While hydrocarbon exploration and extraction in the Arctic ebb and flow, reduced sea ice has opened new travel routes across the Arctic. The opening of the Northwest Passage has allowed larger ships (including oil tankers) and higher traffic into remote regions. More ice loss is expected in the future. With this comes the potential for hydrocarbon spills. To quantify the ecosystem impacts of a spill in the Alaska North Slope region, an Ecospace model using the Ecopath with Ecosim software was developed. We highlight the impacts of four potential hydrocarbon contamination scenarios: a subsurface crude oil pipeline release, a surface platform oil spill, a surface cruise ship diesel spill, and a surface tanker oil spill. Hydrocarbon contamination was modeled using SIMAP (Spill Impact Model Analysis Package), which was developed from the oil fate sub-model in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment Model for the US Department of the Interior and under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act of 1980 (CERCLA). Spatial-temporal SIMAP results were coupled to the Ecospace model. We show that in all four hydrocarbon contamination scenarios, there are spatial changes in harvested species resulting in long-term declines in harvest levels for the communities within the model area (Nuiqsut, Kaktovik, and Barrow Alaska), depending on the severity of the scenario. Responses to hydrocarbon events are likely to be slow in the Arctic, limited by the ice-free season. We highlight this area for scenario testing as ecological impacts are also an issue of food security to the local communities and human health issue.
Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing
“Forecasting and Understanding Trends, Uncertainty and Responses of North Pacific Marine Ecosystems” (FUTURE) is the flagship integrative Scientific Program undertaken by the member nations and affiliates of the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES). A principal goal of FUTURE is to develop a framework for investigating interactions across disciplinary dimensions in order to most effectively understand large-scale ecosystem changes and resulting impacts on coastal communities. These interactions are complex, often nonlinear, occur across a range of spatial and temporal scales, and can complicate management approaches to shared and trans-boundary problems. Here, we present a Social–Ecological–Environmental Systems (SEES) framework to coordinate and integrate marine science within PICES. We demonstrate the application of this framework by applying it to four “crisis” case studies: (a) species alternation in the western North Pacific; (b) ecosystem impacts of an extreme heat wave in the eastern North Pacific; (c) jellyfish blooms in the western North Pacific; and (d) Pacific basin-scale warming and species distributional shifts. Our approach fosters a common transdisciplinary language and knowledge base across diverse expertise, providing the basis for developing better integrated end-to-end models. PICES provides the structure required to address these and other multi-national, inter-disciplinary issues we face in the North Pacific. An effective and comprehensive SEES approach is broadly applicable to understanding and maintaining resilient marine ecosystems within a changing climate.
Marine protected areas (MPAs) are among the most widely accepted methods of marine management. MPAs are not, however, always placed such that they can maximize impact on conservation and livelihoods. Current MPA guidelines fall short in focusing primarily on biophysical criteria, overlooking interrelated socioeconomic factors. We identified 32 socioeconomic factors that influence whether MPA placement has an impact on biodiversity and/or livelihoods and weighted the quality of evidence using a novel “Evidence for Impact” Score. Results suggest that stakeholder engagement, poverty, population density, and strong leadership have most potential to positively impact biodiversity and/or livelihoods, but the direction of impact (i.e., positive or negative) can be context-dependent. We found a generally poor evidence base for impact evaluation of socioeconomic factors: though some factors were highly cited, few studies actually evaluate impact. Results indicate the need for a more interdisciplinary approach to MPA placement and more empirical studies that assess impact.
A social-ecological system approach has been applied to measure the complexity of sustainable tourism development on small islands. In general, tourism development and ecosystem management have been shown to be relatively unbalanced. Tourism development attempts have not yet been accompanied by environmental management efforts. In this paper, the social-ecological status is measured to improve the sustainable development mechanism with appropriate indicators. Using the Gili Matra Islands as a case study, the social-ecological status of tourism in the region was examined using the social-ecological status index (SESI), a coupling index of the coastal waters quality index (CWQI), the coordination degree model (CCDM) and the index of information entropy weight (IEW) as tools for measuring and evaluating the social-ecological status and sustainable development of small island tourism.
Ecosystem-based management approaches are increasingly used to address the critical linkages between human and biophysical systems. Yet, many of the social-ecological systems (SES) frameworks typically used in coastal and marine management neither represent the social and ecological aspects of the system in equal breadth or depth, nor do they adequately operationalize the social, or human, dimensions. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s West Hawai‘i Integrated Ecosystem Assessment, a program grounded in ecosystem-based management, recognizes the importance of place-based human dimensions in coastal and marine resource management that speak to a fuller range of social and cultural dimensions of ecosystem-based management. Previous work with stakeholders in West Hawai‘i revealed noteworthy SES dynamics and highlighted both the importance and lack of understanding of the links between ecosystem services and human well-being, particularly services that enhance and maintain active cultural connections to a place. While cultural ecosystem services and human well-being are often recognized as important elements of SES, there have been substantial barriers to fully representing them, likely due to perceived difficulties of measuring non-material benefits and values, many of which are socially constructed and subjective. This study examined SES frameworks related to cultural ecosystem services and human well-being to advance the representation and operationalization of these important concepts in coastal and marine management. We describe key insights and questions focused on: (1) points of inclusion for human dimensions in SES models, (2) culturally relevant domains of human well-being and related indicators, (3) the importance of place and its interaction with scale, and finally (4) the tension between a gestalt vs. discrete approach to modeling, assessing, and sustainably managing social-ecological systems.
Aquaculture is a major contributor to global food production, but has attracted considerable controversy. Disagreements over the social and ecological impacts of aquaculture (positive and negative) have hindered further expansion of aquaculture production, particularly in wealthy democratic countries. This article presents findings from a series of workshops bringing international aquaculture scholars together from the natural and social sciences to examine and compare social-ecological challenges facing aquaculture development in five nations: Canada, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. This multinational comparison provides unique insights into common and particular challenges in aquaculture governance – a dimension that is missing in current literature about the industry. A political ecology framework from the environmental social sciences is used to examine how natural and human phenomena interact to shape these challenges and frame the conflicts that often result. The analysis reveals a wide range of social-ecological factors limiting aquaculture expansion in the five countries, including access to suitable environments, interactions with other sectors, and policy and regulatory gaps – not only with respect to aquaculture, but also on related issues such as marine spatial planning and the involvement of indigenous peoples in decision-making. The findings provide preliminary guidance for future policy development and comparative aquaculture research.
Numerous conservation initiatives have been undertaken to protect large marine animals by legal protection and implementing marine protected areas (MPAs). Despite these efforts, many marine animals are still threatened, partly due to lack of compliance with conservation regulations. Meanwhile, research suggests that conservation efforts which also take socio-economic factors such as fishermen's livelihoods into account during planning and implementation are more likely to succeed. This study examined the compliance and socio-economic situation of local fishing communities at three sites in Indonesia (Nusa Penida, Tanjung Luar and Komodo National Park) where shark and manta ray conservation efforts have been implemented. 59 local residents were interviewed. The results showed that 49% of those residents had experienced a deterioration and 37% an improvement in their economic situation since conservation efforts in the form of species protection or MPAs were implemented in their area. The economic situation of the residents was associated with their access to alternative livelihoods, access to information on conservation rules, and relationship with conservation authorities. Particularly, interviewees with easier access to alternative income and a positive relationship with conservation authorities also experienced an increase in their economy. In addition, compliance with conservation efforts was positively related to improved economic situation, access to alternative livelihoods and information on conservation rules. These factors all differed among the three study sites, leading to different compliance levels between sites. The results of this study indicate the importance of considering socio-economic factors and of involving local communities when planning and implementing conservation efforts.
Like many other countries, France and Japan now have their own ocean policy, though at different stage of development and in quite different context. On the European side, buzz words like ‘Blue Growth’, ‘Maritime Spatial Planning’, and others, are on the forefront and could make us feel that ocean policies are primarily focused beyond the coast, in offshore waters and their corresponding human activities, somewhat leaving coastal communities in the back seat. Through case studies, we will try to show that ocean policies should be coast-to-coast, across oceans, regional seas, or local well delineated water body, never forgetting that, beyond ‘Blue growth’, we should be heading towards a ‘Blue society’.
Marine fisheries plays an important role in ensuring food security and providing livelihoods in South Africa, as in many other developing coastal States. Transnational fisheries crime seriously undermines these goals. Drawing on empirical research this contribution highlights the complexity of law enforcement at the interface between low-level poaching and organised crime in the small-scale fisheries sector with reference to a South African case study. Specifically, this article examines the relationship between a fisheries-crime law enforcement approach and the envisaged management approach of the South African Small-Scale Fisheries Policy.
Coastal communities, indigenous peoples, and small-scale fishers rely on the ocean for livelihoods, for subsistence, for wellbeing and for cultural continuity. Thus, understanding the human dimensions of the world’s peopled seas and coasts is fundamental to evidence-based decision-making across marine policy realms, including marine conservation, marine spatial planning, fisheries management, the blue economy and climate adaptation. This perspective article contends that the marine social sciences must inform the pursuit of sustainable oceans. To this end, the article introduces this burgeoning field and briefly reviews the insights that social science can offer to guide ocean and coastal policy and management. The upcoming United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (2021–2030) provides a tremendous opportunity to build on the current interest, need for and momentum in the marine social sciences. We will be missing the boat if the marine social sciences do not form an integral and substantial part of the mandate and investments of this global ocean science for sustainability initiative.