Governance and Adaptation: Water and Fisheries
Natural resources that support economic activities, the healthy functioning of ecological systems and the well-being of human populations often require some form of public regulation and management. The governance arrangements that define the role and scope for public involvement in natural resource management have important impacts on the vulnerability of coupled human-natural systems to climate-related disruption and their capacity to adapt to evolving risks posed by climate change. These arrangements determine who makes which decisions, how those decisions are made and enforced, and mechanisms for resolving disputes. In FY 2010 CSAP research focused on analysis of governance and adaptive capacity in two types of natural resource systems: water resources and marine fisheries.
Each of these systems is characterized by large numbers of independent resource users, whose activities are regulated either well or poorly by a variety of public authorities – often in different agencies and/or different jurisdictions. In addition, there are inherent interconnections and spillover effects among individual resource use activities, as well as across the impacts of regulatory actions taken by different authorities or jurisdictions. This interconnectedness must be acknowledged and taken into account in any policy evaluation. The extent to which governance arrangements facilitate effective coordination across multiple layers of decision making will determine the quality of resource management outcomes and the ability of these socio-ecological systems to adapt readily and effectively to climate variability and change. Our research goals in this area include exploring and documenting the complexity of natural resource management decision environments, and the effects of alternative sets of governance arrangements on the capacity to respond effectively to climatic impacts on the resource system.
FY2010 Accomplishments: Water Resources
Work focused on the role of water law in facilitating or impeding adaptation to changing conditions, including the possible effects of climate change on patterns of water availability. A paper entitled: “Grappling with Uncertainty: Water Planning and Policy in a Changing Climate” was prepared and presented at the University of Houston’s Symposium on Climate Change, Water and Adaptive Law. In response to comment, the paper was revised and submitted for publication in Environmental & Energy Law & Policy Journal. Key issues are the need to create flexibility to change how, where and when water is used while also protecting aquatic environments and the interests of water users who are not parties to the decision at hand. These issues also provided the basis for presentations for the Pacific Disaster Center’s Workshop on Climate Variability and Water; the World Wildlife Fund 2009 Kathryn Fuller Science for Nature Symposium; and Princeton Environment Institute’s Seminar series.
Other work focused on developing a multi-criteria approach for water sector adaptation planning in developing countries. This work highlights governance as one of several key aspects of an effective and well-integrated program to improve the robustness, resilience and flexibility of water management in the face of changing climate conditions.
FY2010 Accomplishments: Marine Fisheries
It is notoriously difficult to maintain environmentally responsible and economically efficient management of commercially-exploited marine fisheries. The common-pool nature of fishery resources makes them vulnerable to competitive harvesting that can result in a race to “the tragedy of the commons.” To be effective, marine resource governance arrangements must not only control that tendency, but also must be able to maintain ecologically sustainable harvesting levels for targeted species despite often complex, highly variable and difficult-to-observe biophysical processes driving the dynamics of those populations and their supporting ecosystems. In FY 2010 CSAP’s Dr. Miller led an international team of social, biological and physical scientists in writing a paper entitled “Climate change, uncertainty, and resilient fisheries: Institutional responses through integrative science”(to be published in the Dec. 2010 issue of Progress in Oceanography). This paper describes the shortcomings of marine-system management advice coming from uncoordinated individual disciplinary research efforts, and calls for a transition to an “integrative-science” process that would entail ongoing engagement of resource managers, users and an interdisciplinary scientific team in developing and adjusting management measures in response to evolving information on the state of the resource system.
Another project developed and applied models of strategic optimizing behavior to evaluate the long-term consequences of alternative approaches that the Western and Central Pacific Fisheries Commission is considering for managing multinational tuna harvests. This problem involves fishery stocks that migrate freely across the high seas as well as the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ’s) of several Pacific island nations, and that are harvested primarily by large industrial fleets based in countries outside the region. Model results demonstrate that the impacts of ENSO on the movement of fish stocks could disrupt efforts to maintain cooperation on harvest management, but that appropriate policy design can stabilize incentives to cooperate. In addition, the model shows that overall economic returns and the division of fishery benefits between island nations and multinational fleets can vary significantly depending on the choice of policy instruments (e.g. limiting capacity-weighted number of vessels versus limiting capacity-weighted allowable days of fishing). A paper describing the model and demonstrating these results was presented at the 2010 meeting of the International Institute for Fisheries Economics and Trade (IIFET) and has been published in the conference proceedings.