Fisheries management is a complex process. Efforts to try to simplify that tend to result in simplistic solutions. Increasingly there is a focus on embracing complexity and integrating management across sectors.
Coastal areas are, by their nature, complex. They support a diversity of species, ecosystems, and stakeholders all in a dynamic environment where the land-water interface generates constant change. The very nature of social and ecological approaches to natural resources management means dealing with the complexity of bringing together factors that relate to the environment, society, the economy, politics and culture. This complexity can often mean that problems have no right or wrong answer. But as Link (2010) notes, the potential for fisheries management to become so complex that it becomes unmanageable should be avoided by getting the balance right.
In the past fisheries management has tended to represent the issues involved in coastal fisheries management in a simplified form. The use of single species models from temperate waters, for example,have been transferred to multi-species fisheries operating in ecologically diverse ecosystems, and whilst this has generated much knowledge of the stocks it also has many limitations (Link, 2010). Models based on fisheries with fewer larger vessels landing into fewer ports with good infrastructure and monitoring facilities, do not always transfer well to fisheries with many small craft landing into dispersed sites with limited monitoring.
A key factor of success is bringing these different elements together in ways that integrate them as a working whole. Acknowledging and dealing with the holistic nature of the coast is an important starting point to understanding how to bring other factors into a management approach.