Human-Marine Nature Interactions: What Kind of Valuing? Towards an Integrative Modelling Approach
World fisheries are currently largely depleted across the globe. Despite the intent of governments and international organisations to effectively manage fisheries—and thereby reduce adverse impacts on marine ecosystems, it appears that oceans are evermore under threat. One option to reverse this accelerating depletion of marine resources is to seek to authorise only those fishing practices and policies that have a positive societal benefit. However, in order to do this, one needs to measure the societal costs and revenues of each fishing practice and each fishery policy, compare them, and then use the findings to inform public policy. The novelty of this approach, presently being developed in an international research project (ECOST, 2006/2010), is the way in which ecological, economic and social costs are combined to give a true value of the real cost of fishing activity—a cost that is not captured by current market mechanisms. The modelling work in process that supports this approach seeks to integrate different values (market values and non market values) in a holistic manner. Nevertheless, non market values are very difficult to incorporate into the model and there is a risk that attempts to do so (as in the case of option values) may simply undermine the strength and meaning of factors possessing non-market values. Therefore, a parallel aspect of the research demands a deep study of the characteristics of the human valuing processes in order to grasp the epistemès embedding them, the values that society gives to the sea and the entities therein. In the last analysis, these values, in a sense, function as underpinnings to our modelling activity—and bring a more profound meaning to the measurement of the societal costs of fishing practices and fishery policies. This chapter lays down the foundations of this modelling approach on the interactions between ecology, economy and society and examines briefly its significance for policy implementation.
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