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Fishery scenarios supporting multi-scalar responses to change: a case study from South Africa's southern Cape

We developed and tested a scenario-based approach to change management to investigate drivers of change and improve multi-scalar governance within fisheries.

This study explored how a scenario-based approach to change management could help improve multi-scalar decision-making within fishery systems. We used many tools, including structured decision-making tools, qualitative modelling, and scenario stories. Using an iterative and interactive research process, we developed cognitive maps, a weighted hierarchy, and a small Bayesian model to quantify and understand fishers' perceptions of their system’s drivers of change.

These tools eventually informed the scenarios stories, which was the last tool used in this approach. Set in 2050 in the town of Melkhoutfontein, the resulting small-scale scenario stories explore the long-term future of the town, especially with regards to access to fishing rights, capital, climate change, and fish stock availability. These small-scale scenario stories stimulated learning and prompted important conversations about what the future may hold for this group of fishers. Ultimately, reflecting on both the process and the product, our research demonstrates how participatory decision-making can be enacted. It engages with a diversity of tools to explore both the current state and potential improvements of day-to-day decision-making at the level of the fisher or household. It also simultaneously aids the implementation of system-based management approaches such as the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management (EAF).

This study built mutual understanding of drivers of changes and fishers' lived experience, thereby enhancing mutual learning. The use of more structured tools with marginalised fishers demonstrates possibilities for involving fishers in formal fisheries management processes and provides a template for future engagement. Importantly, we also fostered our current and future (transdisciplinary) collaboration within this fishery.

The scenarios were made in:


The scenarios look out to:


Project facts

South Africa

Western Cape (southern Cape region)


Submitted by:

Louise Gammage

Project leader

November 29, 2022

How to cite this page:

Louise Gammage

Fishery scenarios supporting multi-scalar responses to change: a case study from South Africa's southern Cape



Gammage, L. & Jarre, A. (2021). Scenario-based approaches to change management in fisheries can address challenges with scale and support the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Frontiers in Marine Science 8:600150

Gammage, L., Jarre, A., Mather, C. (2021). Failing to plan is planning to fail: lessons learned from a small-scale scenario planning process with marginalized fishers from South Africa’s southern Cape. Ecology & Society 26(4):32

Gammage, L. & Jarre, A. (2020). Using Structured Decision-Making Tools With Marginalised Fishers to Promote System-Based Fisheries Management Approaches in South Africa. Frontiers in Marine Science 7:477

Project images

UTAS_Future Seas_Logo_1.jpg

Cara Pratten




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