“Including Humans”: Practitioners’ views on the roles of social science in ecosystem-based management

There is growing recognition for the need to integrate social sciences in marine conservation. Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) is an integrative framework that explicitly mandates the integration of social and natural sciences. In the past decade, EBM has become the subject of many experiments in marine conservation globally. This paper examines the views of scientists and practitioners involved in demonstrating marine EBM on the integration of social sciences in EBM efforts. The analysis is based on 63 semi-structured interviews from the Gulf of California, the Central California Coast, and the Western Pacific. Results reveal that challenges to integration vary based on specific social, political and institutional contexts. This paper adds to the growing literature on the conceptual and structural challenges involved in interdisciplinary research by discussing how context matters in the interpretation and implementation of this mandate. A better understanding of how these challenges vary by context will allow for more appropriate design of interdisciplinary approaches to marine conservation.

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