miniscule in the giant ocean.  Also, our diplomats do not have much
experienced in this domain, to be able to handle the complexity of the open
sea. The best recommendation would be to collaborate with organizations within
the Indian Ocean which are already dealing with this approach. As Mauritius is
found in the Indian Ocean, it will be a benefit.

The Marine Ecosystem Based
Management is an interesting concept that is believed to bring change if it is
implemented, though it is still being tested in our seas. But the best way to
bring change is to take risk worth taking. It is gaining momentum in different
sectors, so why not in this field?

Author