Environmental NGOs are increasingly called upon to respect human rights when undertaking conservation programs. Evaluating a family planning program running alongside marine management measures in Madagascar, we find that family planning services provided by an environmental NGO can support women’s reproductive rights.
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.
The world’s oceans and coasts are awash in a sea of politics. The marine environment is increasingly busy, changing, and a site of degradation, marginalization, injustice, contestation and conflict over declining resources and occupied spaces at local to global scales. Themes of political ecology, such as power and politics, narratives and knowledge, scale and history, environmental justice and equity, are thus salient issues to understand in ocean and coastal governance and management. This subject review examines research on these themes of political ecology in the ocean and coastal environment and reflects on how the insights gained might be applied to governance and management. Political ecology provides important insights into: the influence of power in ocean management and governance processes; the manner in which narratives, knowledge, and scale are used to legitimize and shape policies and management efforts; the effects of historical trajectories on present circumstances, options, and practices; and the nature of inequities and environmental injustices that can occur in the marine environment. Moreover, ocean and coastal researchers, practitioners, and decision makers ought to engage with the political processes and injustices occurring in the ocean. Moving from critical insights to constructive engagements will ensure that political ecology helps to plant seeds of hope in the Anthropocene ocean.
Climate change–reflected in significant environmental changes such as warming, sea level rise, shifts in salinity, oxygen and other ocean conditions–is expected to impact marine organisms and associated fisheries. This study provides an assessment of the potential impacts on, and the vulnerability of, marine biodiversity and fisheries catches in the Arabian Gulf under climate change. To this end, using three separate niche modelling approaches under a ‘business-as-usual’ climate change scenario, we projected the future habitat suitability of the Arabian Gulf (also known as the Persian Gulf) for 55 expert-identified priority species, including charismatic and non-fish species. Second, we conducted a vulnerability assessment of national economies to climate change impacts on fisheries. The modelling outputs suggested a high rate of local extinction (up to 35% of initial species richness) by 2090 relative to 2010. Spatially, projected local extinctions are highest in the southwestern part of the Gulf, off the coast of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). While the projected patterns provided useful indicators of potential climate change impacts on the region’s diversity, the magnitude of changes in habitat suitability are more uncertain. Fisheries-specific results suggested reduced future catch potential for several countries on the western side of the Gulf, with projections differing only slightly among models. Qatar and the UAE were particularly affected, with more than a 26% drop in future fish catch potential. Integrating changes in catch potential with socio-economic indicators suggested the fisheries of Bahrain and Iran may be most vulnerable to climate change. We discuss limitations of the indicators and the methods used, as well as the implications of our overall findings for conservation and fisheries management policies in the region.
The ocean is the next frontier for many conservation and development activities. Growth in marine protected areas, fisheries management, the blue economy, and marine spatial planning initiatives are occurring both within and beyond national jurisdictions. This mounting activity has coincided with increasing concerns about sustainability and international attention to ocean governance. Yet, despite growing concerns about exclusionary decision-making processes and social injustices, there remains inadequate attention to issues of social justice and inclusion in ocean science, management, governance and funding. In a rapidly changing and progressively busier ocean, we need to learn from past mistakes and identify ways to navigate a just and inclusive path towards sustainability. Proactive attention to inclusive decision-making and social justice is needed across key ocean policy realms including marine conservation, fisheries management, marine spatial planning, the blue economy, climate adaptation and global ocean governance for both ethical and instrumental reasons. This discussion paper aims to stimulate greater engagement with these critical topics. It is a call to action for ocean-focused researchers, policy-makers, managers, practitioners, and funders.
Large marine protected areas (LMPAs) are increasingly being established and have a high profile in marine conservation. LMPAs are expected to achieve multiple objectives, and because of their size are postulated to avoid trade-offs that are common in smaller MPAs. However, evaluations across multiple outcomes are lacking. We used a systematic approach to code several social and ecological outcomes of 12 LMPAs. We found evidence of three types of trade-offs: trade-offs between different ecological resources (supply trade-offs); trade-offs between ecological resource conditions and the well-being of resource users (supply-demand trade-offs); and trade-offs between the well-being outcomes of different resource users (demand trade-offs). We also found several divergent outcomes that were attributed to influences beyond the scope of the LMPA. We suggest that despite their size, trade-offs can develop in LMPAs and should be considered in planning and design. LMPAs may improve their performance across multiple social and ecological objectives if integrated with larger-scale conservation efforts.
Access to marine resources and the ocean is important for the well-being of coastal populations.
In Canada, the ability of many coastal and Indigenous communities to access and benefit from the ocean is a growing issue. Access for coastal and Indigenous communities should be a priority consideration in all policies and decision-making processes related to fisheries and the ocean in Canada. Taking action now could reverse the current trend and ensure that coastal and Indigenous communities thrive in the future.
Access, defined as the ability to use and benefit from available marine resources or areas of the ocean or coast, is important for the well-being and sustainability of coastal communities. In Canada, access to marine resources and ocean spaces is a significant issue for many coastal and Indigenous communities due to intensifying activity and competition in the marine environment.
Fisheries management is often data-limited, and conducted at spatial scales that are too large to address the needs of Indigenous peoples, whose cultures depend upon the local availability of marine resources.
Large-scale marine protected areas (LSMPAs) are rapidly increasing. Due to their sheer size, complex socio-political realities, and distinct local cultural perspectives and economic needs, implementing and managing LSMPAs successfully creates a number of human dimensions challenges. It is timely and important to explore the human dimensions of LSMPAs. This paper draws on the results of a global “Think Tank on the Human Dimensions of Large Scale Marine Protected Areas” involving 125 people from 17 countries, including representatives from government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academia, professionals, industry, cultural/indigenous leaders and LSMPA site managers.