Graduate Thesis Or Dissertation


Perceptions of a Changing Ocean: Resilience and Oregon's Commercial Fishing Community Public Deposited

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  • The complex challenges that Oregon’s commercial fishing community faces are mainly driven by four sources of change: climate change, change in management regulations, societal shifts, and market trends. Challenges include increasing competition for ocean use, management decisions that prioritize economic efficiency over community values, and an increasingly uncertain environment. The aim of this research is to understand and identify how Oregon’s fishing community is resilient and adaptive in the face of these compounding changes. In order to understand the impacts of change within Oregon’s fishing community, this research dives into the multiple scales and varied lenses of the social-ecological system. With the goal of informing fisheries management, this project specifically identifies the connections between climate change and graying of the fleet (e.g., the increase in the average age of commercial fishermen). Breaking down these connections into steps helps managers more accurately conceptualize future scenarios and specific impacts of policy and management decisions, simultaneously enabling managers or policy-makers to locate specific target areas for intervention or opportunity. Data consisted of oral history semi-structured interviews with members of Oregon’s fishing community and recent climate change projections from the literature. Findings reveal that climate change will likely intensify the drivers and impacts of the graying of the fleet phenomenon in Oregon. Analysis of the cumulative impacts from these stressors demonstrate that Oregon’s fishing community will likely be closer to thresholds of transformation than analysis of stressors individually indicates. Therefore, the most important direct implication that emerged from this research is the need to consider and identify the cumulative component of impacts within a system when assessing change. Additionally, analysis of the data revealed the prevalence and importance of optimism within Oregon’s fishing community. The role of optimism was then further explored in order to understand the possible implications for its use as an indicator of resilience. Although optimism may support resilient communities, it may also inhibit activation of adaptive capacity. Therefore, optimism’s role within Oregon’s fishing community could both enable and inhibit positive decisions and action in anticipation and response to future climate change.
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