The Working Group on Socio-Economics for Integrated Management (WGSEIM) seeks to address the range of issues and challenges arising across Canada as new integrated ocean management initiatives are being implemented. Within many of these initiatives, particularly those being championed by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) – but also those involving provinces as partners– there is a recognized need to improve the understanding of socio-economic and other human-related aspects of integrated management, to match the ecological and biophysical knowledge base. There is also a need to build capacity and expertise, within management agencies and externally, for more effectively developing participatory integrated ocean management processes.
WGSEIM members recognize two distinct needs at present. The first is to develop the local capacity to participate in integrated management initiatives. On Canada’s three coasts, a number of different local organizations are emerging to work with government on regional management issues, including management boards. WGSEIM will bring a tri-coastal perspective to integrated management issues at the local level to learn from existing experiments in integrated management and in participatory governance. We will take a broad approach to management, looking at both the mechanisms and processes by which administrative responsibility is shared, the information flows and barriers, and the way decisions are taken. We will examine how local capacity develops or fails to develop in the context of current resource management approaches, and how they can promote integrated management through more effective tools for engagement (eg. learning communities linked together into learning alliances).
The second need is to work closely with various levels of government further integrated management objectives and to support expected outcomes. Regional offices of the DFO, for example, are working on socio-economic indicator development as part of DFO’s work on new forms of governance and shared stewardship. The WGSEIM will engage with government bureaucrats and link them with local resource dependent groups in order to further DFO participatory governance objectives.
In working with place-based, resource dependent groups that have developed shared values and effective problem-solving techniques through iterative, practice-based learning, the WGSEIM will focus on the vertical and horizontal linkages needed to effectively manage wider ecological and economic interconnections. The working group will facilitate learning alliances across both geographic areas and resource stocks by bringing together actors involved in a variety of governance structures including community and policy worlds.