Management of tropical reef ecosystems under pressure from terrestrial and extractive marine activities is not straightforward, especially when the interests of extractive and non-extractive marine resource sectors compete. Before implementing management actions, potential outcomes of alternative management strategies can be evaluated in order to avoid adverse or unintended consequences. In tropical reef ecosystems the continued existence of the cultural and recreational fishing activities and the economically important dive-based tourism and recreation industry rest on sustainably managed marine resources. Through a case study of Guam, an ecosystem model was linked with human behavior models for participation in fishing and diving to evaluate future socio-ecological impacts of different management options. Ecosystem indices for reef status and resilience, and extraction potential were identified to evaluate the performance of alternative management scenarios. These marine ecosystem indices link the natural system to human uses (fishing and dive-based tourism and recreation). Evaluating management scenarios indicate that applying a single management tool, such as input controls or marine preserves, without also managing the watershed, is suboptimal. Combining different management tools has negative near-term costs, particularly for the fishing sector, but these are likely to be outweighed by the long-term benefits obtained from greater species abundance. Adopting watershed management measures in addition to fishery regulations distributes the burden for improving the reef status across multiple sectors that contribute to reef pressures.
Drawing on research in political ecology and building on anthropological critiques of common pool resource institutions, this research explores the historical, social, and political factors that influence how fisheries management occurs at the federal and territorial levels, and how commercial fishers, managers, and other stakeholders experience and participate in multi-scale management processes.