Gillian Curren, MMM Candidate

Dalhousie University, Marine Affairs Program

Bio: I completed my BSc in April 2018 with a major in Marine Biology and minor in Environmental Studies with a certificate in Environmental Impact Assessment at Dalhousie University. During my undergrad, I completed a coastal ecology field course where I had the opportunity to study Nova Scotia’s diverse coastline. I have also volunteered for the Canadian Sea Turtle Network, gaining valuable experience in environmental education.

Supervisor(s): Dr. Lucia Fanning

Institution: Dalhousie University, Marine Affairs Program

Start to Finish: 9/2018 to 12/2019

CHONe Project: 2.2.4 Ecosystem resilience, multiple stressors and scale: Developing a framework to inform management

Project Title: Evaluating the use of cumulative effects assessments and socio-economic indicators in the development of Canada’s ocean management plans and policies (anticipated title)

Project Description: 

One of the major threats to the persistence of coastal and marine ecosystems is the cumulative effects of human and natural stressors. Therefore, cumulative effects assessments (CEAs) are often used to understand how stressors interact and accumulate in the environment as well as determine their impact on oceanic ecosystems. However, despite continued research and the establishment of best practices for CEA, it appears there is a lack of understanding of how to effectively evaluate cumulative effects and incorporate the results of CEA into marine management plans. Furthermore, much of the impact assessment literature focuses on the ecological components of the environment and fails to adequately capture the socio-economic aspects that are inherently linked to marine ecosystems. My research will focus on assessing how ocean managers in Canada currently incorporate cumulative effects into management plans and policies and evaluate the extent to which socio-economic indicators are considered. I will conduct a survey of several ocean managers to determine what information they use when conducting CEAs as well as to identify the types of indicators used in their assessments. Interviews will also be conducted with a smaller sub-set of managers to gain a deeper understanding of how cumulative effects are being used in the overall management of Canada’s oceans. Finally, it is anticipated that this study will help determine how current CEA practices may be improved to better inform marine management plans and policies.

The specific project/thesis aims are:

  1. To determine what information ocean managers use in CEA and how they apply the outcomes to management plans and policies.
  2. To identify what type of indicators (e.g. ecological, social, or economic) ocean managers currently use in CEA.
  3. To analyze the degree in which socio-economic factors are incorporated into CEAs and management plans.
  4. To provide recommendations to ocean managers in Canada towards improving the use of CEAs and socio-economic indicators when developing marine management plans and policies.

How this specific project links with broader CHONe goals:

Maintaining the health and integrity of our oceans requires long-term management plans guided by well-informed decision-making. Gaining insight into the information used by ocean managers in CEAs and how the results are applied to managing ocean spaces as well as understanding the human relationship to the world’s oceans is essential to developing effective conservation and sustainable-use strategies.