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|Shell Games: Managing Oyster Harvest when We Cannot See the Cliffs Coming
|Presenting Author Name
|Presenting Author Affiliation
|University of Florida
|Presenting Author Email
|Type of Presentation
Oysters are arguably the most important managed living resource in the Florida’s Gulf of Mexico, because they filter water, provide structural habitat for myriad animals, engineer and maintain estuaries, protect humans from storms and sea level rise, and have for a long time sustained capture fisheries. However, oysters populations now appear to be faltering, and recent fishery collapses provide little sign of recovery. Preventing further erosion of oyster-based ecosystem services likely will require an altered governance system, but implementing such change is hampered by stakeholder conflicts and the uniquely unforgiving nature of oyster population dynamics. I describe several alternative approaches to effective governance change that could be pursued, and why each may fail. Using concepts of ecological resilience I then attempt to characterize the likely prerequisites for socially and politically acceptable change that also could yield desired ecological and environmental outcomes. What I show is that reasonably effective management will almost certainly require better coordination between management agencies and stakeholders, such a participatory management processes or co-management. While such approaches may be popular, they do not guarantee success, as they could fail in several important ways.