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Responding to Change: Using Scenarios to Understand how Socioeconomic Factors may Influence Amplifying or Dampen Exploitation Feedbacks among Tanzanian Fishers.

Cinner, J.E, C. Folke, T. Daw, and C. Hicks. Global Environmental Change doi:10.1016/ j.gloenvcha.2010.09.001


Environmental change often requires societies to adapt. In some instances, these adaptations can create feedbacks that amplify the change. Alternatively, other adaptations may dampen the change. We used semi-structured interviews with 240 fishers from nine Tanzanian coastal communities to explore responses to four hypothetical scenarios of increasingly severe declines in their average catch (10%, 20%, 30% and 50%). Overall, a higher proportion of fishers said they would respond to decline using amplifying adaptations (such as fishing harder) than dampening adaptations (such as reducing effort), particularly in the scenarios with lower levels of decline. We used a redundancy analysis to explore whether certain types of responses were related to the fishers’ socioeconomic characteristics. Fishers that would employ amplifying responses had greater economic wealth but lacked options. Fishers who would adopt dampening responses possessed characteristics associated with having livelihood options. Fishers who would adopt neither amplifying nor dampening responses were less likely to belong to community groups and sold the largest proportion of their catch. This study provides novel contributions by differentiating aspects of adaptive capacity that will amplify versus dampen environmental change and by highlighting what the resource users’ themselves say regarding responding to environmental change. Although direct policy application is limited by the study’s hypothetical scenario nature, it provides a good beginning to incorporating resource users’ voices into such policy discussions

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Keywords: Adaptation, Adaptive capacity, Coral reef, Fishery, Social resilience,Social-ecological system Vulnerability

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