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Coasts Under Stress

Coasts Under Stress: Restructuring and Social-Ecological Health

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 592
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  • Book Info
    Coasts Under Stress
    Book Description:

    Rosemary Ommer and her project team combine formal scientific (natural and social) and humanist analysis with an examination of the lived experience of coastal people. They analyze community erosion created by economic decline and the ecosystem damage caused by unrelenting industrial pressure on natural resources and look at the history of coastal communities, their resource bases, their economies, and the way the lives of people are embedded in their environments.

    eISBN: 978-0-7735-7601-8
    Subjects: Environmental Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Tables and Figures
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Rosemary E. Ommer

    The results of the work of Coasts Under Stress (CUS) are to be found in numerous journal articles, two films, one booklet, one book, and four edited collections showing how the various parts of life in coastal communities fit together and how interactive restructuring has generated the risks, threats, and opportunities coastal communities (human and biophysical) confront. Three of the team books are theme-based. One deals with social-ecological knowledge systems and the vital importance and challenges of moving knowledge across disciplinary boundaries, within and between knowledge systems, and from people to researchers to policymakers to students and back to communities,...

  5. Abbreviations
    (pp. xv-xviii)

    • 1 Introduction What Stress? What Coasts?
      (pp. 3-32)

      Rural communities in Canada, and also in many other parts of the developed world, are in crisis. Nowhere is this more true than in the coastal resource-based communities on the East and West Coasts of Canada, where there are now fewer people living than there were one hundred years ago and where the resources and environment that once supported communities are now all but gone. The communities are so diminished that there are now more ghost towns than inhabited ones on the East and West coasts. Changes in natural environments have interacted with political, industrial, and social change to adversely...

    • 2 A Social-Ecological History of Canada’s Fisheries
      (pp. 33-67)

      In chapter 1 we stated that the key diagnostic features of social-ecological restructuring and health are (1) that they are interactive processes with (2) biophysical and human health consequences that have followed on appropriate multiscale alignments (when successful) and misalignments (when not) and that therefore will require (3) multiscale governance models if social-ecological systems are to operate effectively, promoting creativity and resilience at all levels of the national metasystem. In this chapter¹ and the next we turn to the fisheries and fishing communities of both coasts, to demonstrate that the accelerating degradation of their social-ecological systems (restructuring) has resulted from...

    • 3 Not Managing for Scarcity: Social-Ecological Issues in Contemporary Fisheries Management and Capture Practices
      (pp. 68-93)

      As chapter 2 made clear, social and environmental restructuring are neither new nor confined to any single resource sector. What is new is the recognition that social-ecological restructuring within and across sectors and on two very different coasts has generated long-term degradation at an accelerating rate. While the social-ecological damage is serious on both coasts, it appears to be most extensive in marine resources and related industries and communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. On the East Coast, degradation has also been more severe towards the north (off Labrador) than in the northern Gulf.

      This pattern continues to this day – Labrador’s...

    • 4 Social-Ecological Health and the History of the Forest Products Industry on Both Coasts
      (pp. 94-122)

      In the last chapter, we saw that accelerating resource degradation in coastal fisheries had damaged social-ecological health. In this chapter,¹ we turn to the history of coastal forestry, to ask the same questions and also to consider social concerns, since our goal is to provide a socialecological analysis. Confining the discussion in this chapter to forests, there is strong evidence that forest ecosystems across North America have undergone major changes since the advent of industrial forestry and that Canadian coastal communities are experiencing part of the yet-to-be documented, continental-scale downgrading of North American forest resources. Some recovery of previously cleared...

    • 5 Social-Ecological Health and the History of Nonrenewable Resources on Both Coasts
      (pp. 123-153)

      Different natural resources have different development implications that depend heavily on how their exploitation is managed, both technologically and structurally. The early staples of Canadian history were renewable resources (fur, fish, timber, wheat). The first nonrenewable staple was gold, to be followed by a suite of minerals as the age of sail gave way to the industrial age of the steam engine. Natural-resource development also has impacts on, and implications for, social-ecological health, depending upon the type of resource, management methods, extraction technologies, and various local circumstances. In the previous two chapters, we considered the fishing and forest staples of...

    • 6 Cross-Scale, Cross-Sector, and Cross-Purpose Issues: Overlap in the Coastal Zone
      (pp. 154-180)

      We must not assume that human intervention in ecosystems and natural processes will always be only of short duration or have only foreseeable impacts on social-ecological health. The social-ecological history of coastal communities and their staple products on the East and West Coasts of Canada (chapters 2 to 5) makes this abundantly clear. In chapters 3 to 5 we examined crucial social-ecological management issues in the main resource sectors (fishing, forestry, and mining) of the coasts and showed how such issues have developed over the long term: they are partly the legacy of an historical staples mindset. In this chapter¹...


    • 7 The Restructuring of Health Care on Both Coasts since the 1980s
      (pp. 183-209)

      In this chapter, we examine the restructuring of the health care systems of our two provinces in the period since the 1980s.¹ We have chosen to focus on the recent period because it coincides with the phases of the most intense economic, social, and ecological restructuring on both coasts. It would, however, be incorrect to assume that before the 1980s the health care systems of British Columbia and Newfoundland were models of stability and persistence. Nothing could be further from the truth, particularly in Newfoundland, where the early years of the Newfoundland health system were marked by persistent change and...

    • 8 The Statistical Face of Restructuring and Human Health
      (pp. 210-240)

      This chapter provides a statistical profile and structural analysis of the impact of restructuring on coastal communities in our study areas on the East and West Coasts, in particular its effect on demographics, income levels, and various aspects of health.¹ We begin by examining demographic and income changes as indicators of social responses primarily to industrial restructuring. In terms of health impacts, the social-ecological model that frames and informs our research (see chapters 1 and 2 and Dolan et al. 2005) posits that the interactions between political, industrial, social, and environmental restructuring have a significant impact on population, community, and...

    • 9 The Human Voice of Social-Ecological Restructuring: Jobs, Incomes, Livelihoods, Ways of Life, and Human Health
      (pp. 241-272)

      In his powerful paper on globalization and sustainability, Rees (2002) speaks of a dominant expansionist view of the world driven by global capitalism and based on structural assumptions that growth and productivity are not tied to the environment and that technology will deal with scarcities as they arise. Across the globe, economies are being restructured to fit this model, while “the rhetorical veil of efficiency actually conceals one of the most wasteful and destructive economic systems imaginable.” Rees speaks at a general level of the ills and dangers of this neoliberal remaking of the world, and unfortunately, “restructuring” can take...

    • 10 Restructuring, Nutrition, and Diet on Both Coasts
      (pp. 273-295)

      One of the most important things to understand about local communities and local cultures is that their maintenance and natural evolution (not “preservation,” which implies stagnancy and even death) speak to the resilience of the social-ecological system of which communities are part. One common but usually unrecognized effect of interactive social-ecological restructuring has been dietary change for communities and households and in school meal services, for example. Such impacts speak to problems of misalignment of risks and benefits of restructuring and are yet another example of how local communities are bearing imbalanced risks as the wider provincial, national, and international...

    • 11 The Human Voice of Social–Ecological Restructuring, II: Youth, Education, and Health
      (pp. 296-320)

      While restructuring was a prominent feature of the late twentieth century at the global, national, and local levels, not all communities have been affected in the same way, since the characteristics of any given community and its inhabitants influence how people handle their circumstances. By the same token, the impact of such changes also varies with people’s age, gender, and/or developmental stage (Bronfenbrenner and Evans 2000; Bronfenbrenner and Morris 1998; Elder 1998). We might, for example, expect that older members of coastal communities (who have known a very different life) are likely to be affected differently than youth, who in...


    • 12 Future Options I: Aquaculture, Hatcheries, Tourism, Transportation, and Local Initiatives
      (pp. 323-350)

      In this last part of the book we consider possible future solutions to the problems facing coastal communities, that have been identified by people on the coasts but that are often fraught with difficulties and dangers.¹ Some of these are already under way, others are merely potential, and many are problematic. In all cases, we seek to assess their viability for the local people and their ecosystems. In line with recent thinking about adaptive social-ecological systems, but giving it much wider and deeper application than has been possible heretofore, we consider interactive effects, taking note of cross-scale interactions and asymmetries...

    • 13 Future Options II: The Oil and Gas Potential of the Queen Charlotte and Tofino Basins
      (pp. 351-378)

      Oil and gas development on the West Coast would involve major restructuring of the economy; it could pose threats to the environment; and it would involve First Nations land/sea claims. Some potential could also be developed for employment, income, and the economic diversification of coastal communities. However, the expectations of risks and benefits associated with oil and gas development need to be better understood, and the legal situation needs to be clarified. The issue is so complex that since 1972, a federal moratorium and subsequent British Columbia provincial moratoria have prevented all petroleum exploration and development activities off the West...

    • 14 New Options for Governance I: Marine and Coastal Waters
      (pp. 379-404)

      Throughout this book, we have identified the interactive effects of social and ecological restructuring on Canada’s coastlines, and we have shown how social-ecological degradation has built up on Canada’s East and West Coasts to the point where social-ecological health has been damaged and the people and ecosystems involved have been subjected to serious stress. In the previous two chapters, we looked at some of the new options that exist for coastal communities, either potentially or actually, and we have shown how it will be fundamentally necessary to encourage and support these efforts in a deliberate and focused manner at the...

    • 15 New Options for Governance II: The Land and Sea/Land Interface
      (pp. 405-430)

      Finally, we turn to consider some of the resource management options that coastal communities have considered as they seek to come to grips with the changing socio-economic, environmental, and political conditions that have affected their terrestrial and land/water interface ecosystems.¹ Interactive restructuring has occurred at all levels and on multiple dimensions, and now at the national level it is being driven to a significant extent by international global restructuring of various kinds.² While international restructuring is beyond the scope of our study, we needed to be constantly aware of it and to recognize it as part of the driving force...

    • 16 Building a More Resilient Future
      (pp. 431-448)

      In the Amazon jungle (what we still have left of it) the canopy is intimately connected to the jungle floor. Big Brazil nuts form in the canopy, birds crack them open, and drop bits that fall to the forest floor, the base of the system. Termites at ground level carry bits of food back up the trunks of the trees, and hence back up the system. Male butterflies flutter from tree to tree at the same level, but go to “salt licks” at river’s edge (ground level) to gain the capacity to generate the pheromones that will render them attractive...

  9. APPENDIX ONE Interdisciplinary Team Research: The Coasts Under Stress Experience
    (pp. 451-464)
  10. APPENDIX TWO The Coasts Under Stress Team
    (pp. 465-477)
  11. APPENDIX THREE Glossary of Technical Terms
    (pp. 478-479)
  12. APPENDIX FOUR Glossary of Species Mentioned in the Text, by Scientific Name
    (pp. 480-484)
  13. Notes
    (pp. 485-502)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 503-554)
  15. Index
    (pp. 555-574)