Science and Societal Partnerships to Address Cumulative Impacts

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Lundquist, Carolyn J. ; Fisher, Karen T. ; Le Heron, Richard ; Lewis, Nick I. ; Ellis, Joanne I. ; Hewitt, Judi E. ; Greenaway, Alison J. ; Cartner, Katie J. ; Burgess-Jones, Tracey C. ; Schiel, David R. ; Thrush, Simon F. (2016)
  • Publisher: Frontiers Media S.A.
  • Journal: Frontiers in Marine Science, volume 3 (issn: 2296-7745)
  • Related identifiers: doi: 10.3389/fmars.2016.00002
  • Subject: transdisciplinary | Marine Science | marine ecosystems | society | management | oceans research | research priorities | horizon scanning | governance

Funding and priorities for ocean research are not separate from the underlying sociological, economic, and political landscapes that determine values attributed to ecological systems. Here we present a variation on science prioritization exercises, focussing on inter-disciplinary research questions with the objective of shifting broad scale management practices to better address cumulative impacts and multiple users. Marine scientists in New Zealand from a broad range of scientific and social-scientific backgrounds ranked 48 statements of research priorities. At a follow up workshop, participants discussed five over-arching themes based on survey results. These themes were used to develop mechanisms to increase the relevance and efficiency of scientific research while acknowledging socio-economic and political drivers of research agendas in New Zealand's ocean ecosystems. Overarching messages included the need to: (1) determine the conditions under which “surprises” (sudden and substantive undesirable changes) are likely to occur and the socio-ecological implications of such changes; (2) develop methodologies to reveal the complex and cumulative effects of change in marine systems, and their implications for resource use, stewardship, and restoration; (3) assess potential solutions to management issues that balance long-term and short-term benefits and encompass societal engagement in decision-making; (4) establish effective and appropriately resourced institutional networks to foster collaborative, solution-focused marine science; and (5) establish cross-disciplinary dialogues to translate diverse scientific and social-scientific knowledge into innovative regulatory, social, and economic practice. In the face of multiple uses and cumulative stressors, ocean management frameworks must be adapted to build a collaborative framework across science, governance, and society that can help stakeholders navigate uncertainties and socio-ecological surprises.
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