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Full-spectrum sustainability: an alternative to fisheries management panaceas

Paul Foley, Canadian Fisheries Research Network; Environmental Policy Institute, School of Science and the Environment, Memorial University of Newfoundland (Grenfell Campus)
Evelyn Pinkerton, Canadian Fisheries Research Network; School of Resource and Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University
Melanie G. Wiber, Canadian Fisheries Research Network; Department of Anthropology, University of New Brunswick
Robert L. Stephenson, Canadian Fisheries Research Network; Department of Fisheries and Oceans (St. Andrews Biological Station) and Department of Biology, University of New Brunswick


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This introduction to the special feature describes the development and application of a “full-spectrum sustainability” evaluation framework that emerged from a transdisciplinary research process. The framework and corresponding case studies described in this paper originated in the work of a Canadian Fisheries Research Network project that sought to enhance fisheries management by including diverse social-ecological considerations in fisheries management evaluation. The first section discusses the tendency of sustainability evaluation frameworks in fisheries to focus on ecological and economic considerations and introduces the Canadian Fisheries Research Network’s four pillar approach, which includes ecological, economic, social and cultural, and institutional/governance categories. To illustrate the comprehensive nature of this framework, the second section provides a comparison of the framework with elements in the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals. The third section provides an overview of the eight papers in this special feature that explore the development and application of full-spectrum sustainability. The conclusion synthesizes some key findings, highlighting four overall critical and ongoing challenges associated with advancing full-spectrum sustainability evaluation in Canada and elsewhere: the politics of transdisciplinary research; integrating social considerations into management agencies reluctant to move beyond ecological and economic considerations; dynamic and diverse issues involved in supporting robust and inclusive governance processes; and translating technical frameworks into usable practical instruments for different societal actors.

Key words

evaluation; fisheries; integrated management; sustainability; sustainable development

Copyright © 2020 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