Enhancing adaptive capacities in coastal communities through engaged communication research: Insights from a statewide study of shellfish co-management


Intertidal ecosystems and the small-scale fisheries these ecosystems support are an important part of coastal economies, environments, and cultures. Globally, fisheries such as the soft-shell clam (Mya arenaria) face multiple stressors related to climate change, invasive species, and unsustainable land use. Co-management approaches based on shared responsibility for resource management among actors and institutions can build resilience to socio-environmental change by strengthening the use of science in decision making and promoting adaptive capacities such as learning and leadership. In this paper, we demonstrate how engaged communication research can help foster adaptive capacities to enhance the resilience of these systems. We describe perceptions of problems and successes in co-management, as awareness of problem constructions is essential for identifying the ways in which communication shapes adaptive responses. We demonstrate how specific communication factors influence adaptive capacities such as learning, leadership, and equity. We conclude with recommendations and demonstrated evidence of the value of bringing engaged communication research to bear on pressing issues of global coastal change.

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Ocean & Coastal Management



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