International interest in increasing marine protected area (MPA) coverage reflects broad recognition of the MPA as a key tool for marine ecosystems and fisheries management. Nevertheless, effective management remains a significant challenge. The present study contributes to enriching an understanding of best practices for MPA management through analysis of archived community survey data collected in the Philippines by the Learning Project (LP), a collaboration with United States Coral Triangle Initiative (USCTI), United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and partners. We evaluate stakeholder participation and social ecological interactions among resource users in MPA programs in the Palawan, Occidental Mindoro, and Batangas provinces in the Philippines. Analysis indicates that a complex suite of social ecological factors, including demographics, conservation beliefs, and scientifically correct knowledge influence participation, which in turn is related to perceived MPA performance. Findings indicate positive feedbacks within the system that have potential to strengthen perceptions of MPA success. The results of this evaluation provide empirical reinforcement to current inquiries concerning the role of participation in influencing MPA performance.
Social-Ecological Systems and Human Wellbeing
Urban development along the coastal zone involves land use changes that directly affect coastal ecosystems and services. The Bay of Cádiz, a metropolitan area in the south of Spain, is a study case in which the urban coastal occupation is clearly reflected, with the consequent loss of certain services that the ecosystems offer to the population. The research analyses urban changes in land uses and their impacts for Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) proposals.
The methodology used in the research leads with the definition of the Bay of Cádiz as a Social-Ecological System, where natural and geographical characteristics converge with those social, economic and administrative, for delimiting the study area with an integrated perspective. The study of land uses evolution in the Social-Ecological System of the Bay of Cádiz, as well as the analysis of every ecosystem and their services, allows to obtain those impacts on human well-being that happen from pressures exerted. This analysis is developed through DPSIWR method, in which human well-being is incorporated to obtain ICZM responses.
Results show that land use changes in the Bay of Cádiz involves the loss of those ecosystems that offer the most important services to the population, such as tidal saltmarshes. In this sense, management responses should be focused on the conservation of these threatened services, with the coordination and cooperation among different public administrations.
In Easter Island, most of fisheries regulations are top-down implemented by the central fisheries authority located ~4000 km eastwards. This could generate problems in regulations compliance, given the cultural differences between the western worldview and Polynesian culture of Easter Island. A total of 18 issues that must be considered previously to an intervention in the island were identified. Four of them scored the highest difference between Rapanui and public services representatives. Among them, “Integrating traditions and culture” had a little priority for the public services representatives, but was the most important for the Rapanui. According to the public services representatives in Easter Island and local fishermen, there is a little compliance with regulations related to fisheries and, due to cultural aspects, it is not possible to enforce regulations and apply sanctions. The low compliance with fisheries regulations is due to the lack of representativeness of regulations. Interventions in the island are based on western worldview that does not fit with social and ecological domains of social-ecological system. A flexible governance system, based on decision making at local level in line with local tradition is needed to navigate to a resource management and conservation in Easter Island.
The Caribbean coral reef ecosystem has experienced a long history of deterioration due to various stressors. For instance, over-fishing of parrotfish – an important grazer of macroalgae that can prevent destructive overgrowth of macroalgae – has threatened reef ecosystems in recent decades and stimulated conservation efforts such as the formation of marine protected areas. Here we develop a mathematical model of coupled socio-ecological interactions between reef dynamics and conservation opinion dynamics to better understand how natural and human factors interact individually and in combination to determine coral reef cover. We find that the coupling opinion and reef systems generates complex dynamics that are difficult to anticipate without use of a model. For instance, instead of converging to a stable state of constant coral cover and conservationist opinion, the system can oscillate between low and high live coral cover as human opinion oscillates in a boom-bust cycle between complacency and concern. Out of various possible parameter manipulations, we also find that raising awareness of coral reef endangerment best avoids counter-productive nonlinear feedbacks and always increases and stabilizes live coral reef cover. In conclusion, an improved understanding of coupled opinion-reef dynamics under anthrogenic stressors is possible using coupled socio-ecological models, and such models should be further researched.
Introduction: Interrelated social and ecological challenges demand an understanding of how environmental change and management decisions affect human well-being. This paper outlines a framework for measuring human well-being for ecosystem-based management (EBM). We present a prototype that can be adapted and developed for various scales and contexts. Scientists and managers use indicators to assess status and trends in integrated ecosystem assessments (IEAs). To improve the social science rigor and success of EBM, we developed a systematic and transparent approach for evaluating indicators of human well-being for an IEA.
Methods: Our process is based on a comprehensive conceptualization of human well-being, a scalable analysis of management priorities, and a set of indicator screening criteria tailored to the needs of EBM. We tested our approach by evaluating more than 2000 existing social indicators related to ocean and coastal management of the US West Coast. We focused on two foundational attributes of human well-being: resource access and self-determination.
Outcomes and Discussion: Our results suggest that existing indicators and data are limited in their ability to reflect linkages between environmental change and human well-being, and extremely limited in their ability to assess social equity and justice. We reveal a critical need for new social indicators tailored to answer environmental questions and new data that are disaggregated by social variables to measure equity. In both, we stress the importance of collaborating with the people whose well-being is to be assessed.
Conclusion: Our framework is designed to encourage governments and communities to carefully assess the complex tradeoffs inherent in environmental decision-making.
More than 6000 seafarers have been held hostage by pirates in the last ten years. There is a small but developing body of research showing that these seafarers may face lasting challenges in recovery. However, current studies on this question have been limited by a lack of comparison groups, a lack of statistical power, and other methodological challenges. This study contributes to this body of research through a survey of 101 former hostages and 363 seafarers not known to be exposed to piracy from India, the Philippines, and Ukraine. Using clinically validated scales for tracking lasting impact, this research finds that 25.77% of former hostages show symptoms consistent with PTSD, and that hostage experiences and other maritime traumas can have impacts on seafarer wellbeing and decisions about their career through the impact these traumas have on post-traumatic stress symptoms.
This study evaluates the impacts of coral reef conservation and marine protected areas (MPAs) on the well-being of fishing communities in Central Vietnam. The Cu Lao Cham MPA is chosen as the case study. Coral reef health and four aspects of socioeconomic conditions (i.e., catch rate [also related to food security], access to the resource, employment, and income) are investigated. Data on the four different aspects were gathered from different sources. The results show that there is good evidence for how coral reef conservation can transfer the flow of benefits from the ecosystem to the local people. However, trade-offs also occur as a result of the development of tourism, including the degradation of fish resources and the environment. The managers of the MPA and the community should take into account trade-offs in resource management and should focus on appropriate MPA planning and fisheries management outside the MPA to achieve better outcomes for the local community from coral reef conservation
Planning frameworks such as Ecosystem-Based Marine Spatial Planning are based on socio-ecological systems and require effective design of management goals and objectives, a task often overlooked in conservation and resource planning. This paper discusses research undertaken in a coastal council of Australia, to assess the significance of well-defined goals and objectives as drivers of management plans. SMART criteria and Open Standards for the Practice of Conservation approaches were integrated into a framework to examine management scope of existing plans; assess the quality of stated goals and objectives; analyse the use of natural and socio-economic targets; and provide recommendations for the development of future plans. Findings provided no indication of organizational learning through revision of previous plans, revealing an ongoing planning cycle with ad-hoc reviews frequently driven by policy changes. Main weaknesses identified included linguistics ambiguity; unclear planning hierarchy; lack of clear time-frames; and adoption of highly ambitious plans. The absence of measurable and time-bounded goals and objectives was noted. Additionally, poor definition of targets resulted in goals not meeting the impact-oriented criteria, and objectives were not outcome-oriented. Recommendations drawn in support of mainstreaming the Ecosystem Based Approach in future coastal and marine plans include: explicit definition of societal values; developing complementary cross-realm management goals and objectives; increasing commitment to produce ‘on-the-ground’ outcomes progressively within each planning period; a greater use of pro-active management measures; and providing an economic context to the plans, fostering alignment of financial resources and future investments with the vision developed by the council.
Increasingly, natural resource managers see the marine protected areas that they are responsible for as linked social-ecological systems. This requires an equal focus on managing for both natural and human dimensions of the protected estate. Consequently, identification of indicators that represent the human dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas (LSMPAs) such as the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is critical if these values are to be properly considered as part of standard management practice. Assessment and monitoring of the human dimensions of LSMPAs requires a replicable, collaborative process, rolled out at local scales but comparable across vast, socially and geographically diverse areas. This paper explores the application of a process for the development, assessment, and monitoring of the GBR's human dimensions. The process includes (a) development of a conceptual framework that links indicator sets to the desired state of the GBR's human dimensions; and (b) a collaborative approach including ten practical steps to implement assessment, monitoring, and benchmarking of the human dimensions of an LSMPA. We conclude with examination of challenges and opportunities for implementing this process in the GBR context, specifically with respect to the targets and objectives of the Reef 2050 Long-Term Sustainability Plan.
Anthropogenic threats to natural systems can be exacerbated due to connectivity between marine, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems, complicating the already daunting task of governance across the land-sea interface. Globalization, including new access to markets, can change social-ecological, land-sea linkages via livelihood responses and adaptations by local people. As a first step in understanding these trans-ecosystem effects, we examined exit and entry decisions of artisanal fishers and smallholder farmers on the rapidly globalizing Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. We found that exit and entry decisions demonstrated clear temporal and spatial patterns and that these decisions differed by livelihood. In addition to household characteristics, livelihood exit and entry decisions were strongly affected by new access to regional and global markets. The natural resource implications of these livelihood decisions are potentially profound as they provide novel linkages and spatially-explicit feedbacks between terrestrial and marine ecosystems. Our findings support the need for more scientific inquiry in understanding trans-ecosystem tradeoffs due to linked-livelihood transitions as well as the need for a trans-ecosystem approach to natural resource management and development policy in rapidly changing coastal regions.