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Linda Fernandez, Ph.D. lead investigator on Arctic bioeconomic analysis

June 10, 2015

It has been called the “wild west” and one of our last frontiers; VCU’s Linda Fernandez, Ph.D. aims to help save it. Funded under the Belmont Forum, an international consortium focusing on global environmental research and the NSF, Fernandez’ international team has received a grant of over $700K to cover five years of study.

The project is entitled “Bioeconomic analysis for Arctic Marine Resource Governance and Policy” (abbreviated BAAMRGP).

The aim of the study is to provide insights for governance and marine resource management in order to prevent, contain, mitigate, and/or adapt to changes in Arctic marine resource productivity. The questions that must be answered include:

  1. What are the bioeconomic features of Arctic marine resources at risk of change over space and time?
  2. How do human behavior and policy incentives directly and indirectly impact these marine resources?
  3. What are the best governance options for Arctic marine resources?

Fernandez and her team will develop, through innovative bioeconomic analyses and application of game theoretic tools, integrated marine resource management tools for decision making designed for the unique Arctic environment, its complex geopolitical configuration, and the changing risks and uncertainties over space and time.

An international interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary research team of principal investigators has been established. They will focus on the dynamics of existing and new commercial fisheries generated from introduced invasive species, the threat of marine invasive species, vessel strikes of marine mammals and noise from vectors accompanying increasing trade and marine infrastructure in the Northwest Passage and Northern Sea Route. Their research offers predictive analysis of policy and governance options to sustain marine resources through an integrated framework that formally includes adaptive management through use of Arctic Observing Systems data. The researchers address three themes:

  1. The Natural and Living Environment,
  2. Natural Resource Management and Development and
  3. Governance.

This research will result in an integrated ecological and game theoretic behavioral framework that contributes to Arctic stewardship by enabling policymakers to specify appropriate policies for sustainable harvest practices, abating invasive species and marine pollution, and optimal resource conservation. Through the policies, society and the economy linked to the Arctic are positively impacted. The research plan calls for engagement with two Arctic Council working groups: the Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna and the Sustainable Development Working Group.

Fernandez’ team includes Brooks Kaiser, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark; Jan Sundet, Institute of Marine Research, Tromsø, Norway; Niels Vestergaard, University of Southern Denmark, Esbjerg, Denmark; Whitman Miller of the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center, Annapolis, MD; Sergey Bakanov and Konstantin Sokolov, Polar Research Institute of Marine Fisheries and Oceanography, Murmansk, Russia; Sue Moore, NOAA, Seattle, WA.

For more information on the study and the Belmont Forum:

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