The human dimensions of marine mammal management in a time of rapid change: comparing policies in Canada, Finland and the United States
Arctic coastal populations share a close relationship with their environment consisting of linkages among communities, landscapes and seascapes, and the social institutions developed to sustain the system. This cultural-biogeophysical dynamic is termed throughout the section as a social-ecological system (SES). Marine mammals constitute a large portion of the subsistence diet for these communities, and as such represent key ecological services provided by the system. At the same time, marine mammals have gained iconic status as symbols for climate change in the North. A tension results between the demands of balancing on one hand good policy optics consistent with national and international norms and, on the other hand, flexible and adaptive institutions able to take on the task of managing resources in a dynamic, changing North. This tension and associated policy solutions such as co-management are explored in a series of papers focusing on marine mammal management dilemmas and policy practices around the circumpolar North. This introduction communicates the problem context and describes the five papers making up this special section. A guiding premise to this work is that new international pressures to implement moratoria on marine mammal hunting in the North ignore critical human dimensions of marine mammal management. Such policy proposals are unlikely to succeed in areas that require collaboration across scales. Simultaneously, new local-scale participation in multi-level management regimes holds promise for creating more resilient marine mammal SESs.
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