POTENTIALLY THREATENED MARINE SPECIES: STATUS REPORTS
A large number of marine mammals and birds have gone extinct in the last 200 years. It is also evident that other strictly marine species such as fishes and invertebrates are not as immune to extinction as previously thought (Carlton et al. 1999, Roberts & Hawkins 1999). The development of species-specific management plans that target potentially threatened marine species have lagged behind other management options, such as all-purpose marine reserves. Criteria for classifying marine species as “threatened” or “endangered” are particularly vague and there are no co-ordinated management strategies that are enacted once species are classified.
Marine species are considered potentially threatened, due to some combination of biological characteristics that make them naturally rare and human impacts that are likely to reduce their numbers even further. Species may be restricted to very small geographic areas that are highly disturbed. They may be over-exploited with no natural refuges from human exploitation. They may be restricted to shallow coastal areas and sensitive to coastal enrichment or pollution. They may be large, long-lived and susceptible to any level of exploitation or disease. They may be naturally weak competitors in the process of being replaced by exotic species. They may be specialised species that are sensitive to a widespread decline in the quality of their habitat. However, the particular problems faced by particular species are not always clear.
The main impediment to developing species-specific management strategies is that lack of information on the status of potentially threatened species or the ecosystems they rely on. That is, what is the geographic range of the species and what are the current population numbers and trends? What are the biological characteristics of species that should be considered potentially threatened? How are these species and their demographic parameters responding to exploitation, pollution, habitat loss and other disturbances? At what point should they be considered endangered? What management actions are possible and what are appropriate to species of different kinds?
The aim of this exercise is to assemble up-to-date information on the status of marine species that either have or should be considered potentially threatened. The species selected is the Patagonian Toothfish.
This is a written evaluation of the species. Your report should assess the current and projected status of this species and viable management options. You should:
• Review historic and current trends in the geographic range and abundance of the species (if available) and discuss whether these figures suggest that the species should be considered potentially threatened.
• Review the biological characteristics of the species and processes that have lead to the current status.
• Consider the current status of our scientific knowledge of this species and what are the research priorities?
• Outline the current status of the species, in terms of international and domestic legislation and conservation action.
• Outline species-specific management strategies that are appropriate for the conservation of this species.
• Discuss options for the active restoration of this species by captive breeding or enhancement.
• Give your prognosis for the future of this species.
Your report should be a maximum of 2500 words. It should begin with a title and should subsequently be divided into two sections: (1) Executive Summary (maximum of 500 word summary of your main conclusions and a list of recommendations (suitable for forwarding to a newspaper); (2) Technical Report (maximum of 2000 words, which is the main body of assignment, excluding figures and tables). To provide structure and clarity, the use of subheadings within the technical report is highly recommended, including an introduction at the beginning (general concepts, background and a statement of the aims of the report) and a conclusions and recommendations section at the end. All text should be written in your own words, giving the citations to articles or web sites from which the information was sourced. Do not copy from other assignments, past or present. Figures and tables can be either original or copied from published works or websites. Make sure copied figures are clear, provide an original caption and indicate the source. Reproduce photographs only where essential to illustrate a point.
I would be extremely grateful if you could follow the following ‘skeleton’:
Table of Contents Introduction 3 General Information 3 Biological Characteristics 3 Ecological importance 3 Distribution 3 Current Status of Patagonian Toothfish 3 Management 3 Recommended Management 4 Prognosis and Conclusion 4
The marking rubric is as follows: