As a consequence of global environmental change, management strategies that can deal with unexpected change in resource dynamics are becoming increasingly important. In this paper we undertake a novel approach to studying resource growth problems using a computational form of adaptive management to find optimal strategies for prevalent natural resource management dilemmas. We scrutinize adaptive management, or learning-by-doing, to better understand how to simultaneously manage and learn about a system when its dynamics are unknown. We study important trade-offs in decision-making with respect to choosing optimal actions (harvest efforts) for sustainable management during change. This is operationalized through an artificially intelligent model where we analyze how different trends and fluctuations in growth rates of a renewable resource affect the performance of different management strategies. Our results show that the optimal strategy for managing resources with declining growth is capable of managing resources with fluctuating or increasing growth at a negligible cost, creating in a management strategy that is both efficient and robust towards future unknown changes. To obtain this strategy, adaptive management should strive for: high learning rates to new knowledge, high valuation of future outcomes and modest exploration around what is perceived as the optimal action.
Marine ecosystems are subject to anthropogenic change at global, regional and local scales. Global drivers interact with regional- and local-scale impacts of both a chronic and acute nature. Natural fluctuations and those driven by climate change need to be understood to diagnose local- and regional-scale impacts, and to inform assessments of recovery. Three case studies are used to illustrate the need for long-term studies: (i) separation of the influence of fishing pressure from climate change on bottom fish in the English Channel; (ii) recovery of rocky shore assemblages from the Torrey Canyon oil spill in the southwest of England; (iii) interaction of climate change and chronic Tributyltin pollution affecting recovery of rocky shore populations following the Torrey Canyon oil spill. We emphasize that “baselines” or “reference states” are better viewed as envelopes that are dependent on the time window of observation. Recommendations are made for adaptive management in a rapidly changing world.
Fishing is an important recreational activity for many Australians, with one in every four people participating every year. There are however many different pressures exerted on Australian fish stocks, including climate-related changes that drive changes in local fish abundances. It is inevitable that recreational fishers will need to adapt to these changes. When resource abundance alters substantially, user adaptation to the new situation is required and policies and incentives may need to be developed to encourage behaviour change. It is important to correctly anticipate fisher's response to these policies and incentives as much as possible. Improved understanding of recreational fisher's likely adaptation decisions and the nature and timing of these decisions can help avoid unintended consequences of management decisions. Based on a survey of recreational fishers in the south-east Australian climate hotspot, we identify 4 relevant dimensions to recreational fisher's behavioural adaptation. There are differences in adaptation timing (early, late, and non-adaptors). Non-adaptors are characterised by greater cultural attachment to fishing and stronger perceptions of the factors that influence abundance change. The fisher's preferred adaptation responses and the timing of the behavioural response differs between decreasing versus increasing fish abundance. Insight into perspectives and expectations on how recreational fishers might adapt to changes is useful to develop a set of behavioural incentives that appeal to different groups but remain efficient and effective in their implementation. Such knowledge can create new pathways to achieve meaningful and targeted adaptation responses for different types of recreational fishers.
Coral reef fishes, like many other marine organisms, are affected by anthropogenic stressors such as fishing and pollution and, owing to climate change, are experiencing increasing water temperatures and ocean acidification. Against the backdrop of these various stressors, a mechanistic understanding of processes governing individual organismal performance is the first step for identifying drivers of coral reef fish population dynamics. In fact, physiological measurements can help to reveal potential cause-and-effect relationships and enable physiologists to advise conservation management by upscaling results from cellular and individual organismal levels to population levels. Here, we highlight studies that include physiological measurements of coral reef fishes and those that give advice for their conservation. A literature search using combined physiological, conservation and coral reef fish key words resulted in ~1900 studies, of which only 99 matched predefined requirements. We observed that, over the last 20 years, the combination of physiological and conservation aspects in studies on coral reef fishes has received increased attention. Most of the selected studies made their physiological observations at the whole organism level and used their findings to give conservation advice on population dynamics, habitat use or the potential effects of climate change. The precision of the recommendations differed greatly and, not surprisingly, was least concrete when studies examined the effects of projected climate change scenarios. Although more and more physiological studies on coral reef fishes include conservation aspects, there is still a lack of concrete advice for conservation managers, with only very few published examples of physiological findings leading to improved management practices. We conclude with a call to action to foster better knowledge exchange between natural scientists and conservation managers to translate physiological findings more effectively in order to obtain evidence-based and adaptive management strategies for the conservation of coral reef fishes.
Sustainable stewardship of the marine environment necessitates a holistic approach encompassing all the relevant drivers, activities and pressures causing problems for the natural state of the system and their impact on human societies today and in the future. This article provides a framework as well as a decision support process and tool that could guide such an approach. In this process, identifying costs and benefits of mitigation is a first step in deciding on measures and enabling instruments, which has to be accompanied by analyses regarding distributional effects (i.e. who gains or loses) related to different targets and policy instruments. As there are risks of future irreversible regime shifts and even system collapses, the assessments have to be broadened to include scenarios on possible future developments as well as ethical considerations. In particular, a deeper sustainable management strategy may be needed to respond to possible future increases in the rate of environmental change, amongst growing evidence of external pressures, interactions and non-linear dynamics. This adaptive management strategy should focus on building the resilience required to cope with and adapt to change.
This paper investigates the ecological, social and institutional dimensions of the synergies and trade-offs between seagrasses and human activities operating in the Natura 2000 protected site of San Simón Bay (Galicia, NW Spain). By means of a multidisciplinary approach that brings together the development of a biological inventory combined with participatory mapping processes we get key spatial and contextual understanding regarding how, where and why marine users interact with seagrasses and how seagrasses are considered in policy making. The results highlight the fisheries' reliance on seagrass meadows and the controversial links with shellfisheries. The study also reveals unresolved conflicts among those management plans that promote the protection of natural values and those responsible for the exploitation of marine resources. We conclude that the adoption of pre-planning bottom-up participatory processes is crucial for the design of realistic strategies where both seagrasses and human activities were considered as a couple system.
The bigfin squid Sepioteuthis lessoniana, a commercially important fishery resource and also an object of sightseeing for diving, are under risk situation arising from current management procedure in Taiwan. Significant decline in abundance of bigfin squid and destruction of suitable substrates for spawning of neritic squids in coastal waters of Northeast Taiwan has been noted by local fishermen in recent years. Local divers arbitrarily deployed bamboo clusters as a squid aggregation device, for mating and spawning, in order to restore the abundance of squid. The deployment of the devices was not approved by the government, in particular the fishery authorities. Following conflict and compromises, the bamboo clusters were placed in restricted regions with permission from the local government. However, the interim management measure faced a serious challenge. The fishing activity of fishermen and recreational anglers, who were not consulted for the interim measure, targeted the aggregated squids putting them at risk. To prevent hazards, a theoretical management model was proposed to involve and direct essential stakeholders in conservation and sustainable utilization of the resource. A fishbone diagram and spiral model was created to analyze and illustrate the potential problems. Collaborative management tools were applied to coordinate the participants' duties and responsibilities and build the interrelationships between them. Finally, a modified management model based on adaptive management strategies was developed to cope with the changing situations. This modified management model process might further serve as an example for conservation and management measures of other fisheries resources.
- Improving resource information alone has limited effect on decision-making processes.
- A formal participatory MSE allows for more transparency in the management process.
- It supports strategy design, communication and shared understanding about management issues.
- Participatory methods can help modify individual attitudes and group interactions.
The literature on commons has established the validity and significance of Elinor Ostrom’s design principles for collective action. Can these principles be used to guide policies and initiatives towards adaptive co-management? We analyze this idea by using two case studies, Piriápolis (Uruguay) and Paraty (Brazil). Both cases are small-scale fisheries, and both have been experiencing a social-ecological crisis in a context of prevailing top-down government management. However, there are signs that government policies are moving towards participatory governance. The objective of this article is to identify opportunities and barriers to adaptive co-management of small-scale fisheries in Uruguay and Brazil using Ostrom’s design principles for guidance. Both case studies partially meet seven of the eleven design principles (as amended by Cox and colleagues), but do not fulfill four. The analysis of the fisheries using Ostrom’s principles sheds light on the opportunities and barriers to adaptive co-management in three categories: resource system, resource users, and governance system. Barriers include long-standing conflicts between small-scale fishers and government agencies, and between small and large-scale fisheries sectors. Nevertheless, recent initiatives involving participatory approaches to research and management show potential to improve compliance with several principles. Two weaknesses of using Ostrom’s principles for the analysis of the cases were a lack of attention to social learning and the exclusion of external drivers.
To gain insights into the effects of adaptive governance on natural capital, we compare three well-studied initiatives; a landscape in Southern Sweden, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and fisheries in the Southern Ocean. We assess changes in natural capital and ecosystem services related to these social–ecological governance approaches to ecosystem management and investigate their capacity to respond to change and new challenges. The adaptive governance initiatives are compared with other efforts aimed at conservation and sustainable use of natural capital: Natura 2000 in Europe, lobster fisheries in the Gulf of Maine, North America, and fisheries in Europe. In contrast to these efforts, we found that the adaptive governance cases developed capacity to perform ecosystem management, manage multiple ecosystem services, and monitor, communicate, and respond to ecosystem-wide changes at landscape and seascape levels with visible effects on natural capital. They enabled actors to collaborate across diverse interests, sectors, and institutional arrangements and detect opportunities and problems as they developed while nurturing adaptive capacity to deal with them. They all spanned local to international levels of decision making, thus representing multilevel governance systems for managing natural capital. As with any governance system, internal changes and external drivers of global impacts and demands will continue to challenge the long-term success of such initiatives.