Taboos and sustainable fishing decisions

Taboo trade-offs in ecosystem management

Ecosystem management that ignores "taboo tradeoffs" is likely to fail

Imagine the dilemma facing a doctor who must choose which of two children most needs a liver transplant. Society does not judge people for agonizing over these 'tragic tradeoffs' between two sacred values.

However, a tradeoff between saving a child or the hospital earning money from cosmetic surgery will quickly draw fire and is an example of a 'taboo tradeoff' between something sacred, and something secular. Some people are repulsed by someone even considering this kind of tradeoff.

In this interview researchers and authors Tim Daw, Garry Peterson and Diego Galafassi explain the project looking at taboo trade-offs and win-win situations from an ecological perspective in Kenyan fishery, as well as possibilites on how to apply these uncomfortable truths in policy.

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Daw. T., Coulthard, S., Cheung, W.W.L., Brown, K., Abunge, C., Galafassi, D., Peterson, G.D., McClanahan, T.R., Omukoto, J.O., Munyi, L. 2015. Evaluating taboo trade-offs in ecosystems services and human well-being. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences www.pnas.org/cgi/doi

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Information and videos about the ‘Participatory Modelling of Wellbeing Tradeoffs in Coastal Kenya (P-Mowtick)’ project


Stockholm Resilience Centre is a collaboration between Stockholm University and the Beijer Institute of Ecological Economics at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

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