MSEAS Symposium – May 30 – June 3, 2016, Brest, France

Understanding marine socio-ecological systems: including the human dimension in Integrated Ecosystem Assessments
Conveners: David C. Smith, Australia, Olivier Thebaud, France, and Jason Link, USA

Date and venue:
30 May to 3 June 2016, Paris, France
Coastal and marine areas experience much human activity and are highly productive regions attracting competing users, often with conflicting objectives. For example, in the European context, conflicts exist between the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP), the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) and the proposed Maritime Spatial Planning Directive. In many cases, there are tensions between conservation and blue growth.

The challenge is, through supporting sustainable use of the marine domain to meet the future food, energy, and conservation needs, to equally support social, economic and environmental outcomes wherever possible. This explicitly involves managing human impacts on these systems as well as the feedback of these impacts on people’s lives, industry, coastal communities, and nations. This is often referred to as an Ecosystem Based Management approach. Against a background of uncertainty due to climate change and variability, pressures such as expanding populations, urbanization, pollution, food security, and new industries add to the complexity.

To meet this challenge a trans-disciplinary approach is required, which draws together research across complex biophysical and human systems. Such an approach will contribute to ensuring that sectoral transformation is sustainable, balances competing marine uses and values, and is socially acceptable. It will support the delivery of accountable and transparent decision making that accommodates cumulative impacts and multiple uses.

Socio-ecology is a challenging new area of research that combines multidisciplinary, interdisclipinary and trans-disciplinary components. The integrated marine focus is relatively new, as previous research efforts have either been terrestrially focused or dealt primarily with single sectors.

The focus of the symposium will be on integration and assessment across multiple uses and sectors, including fisheries, renewables, coastal development, oil and gas, transport and conservation, and in particular on the methodological and empirical challenges involved in including the human dimension in integrated assessments. It will be truly multi-disciplinary bringing together experts in ecology, modelling, economics, sociology, and marine policy, law and governance.

The aim of the symposium will be to consider existing and proposed research on marine socio-ecological systems and review and identify future strategic research needs.

The thematic structure may include sessions covering areas such as:

Coupled biophysical and socio-economic modelling
Behavioural analysis and modelling
Trans-disciplinary methods including how to facilitate the participatory inclusion of stakeholders
Decision support tools
Monitoring and performance evaluation