Authors: Olivier Thébaud, Jan-Jaap Poos, Jörn Schmidt, Ingrid Van Putten
As part of the ecosystem approach to managing ocean uses, there has been a growing call for the development of integrated assessment methods and tools to support the exploration of scenarios for marine socio-ecological systems. Such methods and tools are increasingly being promoted as a useful means to support ocean policy and management decision-making. While many studies have focused on the exploration of possible futures, there is also growing recognition of the need to develop so-called normative scenarios, which consider objectives for the management of ocean uses, and possible pathways for these objectives to be met in the future.
In 2013, a workshop jointly organised by the ICES working group on Integrative, Physical-biological and Ecosystem Modelling (WGIPEM) and researchers attending the "Mathematics of Bio-economics" initiative , a contribution to the international event "Mathematics of Planet Earth 2013", brought together experts to discuss recent advances in this field of research. The workshop identified a number of key domains thought to be crucial to progress both the development of these modelling approaches and their application to actual management decision problems. Key challenges included:
1. Process understanding of marine ecosystem uses (including but not limited to commercial fisheries), how this can be modelled, and coupled to biophysical models in order to gain better understanding of the potential responses to alternative economic, environmental or management scenarios;
2. Accounting for the multiple (economic, ecological and social) objectives as well as the distributional impacts of scenarios in time, space and across stakeholder groups;
3. Addressing the trade-offs associated with increasing the complexity of models that couple representations of ecological, economic and social processes, each of which may be affected by uncertainty;
4. Seeking commonalities between the many different modelling approaches being developed at multiple scales, in order to strengthen the integration of economic and ecological models in the longer term;
5. Avoiding errors of the third kind and building trust in models built for decision support.
The workshop also identified a number of key areas in which further efforts at developing formal models of processes at play would appear to be of strategic importance, including: (i) market dynamics at various scales, and how these drive the prices which influence resource harvesting and investment decisions at local levels; (ii) other individual resource harvesting behaviour, including the insights which may be gained from the application of game theory and other conceptual frameworks addressing strategic interactions; (iii) governance and management decision processes themselves.
As an introduction to the theme session, this presentation will aim to review progress made in addressing these challenges, and assess the areas in which further research is warranted.