Many scholars have called for a paradigm shift in fisheries governance away from management approaches that require definitive information about stock size and dynamics to those that build social-ecological resilience. In this rapidly growing body of research, adaptability is routinely described as one of a short list of mechanisms, along with modularity, diversity, and transformability, that cultivate resilience and buffer systems against social and ecological disturbances. However, while many advocate for adaptability (defined as the capacity of actors to test and revise a system through a dynamic and ongoing process by way of trial and error), the basic assertion that adaptability increases resilience has been largely taken as a given. In this presentation, I draw on multiple data sources and methods to examine the history, evolution, and current status of multiple institutions in Maine, and illustrate how the process of continually modifying the management system by way of trial and error has decreased the resilience of fisheries in Maine. With this analysis I show how the layering of a series of well-intended but myopic species-specific management decisions have affected the general social resilience of the fishing fleet in Maine over a quarter century, whereby bringing increased attention to the complex interplay between adaptability and resilience.
Joshua Stoll is a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine and a Robert and Patricia Switzer Fellow. His current research focuses on the transition towards ecosystem-based fisheries management in the Gulf of Maine and how different social institutions are impeding (and/or enabling) this change. More broadly, his work seeks to address pressing questions about the interplay between coupled social and ecological systems with the purpose of contributing to the long-term sustainability of our oceans and the communities that depend upon them. Stoll has been engaged in fisheries-related issues for a decade, working in multiple regions and across a wide spectrum of sectors. Most recently, he worked for the directorate of the National Marine Fisheries Service where he gained exposure to the federal policymaking process. Stoll is a co-founder of LocalCatch.org, an international network of small-scale fishers and community-based organizations committed to providing local, healthful, low-impact seafood via community supported fisheries and direct marketing arrangements. He holds a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Bates College and a master’s degree in coastal environmental management from Duke University.