An often-cited impediment to the operationalization of ecosystem-based fisheries management is the lack of a governance structure that explicitly provides the authority and framework for implementing this holistic approach to fisheries management. However within the United States and elsewhere in the world, the concept of optimum yield appears to be an explicit mandate and framework that can and should be used to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management. This optimum yield policy has been hidden in plain sight for close to 40 years, largely due to happenstance, as other factors facing society-at-large have masked the original intent behind this concept. This paper describes the similarities between optimum yield and ecosystem-based fisheries management, how it has been overlooked in the past, and how the concept can be used to operationalize ecosystem-based fisheries management.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
The implementation of marine protected areas, such as marine reserves and customary fishing areas, is considered an important step toward advancing ecosystem-based management (EBM), but has proven difficult due to resistance from well-organized fishing interests. This raises the question of how the values of less well-organised parties can be brought into the political decision-making process. We summarise the results of a discrete choice survey of the general public in New Zealand that elicits willingness to make tradeoffs among taxes and four socio-ecological attributes: biodiversity, maintenance of Maori customary practices, and restrictions on commercial and recreational fishing. We apply cluster analysis, which provides information about political ‘market shares’ of respondent preferences, and derive estimates of average public willingness to pay for various policy scenarios. Both analyses reveal broad-scale support for conservation of biodiversity and cultural practices, providing quantifiable input from the public in the process of marine space reallocation.
Ecosystem modeling is becoming an integral part of fisheries management, but there is a need to identify differences between predictions derived from models employed for scientific and management purposes. Here, we compared two models: a biomass-based food-web model (Ecopath with Ecosim) and a size structured fish community model. The models were compared with respect to predicted ecological consequences of fishing to identify commonalities and differences in model predictions for the California Current fish community. We compared the models regarding direct and indirect responses to fishing on one or more species. The size based model predicted a higher fishing mortality needed to reach maximum sustainable yield than EwE for most species. The size based model also predicted stronger top-down effects of predator removals than EwE. In contrast, EwE predicted stronger bottom-up effects of forage fisheries removal. In both cases the differences are due to the presumed degree of trophic overlap between juveniles of large-bodied fish and adult stages of forage fish. These differences highlight how each models emphasis on distinct details of ecological processes affect their predictions, underscoring the importance of incorporating knowledge of model assumptions and limitation, possibly through using model ensembles, when providing model-based scientific advice to policy makers.
In the United States, management of marine and coastal resources has moved towards ecosystem-based management (EBM), which is a more systematic and integrated approach than conventional (e.g., single sector or single species) approaches. This paper summarizes the status of EBM for federal programs under the agencies of the National Ocean Council that implement or support marine and coastal EBM activities. Using social network analysis techniques, including network visualization, cohesion measures, programs degree and betweenness centrality, similarities among programs in different topic areas (e.g., type of audience, partners, training, EBM best management practices and principles) were explored. Results highlight substantial differences in perceived and effective performances across programs, with Management programs showing a higher level of integration of EBM approaches than Non-Management programs. The use of EBM best management practices and principles among programs is unbalanced, with some key elements of EBM strategies less commonly employed in the management planning. This analysis identified gaps in the implementation of EBM strategies that can inform natural resource managers and other interested parties. This paper presents the results of the analysis and discusses the implications for the implementation of EBM approaches and strategies at the federal level.
Biodiversity has many key roles in ecosystems, and many elements of biodiversity support fish species and therefore also fisheries. At the same time, cooperation fisheries also often affect seabed biodiversity. Furthermore, fisheries may also change the composition of fish communities, and we illustrate why changes in fish communities can matter to seabed biodiversity. These issues should matter to fisheries management. Biodiversity research by definition addresses heterogeneity and this should influence the nature of questions the science seeks to address and how empirical studies are designed. However, to date biodiversity research has not been fully incorporated into mainstream fisheries science. We aim to facilitate the transition to a more transdisciplinary framework, and move beyond the fisheries-focused management. Human pressure is increasing, and many ecosystems are affected by cumulative impacts from different sources of disturbance. We discuss insights from biodiversity and ecosystem function research, and we advocate for a focus on cumulative impacts from disturbance and resilience. We consider these to be critical elements of the transition into ecosystem-based management. The ecological systems and the services that they generate can be either degraded and support less biodiversity and a smaller range of human values, or they can be resorted. The choice is ours. We advocate for a development of participatory multi-sector management that integrates different institutions to contribute to cultural, social, economic, and biodiversity values for ocean governance.
To gain insights into the effects of adaptive governance on natural capital, we compare three well-studied initiatives; a landscape in Southern Sweden, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, and fisheries in the Southern Ocean. We assess changes in natural capital and ecosystem services related to these social–ecological governance approaches to ecosystem management and investigate their capacity to respond to change and new challenges. The adaptive governance initiatives are compared with other efforts aimed at conservation and sustainable use of natural capital: Natura 2000 in Europe, lobster fisheries in the Gulf of Maine, North America, and fisheries in Europe. In contrast to these efforts, we found that the adaptive governance cases developed capacity to perform ecosystem management, manage multiple ecosystem services, and monitor, communicate, and respond to ecosystem-wide changes at landscape and seascape levels with visible effects on natural capital. They enabled actors to collaborate across diverse interests, sectors, and institutional arrangements and detect opportunities and problems as they developed while nurturing adaptive capacity to deal with them. They all spanned local to international levels of decision making, thus representing multilevel governance systems for managing natural capital. As with any governance system, internal changes and external drivers of global impacts and demands will continue to challenge the long-term success of such initiatives.
Many definitions of the ecosystem approach circulate, the common denominator being the system approach which seeks to take the entirety of a marine ecosystem into consideration. As marine ecosystems cover large geographical areas this approach calls for cooperation between the riparian states. This has being acknowledged in EU policies such as the Marine Strategy Framework Directive and the Marine Spatial Planning Directive. Yet implementing the ecosystem approach in practise runs into some operationalisation issues such as the position of regional cooperation between Member States vis a vis the treaty of the European Union; the positioning of the ecosystem approach between fisheries management and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive; the problem of stakeholder involvement and the balancing of ecological and economic concerns; the tension of the need for relative stability and the introduction of possible new models for organising regional cooperation. These issues appear to be like elephants in the room: obvious issues related to the need for regionalisation which apparently remain undiscussed. In this article, based on analyses within a number of European projects and discussions with relevant actors, the needed discussion on how to organise the management of human activities at the appropriate geo-political level matching the scale of the ecosystem, hence institutionalising marine management at the regional level, is initiated.
Discharge from the Great Barrier Reef Catchment (GBRC) is considered the second most serious threat to the Great Barrier Reef, Australia. Utilising principal component analysis (PCA) and cluster analysis (CA), this research aimed to assess the variability and co-variation of 28 water basins (WBs) within the GBRC, in order to improve the institutional arrangements and regulation of water quality and increase collaboration horizontally between management organisations, and vertically between government tiers. Water basin variability was measured by nine variables: size (ha), population, agricultural land use (ha), number of major water storages, major rivers and major towns, total nitrogen exported (T/yr), total phosphorus exported (T/yr) and herbicide use (ha). The Fitzroy WB, with PC scores of 7.0081, 2.2897 and −1.6504, was identified as the most dissimilar and therefore needing to be managed differently. Many WBs within the same regions were very dissimilar to each other, indicating that current management practices, based largely on geographic location, are unlikely to be the most efficient and effective. Instead, managing groups of WBs with similar geo-political properties (determined by the CA) could be more effective and efficient. Coordination and collaboration are key to successful ecosystem based management, therefore managing similar WBs together through inter-NRM (natural resource management) agreements, irrespective of their geographical location, facilitates management bodies building strong, cooperative working relationships.
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of law in the management of the Baltic Sea, with focus on eutrophication. It aims to identify legal instruments or structures realizing an ecosystem approach. This also includes a discussion of the prerequisites of law as contributor to ecosystem-based management (EBM), as well as evaluation of current legal instruments. While ecosystem approach to environmental management is central to contemporary environmental management policy, it is still unclear what such an approach entails in concrete legal terms. The scope of the analysis stretches from international and EU legal regimes, to implementation and regulation within the national legal systems. A conclusion is that the management structures need further development to properly realize EBM, for example, through concretization of management measures, and clarification of duties and responsibilities for their realization.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has emerged as the generally agreed strategy for managing ecosystems, with humans as integral parts of the managed system. Human activities have substantial effects on marine ecosystems, through overfishing, eutrophication, toxic pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change. It is important to advance the scientific knowledge of the cumulative, integrative, and interacting effects of these diverse activities, to support effective implementation of EBM. Based on contributions to this special issue of AMBIO, we synthesize the scientific findings into four components: pollution and legal frameworks, ecosystem processes, scale-dependent effects, and innovative tools and methods. We conclude with challenges for the future, and identify the next steps needed for successful implementation of EBM in general and specifically for the Baltic Sea.