Coastal zone management is a pressing matter, especially in developing countries, which are highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change. Human systems are underrepresented in the vast array of indicators aimed at assisting coastal zone management decisions. Clearly, there is room to better capture natural and human system relationships and interactions in coastal area assessments. A case in point is the well-known Coastal Hazard Wheel (CHW). Hence three main objectives guide this paper: (i) Analysing the existing set of indicator themes and categories in coastal areas; (ii) Contrasting this set of indicators with the perceived needs of local coastal stakeholders from a developing country; and (iii) Proposing indicator categories to be included as part of a systemic coastal zone management framework. To this end, we undertook an automated content analysis of 1116 peer-reviewed articles on the subject matter. The analysis and a stringent set of criteria led to 40 articles that were reviewed to identify suitable indicators. In parallel, field research in Ghana allowed for a set of indicators from the quadruple helix stakeholders operating in coastal zones to be elicited. Contrasting the two sets of indicators resulted in three situations. The first involves 14 indicator categories that co-occur in the literature and the detected needs from local coastal stakeholders. In the second situation, the categories mentioned in the literature were those not mentioned at local level. A third situation appeared when the local coastal stakeholders mentioned categories of indicators that were not identified in the reviewed literature. After examining each case, we advocate for the indicators in the first situation to be incorporated into the current coastal indicator monitoring frameworks (for example by upgrading the CHW). The unique contribution of this paper is the combination of literature and stakeholder-based indicator sub-categories that should be added to the current set of coastal monitoring frameworks.
Community-based and Participatory Management
Large-scale development of offshore wind farms implies an increase in marine resource use conflicts. Managing potential impacts on marine ecosystems and on resource access for traditional and prospective users is key. Multi-use scenarios are a solution but are often approached as a 'design question' that can be settled through Marine Spatial Planning. In practice, regulatory, technical and socio-economic factors often hinder multi-use. Overcoming such barriers requires active collaboration between all stakeholders, yet meaningful participation in MSP processes often is a challenge. This paper explores the role of Communities of Practice as a participatory tool for developing multi-use. The Netherlands set up a ‘Community of Practice North Sea’ to stimulate the development of multi-use pilots by bringing interested parties together, sharing experiences and learning from each other in a context of existing and developing spatial and social claims. This development is part of the government's strategy aimed at finding a balance between offshore wind energy development, nature conservation and seafood production. The paper shows that by (partly) decoupling policy from practice and creating a positive learning environment, Communities of Practice have potential as a participatory tool for encouraging cooperation between stakeholders in an informal setting and facilitating a transition towards multi-use of marine resources. The paper proposes ten guidelines for using Communities of Practices as an action-oriented tool for salient multi-use practices.
Citizen science (CS) projects may provide community-based ecosystem monitoring, expanding our ability to collect data across space and time. However, the data from CS are often not effectively integrated into institutional monitoring programs and decision-making processes, especially in marine conservation. This limitation is partially due to difficulties in accessing the data and the lack of tools and indices for proper management at intended spatial and temporal scales. MedSens is a biotic index specifically developed to provide information on the environmental status of subtidal rocky coastal habitats, filling a gap between marine CS and coastal management in the Mediterranean Sea. The MedSens index is based on 25 selected species, incorporating their sensitivities to the pressures indicated by the European Union’s Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and open data on their distributions and abundances, collected by trained volunteers (scuba divers, free divers and snorkelers) using the Reef Check Mediterranean Underwater Coastal Environment Monitoring (RCMed U-CEM) protocol. The species sensitivities were assessed relative to their resistance and resilience against physical, chemical, and biological pressures, according to benchmark levels and a literature review. The MedSens index was calibrated on a dataset of 33,021 observations from 569 volunteers (2001–2019), along six countries’ coasts. A free and user-friendly QGIS plugin allows easy index calculation for areas and time frames of interest. The MedSens index was applied to Mediterranean marine protected areas (MPAs) and the management and monitoring zones within Italian MPAs. In the studied cases, the MedSens index responds well to the local pressures documented by previous investigations.
MedSens converts the data collected by trained volunteers into an effective monitoring tool for the Mediterranean subtidal rocky coastal habitats. MedSens can help conservationists and decision-makers identify the main pressures acting in these habitats, as required by the MSFD, supporting them in the implementation of appropriate marine biodiversity conservation measures and better communicate the results of their actions. By directly involving stakeholders, this approach increases public awareness and the acceptability of management decisions, enabling more participatory conservation tactics.
A key component of successful coastal management efforts is an effective communication and engagement strategy focused on raising awareness of a region to different stakeholders to encourage more pro-environmental behaviors. Accordingly, in recent times there has been a proliferation of research focused on improving engagement and communication with different users of the coastal environment. Despite this effort, a paucity of evidence is available to guide better communication and engagement with visitors (i.e., tourists). Addressing this knowledge gap is critical given the adverse impacts of current global coastal tourism on ecosystem health, and projected future increases in coastal tourism. Using a case study of the Ningaloo Coast World Heritage Area (WHA) in Australia, we contribute toward filling this gap by identifying visitors’ perception of the region and their self-reported and intended pro-environmental behaviors. We also identify the types of information they access and trust, and explore whether different message framings on the value of the WHA influence visitors’ intended pro-environmental behavior. We determine that although visitors to the Ningaloo Coast WHA are optimistic about the future sustainability of the region, they have low understanding of the rules and regulations in place to support its management. Further, we find that visitors consider tourism to be a serious threat to the future of the region. However, most participants in our study considered the quality of their own environmental behavior to be high, and thus not contributing to these threats, although this did differ by gender. Finally, we highlight that visitors to the Ningaloo Coast WHA, for the most part, obtain their knowledge of the region during their visit, primarily through local signage and visitors centers. We discuss the implications of these results, and highlight future considerations for coastal managers when developing visitor-focused communication and engagement strategies.
Tourism on small tropical islands in the Global South is a balancing act between development to improve local livelihoods and the conservation of fragile coastal and coral ecosystems. The objective of our study is to develop a series of new spatial metrics to support sustainable development through assessing the direction and magnitude of tourism development support and conflict between groups. We surveyed 317 individuals out of an estimated total population of 3300 using public participation GIS (PPGIS) on Tioman Island, Malaysia. Here we present a first example of how nuances in conflict can be articulated spatially across different levels of attitude toward tourism development within and between different segments of the population. Our results suggest that treating a population as homogeneous risks missing place specific development conflicts between segments of the population and locations of agreement where development can be managed sustainably with the support of the community.
Planned adaptation to climate impacts and subsequent vulnerabilities will necessarily interact with autonomous responses enabled within existing fisheries management processes and initiated by the harvest and post-harvest components of fishing industries. Optimal adaptation options are those which enable negative effects to be mitigated and opportunities that arise to be maximized, both in relation to specific climate-driven changes and the broader fisheries system. We developed a two-step participatory approach to evaluating adaption options for key fisheries in the fast-warming hotspot of south-eastern Australia. Four fisheries (southern rock lobster, abalone, snapper, and blue grenadier) were selected as case studies on the basis of their high to moderate vulnerability to climatic effects on species distribution and abundance. Involved stakeholders undertook a “first pass” screening assessment of options, by characterizing and then evaluating options. In the characterization step potential adaptation options for each fishery, contextualized by prior knowledge of each species’ climate change exposure and sensitivity, were described using a characterization matrix. This matrix included: the specific climate vulnerability/challenges, the implications of each option on the fishery system as a whole, the temporal and spatial scales of implementation processes, and realized benefits and costs. In the evaluation step, semi-quantitative evaluation of options was undertaken by stakeholders scoring the anticipated performance of an option against a pre-determined set of criteria relating to perceived feasibility, risk (inclusive of potential costs), and benefit. Reduction of the total annual commercial catch as well as reductions in both effort and catch through spatial and temporal closures were the options scored as having the highest level of expected benefit and of feasibility and the lowest level of risk of negative outcomes overall. Our screening assessment represents a pragmatic approach to evaluate and compare support for and the effects of alternative adaptation options prior to committing to more detailed formal and resource intensive evaluation or implementation.
The development of marine protected areas (MPAs) in Canada is increasing in order to maintain and conserve important fish and marine mammal species and habitats. However, with protection comes certain regulations that affect the use of marine spaces. Regulations can restrict access and use of the marine environment, including certain fishing practices or the harvesting of specific species and some are designated to be no-go and no-take areas. While MPAs are important for the conservation of marine ecosystems, it is important that the rights and values of Indigenous peoples are not being violated with their implementation. This study examines the British Columbia Northern Shelf Bioregion (NSB) MPA network to identify opportunities and constraints in the current process to identify governance mechanisms that can be incorporated to enhance MPA effectiveness and uphold Indigenous inherent and Treaty rights. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with First Nations staff and individuals, and federal and provincial government representatives to understand the perception of Indigenous participation in the MPA network process. Analysis of the interviews, along with evaluations of current MPA network strategies being used in the NSB have identified capacity building, respect and trust and past NSB initiatives as opportunities while existing governance structures and the non-inclusivity of all relevant First Nations in the NSB were highlighted as constraints. These findings have been used to inform management recommendations for the MPA process.
Matauranga Maori, a knowledge system incorporating Maori philosophical thought, worldview and practice, provides important insight and practice and is vital for understanding and managing Aotearoa New Zealand’s ecosystems. Yet, until recently, it has remained largely invisible to mainstream ecologists and resource managers in Aotearoa. Partnering with Maori and incorporating matauranga into ecological research offers an additional dimension to neoclassical science, which we argue leads to better outcomes for society and the environment. This special issue brings together 13 papers that highlight key concepts and provide exemplars of good practice, which demonstrate development of authentic, long-term partnerships with Maori.
The special issue itself has provided space for such scholarship, which does not necessarily align with western ideas of science, and has fostered the use of the Maori language by all papers having abstracts published in te reo Maori. Importantly, one of the key aims of this special issue is to stimulate further activity and research in this area. We contend that further research in this area will not only support Maori environmental and social aspirations but will also lead to holistic, enduring solutions for managing the unique biodiversity and ecosystems in Aotearoa. The challenge ahead for ecologists is to develop more widespread and effective partnerships with Maori and deeper understandings of matauranga Maori.
A comprehensive research study of Cabeza de Toro and Punta Cana’s fishing and tourism industries reveal viability of economic solutions between the hospitality industry, fishermen, and the government to reduce practices harmful to the coastal marine ecosystem. Recent research studies of Punta Cana and Cabeza de Toro’s coastal marine ecosystem demonstrate diminishing coral coverage and reduced fish populations. Causes for the decline of the coastal marine ecosystem include overfishing, illegal fishing of species conducive to coral health, and the destruction of mangrove sanctuaries. By methods of survey and in-person interview, researchers gathered data on over 20% of Cabeza de Toro’s fisherman population with the intent of further developing a co-management plan for the recently established marine protected area. Data collection included qualitative and quantitative research into income and livelihoods of Cabeza de Toro fishermen, fishing practices, interest in alternative work opportunities, and strength of social responsibility and environmental beliefs. Findings demonstrate that viable economic applications exist in forging partnerships between fishermen, the tourism and hospitality industries, and the local government.
This paper evaluates two stakeholder participatory workshops (local communities and tourism stakeholder) to support the development of a management plan for South Ari Atoll Marine Protected Area (SAMPA), Maldives. SAMPA is the largest MPA in the country declared by Maldives to preserve one of the largest whale shark aggregations in the world. However, to date it exists with no management plan to date. The objective of the workshops was to consult with stakeholders on a range of potential regulatory and governance mechanisms proposed for the MPA that can be included in a potential management plan. The paper finds that the two stakeholder workshops had, both functional and dysfunctional aspects that influenced the potential design of a management plan for SAMPA. Overall, the workshops represented a clear opportunity for collective learning and collaboration that fostered dialogue and deliberation. However, important and influential stakeholders were under-represented at the workshops. Furthermore, a reluctance of government to demonstrate how the outcomes of the workshop would be integrated in its decision-making left many participants feeling sceptical about the fairness, equity and effectiveness of the processes that would follow. With no management plan to date, this paper proposes that any future stakeholder process in SAMPA should be underpinned by well informed governance and regulatory options that have the support and commitment of the government which can ensure SAMPA's ecosystem services are sustained to benefit long-term human well-being.