Exploring Risk and Resilience Concepts: A Social-Ecological Coastal Community Case Study from Southwest New Brunswick, Canada
Muaror-Wilson, Lisette Jieni
MetadataShow full item record
Social-ecological systems (SES) are integrated systems of nature and society, with reciprocal feedbacks. The goal of this research was to better understand risk and resilience concepts, and their interactions, in a coastal SES. Both specified and general resilience are examined, as focusing heavily on the first, may reduce the overall resilience of the SES to unexpected events. The objectives of this study were to: (a) conduct a literature review on risk and resilience concepts and frameworks in the current literature of SESs; (b) demonstrate how these concepts and frameworks provide insights for one of the largest fisheries (Atlantic Canada groundfish) collapses in the world; (c) explore the roles of risk and resilience in stressed Atlantic Canadian fishing communities, using a case study from Southwest New Brunswick (SWNB), and (d) discuss approaches that contribute to a better understanding of risk and resilience concepts, and these interactions, for coastal communities. Using case study methodology, data were collected from a literature review and analysis of the Atlantic groundfish fishery, and 26 semi-structured interviews with community participants from SWNB. Applying content analysis software, the data were analysed for themes and examined through the lens of the Bigg’s et al. (2015) resilience principles. Risk attributes were then assessed to better understand the characteristics and processes that could contribute to the development of an applied risk and resilience management perspective. Findings indicate that known risks can be managed to a certain extent, but building general resilience into an SES provides buffering options for adapting or mitigating the impacts of both known and unknown threats. Environmental impacts including warming oceans, lobsters migrating to deeper colder waters, intensity and frequency of storms, ocean acidification are already being felt. Yet the connectivity and understanding of slow and fast variables, and feedback loops, both within and across an SES, require stepping away from silo management and taking on a more integrated approach that addresses the complexity of the whole SES. The knowledge gained from this study incorporates a novel use of connecting risk and resilience that allows communities to better understand and respond to current and future threats and opportunities.