Asset-intensive industries (including water and power utilities, mineral resources and energy) are those which require significant levels of capital investment in their assets in order to operate. These industries face challenges from uncertainty in resource availability and demand for end products, the intricate and complicated nature of their assets, and the complexity of the economic, ecological and social settings in which they operate. In these industries, the application of decision frameworks that account for this uncertainty and complexity in guiding asset investment and development is standard practice. Lessons from asset-intensive industries were applied during the concept feasibility phase of the Reef Restoration and Adaptation Program (RRAP) to establish the investment case for research and development into interventions to help the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) resist, adapt to, and recover from the impacts of climate change. The authors worked with RRAP partners to define a decision framework that included structured decision-making processes (SDM), a cost-benefit analysis (CBA), and a value of information (VoI) analysis, to establish the investment case for intervening on the GBR which led to success in securing Australian Government commitment for the next phase of the Program. With climate change expected to drive increased demand for significant levels of restoration and adaptation investment in large integrated social, ecological and economic assets (such as the GBR), the lessons from RRAP offer insights for the application of decision frameworks to inform public and private investment priorities.
Traditional marine governance can create inferior results. Management decisions customarily reflect fluctuating political priorities and formidable special-interest influence. Governments face distrust and conflicts of interest. Industries face fluctuating or confusing rules. Communities feel disenfranchised to affect change. The marine environment exhibits the impacts. While perceived harm to diverse values and priorities, disputed facts and legal questions create conflict, informed and empowered public engagement prepares governments to forge socially legitimate and environmentally acceptable decisions. Integrity, transparency and inclusiveness matter. This article examines positive contributions engaged communities can make to marine governance and relates it to social license. Social license suffers critique as vague and manufactured. Here its traditional understanding as extra-legal approval that communities give to resource choices is broadened to include a legally sanctioned power to deliberate—social license to engage. The starting hypothesis rests in the legal tradition designating oceans as public assets for which governments hold fiduciary duties of sustainable management benefiting current and future generations. The public trust doctrine houses this legal custom. A procedural due process right for engaged communities should stem from this public-asset classification and afford marine stakeholders standing to ensure management policy accords with doctrinal principles. The (free), prior, informed consent participation standard provides best practice for engaged decision-making. Building on theories from law, social, and political science, we suggest robust public deliberation provides marine use actors methods to earn and sustain their social license to operate, while governmental legitimacy is bolstered by assuring public engagement opportunities are available and protected with outcomes utilized.
Decision support tools (DSTs), like models, GIS-based planning tools and assessment tools, play an important role in incorporating scientific information into decision-making and facilitating policy implementation. In an interdisciplinary Baltic research group, we compiled 43 DSTs developed to support ecosystem-based management of the Baltic Sea and conducted a thorough review. Analyzed DSTs cover a wide variety of policy issues (e.g., eutrophication, biodiversity, human uses) and address environmental as well as socio-economic aspects. In this study, we aim to identify gaps between existing DSTs and end-user needs for DSTs for supporting coastal and marine policy implementation, and to provide recommendations for future DST development. In two online surveys, we assess the awareness and use of DSTs in general, as well as policy implementation challenges and DST needs of representatives of public authorities from all Baltic countries, in particular. Through a policy review we identify major policy issues, policies, and general implementation steps and requirements and develop the synthesis-matrix, which is used to compare DST demand and supply. Our results show that DSTs are predominantly used by researchers. End-users from public authorities use DSTs mostly as background information. Major obstacles for DST use are lacking awareness and experiences. DST demand is strongest for the policy issue eutrophication. Furthermore, DSTs that support the development of plans or programs of measures and assess their impacts and effectiveness are needed. DST supply is low for recently emerging topics, such as non-indigenous species, marine litter, and underwater noise. To overcome existing obstacles, a common database for DSTs available in the BSR is needed. Furthermore, end-users need guidance and training, and cooperation between DST developers and end-users needs to be enhanced to ensure the practical relevance of DSTs for supporting coastal and marine policy implementation. To fill existing gaps, DSTs that address impacts on human welfare and link environmental and socio-economic aspects should be developed. The Baltic Sea Region serves as a best practice case for studying DSTs and their practical use. Hence, our results can provide insights for DST development in other marine regions. Furthermore, our methodological approach is transferable to other areas.
Fishers, and the communities they support face a range of challenges brought on by complexity and uncertainty in their social-ecological systems (SESs). This undermines their ability to achieve sustainability whilst hampering proactive planning and decision-making. To capacitate fishers to apply risk aversion strategies at smaller scales of operation and for managers to apply inclusive management approaches such as the ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF), a better understanding of the relationships and interactions in marine SESs must be developed. At the same time, the EAF requires the inclusion of multiple stakeholders, disciplines and objectives into decision-making processes. Previous work in the southern Cape with fishers, identified drivers of change. Building on this previous research, and using causal mapping, fishers mapped out drivers of change in an iterative process in a problem framing exercise which also highlighted hidden drivers of change and feedback loops. To explore the relative importance of key drivers of change with participants, weighted hierarchies as well as a Bayesian Belief Network (BBN) were developed. By identifying and highlighting these hidden system interactions a more integrated systems view has been facilitated, adding to the understanding of this fishery system. Drivers identified in the weighted hierarchy were consistent with those identified in the causal maps and previous research, of interest is the relative weighting attributed to these drivers. Whereas the weighted hierarchies emphasised the political dimensions, group work already indicated the range of perceptions, reflecting the considerable uncertainties in this SES. While methodologically challenging at first, the individual approach behind the BBN construction yielded a better reflection of the diversity of views and a better balance of political, economic and climate dimensions of drivers of change. We show how, by using SDMTs, the most disenfranchised community members can engage meaningfully in a structured process. As structure is crucial to management processes, the research shows that where the appropriate groundwork, capacity building and resourcing takes place, disenfranchised stakeholders can be integrated into formal management processes; fulfilling a key requirement of an EAF.
Over the past decade, coastal communities and ecosystems in the Northeast United States have begun to face acute and chronic impacts of climate change. Extreme events such as Superstorm Sandy caused stakeholders in this region to examine what information is needed to implement adaptation and mitigation plans to prepare for the next major storm. The objective of this study was to determine research needs identified by stakeholders in the Northeast needed for decision-support and policy creation so that scientists can target future research efforts to fill gaps. Modeled after document analysis methods in Dilling et al. (2014), this study examines documents sourced from local and regional organizations in both the public and private sectors to determine gaps in information necessary for climate resilience planning. Stakeholders throughout the Northeast expressed a need for solution-based research, in particular natural and nature-based solutions such as wetlands. Additionally, there was a need to better understand the economic impacts of climate change on key industries in the region as well as cost-benefit analyses of different adaptation options. It was also determined that government organizations, such as Sea Grant, play a crucial role in supporting stakeholder needs assessments both in terms of funding and providing necessary expertise. This study provides a baseline of stakeholder-expressed research needs in the Northeast to start the conversation between communities and researchers interested in conducting useable science.
The mismatch between the conceptual understanding of the Ecosystem Services (ES) in science, and their practical application, remains. Among the many issues under discussion is the link between knowledge and implementation. Base knowledge built over cases studies exist, but their usefulness for site-specific management purposes is limited. The goal of this work is to illustrate how gap analysis at the local level may contribute to the development of ES research and knowledge transfer. A review of coastal ES was performed, based on peer-reviewed journals, grey literature and other sources, allocating the information per European Nature Information System aquatic habitat coupled with the Common International Classification of Ecosystem Services. Then, a multicriteria decision-making approach was applied to find ES research hotspots, i.e., habitats for which ES research should be prioritized. Three criteria were used: abundance of ES, evidence for the supply of ES, and strength of evidence. The criteria were considered suitable for coastal areas where profound gaps in ES research exist. The Atlantic coastal region adjacent to the Mondego River was used as case study. 231 current and potential ES were listed and mapped for 21 coastal habitats. Cultural services arose as the dominant category. Saltworks emerged as the most recommended habitat for ES research. Results are in accordance with local decision-makers trends of management; we consider the approach to be appropriate as a first step towards the operationalization of the ES concept and flexible enough to be readapted to focus on critical questions that characterize ES research.
The Evidence Based Decision Making (EBDM) paradigm encourages managers to base their decisions on the strongest available evidence, but it has been criticized for placing too much emphasis on the choice of study design method without considering the types of questions that are being addressed as well as other relevant factors such as how well a study is implemented. Here we review the objectives of Australia’s Marine Park network, and identify the types of questions and data analysis that would address these objectives. Critically, we consider how the design of a monitoring program influences our ability to adequately answer these questions, using the strength of evidence hierarchy from the EBDM paradigm to assess the adequacy of different design strategies and other sources of information. It is important for conservation managers to recognize that the types of questions monitoring programs are able to answer depends on how they are designed and how the collected data are analyzed. The socio-political process that dictates where protected areas are placed typically excludes the strongest types of evidence, Random Controlled Trials (RCTs), for certain questions. Evidence bases that are stronger than ones commonly employed to date, however, could be used to provide a causal inference, including for those questions where RCTs are excluded, but only if appropriate designs such as cohort or case-control studies are used, and supported where relevant by appropriate sample frames. Randomized, spatially balanced sampling, together with careful selection of control sites, and more extensive use of propensity scores and structured elicitation of expert judgment, are also practical ways to improve the evidence base for answering the questions that underlie marine park objectives and motivate long-term monitoring programs.
The sustainable management of flats fishing requires establishing limits on the number of boats as its demand continues to grow. This study integrated different techniques to determine the carrying capacity in a recreational fishery: optimum boating density, visual fish census, geographic information system, fishing guides interviews and decision theory. The optimum boating density was based on the effective fishing area (EFA) and on the optimum density. The EFA represented 36% of the bay and was calculated from 53 fishing trips tracked with GPS data loggers. The data were analyzed in a geographic information system that incorporated the effect of the winds on the fish behavior. The maximum number of boats was calculated under four scenarios: northern winds, eastern winds, south-eastern winds and calm winds. The optimum density (average = 1.2 Km2, SD = 0.5) was obtained from anglers' statements. The decision theory results showed that the maximum number of boats under wind variability could be up to 89 boats in the fishery.
Game theory has been an effective tool to generate solutions for decision making in fisheries involving multiple countries and fleets. Here, we use a coupled bio-economic model based on a Baltic Sea dynamic multispecies food web model called BALMAR and, we compare non-cooperative (NC) and cooperative game (grand coalition: GC) solutions. Applications of game theory based on a food web model under climate change have not been studied before and the present study aims to fill this gap in the literature. The study focuses on the effects of climate variability on the biological, harvest and economic output of the game models by examining two different climate scenarios, a first scenario characterized by low temperature and high salinity and a second scenario by high temperature and low salinity. Our results showed that in the first scenario sprat spawning stock biomass (SSB) and harvest dropped dramatically both in the NC and the GC cases whereas, herring and cod SSBs and harvests were higher compared to a base scenario (BS) keeping temperature and salinity at mean historical levels. In the second scenario, the sprat SSB and the harvest was higher for both GC and NC cases while the cod and the herring SSBs and harvests were lower. The total GC payoffs clearly outperformed the NC payoffs across all scenarios. Likewise, the first and second scenario GC payoffs for countries were higher except for Poland. The findings suggested the climate vulnerability of Baltic Sea multi-species fisheries and these results would support future decision-making processes of Baltic Sea fisheries.
Ship strikes are one of the main human-induced threats to whale survival. A variety of measures have been used or proposed to reduce collisions and subsequent mortality of whales. These include operational measures, such as mandatory speed reduction, or technical ones, such as detection tools. There is, however, a lack of a systematic approach to assessing the various measures that can mitigate the risk of ship collisions with whales. In this paper, a holistic approach is proposed to evaluate mitigation measures based on a risk assessment framework that has been adopted by the International Maritime Organization (IMO), namely the Formal Safety Assessment (FSA). Formal Safety Assessment (FSA) is “a rational and systematic process for assessing the risk related to maritime safety and the protection of the marine environment and for evaluating the costs and benefits of IMO's options for reducing these risks”. The paper conceptualizes the use of a systematic risk assessment methodology, namely the FSA, to assess measures to reduce the risk of collisions between ships and whales.