Assessing and managing stressors in a changing marine environment

We are facing a dynamic future in the face of multiple stressors acting individually and in combination: climate change; habitat change/loss; overfishing; invasive species; harmful algal blooms/eutrophication; and, chemical contaminants. Historic assessment and management approaches will be inadequate for addressing risks from climate change and other stressors. Wicked problems (non-linear, complex, competing risks and benefits, not easily solvable), will become increasingly common. We are facing irreversible changes to our planetary living conditions. Agreed protection goals and considering both the negatives (risks) and the positives (benefits) of all any and all actions are required, as is judicious and appropriate use of the Precautionary Principle. Researchers and managers need to focus on: determining tipping points (alternative stable points); maintaining ecosystem services; and, managing competing ecosystem services. Marine (and other) scientists are urged to focus their research on wicked problems to allow for informed decision-making on a planetary basis.

Chapman P. M., in press. Assessing and managing stressors in a changing marine environment. Marine Pollution Bulletin. Article (subscription required).

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