Fisheries portfolio diversification and turnover buffer Alaskan fishing communities from abrupt resource and market changes

Nat Commun. 2017 Jan 16;8:14042. doi: 10.1038/ncomms14042.

Abstract

Abrupt shifts in natural resources and their markets are a ubiquitous challenge to human communities. Building resilient social-ecological systems requires approaches that are robust to uncertainty and to regime shifts. Harvesting diverse portfolios of natural resources and adapting portfolios in response to change could stabilize economies reliant on natural resources and their markets, both of which are prone to unpredictable shifts. Here we use fisheries catch and revenue data from Alaskan fishing communities over 34 years to test whether diversification and turnover in the composition of fishing opportunities increased economic stability during major ocean and market regime shifts in 1989. More than 85% of communities show reduced fishing revenues following these regime shifts. However, communities with the highest portfolio diversity and those that could opportunistically shift the composition of resources they harvest, experienced negligible or even positive changes in revenue. Maintaining diversity in economic opportunities and enabling turnover facilitates sustainability of communities reliant on renewable resources facing uncertain futures.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't