larger areas. Similarly, most of the potential measures of ecological carrying capacity consider only a single or a few ecosystem components. Our understanding of factors that affect ecological carrying capacity will evolve as scientists learn more about the functioning of marine ecosystems.
Recommendation: Managers should utilize models based on empirical data that can estimate carrying capacity relative to bivalve production, ecosystem, and social constraints. The models provide an approach for addressing many of the issues that are associated with understanding multiple farm interactions and cumulative effects of other coastal zone activities at a scale relevant to coastal ecosystems.
Recommendation: Further development and refinement of models for estimating carrying capacity should be encouraged. This will require a coordinated and sustained measurement effort to provide the empirical data necessary for iterative modification of these models and to validate projections produced by the models. Models should be designed to address the needs of managers and mariculturists alike. In addition, model parameters and general model outputs should be presented in clear and concise terms that are understandable and acceptable to all users.
Finding: With continued development and refinement, the current generation of models may provide scientifically sound and relatively robust results that can guide the development and management of bivalve mariculture. However, current models do not include the processes that influence social needs and regulations.
Recommendation: The portfolio of research on carrying capacity should include work on social and political dimensions.
Finding: Carrying capacity is a function of the local environment, in terms of both ecological and social factors. Ecological carrying-capacity models do not take societal constraints into account. It is only through a feedback process between ecological and social carrying capacity that a compromise can be reached.
Recommendation: Assessment of carrying capacity for a bivalve mariculture facility should involve both natural and social scientists along with coastal managers.