Topic: Fisheries

Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
March, 2014

Rebecca L. Lewisona, Larry B. Crowder, Bryan P. Wallace, Jeffrey E. Moore, Tara Cox, Ramunas Zydelis, Sara McDonald, Andrew DiMatteo, Daniel C. Dunn, Connie Y. Kot, Rhema Bjorkland, Shaleyla Kelez, Candan Soykan, Kelly R. Stewart, Michelle Sims, Andre Boustany, Andrew J. Read, Patrick Halpin, W. J. Nichols,
and Carl Safina

Biological Conservation
January, 2014

Kyle S. Van Houtan and Jack N. Kittinger

Biodiversity conservation is often limited by short-term records of abundance, geographic distribution, and population dynamics. Historical information can provide a context for assessing current population status and defining recovery, especially for populations recovering from chronic human overexploitation. Here we analyze three decades (1948–1974) of commercial landings from a green turtle fishery in the Hawaiian Islands. While this turtle fishery was small in scale – with a limited effort, productivity, and revenue – we find dramatic declines in catch per unit effort and a spatial progression that strongly suggest rapid local population depletion. Additional analyses of economic data, restaurant menus, and expert interviews indicate the fishery was driven by limited, local demand. The seemingly incommensurate scale of the fishery and its impacts reveal the Hawaiian green turtle population was already significantly depleted when commercial fishery began. We describe how historical studies can inform conservation management, including population assessments.

September, 2013

Joshua E. Cinner, Cindy Huchery, Emily S. Darling, Austin T. Humphries, Nicholas A.J. Graham, Christina C. Hicks, Nadine Marshall, and Tim R. McClanahan. 

There is an increasing need to evaluate the links between the social and ecological dimensions of human vulnerability to climate change. We use an empirical case study of 12 coastal communities and associated coral reefs in Kenya to assess and compare five key ecological and social components of the vulnerability of coastal social-ecological systems to temperature induced coral mortality. We examined whether ecological components of vulnerability varied between government operated no-take marine reserves, community-based reserves, and openly fished areas. Overall, fished sites were marginally more vulnerable than community-based and government marine reserves. Social sensitivity was indicated by the occupational composition of each community, including the importance of fishing relative to other occupations, as well as the susceptibility of different fishing gears to the effects of coral bleaching on target fish species. Together, these results show that different communities have relative strengths and weaknesses in terms of social-ecological vulnerability to climate change.

Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment
August, 2013

Kyle S. Van Houtan, Loren McClenachan, and John N. Kittinger.

Global fisheries declines have alerted ecologists that long-term ecosystem assessments require diverse information sources. Non-traditional sources of information on past marine ecosystems have included photographs, newspapers, artwork, and living memory. To date, this information has been taken primarily from historical harvest records, but a secondary and largely untapped wealth of data exists on consumption. We analyzed 376 menus from 154 different restaurants in Hawaii, dated from 1928 to 1974, to supplement official fishery landing records and to infer changes in the availability of marine resources. The menus capture many of the marked shifts reflected in fishery landings, and perhaps additional changes in market supply and in public preference. When compiled and interpreted in the appropriate socioeconomic context, menus have great potential as a window to the past.

Global Environmental Change
August, 2013

Christina C. Hicks, Nicholas A. J. Graham, and Joshua E. Cinner.

Managing ecosystems in a changing environment faces the challenge of balancing diverse competing perspectives on which ecosystem services – nature's benefits – to prioritize. Consequently, we measured and compared how different stakeholders (managers, scientists and fishers) prioritize specific coral reef ecosystem services. Managers’ priorities were more aligned with scientists’ priorities but all stakeholder groups agreed that fishery, education, and habitat were high priorities. Fishers tended to assigned greater estimates to fishery and education, managers to culture, and scientists to coastal protection. Furthermore, using network analysis to map the interactions between stakeholders’ priorities, we found distinct synergies and trade-offs in how ecosystem services were prioritized, representing areas of agreement and conflict. We suggest that measuring ecosystem service priorities can highlight key areas of agreement and conflict, both within and across stakeholder groups, to be addressed when communicating and prioritizing decisions.

Pacific Science
July, 2013

Alan M. Friedlander, Janna M. Shackeroff, and John N. Kittinger.

The Hawaiians of old depended on the sea for survival and, as a result, developed a sophisticated understanding of the natural processes regulating resource abundance and effective strategies to manage those resources. After Western contact, sociopolitical upheaval led to the breakdown of the traditional Hawaiian fisheries management system, though practice and knowledge continued. Even today, subsistence fishing is culturally and economically important to many communities throughout Hawai‘i, but declining resources over the past century have raised concerns about their sustainability. To confront this issue, a number of communities are currently strengthening local influence and accountability for local marine resources through revitalization of local traditions and resource knowledge. This renaissance of traditional community-based management and rediscovery of traditional techniques offers great promise for improving the condition of Hawai‘i's coastal marine environment and the management of its fisheries.

Pacific Science
July, 2013

John N. Kittinger

The Asia-Pacific region is home to a diversity of coastal cultures that are highly reliant on the ocean and its resources for sustenance, livelihoods, and cultural continuity. Small-scale fisheries account for most of the livelihoods associated with fisheries, produce about as much fish as industrialized fisheries, and contribute substantially to the economies of countries and territories in the Asia-Pacific region. Yet these resource systems and their human communities face numerous local and global threats, and social vulnerability to these pressures places at risk the livelihoods, food security, well-being, and traditional lifestyles of coastal communities and cultures of the Asia-Pacific region. This article and special issue provide an overview of the challenges and opportunities for small-scale and traditional fisheries and the role of human dimensions research in the sustainable governance of these resource systems. 

Pacific Science
July, 2013

John N. Kittinger

Comanagement of natural resources involves shared management authority and responsibility between resource users or community groups at local levels and central government authorities. In data-poor, small-scale fisheries systems, community-based planning efforts can be informed by participatory research approaches that involve community members and stakeholder groups in the design, development, and implementation of research. This article draws upon research in Maunalua Bay, O'ahu , Hawai'i, to illustrate the utility of participatory assessments in communities, institutions, and organizations as they transition toward comanagement arrangements. Participatory resource assessments hold promise for building local social adaptive capacity, bringing together disparate stakeholder groups, and building place-based natural resource management plans reflective of local contexts and community priorities.

Conservation Biology
June, 2013

Mary Gleason, Erika M. Feller, Matt Merrifield, Stephen Copps, Rod Fujita, Michael Bell, Steve Rienecke, and Chuck Cook.

Transferrable and marketable fishing privileges, including permits and quotas, make it possible to use private-sector transactions as conservation strategies to address some fishery management issues. Abating the effects of bottom trawling on the seafloor and bycatch and discard associated with the practice has proven challenging. On the Central Coast of California, The Nature Conservancy (TNC), Environmental Defense Fund, local fishers and local, state, and federal authorities worked collaboratively to protect large areas of the seafloor from bottom trawling for groundfish while addressing economic impacts of trawl closures. Contingent on the adoption of trawl-closure areas by a federal regulatory agency, TNC used private funds to purchase federal groundfish trawl permits and vessels from willing sellers. The private transactional strategy was designed to remedy some deficiencies in previous federal buyouts, to mitigate economic impacts from trawl closures, and to carefully align with a public regulatory process to protect “essential fish habitat” under the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act. This is the first time a large conservation organization has taken an ownership position in a fishery and demonstrates how nongovernmental organizations can invest in fisheries to improve environmental and economic performance.

Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability
June, 2013

John N. Kittinger, Elena M. Finkbeiner, Natalie C. Ban, Kenneth Broad, Mark H. Carr, Joshua E. Cinner, S. Gelcich, Myriah L. Cornwell, J. Zach Koehn, Xavier Basurto, Meg R. Caldwell, and Larry B. Crowder.

Small-scale fisheries (SSF) account for most of the livelihoods associated with fisheries worldwide and support food security for millions globally, yet face critical challenges from local threats and global pressures. Here, we describe how emerging concepts from social-ecological systems thinking can illuminate potential solutions to challenges facing SSF management, with real-world examples of three key themes: (1) external drivers of change; (2) social-ecological traps; and (3) diagnostic approaches and multiple outcomes in SSF. The purpose of this article is to aid practitioners by moving a step closer toward making these theoretical concepts operational and to stimulate thinking on how these linkages can inform a transition toward sustainability in small-scale fisheries.