Managing for resilience in Australian fisheries and coastal governance

Project outline and objectives:
This project will assess the value of resilience as a basis for governance arrangements for the use and protection of marine resources in Australia. It will translate the principles and features of socio-ecological resilience to the features of legal systems, and develop specific criteria with which to evaluate how current frameworks for fisheries management and fisheries promote resilience.

This project will be the first major study to identify the aspects of resilience thinking of relevance to Australian environmental law, and to evaluate the current performance and potential of various environmental domains against resilience criteria.

The overarching objective of this project is to enhance Australian coastal and fisheries governance by embedding socio-ecological resilience into regulatory and regime design. This objective will be achieved through four specific project aims:
1. Formulating criteria for assessing the extent to which legal and governance arrangements promote socio-ecological system (SES) resilience;
2. Evaluating how well fisheries and coastal management regimes currently promote resilience and have potential to do so in the future;
3. Assessing drivers of, limitations and barriers to, greater adoption of resilience-based approaches in marine governance; and
4. Devising specific recommendations for improving the domains studied and general tools and recommendations on how Australian marine governance frameworks can better promote resilience.

Translating resilience thinking into legal management regimes requires in-depth assessment of specific domains of environmental governance and testing of resilience principles in those specific contexts. The project uses fisheries and coastal management as key focal domains. A specific case study will be selected for each domain, to give clear focus and definition to the analysis, for example a specific fishery and a specific coastal community.

Postdoctoral Fellow
Christopher Cvitanovic

Mentoring and expertise committee:
Jan McDonald (
Alistair Hobday, CSIRO
Ingrid van Putten, CSIRO


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