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Keywords:

  • littoral;
  • sublittoral;
  • restoration;
  • benthos;
  • fish;
  • mammals;
  • management

ABSTRACT

  1. A method is described and tested for identifying and prioritizing actions to facilitate recovery (restoration) and/or conservation (maintenance) of populations of threatened marine species. The exercise was based on established approaches for terrestrial species and on assessing each species according to ‘degree of threat’ and ‘recovery/conservation potential’.
  2. Assessment of both degree of threat and recovery/conservation potential was informed by researching the relevant life-history traits of each species and existing knowledge of natural fluctuations in abundance. ‘Rarity’ was a key consideration in assessing degree of threat but rarity measures for cetaceans and pelagic fishes were not available and a new methodology was therefore developed.
  3. Likely actions for maintenance or recovery of a population of a species were specified under the headings: ‘Site Management’, ‘Translocation’, ‘Enforcement’, ‘Research’, ‘Monitoring’ and ‘Wider Environment’. The recovery/conservation goal for each species was identified according to SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound) criteria.
  4. The terrestrial approach transferred well to marine species but with some adaptation as the marine environment is different to terrestrial ecosystems in the pressures and activities that are likely to adversely affect species, to our knowledge of decline in species and to the ecological processes that are likely to aid recovery.
  5. The species researched are prioritized for action according to degree of threat and recovery/conservation potential. Recovery/conservation goals are specified and the reasons for proposed actions are explained.
  6. Identifying measures for recovery or conservation was often difficult because the cause of decline or the threats to species were unknown or unclear. Better collation of relevant information would create a stronger evidence base, assist the provision of better advice, and therefore support better decision-making by managers.
  7. Application of the methodology to other marine species of conservation concern in a particular biogeographical or administrative area needs more meaningful lists than are currently used of species that are rare, scarce, in decline or threatened with decline.

Copyright © 2012 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.