Support materials only that illustrate some possible contexts for exploring Science as a Human Endeavour concepts in relation to Science Understanding content.
Overfishing has been a concern since the late nineteenth century, and government approaches to manage fish stocks have been in place since the early twentieth century. Maximum sustainable yield (MSY) has been one of the most influential concepts to inform fish stock management and has been applied since the 1950s. However, MSY models have been criticised as they ignore the size and age of the animal being harvested, its reproductive status and the effects of fishing on the ecosystem more broadly (ACSES065). For example, application of an MSY model to fishing for orange roughy in New Zealand almost resulted in depletion of natural stocks because this species has a slow maturation and low resilience to harvesting. However overfishing continues to be a problem that requires management policies; use of fishing quotas has been shown to be successful, but calculation of these quotas needs to take account of the population dynamics of the species, ecosystem dynamics and the effects of changes in the biotic and abiotic conditions of that ecosystem in order to enable sustainable harvesting of the resource (ACSES070).
A range of environmentalists and economists have proposed that an economic value be placed on ecosystem services in order to ensure that they are accounted for in business and policy decisions. Such a value could be determined from an analysis of the economic benefits that derive from ecosystems and biodiversity, and a comparison made between the costs of failing to protect these resources with the costs of conserving them (ACSES067). Payment and trading of services is emerging as one way to consider the value of ecosystem services; credits are acquired for activities such as sponsoring the protection of carbon sequestration sources or the restoration of ecosystem service providers. However reliable calculation of values is confounded by the complexity of ecosystem dynamics and the lack of data regarding how changes in one aspect of an ecosystem affects other aspects over time, creating challenges for the implementation of such environmental economics (ACSES068).
Food security is increasingly viewed as one of the most significant global issues, and has implications for health, sustainable economic development, environmental protection and trade. Greater agricultural productivity is seen as essential to achieving food security, but this can often lead to a focus on farming high yield species, which may itself lead to a decrease in the genetic diversity of global food species. Decreased genetic diversity increases vulnerability of species to disease and changes in environmental conditions; a focus on high yield species can require additional inputs, such as fertiliser and water, in order to be successful in different environments (ACSES070). Global actions to maintain biodiversity of agricultural species include the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, which provides a framework for national, regional and international efforts to conserve genetic resources and share the benefits of such conservation equally (ACSES069).