Our Galapagos fishers agent-based model (GF-ABM) considers strategies of household livelihood alternatives with the central proposition that fishers are being “pushed” and “pulled” into the tourism industry, but not all fishers are able to obtain alternate employment nor do all want to transition to part- or full-time employment in non-fishing activities. The processes embedded in our GF-ABM examine fishers as a social-ecological system, where livelihood transitions are modeled, and the multidimensional drivers of change are examined by integrating processes and relationships among agents, a dynamic environment, and the influence of personal and professional characteristics as well as exogenous dynamics into their employment patterns. The GF-ABM contains a demographic element that models basic demographic changes at the household level (household agents). The model also contains an employment management component in which fisher agents select jobs among three employment sectors – fisheries, tourism, and government. The tourism and government sectors each have three tiers of jobs that require increasing agent skills. Fishers make their employment decisions based on their preference to remain in fishing, the availability of jobs in the three employment sectors, and their personal and professional qualifications that facilitate their movement among the employment sectors. Households contain members that are non-fisher agents, and fishers belong to households. Income and expenses are calculated for both fishers and household agents. In this chapter, we describe the key elements of the GF-ABM and the fundamental processes that are examined within a population-environment context.
Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing
The coastal and marine environment is often managed according to the principles of sustainable development, which include environmental, economic, and social dimensions. While each are equally important, social sustainability receives a lower priority in both policy and research. Methodologies for assessing social sustainability are less developed than for environmental and economic sustainability, and there is a lack of data on the social aspects of sustainable development (such as social equity), which constitutes a barrier to understanding social considerations and integrating them into natural resource management. This paper explores a threat and risk assessment to the marine estate in New South Wales, Australia, which identified and categorised both the benefits that communities gain from the marine estate and the threats to those benefits. A broad range of benefits were identified including participation (e.g., socialising and sense of community), enjoyment (e.g., enjoying the biodiversity and beauty), cultural heritage and use, intrinsic and bequest values, the viability of businesses, and direct economic values. Threats to community benefits were categorised as resource use conflict, environmental, governance, public safety, critical knowledge gaps and lack of access. An integrated threat and risk assessment approach found that the priority threats to community benefits were environmental threats (e.g., water pollution), critical knowledge gaps (e.g., inadequate social and economic information), governance (e.g., lack of compliance), resource-use conflict (e.g., anti-social behaviour), and lack of access (e.g., loss of fishing access). Threat and risk assessment is an evidence-based tool that is useful for marine planning because it provides a structured approach to incorporating multiple types of knowledge and enables limited resources to be targeted to the threats identified as being most important to address.
Change, adaptation, and resilience have emerged as central concerns in the study of natural resource governance. The mobility of fisheries makes them particularly dynamic and susceptible to long term drivers of movement, such as changing climatic conditions and human pressures. To explore how movement impacts resource systems, this paper presents a mixed-method empirical analysis of long-term geographic shifts and social response in the Northeast U.S. summer flounder fishery from 1996 to 2014. First, the paper describes changes in the distribution of summer flounder and the catch location of commercial fishing trips landing summer flounder. This is followed by a description of the institutional context of summer flounder fishery management and a narrative policy analysis of the ongoing regulatory process. Results indicate significant northward movement of both resource and resource users. Fisheries movement patterns are a result of both ecological change, and an institutional context that allows for some types of fishery mobility while constraining others. Significant conflict has emerged over the distribution of resource access and benefits as these fishery shifts occur within a spatially allocative, and relatively static management context. The analysis identifies competing policy narratives that have emerged to advocate for different forms of adaptation. Narratives offer contesting constructions of the nature and extent of locational shifts, and the fundamental goals of allocation. The differences in these narratives highlight how policy history shapes contemporary disagreements about appropriate response. This fishery serves as a case study for exploring human response to large scale, long-term movements of a natural resource.
The existence and dilemmas of metropolitan fisheries have been overlooked in research on the resilience of coastal marine socio-ecological systems. Yet, they could produce a model of sustainable fisheries with significant global impact. To fill that research gap, this study investigates an inshore fishery population that has sustained itself within Hong Kong's rapid urban development, seeking to understand the reasons for its survival. The results indicate that the values of self-reliance and entrepreneurialism exacted by fishing enabled the fishers to make necessary adaptations and reposition themselves in mariculture and service industries. These new ventures, while retaining marine-based livelihoods, draw the fishers away from fishing activities. The paradox of this value-based resilience of a metropolitan fishery is discussed for its potential to generate policies to strengthen linkages among the fishers’ business activities and to create a sustainable fishery model useful in other contexts.
We combined different data sources to analyse key changes in the shellfisheries of Galicia (NW Spain). The shellfishing capacity of this region, a major fishing power in Europe, has been severely reduced in recent decades. The number of vessels has fallen by 13%, vessel length, capacity and engine power have decreased by 10%, 7% and 3%, respectively, while the number of on-foot shellfishers has halved. Landings and sale value of shellfish species have declined in the last decade by 16% and by 13%, respectively. This decline follows a period of recovery from the mid-1980s, when coastal fishery management were transferred from the Spanish to the regional government. Production of local clam species has been progressively abandoned in favour of the foreign Japanese carpet shell Ruditapes philippinarum, leading to losses in sales value and increasing market risks. Overfishing, poaching, degradation of habitats, pollution, disease outbreaks and ocean warming may be responsible for the drop in landings and sales value of key species like edible cockle Cerastoderma edule and Atlantic goose barnacle Pollicipes pollicipes. Despite the development of new fisheries, e.g. algae, anemone and polychaete harvesting, the overall declining trend has important socioecological implications for Galician society, because of the traditional link between shellfishing and coastal communities. The socioecological sustainability of this sector requires policies to be developed by the regional government regarding the support of multidisciplinary research and surveillance, increase control over pollution and poaching, a greater focus on the production of native species and the strengthening of co-management frameworks.
Inland aquatic ecosystems play an important part in the delivery and support of ecosystem services. However, these ecosystems are subject to stressors associated with human activities such as invasive species introduction and landscape alteration. There is a delicate balance between maintaining good status of the ecosystem whilst meeting the needs of those stakeholders dependent on the ecosystem services it supplies, and where there are many different stakeholders, each with different aspirations and dependencies on the ecosystem, it can be difficult to strike a balance on suitable management measures to put in place. A better understanding of the interactions between the human and ecological functions of the ecosystem (a socio-ecological systems (SES) approach) can enable an effective dialogue to be opened to secure management solutions of best fit. In this study we took a SES approach to explore the dependencies and interactions in the Lough Erne catchment with a range of stakeholders representing the use of the Lough. In particular, we explored how individual stakeholder goals were perceived to be affected by both the biodiversity and activities found in the catchment. Results suggest there are distinct components deemed integral to the success of stakeholder goals in this system, including ‘key habitat components’ and ‘policy relevant species’, as well as activities associated with ‘conservation and recreation’ and ‘scientific research’. Those components which were seen to limit the potential achievement of most goals included invasive species, and in particular, more recently introduced invasives, as well as extractive industries. Consideration of the similarity in goals based on their perceived interactions with the activities and biodiversity of the system indicated that there were shared dependencies between some stakeholders, but also differences that highlight the potential for conflict. Future management scenarios should take consideration of the key limiting and enabling factors identified here.
In the last 15 years, conservation has shifted increasingly towards perspectives based on the instrumental value of nature, where what counts is what provides benefits to humans. The ecosystem services framework embraces this vision of nature through monetary valuation of the environment to correct market failures and government distortions that hinder efficient allocation of public goods, including goods and services provided by biodiversity and ecosystems. The popularity of this approach is reflected in different countries legislation; for instance, US, EU and UK have introduced economic criteria for comparing costs and benefits of environmental policies in protecting ecosystem services.
From an operational perspective, the ecosystem services framework requires ecologists to estimate how the supply of services is affected by changes in the functionality and/or the extent of ecosystems; and economists to identify how changes in the supply affect the flow of direct and indirect benefits to people. However, this approach may be simplistic when faced with the complexity of social-ecological systems. We investigated this for three different marine services: assimilative capacity of waste, coastal defense and renewable energy. We find that economic valuation could provide efficient and fair allocations in the case of assimilative capacity, but leads to social clashes between outputs generated by cost benefit analysis and citizens' expectation in the case of coastal defense. In the case of renewable energy, controversies can be generated by regulatory mechanisms that are not necessarily aligned with the interests of industry or important social groups. We conclude that there is a need to integrate perspectives arising from utilitarian allocation of resources with those involving legislation and communal values in order to reconcile conflicting interests and better sustain marine social-ecological systems.
Concerns about the social consequences of conservation have spurred increased attention the monitoring and evaluation of the social impacts of conservation projects. This has resulted in a growing body of research that demonstrates how conservation can produce both positive and negative social, economic, cultural, health, and governance consequences for local communities. Yet, the results of social monitoring efforts are seldom applied to adaptively manage conservation projects. Greater attention is needed to incorporating the results of social impact assessments in long‐term conservation management to minimize negative social consequences and maximize social benefits. We bring together insights from social impact assessment, adaptive management, social learning, knowledge coproduction, cross‐scale governance, and environmental planning to propose a definition and framework for adaptive social impact management (ASIM). We define ASIM as the cyclical process of monitoring and adaptively managing social impacts over the life‐span of an initiative through the 4 stages of profiling, learning, planning, and implementing. We outline 14 steps associated with the 4 stages of the ASIM cycle and provide guidance and potential methods for social‐indicator development, predictive assessments of social impacts, monitoring and evaluation, communication of results, and identification and prioritization of management responses. Successful ASIM will be aided by engaging with best practices – including local engagement and collaboration in the process, transparent communication of results to stakeholders, collective deliberation on and choice of interventions, documentation of shared learning at the site level, and the scaling up of insights to inform higher‐level conservation policies‐to increase accountability, trust, and perceived legitimacy among stakeholders. The ASIM process is broadly applicable to conservation, environmental management, and development initiatives at various scales and in different contexts.
Conservation actions most often occur in peopled seascapes and landscapes. As a result, conservation decisions cannot rely solely on evidence from the natural sciences, but must also be guided by the social sciences, the arts and the humanities. However, we are concerned that too much of the current attention is on research that serves an instrumental purpose, by which we mean that the social sciences are used to justify and promote status quo conservation practices. The reasons for engaging the social sciences, as well as the arts and the humanities, go well beyond making conservation more effective. In this editorial, we briefly reflect on how expanding the types of social science research and the contributions of the arts and the humanities can help to achieve the transformative potential of conservation.
An integrated understanding of both social and ecological aspects of environmental issues is essential to address pressing sustainability challenges. An integrated social-ecological systems perspective is purported to provide a better understanding of the complex relationships between humans and nature. Despite a threefold increase in the amount of social-ecological research published between 2010 and 2015, it is unclear whether these approaches have been truly integrative. We conducted a systematic literature review to investigate the conceptual, methodological, disciplinary, and functional aspects of social-ecological integration. In general, we found that overall integration is still lacking in social-ecological research. Some social variables deemed important for addressing sustainability challenges are underrepresented in social-ecological studies, e.g., culture, politics, and power. Disciplines such as ecology, urban studies, and geography are better integrated than others, e.g., sociology, biology, and public administration. In addition to ecology and urban studies, biodiversity conservation plays a key brokerage role in integrating other disciplines into social-ecological research. Studies founded on systems theory have the highest rates of integration. Highly integrative studies combine different types of tools, involve stakeholders at appropriate stages, and tend to deliver practical recommendations. Better social-ecological integration must underpin sustainability science. To achieve this potential, future social-ecological research will require greater attention to the following: the interdisciplinary composition of project teams, strategic stakeholder involvement, application of multiple tools, incorporation of both social and ecological variables, consideration of bidirectional relationships between variables, and identification of implications and articulation of clear policy recommendations.