Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)


Ecosystem Science and Policy (Graduate)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Kenneth Broad

Second Committee Member

Gina Maranto

Third Committee Member

Andrew Bakun

Fourth Committee Member

Larry Crowder


Fisheries contribute a wide variety of ecosystem services, from food provisioning to shaping community identity to bolstering local economies. The sustainability of these benefits is under threat due to global and local stressors, including climate change, rising demand for animal protein, and habitat destruction. The dynamic climate, governance, and market drivers influencing fisheries present social and ecological challenges and opportunities that form the focus of this dissertation. Examining the adaptive capacity of a fishery offers insight into diverse aspects of the system that influence outcomes, such as trends in landings, social stability, and habitat condition. Additionally, academic theories, including Ostrom’s common pool resource theory, provide useful frameworks for an integrated understanding of the resource units, resource users, and governance systems, and in turn, for providing guidance for management approaches in the face of environmental uncertainty associated with dynamic ecological systems. This dissertation analyzes wetfish fisheries due to their distinctive governance characteristics and increasing economic significance. As large finfish fisheries have declined due to overexploitation, management and industry have shifted their attention to the world’s wetfish fisheries, particularly squid fisheries. The emergence of squid fisheries in the global seafood market will require effective management strategies if they are to remain viable. While the understanding of ecological dynamics and ecosystem functions are fairly advanced for squid fisheries, there is a pressing need to understand the social and governance dynamics of squid fisheries in order to design more effective policies in the face of increasing fishing pressure and climate variability and change. This dissertation details a series of distinct, but thematically linked case studies designed to examine the adaptive capacity and governance effectiveness of fisheries that are subject to cumulative fluctuating stressors, and addresses existing gaps in applying multi-method systems approaches to the study of wetfish fisheries over time. It presents a comprehensive analysis of adaptive capacity with a focus on three adaptive capacity determinants in each chapter: flexibility, early warning systems, and contextually based policies. Chapter 1 introduces the dissertation by framing fisheries within the context of dynamic common pool resource systems, by reviewing key literature contributing to the study of fisheries as systems, and by introducing the wetfish fisheries complex as an ideal case study, particularly those within the Monterey Bay area (Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax), northern anchovy (Engraulis mordax), and market squid (Loligo opalescens)). Chapter 2 explores multiple social and ecological drivers of change within the Monterey Bay wetfish fisheries over a 38-year time series, examining how the fisheries have survived economic and environmental disturbances and benefited from optimal market and ecological conditions. Chapter 3 focuses on one of those known disturbances to the Monterey Bay wetfish fisheries, El Niño Southern Oscillation, and investigates the social-ecological system’s adaptive capacity in relation to an impending El Niño event (the 2015-16 event). Chapter 4 assesses the efficacy of squid governance from a social-ecological perspective in three fisheries, comparing the Monterey Bay market squid fishery to the Falkland Islands Patagonian squid fishery and the New Zealand arrow squid fishery. Chapter 5 synthesizes the findings in this dissertation and discusses management implications and areas for future research, particularly by emphasizing the value of systems-based, interdisciplinary, and participatory approaches to the study and management of fisheries.


Climate; Social-Ecological Systems; Fisheries; El Niño Southern Oscillation; Squid; Adaptive Capacity