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Can We Be Both Resilient and Well, and What Choices Do People Have? Incorporating Agency into the Resilience Debate from a Fisheries Perspective.

Sarah Coulthard, University of Ulster

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-04483-170104

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Abstract

In the midst of a global fisheries crisis, there has been great interest in the fostering of adaptation and resilience in fisheries, as a means to reduce vulnerability and improve the capacity of fishing society to adapt to change. However, enhanced resilience does not automatically result in improved well-being of people, and adaptation strategies are riddled with difficult choices, or trade-offs, that people must negotiate. This paper uses the context of fisheries to explore some apparent tensions between adapting to change on the one hand, and the pursuit of well-being on the other, and illustrates that trade-offs can operate at different levels of scale. It argues that policies that seek to support fisheries resilience need to be built on a better understanding of the wide range of consequences that adaptation has on fisher well-being, the agency people exert in negotiating their adaptation strategies, and how this feeds back into the resilience of fisheries as a social-ecological system. The paper draws from theories on agency and adaptive preferences to illustrate how agency might be better incorporated into the resilience debate.

Key words

adaptation; agency; fisheries; resilience

Copyright © 2012 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