AQUATIC ECOSYSTEM HEALTH & MGT - Using the telecoupling framework to improve Great Lakes fisheries sustainability
Aquatic Ecosystem and Health Management
Fisheries are coupled human and natural systems across space and time, involving movements of fish, money, and information in a globalized world. However, these social-ecological interactions over local to global scales are largely absent from the fisheries literature, as fisheries research to date has often been discipline- and location-specific. We analyzed this knowledge gap by using an emerging coupled human and natural systems research paradigm – the telecoupling framework – to investigate social-ecological interactions over distances (i.e., telecouplings) in the Great Lakes salmonine (i.e., Coho Salmon Oncorhynchus kisutch, Chinook Salmon O. tshawytscha) fishery. Since the 1960s, this fishery has involved telecoupled movements of fish, money, and information over relatively long distances facilitated by numerous individual and organizational agents. These telecouplings have been characterized by diverse social-ecological causes (e.g., decline of commercial fisheries, rising incomes and greater leisure time for recreational fishing) and effects (e.g., salmonine stocking, creation of angling- and tourism-based economies). Telecouplings are critical for fisheries professionals to consider because they promote holistic understanding fisheries management while occasionally confounding conservation efforts (e.g., salmonine stocking spreads diseases and parasites and changes fish community structure and genetic integrity). Hence, fisheries professionals will benefit from using the telecoupling framework to optimize favorable and reduce unfavorable telecouplings and thereby enhance fisheries management programs. Overall, the telecoupling framework advances fisheries science by enabling fisheries professionals to systematically understand the causes and consequences of complex social-ecological fisheries interactions and develop informed strategies for sustainable fisheries management and governance throughout the Great Lakes and the world.