Skip to main content

climate variability and el niño southern oscillation: implications for natural coastal resources and management

Final Report Summary - CENSOR (Climate variability and El Nino southern oscillation: Implications for natural coastal resources and management)

The CENSOR project analysed the effects of the El Nino southern oscillation (ENSO) on near-shore coastal environments and the related socioeconomic aspects along the Pacific South America. Previous research initiatives had demonstrated that the sustainable management of coastal areas within the upwelling systems of El Nino (EN) and La Nina (LN) depended on locally adapted and flexible small scale approaches, which would not simply transfer experiences from macroeconomic management attempts.

More specifically, the project aimed at enhancing the detection, compilation and understanding of EN and LN effects on the coastal zone and its natural resources. A multidisciplinary approach, taking advantage of present international funding schemes was proposed with the intention of bridging the traditional gap between fundamental and applied coastal research. The long term objective was an increased avoidance of EN negative impacts, as well as an increased exploitation of its beneficial effects in order to improve the livelihood of local populations.

Firstly, a thorough analysis of EN was undertaken, in order to identify critical parameters and increase understanding of the underlying natural mechanisms. Moreover, the multiple demands on limited resources, in particular artisanal fishery resources of the ENSO coastal zones were identified to allow for the establishment of a sustainable balance between the exploitation of marine resources and the associated economic and socioeconomic requirements. The indicators of EN events resulting from organismal and ecosystem studies could become substantial and sustainable tools to be used in early warning and prediction systems. Thus, they could be relevant to managers of environmental quality control and sustainable development. Complementary research areas were identified as critical for the development of a comprehensive ecosystem management, concerning:
1. coastal benthic communities;
2. pelagic benthic processes and their terrestrial impact;
3. ecophysiological constraints and aquaculture demands.

The analysis of existing literature on the phenomenon could provide valuable information towards its increased understanding, therefore a database for the organisation and presentation of previous initiatives' results was constructed. Moreover, the analysis of fisheries' practices in affected regions allowed for the derivation of useful conclusions. A model organism was also selected to facilitate the assessment of alternative management options. Finally, an extensive modelling approach was implemented and allowed to identify key ecosystem drivers.

Overall, the project highlighted the significance of a bottom-up approach, consisting of the integration of small scale management options, which would be certainly different to the large scale top-down management practices that were currently implemented in the areas of interest.

Related documents