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Community-based Responses to Marine Hazards

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    Anthony Charles Saint Mary's University

Generating an overview of global ‘state of the art’ and developing best practice advice for community-based responses to marine hazards.

Coastal communities are facing an increasing range of marine hazards, from rapid disasters, such as floods, hurricanes, tsunamis and oil spills, to longer-term change, such as sea level rise and ocean acidification. This project has developed a global database of community-based responses to hazards, based on content analysis of published case studies, to learn what communities all over the world are doing to respond to all kinds of hazards, both on land and from the sea.

Assessment of the various hazard responses, within the global dataset, led to a categorisation into five types according to the nature and goals of the responses. These response types are all used widely, around the world, but we have found that the diversity of responses adopted at a community level within a given nation is strongly dependent on the respective national measures of income and governance. We are now continuing this global analysis, to examine the nature of hazard responses: the aim of the response, the timing (pre- or post-event), and the level at which the response takes place (individual households, or the community or government).

The results of that global research are being combined with insights from field work in several communities across Canada. In the latter study, we are exploring peoples’ responses specifically to marine hazards (including ocean acidification), the constraints they are experiencing, and their priorities and values with regards to what to protect from hazards. As ocean acidification is a relatively new marine threat, we are also assessing the vulnerability of coastal communities based on the latest scientific results and socioeconomic indicators.


  • Saint Mary’s University
  • University of Guelph
  • Mi’kmaq Confederacy of Prince Edward Island
  • District of Tofino, British Columbia
  • Municipality of Clare, Nova Scotia


  • Anthony Charles Saint Mary's University
  • Annie Lalancette Saint Mary's University
  • Barbara Paterson Saint Mary's University
  • Jennifer Silver University of Guelph


  • Neis,Barbara,Paterson,Barbara , Stephenson R.. 2017, A social-ecological study of stock structure and fleet dynamics in the Newfoundland herring fishery, ICESJMS,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2016, Bioeconomics of ocean acidification effects on fisheries targeting calcifier species: A decision theory approach, Fisheries Research, 176:1-14,
  • Charles,Anthony,Bailey, M., B. Favaro, S. Otto, R. Devillers, A. Metaxas, P. Tyedmers, N. C. Ban, T. Mason, C. Hoover, T. J. Duck, L. Fanning, C. Milley, A. M. Cisneros-Montemayor, D. Pauly, W. W. L. Cheung, S. Cullis-Suzuki, L. Teh, and U.R. Sumaila.. 0, Canada at a crossroad: The imperative for realigning ocean policy with ocean science, Marine Policy,
  • Charles,Anthony,Ravagnan, E., Gjerstad, B., Provan, F., Gomiero, A., Hynes, S., Lestariadi, R.A., Rodriguez Rodriguez, G., Timor, J., Wakamatsu, H., Adhuri, D.S., Imran, Z., Le Gallic, B., Salas, S. 2017, International Institute of Fisheries Economics and Trade Conference 2016, IIFET, 11-15,
  • Charles,Anthony,. 2015, Key principles of marine ecosystem-based management, Marine Policy, 57:53-60,

Our research aims to increase understanding of hazards facing communities globally, and in particular community responses to those hazards, with a focus on the current reality of marine hazard responses in Canada’s coastal communities. A key goal is to assist communities in selecting appropriate responses for the future, based on a holistic analysis of marine hazards. This will facilitate identifying potential hazard response strategies, taking into account challenges to implementation. By directing attention to what people value most, our research will assist local communities in the difficult task of prioritizing responses within the constraints of limited budget and resources and help improve the legitimacy of and support for hazard response decisions.

Further, through a specific focus on ocean acidification, the project will highlight the interaction between vulnerable species, habitats and regions where ocean acidification effects will be strongest, characterize potential impacts of ocean acidification on coastal communities, and raise awareness of local Canadian coastal communities’ sensitivity to ocean acidification.