The Pacific Working Group, based at the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia, is studying human well-being in the face of social-ecological change in Canada’s Pacific Ocean coastal communities. Members of our Working Group have partnered with local communities to conduct policy-relevant research on social-ecological interactions in coastal ocean areas to support marine spatial planning. Research themes include assessing social values of community and coastal resource users and understanding the impacts of climate change on biodiversity and ecosystem valuation. Collectively, our research is generating a better understanding of the socio-cultural, economic and ecological challenges facing coastal communities. We are linking with industry stakeholders and integrating academic research with on-the-ground adaptive management.
In addition to our formal SSHRC partners, Port Metro Vancouver is a project collaborator, and Vancouver Island University is an informal associate of the Pacific Working Group.
This year, the Pacific Working Group made steady progress with ongoing projects which began to yield results, presentations and publications. Our approach has been to support projects and case studies that advance OceanCanada themes. We supported three new projects in 2016/2017, and others continued. Combined, these projects illustrate the diversity of perspectives and topics related to the oceans in BC, and provide a richness of case studies for future OceanCanada-wide integrative activities. We explored opportunities for linking with the three Cross-Cutting Themes and facilitating more integrative thinking at larger scales. More specifically, we did preliminary work to organize an Access Cross-Cutting Theme workshop for June 2017.
Our research activities have been in the following areas:
- marine community support for conservation;
- effects of sea otter reestablishment on the ecosystem in communities on the west coast of Vancouver Island;
- loss, recovery and stewardship of eulachon on the central Pacific coast of BC;
- local benefits from seafood value chains in BC coastal communities;
- ecological indicators, expert perceptions, and local observations;
- assessing changes in rockfish size and distribution for conservation strategies;
- moving from assessment to action on adaptive capacity.
The Pacific Working Group continued to support graduate student projects that involve local communities and industry stakeholders in conducting policy-relevant research investigating human well-being in the face of social-ecological change in Pacific coastal communities. It provided research funds to students through two calls for proposals. One of the funded projects resulted in two graduate students hosting a workshop in November 2015 on adaptive capacity which led to a publication relevant to the broader OceanCanada partnership. In addition, Working Group members presented at various conferences and had numerous publications related to OCP objectives.
Natalie Ban (Co-Lead), University of Victoria (view video)
Nathan Bennett (Co-Lead), University of British Columbia
Dyhia Belhabib, Ecotrust
Rachelle Beveridge, University of Victoria
John Driscoll, University of British Columbia
Tom Okey, University of Victoria
Paige Olmstead, University of British Columbia
Evelyn Pinkerton, Simon Fraser University
Charlotte Whitney, University of Victoria
Allison Witter, University of British Columbia
Dr. Natalie Ban: Pacific Working Group Co-Lead
Highly Qualified Personnel
Access, defined as the ability to use and benefit from available marine resources or areas of the ocean or coast, is important for the well-being and sustainability of coastal communities. In Canada, access to marine resources and ocean spaces is a significant issue for many coastal and Indigenous communities due to intensifying activity and competition in the marine environment. The general trend of loss of access has implications for these communities, and for Canadian society. In this review and policy perspective, we argue that access for coastal and Indigenous communities should be a priority consideration in all policies and decision-making processes related to fisheries and the ocean in Canada. This paper reviews how access affects the well-being of coastal communities, factors that support or undermine access, and research priorities to inform policy. Recommended actions include: ensuring access is transparently considered in all ocean-related decisions; supporting research to fill knowledge gaps on access to enable effective responses; making data accessible and including communities in decision-making that grants or restricts access to adjacent marine resources and spaces; ensuring updated laws, policies and planning processes explicitly incorporate access considerations; and, identifying and prioritizing actions to maintain and increase access. Taking action now could reverse the current trend and ensure that coastal and Indigenous communities thrive in the future. This is not just a Canadian issue. Globally, the ability of coastal and Indigenous communities to access and benefit from the marine environment should be at the forefront in all deliberations related to the oceans. (Full publication)
There has been increasing attention to and investment in local environmental stewardship in conservation and environmental management policies and programs globally. Yet environmental stewardship has not received adequate conceptual attention. Establishing a clear definition and comprehensive analytical framework could strengthen our ability to understand the factors that lead to the success or failure of environmental stewardship in different contexts and how to most effectively support and enable local efforts. Here we propose such a definition and framework. First, we define local environmental stewardship as the actions taken by individuals, groups or networks of actors, with various motivations and levels of capacity, to protect, care for or responsibly use the environment in pursuit of environmental and/or social outcomes in diverse social–ecological contexts. Next, drawing from a review of the environmental stewardship, management and governance literatures, we unpack the elements of this definition to develop an analytical framework that can facilitate research on local environmental stewardship. Finally, we discuss potential interventions and leverage points for promoting or supporting local stewardship and future applications of the framework to guide descriptive, evaluative, prescriptive or systematic analysis of environmental stewardship. Further application of this framework in diverse environmental and social contexts is recommended to refine the elements and develop insights that will guide and improve the outcomes of environmental stewardship initiatives and investments. Ultimately, our aim is to raise the profile of environmental stewardship as a valuable and holistic concept for guiding productive and sustained relationships with the environment. (Full publication)
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are inherent to international commitments to protect the oceans and have the potential to recognize, honour, and re-invigorate Indigenous rights. Involvement of Indigenous peoples in the governance and management of MPAs, however, has received little attention. A review of the literature revealed only 15 publications on this topic (< 0.5% of papers on MPAs). In these case studies, governance arrangements of MPAs involving Indigenous peoples ranged from state-led to community-based, and included a spectrum of approaches in between. Cultural goals—which are compatible with biodiversity conservation—were emphasized by Indigenous peoples, and ecological goals were prevalent in state-led marine protected areas. Achievement of at least some cultural goals was the most common mention of success, whereas social issues were the most common challenge. Additional work is needed to ensure that existing and future MPAs serve the dual goals of biodiversity conservation and supporting Indigenous rights. (Full publication)
Because of the complexity and speed of environmental, climatic, and socio-political change in coastal marine social-ecological systems, there is significant academic and applied interest in assessing and fostering the adaptive capacity of coastal communities. Adaptive capacity refers to the latent ability of a system to respond proactively and positively to stressors or opportunities. A variety of qualitative, quantitative, and participatory approaches have been developed and applied to understand and assess adaptive capacity, each with different benefits, drawbacks, insights, and implications. Drawing on case studies of coastal communities from around the globe, we describe and compare 11 approaches that are often used to study adaptive capacity of social and ecological systems in the face of social, environmental, and climatic change. We synthesize lessons from a series of case studies to present important considerations to frame research and to choose an assessment approach, key challenges to analyze adaptive capacity in linked social-ecological systems, and good practices to link results to action to foster adaptive capacity. We suggest that more attention be given to integrated social-ecological assessments and that greater effort be placed on evaluation and monitoring of adaptive capacity over time and across scales. Overall, although sustainability science holds a promise of providing solutions to real world problems, we found that too few assessments seem to lead to tangible outcomes or actions to foster adaptive capacity in social-ecological systems. (Full publication)
Concerns about the social consequences of conservation have spurred increased attention the monitoring and evaluation of the social impacts of conservation projects. This has resulted in a growing body of research that demonstrates how conservation can produce both positive and negative social, economic, cultural, health, and governance consequences for local communities. Yet, the results of social monitoring efforts are seldom applied to adaptively manage conservation projects. Greater attention is needed to incorporating the results of social impact assessments in long-term conservation management to minimize negative social consequences and maximize social benefits. We bring together insights from social impact assessment, adaptive management, social learning, knowledge coproduction, cross-scale governance, and environmental planning to propose a definition and framework for adaptive social impact management (ASIM). We define ASIM as the cyclical process of monitoring and adaptively managing social impacts over the life-span of an initiative through the 4 stages of profiling, learning, planning, and implementing. We outline 14 steps associated with the 4 stages of the ASIM cycle and provide guidance and potential methods for social-indicator development, predictive assessments of social impacts, monitoring and evaluation, communication of results, and identification and prioritization of management responses. Successful ASIM will be aided by engaging with best practices – including local engagement and collaboration in the process, transparent communication of results to stakeholders, collective deliberation on and choice of interventions, documentation of shared learning at the site level, and the scaling up of insights to inform higher-level conservation policies-to increase accountability, trust, and perceived legitimacy among stakeholders. The ASIM process is broadly applicable to conservation, environmental management, and development initiatives at various scales and in different contexts. (Full publication)
Much research on social-ecological systems (SESs; Ostrom 2009) and almost all of the work on the design principles (Ostrom 1990) stem from examples that cover small areas, yet most environmental issues occur across vast regions. There is thus a need to understand better whether and how these ideas apply to large SESs (Fleischman et al. 2014, Cox 2015). At the same time, it is urgent to move toward sustainable use of resources and management of common-pool resources (e.g., Poteete et al. 2010). In turn, improving understanding and management requires training of a new generation of scientists, managers, policy makers, and others who understand the literature and urgency of management for sustainability. However, teaching about SESs can be challenging because of their complexity and multidisciplinarity (e.g., Dieleman and Huisingh 2006). The basis of this special feature is the need for better understanding of large SESs, plus a desire to teach concepts of complex SESs (thereby training the next generation of leaders) and learn from each other’s teaching experiences. This special feature thus had two objectives: (1) provide examples and support for teachers committed to engaging students with ideas around complex SESs (Ban et al. 2015a, Cox 2015), and (2) provide a set of case studies led by or involving students that examines large case studies (> 10,000 km²; Ban et al. 2015b, Lacroix and Richards 2015, Lancaster et al. 2015, Taggart-Hodge and Schoon 2016, Tyson 2017, Villamayor-Tomas et al. 2016). (Special Feature)
Marine conservation actions are promoted to conserve natural values and support human wellbeing. Yet the quality of governance processes and the social consequences of some marine conservation initiatives have been the subject of critique and even human rights complaints. These types of governance and social issues may jeopardize the legitimacy of, support for and long-term effectiveness of marine conservation. Thus, we argue that a clearly articulated and comprehensive set of social standards – a code of conduct – is needed to guide marine conservation. In this paper, we draw on the results of an expert meeting and scoping review to present key principles that might be taken into account in a code of conduct, to propose a draft set of foundational elements for inclusion in a code of conduct, to discuss the benefits and challenges of such a document, and to propose next steps to develop and facilitate the uptake of a broadly applicable code of conduct within the marine conservation community. The objectives of developing such a code of conduct are to promote fair conservation governance and decision-making, socially just conservation actions and outcomes, and accountable conservation practitioners and organizations. The uptake and implementation of a code of conduct would enable marine conservation to be both socially acceptable and ecologically effective, thereby contributing to a truly sustainable ocean. (Full publication)
- Progress on spatial conservation efforts in marine environments is often summarized with the simplistic metric of extent. However, targets require a more nuanced view, where ecological effectiveness, biodiversity, representation, connectivity and ecosystem services must all be recognized. Furthermore, these targets must be achieved through equitable processes and produce equitable outcomes.
- This paper calls for a clearer definition of what is to be ‘counted’ in assessing progress in marine conservation, through the use of both traditionally defined marine protected areas and a limited subset of other equivalent areas. It calls for future effort to draw a clear distinction between non-extractive areas such as no-take marine reserves, and the more numerous extractive areas. To be considered protected, sites must be ecologically effective, and be equitably managed to support all stakeholders.
- Spatial extent of coverage is only one constituent part of conservation effort, however, and much greater effort is needed to ensure that sites are selected to achieve optimum conservation outcomes for biodiversity and for ecosystem services. The paper reviews some of the existing views and approaches to defining and delimiting marine protection priorities.
- It recommends that with a clearer set of metrics for defining protection, and for assessing progress and setting future targets, marine conservation will be better placed to achieve lasting outcomes, including halting biodiversity loss and securing or enhancing ecosystem service provision. Protected spaces will continue to play a major role in future oceans, but they also need to be configured within a wider spatial framework.
Without widespread and immediate changes in human values and activities, massive tracts of natural habitat will be degraded to the detriment of those ecosystems, ecosystem services, and many threatened taxa—in the oceans and elsewhere. Despite this, the conservation movement has yet to devote much attention to the intentional project of widespread norm change. By one logic, the ecosystem services concept offers a means of integrating meaningful conservation into decision making by diverse government and corporate actors, potentially normalizing conservation. But normalizing conservation would require not only the uptake of ecosystem-services concepts but also widespread changes in conservation practice and stewardship values—on a scale that far exceeds what we have witnessed to date. The concept of ecosystem services has potential for assisting such a societal transformation because it effectively puts a human face on environmental change, thereby enabling the extension of responsibility and morality into environmental arenas at all scales. Furthermore, cultural ecosystem services merit particular attention because of their contribution to the formation of attachments to particular places and to identities rooted in nature and conservation, which presents an opportunity to consolidate and shape deep motivations for lasting conservation. Realizing these two opportunities in a way that is both appropriate and effective, however, will require several important innovations and new institutions, which we propose here. One key step is to enlist a broad base of consumers and corporations in the funding of actions to mitigate the environmental impacts associated with their participation in global supply chains, via funding vehicles that are conspicuous, easy, enjoyable, and not too expensive. We describe a new initiative called CoSphere (a Community of Small-Planet Heroes, Ecologically Regenerating Economies) that strives to create such structures. With consolidated effort and explicit attention, conservation can become normalized to the benefit of current people, future generations, and life on Earth. (Chapter in Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People. Available in PDF.)
Research on vulnerability and adaptation in social-ecological systems (SES) has largely centered on climate change and associated biophysical stressors. Key implications of this are twofold. First, there has been limited engagement with the impacts of social drivers of change on communities and linked SES. Second, the focus on climate effects often assumes slower drivers of change and fails to differentiate the implications of change occurring at different timescales. This has resulted in a body of SES scholarship that is under-theorized in terms of how communities experience and respond to fast versus slow change. Yet, social and economic processes at global scales increasingly emerge as ‘shocks’ for local systems, driving rapid and often surprising forms of change distinct from and yet interacting with the impacts of slow, ongoing ‘trends’. This research seeks to understand the nature and impacts of social shocks as opposed to or in concert with trends through the lens of a qualitative case study of a coastal community in Mexico, where demand from international seafood markets has spurred rapid development of a sea cucumber fishery. Specifically, we examined what different social-ecological changes are being experienced by the community, how the impacts of the sea cucumber fishery are distinct from and interacting with slower ongoing trends and how these processes are affecting system vulnerability, adaptations and adaptive capacity. We begin by proposing a novel framework for conceptualizing impacts on social systems, as comprised of structures, functions, and feedbacks. Our results illustrate how the rapid-onset of this fishery has driven dramatic changes in the community. New challenges such as the ‘gold-rush-style’ arrival of new actors, money, and livelihoods, the rapid over-exploitation of fish stocks, and increases in poaching and armed violence have emerged, exacerbating pressures from ongoing trends in immigration, overfishing and tourism development. We argue that there is a need to better understand and differentiate the social and ecological implications of shocks, which present novel challenges for the vulnerability and adaptive capacity of communities and the sustainability of marine ecosystems. (Full publication)
Seafood is the world’s most internationally traded food commodity. Approximately three out of every seven people globally rely on seafood as a primary source of animal protein (1). Revelations about slavery and labor rights abuses in fisheries have sparked outrage and shifted the conversation (2, 3), placing social issues at the forefront of a sector that has spent decades working to improve environmental sustainability. In response, businesses are seeking to reduce unethical practices and reputational risks in their supply chains. Governments are formulating policy responses, and nonprofit and philanthropic organizations are deploying resources and expertise to address critical social issues. Yet the scientific community has not kept pace with concerns for social issues in the sector. As the United Nations Ocean Conference convenes in New York (5 to 9 June), we propose a framework for social responsibility and identify key steps the scientific community must take to inform policy and practice for this global challenge. (Full publication)
Global drivers of change are affecting marine ecosystems and the people who depend on them at increasing rates and severities. Yet most marine conservation actions were developed before climate change was widely recognized as a major driver of change. In this chapter, we synthesize categories of marine conservation actions and their relevance at local and global scales, discuss linkages between scales, identify existing gaps, and provide recommendations. Marine conservation actions include those that directly address threats (protection, species management, and habitat management), and those that support, enable, or facilitate direct actions (law and policy; education and awareness; livelihood, economic and other incentives; and external capacity building). Our review reveals that although many effective marine conservation actions exist, all can be implemented more broadly and at multiple scales. Linking scales will be increasingly required to effectively address global drivers of change in the Anthropocene. (Chapter in Conservation for the Anthropocene Ocean: Interdisciplinary Science in Support of Nature and People. Available in PDF.)
It has long been claimed that a better understanding of human or social dimensions of environmental issues will improve conservation. The social sciences are one important means through which researchers and practitioners can attain that better understanding. Yet, a lack of awareness of the scope and uncertainty about the purpose of the conservation social sciences impedes the conservation community’s effective engagement with the human dimensions. This paper examines the scope and purpose of eighteen subfields of classic, interdisciplinary and applied conservation social sciences and articulates ten distinct contributions that the social sciences can make to understanding and improving conservation. In brief, the conservation social sciences can be valuable to conservation for descriptive, diagnostic, disruptive, reflexive, generative, innovative, or instrumental reasons. This review and supporting materials provides a succinct yet comprehensive reference for conservation scientists and practitioners. We contend that the social sciences can help facilitate conservation policies, actions and outcomes that are more legitimate, salient, robust and effective. (Full publication)
- Marine conservation areas require high levels of compliance to meet conservation objectives, yet little research has assessed compliance quantitatively, especially for recreational fishers. Recreational fishers take 12% of global annual fish catches. With millions of people fishing from small boats, this fishing sector is hard to monitor, making accurate quantification of non-compliance an urgent research priority.
- Shore-based remote camera monitoring was tested for quantifying recreational non-compliance in near-shore, coastal rockfish conservation areas (RCAs) in the Salish Sea, Canada.
- Six high definition trail cameras were used to monitor 42 locations between July and August 2014.
- Seventy-nine percent of monitored conservation area sites showed confirmed or probable fishing activity, with no significant difference in fishing effort inside and outside RCAs.
- Mixed effects generalized linear models were used to test environmental and geographic factors influencing compliance. Sites with greater depth had significantly higher fishing effort, which may imply high, barotrauma-induced, rockfish mortality in RCA sites.
- Non-compliance estimates were similar to aerial fly-over compliance data from 2011, suggesting that trail camera monitoring may be an accurate and affordable alternative method of assessing non-compliance in coastal conservation areas, especially for community-based organizations wishing to monitor local waters.
- Widespread non-compliance could compromise the ability of RCAs to protect and rebuild rockfish populations. Increased education, signage, and enforcement is likely to improve compliance.
Conservation decisions increasingly involve multiple environmental and social objectives, which result in complex decision contexts with high potential for trade-offs. Improving social equity is one such objective that is often considered an enabler of successful outcomes and a virtuous ideal in itself. Despite its idealized importance in conservation policy, social equity is often highly simplified or ill-defined and is applied uncritically. What constitutes equitable outcomes and processes is highly normative and subject to ethical deliberation. Different ethical frameworks may lead to different conceptions of equity through alternative perspectives of what is good or right. This can lead to different and potentially conflicting equity objectives in practice. We promote a more transparent, nuanced, and pluralistic conceptualization of equity in conservation decision making that particularly recognizes where multidimensional equity objectives may conflict. To help identify and mitigate ethical conflicts and avoid cases of good intentions producing bad outcomes, we encourage a more analytical incorporation of equity into conservation decision making particularly during mechanistic integration of equity objectives. We recommend that in conservation planning motivations and objectives for equity be made explicit within the problem context, methods used to incorporate equity objectives be applied with respect to stated objectives, and, should objectives dictate, evaluation of equity outcomes and adaptation of strategies be employed during policy implementation. (Full publication)
Climate change poses significant and increasing risks for Pacific Island communities. Sea-level rise, coastal flooding, extreme and variable storm events, fish stock redistribution, coral bleaching, and declines in ecosystem health and productivity threaten the wellbeing, health, safety, and national sovereignty of Pacific Islanders, and small-scale fishers in particular. Fostering the response capacity of small-scale fishing communities will become increasingly important for the Pacific Islands. Challenging decisions and trade-offs emerge when choosing and mobilizing different responses to climate change. The trade-offs inherent in different responses can occur between various exposures, across spatial and temporal scales, among segments of society, various objectives, and evaluative criteria. Here we introduce a typology of potential trade-offs inherent in responses, elaborated through examples from the Pacific. We argue that failure to adequately engage with trade-offs across human responses to climate change can potentially result in unintended consequences or lead to adverse outcomes for human vulnerability to climate change. Conversely, proactively identifying and addressing these trade-offs in decision-making processes will be critical for planning hazard mitigation and preparing island nations, communities, and individuals to anticipate and adapt to change, not only for Pacific Islands, but for coastal communities around the world. (Full publication)
This paper reviews the major themes and contributions of this Special Issue in light of a broader social science literature on how to conceptualize small-scale fisheries, the role of the state in facilitating or limiting neoliberalism, and the failure of neoliberal policies to improve conservation. It concludes with a look at ways in which neoliberalism is being undermined by emerging alternatives. (Full publication)
Climate and weather have profound effects on economies, the food security and livelihoods of communities throughout the Pacific Island region. These effects are particularly important for small-scale fisheries and occur, for example, through changes in sea surface temperature, primary productivity, ocean currents, rainfall patterns, and through cyclones. This variability has impacts over both short and long time scales. We differentiate climate predictions (the actual state of climate at a particular point in time) from climate projections (the average state of climate over long time scales). The ability to predict environmental conditions over the time scale of months to decades will assist governments and coastal communities to reduce the impacts of climatic variability and take advantage of opportunities. We explore the potential to make reliable climate predictions over time scales of six months to 10 years for use by policy makers, managers and communities. We also describe how climate predictions can be used to make decisions on short time scales that should be of direct benefit to sustainable management of small-scale fisheries, and to disaster risk reduction, in Small-Island Developing States in the Pacific. (Full publication)
Large marine protected areas (>30,000 km2) have a high profile in marine conservation, yet their contribution to conservation is contested. Assessing the overlap of large marine protected areas with 14,172 species, we found large marine protected areas cover 4.4% of the ocean and at least some portion of the range of 83.3% of the species assessed. Of all species within large marine protected areas, 26.9% had at least 10% of their range represented, and this was projected to increase to 40.1% in 2100. Cumulative impacts were significantly higher within large marine protected areas than outside, refuting the critique that they only occur in pristine areas. We recommend future large marine protected areas be sited based on systematic conservation planning practices where possible and include areas beyond national jurisdiction, and provide five key recommendations to improve the long-term representation of all species to meet critical global policy goals (e.g., Convention on Biological Diversity’s Aichi Targets). (Full publication)
Marine ecosystems are complex, and there is increasing recognition that environmental, ecological, and human systems are linked inextricably in coastal regions. The purpose of this article was to integrate environmental, ecological and human dimensions information important for fisheries management into a common analytical framework. We then used the framework to examine the linkages between these traditionally separate subject areas. We focused on synthesis of linkages between the Gulf of Alaska marine ecosystem and human communities of practice, defined as different fisheries sectors. Our specific objective was to document the individual directional linkages among environmental, ecological, and human dimensions variables in conceptual models, then build qualitative network models to perform simulation analyses to test how bottom-up and top-down perturbations might propagate through these linkages. We found that it is both possible and beneficial to integrate environmental, ecological, and human dimensions information important for fisheries into a common framework. First, the conceptual models allowed us to synthesize information across a broad array of data types, representing disciplines such as ecology and economics that are more commonly investigated separately, often with distinct methods. Second, the qualitative network analysis demonstrated how ecological signals can propagate to human communities, and how fishery management measures may influence the system. Third, we found that incorporating multi-species interactions changed outcomes because the merged model reversed some of the ecological and human outcomes compared with single species analyses. Overall, we demonstrated the value of linking information from the natural and social sciences to better understand complex social–ecological systems, and the value of incorporating ecosystem-level processes into a traditionally single species management framework. We advocate for conceptual and qualitative network modelling as efficient foundational steps to inform ecosystem-based fisheries management. (Full publication)
This paper suggests that detrimental effects of certain neoliberal fisheries policies are key drivers behind the development of alternative seafood marketing programs in North America. It examines the structures, market and non-market values, and challenges of these programs. The primary aim of the research, based on interviews involving 20 programs and a conference workshop, was to advance understanding of the market value of alternative seafood marketing to fishers and communities. However, the importance of a broader set of non-market values was repeatedly highlighted by those engaged in these programs. Overall, the research suggests that alternative seafood marketing can enable fishers to participate in fisheries managed by neoliberal, market-based policies, through the promotion of market values along their diverse value chains. At the same time, alternative seafood marketing appears to resist market-based fishing systems, sometimes through the promotion of broader, non-market outcomes. Common challenges along these alternative seafood value chains highlight the structural conflicts that exist while simultaneously participating in and resisting neoliberal fisheries structures. (Full publication)
Inaccurate or incomplete diagnosis of the root causes of overfishing can lead to misguided and ineffective fisheries policies and programmes. The “Malthusian overfishing narrative” suggests that overfishing is driven by too many fishers chasing too few fish and that fishing effort grows proportionately to human population growth, requiring policy interventions that reduce fisher access, the number of fishers, or the human population. By neglecting other drivers of overfishing that may be more directly related to fishing pressure and provide more tangible policy levers for achieving fisheries sustainability, Malthusian overfishing relegates blame to regions of the world with high population growth rates, while consumers, corporations and political systems responsible for these other mediating drivers remain unexamined. While social–ecological systems literature has provided alternatives to the Malthusian paradigm, its focus on institutions and organized social units often fails to address fundamental issues of power and politics that have inhibited the design and implementation of effective fisheries policy. Here, we apply a political ecology lens to unpack Malthusian overfishing and, relying upon insights derived from the social sciences, reconstruct the narrative incorporating four exemplar mediating drivers: technology and innovation, resource demand and distribution, marginalization and equity, and governance and management. We argue that a more nuanced understanding of such factors will lead to effective and equitable fisheries policies and programmes, by identifying a suite of policy levers designed to address the root causes of overfishing in diverse contexts. (Full publication)
Large marine protected areas are increasingly being established to meet global conservation targets and promote sustainable use of resources. Although the factors affecting the performance of small-scale marine protected areas are relatively well studied, there is no such body of knowledge for large marine protected areas. We conducted a global meta-analysis to systematically investigate social, ecological, and governance characteristics of successful large marine protected areas with respect to several social and ecological outcomes. We included all large (>10,000 km2), implemented (>5 years of active management) marine protected areas that had sufficient data for analysis, for a total of twelve cases. We used the Social-Ecological Systems Meta-Analysis Database, and a consistent protocol for using secondary data and key informant interviews, to code proxies for fisheries, ecosystem health, and the wellbeing of user groups (mainly fishers). We tested four sets of hypotheses derived from the literature on small-scale marine protected areas and common-pool resources: (i) the attributes of species and ecosystems to be managed in the marine protected area, (ii) adherence to principles for designing small-scale marine protected areas, (iii) adherence to the design principles for common-pool resource management, and (iv) stakeholder participation. We found varying levels of support for these hypotheses. Improved fisheries were associated with older marine protected areas, and higher levels of enforcement. Declining fisheries were associated with several ecological and economic factors, including low productivity, high mobility, and high market value. High levels of participation were correlated with improvements in wellbeing and ecosystem health trends. Overall, this study constitutes an important first step in identifying factors affecting social wellbeing and ecological performance of large marine protected areas. (Full publication)
Locally managed marine areas (LMMAs) are often recommended as a strategy to achieve conservation and fisheries management, though few studies have evaluated their performance against these objectives. We assessed the effectiveness of eight periodically harvested closures (PHCs), the most common form of management within Fijian LMMAs, focusing on two outcomes: protection of resource units and biodiversity conservation. Of the eight PHCs, only one provided biodiversity benefits, whereas three were moderately successful in protecting resource units (targeted fish biomass). Protection of resource units was more likely when PHCs were harvested less frequently, less recently, and when total fish biomass in open areas was lower. Our findings further suggest that monitoring, enforcement, and clearly defined boundaries are critical, less frequent harvesting regimes are advised, and culturally appropriate management incentives are needed. Although PHCs have some potential to protect resource units, they are not recommended as a single strategy for broad-scale biodiversity conservation. (Full publication)
Under what conditions can an aboriginal fishing community keep a commercial fishery closed because of persistent low stock abundance when the federal government insists on opening it to commercial fishing? This paper explores a decades long effort by the Haida Nation to protect local herring stocks on Haida Gwaii through a precautionary approach to commercial fishing, recently resulting in a Federal Court-granted injunction that prevented the Canadian Minister of Fisheries and Oceans from opening a commercial herring fishery on Haida Gwaii in 2015. The successful effort by the Haida Nation to protect herring stocks ultimately required a combination of strategies involving confrontation, negotiation and litigation that occurred across two management scales (local and coast-wide) and two levels of dispute resolution. Strategies were successful as a result of four key factors: (a) ongoing conservation concerns about probable harm to herring populations, (b) the existence of aboriginal rights that raises standards for federal government consultation and accommodation, (c) an existing negotiated co-management agreement between the Haida and Canada about the area where most herring stocks are located, and (d) strategic interactions among local and coast-wide forums where herring closures were debated. (Full publication)
Community supported fishery (CSF) programs are emerging as appealing alternatives to large-scale industrial fisheries for some seafood consumers and commercial fishers. While CSFs provide many social, economic, and environmental benefits to their local communities, the associated financial costs can make it difficult for such programs to remain solvent. The goal of this research was to identify specific features that influence the financial performance of CSF programs. Using data collected online and from surveys of past and current North American CSFs, this research identified a combination of three key features associated with positive profit margins: engaging in social media, offering a retail option, and having a fisher as a founding member. The potential reasons behind the influence of these features on financial performance is explored, and recommendations for how they can be incorporated into CSF programs are presented. It is hoped that through integrating these features, prospective and currently operating CSFs could potentially improve their long-term financial performance, enabling them to focus on their non-financial goals and increase their overall economic viability. (Full publication)
Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs) are rapidly increasing. Due to their sheer size, complex socio-political realities, and distinct local cultural perspectives and economic needs, implementing and managing LSMPAs successfully creates a number of human dimensions challenges. It is timely and important to explore the human dimensions of LSMPAs. This paper draws on the results of a global “Think Tank on the Human Dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas” involving 125 people from 17 countries, including representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, professionals, industry, cultural/indigenous leaders and LSMPA site managers. The overarching goal of this effort was to be proactive in understanding the issues and developing best management practices and a research agenda that address the human dimensions of LSMPAs. Identified best management practices for the human dimensions of LSMPAs included: integration of culture and traditions, effective public and stakeholder engagement, maintenance of livelihoods and wellbeing, promotion of economic sustainability, conflict management and resolution, transparency and matching institutions, legitimate and appropriate governance, and social justice and empowerment. A shared human dimensions research agenda was developed that included priority topics under the themes of scoping human dimensions, governance, politics, social and economic outcomes, and culture and tradition. The authors discuss future directions in researching and incorporating human dimensions into LSMPAs design and management, reflect on this global effort to co-produce knowledge and re-orient practice on the human dimensions of LSMPAs, and invite others to join a nascent community of practice on the human dimensions of large-scale marine conservation. (Full publication)
Managing urban green space as part of an ongoing social-ecological transformation poses novel governance issues, particularly in post-industrial settings. Urban green spaces operate as small-scale nodes in larger networks of ecological reserves that provide and maintain key ecosystem services such as pollination, water retention and infiltration, and sustainable food production. In an urban mosaic, a myriad of social and ecological components factor into aggregating and managing land to maintain or increase the flow of ecosystem services associated with green spaces. Vacant lots (a form of urban green space) are being repurposed for multiple functions, such as habitat for biodiversity, including arthropods that provide pollination services to other green areas; to capture urban runoff that eases the burden on ageing wastewater systems and other civic infrastructure; and to reduce urban heat island effects. Because of the uncertainty and complexities of managing for ecosystem services in urban settings, we advocate for a governance approach that is adaptive and iterative in nature—adaptive governance—to address the ever changing social order underlying post-industrial cities and offer the rise of land banks as an example of governance innovation. (Full publication)
The majority of vulnerability and adaptation scholarship, policies and programs focus exclusively on climate change or global environmental change. Yet, individuals, communities and sectors experience a broad array of multi-scalar and multi-temporal, social, political, economic and environmental changes to which they are vulnerable and must adapt. While extensive theoretical—and increasingly empirical—work suggests the need to explore multiple exposures, a clear conceptual framework which would facilitate analysis of vulnerability and adaptation to multiple interacting socioeconomic and biophysical changes is lacking. This review and synthesis paper aims to fill this gap through presenting a conceptual framework for integrating multiple exposures into vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning. To support applications of the framework and facilitate assessments and comparative analyses of community vulnerability, we develop a comprehensive typology of drivers and exposures experienced by coastal communities. Our results reveal essential elements of a pragmatic approach for local-scale vulnerability analysis and for planning appropriate adaptations within the context of multiple interacting exposures. We also identify methodologies for characterizing exposures and impacts, exploring interactions and identifying and prioritizing responses. This review focuses on coastal communities; however, we believe the framework, typology and approach will be useful for understanding vulnerability and planning adaptation to multiple exposures in various social-ecological contexts. (Full publication)
The Inuvialuit Settlement Region (ISR) in the western Canadian Arctic is experiencing environmental changes that affect subsistence harvesting practices and are of concern to local communities. In order to assess the impacts of multiple disturbances on culturally important ecosystems in the ISR, we created a cumulative disturbance map that represents relative intensity of terrestrial disturbances across the study region. We then assessed the relative level of environmental disturbance in important harvesting areas and management zones. Subsequently, we modeled nine future disturbance scenarios that included combinations of increased human impacts and more frequent and widespread wildfires. Using the conservation planning software Marxan, we assessed the potential to conserve large, contiguous areas of unaffected harvesting lands across all scenarios. Our results show that important management zones, wildlife harvesting areas, and community planning zones are all affected by environmental disturbances. Marxan optimizations show that existing disturbance levels create thresholds for current conservation potential and indicate that future disturbances will further limit conservation potential. These results suggest that conservation planners in the region must take steps to anticipate more widespread natural and human-caused disturbance in the ISR and work to maintain large contiguous landscapes that can support wildlife harvesting in the face of ongoing environmental disturbance. (Full publication)
Corals and coral-associated species are highly vulnerable to the emerging effects of global climate change. The widespread degradation of coral reefs, which will be accelerated by climate change, jeopardizes the goods and services that tropical nations derive from reef ecosystems. However, climate change impacts to reef social–ecological systems can also be bi-directional. For example, some climate impacts, such as storms and sea level rise, can directly impact societies, with repercussions for how they interact with the environment. This study identifies the multiple impact pathways within coral reef social–ecological systems arising from four key climatic drivers: increased sea surface temperature, severe tropical storms, sea level rise and ocean acidification. We develop a novel framework for investigating climate change impacts in social–ecological systems, which helps to highlight the diverse impacts that must be considered in order to develop a more complete understanding of the impacts of climate change, as well as developing appropriate management actions to mitigate climate change impacts on coral reef and people. (Full publication)
The effects of climate change on marine ecosystems are accelerating. Identifying and protecting areas of the ocean where conditions are most stable may provide another tool for adaptation to climate change. To date, research on potential marine climate refugia has focused on tropical systems, particularly coral reefs. We examined a northeast Pacific temperate region – Canada’s Pacific – toidentify areas where physical conditions are stable or changing slowly. We analyzed the rate and consistency of change for climatic variables where recent historical data were available for the whole region, which included sea surface temperature, sea surface height, and chlorophyll a. We found that some regions have been relatively stable with respect to these variables. In discussions with experts in the oceanography of this region, we identified general characteristics that may limit exposure to climate change. We used climate models for sea surface temperature and sea surface height to assess projected future changes. Climate projections indicate that large or moderate changes will occur throughout virtually the entire area and that small changes will occur in only limited portions of the coast. Combining past and future areas of stability in all three examined variables to identify potential climate refugia indicates that only 0.27% of the study region may be insulated from current and projected future change. A greater proportion of the study region (11%) was stable in two of the three variables. Some of these areas overlap with oceanographic features that are thought to limit climate change exposure. This approach allowed for an assessment of potential climate refugia that could also have applications in other regions and systems, but revealed that there are unlikely to be many areas unaffected by climate change. (Full publication)
Voluntary measures may be an alternative or addition to legislation for marine protected areas (MPAs), yet the effectiveness of these measures is rarely analyzed. The application and effectiveness of voluntary measures was reviewed for MPA management in developed nations where complex jurisdictions and legislative processes make voluntary measures appealing to management. Four types of voluntary measures were identified: sacrifice of access, sector- or activity-specific restrictions, voluntary stewardship, and education or outreach, with sector- or activity-specific measures being the most common. Very few papers (only 20 of 144) provided thorough assessments of outcomes or effectiveness of voluntary measures; of these, less than a quarter pointed to successful outcomes in connection with voluntary measures for MPAs or marine conservation more broadly, while half indicated mixed or uncertain results. The main factor to which failure of voluntary measures was attributed was the lack of leverage to discourage non-compliance. Key factors for the success of voluntary measures included community support, cohesive user organizations, and good governance (i.e., leadership, financing, a perception of fairness). To improve efficacy of voluntary measures for MPAs, empirical research is needed to establish effective circumstances where, when, and how voluntary measures can be applied to address management objectives. (Full publication)
Despite broad recognition of the value of social sciences and increasingly vocal calls for better engagement with the human element of conservation, the conservation social sciences remain misunderstood and underutilized in practice. The conservation social sciences can provide unique and important contributions to society’s understanding of the relationships between humans and nature and to improving conservation practice and outcomes. There are 4 barriers—ideological, institutional, knowledge, and capacity—to meaningful integration of the social sciences into conservation. We provide practical guidance on overcoming these barriers to mainstream the social sciences in conservation science, practice, and policy. Broadly, we recommend fostering knowledge on the scope and contributions of the social sciences to conservation, including social scientists from the inception of interdisciplinary research projects, incorporating social science research and insights during all stages of conservation planning and implementation, building social science capacity at all scales in conservation organizations and agencies, and promoting engagement with the social sciences in and through global conservation policy-influencing organizations. Conservation social scientists, too, need to be willing to engage with natural science knowledge and to communicate insights and recommendations clearly. We urge the conservation community to move beyond superficial engagement with the conservation social sciences. A more inclusive and integrative conservation science—one that includes the natural and social sciences—will enable more ecologically effective and socially just conservation. Better collaboration among social scientists, natural scientists, practitioners, and policy makers will facilitate a renewed and more robust conservation. Mainstreaming the conservation social sciences will facilitate the uptake of the full range of insights and contributions from these fields into conservation policy and practice. (Full publication)
Management of common-pool natural resources is commonly implemented under institutional models promoting devolved decision-making, such as co-management and community-based management. Although participation of local people is critical to the success of devolved commons management, few studies have empirically investigated how individuals’ participation is related to socioeconomic factors that operate at multiple scales. Here, we evaluated how individual- and community-scale factors were related to levels of individual participation in management of community-based marine protected areas in Indonesia. In addressing this aim, we drew on multiple bodies of literature on human behaviour from economics and social science, including the social-ecological systems framework from the literature on common-pool resources, the theory of planned behaviour from social psychology, and public goods games from behavioural economics. We found three key factors related to level of participation of local people: subjective norms, structural elements of social capital, and nested institutions. There was also suggestive evidence that participation was related to people’s cooperative behavioural disposition, which we elicited using a public goods game. These results point to the importance of considering socioeconomic factors that operate at multiple scales when examining individual behaviour. Further, our study highlights the need to consider multiscale mechanisms other than those designed to appeal to self-interested concerns, such as regulations and material incentives, which are typically employed in devolved commons management to encourage participation. Increased understanding of the factors related to participation could facilitate better targeting of investments aimed at encouraging cooperative management. (Full publication)
A variety of disciplines examine human-environment interactions, identifying factors that affect environmental outcomes important for human well-being. A central challenge for these disciplines is integrating an ever-increasing number of findings into a coherent body of theory. Without a repository for this theory, researchers cannot adequately leverage this knowledge to guide future empirical work. Comparability across field sites, study areas and scientific fields is hampered, as is the progress of sustainability science. To address this challenge we constructed the first repository of theoretical statements linking social and ecological variables to environmental outcomes. Stored in a relational database that is accessible via a website, this repository includes systematically formalized theories produced from researchers studying resilience, environmental conservation, common-pool resource governance, environmental and resource economics and political ecology. Theories are explicitly linked together in the database to form the first coherent expression of the types of human-environment interactions that affect outcomes for natural resources and, by extension, the people who use them. Analysis of this repository shows that a variety of types of theories exist, from the simple to the complex, and that theories tend to thematically cluster by scientific field, although the theories of every field were related in at least some way to theories from other fields. Thus there is much potential for increased interaction across these fields, hopefully with the help of resources such as this repository. The theories and variables employed to express their arguments are publicly viewable in a wiki-like format, as a resource for the scientific community. (Full publication)
The conservation community is increasingly focusing on the monitoring and evaluation of management, governance, ecological, and social considerations as part of a broader move toward adaptive management and evidence-based conservation. Evidence is any information that can be used to come to a conclusion and support a judgment or, in this case, to make decisions that will improve conservation policies, actions, and outcomes. Perceptions are one type of information that is often dismissed as anecdotal by those arguing for evidence-based conservation. In this paper, I clarify the contributions of research on perceptions of conservation to improving adaptive and evidence-based conservation. Studies of the perceptions of local people can provide important insights into observations, understandings and interpretations of the social impacts, and ecological outcomes of conservation; the legitimacy of conservation governance; and the social acceptability of environmental management. Perceptions of these factors contribute to positive or negative local evaluations of conservation initiatives. It is positive perceptions, not just objective scientific evidence of effectiveness, that ultimately ensure the support of local constituents thus enabling the long-term success of conservation. Research on perceptions can inform courses of action to improve conservation and governance at scales ranging from individual initiatives to national and international policies. Better incorporation of evidence from across the social and natural sciences and integration of a plurality of methods into monitoring and evaluation will provide a more complete picture on which to base conservation decisions and environmental management. (Full publication)
The rapidly progressing field of cumulative effects mapping is highly dependent on data quality and quantity. Availability of spatial data on the location of human activities on or affecting the ocean has substantially improved our understanding of potential cumulative effects. However, datasets for some activities remain poor and increased access to current, high resolution data are needed. Here we present an updated analysis of potential cumulative effects in Canada’s Pacific marine waters. New, updated datasets and methodological improvements over the previous analysis were completed, including a new index for land-based effects on marine habitats, updated habitat classes and a modified treatment of vulnerability scores. The results show increased potential cumulative effects for the region. Fishing remains the biggest overall impact amongst marine activities, while land-based activities have the highest impact per unit area in affected ocean areas. Intertidal areas were the most affected habitat per unit area, while pelagic habitats had the highest total cumulative effect score. Regular updates of cumulative effects assessments will make them more useful for management, but these require regularly updated, high resolution datasets across all activity types, and automated, well-documented procedures to make them accessible to managers and policy-makers. (Full publication)
The current and projected impacts of climate change make understanding the environmental and social vulnerability of coastal communities and the planning of adaptations important international goals and national policy initiatives. Yet, coastal communities are concurrently experiencing numerous other social, political, economic, demographic and environmental changes or stressors that also need to be considered and planned for simultaneously to maintain social and environmental sustainability. There are a number of methods and processes that have been used to study vulnerability and identify adaptive response strategies. This paper describes the stages, methods and results of a modified community-based scenario planning process that was used for vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning within the context of multiple interacting stressors in two coastal fishing communities in Thailand. The four stages of community-based scenario planning included: (1) identifying the problem and purpose of scenario planning; (2) exploring the system and types of change; (3) generating possible future scenarios; and (4) proposing and prioritizing adaptations. Results revealed local perspectives on social and environmental change, participant visions for their local community and the environment, and potential actions that will help communities to adapt to the changes that are occurring. Community-based scenario planning proved to have significant potential as an anticipatory action research process for incorporating multiple stressors into vulnerability analysis and adaptation planning. This paper reflects on the process and outcomes to provide insights and suggest changes for future applications of community-based scenario planning that will lead to more effective learning, innovation and action in communities and related social–ecological systems. (Full publication)
With increasing human population, large scale climate changes, and the interaction of multiple stressors, understanding cumulative effects on marine ecosystems is increasingly important. Two major drivers of change in coastal and marine ecosystems are industrial developments with acute impacts on local ecosystems, and global climate change stressors with widespread impacts. We conducted a cumulative effects mapping analysis of the marine waters of British Columbia, Canada, under different scenarios: climate change and planned developments. At the coast-wide scale, climate change drove the largest change in cumulative effects with both widespread impacts and high vulnerability scores. Where the impacts of planned developments occur, planned industrial and pipeline activities had high cumulative effects, but the footprint of these effects was comparatively localized. Nearshore habitats were at greatest risk from planned industrial and pipeline activities; in particular, the impacts of planned pipelines on rocky intertidal habitats were predicted to cause the highest change in cumulative effects. This method of incorporating planned industrial development in cumulative effects mapping allows explicit comparison of different scenarios with the potential to be used in environmental impact assessments at various scales. Its use allows resource managers to consider cumulative effect hotspots when making decisions regarding industrial developments and avoid unacceptable cumulative effects. Management needs to consider both global and local stressors in managing marine ecosystems for the protection of biodiversity and the provisioning of ecosystem services. (Full publication)
The efficacy of protected areas varies, partly because socioeconomic factors are not sufficiently considered in planning and management. Although integrating socioeconomic factors into systematic conservation planning is increasingly advocated, research is needed to progress from recognition of these factors to incorporating them effectively in spatial prioritization of protected areas. We evaluated 2 key aspects of incorporating socioeconomic factors into spatial prioritization: treatment of socioeconomic factors as costs or objectives and treatment of stakeholders as a single group or multiple groups. Using as a case study the design of a system of no-take marine protected areas (MPAs) in Kubulau, Fiji, we assessed how these aspects affected the configuration of no-take MPAs in terms of trade-offs between biodiversity objectives, fisheries objectives, and equity in catch losses among fisher stakeholder groups. The achievement of fisheries objectives and equity tended to trade-off concavely with increasing biodiversity objectives, indicating that it is possible to achieve low to mid-range biodiversity objectives with relatively small losses to fisheries and equity. Importantly, the extent of trade-offs depended on the method used to incorporate socioeconomic data and was least severe when objectives were set for each fisher stakeholder group explicitly. We found that using different methods to incorporate socioeconomic factors that require similar data and expertise can result in plans with very different impacts on local stakeholders. (Full publication)
In British Columbia, fisheries management policies in the last few decades have severely diminished access for a generation of youth to knowledge of traditional governance, ecological economies, and cultural practices. However, legal precedents, the completion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and activism are changing the status quo such that colonial relationships in resource management are no longer viable. This research looks at best practices for, as well as opportunities and challenges facing fisheries monitoring and stewardship programs because they are a promising way to bridge generational gaps in access to and knowledge of the ocean environment, and because resource monitoring is a foundation for a community’s capacity to govern. Overall, the research contributes to a better understanding of how stewardship and monitoring training programs can contribute to the larger vision of coastal First Nations in their desired return to First Nations governance of their marine territories. (Masters of Resource Management thesis, Haley Milko. Simon Fraser University.) (Full publication)
Protected areas are a cornerstone of biodiversity conservation, and increasingly, conservation science is integrating ecological and social considerations in park management. Indeed, both social and ecological factors need to be considered to understand processes that lead to changes in environmental conditions. Here, we use a social-ecological systems lens to examine changes in governance through time in an extensive regional protected area network, the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park. We studied the peer-reviewed and nonpeer-reviewed literature to develop an understanding of governance of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park and its management changes through time. In particular, we examined how interacting and changing property rights, as designated by the evolving marine protected area network and other institutional changes (e.g., fisheries management), defined multiple goods and ecosystem services and altered who could benefit from them. The rezoning of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park in 2004 substantially altered the types and distribution of property rights and associated benefits from ecosystem goods and services. Initially, common-pool resources were enjoyed as common and private benefits at the expense of public goods (overexploited fisheries and reduced biodiversity and ecosystem health). The rezoning redefined the available goods and benefits and who could benefit, prioritizing public goods and benefits (i.e., biodiversity conservation), and inducing private costs (through reduced fishing). We also found that the original conceptualization of the step-wise progression of property rights from user to owner oversimplifies property rights based on its division into operational and collective-choice rule-making levels. Instead, we suggest that a diversity of available management tools implemented simultaneously can result in interactions that are seldom fully captured by the original conceptualization of the bundling of property rights. Understanding the complexities associated with overlapping property rights and multiple goods and ecosystem services, particularly within large-scale systems, can help elucidate the source and nature of some of the governance challenges that large protected areas are facing. (Full publication)
There is an increasing demand in higher education institutions for training in complex environmental problems. Such training requires a careful mix of conventional methods and innovative solutions, a task not always easy to accomplish. In this paper we review literature on this theme, highlight relevant advances in the pedagogical literature, and report on some examples resulting from our recent efforts to teach complex environmental issues. The examples range from full credit courses in sustainable development and research methods to project-based and in-class activity units. A consensus from the literature is that lectures are not sufficient to fully engage students in these issues. A conclusion from the review of examples is that problem-based and project-based, e.g., through case studies, experiential learning opportunities, or real-world applications, learning offers much promise. This could greatly be facilitated by online hubs through which teachers, students, and other members of the practitioner and academic community share experiences in teaching and research, the way that we have done here. (Full publication)
Globally, small-scale fisheries are influenced by dynamic climate, governance, and market drivers, which present social and ecological challenges and opportunities. It is difficult to manage fisheries adaptively for fluctuating drivers, except to allow participants to shift effort among multiple fisheries. Adapting to changing conditions allows small-scale fishery participants to survive economic and environmental disturbances and benefit from optimal conditions. This study explores the relative influence of large-scale drivers on shifts in effort and outcomes among three closely linked fisheries in Monterey Bay since the Magnuson-Stevens Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976. In this region, Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), and market squid (Loligo opalescens) fisheries comprise a tightly linked system where shifting focus among fisheries is a key element to adaptive capacity and reduced social and ecological vulnerability. Using a cluster analysis of landings, we identify four modes from 1974 to 2012 that are dominated (i.e., a given species accounting for the plurality of landings) by squid, sardine, anchovy, or lack any dominance, and seven points of transition among these periods. This approach enables us to determine which drivers are associated with each mode and each transition. Overall, we show that market and climate drivers are predominantly attributed to dominance transitions. Model selection of external drivers indicates that governance phases, reflected as perceived abundance, dictate long-term outcomes. Our findings suggest that globally, small-scale fishery managers should consider enabling shifts in effort among fisheries and retaining existing flexibility, as adaptive capacity is a critical determinant for social and ecological resilience. (Full publication)
International declines in marine biodiversity have lead to the creation of marine protected areas and fishery reserve systems. In Canada, 164 Rockfish Conservation Areas (RCAs) were implemented between 2003 and 2007 and now cover 4847.2 km² of ocean. These reserves were created in response to widespread concern from fishers and nongovernmental organizations about inshore rockfish (genus Sebastes) population declines. We used the design principles for effective common-pool resource management systems, originally developed by Elinor Ostrom, to assess the social and ecological effectiveness of these conservation areas more than 10 years after their initial implementation. We assessed the relative presence or absence of each design principle within current RCA management. We found that 2 of the 11 design principles were moderately present in the recreational fishery. All other design principles were lacking for the recreational sector. We found that 2 design principles were fully present and 5 were moderately present in the commercial sector. Four design principles were lacking in the commercial sector. Based on this analysis, we highlight 4 main areas for management improvement: (1) create an education and outreach campaign to explain RCA rules, regulations, boundaries, and the need for marine conservation; (2) increase monitoring of users and resources to discourage noncompliance and gather the necessary data to create social buy-in for marine conservation; (3) encourage informal nested governance through stakeholder organizations for education and self-regulation (e.g. fisher to fisher); and (4) most importantly, create a formal, decadal RCA review process to gather stakeholder input and make amendments to regulations and RCA boundaries. This information can be used to inform spatial management systems both in Canada and internationally. This analysis also contributes to a growing literature on effectively scaling up small-scale management techniques for large-scale, often federally run, common-pool resource systems. (Full publication)
Bringing together a list of outstanding scholars and officials from the academic world, Canada’s public service, and non-governmental organizations, Parks and Protected Areas in Canada gives students a comprehensive look at Canadian park management and planning. The text also takes an in-depth view of the contemporary issues relating to parks and protected space management in Canada today. (Chapter in Parks and protected areas in Canada: planning and management. Publication site.)
Demand for sustainably certified wild-caught fish and crustaceans is increasingly shaping global seafood markets. Retailers such as Walmart in the United States, Sainsbury’s in the United Kingdom, and Carrefour in France, and processors such as Canadian-based High Liner Foods, have promised to source all fresh, frozen, farmed, and wild seafood from sustainable sources by 2015. Credible arbiters of certifications, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), require detailed environmental and traceability standards. Although these standards have been met in many commercial fisheries throughout the developed world, developing country fisheries (DCFs) represent only 7% of ~220 total MSC-certified fisheries. With the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization reporting that developing countries account for ~50% of seafood entering international trade, this presents a fundamental challenge for marketers of sustainable seafood. (Full publication)
Protected areas (PAs) remain central to the conservation of biodiversity. Classical PAs were conceived as areas that would be set aside to maintain a natural state with minimal human influence. However, global environmental change and growing cross-scale anthropogenic influences mean that PAs can no longer be thought of as ecological islands that function independently of the broader social-ecological system in which they are located. For PAs to be resilient (and to contribute to broader social-ecological resilience), they must be able to adapt to changing social and ecological conditions over time in a way that supports the long-term persistence of populations, communities, and ecosystems of conservation concern. We extend Ostrom’s social-ecological systems framework to consider the long-term persistence of PAs, as a form of land use embedded in social-ecological systems, with important cross-scale feedbacks. Most notably, we highlight the cross-scale influences and feedbacks on PAs that exist from the local to the global scale, contextualizing PAs within multi-scale social-ecological functional landscapes. Such functional landscapes are integral to understand and manage individual PAs for long-term sustainability. We illustrate our conceptual contribution with three case studies that highlight cross-scale feedbacks and social-ecological interactions in the functioning of PAs and in relation to regional resilience. Our analysis suggests that while ecological, economic, and social processes are often directly relevant to PAs at finer scales, at broader scales, the dominant processes that shape and alter PA resilience are primarily social and economic. (Full publication)
State of the Pacific Ocean Technical Reports
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the management and protection of marine resources on the Pacific coast of Canada. An annual State of the Pacific Ocean meeting is held to review the physical, biological and selected fishery resources and present the results of the most recent year’s monitoring in the context of previous observations and expected future conditions. The workshop to review conditions in 2015 was held March 1 and 2, 2016 at the Vancouver Island Conference Centre in Nanaimo, B.C. The waters off Canada’s west coast experience strong seasonality and considerable freshwater influence and include relatively protected regions such as the Strait of Georgia as well as areas fully exposed to the open ocean conditions of the Pacific. The region supports ecologically and economically important resident and migratory populations of invertebrates, groundfish, pelagic fishes, marine mammals and seabirds. Observations of the marine environment in 2015 identified the continued presence of a large pool of very warm water in the Northeast Pacific Ocean (colloquially known as the “Blob”) with surface waters over 3 °C above normal at its peak in July. The equatorial water of the eastern Pacific also began to warm and by the fall of 2015 a strong El Niño was building. By the end of 2015 the warm surface water anomaly in the Northeast Pacific Ocean had decreased to about 1 °C above normal, while the subsurface waters to a depth of 100 m still remained significantly warmer than normal. These ocean conditions influenced the weather experienced during 2015, and impacted the biological ecosystems on regional and local scales, including changes at the base of the food web such as exceptional blooms of phytoplankton, unusually high abundances of gelatinous zooplankton, and range extension northwards of plankton and fish species more commonly found further south. A special session at the meeting was convened to focus on the monitoring and research being undertaken on the freshwater conditions relevant to the health of anadromous fish populations. (Full publication)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada is responsible for the management and protection of marine resources on the Pacific coast of Canada. An annual State of the Pacific Ocean meeting is held to review the physical, biological and selected fishery resources and present the results of the most recent year’s monitoring in the context of previous observations and expected future conditions. The workshop to review conditions during 2014 took place at the Institute of Ocean Sciences, Sidney, B.C. on March 10 and 11, 2015, with over 100 participants both in person and via webinar. In general, Pacific Canadian waters experience strong seasonality and considerable freshwater influence and include relatively protected regions such as the Strait of Georgia as well as areas fully exposed to the open ocean conditions of the Pacific. The region supports ecologically and economically important resident and migratory populations of invertebrates, groundfish, pelagic fishes, marine mammals and seabirds. Observations of the marine environment in early 2014 identified a large pool of very warm water in the Northeast Pacific Ocean and an area of cooler water along the west coast of North America. By the end of the year the very warm water had moved into the coastal regions with record high temperatures recorded at many locations in the fall. Monitoring of the biological conditions showed the influences of this warm water on marine species composition and distribution. Such observations include a change from cold water to warm water zooplankton taxa from spring to fall 2014 off the west coast of Vancouver island, the second year with no sardines observed in B.C. waters, a record proportion of Fraser River Sockeye Salmon returning via the ‘northern diversion’ through Johnstone Strait, and mass mortalities of juvenile Cassin’s Auklets (a plankton-feeding seabird) in late fall 2014. Warmer than normal weather was experienced in the fall and winter of 2014 along the west coast of British Columbia with less regional snowpack evident in the spring of 2015. A special session at the meeting was convened to examine the emerging issue of ocean acidification. The level of monitoring and research on this subject was considered below that required given the potential risk to the health of the environment and commercial interests. The proposals of groups to advance the work on this subject were discussed. (Full publication)
Fisheries and Oceans Canada conducts annual reviews of ocean and marine ecosystem conditions in Pacific Canadian waters and the broader North East Pacific. The workshop to review conditions during 2013 took place on 19 February 2014 at the Pacific Biological Station, Nanaimo, B.C., Canada. Overall, 2013 appeared to be a year of transition in physical oceanographic conditions. It was dominated by cooler temperatures during the first half of the year then switched to warmer conditions during the second half of the year. By the end of 2013 and into early 2014, exceptionally warm and fresh conditions, and weak winds, were observed in the Gulf of Alaska, creating very strong vertical stratification. Warm conditions also occurred along the outer B.C. coast during the latter half of the year, making 2013 warmer on average than 2012. These warmer temperatures, along with weak winds, contributed to very weak downwelling conditions along the west coast of Vancouver Island at the end of 2013. Biological responses to these changing physical conditions were muted, likely due to time lags from physics to fish. More warm water zooplankton occurred during summer and fall 2013 along the west coast of Vancouver Island than earlier in the year. In contrast to recent years, Pacific Sardine were not observed during two summer surveys along the west coast of Vancouver Island, and there was no commercial fishery for Pacific Sardine in 2013, capping a 7 year decline in sardine abundance in B.C. A special highlight were the sightings of two different North Pacific Right whales along the outer B.C. coast in 2013, the first confirmed observations of these animals in B.C. waters in 62 years. Stocks of Sockeye Salmon that enter the ocean into the California Current Upwelling Domain continued to increase during 2009-2012. The total survival of Sockeye Salmon which enter the Strait of Georgia as young and return to the Fraser River as adults continued to remain average for most stocks in the 2011 ocean entry (2013 return) year. In addition, the marine survival of one year old Sockeye Salmon from Chilko Lake in the B.C. Interior has continued to improve from the lowest survival on record for this stock in the 2007 ocean entry year (2009 return year). (Full publication)
Brief on MPAs. Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans; Ottawa, ON.
Brief on Oceans Act Marine Protected Areas. Presentation to: Canadian House of Commons Standing Committee on Fisheries and Oceans; Ottawa, ON.
Integrating Indigenous and scientific knowledge in marine conservation. Parks Canada Agency EcoWebinar.
Marine conservation, fisheries management, and Indigenous rights. Paper presented at: University of Victoria’s Dean’s Lecture Series; BC.
My own journey to becoming a professor, and some reflections/advice. Marine Environmental Observation, Prediction and Response Network Annual Scientific Meeting; Montreal, QC.
A social-ecological systems perspective of rapid change. Coastal Watersheds in the Anthropocene: Understanding Rapid Change and Implication for People and Ecosystems; University of Waterloo, ON.
Ban, N; Eckert, L.
Cultural revitalization as a means of moving beyond a social-ecological trap. Resilience Conference; Stockholm, Sweden.
Fast change and social-ecological regime shifts: for whom and how does the bell toll? Catching Ripples in the Water: A Social-Ecological Approach to Understand Abrupt Changes in Coastal Watersheds and Craft Governance Responses. University of Waterloo; ON.
How can the social sciences improve conservation? International Congress for Conservation Biology, Society for Conservation Biology; Carrtagena, Columbia.
Gregr, EJ; Martone, R; Chan, KMA.
Sea otters and kelp forests: real and potential transformations in blue carbon and resilience. Global Marine Science Summit, University of North Carolina; Wilmington, NC.
Kaplan-Hallam M; Bennett, N.
Adaptive social impact management for conservation and environmental management. International Congress for Conservation Biology, Society for Conservation Biology; Carrtagena, Columbia.
Whitney, C; Ban, NC.
Perceptions of the influence of climate change on marine spatial planning in coastal social-ecological systems. Resilience Conference; Stockholm, Sweden.
Applied conservation research. Pacific Ecology and Evolution Conference; Bamfield, BC.
Applying empirical estimates of marine protected area effectiveness. Annual Meeting of the Canadian Council on Ecological Areas; Saint John, NB.
Marine protected areas and indigenous rights. Duke University, Beaufort Marine Laboratory; Durham, NC.
Ban, N; Ban, SS; Alidina, HM; Okey TA.
A rapid approach for identifying potential marine climate change refugia: A case study in Canada’s Pacific marine ecosystems. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Ban, N; Ban, SS; Alidina, HM; Okey, TA; Gregg, RM.
Identifying potential marine climate change refugia in Canada’s Pacific. Salish Sea Conference; Vancouver, BC.
Ban, N; Burt, JM; Atkins, P; Latham, E; Beck, M; Salomon, AK.
Marine protected area network design features that support resilient human-ocean systems: applications for British Columbia, Canada. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Ban, N; Davies TE; Aguilera SE; Brooks C; Cox M; Epstein G; Evans LS; Maxwell S.
Global assessment of the governance effectiveness of large-scale MPAs. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Ban, N; Frid A.
Community-academic research partnerships to support MSP implementation: example from British Columbia, Canada. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Ban, N; Jacob AL; Cripps K; Darimont CT; Silver JM; Wood SA.
Managing shellfish aquaculture and nature-based tourism in BC’s Great Bear Sea. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Conservation social science: understanding and integrating human dimensions to improve local to global conservation policy and practice. Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES) Seminar Series (UBC); Vancouver, BC.
Making real progress on marine protected areas in Canada. All Party Ocean Caucus; Ottawa, ON.
Bennett N; Alexander S; Klain S; Pittman J.
Contributions of perceptions to evidence-based marine conservation and management. International Marine Conservation Congress; St John’s, NL.
Gregr, EJ; Martone, R; Chan, KMA.
How sea otters are changing coastal ecosystem services: abundance, habitats, and trade-offs. West Coast Aquatic Management Board; Port Alberni, BC.
Identifying best practices in fisheries monitoring and stewardship training for First Nations Youth. Paper presented at: at OceanCanada Conference; Vancouver, BC.
Milko, H; Pinkerton, E.
Dilemmas in First Nations’ monitoring of LNG developments on the Skeena River Watershed. Salish Sea Conference; Vancouver, BC.
Social impact investing for ecological conservation. Salish Sea Conference; Vancouver, BC.
Whitney, C; Bennett, N.
Adaptive capacity: from assessment to action in social-ecological systems. Salish Sea Conference; Vancouver, BC.
Enhancing ecosystem resilience: integrating social and natural sciences through marine historical ecology. Annual Scientific Meeting of the Marine Environmental Observation and Prediction network; Vancouver, BC.
Identifying marine refugia. Fisheries and Oceans Canada at the Institute of Ocean Sciences; Sidney BC; and at Pacific Biological Station; Nanaimo, BC.
Introduction to Community Conservation Research Network: my research interests and networks. Community Conservation Research Network Annual Meeting; Tofino, BC.
Ban, N; Cox M; Davies T; Epstein, G; Evans, LS; Nenadovic, M; Maxwell, S; Brooks, C; Aguilera, S.
Governing large-scale social-ecological systems: marine protected areas. International Association for the Study of the Commons conference; Edmonton, AB.
Keeping the next generation on the water: opportunities and barriers to continuing Aboriginal engagement with the ocean in northern British Columbia. International Association for the Study of the Commons Conference; Edmonton, AB.
Moving beyond ‘observe, record, report’? Aboriginal resource guardian programs as an alternative model of marine governance. Canadian Association of Geographers Annual General Meeting; Vancouver, BC.
Enhancing stewardship through monetary mechanisms? A new approach for Conservation Finance. Canadian and US Societies for Ecological Economics Conference; Vancouver, BC.