Can fishers adapt to environmental change?

Sustainable fisheries management plays a critical role in supporting healthy marine ecosystems and well-being of millions of people. Yet, our understanding of the outcomes of fisheries management as a social-ecological system is limited in comparison to that provided by either the biophysical or the social perspective alone. In the Baltic Sea, management interventions focused on ecosystem recovery contributed to unintended changes in the fishing strategy diversity practiced by Swedish fishers. We evaluated how these changes affected the capacity of Swedish fishers to adapt to future ecosystem changes.

The results indicate that the changes in the fishing strategy diversity increased the adaptability of the Swedish Baltic Sea fishers to changing ecological conditions. On the other hand, the changes may have made the Baltic Sea more vulnerable to poor management. This empirical study demonstrates that consideration for the complexity and changing nature of fisher behavior is crucial when assessing fisheries management outcomes, and when designing policies that aim to maintain adaptability in the uncertain and dynamic fish industry. – Yletyinen et al. 2018

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Read Stockholm Resilience Centre research news about the article: Why scientists need to pay more attention to the behaviour and interactions of resource users

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