Third Thursday Web Forum: Intersections between coastal protection and fisheries

//Third Thursday Web Forum: Intersections between coastal protection and fisheries
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November 16th“Intersections between coastal protection and fisheries” with Simeon Yurek, U.S. Geological Survey/South Atlantic LCC

Oyster reefs were historically ubiquitous throughout the coastal areas of the southeastern United States, but have declined over recent decades in extent and abundance along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coasts and elsewhere. Identifying the combinations of factors leading to this decline has been difficult, because the reefs are complex and dynamic systems, are highly dependent on environmental and climatic conditions, have experienced great fishing pressure, and are hypothesized to have locally varying population dynamics (e.g., growth and reproduction).

Managing oyster reef communities is also challenging, because they are valued as a resource for both fisheries economics and coastal resilience (mitigation of low amplitude wave energy), and a tradeoff exists where provision of one service necessarily reduces the other. For that reason, restoration of reef communities tends to be treated as either an economic or conservation endeavor, often exclusively (for example, as either mariculture leases, “no-take” reserves, or living shorelines). This project explores whether this tradeoff can be mediated, and what levels of mediation are possible, using modern portfolio theory to evaluate the expected return of economic and ecosystem services across the landscape under different policies for restoring oyster reefs.

During the presentation, Simeon will present a general framework for evaluating this tradeoff, using ecological and decision modeling applied to a subset of the coast within the South Atlantic region as a case study. The primary goal of the project is to provide predictions of responses of the ecological system to management actions, with defined uncertainties (i.e., model structure, human values, future weather and climate), which can be updated and as new data become available, and for which learning of the management-ecological system can be obtained. This approach applies the same practices of the South Atlantic Blueprint of identifying areas on the landscape with shared conservation and social value, with additional framing of explicit management objectives that are conditional on stakeholder values and future environmental variation.

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