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Sustainable options for people, catchment and aquatic resources

Final Report Summary - SPEAR (Sustainable options for people, catchment and aquatic resources)

The main objective of the SPEAR project was to develop and test a structurally integrated conceptual framework for the interpretation of coastal zone structure and dynamics within areas where communities depended primarily upon marine resources.

More specifically, the objectives of SPEAR were to:
1. develop an integrated framework that simulated the dynamics of the coastal zone accounting for basin effects, ecological structure and human activities;
2. verify this framework using research models which assimilated dispersed local and regional data and develop screening models which integrated key processes and interactions;
3. examine ways of internalising environmental costs and recommend response options, such as optimisation of species' composition and distributions, thereby restoring ecological sustainability;
4. evaluate the economic costs and benefits of alternative management strategies and social consequences;
5. provide managers with quantitative descriptors of environmental health, including simple screening models that could be used as practical diagnostic tools.

Two contrasting coastal systems in China, namely a rural and an industrial area, were analysed to implement, assess and evaluate the project proposals. Ecological and socioeconomic demands were reconciled through an integrated holistic approach and simple screening models were developed to facilitate sustainable management and restoration.

A book was also prepared, aiming at providing a synthesis of the undertaken work findings to managers, scientists, technicians and the general public. The book consisted of seven chapters, which could be read independently and focussed on the rationale behind the SPEAR project, the various data, remote sensing and modelling tools, the necessary system scale and aquaculture activity modelling work, the ecosystem modelling methods, the screening models and the particulate waste simulation approaches that were implemented. A set of example scenarios was also developed and presented to support decision makers in successfully applying Integrated coastal zone management (ICZM).

The activities of SPEAR represented an interdisciplinary approach to integrated assessment of the different components of coastal systems, which forms a prerequisite to successful coastal management practices. Future developments of simulation strategies should include the linkage of both natural and social sciences with explicit feedbacks. An assessment of aquaculture on the basis of people, planet and profit, should also become central to ICZM studies, particularly in areas such as southeast Asia where such activities are intensively practiced. The challenge of combining the various components of the people, planet and profit equation in a holistic indicator appeared both achievable and appropriate for integrated management options.