Sustainable development is the framing concept assuring that resources are exploited while maintaining the ability of these natural resources to provide for future generations. With human dependence on marine resources increasing, Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM) has been identified as a suitable approach to ensure sustainable development. In order to achieve this, the core principles and elements of EBM should be operational in the maritime/marine spatial planning (MSP) process to ensure that human activities in marine space are ordered to attain ecological, economic and social objectives. However, policies from various states and organizations sometimes do not set a clear precedence for translating principles of EBM and present different and complex approaches to an ecosystem-based marine spatial planning (EB-MSP). Again, a feasible methodology for EBM to be operational in MSP is still vague. This paper therefore presents results from a survey and review of MSP initiatives in Europe, Asia and the Americas. Results showed that essential MSP steps and elements such as adaptive management, setting of planning boundaries, understanding and analysing the ecosystem and future conditions are not fully operational. This paper focuses on a methodology for EB-MSP and gives recommendations on how to ensure that EBM is operational at each stage of an MSP process. It stresses the importance of setting planning boundaries beyond jurisdictional borders to consider bio/eco-regions and cover near-shore waters, the need to have a cross-sector integration, understanding the ecosystem through having an ecosystem service perspective and having a legal framework to ensure that results from monitoring and evaluating of plans are adapted through review and revision.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
Resource managers and policy makers have long recognized the importance of considering fisheries in the context of ecosystems; yet, movement towards widespread Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM) has been slow. A conceptual reframing of fisheries management is occurring globally, which envisions fisheries as systems with interacting biophysical and human subsystems. This broader view, along with a process for decision making, can facilitate implementation of EBFM. A pathway to achieve these broadened objectives of EBFM in the U.S. is a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP). The first generation of FEPs was conceived in the late 1990s as voluntary guidance documents that Regional Fishery Management Councils could adopt to develop and guide their ecosystem-based fisheries management decisions, but few of these FEPs took concrete steps to implement EBFM. Here, we emphasize the need for a new generation of FEPs that provide practical mechanisms for putting EBFM into practice in the U.S. We argue that next-generation FEPs can balance environmental, economic, and social objectives—the triple bottom line – to improve long-term planning for fishery systems.
This work provides a formal evaluation of 25 ecological indicators highlighted by the Southeast Fisheries Science Center’s IEA program as useful for tracking ecosystem components in the Gulf of Mexico. Using an Atlantis ecosystem model as an operating model, we select indicators that are quantifiable using simulation outputs and evaluate their sensitivity to changes in fishing mortality. Indicator behavior was examined using a multivariate ordination. The ordination is used to tell how well each indicator describes variation in ecosystem structure (termed ‘importance’) under different levels of fishing mortality and to reveal redundancies in the information conveyed by indicators. We determine importance using sample data from the operating model, with and without observation error added. Indicators whose importance is diminished least by error are considered robust to observational error. We then quantify the interannual noise of each indicator, where annual variability relates to the required sampling frequency in a management application. Red snapper biomass, King mackerel biomass and Reef fish catch ranked in the top 5 most important without error scenarios, and King mackerel biomass and Species richness were in the top 5 most important even after error was added. Red snapper biomass was consistently found to be the most important and most robust among fishing mortality scenarios tested, and all 4 of these indicators were found to have low levels of interannual noise suggesting that they need to be sampled infrequently. Our results provide insight into the usefulness of these indicators for fisheries managers interested in the impacts of fishing on the ecosystem.
Systematic conservation planning, a widely used approach to identify priority lands and waters, uses efficient, defensible, and transparent methods aimed at conserving biodiversity and ecological systems. Limited financial resources and competing land uses can be major impediments to conservation; therefore, diverse stakeholders must participate in the planning process to address broad-scale threats and challenges of the twenty-first century. While a broad extent is needed to identify core areas and corridors for fish and wildlife populations, a fine scale resolution is needed to manage for multiple, interconnected ecosystems. Here, we developed a conservation plan using a systematic approach to promote landscape-level conservation within the extent of the South Atlantic Landscape Conservation Cooperative. Our objective was to identify the highest ranked 30% of lands and waters within the South Atlantic deemed necessary to conserve ecological and cultural integrity for the ten primary ecosystems of the southeastern United States. These environments varied from terrestrial, freshwater aquatic, and marine. The planning process was driven by indicators of ecosystem integrity at a 4-ha resolution. We used the program Zonation and 28 indicators to optimize the identification of lands and waters to meet the stated objective. A novel part of our study was the prioritization of multiple ecosystems, and we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this approach. The evaluation of indicator representation within prioritizations was a useful method to show where improvements could be made; some indicators dictated hotspots, some had a limited extent and were well represented, and others had a limited effect. Overall, we demonstrate that a broad-scale (408,276 km2 of terrestrial and 411,239 km2 of marine environments) conservation plan can be realized at a fine-scale resolution, which will allow implementation of the regional plan at a local level relevant to decision-making.
Interest in the role that ecosystems play in reducing the impacts of coastal hazards has grown dramatically. Yet the magnitude and nature of their effects are highly context dependent, making it difficult to know under what conditions coastal habitats, such as saltmarshes, reefs, and forests, are likely to be effective for saving lives and protecting property. We operationalize the concept of natural and nature-based solutions for coastal protection by adopting an ecosystem services framework that propagates the outcome of a management action through ecosystems to societal benefits. We review the literature on the basis of the steps in this framework, considering not only the supply of coastal protection provided by ecosystems but also the demand for protective services from beneficiaries. We recommend further attention to (1) biophysical processes beyond wave attenuation, (2) the combined effects of multiple habitat types (e.g., reefs, vegetation), (3) marginal values and expected damage functions, and, in particular, (4) community dependence on ecosystems for coastal protection and co-benefits. We apply our approach to two case studies to illustrate how estimates of multiple benefits and losses can inform restoration and development decisions. Finally, we discuss frontiers for linking social, ecological, and physical science to advance natural and nature-based solutions to coastal protection.
Ocean acidification is intensifying and hypoxia is projected to expand in the California Current large marine ecosystem as a result of processes associated with the global emission of CO2. Observed changes in the California Current outpace those in many other areas of the ocean, underscoring the pressing need to adopt management approaches that can accommodate uncertainty and the complicated dynamics forced by accelerating change. We argue that changes occurring in the California Current large marine ecosystem provide opportunities and incentives to adopt an integrated, systems-level approach to resource management to preserve existing ecosystem services and forestall abrupt change. Practical options already exist to maximize the benefits of management actions and ameliorate impending change in the California Current, for instance, adding ocean acidification and hypoxia to design criteria for marine protected areas, including consideration of ocean acidification and hypoxia in fisheries management decisions, and fully enforcing existing laws and regulations that govern water quality and land use and development.
Selective fisheries may impact non-target species as well as limit the productivity of target species if their predators are not harvested. The outcomes of multispecies harvest strategies that include targeting predators depend on ecological and economic constraints, though the development of ecosystem-based management plans has typically focused on ecological constraints.
In Chignik, Alaska, sockeye salmon support a valuable commercial fishery and, as juveniles, are preyed upon by coho salmon, a species not subject to a targeted harvest. Whether exploitation of coho salmon would enhance overall fishery value by releasing sockeye salmon from predation constraints is not understood. We employ simulation models to examine the ecological and economic conditions necessary for directly targeting coho salmon to benefit fishers and seafood processors, two distinct but inter-dependent stakeholders in this ecosystem.
Model results indicate fishers are likely to experience increased value regardless of economic constraints, as long as coho salmon predation negatively affects sockeye salmon productivity. However, seafood processors are much more limited in the conditions which produce increased economic value, constrained by greater operation costs required to process harvested coho salmon.
Synthesis and applications. The unique economic constraints and opportunities of different stakeholders can present contrasting outlooks on the potential benefits of alternative harvest strategies, even if the alternative strategies are predicted to increase yield. The findings herein demonstrate the importance of considering multiple stakeholders when considering alternative management strategies. Depending on the level of risk stakeholders are willing to accept, an active adaptive management strategy reducing coho salmon escapement to low levels could provide valuable information about ecosystem structure as well as potentially providing the greatest economic benefit to the fishery.
Effective stakeholder engagement is an essential, but commonly overlooked, component of the ecosystem approach. In this article, we draw lessons from two European Union LIFE+ (LIFE is the European Union's financial instrument supporting environmental, nature conservation and climate action projects throughout the EU.) funded projects led by WWF-UK: PISCES (Partnerships Involving Stakeholders in the Celtic sea EcoSystem) and the Celtic Seas Partnership to present an approach for effective stakeholder engagement. These projects developed steps to operationalise the ecosystem approach within the context of a key piece of European legislation: the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD, 2008/56/EC).
We identified an approach for involving stakeholders in delivery of the ecosystem approach, which can be applied to other areas and contexts. The approach involves four steps:
Identify a relevant policy framework and the role of stakeholders in its implementation and identify or agree environmental, social and economic objectives for the area.
Create an open, neutral, cross-sectoral forum and design an engagement process that creates a “safe” and inclusive space, and is facilitated independently.
Demystify terminology and develop a shared vision or principles through an engagement process
Collaboratively develop management actions that are needed to achieve objectives and implement them.
A rapid review of the literature on closed areas that recognize key ecosystem-based management (EBM) principles of fisheries and biodiversity conservation and had fisher involvement was employed to review closed areas worldwide from a fisheries perspective and to develop a scorecard that can assess their efficacy. The review provided 523 abstracts of which 19 areas from various regions worldwide had peer-reviewed studies that met strict selection criteria. Criteria included fisher involvement, biodiversity conservation and fisheries management objectives. A repeat search without “fisher” and synonyms found, 62,622 papers indicating that most closed area studies had no mention of any fisher involvement. The general success of the areas selected suggests that fisher involvement benefits both biological conservation and fisheries management. Fisheries and biodiversity conservation outcomes were not exclusive to any one type of management closure (e.g. MPA, Fishery Closure). Twenty-four indicators were selected, designed to provide measurable targets. High scoring indicators included management, planning and socio-economic indicators such as local support (100%), habitat protection (100%), conservation and fisheries objectives (100%), monitoring (91.7%) and fishers concerns (91.7%). Bio-ecological-based indicators scored lower in most cases for all types of areas. Fisheries closures rated as highly as the MPAs with respect to both fisheries and bio-ecological indicators. The scorecard provided a reasonable means to evaluate management success in the light of often qualitative or missing data. Addressing the interests and utilizing knowledge of those affected by closures and familiar with the area, most often local fishers, is key to achieving management objectives.
The purpose of this article is to present the Mexican experience related to the US-Mexico joint Gulf of Mexico Large Marine Ecosystem-Based Assessment and Management Project, particularly the community involvement and mangrove wetland restoration, and the challenges for its replication and up-scaling. Results focus on community engagement, environmental education and social participation, strategies for hydrological restoration of mangrove, and difficulties and recommendations for the implementation of the Strategic Action Program. The main conclusions are that the community-based hydrologic restoration approach, is a good way to ensure long-term restoration of wetlands. Changing from mangrove plantations to the hydrological restoration of wetlands, and construction of human capacities resulted in a more efficient strategy for ecosystem restoration and had influenced the forest environmental policy. The involvement of government and education institutions as execution agencies will contribute to a more efficient appropriation of the project and LME approach. The development of economic alternatives and the ecological monitoring are some of the identified challenges within the implementation phase of the Strategic Action Program.