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(PW015) (Non)Precautionary, (Un)Sustainable and (Mal)Adaptive Management of Fisheries Resources.
McCormick, R1, 1 Sokio Systems
ABSTRACT- George Orwell observed that certain words and phrases are used to "dress up a simple statement and give an air of scientific impartiality to biased judgments." One might lump into this category the terms precautionary principle, adaptive management, and sustainability, all of which have thoroughly permeated fisheries jargon. Imprecision and carelessness in use of these buzzwords has vitiated any application to fisheries management. Primarily, these concepts fail to live up to their promise when managers fail to comprehend or articulate their effects in complex ecological systems. I illustrate this point using recent examples from salmonid management in the Pacific Northwest, including transport of smolts and adults around dams, hatchery policies and operations, and salmon recovery planning. Offers of simple solutions to a problem occur when the systems character includes only a few criteria, and those based on a simple narrative description of system behavior. Cost-benefit analyses suggest the transport of juvenile salmon more desirable than bypassing them around dams, but such short-term economic decisions reduce the complex behaviors inherent in smolt migration to a simple linear response - travel from Point A to Point B. It removes the option of swimming back up stream, getting lost in a side channel, eating something, being eaten, or just taking 5 days instead of 3 to traverse a reach. To trap and haul salmonids based on economics alone engenders unacceptable evolutionary consequences. However, if opponents can't justify (prove statistically) that volitional fish passage is ecologically preferable, decision criteria, thresholds, and outcomes get dictated by those who can "prove" their case through engineering or economic analyses. With the introduction of the Precautionary Principle, managers acquired a lever to re-open the debate on "what is acceptable?" The Precautionary Principle reverses the threshold debate to "how much human-caused disturbance (e.g., power generation) can occur before undesired ecological effects are observed?" Further, sustainability discussions seek to explicitly address "how does society value those ecological aspects affected/lost?" By pointing out the unsustainable and maladaptive assumptions inherent in much of salmonid management, I will highlight the need for adopting solid, process-oriented management systems for dealing with complex ecological systems.
Key words: complex systems, precautionary principle, sustainability, adaptive management
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