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Keynote speakers

Workshop 1: Marine ecosystem-based governance: From rhetoric to reality


Silvia Salas
  Dr. Silvia Salas is a fisheries scientist and full professor at the Marine Resources Department at CINVESTAV in Merida, Mexico. She has been the academic coordinator of the graduate program in the Marine Resources Department since 2011. Silvia is a member of the Mexican Academy of Science and she is engaged in connecting research to management by participating in advisory committees of government agencies in Mexico and had been part of several scientific meetings organized by FAO, WTO and WWF with that focus. Her research involves bioeconomic assessment of small-scale fisheries, dynamics of the fleet, fishing strategies, and fishers’ behaviour and risk perception. She has coordinated many research projects and published several scientific papers, book chapters and books on these themes. Currently she is collaborating with the international project “Too Big To Ignore - A global partnership for small-scale fisheries”.


Let's cooperate: the first step in marine ecosystem-based governance

Discussions of vulnerability, resilience and adaptive capacity in coastal communities are increasingly common in academic and non-academic fora. These concerns reflect the worldwide recognition of the challenges that coastal communities face in changing environments, changing markets, and under different types of stressors. In this context, it is important to identify the causal factors of vulnerability and to understand how people deal with them, in order to find ways to reduce the impact of future threats and to develop adaptive capacities for the impacted communities. I present three case studies from the Yucatan coast of Mexico to illustrate how changes in resource abundance, social networks, and policy interventions can affect community’s vulnerability and adaptive capacity. Case 1): I demonstrate how divers targeting lobster and sea cucumber are forced to use tactics that affect their health and safety because of the reduced income resulting from the diminished resources. Case 2): I compare two fishing communities dealing with impacts of global environmental change (e.g. red tides, more frequent and intensified hurricanes) and reduced catches of their main target species, and indicate how fishers’ skills and cooperative membership are key factors that differentiate their vulnerability and ability to respond to hazards. Case 3): I show how a new commercial sea cucumber fishery has created a ‘gold rush’ situation, transforming cohesive coastal communities into chaotic and dysfunctional groups,, and bringing conflict to previously peaceful places. These case studies reveal the reality of marine resource governance in Yucatan and elsewhere, it is extremely complex and challenging. Hence, we need to go back to basics, and identify the factors underlying people’s behaviour and the decisions that they make, especially under conditions of risk and uncertainty, and include this knowledge, and expertise beyond that which is normally incorporated in ecosystem-based approaches. I will also stress that, in order to reduce vulnerability and enhance adaptive capacity of coastal communities, it is necessary to promote cooperation amongst community members, scientists, and public institutions as the first step towards integrated ecosystem governance.

Key words: coastal communities, vulnerability, decompression sickness, adaptive capacity, cooperation

Live recording of Salas's keynote address


Workshop 2: Coastal upwelling ecosystems as models for interdisciplinary studies of climate and global change


William Cheung
  Dr. William Cheung is an Associate Professor at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. He is a Co-Director of the Nippon Foundation-UBC-Nereus Program. His main research area is assessing the biophysical and socio-economic vulnerabilities and impacts of climate change and other human stressors on global and regional marine ecosystems and fisheries, and identifying mitigation and adaptation options. His research examines global patterns and general theories related to the responses and management of biophysical and socio-economic systems under global change, and apply the findings to research at regional and local scales. He works on various interdisciplinary research projects with global collaboration networks including U.K., Australia, Kenya, China and USA. He participates as Lead Author in various high level international assessments, such as the 5th Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO) and Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES).


Impacts of global change on coastal upwelling ecosystems and fisheries

Coastal upwelling regions are amongst the most productive marine ecosystems, contributing largely to global fisheries production and human wellbeing. Changes in key ecosystem drivers, including temperature, oxygen level, acidity and primary production, directly affect coastal upwelling ecosystems and fisheries through shifts in biogeography, phenology, productivity and trophic interactions. Long-term management of these fisheries requires the consideration of global change. This talk aims to summarize the current status of fisheries in the major eastern boundary upwelling (EBU) regions, highlight the expected future changes in ocean conditions in these regions in the 21st century, and assess their implications for the sustainability of coastal upwelling ecosystems and fisheries. Specifically, I will present estimates of total fisheries production and their economic benefits in the four EBU regions from the latest catch reconstruction effort. I will also assess how some of the observed changes in catches may be attributed to climate change. I will then summarize projected changes in the key oceanographic drivers to EBU ecosystems and their uncertainties, including temperature, pH, oxygen level and net primary production. I will show projections of how exploited marine fishes and invertebrates in the EBU regions may respond to changes in these ecosystem drivers and the resulting impacts on catches and economic benefits of their fisheries. Finally, I will discuss the scope of fisheries management in adapting to the projected impacts from global change, the need for immediate actions and identify key knowledge gaps in ensuring sustainability of EBU fisheries.

Live recording of William´s keynote address


Workshop 3: Integrated modelling to support assessment and management of marine social-ecological systems in the face of global change

Barbara Paterson
  Dr. Barbara Paterson is a postdoc at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada and an Honorary Research Associate of the Marine Research Institute of the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Her research interests focus on the integration of qualitative and quantitative methods for decision making for sustainable development in fields traditionally characterized by natural science approaches. Her expertise includes the development of electronic decision support tools for the management of natural resources. Another focus of her research are the ethical and epistemological issues that arise when mathematical and computational approaches are applied in environmental and cross-cultural contexts. For the last ten years her work has focused on developing decision support methodologies to support the implementation of an ecosystem approach for fisheries (EAF) in Namibia and South Africa with particular focus on social-ecological knowledge. Her current research investigates social-ecological aspects of marine and coastal hazards.


Integrated modelling to support assessment and management of marine social-ecological systems in the face of global change – a social science perspective

The relationships between humans and the oceans have a long complex tradition and as a result there is today no marine ecosystem that is unaffected by anthropogenic change. What is equally concerning is that, as ocean ecosystems change, these changes impact on the lives of people in often devastating ways. Policy and decision makers need to consider these iterative interdependencies between the social and ecological dimensions, which require integrated assessments of marine social-ecological systems. Models and scenarios are well established in marine science, but, with the exception of economics, predictions and scenarios are only of limited interest in the social sciences. What is more, truly integrated assessments of marine social-ecological systems require interdisciplinary collaboration between the social and natural sciences, which is challenging for various reasons. However, integrated modeling provides a unique opportunity for such collaboration, which is urgently needed in the context of global social and ecological change. In this talk I will discuss some of the challenges, limitations and opportunities of integrated modeling against the background of my own interdisciplinary research experiences in the Benguela region.

Live recording of Paterson's keynote address
Icarus Allen

Prof. Icarus Allen is a research scientist at the Plymouth Marine Lab, UK where he is Head of Science for Marine Ecosystem Models and Predictions. Not surprising therefore, his research focuses on marine ecosystem modelling and he is involved in a number of NERC and EC FP7 projects.

Icarus’ scientific background is multidisciplinary, specialising in the numerical modelling of marine systems from individual cells to shelf wide ecosystems. Until recently, the overriding theme of his work has been the interfacing of biogeochemical process models with hydrodynamic models in 1, 2 and 3 dimensions and the analysis of the subsequent simulations. In general terms the focus of this work has been the coupled physical biogeochemical modelling of shelf seas. More specifically this involves; operational ecosystem forecasting to develop operational plankton/ water quality forecasts, data assimilation and merging model/EO data products to predict HABs, model skill assessment, shelf seas ecosystem response to multiple drivers, both climate and anthropogenic, development of global shelf seas ecosystem models based on POLCOMS_ERSEM and the process modelling of climatically active marine biogases.


Integrated modelling of ecosystem response to climate change and anthropogenic pressures

Marine ecosystems provide a range of important services to mankind including food production, climate regulation through the cycling of carbon and other macronutrients, and a range of cultural values (e.g. recreation, tourism). They are in serious decline, primarily as a result of over-harvesting, pollution, and the direct and indirect impacts of climate change. Climate variability and change is interacting with other pressures to affect the productivity and dynamics of marine ecosystems, challenging managers charged with the sustainable stewardship of living marine resources. Dynamic models that link the physical, chemical and biological processes through food web interactions provide a means of understanding how human impacts on different parts of the ecosystem interact and of predicting the consequences of management actions in one sector on other sectors. Such predictive models allow the exploration of the impacts of both climate drivers such as acidification and temperature, and human induced drivers like fishing, invasive species and pollution on marine ecosystems. This talk will illustrate of how such models can be applied to address such issues drawing on examples from the MEECE, QUEST and VECTORS projects. The strength and limitations of these approaches will be discussed and recommendations for future work made.

Live recording of Allen's keynote address


Workshop 4: From regime shifts to novel systems – evaluating the social-ecological implications of lasting ecosystem changes for resource management


Scott Ling
  Dr. Scott Ling is a Marine Ecologist from the Institute for Marine & Antarctic Studies (IMAS, University of Tasmania) University of Tasmania. Scott’s research spans a broad range of marine ecological investigations with a strong focus on in situ sub-tidal surveys and experimental manipulations on temperate reef ecosystems, involving more than 1600 research dives over the past 16 years. More recently, his research has become more global in scope and is now extends into tropical systems as he seeks to understand the nature of reef ecosystem dynamics across progressively larger scales. His research has focused on investigating the effects of increasing, but ostensibly manageable, human stressors on marine ecosystems such as fishing, climate change, increasing urbanisation and the introduction of invasive species. Fundamental to his research approach is the identification of alternative ecosystem states and processes influencing shifts to less desirable states, particularly those that prove to be difficult to reverse.


An ounce of prevention can be worth a ton of cure for managing marine regime shifts

Conceptual models of regime shift are well developed and the threat of global tipping points are increasingly cautioned, however the dynamics of ecosystem collapse and recovery are difficult to observe in nature. While there are increasing attempts to map observed ecosystem dynamics to the ‘metaphors’ of regime-shift theory, the ability to discern the dynamics of critical transitions, including potential hysteresis, seemingly rests on few amenable and well-studied natural systems. One such tractable system in the marine environment is the undesirable and persistent regime-shift observable for temperate reef ecosystems as a result of sea urchin overgrazing of productive kelp bed habitats. In this presentation, I will present key findings from local, regional and global scales regarding the regime-shift dynamics underpinning ‘catastrophic’ urchin grazing, which includes an estimated order of magnitude difference, i.e. hysteresis, between collapse and recovery thresholds in urchin biomass. The role of multiple human stressors such as ecological overfishing, climate change and urbanisation, plus stabilizing biological feedbacks conferring resilience of alternative regimes, are also explored and these lessons are considered holistically from temperate to tropical reefs and pelagic systems. Importantly, our collective understandings of marine regime-shifts will improve with ongoing collection of long-term data sets and direct in situ manipulations (where possible) in combination with the co-development of non-linear ecosystem models and ultimately early-warning tools signalling pending collapse and the ‘window for action’ before it is too late. This type of research is imperative for attempts to manage ecosystems for maximum social and ecological benefit and is particularly urgent given an increasing intensity and frequency of human-derived stressors which appear to be eroding resilience and exacerbating the risk, spatial extent and irreversibility of unwanted regime-shifts from local to global scales.