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Development of social-ecological conceptual models as the basis for an integrated ecosystem assessment framework in Southeast Alaska

Judith Rosellon-Druker, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Marysia Szymkowiak, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Curry J. Cunningham, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Stephen Kasperski, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Gordon H. Kruse, College of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska Fairbanks
Jamal H. Moss, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Ellen M. Yasumiishi, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-11074-240330

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Abstract

Integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA) is a framework that organizes and summarizes science to aid in the transition from a traditional single sector toward a holistic management approach known as ecosystem-based management (EBM). An essential step of the IEA framework is the development of conceptual models. These models allow the integration of intrinsically linked social, environmental, and biological components of marine ecosystems that is pivotal to address unsolved questions in fisheries management. We constructed social-ecological conceptual models of relevant commercial and subsistence fisheries for Sitka, a fisheries-based community in Southeast Alaska, by collecting and synthesizing available scientific information, local ecological knowledge (LEK), and qualitative information. We conducted focus groups with key informants in Sitka who had in-depth knowledge of their community’s interactions with local fisheries and the structure and function of the surrounding ecosystem. The resulting conceptual models coproduced by scientists and Sitka stakeholders, illustrate the main biological and environmental factors driving the abundance of Pacific halibut (Hippoglossus stenolepis) and Pacific herring (Clupea pallasii) in Southeast Alaska. Furthermore, these coproduced models elucidate how the interaction between Sitka residents and these fisheries affect community well-being. Our models will serve as the basis to assess EBM objectives for Sitka as part of an IEA place-based framework. This study also highlights the importance of integrating LEK into science and potentially into the broader Alaska fisheries management structure.

Key words

fisheries management; human well-being; local ecological knowledge; participatory methods; place-based IEA; stakeholder input

Copyright © 2019 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.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087