“Flow” is a key concept in our era of liquid modernity, across a broad range of ecological, economic, and cultural discourses. In this essay, we examine the material flows integral to naturecultures through the specific case study of Seascale on the Cumbria coast in the UK. Through an analysis of cultural representations, we show the construction of Seascale as a seaside resort in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, and the rapid and irrevocable sinking of its cultural value since the commissioning of the nuclear power and reprocessing plant at Sellafield in 1947. By following the “flows” of pleasure, emotion, energy, and waste through Seascale, we explore the legacies of nuclear contamination for coastal communities, within a broader regime of the commodification of nature. This essay emerges from a transdisciplinary research project to investigate the cultural influences and impacts of ecosystem change in coastal environments around the Irish Sea. A collaboration between environmental humanities and ecological sciences, the project sought a materialist intervention in the conceptualization and practice of ecosystem assessment so as to capture and map a more inclusive and multidirectional sense of the flows that are integral to ecosystems, and to move beyond the limitations of dominant models of environmental stewardship. In contrast to the ways in which flow metaphors have been employed in contemporary economic and environmental discourse, the project attempts to analyze the material flows integral to naturecultures through particular places, perspectives, and agencies.
Human impacts on the marine environment threaten the wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people. Marine environments are a common-pool resource (CPR) and one of their major management challenges is how to incorporate the value of ecosystem services to society in decision-making. Cultural ecosystem services (CES) relate to the often intangible benefits people receive from their interactions with the natural environment and contribute to individual and collective human wellbeing. Priority knowledge gaps include the need to better understand shared values regarding CES, and how to effectively integrate these values into decision-making. We filmed 40 Community Voice Method interviews with marine stakeholders in two areas of the UK to improve on the valuation of coastal and marine CES. Results show that cultural benefits including sense of place, aesthetic pleasure and cultural identity were bi-directional, contributed directly to a ‘fulfilled human life’ and were associated with charismatic marine life and biodiversity. Other-regarding self-transcendence values were salient underscoring a desire for sustainable marine management. We critically reflect on our analytical framework that integrates aspects of the UK National Ecosystem Assessment and IPBES conceptual frameworks. The thematic codebook developed for this study could prove useful for future comparative studies in other marine CES contexts. We propose that values-led management could increase the efficacy of marine planning strategies.
Across the Pacific Islands, declining natural resources have contributed to a cultural renaissance of customary ridge-to-reef management approaches. These indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCA) are initiated by local communities to protect natural resources through customary laws. To support these efforts, managers require scientific tools that track land-sea linkages and evaluate how local management scenarios affect coral reefs. We established an interdisciplinary process and modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in Hawai‘i, given increasing coastal development, fishing and climate change related impacts. We applied our framework at opposite ends of the Hawaiian Archipelago, in Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu, where local communities have implemented customary resource management approaches through government-recognized processes to perpetuate traditional food systems and cultural practices. We identified coral reefs vulnerable to groundwater-based nutrients and linked them to areas on land, where appropriate management of human-derived nutrients could prevent increases in benthic algae and promote coral recovery from bleaching. Our results demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers, managers and community members. We discuss the lessons learned from our culturally-grounded, inclusive research process and highlight critical aspects of collaboration necessary to develop tools that can inform placed-based solutions to local environmental threats and foster coral reef resilience.
This paper emphasises the long-term historical trajectories of marine resource use in the Philippines through an examination of successive environmental fixes. Based on fieldwork from coastal Mindoro province, the paper shows how the technological intensification and geographical expansion of fisheries, the development of aquaculture and the promotion of tourism represent three forms of environmental fixes that aim to address the problems caused by marine resource declines and subsequent lack of availability of means of production. All three fixes have struggled to reduce environmental pressure or provide a long-term basis for livelihoods. The paper argues that viewing how successive types of environmental fixes unfold over long periods of time highlights how marine resource declines are part of much wider economic and historical processes, with consequent implications for livelihoods and governance.
Coastal areas are under increasing pressure from rapid human population growth, yet empirical research on the effect of migration on coastal and marine resources is scarce. We contribute to this understudied literature by conducting an original household survey in a coastal region of Southeastern Ghana. This study employs two proxies for pro-environmental behavior that have not, to our knowledge, been used in the context of coastal migration, to explicitly compare migrant and non-migrant populations. Environmental attitudes toward coastal resources and individual extraction behavior in common-pool resource (CPR) experiments have shown broad relevance in the literature to understand natural resource decision making. We found that migrants in general did not differ significantly from non-migrants in relation to their environmental attitudes or their extraction behavior in the CPR game. However, when focusing on migrant fishers only, results suggested that this subgroup was less concerned about the utilization of coastal resources than non-migrant fishers and behaved less cooperatively in the CPR experiment. These findings, though, held true only for the subgroup of fishers, and could not be found for other occupational groups. Therefore, we conclude that migrants do not per se value coastal resources less or cooperate less in CPR situations, but that socioeconomic characteristics, and particularly their occupational status and their relation to the resource, matter.
Understanding how people are dependent on Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) is important for understanding how people might be sensitive to changes that affect these seascapes. We review how resource dependency is conceptualized and propose that it be broadened to include cultural values such as pride in resource status, scientific heritage, appreciation of aesthetics, biodiversity, and lifestyle opportunities. We provide an overview of how local residents (n = 3,181 face-to-face surveys), commercial fishers (n = 210, telephone surveys), and tourism operators (n = 119 telephone surveys) are potentially dependent on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR), a region currently experiencing significant environmental, social, and economic change. We found that commercial fishers and tourism operators were dependent not only financially on the GBR, but also because of their age, years in the industry and region, lack of education, and the number of dependents. These stakeholders lacked flexibility to secure alternative employment. All stakeholder groups, regardless of economic imperatives, were dependent on the GBR because of their cultural connections. We propose that resource dependency also provides an umbrella concept to describe the cultural services provided by an ecosystem, which can be described through place-based dependence and place-identity.
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.
As Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is taking off world-wide as a holistic approach to marine management, there has been a growing need for the inclusion of socio-economic factors in this process. Yet, producing spatial data for cultural values, in particular, remain a challenge because these values are abstract and difficult to extract and quantify. Here, we demonstrate a simple repeatable manual technique for mapping cultural coastal values using in-person interviews and Public Participation GIS (PPGIS) techniques. With 47 participants in the Falkland Islands labelling 745areas of cultural coastal value, this technique gave rise to the identification of cultural coastal value hotspots across the islands in four categories: Natural Beauty, Recreation, Sense of Place and Cultural History. The locations of values were not affected by their distance to a settlement, nor were participants particularly likely to select areas close to their home. The resulting maps of coastal cultural values have been incorporated in the MSP framework and webGIS for the Falkland Islands, allowing for the integration of these social factors in the decision making processes.
Business names, as recorded by state tax departments, offer a possible indicator of cultural ecosystem services provided by nearby natural resources. Using oysters in the Chesapeake Bay as an example, we process spatial and quantitative analyses that can potentially identify cultural value for integration into monitoring efforts that aim to incorporate a variety of ecosystem services. Businesses named directly after oysters provide a useful lens to capture the many reasons people value oysters culturally, but also provide an easy aggregate indicator that could potentially be added to regular regional monitoring programs in order to factor in cultural value to adaptive management policies.
Despite the growing recognition of their importance, immaterial cultural values associated with the sea still tend to be neglected in marine spatial planning (MSP). This socio-cultural evidence gap is due to inherent difficulties in defining and eliciting cultural values, but also to difficulties in linking cultural values to specific places, thus enabling an area-based approach to management. This paper addresses three aspects that are important for including marine cultural values in MSP: Defining cultural values, identifying places of cultural importance, and establishing the relative significance of places of cultural importance. We argue that common classification schemes such as cultural ecosystem services can be a helpful starting point for identifying cultural values, but only go so far in capturing communities' cultural connections with the sea. A method is proposed for structuring a community-based narrative on cultural values and “spatialising” them for MSP purposes, using five criteria that can lead to the definition of “culturally significant areas”. A baseline of culturally significant areas is suggested as an aid to planners to pinpoint places where cultural connections to the sea are particularly strong. Throughout, we emphasise the need for participative processes.