Research shows governance is key to better resource management strategies

Thursday, July 4, 2019

A diagram depicting governance, compliance and inertia in a typical management cycle.

In a new study published in the journal Bioscience, an interdisciplinary team of scientists, experts and stakeholders show that discounting factors of governance could fundamentally compromise the model which officials rely on to inform sound resource management strategies.

The article was co-authored by Derek Armitage, professor in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability, and suggests integrating attributes of governance into quantitative assessments can help decision makers develop more nuanced and dynamic natural resource management programs.

"As scientists, we often focus on our models, our biological knowledge or our expectations of economic rational actors," said Florida State University Assistant Professor Daniel Okamoto, who led the modeling component of the research. "Yet in this study, we highlight how important it can be to consider how governance systems can create breakpoints or even undermine intentions of management strategies."

In the study, the team used two proxy attributes— compliance and inertia—to model the effects of governance on resource management evaluation. Compliance refers to the extent to which individuals abide by agreed-upon rules, and inertia signifies the failure of managers to adapt their rules in response to new information or changing conditions.

These straightforward, easily modeled elements allowed researchers to illustrate how even seemingly minor aspects of governance can change expectations about the performance of management strategies for natural resources.

The team applied this streamlined governance framework to a simplified model of a Pacific herring fishery in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia. Their goal was to demonstrate the ways integrating compliance and inertia can change the outputs of management strategy evaluations.

Those changes, researchers found, were quite dramatic. For example, increasing inertia and decreasing compliance in their simulations led to a marked uptick in fishery closures and modest gains in annual variability of catch. Results also showed that declining compliance and elevated inertia translated into surges in overall catches, and ultimately to an increase in the frequency of fishery collapse.

"Our ecosystem-based approach will help us address the overly sectoral approaches to fisheries management that currently exist," says Derek Armitage, "which don't reflect the reality of our interconnected and rapidly changing oceans and coasts, or the multiple objectives fisheries managers must accommodate— ecological, social and economic."

See the original article.

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