Opportunities for advancing ecosystem-based management in a rapidly changing, high latitude ecosystem
Unprecedented and rapid changes are ongoing in northern high latitude, marine ecosystems, due to climate warming. Species distributions and abundances are changing, altering both ecosystem structure and dynamics. At the same time, human impacts are increasing. Less sea ice opens for the opportunity of more petroleum-related activities, shipping and tourism. Fisheries are moving into previously unfished habitats, targeting more species across more trophic levels. There is a need for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and ecosystem-based management (EBM) to take the rapid, climate driven changes into account. Recently, there has been much development in qualitative, semi-quantitative, and quantitative scientific approaches to support EBFM and EBM. Here, we present some of these approaches, and discuss how they provide opportunities for advancing EBFM and EBM in one high-latitude system, namely the Barents Sea. We propose that advancing EBFM and EBM is more about adding tools to the toolbox than replacing tools, and to use the tools in coordinated efforts to tackle the increasing complexities in scientific support to management. Collaborative and participatory processes among stakeholders and scientists are pivotal for both scoping and prioritizing, and for efficient knowledge exchange. Finally, we argue that increasing uncertainty with increasing complexity is fundamental to decision making in EBFM and EBM and needs to be handled, rather than being a reason for inaction or irrelevance.