Home / News / Newsletters / Issue n°18 - September 2011

Issue n°18 - September 2011

Issue n°18 - September 2011
banner transition NL blank short

Editorial: The Human Dimension in IMBER

This issue of the IMBER Update focuses primarily on how the human dimensions aspect is being addressed by the various components of IMBER.

The Transition Task Team (TTT) established to ensure the smooth transition of the ongoing Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) projects into IMBER, made several recommendations for the future of IMBER research. Recognising the increasing importance of human activities in driving change in the world’s oceans and, that they in turn are affected by ecosystem changes, the TTT strongly recommended that IMBER address the socio-economic effects in marine ecosystems. They recommended that a working group be established to ensure similar standards, methods and focus across the regional programmes. Thus, the Human Dimensions Working Group (HDWG) was launched! Read about this group and their plans.

As an introduction to the other members of the group, participants at the first HDWG meeting gave presentations about their research and involvement in human-ocean-human interactions. Ian Perry gives insight into GLOBEC’s Focus Four Working Group which will form the foundation for the HDWG. Ratana Chuenpagdee provides a governance perspective, while Moenieba Isaacs discusses some of the issues facing fishing communities in South Africa. Omar Defeo describes the issues of sustainable management of shellfisheries in Latin America. Finally, Makino Mitsutaku tells us about the PICES Human Dimensions Study Group.  Read these reports in the Science Updates from HDWG members.

Two IMBER regional programmes – CLIOTOP and ICED – have long recognised the importance of humans in marine ecosystems, both as in terms of harvesters and also through other influences. Read the reports on the way in which they are addressing the human influences as drivers of ecosystem change and the resultant socio-economic effects in the Review of the human dimension in IMBER regional programmes.

This consideration of the impacts of global change on biogeochemistry and ecosystems on society is a new direction for IMBER, but it is clearly an area where IMBER science can make important contributions.


banner transition NL short

The IMBER HDWG and its plans

Alida Bundy, Bedford Institute of Oceanography, Canada

The IMBER Human Dimensions Working Group (HDWG) was established in 2010 in accordance with the recommendations of the IMBER-GLOBEC Transition Task Team, in order to address the issues raised under Theme 4 (Responses to society) of the IMBER Science Plan and Implementation Strategy. The supplement to the IMBER Science Plan published in 2010, emphasized that IMBER Phase ll should focus more on human dimension aspects and that the work should build on that of GLOBEC’s Focus 4 group on the human dimensions of marine ecosystem changes.

This HDWG will focus on the two-way interactions between human and ocean systems. Its motivation stems from recognition that humans not only influence ocean systems, but that humans also depend on ocean systems for goods and services. In accordance with the objectives of Theme 4, the HDWGs goal is to promote an understanding of the multiple feedbacks between human and ocean systems, and to clarify what human institutions can do, either to mitigate anthropogenic perturbations of the ocean system, or to adapt to such changes. It will also work to ensure that the other IMBER working groups and regional programmes include a focus on the socio-economic effects in marine ecosystems, using similar standards and methods.

The HDWG met for the first time in April 2011 at IOC-UNESCO, Paris, France, to develop the scope of the WG, a draft work plan and to appoint co-chair(s). The term “human dimension” is multi-faceted, including social, political, economic and institutional processes and dynamics. The meeting began with presentations by each HDWG member, outlining their research interests, experience and ideas for future research. The breadth covered by the presentations clearly demonstrated both the need for the inclusion of the human dimension in our analyses of global change and that globally, there is a growing body of research into these issues. Based on discussions of the issues identified, such as poverty alleviation and food security, the functioning of global markets, adaptation and mitigation, linkages between biogeochemical cycles and humans including ocean acidification, a two-phase plan was developed.

Phase 1:

Take a broad comparative approach to provide frameworks to understand and forecast human-ocean-human interactions with respect to global change, focusing on governance (what have been the various responses to global change at different institutional and governance levels?), appraisal (how successful are the different coping/adaptation strategies of Social-Ecological Systems for marine systems in response to global change?) and typology (classify systems by drivers, state and response, including appraisal of effectiveness or response). The review and appraisal would include the linkages from biogeochemical cycles through to the dependant human societies, and could include impact pathways and the effects of ocean acidification on ecosystems and human societies. This would be done in two steps: (i) develop a broad case study review and write a review article on the different adaptation capacities that communities can have with respect to global change. Then outline the options and their consequences. This would then lead to the second part, (ii) the development of the typology. The typology could be developed into a powerful tool for policy makers to use as a guide/framework to assess response to global change, i.e. they would locate their system in the typology (based on key components to be developed) and use this to evaluate what has worked well in similar systems and what has not. It could be likened to triage in an emergency room.

The development of a review, appraisal and typology of human-ocean-human interactions would be a major contribution to understanding the adaptive capacity, resilience and response of human societies to global change. It will cut across IMBER’s regional and national programmes and those of the wider global change community. The whole group can contribute to this synthesis, developing a final product that is informative and practical.

Phase 2:

In order to address the big question of the impact on, and responses of, human and natural systems to global change and their interactions, we also need to take an in-depth comparative approach across a small number of case studies. It was agreed that we should be ambitious and try to do both, and seek funding to undertake some in-depth case studies, which would ideally include IMBER regional programmes. The questions to be addressed in these case studies would follow largely from the broad comparative review, appraisal and typology discussed above. The first naturally flows into the second, and would include inter-related natural and social science questions. Case studies should also be linked to food security in the area. This is an obvious fit for IMBER’s regional programme SIBER (Sustained Indian Ocean Biogeochemistry and Ecosystem Research).

To achieve these goals, the HDWG will have to find additional funding to support interim meetings and to support the research proposed in Phases 1 and 2. We are investigating possibilities!  In addition to this workplan, the HDWG submitted a session proposal to advance these ideas to the Planet Under Pressure Conference (London, March, 2012). We were requested to merge our proposal with another, and the resultant merged proposal has been accepted.

The HDWG is at the beginning stages of its work. The first meeting was very successful, with a clear definition of the issues to address, a plan to work with and the identification of two co-chairs. The session at the Planet Under Pressure Conference will be an excellent second step, leading the way for our future work.

HDGW Members: Alida Bundy (co-chair), Marie-Caroline Badjeck (co-chair), Moenieba Isaacs (co-chair), Ratana Chuenpagdee, Sarah Cooley, Omar Defeo, Bernhard Glaeser, Patrice Guillotreau, Mitsutaku Makino, Ian Perry, Quentin Grafton.Further detail...

HDWG 1st meeting Paris 2011

The Human Dimension Working Group during their first meeting in Paris

banner transition NL

Science updates from HDWG members


Ian Perry, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canada

 Rosemary E. Ommer, University of Victoria, Canada

OMMER Rosemary

The Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) program was a core project of IGBP, and was a sister project to IMBER. GLOBEC was co-sponsored by IGBP, SCOR, and IOC (the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission), and the international program ran from 1995 to 2010. The goal of GLOBEC was to advance understanding of the structure and functioning of the global ocean ecosystem, its major subsystems, and its response to physical forcing so that a capability could be developed to forecast the responses of the marine ecosystem to global change. Although the project is now closed, the web site for further information and links to papers and publications remains active at www.globec.org.

One of GLOBEC’s four Working Groups was on the human dimensions of marine ecosystem changes (Focus 4). This group started in 2001 with, at the time, the unusual approach of having a natural scientist (Ian Perry) and a social scientist (Rosemary Ommer) as co-chairs. The objectives of this group were to:

  1. Understand the interactions between marine coastal communities and global changes in marine ecosystems;
  2. Understand the capacity of these communities (both natural and human) to adjust to these changes;
  3. Understand the linked consequences of these adjustments for both the natural marine and human coastal communities.

In approaching these objectives, the Working Group chose to focus on two central questions: how do marine ecosystem changes affect coastal communities, and what are the reciprocal effects of human responses on marine ecosystems. In particular, the Working Group was interested in understanding the strategies on the part of coastal communities that lead to resilience (or vulnerability) to marine ecosystem changes, and the characteristics of, or mechanisms within, marine ecosystems that result in vulnerability or resilience to these human responses to change.

These issues formed the bases for the discussions and activities of the Working Group, in addition to the overall goal of involving natural and social scientists together on issues of marine ecosystem change. The group met three times, and convened a highly successful international symposium titled “Coping with global change in marine social-ecological systems”, which was held in summer 2008 at the headquarters of FAO in Rome. To date there have been 22 publications in the primary scientific literature and book chapters from this group, and a recent book titled “World Fisheries: a Social-Ecological Analysis” (Ommer et al. 2011).

Early on, the Working Group adopted the concept of marine “social-ecological systems”, defined as complex adaptive systems which include interdependent social (human) and ecological (biophysical) sub-systems in iterative two-way feedback relationships (Figure 1). This represents an expanded view of marine ecosystems, one in which humans are intricately linked in ongoing and multiple relationships with the ecosystem rather than seen as stressors external to an otherwise ‘natural’ ecosystem. This implies that the drivers causing changes to marine social-ecological systems include biophysical and human stressors. The biophysical sub-system can be impacted by biophysical stressors such as climate variability and change, ocean acidification, changes in oxygen concentration, and internal ecosystem dynamics (predator-prey; disease; etc.) amongst other stressors. Human stressors of biophysical sub-systems include overfishing, habitat degradation, contaminants, introductions of exotic species, shipping wastes and perturbations, and mineral extraction, among other stressors.  Similarly, there are a suite of biophysical and human stressors operating at local and global spatial scales which drive changes in fishing-dependent human communities. These include environmental and resource changes and the governance associated with these, human demographic changes, law and property relations, and policy changes at local scales, and economic and market/trade changes and shifting societal and international values at global scales.  “Scale” (and the issue of scaling) is an overarching issue, and it is important to recognise and attempt to distinguish at which scale processes act: -- local, national, regional and global --- as well as the nature of such interactions. When integrating natural and social science studies, cross-scale analyses often point to the effects of linked responses (‘pathways’ would be the medical analogy).  That said, only place-based case studies can teach us about human motivations.

The combined effects of uncertainty in global changes (both politico-economic and climatic-biophysical), taken with increased local vulnerability to these changes due to the responses seen in fishing and other human activities, can lead to unexpected and undesirable events in marine ecosystems. These usually occur as “surprises”, and often become “crises” (i.e. resulting in non-reversible change) when they affect human communities that depend on marine systems. Since there are interactions between human responses and such marine changes, the manner in which human communities respond can mitigate or exacerbate associated changes in the marine system. Such relationships become clearer as scholarly understanding moves from categorising humans-as-stressors of marine systems to recognising the interdependent nature of issues of social-ecological system vulnerability and adaptive capacity.

Responses of biophysical marine systems to global changes depend on the intensity and duration (time scale) of the changes. Such responses can include altered spatial distributions and migration patterns of fish; changes in predator-prey relationships; changes in species composition; changes in species life-history characteristics, e.g. life span, age at maturity, “typical” abundance levels; and changes in “response times” so that fish communities become more responsive to high-frequency changes (e.g. smaller, shorter-lived fish species become dominant). The responses of fishing-dependent human communities to global changes also depend on the time scale. At shorter time scales (“coping strategies”), responses include intensification of fishing; diversification of species and gears fished; migration to follow the fish; and ‘hibernation’, in which the household or community rely on social relationships or government support to bridge over the hard times. At longer time scales, responses (“adapting strategies”) include diversification into other fisheries; education and skills upgrading; diversification into other industries; political action; and ultimately, at its most extreme, abandonment of the enterprise and the community.

The types of strategies that are put into action depend on what options are available (adaptive capacity) along with the extent of the crisis (Figure 2). For example, with a ‘small’ crisis of relatively short duration, both coping and adapting strategies are available to human fishing-dependent communities. With a larger and longer crisis, however, coping strategies may not be enough and only longer-term adapting strategies may be available. Since it is often not possible to identify in advance whether a community is faced with a ‘small’ or ‘large’ crisis, some coping strategies which are deployed early, such as fishing harder and/or for other species, may prove detrimental to the biophysical system and the interdependent human society as the crisis proceeds over the longer term. Management and policy responses to such events therefore need to consider tools and approaches which address issues in the biophysical systems, the human social systems, and their interactions. These include reducing overall fishing pressure and maintaining historical life spans and population structures of fish species in order to increase population resilience to unexpected changes, and on the societal side adopting a livelihoods approach which considers how people make a living from their environment, recognising that current policies may not be appropriate under conditions which have been altered to due climate change and the impacts of globalisation.

GLOBEC’s Focus 4 concluded that marine social-ecological systems change due to the combined impacts of natural and human stresses. How human communities respond to these stresses can ameliorate or exacerbate the changes in the biophysical marine ecosystems, although some of the human coping strategies may be detrimental to the biophysical system over the longer term. Developing inclusive interlinked climate-ocean-fish-people models are a good (but seriously limited) start to integrated analyses of these issues, however they require sustained observations of both the biophysical and human social environments, and integration of these observations into the models, always recognising that human society it too complex for the models to capture all the necessary variables with and degree of cohesion or inclusivity. That is why it remains necessary to move analyses beyond these necessarily reductionist models in order to include a nuanced understand of people’s motivations and capacities for adaptation. For example, in some commercial fisheries it is well known that people will remain in the fishery long after it is economically feasible for them to have left the industry. It also follows (and it is  important that these reservations be recognised)  that “one size does not fit all”, that exposure, susceptibility and adaptive capacities vary immensely, and so one over-arching framework and policy response cannot bear the burden of dealing with all situations. The development of a ‘typology’ approach (that looks at identifying a small number of “type responses”) will be help to deal with this issue. The goal is ultimately to develop policies which are flexible (that is rigorous but not rigid) and able to support a wide range of global changes; they should moreover be able to estimate the uncertainties in these analyses for, and then communicate them to, policy makers and the public. Focus 4 concluded that the adaptation of a social-ecological approach to dealing with those global changes that affect the interdependent marine biophysical and human nexus is critical to the health of marine ecosystems and the creation of sustainable human  livelihoods in the marine resource extraction sector (both small-scale and larger).  Only thus will be able to begin to enhance resilience and thus reduce economic poverty in this uncertain world of global change.

Perry NL18 Figure 1

Figure 1: Schematic illustrating characteristics and processes within the biophysical and human social fishing systems of marine social-ecological systems, and how they are inter-connected. Modified after Perry et al. 2010b.

Perry NL18 Figure 2

Figure 2. Schematic of marine ecological and human social fishing system responses to short and long duration stresses. (A) With a short duration stress, ecological and human fishing systems are able to respond with both short term coping and longer term adaptive responses to compensate for the changes caused by the stress. (B) With a longer duration stress, the short term coping responses of both systems are exhausted, leaving only the longer term adaptive responses. From Perry et al. In Press.

Barange, M., Cheung, W., Merino, G. and Perry, R.I.  (2010)  Modelling the potential impacts of climate change and human activities on the sustainability of marine resources. Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 2:326–333.

Berkes, F. (2011) Restoring unity. The concept of marine social-ecological systems. In:  R.O. Ommer, R.I. Perry, K. Cochrane, P. Cury (eds). World Fisheries: A Social-Ecological Analysis, p. 9-28. Wiley-Blackwells, Oxford.

Miller, K., Charles, A., Barange, M., Brander, K., Gallucci, V., Gasallas, M.A., Khan, A., Munro, G., Murtugudde, R., Ommer, R.E., Perry, R.I. (2010) Climate change, uncertainty, and resilient fisheries: Institutional responses through integrative science. Progress in Oceanography 87: 338-346.

Ommer, R.E., Perry, R.I., Cochrane, K. and Cury, P. (Eds) (2011) World Fisheries: a Social-Ecological Analysis. Fisheries and Aquatic Resources Series, Wiley-Blackwells,

Paterson, B., Isaacs, M., Hara, M., Jarre, A., Moloney, C. (2010) Transdisciplinary co-operation for an ecosystem approach to fisheries: a case study from the South African sardine fishery. Marine Policy: 34: 782-794. 

Perry, R.I., Ommer, R.E., Barange, M., Jentoft, S., Neis, B., Sumaila, U.R. (In Press) Marine social-ecological responses to environmental change and the impacts of globalization. Fish & Fisheries. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2010.00402.x

Perry, R.I., Barange, M., Ommer, R.E. (2010a) Global changes in marine systems: a social-ecological approach. Progress in Oceanography 87: 331-337.

Perry, R.I., Ommer, R., Sumaila, R., Allison, E., Barange, M., Hamilton, L.,  Badjeck, M.-C. and Jarre, A. (2010b) Interactions between changes in marine ecosystems and human communities. In: M. Barange, J. Field, R. Harris, E. Hofmann, R.I. Perry, C. Werner (eds). Marine Ecosystems and Global Change, p. 221-251. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

banner 2nd transition NL

An 'interactive governance' perspective on human and ocean systems interactions

Article based partly on the presentation and discussion at the first IMBER HD Working Group in Paris, April 2011.

Ratana Chuenpagdee, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Canada


The human dimensions of marine ecosystems are many, and they can be researched from various perspectives, including governance. Because of the root word ‘gubernare,’ which means to pilot or to steer (Kjaer, 2004), the term governance is often associated with governments and what they do. Governments certainly play key roles in governance, but they are rarely the only actor. In addition to states, actors within markets and civil societies also play a governing role, in that they make decisions that have social consequences. In the marine realm, for instance, fishers, industries, community members, other resource users, business enterprises, environmental organizations, and scientists all contribute to identifying problems and implementing solutions, in order to address current and emerging concerns in the oceans. Producer associations and fishers’ cooperatives are examples of user organizations that play an active role in fisheries governance in many countries around the world. In effect, they perform many tasks that governments traditionally do on their own. With the growing challenges in protecting, maintaining and restoring ecosystem integrity, changes in governance systems are widely observed. The hierarchical mode of operation, with top-down, centralized government at the core, is giving way to a co-governance system, where governments, resource users and/or community groups work collaboratively or engage in partnership arrangements to care for the ecosystems. In some instances, self-governance is the operating mode, where management authority and decision-making power rest within resource users organizations.

Several governance models have been conceptualized to explain how human and ocean systems interact. Among them is the ‘interactive governance’ model, which takes a systems approach to examining the nature of these interactions, the likely consequences for governance outcomes, and what governing interventions should be considered (Kooiman et al., 2005).As shown in Figure 1, it recognizes three modes of governance, hierarchical, co-governance and self-governance, all of which are possible, depending on the properties of the systems that are being governed, the capacity of the governing systems, and the quality of their interactions. Further, the interactive governance theory emphasizes that different governing orders, and associated elements, may be required to deal with certain situations. At the first-order, governance is occupied with day-to-day problem solving, taking actions that are normally followed. Higher order governance (e.g., the second- and meta-order) is necessary, however, when confronted with problems that are ‘wicked’ in nature, meaning that they are difficult to address because there is no ready-made formula, and because there exists uncertainty about whether a solution has been reached (Rittel and Webber, 1973). Mistakes in fisheries management, for instance, are often related to the lack of appreciation that problems may be differently perceived by various stakeholders, making it improbable to apply the same approaches and tools that may work elsewhere (Jentoft and Chuenpagdee, 2009). At the second-order of governance, careful considerations are given to the design and arrangement of appropriate institutions, and putting in place required instruments, such as rules, regulations, incentives, and procedures, to foster their functions. In the co-governance mode, this process is expected to be collaborative, thus lessening the need for strict monitoring, surveillance and control, as it aims to enhance management effectiveness. An example that well illustrates the utility of this mode of governance is the creation of marine protected areas (MPAs). Studies show that when fishers and other relevant stakeholders participate in the discussion about why MPAs should be established, for what purposes, what rules will be applied, and how they will be implemented, the likelihood of success increases (Jentoft et al., 2011).

Ultimately, governance as a socio-political mechanism is concerned with the deliberation about ‘meta-order’ elements, e.g., basic values and images underpinning the way governing participants perceive, define and perform their roles. At this level, governance is related to setting of principles corresponding with these normative and cognitive elements, in order to guide behaviours and actions. This aspect of governance needs more emphasis, despite challenges in investigation, as it is an integral part that helps governing participants cope with multiple hard choices and make coherent decisions. For marine ecosystems, conservation and the precautionary principle may seem very reasonable to some people, but others may have reasons for not giving priorities to these codes. Knowing where people are coming from when they argue for their positions is helpful in reconciling differences and achieving common goals.

At the core of the interactive governance model are the various interactions, both within and between systems. Human and oceans interact in ways that are not always predictable, and consequences of their interactions are not easily understood, especially when other external factors come to play. This connectivity is beyond resource extraction and livelihood dependency, but more intimately involved with life itself, like the air we breathe. An integration of knowledge, among social and natural scientists, traditional and local resource users, can help increase our understanding. Sharing and communicating knowledge about the systems need to be fostered to enhance learning and for better governance. Other interactions should also be encouraged, including partnership and collaboration, as well as reflection and adaptation, which is part of the multiple feedbacks that continue to challenge our mind.

The integrated and comprehensive lens that the interactive governance perspective brings to the concerns, challenges and problems related to ocean systems and human interactions helps broaden the possibility and opportunities for better solutions. Yet, it recognizes that not all systems are governable, and that having a systematic way to examine factors and conditions that are conducive (or not) to governance is only the first step. The interactive governance posits that ‘governability,’ or the overall governance quality and capacity of the systems, depends primarily on the properties of the systems, such as their diversity, complexity and dynamics, as well as the spatial and temporal extent. The hypothesis is that the more diverse, complex, dynamic, and large scale a system-to-be-governed is, the more challenging it is to govern. However, the more capable a governing system is, the higher is the likelihood that it can handle the challenges. Governability also depends on the types and quality of governing interactions. As often noted, for example, stakeholder participation is a positive interaction when it is well represented and meaningful. By looking closely at the various interactions between governing actors, the interactive governance model examines embedded issues such as power, gender and agency relations.

As common in many theoretical frameworks, there are some normative elements of the interactive governance that need to be further conceptualized. Several case studies have been conducted in different contexts to illustrate and operationalize the approach. What it offers at this time is a diagnostic lens to identify where in the systems problems may lie, and what aspects of the systems may foster or inhibit governability. It is also a prescriptive tool in that it helps determine which governing responses and interventions, including institutions, need to be put in place in order to improve the overall governance. In the context of the oceans systems, this implies knowing what is required to mitigate anthropogenic perturbations, to navigate and adapt to changes, and what steps to take now and in the future (Chuenpagdee, 2011).

Ratana NL18 figure 1

Figure 1. An illustration of the interactive governance model and its key features

Kjær AM . (2004). Governance. Polity Press, Cambridge. 256 p.

Kooiman J, Bavinck M, Jentoft S, Pullin RSV, editors. (2005). Fish for life: interactive governance for fisheries. Amsterdam University Press, Amsterdam. 427 p.

Rittel H, Webber M. (1973). Dilemmas in a general theory of planning. Policy Sciences 4:155–169.

Jentoft S, Chuenpagdee R. (2009). Fisheries and coastal governance as wicked problems. Marine Policy 33:553–560.

Jentoft, S., Chuenpagdee, R., and Pascual-Fernandez, J. (2011). What are MPAs for: On goal formation and displacement. Ocean & Coastal Management 54: 75-83.

Suggested further reading: Chuenpagdee, R. (2011). Interactive governance for marine conservation: an illustration. Bulletin of Marine Science 87(2): 197-211.

banner 2nd transition NL

Creating an enabling environment for fishery-dependent communities to cope, adapt and mitigate climate change

Moenieba Isaacs, University of the Western Cape, South Africa
ISAACS Moenieba

In common with much of the rest of the world, many of the fish stocks of South Africa are over-exploited through decades of overfishing, substantially reducing the human benefits that are potentially available. There are many reasons for these global failures, including political focus on short-term benefits at the expense of long-term sustainability, economic greed, poorly defined objectives, institutional weaknesses (typically in relation to rights of access to the fishery and the prevalence of top-down management control as opposed to participatory approaches) and inadequate scientific advice. An important contributing factor in South Africa is the ongoing conflict over implementation of the Marine Living Resources Act of 1998 (MRLA), in particular over rights of access to valuable fisheries. A particular concern is the continued marginalisation of bona fide fishers with regard to access to marine resources, with small-scale fisheries policy still being finalised.

The challenges facing sustainable use of South Africa’s living marine resources are enormous and include coastal poverty, food insecurity, health problems (HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, Foetal Alcohol Disorder syndrome) and high unemployment. Even with good governance, the sector faces major external threats including climate change, increasing demand and pressure from a growing human population, and the risks of marginalization as other powerful sectors compete for common human capacity, natural resources and political priority.

The field of fisheries management has recently undergone a paradigm shift from the traditional single species approach to an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAF) which considers the broader ecosystem, including humans instead of single fish stocks. Notwithstanding the intention to implement an EAF, the current policy environment is dominated by the traditional focus on natural science, not lastly because of the perceived authority gradient from scientific knowledge to practical folk knowledge. Despite progress regarding ecological indicators in South Africa, there is little information regarding social and governance indicators for fisheries. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that the sole reliance of fisheries management on scientific knowledge is problematic when facing the challenge of coastal poverty, food insecurity, high unemployment levels and competition for access rights in fishery-dependent communities. Ommer, R. E (2007) talks of the "interface between natural and social sciences and humanities mainly concerning management, use and governance issues in fisheries. This is important in closing the gap of mismatches between policy and well-being of fish and fishers. The lives of both the fish and fishers remain important". According to the Millennium Development Goals the following issues need to be addressed for communities to cope, adapt and mitigate climate change: secure access to resources, adequate livelihoods, sufficient nutritious food (food security), good social relations and supportive governance framework.

My vision for the Human Dimension Working Group is to make a significant contribution to the advancement of theory and understanding of social ecological systems and political ecological systems. The research framework should include: the political economy (governance, social structures, markets and institutions); the external drivers of change (social, economic, political & environment); the ecological system; linking the local, regional and global. Timescales should include, the now, next and future generations. There is a desperate need for cutting edge research describing an improved understanding of how social-political-ecological ecosystems function and respond to change, and their potential role in achieving sustainable poverty alleviation. Fundamental requirements are theoretical and conceptual rigour in relation to research design, methodology and development of appropriate multidisciplinary approaches to assess the human dimension in fishery-dependent communities is essential.

Ommer, R.E. (Ed.) 2007. Coasts under stress: Understanding and restructuring socio-ecological health. Montreal. McGill-Queen's University Press

banner 2nd transition NL

Impacts of climate, fisheries and governance in Latin American shelfishes

Omar Defeo, Universidad de la República, Facultad de Ciencias Marine Science Unit, Uruguay

Leonardo Ortega, Universidad de la República, Facultad de Ciencias Marine Science Unit, Uruguay

Alvar Carranza, Dirección Nacional de Recursos Acuáticos y UNDECIMAR, Facultad de Ciencias, Montevideo, Uruguay

Juan Carlos Castilla, Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago, Chile

 Nicolás Luis Gutiérrez, Marine Stewardship Council, London, UK

Mauricio Castrejón, University of Dalhousie, Canada

Roberto Pérez-Castañeda, Universidad Autónoma de Tamaulipas, México

Correspondence to Omar Defeo

In Latin America (LA), artisanal or traditional small-scale shellfisheries are vital to the livelihoods and sustainable future of coastal communities. However, after several decades of intensive fisheries extraction, exacerbated by coastal degradation, most are overexploited, and many shellfish resources and their ecosystems are near or over the point of functional extinction. Sustaining healthy shellfish resources will require new perspectives for rational shellfish management, which includes the implementation of resilient management systems and effective governance under conditions of change and uncertainty. Co-management (together with catch shares and area-based rights) is emerging as a powerful institutional arrangement for sustaining harvests. However, successful examples, evaluated through sound science, are few and poorly disseminated in LA. Looking forward, there is a need to

  1. critically evaluate the success and relative merits of different co-management types;
  2. expand these successful examples for resource management throughout LA.

In addition to improving traditional resource management for sustainable shellfisheries, the dynamic effects of global climate change require attention. Of all marine fisheries, the effects of climate change may be most immediately and profoundly felt in coastal shellfish that inhabit sandy beaches, an ecosystem that covers more than 70% of the open coasts of the world. In some Latin American shellfisheries where co-management and area-based rights were implemented, massive mortalities decimated populations along their entire ranges, suggesting that the effects of climate change could undermine management measures (figure 1). For example, since 1993, episodic mass mortalities have decimated yellow clam Mesodesma mactroides populations throughout its entire geographic range. These events occurred mainly between late spring and early summer, following a sequential north-south direction (figure 2). Mortalities occurred first in Brazil in 1993, then in Uruguay in 1994 and lastly in Argentina (from 1995 to 2002) (figure 2). These mass mortalities have prevented the rehabilitation of yellow clam populations throughout its range.

Defeo NL18 Figure 1

Figure 1: Massive mortality of the yellow clam Mesodesma mactroides in a sandy beach of the Atlantic coast in South America.

Defeo NL18 Figure 2

Figure 2: Geographic distribution of the yellow clam Mesodesma mactroides along Atlantic sandy beaches of South America, highlighting the locations and years when mass mortality events occurred.

This project constitutes an ongoing initiative supported by the Pew Fellows Program in Marine Conservation and The Nature Conservancy, which brings together several LA scientists from different disciplines and countries to gain a better understanding of the direct and interactive effects of climate, fisheries and governance in LA shellfishes.

The key objectives of the project are directed to:

  1. critically assess, document and compare co-management types in LA shellfisheries, also exploring linkages between humans and ecosystems in these complex social-ecological systems, using modeling and bio-socio-economic indicators;
  2. evaluate long-term and large-scale effects of human exploitation and climate change on selected shellfisheries in the Pacific and Atlantic coasts of South America. The relative importance of climate change and exploitation are being analyzed at different organizational levels (populations, communities and ecosystems).
  3. develop a LA network directed to develop tools for shellfish conservation, management and governance, as well as to raise awareness on how to adapt management to climate-driven changes in shellfish. In this context, several workshops have been carried out in Chile, Argentina and Uruguay (figure 3). While there has been a growing awareness of the need for more integrated adaptive co-management, well-identified guidelines for best practices in LA shellfisheries are lacking. Novel key tools for shellfish conservation (Ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM), zoning strategies and marine reserves) and management/governance (co-management, area-based rights and catch shares) will be documented and widely disseminated. The outcomes of these workshops will not only be of immediate benefit to the international science community, but will also build the foundations for improving collaborative work within LA, and beyond. A recent successful experience based on the Shellfish Reefs at Risk (2009) research project will be followed to foster collaboration with important conservation initiatives around the world.
Defeo NL18 figure 3

Figure 3: Working Group members during the VII Latin American Congress of Malacology, carried out in November 2008.


Project website
Shellfish Reefs at Risk

banner 2nd transition NL

PICES Study Group on Human Dimensions

Makino Mitsutaku, National Research Institute of Fisheries Science, Fisheries Research Agency, Japan

Chair of PICES Study Group on Human Dimensions.



The North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) is an intergovernmental scientific organization, which was established in 1992 to promote and coordinate marine research in the northern North Pacific and adjacent seas. There are six Member Countries to the PICES Convention; Canada, Japan, People’s Republic of China, Republic of Korea, Russia, and United States of America. The PICES Study Group on Human Dimensions (PICES SG-HD) was established in 2009, in order:

  1. to review how social science has been used/applied globally and regionally in Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM), and the theoretical basis for these practices;
  2. to review the social scientific tools and information available in PICES Member Countries;
  3. to develop an inventory of practices for the application of social science in EBFM activities in PICES member countries.

PICES SG-HD is organized by 11 researchers from six Member Countries, and from a wide range of academic backgrounds (Makino and Fluharty, in print).

We use the term “social science” to mean a group of subjects concerned with the relationships among people within society as well as among society and the ecosystems in which people spend their lives. A “science tool” is a tool, gear, or technique for doing scientific work, which can be applied in specified ways and purposes. A “scientific approach” is a way of dealing with scientific themes, a way of doing scientific work, or a logical process leading to a scientific result. Usually, a scientific approach uses a group of science tools. A “scientific methodology” is a combination of tools and approaches. A “scientific discipline” is a conventional category of training methodologies in educational institutions such as universities.

Why bio-physical sciences are not enough?

It is now gradually accepted that an integrated understanding of how ecosystem changes affect human social systems, and vice versa, is necessary to improve stewardship of marine ecosystems. Practically, good natural scientific (bio-physical) arguments for management actions are sometimes not accepted or implemented because of the perceived socio-economic or cultural costs. This has also been noted in ecosystem modeling studies. For example, Smith et al. 2009 pointed out that conservation policies and strategies that focus only on ecological outcomes are doomed to failure. They concluded that the social sciences could contribute at three levels in their simulation model, i.e., behavior of individuals, behavior of communities and groups, and institutional dynamics and governance. The PICES SG-HD believes that people should be considered as more than just “stressors” on marine ecosystems through fishing, habitat alterations, contaminants, etc. Instead, the concept of coupled and integrated social-ecological systems (Berkes and Folke, 1998, Ostrom, 2009, Perry et al., 2010) needs to be recognized.

Disciplines and tools in social sciences for EBFM

The SG-HD members conducted a thorough review of social science works, and identified useful tools for EBFM (Table 1). A preceding study on a similar theme, (De Young et al., 2008) summarized social science tools and methodologies into three categories:

  1. decision-making tools;
  2. information-acquisition and dissemination tools;
  3. process methodologies.

We categorized social science tools into traditional academic disciplines. There are several reasons why we chose such a categorization. Firstly, the same tools can be used in several disciplines and different approaches. Therefore, we would like to pay attention to the specific philosophies or viewpoints developed in each traditional discipline, because they will be intrinsically reflected in how a certain science tool is applied to specific cases, i.e., its scientific approaches. Secondly, categorization based on discipline is fairly easily understood, and can be relayed to future scientists in the field of EBFM. Thus, when a researcher is going to study new tools for EBFM, he/she can easily find candidates of such tools from within or near his/her discipline. Finally, the discipline-based list of tools can be effectively utilized when organizing problem-solving type research programs within or across research institutes or universities.

Table 1 shows the traditional academic disciplines, their general descriptions and typical tools. These tools can be applicable not only to EBFM but also to Ecosystem-based Management (EBM), i.e., analytical objects are not limited to the fisheries sector. As additional information, the table includes journal from which readers can search appropriate research articles on how to use the tools for EBFM.

Roles and application of social sciences for EBFM

The social sciences deal with various EBFM issues, which have traditionally not been analyzed or discussed in the field of natural science. For example, many studies or documents present the procedures or processes for implementing EBFM (for example, Garcia et al., 2003), but very few discuss how to define or select goals, objectives, indicators or targets. Sound social scientific analyses are clearly needed for planning and implementing EBFM activities. For example, understanding of what people care about, or how they appreciate ecosystems, is the foundation of such processes. Indicators are expected to reduce the complexity of ecological systems to a small set of synthetic indices of system state (Rice and Rochet, 2005). However, social, economic, or institutional indicators for human dimensions are less well-developed than ecological indicators.

Many social sciences have developed not only qualitative approaches and tools for descriptions, but also quantitative analysis approaches and tools for numerical verification of the results. Such approaches and tools are compatible with natural scientific findings or simulation results for EBFM, and vice versa. In that sense, social sciences can help judge or assess the social and economic performances of EBFM measures. In particular, many analytical tools have been developed in economics and environmental accounting to quantitatively assess the “efficiency” of specific measures. In addition, tools in anthropology, policy science, sociology, etc., can be used to conduct sound analysis on other social criteria such as “sufficiency”, “fairness”, “appropriateness”, etc. “Resilience” and “adaptive capacity” are also important criteria for assessing EBFM and societies responses.

When implementing EBFM measures, the issue of scale is important. Social sciences can propose spatial, temporal, and organizational scales for EBFM, coordinated with existing institutional scales, stake holders, and natural scientific knowledge. Because some socio-economic information is easier for stakeholders to understand and more useful to explain than some natural science aspects, they can improve the scientific understanding of stakeholders. Overall, by conducting these analyses, social science can improve the value of the information produced by natural science to increase the understanding of the public, administrative officers and fishers. Based on the results of Table 1, PICES SG-HD members conducted reviews on how these tools have been, or are being used in each country. The result is summarized in Table 2.


Table 2 shows that wide-ranging social science approaches and tools have been, or are being introduced in a variety of locations and scales in PICES Member Countries. Most of the major social science approaches and tools listed in Table 1 have already been introduced in the Member Countries. This fact strongly suggests that PICES Member Countries have rich sources of experienced researchers for the analysis of the human dimensions.

It should be noted that different marine sectors view ecosystems in terms of their own economic, cultural and societal needs. Therefore, the social significance of predicted impacts from climate or ecosystem changes, and the types of information, advice and guidance that might be requested, might differ from country to country and sector to sector. Therefore, based on sound social science approaches and tools introduced in this report, an important next step is to survey/assess the needs of potential stakeholders, and the SCIENTIFIC clarification of differences in societal objectives and needs amongst stakeholders in different sectors and countries. Spatial scale issues are another challenge for social science analysis. Many of the cases listed in Table 2 have been applied at the local scale. With a close relationship with the bio-physical research results, the possibility of applying social science tools at larger marine ecosystem scales could be considered.


Berkes, F., and Folke, C. (Eds) 1998. Linking Social and Ecological Systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

De Young, C., Charles, A., and Hjort, A. 2008. Human dimensions of the ecosystem approach to fisheries: an overview of context, concepts, tools and methods. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 489. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Garcia, S.M., Zerbi, A., Aliaume, C., Chi, T.D., and Lasserre, G. 2003. The ecosystem approach to fisheries: Issues, terminology, principles, institutional foundations, implementation and outlook. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 443. FAO, Rome, Italy.

Makino, M. and Fluharty, D.L. (ed.s) printing. Report of the Study Group on Human Dimensions. PICES Scientific Report.

Ostrom, E. 2009. A General Framework for Analzing Sustainability of Social-Ecological Systems. Science. 325: 419-422.

Perry, R.I., Barange, M., and Ommer, R.E. 2010. Global changes in marine systems: a social-ecological approach. Progress in Oceanography. 87: 331-337.

Rice, J.C., and Rochet, M.J. 2005. A framework for selecting a suite of indicators for fisheries management. ICES Journal of Marine Science. 62(3): 516-527.

Smith, T., Fulton, B. and Sith, D. 2009. Ecosystem approaches to managing marine systems – the human dimension. PICES 2009 annual meetings.

banner transition NL

Review of the Human Dimension in IMBER regional programmes

CLIOTOP Working Group 5: Socio-economic aspects and management strategies

Liam Campling, Queen Mary, University of London, United Kingdom
Patrice Guillotreau, University of Nantes, France
Kathleen Miller, NCAR, USA

CLIOTOP (Climate Impacts on Oceanic Top Predators) is a broad international scientific programme that is focused on understanding the combined effects of environmental change and harvesting activities on the dynamics of tuna, sharks, billfish and other oceanic top predator species. It operated under the auspices of GLOBEC (Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics) from 2005 to 2009 and has now been incorporated into IMBER. From the program’s inception, it was recognized that humans are key actors in oceanic top predator ecosystems, both through harvesting and other human disturbance of oceanic ecosystems. CLIOTOP’s Working Group 5 (WG5): Socioeconomic Aspects and Management Strategies held its inaugural meeting in December 2004, in Hawaii, where participants adopted the goals of working to improve understanding of:

  • the factors that drive human impacts on top predator species;
  • the efforts to manage those human impacts through local, national, regional, and international scientific and regulatory efforts;
  • the impacts and implications of these scientific and regulatory efforts, together with changes in stocks and harvests on fishery-dependent communities.

In the absence of strong and obvious sources of funding, the group subsequently evolved as a loosely-affiliated group of economists, legal scholars, political scientists, and other social scientists working largely independently on aspects of marine ecosystem/fisheries governance and the economics of the tuna industry. A core group from the initial meeting secured funding from the US National Science Foundation to organize a second, larger international workshop, entitled: “The Challenge of Change: Managing for Sustainability of Oceanic Top Predator Species", in Santa Barbara, CA, USA, in April 2007. Academic researchers and resource managers from a wide range of social and natural science disciplines came together to discuss opportunities for collaborative research on multi-national management of top predator species in the context of rapid socioeconomic and biophysical change. The participants explored how various types of expertise and methods of analysis could contribute to the design and implementation of more robust and sustainable management systems for these heavily exploited marine species.

This workshop was followed in December of the same year by a CLIOTOP symposium in La Paz, Mexico. Papers presented at this meeting were published in a special issue of Progress in Oceanography in September 2010 (Eds. Patrick Lehodey, Olivier Maury and Melanie Rathburn).  The WG5 co-chair, Kathleen Miller then coordinated with GLOBEC’s Focus 4 Working Group to organize two activities: a session for the joint GLOBEC-FAO-EUR-OCEANS meeting in Rome on “Coping with Global Change in Marine Socio-Ecological Systems” (8-11 July 2008) and a workshop on “Socio-economic dynamics and ecosystems: governance implications” at the 3rd GLOBEC Open Science Meeting in Victoria, BC, Canada (22-26 June 2009). Dr. Miller’s paper on tuna fishery governance appeared in a 2011 book based on the Rome meeting, and participants in the Victoria workshop co-authored a paper in the December 2010 special issue of Progress in Oceanography on climate change, uncertainty, and resilient fisheries. Other members who attended the symposium in Mexico analyzed the difficulties that coastal and island countries experience in negotiating access agreements with distant water fishing nations, the implications of climate change for top predator fisheries, the political challenges associated with establishing property right schemes (transferable quotas) in Regional Fisheries Management Organizations, etc. (see GLOBEC International Newsletter 14(1), April 2008, p. 63).

Cliotop wg5 NL18

Figure 1: CLIOTOP socio-economic WG5 meeting (13-14 May 2010, La Jolla, California, USA). More info...

Other important events for the CLIOTOP WG5 membership that occurred in 2010…

  • 4-6 February 2010 (Seychelles): Taking stock: action today for sustainability tomorrow, First Seychelles conference on sustainable tuna fisheries. More info...
  • 8-11 February 2010 (Paris, France): CLIOTOP Mid-term workshop. More info...
  • 13-14 May 2010 (La Jolla, CA, USA): Global tuna demand, fisheries dynamics and fisheries management in the Eastern Pacific Ocean (C.-H. Jenny Sun, M. Pan, D. Squires). International workshop supported by IATTC and NOAA (figure 1). More info...
  • 16 July 2010 (Montpellier, France): IIFET Conference Special session on global economics of tuna fisheries (P. Guillotreau, D. Squires, C.H. Sun). More info...

…and also in 2011:

  • 8 April 2011 (Seychelles): Taking stock: second Seychelles conference on sustainable tuna fisheries. More info...
  • 4-15 April 2011 (University of Nantes, France): Modeling Global Demand for Tuna (P. Guillotreau), international workshop supported by the ANR project Macroes and ISSF. The French national project Macroes (Macroscope for marine ecosystems, 2010-2013)  is attempting to help move IMBER-CLIOTOP towards integrated Earth System models through global interoperable databases, 2-way coupled global mechanistic numerical models (atmosphere, ocean, biogeochemistry, ecosystems and biodiversity, oceanic fisheries, fish markets), as well as the definition of governance scenarios. More info...
  • 18-20 April 2011 (UNESCO, Paris, France): First meeting of the IMBER Human Dimensions Working Group, UNESCO Paris (P. Guillotreau). More info...

Future activities of CLIOTOP WG5 within IMBER include working with other CLIOTOP members to convene a session on “Global Science for Global Governance of Oceanic Ecosystems and Fisheries” for the 26-29 March 2012 Conference: Planet Under Pressure to be held in London, UK.

Selected publications from the CLIOTOP WG5 members:

R. Allen, J. Joseph and D. Squires (2010). Conservation and Management of transnational tuna fisheries, Wiley Blackwell.

L. Campling, E. Havice and P. Howard (Eds) (2012). Special double issue of Journal of Agrarian Change on the political economy and ecology of capture fisheries. To be published mid-2012.

P. Guillotreau, F. Salladarré F., P. Dewals, L. Dagorn (2011), Fishing tuna around Fish Aggregating Devices (FADs) vs free swimming schools: skipper decision and other determining factors, Fisheries Research 109(2-3): 234-242.

A. Hamilton, A. Lewis, M. McCoy, E. Havice and L. Campling (2011), Impact of industry and market drivers on the global tuna supply chain, Report for the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency. Included in-country consultation with industry in China, Ecuador, Indonesia, Japan, Philippines, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, Thailand and USA.

E. Havice (2010). The structure of tuna access agreements in the Western and Central Pacific Ocean: Lessons for Vessel Day Scheme planning, Marine Policy 34(5): 979-987.

E. Havice and L. Campling (2010). Shifting Tides in the Western Central Pacific Ocean Tuna Fishery: The Political Economy of Regulation and Industry Responses, Global Environmental Politics 10(1): 89-114.

K. Miller, A. Charles, M. Barange, K. Brander, V. F. Gallucci, M. A. Gasalla, A. Khan, G. Munro, R. Murtugudde, R. E. Ommer and R. I, Perry (2010).  Climate change, uncertainty, and resilient fisheries: Institutional responses through integrative science, Progress in Oceanography, 87: 338-346.

K. Miller, P. Golubtsov and R. McKelvey (2011). Fleets, Sites and Conservation Goals: Game Theoretic Insights on Management Options for Multinational Tuna Fisheries, in Rosemary Ommer, Ian Perry, Philippe Cury, Kevern Cochrane (Eds.), World Fisheries: a Social-Ecological Analysis, Chapter 4: 60-88.

P.M. Miyake, P. Guillotreau, C.-H. Sun and G. Ishimura (2010. Recent developments in the tuna industry. Stocks, fisheries, management, processing, trade and markets FAO Fisheries and Aquaculture Technical Paper n° 543, Rome, 2010, 125 p.

Robinson J., Guillotreau P., Jiménez-Toribio R., Lantz F., Nadzon L., Dorizo J., Gerry C., Marsac F. (2010), Impacts of climate variability on the tuna economy of Seychelles, Climate Research 43(3): 149-162.

C.H. Sun (2010). Global tuna inverse demand estimation and the economic trade-off of the tuna longline and tuna purse-seine fisheries in the Eastern Pacific ocean. Report for NOAA, IATTC and the Pacific Islands Fisheries Center, November 2010, Taiwan & USA.

banner 2nd transition NL

ICED considers the Human Dimension in the Southern Ocean

Simeon Hill, British Antarctic Survey, Cambridge, UK

The Antarctic and the surrounding Southern Ocean are not the most obvious places to consider the human impacts of climate change because, after all, they have no long term human residents. Nonetheless, plenty of human interests are focused on the Antarctic and the consequences of climate change effects on the Southern Ocean ecosystem are likely to reverberate around the world.

Human economic interest in the Southern Ocean began with the arrival of sealers in the late 1700s and followed a pattern of over-exploitation that lasted for at least two centuries. The sealers had decimated most accessible seal populations by the early 1900s and attention switched to the baleen whales. These too were driven close to extinction in less than a century, and then the fishing boats arrived. According to Soviet-era statistics, the fleet harvested more than half a million tonnes of marbled rockcod from the South Georgia island shelf over a few short years around 1970. The ecosystem has not recovered from these perturbations and populations continue to rise and fall as a result.

In contrast to this unregulated and disastrous scramble for resources, the Antarctic Treaty of 1961 and the raft of associated agreements that followed are a major achievement in international cooperation.  The Treaty itself forbids military activities while the later Protocol on Environmental Protection prohibits the exploitation of mineral resources. The Treaty applies only to the Antarctic continent and its ice shelves whereas the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources and the Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Seals apply to the surrounding seas. These Conventions, and the activities they attempt to regulate, demonstrate the long-distance connections between the Southern Ocean ecosystem and the lives of people on distant continents.

The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is particularly relevant to human activities because, according to this Convention, the term “conservation” includes “rational use” of marine fish and invertebrates. One of these invertebrates is the Antarctic krill, a relatively large (up to 6cm) swimming crustacean which is found all the way around  the Antarctic continent, and especially in the Scotia Sea and West Antarctic peninsula region. Here its range stretches from the permanently ice covered waters of the Weddell Sea to the ice-free waters of South Georgia; from shallow island shelves to the deep waters of the open ocean; and from the surface layers, where it is preyed upon by fish, seabirds, seals and whales, to depths of at least 3000m.

The total mass of Antarctic krill is probably twice the annual production of all the world’s fisheries and aquaculture. The Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) estimates that Scotia Sea and West Antarctic Peninsula alone could supply krill equivalent to over 5% of world fisheries production without risking long-term impacts on the stock. This gives some indication of the potential economic importance of the Southern Ocean ecosystem.

The current fishery generally operates close to the Peninsula and in the southern Scotia Sea in the summer and moves northwards as sea ice spreads in the winter. Sea ice coverage fluctuates from year to year and so does the distribution of catches.  The fishery also responds to high variability in the distribution and abundance of krill throughout the approximately 2.5 million km2 fishing area. For example, 13% of all catch to date was taken at South Georgia, but this area accounted for only 0.6% of the 2008/09 catch due to anomalously low local krill abundance. Much of the catch enters the global fishmeal market where prices respond to climate-driven variations in the abundance of the main fishmeal species such as sardine and anchovies. A more lucrative market for omega 3 extracts has developed over recent years. Krill products command premium prices in this market and proponents argue that these products have a range of human health benefits.

Recent studies suggest that the ozone hole has offset many of the potential effects of greenhouse gas accumulation by accelerating circumpolar winds leading to cooling and sea ice expansion in East Antarctica. Nonetheless, the western areas where the current krill fishery operates are already showing signs of warming. The West Antarctic Peninsula is the fastest warming area in the Southern hemisphere, recording an air temperature increase of 2.8°C over the last five decades accompanied by the localised retreat of sea ice and the collapse of nearby ice shelves. Summer sea temperatures around South Georgia have increased by almost 1?C over eight decades, and the waters of the Antarctic Circumpolar Current, which flows around the continent, have warmed faster than the global average. 

Over the longer term, warming is likely to occur throughout the whole Southern Ocean. Credible predictions suggest that a third of all sea ice could disappear by the end of the century. Sea ice is a critical habitat for Antarctic krill. Young krill survive through the winter by feeding on the algae which concentrates under sea ice. This also supports the spread of these life stages away from nursery areas such as the Weddell Sea which is covered in sea ice year round. Forecasts suggest that winter sea ice extent and summer coverage in the Weddell Sea are likely to be hardest hit by climate change.

Previous studies have identified relationships between sea ice extent and krill abundance. The loss of sea ice could have negative impacts on the krill population at the same time as opening previously inaccessible areas to the fishery, or making these areas accessible for more of the year.

Current catches are a fraction of the potential catch but they may well increase as demand for marine protein and related products continues to grow, and as sea ice retreat makes the Southern Ocean more accessible to fishing vessels. This poses a number of challenges for successful management of the fishery. CCAMLR is faced with the need to support rational use while managing the risk of the fishery damaging the krill stock or the wider ecosystem. Climate change might reduce the amount of krill that can be safely harvested. Indeed the potential for serious climate change impacts on krill and its predators suggests that traditional fisheries management goals, based on the assumption that populations or ecosystems tend towards equilibrium, may not be appropriate. 

The current krill fishery is influenced by climate effects on local and global ecosystems but the combination of climate change and increasing demand has the potential to greatly increase these effects and their global significance. There are various things that CCAMLR can do to ensure it successfully protects the ecosystem while allowing rational use. These include continuing to use the precautionary approach which could mean, for example, restricting fishing activities in newly accessible areas until their likely effects on the ecosystem are understood. Another important measure is to reduce uncertainty in understanding how the ecosystem responds to climate variability and change and how this interacts with the effects of fishing.

IMBER’s regional programme is called Integrating Climate and Ecosystem Dynamics in the Southern Ocean (ICED) and, as its title suggests, it is actively working towards improved understanding of the ecosystem’s response to change. The ICED community recognises that human influences, particularly climate change and the consequences of historical harvesting, are major drivers of ecosystem change in the Southern Ocean. It aims to work with CCAMLR to inform fisheries management approaches that balance human needs with the protection of fished ecosystems in the context of ongoing change.

ICED NL18 Figure 1

Figure 1: Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba: An organism that is important in the Southern Ocean ecosystem and is becoming increasingly important to people. Photograph courtesy of Chris Gilbert, British Antarctic Survey.

ICED NL18 Figure 2

Figure 2: Fishing areas in the Southern Ocean with the highlighted areas (dark blue) showing where the krill stock and its fishery are concentrated.

banner transition NL

New to IMBER!

Welcome to Fang Zuo!

Fang Zuo has been appointed as the Administrative Assistant of the IMBER China Regional Projet Office, Shanghai.
ZUO Fang
banner 2nd transition NL


Omar Defeo, Faculty of Sciences, Montevideo, Uruguay

IMBER is pleased to welcome Omar Defeo, as the new national contact in Uruguay. Omar Defeo, D.Sc., is a professor in the Marine Science Unit at the Faculty of Sciences in Uruguay. He has worked on assessment and management of artisanal fisheries and conservation of biological diversity for over 30 years. His long-term research on the coasts of Latin America show that different fishing effort levels can lead to different responses in both fished and unfished fauna, as well as in population dynamics processes. He also specializes in the development of co-management practices to improve the ecological knowledge and management of harvested species. He is currently involved with sandy beach ecosystems and how they are threatened by climate change. He has co-authored two FAO Technical Papers and has published more than 100 papers in primary journals.

banner 2nd transition NL


Se-Jong Ju, Korea Ocean Research and Development Institute, Seoul, Republic of Korea
 Dr. Se-Jong Ju is IMBER’s newest national contact for the Republic of Korea. He is a Principle Research Scientist in the Deep-sea & Marine Georesources Research Department of the Korea Ocean Research & Development Institute (KORDI). He is also an Affiliated Associate Professor of Marine Environmental System Science at the University of Science & Technology in Daejeon, Korea.

His research interests include marine biogeochemistry, food web dynamics, krill ecology and lipid chemistry. Currently, his focus is understanding the role of plankton in the cycling of organic matter and energy flow within aquatic ecosystems. Many of the research questions that he addresses transcend traditional scientific disciplines and are enhanced through collaboration with others.

For several years, Dr. Ju has participated in the US Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics (GLOBEC) programme investigating the biology and role of krill in highly productive and dynamic ecosystems (including the California current system-Northeast Pacific program and Antarctic waters). The results of this study have demonstrated that biochemical techniques can significantly improve our knowledge of krill biology and ecology. He is currently the principal investigator of the research project (2008.9 – 2013.8) entitled ‘Assessing the impact of climate changes on the ecosystem in the South Sea of Korea’.

JU Se-Jong
banner 2nd transition NL

A new IMBER endorsed project: National Institute of Science and Technology on Continent-Ocean Materials Transfer (INCT-TMCOcean)

Luiz Drude de Lacerda, Institute of Marine Sciences, LABORAM-UFC, Fortaleza, Brazil

The INCT-TMCOcean is a 5-year program that started in 2009. It aims to quantify the materials transport and transformations at the continent-ocean interface along the NE-SE coast of Brazil and to understand the links between regional and global environmental change and economic chains (supply and value). It focuses on the similarities and differences in the biogeochemistry, carrying capacities and sustainability of estuarine and shelf ecosystems in the face of changes in land use and global climate. The project seeks to make a contribution by minimizing regional dissimilarities through a strong capacity building program, making information accessible to stakeholders, raising public awareness and supporting sustainability policies in the reality of the Anthropocene.


Along the continent-ocean continuum, different natural and anthropogenic physical, chemical and biological processes may alter the original biogeochemistry of the transported materials. Transformations of river basins due to anthropogenic activities may reach a level where human drivers are stronger controllers of processes than natural climatic, geological and pedological forces inherent of the basin (Figure 1). Therefore, the fate and biogeochemistry of organic matter, nutrients and pollutants and the balance of greenhouse gases are strongly affected by land use, including agribusinesses, urbanization and industrialization, mining, energy generation, fisheries and aquaculture taking place in river basins. Marine drivers, such as variations in tides and currents, are often excluded from sustainable coastal zone management plans, even though they can modulate the environmental response. Therefore, knowledge of the physical processes regulating marine forces is fundamental to evaluate coastal zone processes and their response to regional and global change. The project involves three integrated approaches.

Within the environmental biogeochemistry framework it quantifies similarities and dissimilarities of contamination, eutrophication and carrying capacities of the different study areas, integrating and modeling them in order to construct appropriate sustainable utilization scenarios. This includes the geological, biological and chemical frameworks, as well as anthropogenic emissions of contaminants, nutrients and organic matter. Measures to control and minimize emissions are proposed based on these scenarios. Attention is given to changes in basin morphology and sediment, nutrients, organic matter and pollutant fluxes at the continent-ocean interface, where most water-dependent activities take place. A detailed, comparative description of the major biogeochemical processes is provided taking into consideration the different geochemical backgrounds of the investigated regions, from humid climate (south east) to semi-arid environments (north east). Key issues are: Coastal ecosystem typology and continental fluxes to the western South Atlantic Ocean including subterranean groundwater discharge; application of radioisotopes and nuclear techniques to study mixing processes in coastal and shelf environments; estimating the relative importance of natural and anthropogenic emissions of nutrients and contaminants; the biogeochemistry of metals, organic matter and organic micro-pollutants at the continent-ocean interface.

The global and regional climate change scenarios are evaluated by changes in biodiversity proxies such as the cover of natural key ecosystems (e.g. mangroves) and invasive organisms, and in the spectrum of fisheries and key monitoring species. This information is analyzed together with biogeochemical proxies and used to identify evidence of the impacts of global climate change and the influence of ocean dynamics on shelf and estuarine areas, to draw consistent scenarios in the reality of the Anthropocene.

With regard to the human dimension, the project evaluates the social-economic impacts on product chains of artisanal fisheries, aquaculture, irrigated agriculture and husbandry in the investigated lower river basins, due to water use conflicts, erosion and fertility loss of the soils and sedimentation associated particularly with the damming of rivers. Stakeholder participation is achieved by organizing workshops to relay results and their potential for policy-making and sustainable development of the coastal zone. The project also evaluates the generation and dependence of income and jobs on environmental conditions based on an integration of physical and socioeconomic indicators. This dimension is complemented by continuously building human capacity in all levels of education and training.

INTC-TMCO figure 1 NL18

Figure 1: The conceptual framework supporting the INCT-TMCOcean project. The land-sea interface is a critical area for the remobilization of organic matter, nutrients and contaminants and changes in their biogeochemistry due to regional different land uses and global climate changes, which may result in adverse effects on its sustainability.

banner transition NL

IMBER Meeting report

ESSAS Open Science Meeting - Comparative studies of climate effects on polar and sub-polar ocean ecosystems: progress in observation and prediction

Ken Drinkwater, Institute of Marine Research, Bergen, Norway
George Hunt, University of Washington, Seattle, USA

IMBER’s regional programme, Ecosystem Studies of Sub-Arctic Seas (ESSAS), held its second Open Science Meeting (OSM) titled Comparative studies of climate effects on polar and sub-polar ocean ecosystems: progress in observation and prediction, on 22-26 May 2011, in Seattle, Washington, USA. The meeting showcased the progress made in understanding the role of climate variability and change on the ecosystem structure and function within Sub-Arctic seas.

The OSM started with a series of one- or half-day workshops that dealt with topics such as: Biological consequences of a decrease in sea ice in Arctic and Sub-Arctic seas; Arctic-Subarctic Interactions; Zooplankton life histories: Developing metrics to compare field observations and model results in order to predict climate effects; Comparative analyses of gadid and crustacean dynamics across subarctic ecosystems  and Comparative Analyses of Marine Bird and Mammal Responses to Climate Change.

At the start of the main OSM, instead of the usual introductory speeches by dignitaries, scholars from the Pribilof Islands of St. Paul and St. George gave a presentation titled Discovering the Pribilof Domain. The human inhabitants of these islands, who are mostly of Aleut descent, depend almost exclusively upon the sea for their livelihood and food. Their presentation touched upon the climate of the Pribilofs and the physical oceanography surrounding the islands, the phytoplankton and zooplankton, some of the principal fish and shellfish species and their life histories, marine mammals, and the socio-economic consequences of the fish and fisheries. Their presentation was extremely interesting and given in a very professional manner. A job well done!

The meeting format included morning plenary presentations by invited speakers and three parallel sessions each afternoon.  The invited speakers covered various aspects of the session topics that were held in the afternoon. The parallel sessions were titled:

  • Comparative studies of polar and sub-polar ecosystem
  • New observations and understanding of eastern and western Bering Sea ecosystems
  • Modeling marine ecosystem dynamics in high latitude regions
  • Nutrients, biogeochemistry and acidification in a changing climate
  • New insights from the International Polar Year (IPY) Studies
  • National ESSAS Programs: Recent advances and contributions
  • Anticipating socio-economic and policy consequences of global changes in sub-polar and polar marine ecosystems
  • Interactions between Gadoids and Crustaceans: The roles of climate, predation, and fisheries.

Most of the presentations, are available here.

Awards were given to the best young scientist presentations.  Honourable mention was given to Kristin L. Laidre from the University of Washington for her talk entitled Climate Change and Baleen Whale Trophic Cascades in Greenland.  She described tagging and tracking studies of bowhead and humpback whales off West Greenland done in conjunction with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources. The award for the best presentation went to Joel Heath from the University of British Columbia for his talk on Winter Ecology of Common Eiders in Polynya and Floe Edge Habitats in Eastern Hudson Bay, Nunavut.  He gave a fascinating account using underwater video to help model the bioenergetics of the eiders.  He also described the changing environmental conditions for these birds around the Belcher Islands through changes in river runoff because of hydroelectric developments. These changes are threatening the eider populations and hence the Inuit people of the islands that depend upon them. Special awards were also given to the students from the Pribilof Islands for their presentation and participation in the OSM.   

Sixty-one posters were presented. Laurinda Marcello from the University of Alaska received honourable mention the poster entitled Effects of Temperature and Gadoid Predation on Snow Crab Recruitment: Comparisons between the Bering Sea and Atlantic Canada. She and her co-authors found that temperature change seems to be a more important and consistent factor controlling snow crab recruitment than that of gadoid predation. It is still unclear whether the temperature effect is through direct forcing or indirectly, e.g. through temperature effects on their prey or predators. Xuehua Cui from the University of Tennessee  was given the best poster award for Spatial Distribution of Groundfish in the Northern Bering Sea in Relation to Environmental Variation and Feeding Habitat. Her study suggested strong linkages between physical conditions (e.g. water temperature and hydrography) and biological conditions (e.g. bloom status) in structuring fish communities in the northern Bering Sea.

Three special invited lectures wrapped-up the OSM. Dr. Kevin Arrigo from Stanford University, discussed the impact of climate change on lower trophic levels in polar and sub-polar seas in a talk entitled Phytoplankton Production in the Bering Sea and Arctic Ocean: A Satellite Remote Sensing Study. He showed that sea surface temperatures (SSTs) in the Bering Sea have warmed over last 30 years, but there has been no trend in sea-ice cover or primary production. The exception has been the Chirikov Basin where annual primary production increased 40% from 1998 to 2007. He speculated that in the future, a warmer, more ice-free Bering Sea is likely to be more productive than today. In the Arctic, changes in sea-ice extent and duration have resulted in a 20% increase in primary production over the last 12 years, and with reductions in sea ice, Arctic productivity could increase even more in the future.  However, he noted that much work is needed before we will have reliable quantitative predictions. Dr. Steve Murawski from the University of South Florida then spoke on Understanding Ecosystem Processes: The Key to Predicting Climate Effects. He noted that global patterns and ecological gradients of productivity, species richness, species distributions, and their variability form the patterns of adaptation of biodiversity to the Earth’s climate, and he pointed out just how complicated it will be to forecast future warming-induced impacts. Complex co-evolved dynamics defy simple depiction with single drivers.  He stressed the value of the comparative approach for studying ecosystem responses to variations in ocean climate and as a powerful method for inferring biophysical processes. He stated that much of the “first order” science done up to now has shown just how complicated things are, and he pointed the way towards a mix of comparative studies, paleoecology, and laboratory analyses that are needed to advance the field – reductionistic approaches will not reveal complex interactions.  There is the need to understand how species respond not only on a taxonomic basis, but in the presence of other species, i.e. competitors, prey and predators. He noted the need to assemble the global patterns of environmental information and biological data, including biological responses to environmental change and wondered who will take on this important work.  The final speaker was Dr. Keith Criddle from the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, whose presentation was entitled Adaptation and Maladaptation: Factors that Influence the Fitness of Fisheries and Fishing Dependent Communities. Using examples from the salmon, halibut and Pollock fisheries off Alaska, he showed that the fitness of fisheries and fishery dependent communities depend on the characteristics of social, economic, and legal systems that determine who is allowed to fish and how fishing takes place, as well as the attributes of the stock.  The unique legal foundations, culture, and traditions of each nation or state affect the range of viable alternative fishery governance structures. There are tradeoffs between economic efficiencies gained through management measures such as single species individual fishing quotas (IFQs) and heightened exposure to factors that affect individual stocks, associated product markets, etc. In contrast, generalist fleets trade reduced economic efficiency and possible losses of management precision for reduced exposure to losses associated with variations in the abundance or value of any one species. Durable individual entitlements to shares of the allowable catch increase profitability that help fishermen adapt to modest adverse changes in stock abundance, vessel prices, and input costs, but their vulnerability to larger perturbations is increased. While catch shares increase choice and therefore resilience from the perspective of individuals, catch shares can increase or decrease the resilience of fishery dependent communities.

Results from the OSM will be published in several special issues of scientific journals.  Papers from many of the theme sessions will appear in a dedicated volume of the ICES Journal of Marine Science. This special issue will be dedicated to our colleague and good friend Dr. Bern Megrey, a long time member of the ESSAS SSC and co-leader of the Working Group on modelling, who unfortunately passed away unexpectedly last October.

The meeting ended with a special musical presentation given by a group from Norway known as “Science Fair” who perform science-inspired music.

banner transition NL

IMBER endorsed events

5th China-Japan-Korea (CJK) IMBER Symposium

Global ocean ecosystem dynamics, integrated marine biogeochemistry and ecosystem research

Plus a training course for early career scientist and students!

Symposium: 22-24 November 2011, Training course: 25 November 2011
 Registration deadline: 15 October 2011.

Deadline for abstract submission: 15 October 2011
 East China Normal University, 3663 Zhongshan Road North, Shanghai, China


This is the fifth China-Japan-Korea meeting since the GLOBEC-IMBER symposium series began in 2002. These meetings provide scientists from China, Japan, and Korea (CJK) with the opportunity to collaborate, exchange, and compare the results of their research. Although GLOBEC ended in 2010, IMBER will continue to facilitate the organisation of these symposia. The 5th will focus on the impact of climate change and anthropogenic forcing on physical processes and biogeochemical cycles, ecosystem structure and functions, and fisheries in the northern Pacific region, and how these complex interactions in combination, in turn, influences marine ecosystems and human society in a broad aspect.

More info...

banner 2nd transition NL

Joint SOLAS/IMBER/IOCCP Carbon meeting

The Ocean Carbon Cycle at a time of change: Synthesis and vulnerabilities

14-16 September 2011, UNESCO, Paris, France

This meeting aims to bring together scientists working on global ocean carbon synthesis projects, such as CARINA, PACIFICA, GLODAP2, SOCAT, etc, but is open to all other scientists who are interested in developing an integrated view of how the ocean carbon cycle has changed in recent decades. Of interest are data syntheses, analyses and modeling studies focusing on air-sea CO2 fluxes, changes in ocean surface and interior carbon properties, and how the changes in these realms are connected to each other.

More info...

SIC meeting Sept 2011 Paris France
banner 2nd transition NL

The Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas release!

Dorothee Bakker, Benjamin Pfeil, Are Olsen, Chris Sabine, Nicolas Metzl, Steve Hankin, Heather Koyuk, Jeremy Malczyk, Alex Kozyr, Maciej Telszewski and all SOCAT contributors.

The Surface Ocean CO2 Atlas (SOCAT) is a global compilation of underway surface water fCO2 (fugacity of CO2) data. It incorporates 6.3 million measurements from 1767 cruises, from more than 10 countries, that took place between 1968 and 2008. SOCAT combines all publicly available surface water data from the global oceans, including the Arctic, and the coastal seas in a common format. All data have been evaluated for data quality using methods that are transparent and fully documented. The details of the data analysis and preparation will be described in technical articles that will be submitted shortly (Pfeil et al., in preparation; Sabine et al., in preparation). SOCAT (version 1.4) will be publicly released for the first time on 14 September 2011.

Two SOCAT products will be made publicly available:

  1. A global surface ocean fCO2 data set with second level quality control;
  2. A global gridded product of monthly surface water fCO2 means, with no temporal or spatial interpolation (i.e. bin averages). A Live Access Server will allow exploration and downloading of the data and gridded products from the web.

SOCAT will be released as part of the Joint SOLAS/IMBER/IOCCP Carbon Synthesis Meeting: The Ocean Carbon Cycle at a time of change: Synthesis and vulnerabilities at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris. The researchers that helped produce the CO2 Atlas will present some of the initial science coming from the product at the meeting. There is also a special session at the Ocean Sciences meeting on 20-24 February 2012 devoted to SOCAT science titled: ‘The Changing Ocean Carbon Cycle: Data Synthesis, Analyses and modeling’.

Research using SOCAT will highlight the response of surface water fCO2 and the oceanic CO2 sink to increasing levels of atmospheric CO2 in a changing climate. The SOCAT data set will be an important building block for future global carbon research.

Future updates to SOCAT are envisaged. Colleagues are strongly encouraged to use the Atlas and to submit their quality controlled surface water fCO2 data for inclusion in future SOCAT releases. We request that you acknowledge the SOCAT project and let us know if you publish a manuscript based on the Atlas. We also welcome your ideas for future SOCAT updates.

Enjoy SOCAT!

banner 2nd transition NL

PICES 2011 Annual Meeting

Mechanisms of Marine Ecosystem Reorganization in the North Pacific Ocean

October 14-23, 2011, Khabarosk, Russia

The North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) 2011 Annual Meeting will be held in Khabarovsk, Russia from 14-23 October 2011. The meeting is hosted by the Russian Federal Agency for Fisheries in cooperation with the government of the Khabarovsk Region. The Pacific Research Fisheries Centre (TINRO-Centre) and the Khabarovsk branch of TINRO-Centre are responsible for the local arrangements.

More info...

banner 2nd transition NL

EUR-OCEANS Conference

Ocean deoxygenation and implications for marine biogeochemical cycles and ecosystems

24-26 October 2011, Toulouse, France

This conference aims to bring together biological, biogeochemical, and physical oceanographers to discuss the issue of deoxygenation in the world ocean and its implications for ocean productivity, nutrient cycling, carbon cycling, and marine habitats.

Scientific themes of the Conference

  • Oxygen distribution and physical and biogeochemical controls;
  • Challenges of model parameterizations and predictions of O2 changes;
  • The past ocean: what can we learn from episodic widespread anoxia throughout the Earth’s history?
  • The present ocean : (Increase of coastal hypoxia,Interplay between acidification and deoxygenation, implication on marine biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, silicon, etc.., Oxygen Minimum Zones and greenhouse gases, Change in ocean circulation and mixing and its impact on O2 distribution, exchange between coastal and open ocean water mass properties, getting into the realm of the microbial activity: a functional genomic approach);
  • Towards new biogeochemical microsensors and networks (in situ and satellite observations; experimentations) for marine biogeochemical cycling

More info...

banner 2nd transition NL

Online training endorsed by IMBER

Open Access for Global Change Scientists

26 October 2011

Ivo Grigorov, EURO-BASIN Project Officer, DTU-Aqua, Denmark.

Open access training NL18 (1)
Open access training NL18 (2)

Should Global Climate Change research data be freely available to anyone, anywhere? And what about the peer-reviewed publications that interprete that data? Is there a real citation advantage for the scientists who choose to publish research so that it is immediately available to colleagues in developing countries, socio-economic stakeholders, educators, the media and the public?

These are just some of the questions to be addressed during the one-day, web-based training ‘Open Access for Global Climate Change Scientists’, 26 October 2011, endorsed by SCAR, SCOR, PICES and IMBER.

The transparency of climate research has been called into question recently, with high profile calls for more and better access to primary data in general, but especially that related to global climate change (Nelson, 2009 and Science Special issue 11, 2011). Although data sharing and long-term data preservation practices can be improved, the marine disciplines perform better than many others, as the benefits are understood and appreciated by the data generating teams. There is, however, a great and largely unexplored opportunity for marine research to set an example by providing free access to the peer-reviewed publications that make sense of the primary observation datasets. Ocean acidification research illustrates this opportunity well. It has captured the attention of researchers and the public alike. As every second molecule of CO2 produced while these paragraphs are written, edited, printed, distributed and read, is absorbed by the oceans, further lowering the pH, ocean acidification is a topic that brings marine research into the socio-economic context. Publications on ocean acidification have more than quadrupled since 2007. Studies focus on understanding the effects of more acidic oceans throughout the food web. As potentially few fisheries are resilient to acidification, the socio-economic consequences could potentiially be significant (Cooley and Doney, 2009). Research articles referring to “economic consequences”, “management options” and “recommendations for marine resource managers” are delivering information at the science-policy interface and targeting a broad non-academic stakeholder community.

Finally, the nature of the topic easily lends itself to cross-disciplinary case studies in the classroom for a broad range of ages, as it draws on knowledge from chemistry, biology and ecology across many of the principles of ocean literacy.

Non-academic stakeholders and the general public often have limited  access to research publications (UK Parliament Science and Technology Committee, 2003-2004). Researchers are generally in favour of disseminating their ideas without restriction (Dallmeier-Tiessen et al., 2011). Despite this, the majority of global climate change-related publications are not freely accessible beyond the campus. Unlike data, the reason is frequently lack of knowledge on how best to capitalize on open access without affecting the quality of peer-review or choice of where to publish.

In the case of ocean acidification, half of all publications on the topic are freely accessible. This is much higher than the overall percentage of marine research currently available for free. However, considering that the legal and IT infrastructure is now in place (OpenAIRE) to provide free access to as much as 90% of the research publications, and that most major research funders either mandate, or are openly in favour of open access (ROARMAP and EC's Framework Programme 7, 2011), it seems there is an opportunity for marine research to set the standard in global climate change research, and harness the benefits. And there certainly are benefits. Free access makes research more visible, easier to find, read and cite, and datasets more re-usable.  It is exactly these "carrots" of open access that the training will focus on. The objective is to demonstrate to the next generation of researchers the career benefits of openly publishing data and research, how to publish with impact through open access, and the resources available.

Interested participants must register online and can win fee waivers worth 700-1500€ to publish their next research or data manuscript via open access.

More info about registration and program...

Nelson, B. (2009). Data Sharing : Empty Archives, Nature 461, 160-163, doi:10.1038/461160a

Science n°11 (2011). Dealing with Data Special Issue

Cooley, S. & S.C Doney (2009). Anticipating ocean acidification’s economic consequences for commercial fisheries, Environmental Research Letters 4(2): 024007

Dallmeier-Tiessen, S. et al. (2011). Highlights from the SOAP project survey. What Scientists Think about Open Access Publishing, 1101.5260. More info...

EC`s Framework Programme 7, Work Programme 2012 released on 20th July included calls on open access across Themes Environment (including Climate Change) and Science in Society to the value of 3M euros, and EU Commissioner for Digital Agenda extended the ‘open access’ requirement to all beneficiaries of EU funds (12 Aug 2011)

banner 2nd transition NL

American Geophysical Union Fall meeting 2011

San Francisco, California, USA, 5-9 December 2011
 More info...

SOLAS / IMBER special session: Session OS13

Description: The absorption of anthropogenic CO2 by the oceans has caused changes in ocean chemistry including reduced pH and carbonate ion availability, collectively referred to as ocean acidification (OA). The goal of this session is to examine recent progress in OA research spanning information from historical events over centennial to millennial time scales, present-day observations of carbon system dynamics and resulting biological impacts, and predictions of future impacts on ecosystems.
Co-Conveners: Richard Feely, Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Joanie Kleypas

More info...

banner 2nd transition NL

Planet Under Pressure

London, UK, 26-29 March 2012

Deadline for abstract submission is 16 September 2011

Planet under pressure 2012

More info...

Three IMBER special sessions:

More info...

Ocean acidification - Ecological impacts and societal implications (SOLAS/IMBER Ocean Acidification Working Group and others)

The session will focus on the following issues:

  1. Ocean acidification consequences for organisms. What are the main effects of decreasing pH and changes in carbonate chemistry on physiological processes? Which species and groups are the most sensitive – and the most resilient?
  2. Ocean acidification consequences for ecosystems. How will effects on species be naturally integrated at the community and ecosystem level, for seafloor habitats, the water column and coastal systems?
  3. Ocean acidification consequences for socio-economic systems. What are the potential implications for human use of marine resources, both directly (e.g. impacts on shellfish and aquaculture) and indirectly, through ecosystem services (e.g. climate regulation, and role of coral reefs in coastal protection)?
  4. Ocean acidification consequences for policy. Should ocean acidification be considered as inextricably linked with climate change, or as a separate problem? How can knowledge of ocean acidification impacts contribute to the emerging debate on climate geoengineering?

There is rapidly growing research attention to the above topic areas, with major programmes underway at the national and regional scale. This session will cover the latest global research findings, from experimental studies, field surveys, modelling and policy dialogue, whilst also providing the opportunity for public debate.

Phil Williamson (NERC/Univ of East Anglia, UK), Carol Turley (Plymouth Marine Laboratory, UK), Sarah Cooley (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, USA), Richard Feeley (NOAA, USA), Nafees Meah (UK Dept of Energy & Climate Change, UK).

Global science for governance of oceanic ecosystems and fisheries (IMBER/CLIOTOP)

This session will focus on new science, new integrative models, pathways and bottlenecks towards the global governance of social-ecological oceanic systems for sustainability. It will emphasize the necessary interactions between policy and science and target both scientists (e.g. the IMBER-CLIOTOP community) and policy makers involved in oceanic fisheries management at national and international (e.g. RFMOs) levels.

Olivier Maury (IRD - UMR EME, South Africa), Kathleen Miller (NCAR, Climate Science and Applications Program, USA), Raghu Murtuggude (ESSIC University of Maryland, USA), Liam Campling (School of Business and Management, University of London, UK), Olivier Aumont (IRD – UMR LPO, France).

Toward a sustainability-science knowledge-network on marine-ecosystems: achieving innovative, transdisciplinary stewardship across multiple scales (IMBER Human Dimensions Working Group)

This session will explore the development of problem-driven, multi-stakeholder, information-rich networks and related mechanisms to improve the links among knowledge, understanding, and action in managing marine ecosystems in which anthropogenic forces have become major determinants of system dynamics.

Best practices in the establishment and operation of knowledge networks for marine stewardship and sustainability will be explored. The major obstacles to progress will be identified and the role that new developments in informatics can play in ensuring the integration of all relevant forms of knowledge through the development of collaboratories explored.

Peter Fox (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, member of SCCID (ICSU), USA), Oran Young (University California Santa Barbara, IHDP, USA), Alida Bundy (Department of Fisheries an Oceans, Canada), Moeniba Issacs (University of Western Cape, South Africa), Marion Glaser (Leibniz Center for Tropical Marine Ecology, Germany).

banner 2nd transition NL

The second ICES PICES IOC Global Ocean Symposium

Yeosu, Korea, 15-19 March 2012
YEOSU May 2012

Symposium Scope:

Since the beginning of life on earth, oceans have influenced the fundamental processes of our planet. From their role in the global carbon cycle to providing the habitats that sustain marine biodiversity, oceans provide the living resources and services upon which humans depend. They create opportunities for economic development, for societal well-being, and for quality of life. But we are changing the World Ocean to an extent that is unprecedented in millions of years. Greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet, affecting the global carbon cycle, and changing the chemical composition of the ocean. These fundamental changes can have serious consequences for oceanic productivity and species composition. Marine ecosystems are being disrupted by overfishing and pollution at various scales so the consequences for earth, as we have known it, might become serious. There is general agreement that our understanding of the role of oceans in the ecology of the planet is in its infancy. While many adverse effects of climate change have been described to date, they are likely a fraction of what will become apparent in the coming years. These changes are described and debated in regional or thematic symposia and workshops, but a comprehensive view of the current state of the global ocean and comparison between regions demands an international symposium program that reaches for that scale. ICES, PICES and IOC joined forces in 2008 for the first global ocean symposium (Gijón, Spain) and it attracted 400 scientists from 48 countries. This second look at the "Effects of Climate Change on the World's Oceans" will lead us through many issues of the role of climate change on the oceans: sea level rise, changes in thermo-haline ocean circulation, acidification, oligotrophy of temperate seas, changes in species abundance, distribution and phenology, loss of biodiversity, all of which will have serious implications for marine living resources, etc. This symposium aims to bring together experts from different disciplines to exchange observations, results, models and ideas at a global scale and to discuss the opportunities to mitigate and protect the marine environment and its living resources.

More info...

banner transition NL


Post Doctoral Fellow

Fisheries Modeller, NIWA, New Zealand

The impacts occurring as a result of fisheries catches on the marine environment is an important research theme for NIWA. As a part of Ministry of Science and Innovation funding we are developing an ecosystem based modelling framework to enhance our understanding of the ecosystem consequences arising from marine fisheries. This includes the development of spatially explicit population models, multispecies population models, benthic impact models, and bycatch impact models. To help us deliver on our research outcomes, we have a opportunity for a passionate researcher to take up a two-year post doctoral fellowship. 

This represents a significant opportunity for a PhD graduate who has attained, or will shortly satisfy the requirements for, a PhD degree in a numerically based discipline. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in population dynamics modelling or ecosystem modelling, but any candidate with a proven strong numerical or statistically based background will be considered. The candidate must be comfortable with coding in the R (or similar) statistical language and computing languages like C++ or C. A demonstrated knowledge and interest in marine ecology and marine ecological modelling will be an advantage.

For further information about NIWA, a full position description and online applications please visit www.careers.niwa.co.nz.

banner 2nd transition NL


Last call for Transitional Access which offers researchers and trainees access to a range of mesocosm facilities in contrasting environments located in different pelagic aquatic environments throughout Europe.

This last call is now to apply for TA activities from January to July 2012.

Deadline for application: 30 September 2011, 12:00 CET.

More info...

banner 2nd transition NL

IMBER-relevant meetings

  • World Symposium on Phytoplankton Blooms in temperate coastal ecosystems (19-21 September 2011, Wimereux, France). More info...
  • The Joint FRA-CLIOTOP Workshop on “Advancing Comparative Ecological Studies of Early Life History and Recruitment Strategy of Bluefin Tunas and the Related Species, and Effects of Environmental Changes on the Fluctuations of Oceanic Top Predators” (20-23 September 2011, Shimizu, Japan). More info...
  • Plankton 2011, Plankton Biodiversity and Global Change (22-23 September 2011, Plymouth, UK). More info...
  • World Conference on Marine Biodiversity (26-30 September 2011, Aberdeen, Scotland). More info...
  • Conference on "Carbon in a changing world" organized by the EU-project COCOS and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) (24-26 October 2011, Rome, Italy). More info...
  • WCRP Open Science Conference: Climate Research in Service to Society (24-28 October 2011, Denver, Colorado, USA). More info...
  • TOS/ASLO/AGU 2012 Ocean Sciences Meeting (20-24 February 2012, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA). More info...
  • Dynamic Deltas International Conference 2012, "Dynamic Deltas on Safety and Sustainability in Rural Delta Regions" (17-20 April 2012, Vlissingen, the Netherlands). More info...
  • 10th International Conference on Southern Hemisphere Meteorology and Oceanography (23-27 April 2012, Noumea, New Caledonia). More info...
  • 11th International Conference on the Biogeochemistry of Trace Elements (3-7 July 2011, Florence, Italy). More info...
  • XVIII. INQUA (International Union for Quaternary Research) Congress (20-27 July 2011, Bern, Switzerland). More info...
  • Third Symposium on the Ocean in a High-CO2 World (24-27 September 2012, Monterey, California, USA). More info...
banner transition NL


J.-P. Gattuso et al. (August 2011). Warming of the Mediterranean Sea hampers the resistance of corals and mollusks to ocean acidification, CNRS 25, Press release.

More info...


K.E.F. Shamberger, R.A. Feely, C.L. Sabine, M.J. Atkinson, E.H. DeCarlo, F.T. Mackenzie, P.S. Drupp and D.A. Butterfield (in press). Calcification and organic production on a Hawaiian coral reef, Marine Chemistry, doi: 10.1016/j.marchem.2011.08.003.

More info...


Beaufort L., Probert I., de Garidel-Thoron T., Bendif E. M., Ruiz-Pino D., Metzl N., Goyet C., Buchet N., Coupel P., Grelaud M., Rost B. and Rickaby R. E. M. (2011). Sensitivity of coccolithophores to carbonate chemistry and ocean acidification, Nature, 476 80-83.

More info...


Ocean Acidification (2011), Jean-Pierre Gattuso and Lina Hansson (Eds), Oxford University Press

  • Synthesizes the findings of recent national and international research efforts, including those of EPOCA (European Project on Ocean Acidification), set in a broader global context;
  • Reviews our current knowledge of the chemical, biological, biogeochemical, and societal implications of ocean acidification, with a particular emphasis on its impact on marine organisms and ecosystems;
  • Assesses the uncertainties, risks, and thresholds related to ocean acidification at molecular, cellular, organismal, local, and global scales.

More info...

Ocean acidification (2011)
banner 2nd transition NL

Should you wish to announce a publication in the IMBER Update, please send information to Lisa Maddison


Published by IMBER
Editors: IMBER IPO
ISSN 1951-610X