Characterizing fisheries connectivity in marine social-ecological systems

Emma C. Fuller, Jameal F. Samhouri, Joshua S. Stoll, Simon Asher Levin, James R. Watson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Marine social-ecological systems are constantly changing, and fishers who make a living from working the seas are continually adapting in response to different sources of variability. One main way in which fishers can adapt to ecosystem change is to change the fisheries they participate in. This acts to connect fisheries, creating interlinked networks of alternative sources of income for fishers. Here, we synthesize fisheries data and construct fisheries connectivity networks for all major ports in the US California Current Large Marine Ecosystem. Fisheries connectivity networks are comprised of nodes, which are fisheries, connected by edges, whose weights are proportional to the number of participating vessels. Fisheries connectivity networks identify central fisheries in the US California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, specifically Dungeness crab and Spiny Lobster, and systematic topological differences, e.g. in network resilience and modularity. These network metrics directly relate to the social vulnerability of coastal fishing communities, especially their sensitivity and capacity to adapt to perturbation. Ultimately, improving knowledge of fisheries connectivity is vital if policy makers are to create governance institutions that allow fishermen to adapt to environmental, technological and management change while at the same time enhancing the social and economic value of fisheries. In doing so, new policies that account for fisheries connectivity, will lead to improved sustainable fisheries management, and enhanced socioeconomic resilience of coastal communities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2087-2096
Number of pages10
JournalICES Journal of Marine Science
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Oceanography
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Aquatic Science
  • Ecology


  • Climate change
  • Complexity
  • Cross-scale
  • Fisheries management
  • Food-web
  • Harvest portfolio
  • Livelihoods
  • Resilience
  • Social-ecological systems
  • Vulnerability


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