Promoting a holistic view of marine management

Research into managing the country’s marine fisheries effectively has presented Professor Astrid Jarre at the University of Cape Town with new insights into using her Research Chair to advance the adoption of a true interdisciplinary approach to marine management.

The research is looking into developing methodologies for the holistic management of the country’s fisheries under global change, which is a pressing need that spans the biophysical, economic and social spheres.

It is in light of the broad range of interest groups affected by the effective management of marine systems that Jarre has involved postgraduate students and experts from the fields of anthropology, economics, sociology, history, biology, oceanography and management sciences in her research group. This approach is helping her to develop an all-encompassing view of South Africa’s marine and fisheries systems – and effective management strategies to counter the threats to them.

Apart from investigating the impact of predators, catching and dumping practices on marine resources, she is also looking at the interplay between communities that rely on the fishing industry and the marine ecosystems with which they interact.

This broad view encompasses not only the resources themselves, but also the entire context around them, including the impacts of climate variability and change.

Each of the researchers involved in the disciplines spanning the Research Chair is involved in specific, but overlapping, components of the whole. For example, applied research is being conducted into colonies of the threatened African penguin, whose recovery may be hampered by their proximity to fishing grounds and shipping lanes.

Insights from this research are used to inform management strategies related to conservation as well as to fisheries management. The Chair’s work includes creating awareness and education around the issue of global change and the impact it is having on the country’s marine ecosystems. This is helping to stimulate the conversation around these critical issues, she says.

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