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Nixon Presents at Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, Vancouver, B.C.


Nixon Presents at Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference, Vancouver, B.C.

First year MARINA Lab student Marisa Nixon presented at the 2016 Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference in Vancouver, B.C. on April 13. Her talk was part of a session entitled “Building coastal ocean social-ecological resilience in the Salish Sea: what does it mean and how can it be done?" sponsored by the Puget Sound Partnership Science Panel and chaired by Ian Perry of Fisheries and Oceans Canada .

Nixon was elected by her peers to present at the conference on behalf Dr. Allison's winter quarter class, "Integrated Marine Affairs Practice." This class is second in the core sequence required of SMEA first year students, and focuses on frameworks for analysis of marine and environmental issues. This year, as part of a quarter-long project, students in the class used resilience assessment as a framework to examine the Salish Sea. Nixon, with the help of Dr. Allison, compiled the work of eight different student projects and reviewed additional literature and resources to create the presentation for the conference.

Her talk, "A Resilient Future for the Salish Sea? A Perspective from the Millennial Generation" focused on the role of inequity in catalyzing social 'tipping points' that can reconfigure social-ecological systems. Using examples to illustrate past social tipping points as they relate to equity in the Salish Sea, such as conflict over fishing rights prior to the 1974 Boldt Decision, Nixon argued that equity is a property of resilience for social-ecological systems like the Salish Sea, and that this has bearing on the way such systems are managed. Of course, these observations bring up many additional questions: How does one define thresholds in equity for resilience thinking, and what does it look like to proactively encourage transformation to a more equitable state? While these questions will require careful collaboration and deliberation to answer, Nixon offered that the Millennial Generation can serve as a shock to the system through shifting social and ecological values, and that merging diverse perspectives, knowledges and needs at all scales can lead to a more equitable and resilient future for the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea Ecosystem Conference is held biennially and alternates between Vancouver, B.C. and Seattle. First year MARINA Lab student Teressa Pucylowski volunteered at the conference, and many other SMEA students, alumni and faculty presented or were in attendance.


Does the concept of resilience serve to bridge academic fields and why is it relevant to fisheries studies?


Does the concept of resilience serve to bridge academic fields and why is it relevant to fisheries studies?

MARINA post-doctoral researcher, Denis Hellebrandt (University of East Anglia), and colleagues at the University of Exeter and Arizona State University have recently published a paper entitled, “Boundary object or bridging concept? A citation network analysis of resilience”. The paper appears in Ecology and Society, a prestigious open-access journal founded by the Resilience Alliance. Here Dr. Hellebrandt discusses their study and its relevance to fisheries studies:

 Resilience is a popular concept in many fields but its precise definition varies slightly between fields such as engineering, ecology, and social sciences. In all cases, however, “the definitions relate to the ability of a system to respond to change while maintaining specific attributes (or functions and controls)” as defined in our recently published study, Baggio et al (2015). Precisely because of its malleability and pervasiveness, resilience has the potential to act as a common ground on which different disciplines can stand together, using the concept to frame their interdisciplinary work.

 Specifically, resilience thinking has framed research into marine issues for decades, with much of the seminal work in resilience drawing heavily on empirical evidence from small-scale fisheries cases (Berkes and Folke 2008). A more recent trend, the effective merging of resilience and social-ecological systems approaches (Fabinyi et al 2014), is again observed in a wide range of studies applied to fisheries. Several scholars have used empirical studies (Béné et al 2011) or synthesis of knowledge about fisheries (Coulthard 2012) to advance critical arguments on the use of resilience thinking and related system approaches.

 Therefore, further reading on resilience and its role in interdisciplinarity is likely to be useful to anyone with an interest in fisheries, particularly those who understand them as coupled social and ecological systems.

 Our analysis presented in Baggio et al (2015) probes how well the concept of resilience brings together different schools of thought, as well as its potential to foster dialogue. We looked at the role of resilience as a "boundary object" (an entity shared by several different communities but viewed or used differently by each of them) or "bridging concept" (an entity that serves to brings disparate concepts together in an integrative way), two closely related yet distinct perspectives on interdisciplinarity. The study applied bibliometric and social network analysis to 994 papers and 35,952 citations to reveal the connectedness and links between and within fields. We found that, with few exceptions, "most papers cite exclusively within their own field" and despite evidence of "shared understandings across diverse disciplines and fields", "distinct fields do not widely or routinely refer to each other".

 Even though our findings indicate that resilience is only partially effective in bridging academic fields, the concept might have a more influential role amongst the policy community and in connecting scientists, policy-makers and practitioners as noted in other syntheses (Davoudi et al 2012, Brown 2012). These findings suggest that, given the complexity of fisheries, and in particular of their governance, the fisheries field is bound to remain fertile ground for applications of resilience as well as for further tests of its power to foster dialogue and innovation in research and practice.

Citation and web link:

Baggio, J. A., K. Brown, and D. Hellebrandt. 2015. Boundary object or bridging concept? A citation network analysis of resilience. Ecology and Society 20(2): 2.



Béné et al. 2011. Testing resilience thinking in a poverty context: Experience from the Niger River basin. Global Environmental Change 21: 1173–1184

Berkes and Folke. 1998. Linking social and ecological systems: management practices and social mechanisms for building resilience. cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK.

Brown, K. 2012. Policy discourses of resilience. Pages 37-50 in M. Pelling, D. Manuel-Navarrete and M. Redclift, editors. Climate change and the crisis of capitalism: a chance to reclaim self, society and nature. Routledge, London, UK.

Coulthard, S. 2012. Can we be both resilient and well, and what choices do people have? Incorporating agency into the resilience debate from a fisheries perspective. Ecology and Society 17(1):4.

Davoudi, S. et al. 2012. Resilience: a bridging concept or a dead end? Planning Theory and Practice 13(2):299-333.

Fabinyi et al 2014. Social-ecological systems, social diversity, and power: insights from anthropology and political ecology. Ecology and Society 19(4):28.