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Using conflict over risk management in the marine environment to strengthen measures of governance

Courtenay E. Parlee, Department of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick; Environmental Policy Institute, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Melanie G. Wiber, Department of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick


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Management of and planning for the Canadian marine environment can be disrupted by conflict, but conflict is inevitable given the plurality of actors, interests, values, and uses of marine space. Unresolved conflict may impede governance objectives and threaten the sustainability of social-ecological systems. Innovative institutional arrangements such as adaptive comanagement theoretically reduce conflict and support sustainable management. The southwest New Brunswick Bay of Fundy Marine Advisory Committee (MAC) was assembled in 2004 to address conflict between marine users and to further marine planning. As an innovative planning institution influenced by comanagement theory, the MAC experience served as a case study to develop governance measures for the Canadian Fisheries Research Network Comprehensive Fisheries Sustainability Framework, which includes a consideration of ecological, social, economic, and governance dimensions of sustainability. One of the most important but neglected aspects of sustainability measurements involves the assessment of governance and planning effectiveness. An assessment of the MAC experience through a comprehensive sustainability evaluation framework offers significant lessons for advancing the theoretical and empirical literature on adaptive comanagement through deeper consideration of challenges in creating institutions of “good governance.” In doing so, the case study also contributes to the Comprehensive Fisheries Sustainability Framework by testing some measures of governance effectiveness, including co-operation, resources, transparency, accountability, and inclusivity.

Key words

adaptive co-management; conflict resolution; fisheries; governance; indicators; sustainability

Copyright © 2018 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087