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Marine Ecology, Economics and Policy

Training the next generation of quantitative marine resource scientists to manage and conserve marine ecosystems in the 21st century

Photo: Fish

Training a New Generation of Marine Resource Management Scientists

The demands on marine resource managers are changing rapidly in response to:

  1. new scientific understanding about the distribution of populations over space and time and the processes that connect communities,
  2. recognition that marine ecosystems generate a broad suite of both consumptive and non-consumptive services that benefit different stakeholder groups in different ways, and
  3. acknowledgement that managing marine ecosystems is primarily an issue of managing users and the incentives that drive user behavior.

The new policy environment raises analytical challenges that are considerably more complex than those associated with the single-species focus of past management approaches. The next generation of policy analysis will utilize sophisticated integrated systems analysis that is spatially explicit as well as dynamic, data driven, and one that incorporates economic as well as ecological concepts. For example, the recently adopted Marine Life Protection Act in California requires explicit quantitative assessment of the potential effects of marine reserve networks in California waters. Massachusetts is currently adopting an integrated ocean management focus that will utilize scenario analysis tools in its design (see e.g., Massachusetts Ocean Partnership Fund). At the national level, NOAA Fisheries is embarking on integrated ecosystem assessments that will be used to predict and evaluate impacts of different policies on the ecosystems and stakeholder groups.

The changes in the scale and scope of management combined with ever-present uncertainties challenge our abilities to understand how marine ecosystems will respond to current and future policies. Meeting these challenges requires development of new methods of ecological and economic analysis, and the training of scientists and managers in the new methods. Because management must be guided by data, and accompanied by monitoring and adaptive management, the appropriate training must be quantitative employing mathematics, computer modeling, and statistics in a seamless fashion.

As has been recently pointed out in numerous documents, there is an acute shortage of researchers with the quantitative economic and ecological expertise to develop insightful and comprehensive management planning documents. This shortage exists at all levels from local and regional management agencies, to national and international agencies.

The new Marine Ecology, Economics and Policy program at the University of California, Davis will be integrated with Davis' ongoing marine policy teaching and research programs that focus on topics including: spatial management, coral reef conservation, provision of marine ecosystem services, climate change, economic responses to policy changes, zoning, invasive species management, and accounting for uncertainty.

If you would lke additional information on the training program or are interested in helping us build a funding base for the required training, please contact us.