Table 4. Resilience indicators framework.

Resilience Dimensions Asset Class Examples of Resilience Factors (Abstract Indicators) Suggestions for Concrete Resilience Indicators Rationale/Relevance
1. Factors undermining resilience Ec Nonavailability of suitable habitat Habitat integrity index Ecosystems with degraded habitat are less able to support diverse ecological and social communities
Water quality index
Absence of refugia Availability of refuge habitat Habitat-specific species require suitable habitat and ecological conditions to migrate to in the event of disturbance
Vulnerability to extreme events Recovery time of species after extreme events Some species are more vulnerable to disturbances than others, e.g., branching versus massive corals. Recovery after extreme events, e.g., cyclones, may be further hindered by reduced water quality and ocean acidification
Environmental degradation Loss of key habitat, e.g., seagrass, coral reefs, mangroves, kelp forest Many of the key habitats that species depend on for food, security, and reproduction are being lost as a result of human activities
S Attitudinal change Changes in consumer preferences Growth in consumer preferences for particular seafoods or tourism destinations may have negative impacts on relevant species and habitats leading to their degradation or decline, but also causing economic and social instability
E Profitability Declines in economic returns The necessary buffering capacity provided by profitability is not available to respond to change or disturbance
Changes in asset value Declining asset value Asset values are related to profitability and thus responsiveness to change
I Power relations Identifiable vested interests Vested interests may skew decision making away from the long-term focus required for resilience planning
Political will Absence of political support for resilience-oriented policy Political will is needed to reform public institutions to be able to address the complex problems of resilient social-ecological systems
International policy decisions Changes in climate policy International decisions on mitigating greenhouse gases may impact negatively on sectors dependent on export income
P Constraints on infrastructure/gear flexibility Inflexibility of infrastructure/gear Inflexibilities in infrastructure and gear may constrain sectors from adapting to the impacts of climate change
2. Key slow variables Ec Warming sea temperatures Observed changes in sea temperatures Warming sea temperatures are having a substantial impact on ecosystems and will likely affect the future shape of marine-dependent sectors
E Economic pressures Number of people entering or exiting the industry When people are constrained by the costs associated with entry into an industry, replacement of exiting operators is slow leading to industry stagnation
Stagnation can also be due to retention of nonresilient individuals who have limited adaptation options
I Institutional constraints Integrated governance/management approaches Governance and management of social-ecological systems is complex and it is essential that governance bodies and instruments are connected and coordinated across multiple levels and that governance is perceived as legitimate
Acceptability of rules and management approaches
P Longevity of infrastructure Replacement of infrastructure The longevity of some infrastructure and associated sunk (irrecoverable) costs may slow adaptation to change
3. Key fast variables Ec Occurrence and frequency of natural disasters Frequency of cyclones/storms Natural disasters may have unexpected and unpredictable effects on larger cycles; these effects may be catastrophic or open up windows of opportunity for management and/or emergence of novel species
Annual catchment runoff
Torrential stream outflow events
S Changes in consumer preferences Changes in seafood and recreation preferences Changes in preferences for particular seafoods or tourism experiences may result in further pressures on overloaded ecosystems thus pushing them toward an irreversible threshold but also causing economic and social instability
E Economic variables Profitability Profitability (including exchange values) and low debt ratios allow more flexibility in business decisions affecting resilience. Producer influence on prices and higher prices increase resilience
Equity debt ratios
Market prices
Economic crises Changes affecting profitability, e.g., transport stoppages Economic crises may lower profitability and therefore buffering capacity over a very short time frame
I Unexpected policy changes Changes in catch limits Changing catch limits may cause relatively rapid responses in the species at issue especially if that species is an ecosystem engineer leading to substantial change in broader ecological and social systems
4. Key feedbacks Ec Pest species invasions Abundance or areal coverage of invasive species Pest invasions can signal changes in ecological integrity and result in habitat decline, in turn affecting habitat-dependent species
Habitat changes
Removal of keystone species from climate change affected habitats Changes in keystone species’ abundance Keystone species are said to be crucial to maintaining the organization and diversity of their communities so that their decline usually spells the decline of those communities
E Collapses or declines in key resource stocks Changes in fishing catch, aquaculture harvest, or visitor numbers These changes often signal changes in ecosystem health
Increased fishing effort Changes in economic incentives Policy or market changes may improve incentives to fish and increase pressure on preferred species
Overfishing Trophic changes Increases in populations of lower trophic level species, e.g., jellyfish
5. Likelihood of crossing thresholds Ec Occurrence of species range shifting Changes in occurrence of overwintering species from other marine regions Changes in species composition may signal a range shift, which may fundamentally alter associated ecological communities and fisheries dependent upon these communities
Threats to current stability regimes Number/frequency of novel species invasions Increasing pest numbers may indicate that the current regime is being destabilized
S Social threats to particular sectors Entry disincentives High entry costs, increased fuel costs, and nonreplacement of aging operators may lead to decline of a sector
Perceptions of environmental decline Declines in tourism activity Declines in sectors reliant on environmental integrity could signal potential regime shifts in ecosystems. Public perceptions can also significantly influence management outcomes and industry support
Public perceptions of marine sectors
E Contributions to greenhouse gas emissions Greenhouse gas emissions Increasing greenhouse gas emissions are associated with ocean warming
Increased economic activity Increased tourism impacts Increased marine tourism impacts may result in pressures leading to ecological degradation of favoured ecosystems, e.g., coral reefs
6. Response to uncertainty and surprise S Perceptions of risk Operators/managers accept global climate change science Nonscientists’ capacity to anticipate surprise is dependent on acceptance of scientists’ analytical assessments of potential surprising climate impacts rather than reliance on direct experience of impacts
I Viability of risk response Contingency as well as risk management measures are in place A concentration on risk assessment ignores the importance of having the capacity to prepare for surprise
Diversity of risk responses A range of risk responses is available Having a diversity of possible responses to deal with uncertainty and surprise improves the chances of maintaining system resilience
Political commitment Adaptive management policy in place Action to deal with an uncertain future requires political commitment and leadership to transcend short-term concerns that often preoccupy political debate
Institutional design Long-term monitoring programs in place Being prepared for surprises demands a substantial program to monitor shifts in social and ecological systems
P Infrastructure planning Replacement program in place A replacement program for infrastructure/gear and insurance protection lessen the likelihood that managers and operators will be taken by surprise when social and/or ecological conditions change
Insurance protection
7. Openness to resilience ideas S Engagement with science, including climate change science Operator/manager/scientist forums Engagement with science helps to build a sense of trust in and ownership of the science
Engagement with social-ecological learning Forms of social decision making to enhance long-term sustainability and resilience Learning is essential in dealing with change and surprise
Understanding of social capital Strategies to build social capital and networks Social capital and networks help to lower the transaction costs of undertaking collective action
Openness to transformational change Processes of critical reflection in place to reevaluate norms, values, and rules When a system state becomes untenable, the system needs to be reconceptualized
I Climate change policies Policies in place Climate change policies are evidence of political will to act on climate change
Planning for extreme events Strategies and plans in place Instability caused by climate change impacts is likely to increase as the climate becomes more unstable
Use of future or anticipatory planning techniques Scenario and other futures planning techniques in use Anticipatory planning will lower the potential for surprise
Adoption of adaptive management approaches Adaptive management approaches are used Adaptive management accepts the uncertainty of resource management conditions viewing policy as a process of hypothesis testing and learning through implementation to improve the state of knowledge.
P Infrastructure flexibility Operators with flexibility of location or gear Flexibility provides the capacity to respond to unexpected changes in desired species movements or damage to tourism infrastructure as a result of extreme weather events
8. Potential to reorganize Ec Natural variability in physiological tolerances Quantification of species’ physiological tolerance limits Changing environmental conditions will likely change how species perform in new environments; understanding if/how species will perform/survive under new conditions will lend greater certainty to ecological forecasts.
Quantification of species’ performance at physiological limits
Functional diversity and redundancy Indicators of species richness/diversity Healthy ecosystems will have high levels of biodiversity and functional redundancy; these ecosystems will be best placed to respond to perturbations and changing environmental conditions.
Degree of niche overlap
Trophic changes
Healthy ecosystems, habitats, and biodiversity Ecosystem integrity index Considering multiple indices of ecosystem health simultaneously may provide a more holistic picture of ecosystem integrity than single indicators considered in isolation.
S Openness to innovation Evidence of innovative environmental management: policies, production, greenhouse gas pollution, recycling, etc. Actors need to be able to take advantage of windows of opportunity that open up during the reorganization phase of an adaptive cycle.
Consumers’ ability to revise preferences Shifts to alternative seafood and/or tourism preferences Operators’ capacity to reorganize their businesses in response to climate change impacts is in part dependent on consumers’ ability to revise their preferences toward alternative marine products
Stocks of social capital and trust Levels of trust in industry/sector decision makers Social capital and trust are crucial for the collaborative engagement needed to reorganize sectors
Level of educational attainment Employees with a post-secondary/tertiary qualification Higher levels of educational attainment generally facilitate capacities for change
Employment training and experience Experience/training in other industries Experience in other industries can influence openness to change
Preparedness for change Perceptions of ability to cope with and adapt to change Individuals’ level of resource dependency affects their ability to be resilient through their assessment of risk, perceived ability to experiment, and to plan and reorganize
E Economic buffering Diversification trends Diversification reduces the possibility of negative impacts of change and increases the options for successful responses to change
I Multilevel networks Integrated governance Integrated multilevel governance increases the capacity for coordination across governance levels and reduces the likelihood of a mismatch between governance system and ecosystem
Flexibility of rules and governance Ongoing dialogue among industry stakeholders Some flexibility of institutions and instruments is needed to support adaptive governance
Stakeholder inclusiveness Operators’ involvement in management plans Inclusiveness provides support for the idea that diverse sources of knowledge are needed in solving complex problems and to ensure stakeholders’ ongoing commitment to building resilience
Commitments to monitoring and evaluation Monitoring and evaluation programs Monitoring aids the social and adaptive learning that is needed in responding to change
P Infrastructure flexibility Capacity to relocate or change target species Infrastructure and gear flexibility allow operators to respond as required to locational and qualitative shifts in target species and policy changes
Operators with flexibility Operators also need to be flexible to take advantage of the flexibility of gear, area, etc., and make rapid changes when the need arises
Ec refers to ecological assets; S includes social and human assets; E refers to economic and financial assets; I includes institutional, policy, and political dimensions; and P refers to physical, including infrastructural, technical, and technological assets.