ICES Annual Science Conference 2015

Theme Session M

Social, economic, and ecological impact assessment across marine sectors?

J. Rasmus Nielsen (Denmark)
Jörn Schmidt (Germany)
Eric Thunberg (USA)
Dan Holland (USA)

​​​​​​Contact conveners​

​​​​​Marine ecosystems evolve under many interconnected and area-specific pressures. These pressures, originating from both natural and anthropogenic sources, are increasing in magnitude and intensity because of cumulative human impacts on the seas. In order to fulfil society's intensifying and diversifying needs whilst ensuring ecologically sustainable development, more effective marine spatial planning and a broader-scale management of marine resources must be provided. This includes goods and services such as fishing, aquaculture, renewable energy, shipping, conservation, and recreation.

Due to diversifying and competing interests across marine sectors for the use of marine resources and space, there is an urgent need to elaborate and apply common principles and broader management evaluation in the use of marine space. In particular, policy makers need to know the costs and benefits of ecosystem goods and services protection to manage them sustainably. Region specific pressures, affiliated uncertainties, and risks need to be taken into account. Increasing pressures from eutrophication, climate change, and pollution also needs to be considered in this context.

While some pressures may be managed at a local scale, many are transboundary and therefore require a regional management approach. Further­more, national activities may have transboundary effects on the ecosystem as a whole. Understanding the linkages between structure and functioning of the sea ecosystem and vari­ous human activities from local to regional scales is critical here.

Applying the ecosystem approach to longterm strategic management (EAM) is closely linked with regional sustainable development. This involves proper harmonization of a) ecological, b) economic, and c) social factors accompanied by overarching considerations of the appropriate governance for development to conti­nue without degrading ecosystem goods and services, particularly those that maintain viable sectors. It also requires development and implementation of more comprehensive, integrated, and holistic approaches (on a case specific basis) to understand, antici­pate, and analyze ecological, economic, and sociological change on a regional scale related to its potential mul­tiple uses, while taking into consideration local and national scale complexity. These approaches must offer the possibility to conduct assessments in a multidisciplinary and regional context, and to develop appropriate adaptive and mitigated responses, both locally and regionally.

The major aim of this session is to enhance the implementation of broader-scale impact assessments of fisheries and other maritime sectors seen in ecological, economic, and socio-economic perspectives, with fisheries being fully integrated into management considerations together with other marine sectors. To facilitate this, the integrated ecological–economic models and evaluation methods need to be explored to find better ways of communicating the advice generated by these models, and to learn how individual characteristics of models influence the various types of decisions taken by managers.  

Papers are welcome on the following topics:

  • Integrating fisheries management into maritime spatial planning and broader cross sector marine management – implications and needs?
  • Integrating economic-social-ecological marine cross-sector and fisheries management evaluation models and methods – challenges in implementation, how are models used, what improve or impede their acceptance and processes, what makes a model informative and useful to policy makers and stakeholders, how can we best communicate model structure and meaning of model outputs to decision-makers, what are the needed characteristics for the use of models in an advisory context - tactical/strategic and complexity/flexibility/user-friendliness and robustness/risk assessment?
  • Integrating spatially explicit and transnational regional management evaluation methods – worldwide experiences
  • Spatial management strategies accounting for ecological, economic, and social sustainability and viability
  • The need for future research, development, and advisory structures ​
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Theme Session M

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