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Can we be both resilient and well, and what choices do people have? incorporating agency into the resilience debate from a fisheries perspective

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Sarah Coulthard


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In the midst of a global fisheries crisis, there has been great interest in the fostering of adaptation and resilience in fisheries, as a means to reduce vulnerability and improve the capacity of fishing society to adapt to change. However, enhanced resilience does not automatically result in improved well-being of people, and adaptation strategies are riddled with difficult choices, or trade-offs, that people must negotiate. This paper uses the context of fisheries to explore some apparent tensions between adapting to change on the one hand, and the pursuit of well-being on the other, and illustrates that trade-offs can operate at different levels of scale. It argues that policies that seek to support fisheries resilience need to be built on a better understanding of the wide range of consequences that adaptation has on fisher well-being, the agency people exert in negotiating their adaptation strategies, and how this feeds back into the resilience of fisheries as a social-ecological system. The paper draws from theories on agency and adaptive preferences to illustrate how agency might be better incorporated into the resilience debate. Copyright © 2012 by the author(s). Published here under license by the Resilience Alliance.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Coulthard S

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Ecology and Society

Year: 2012

Volume: 17

Issue: 1

Print publication date: 01/01/2012

ISSN (electronic): 1708-3087

Publisher: Resilience Alliance


DOI: 10.5751/ES-04483-170104


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