Co-production of knowledge for indicators, otters and ecosystem-based management
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My dissertation examines the interplay of knowledge processes and power in relation to ecosystem-based management for equitable and ecologically sustainable governance of coastal marine resources (e.g., fisheries). Knowledge co-production (KCP) is presented as one effective strategy to generate the understanding needed to inform responses to complex coastal and marine social-ecological challenges. KCP is defined here as the collaborative process of bringing a plurality of knowledge sources and types together to formulate and address a specific problem and build an aligned and systems‐oriented understanding of that problem for an actionable outcome. KCP also reflects the collaborative identification of barriers, gaps and processes to complex problems across a wide range of ‘value rationalities’. However, KCP is not a panacea, and much uncertainty remains surrounding its development and implementation, and in particular, the broader governance contexts in which the interplay of knowledge, power and decision-making emerge. Three specific objectives guide my research: (1) to critically examine the opportunities, limitations and impact of KCP in the application of indicator approaches for coastal-marine resource management and governance initiatives globally; (2) to examine more specifically the interplay of governance and KCP by drawing upon a detailed reflection of selected international examples of ecosystem-based management (e.g., Canada, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea); and (3) to co-produce place-based, visual scenarios of alternative sea otter (Enhydra lutris) return futures in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (Canada) as a means to engage diverse knowledges and co-examine opportunities for the ongoing restoration of coastal-marine systems. To address these objectives, I have adopted a mixed methods approach which includes a systematic scoping review (n=67) on the relationship between indicator development and KCP. This scoping review helps to set up more grounded research and analysis in Haida Gwaii and other contexts. In this regard, my research adopts an inductive and transdisciplinary approach to allow for flexibility in identifying and understanding issues of relevance within the examples examined in this dissertation (e.g., Haida Gwaii). An inductive approach is appropriate for this research as it allows for an analysis of the themes that arise through engagement with rightsholders and key stakeholders associated within the context of: (1) engagement with selected global examples (n=4) of KCP and coastal-marine EBM through a critical and reflective process with key collaborators (n=13); and (2) the co-development of four place-based visual scenarios and accompanying narratives of alternative sea otter futures in Haida Gwaii through a series of workshops (n=4), working group meetings (n=3), and a wide range of discussions and conversations with Elders, Haida youth, and various representatives from diverse organisations (e.g., Council of Haida Nation, Parks Canada, Fisheries and Oceans Canada). The outcomes of my research challenge conventional approaches to ecosystem-based management of coastal-marine resources. For example, this includes taking a more relational perspective that reveals how choices about indicators for coastal-marine governance are embedded within knowledge/power processes. Such choices shape what is documented and measured in ecosystem-based management. In addition, this research highlights the value of a more intentional and ‘deep knowledge co-production’ which recognises how certain forms of governance, and especially those rooted in systems of colonization, may marginalize Indigenous and other place-based ways of knowing despite best intentions. In questioning and challenging such systems of governance, KCP can disrupt inequitable patterns of social and institutional practices. Finally, in the context of Haida Gwaii, this research offers a series of co-produced and place-based insights on sea otter return and the potential implications for governance and co-management in ways that are inclusive and centre reconciliation.
Cite this version of the work
Ella-Kari Muhl (2023). Co-production of knowledge for indicators, otters and ecosystem-based management. UWSpace. http://hdl.handle.net/10012/19619