Instability in the South China Sea: Ecosystem challenges and political complexities

One of the most significant – and increasingly bitter – international disputes of recent years has engaged legal claims over maritime territory in the South China Sea. Under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 1982 (UNCLOS), to which the main protagonists are parties, states are entitled to claim an Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) conferring sovereign rights and jurisdiction up to 200 nautical miles of maritime space from their coasts. In the South China Sea, however, this position has been complicated by historical claims over a series of small islands and reefs within the southern section of this area.

Seasonal phytoplankton blooms in the North Atlantic linked to the overwintering strategies of copepods

“Seasonal phytoplankton blooms in the North Atlantic linked to the overwintering strategies of copepods,” co-authored by Nereus Fellow Rebecca Asch (Princeton University), was recently published in Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene. The paper looks at when and how long phytoplankton blooms occur in the North Atlantic. The authors found a correlation between spring bloom start days and the duration of the bloom, with early blooms lasting longer.

Impacts of climate change on marine fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, and human health: an update

The Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), released in 2013 and 2014, highlighted the vulnerability, impacts and adaptation of marine systems to climate change and ocean acidification. As this field of research is constantly building and evolving, “Observed and projected impacts of climate change on marine fisheries, aquaculture, coastal tourism, and human health: an update” was recently published as an update of findings since the release of the report.

Temperature-based targeting in a multispecies fishery under climate change

The paper “Temperature-based targeting in a multispecies fishery under climate change” was recently published in Fisheries Oceanography by Nereus Program Fellow Daniel Dunn (Duke University) and Principal Investigator Patrick Halpin (Duke University). The study looked at whether the bottom temperature of the water, in spring and fall, affected the distribution of Atlantic cod in the USA Northeast compared to other species of fish.

A computer model is used to show projections of how fish species may move towards the poles and into deeper waters in a high CO2 emissions scenario. Source: Jones and Cheung 2015.

Where do we go from here? Building confidence in climate change impact projection models

Climate change is expected to have major impacts on the ocean, the species that live there, and the people who rely it for their food and livelihood. Since the beginning of the 20th century, CO2 emissions from human activities have altered physical and chemical properties of the ocean. The ocean has become warmer and, in some areas, less oxygenated, which has caused changes in the productivity and distribution of marine species.

Jellyfish for dinner: Is fishing a viable solution to the increase in jellyfish blooms?

While jellyfish, with their soft, gelatinous bodies, may seem like innocuous creatures, when they occur in large blooms they can often cause detrimental effects. Jellyfish blooms have been observed to clog power plants, cause mass mortality to fish in aquaculture farms, burst fishing nets and even sink a 10 tonne fishing vessel. It is predicted that jellyfish will benefit from climate change and other anthropogenic changes, such as overfishing, eutrophication and coastal development.

The status and future of bluefin tunas in our global ocean: The Bluefin Futures Symposium

by Guillermo Ortuño Crespo

For three days from January 18th to 20th, Monterey, California, has become an aggregation hotspot for more than 100 of the world’s foremost experts on the conservation and management of the three bluefin tuna species that inhabit our global ocean. The Bluefin Futures Symposium represents the first-ever international gathering of leading science, policy, industry and conservation leaders to address the current stock status, research efforts and management uncertainties, topics which hold the key to ensuring the future sustainability of harvesting these ocean predators.

COP21: Policy strategies beyond CO2 emission targets

Based on the current trajectory of human-induced impacts on the environment, it is clear that we are pushing the oceans and marine ecosystems to unprecedented limits. Environmental changes in ocean properties have led to an array of ecological responses, from shifts in the composition of the ocean’s phytoplankton to changing distributions of fish species.