University Of Tasmania

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Social vulnerability of marine resource users to extreme weather events

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-19, 08:41 authored by Marshall, NA, Tobin, RC, Marshall, PA, Gooch, M, Hobday, AJ
Knowledge of vulnerability provides the foundation for developing actions that minimize impacts and supports system views that are particularly desirable. We modified a well-established model to assess and describe the vulnerability of the two major industries dependent on the Great Barrier Reef (GBR) to extreme weather events. The modification entailed distinguishing between the properties that determine exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity for both the ecological and the social components of a natural resource system. We surveyed 145 commercial fishers and 62 tourism operators following a severe tropical cyclone and a major flooding event that extensively affected the region in 2011. Exposure of these industries included direct risk to life and infrastructure and indirect risk from loss of important ecosystem services. Our study found that many commercial fishers and marine-based tourism operators were sensitive to changes in the GBR's condition and limited in their adaptive capacity. However, those with smaller businesses, higher levels of occupational identity, place attachment, formal networks, and strategic approaches also had higher levels of adaptive capacity. These results suggest that resource users with higher sensitivity to change are not necessarily the most vulnerable; sensitivity may be offset by adaptive capacity. That is, while exposure and sensitivity determine the potential impact of a climate-induced change, adaptive capacity may be a major influence on the impacts that eventuate. We empirically show that adaptive capacity is an obvious focus for climate adaptation planning.


Publication title











Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies



Place of publication

175 Fifth Ave, New York, USA, Ny, 10010

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Copyright 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York

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  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Expanding knowledge in the environmental sciences

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