Above and Below the Water: Social/Ecological Transformation in Northwest Newfoundland

Population and Environment (Impact Factor: 1.46). 06/2004; 25(6):195-215. DOI: 10.1023/B:POEN.0000032322.21030.c1


Marine fisheries and fishing societies develop around the resources provided by a particular ecosystem. As they exploit these resources, fisheries transform the ecosystem, which pushes fishery and society to adapt in turn. This process is illustrated by fisheries, ecological and social data tracking dramatic changes on Newfoundland's Northern Peninsula and its adjacent marine ecosystem, the northern Gulf of St. Lawrence. There a longstanding fishery for cod and other groundfish collapsed in the 1990s, and was replaced by fisheries targeting invertebrates. The new invertebrate fisheries have different socioeconomic characteristics than the former groundfish fisheries. The shift in target species reflects deep ecological changes that were underway at least a decade before official recognition of the crisis. Our analysis of biological data reveals that the main ecological changes occurred during the glory years of the 1980s, when Newfoundland's domestic fisheries were at their peak. Overfishing and interactions with adverse climatic conditions drove the changes. As the ecosystem transformed, human population declined due to outmigration, and social indicators show signs of distress. Accounts by outport residents paint a generational picture of social change.

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Available from: Lawrence C. Hamilton,
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    • "The effects of ecological change vary across different user groups within fishing communities, with some people successfully adapting to new fisheries and others being subjected to ongoing financial hardship (Hamilton et al. 2003; Hamilton et al. 2004). Successful management will consider the effects of cultivation or restoration on all user groups, for instance by providing opportunities to access nonfishing livelihoods and by creating flexible fisheries regulations that allow fishers to adapt to ecological change (Hamilton et al. 2004). Unintended cultivation effects can result in strong conflicts between conservation and fisheries management goals, particularly when combined with shifting baselines and heavy investment in new fisheries. "
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    ABSTRACT: The effects of fisheries on marine ecosystems, and their capacity to drive shifts in ecosystem states, have been widely documented. Less well appreciated is that some commercially valuable species respond positively to fishing-induced ecosystem change and can become important fisheries resources in modified ecosystems. Thus, the ecological effects of one fishery can unintentionally increase the abundance and productivity of other fished species (i.e., cultivate). We reviewed examples of this effect in the peer-reviewed literature. We found 2 underlying ecosystem drivers of the effect: trophic release of prey species when predators are overfished and habitat change. Key ecological, social, and economic conditions required for one fishery to unintentionally cultivate another include strong top-down control of prey by predators, the value of the new fishery, and the capacity of fishers to adapt to a new fishery. These unintended cultivation effects imply strong trade-offs between short-term fishery success and conservation efforts to restore ecosystems toward baseline conditions because goals for fisheries and conservation may be incompatible. Conflicts are likely to be exacerbated if fisheries baselines shift relative to conservation baselines and there is investment in the new fishery. However, in the long-term, restoration toward ecosystem baselines may often benefit both fishery and conservation goals. Unintended cultivation can be identified and predicted using a combination of time-series data, dietary studies, models of food webs, and socioeconomic data. Identifying unintended cultivation is necessary for management to set compatible goals for fisheries and conservation. Cultivo Accidental, Líneas de Base Cambiantes y el Conflicto entre los Objetivos para las Pesquerías y la Conservación.
    Conservation Biology 03/2014; 28(3). DOI:10.1111/cobi.12267 · 4.17 Impact Factor
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    • "Adapting fishery management to environmental change in fish populations is critical for the sustainability of communities that depend on fisheries (Hamilton et al. 2004, Allison et al. 2009). Environmentally driven changes in population growth can be challenging to manage; they may be unexpected, and thus there would be insufficient time to implement appropriate management measures. "
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    ABSTRACT: Sustainable management of fisheries is often compromised by management delaying implementation of regulations that reduce harvest, in order to maintain higher catches in the short-term. Decreases or increases in fish population growth rate driven by environmental change, including ecosystem and climate change, affect the harvest that can be taken sustainably. If not acted on rapidly, environmental change could result in unsustainable fishing or missed opportunity for higher catches. Using simulation models of harvested fish populations influenced by environmental change, we explore how long fisheries managers can afford to wait before changing harvest regulations in response to changes in population growth. If environmental change causes population declines, delays greater than five years increase the probability of population collapse. Species with fast and highly variable population growth rates are more susceptible to collapse under delays and should be a priority for revised management where delays occur. Generally, the long-term cost of delay, in terms of lost fishing opportunity, exceeds the short-term benefits of overfishing. Lowering harvest limits and monitoring for environmental change can alleviate the impact of delays; however, these measures may be more costly than reducing delays. We recommend that management systems that allow rapid responses to population growth changes be enacted for fisheries management to adapt to ecosystem and climate change.
    Ecological Applications 01/2012; 22(1):298-310. DOI:10.2307/41416760 · 4.09 Impact Factor
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    • "In some cases, the state considers keeping an area populated, despite an economic collapse, to be in the best public interest. The case of North Atlantic fisheries is a paradigmatic example (Hamilton et al., 2004). One-product export dependence has resulted, once the fish stocks started to collapse, in population loss and increased vulnerability of the communities (Hamilton & Otterstad, 1998; Silk, 2006; St Martin, 2006). "

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