Things that matter: insights from structured objectives into the operationalization and evaluation of sustainable fisheries

Marentette, Julie R. (2021) Things that matter: insights from structured objectives into the operationalization and evaluation of sustainable fisheries. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Objectives reflect values that matter to decision-makers, but can be challenging to articulate. This is particularly true in resource management contexts where high uncertainty amplifies the complexity of satisfying multiple conflicting objectives in an acceptable manner. Structured decision-making recommends structuring objectives into networks to assist with choosing management actions among a suite of alternatives. Here, I used content analysis (where words or concepts are identified in qualitative data, like text) to identify and structure objectives according to implicit relationships among them. Objectives were taken from Canadian laws, policies and plans for sustainable fisheries management. Resulting networks were then compared to the explicit objective structures in integrated fisheries management plans. There was a relatively high level of coherence and multiple connections between different axes of sustainability. Plans typically layered and then connected objectives to management actions regardless of the terms used to describe them. Implicit relationships among objectives may reflect the conceptual model(s) that would have informed law, policy or plan development. Networks can provide a scaffolding with which to compare how jurisdictions choose to fix means or ends objectives into law, pre-operationalize objectives, and evaluate sustainable fisheries performance. Structuring objectives helps to identify circumstances where it may be useful to base decisions on means objectives as proxies for hard-to-define ends, while also clarifying assumptions at play when that choice is made. Operational guidance for setting objectives in resource management contexts could benefit by recommending approaches to structuring objectives, in addition to aiming for measurable and time-bound objectives.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 15014
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 57-61).
Keywords: fisheries management, sustainability, objectives, structured decision-making, fisheries policy
Department(s): Marine Institute
Date: April 2021
Date Type: Submission
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Sustainable fisheries--Decision making--Canada

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