Progress is being made internationally on an ecosystem approach to the management of marine systems, in particular as applied to ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM; e.g., FAO 2003; Hollowed et al., 2011). Recent initiatives have expanded the concept of ecosystem approaches to include people in what have been called coupled marine social-ecological systems e.g., De Young et al., 2008; Ommer et al., 2011). Good scientific (biophysical or ecological) arguments for management actions are sometimes not accepted or implemented because of the perceived socio-economic or cultural costs. An integrated understanding of how ecosystem changes affect human social systems, and vice versa, is critical to improve the stewardship of marine ecosystems (Makino and Criddle, 2013). Social-ecological systems are integrated complex systems that include social (human) and ecological (biophysical) subsystems in complex feedback relationships (Berkes, 2011). These types of relationship occur whenever people interact with the environment (Armitage et al., 2017).
PICES has contributed to this progress and explored regional applications of these concepts in the North Pacific, through several studies on ecosystem-based management (Jamieson et al., 2005; 2010). In addition, PICES formed an expert group in 2011 (Makino and Fluharty, 2011) to link the human dimensions of marine ecosystems with the more natural science-based activities of the organization (in what has now, in 2017, become a permanent scientific committee (HD) of PICES. The second PICES integrative science program, FUTURE (Forecasting and Understanding Trends, Uncertainty and Responses of North Pacific Marine Ecosystems), also has strong linkages with ecosystems and people, which are embedded within its three primary research questions.
The concept of human well-being within marine social-ecological systems has become recognized as an important step forward (Coulthard et al., 2011; Charles, 2012). Well-being shifts the perspective from objective measures of sustainable livelihoods (comprised of the physical, social, human, natural, and financial resources available to a community or country) to include the subjective and relational well-being of individuals and communities. This represents a shift from people as exploiters of the ocean to people as integral components of resource sustainability and ecosystem health (Coulthard et al., 2011; Charles 2012). Thus, taking account of the dynamics of livelihoods and application of well-being can help in the development of policies supporting sustainable and resilient marine social-ecological systems (Charles 2012).
Under this social-ecological systems approach, therefore, people are indispensable parts of the system. The Japanese concept of Sato-umi represents one version of this humans-in-nature approach, in which a healthy ecosystem is seen to nourish human well-being, but human activities are seen as necessary for sustaining ecosystem health. Sato means community or village, and umi means sea. Hence, Sato-umi refers to human communities that have long-standing relationships with marine environments, and in which human interactions have resulted in high marine productivity and biodiversity (Makino 2011, p. 126; Makino and Fluharty 2011; CBD Technical Series #61). One example is the eelgrass re-establishment and recovery activities undertaken by local community members in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan (Ota and Torii, 2011). Similar types of sea grass and kelp restoration activities have been proposed by local communities in the Strait of Georgia, Canada. The Japanese government has undertaken integrated studies to assess the contributions of social, cultural, economic, and ecological aspects in Sato-umi type projects in Japan, as part of the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Sub-Global Assessment program.
In 2012, PICES accepted a request from the Government of Japan to undertake a 5-year project on
“Marine ecosystem health and human well-being” to be funded by the Ministry of Agriculture,
Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) of Japan, through the Fisheries Agency of Japan (JFA).
The project began in April 2012 and was completed in March 2017. Total funding for
this period was $505,660 CAD. The MAFF contribution was from the Official Development Assistance (ODA) Fund of Japan and therefore, involvement of developing Pacific Rim countries in project activities was required.
The project was directed by a Project Science Team (PST), co-chaired by Dr. Mitsutaku Makino (Fisheries Research and Education Agency, Japan) and Dr. Ian Perry (Fisheries and Oceans Canada). The PST Co-Chairmen were responsible for the scientific implementation of the project and annual reporting to MAFF/JFA and PICES Science Board. Dr. Alexander Bychkov served as the Project Coordinator and was responsible for the management of the fund and for reporting annually on its disposition to MAFF/JFA and PICES Governing Council.
The project goal was to identify the relationships between sustainable human communities and productive marine ecosystems in the North Pacific, under the concept of fishery social-ecological systems (known in Japan as the “Sato-umi” fisheries management system).
Considering that global changes are affecting both climate and human social and economic conditions, the key questions of the project were:
(a) how do marine ecosystems support human well-being? and
(b) how do human communities support sustainable and productive marine ecosystems?
The MarWeB Advisory Report on “Improving aquaculture, marine ecosystems and human well-being: A social-ecological systems approach” provides an overview of the social-ecological systems approach and the Sato-umi concept for local government officers and researchers in developing countries and for general public.
This database includes data collected during this MarWeB project:
Summer 2017, Vol. 25, No. 2, pp. 31-34 [download]
PICES/MAFF MarWeB project collaborates with the United Nations program on the development of Marine Protected Areas in Guatemala
Summer 2016, Vol. 24, No. 2, pp. 28–31 [download]
A community needs assessment for coastal Guatemala– Balancing ocean and human health
Winter 2016, Vol. 24, No. 1, pp. 29–30 [download]
Moving towards more sustainable shrimp and tilapia aquaculture in Karawang, Indonesia
Summer 2015, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 31 [download]
A good relationship between local communities and seafood diversity
Summer 2015, Vol. 23, No. 2, pp. 28-30 [download]
A psychological perspective on human well - being: An international comparison of the well - being structure
Summer 2013, Vol. 21, No. 2, pp. 18-19 [download]
PICES-MAFF Project on Marine Ecosystem Health and Human Well-Being: Indonesia Workshop
Winter 2013, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 26-28 [download]
New PICES MAFF-Sponsored Project on “Marine Ecosystem Health and Human Well-Being”