Twenty-first century conservation is centered on negotiating trade-offs between the diverse needs of people and the needs of the other species constituting coupled human-natural ecosystems. Marine forage fishes, such as sardines, anchovies, and herring, are a nexus for such trade-offs because they are both central nodes in marine food webs and targeted by fisheries. An important example is Pacific herring, Clupea pallisii in the Northeast Pacific. Herring populations are subject to two distinct fisheries: one that harvests adults and one that harvests spawned eggs. We develop stochastic, age-structured models to assess the interaction between fisheries, herring populations, and the persistence of predators reliant on herring populations. We show that egg- and adult-fishing have asymmetric effects on herring population dynamics - herring stocks can withstand higher levels of egg harvest before becoming depleted. Second, ecosystem thresholds proposed to ensure the persistence of herring predators do not necessarily pose more stringent constraints on fisheries than conventional, fishery driven harvest guidelines. Our approach provides a general template to evaluate ecosystem trade-offs between stage-specific harvest practices in relation to environmental variability, the risk of fishery closures, and the risk of exceeding ecosystem thresholds intended to ensure conservation goals are met.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
The United States has a new national ocean policy that adopts ecosystem-based management (EBM) as its first principle for managing U.S. ocean spaces and marine resources. However, U.S. laws that govern the uses of ocean spaces present a challenging tangle of authorities and mandates that do not easily facilitate ecosystem-based policies. For over 30 years, U.S. marine fisheries management has been guided by eight Regional Fishery Management Councils. Working under the many laws that guide setting stewardship priorities for ocean ecosystems, councils provide the Federal Government with advice on fisheries harvest levels, fish habitat protections, and fishing community needs. Implementing EBM for any ocean ecosystem requires a careful examination of the laws and policy processes that affect human interaction with that ecosystem. This article explores the U.S. perspective on federal ecosystem-based fisheries management, its part in U.S. national ocean policy, and how fishery management councils might position themselves as both EBM policymakers and policy takers for ocean resource management.
This paper systematically reviews and synthesizes peer-reviewed, English-language scientific publications (n=212) to identify relevant research about how Ecosystem-Based Adaptation (EBA) is integrated with coastal planning. Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic reviews and Meta-Analysis (PRISMA) methodology is applied in this study. Attention was given to studies concerning human-environment interactions as opposed to physical or biological climate change issues alone because the coastal planning and EBA approach addresses the management of human actions in nature. The literature references include the issue of climate change (77%); however, limited evidence of EBA in coastal areas are reported (18%), and it is evident that the issues have become relevant in the scientific literature published in recent years. Broad texts demonstrate that SLR is one of the major long-term impacts (68%), and all of these papers recognize the most affected ecosystems in the tropics would be mangroves. EBA is an emerging option that can offset anticipated ecosystem losses and improve coastal planning to cope with SLR because it provides benefits beyond climate change stressors. There is a need to synthesize a road map for incorporation of mangrove regulations into local planning instruments and for building capacity for their implementation. Application of PRISMA in marine science will enhance future reviews, facilitate the systematic search and adequately document any theme, and also be useful in determining research gaps or information needs.
Human pressure could compromise the provision of ecosystem services if we do not implement strategies such as ecosystem stewardship to foster sustainable trajectories. Barriers to managing systems based on ecosystem stewardship principles are pervasive, including institutional constraints and uncertain system dynamics. However, solutions to help managers overcome these barriers are less common. How can we better integrate ecosystem stewardship into natural resource management practices? I draw on examples from the literature and two broadly applicable case studies from Alaska to suggest some generalizable principles that can help managers redirect how people use and view ecosystems. These include (1) accounting for both people and ecosystems in management actions; (2) considering historical and current system dynamics, but managing flexibly for the future; (3) identifying interactions between organizational, temporal, and spatial scales; (4) embracing multiple causes in addition to multiple objectives; and (5) acknowledging that there are no panaceas and that success will be incremental. I also identify next steps to rigorously evaluate the broad utility of these principles and quickly move principles from theory to application. The findings of this study suggest that natural resource managers are poised to overcome the barriers to implementing ecosystem stewardship and to develop innovative adaptations to social-ecological problems.
Modern resource management faces trade-offs in the provision of various ecosystem goods and services to humanity. For fisheries management to develop into an ecosystem-based approach, the goal is not only to maximize economic profits, but to consider equally important conservation and social equity goals. We introduce such a triple-bottom line approach to the management of multi-species fisheries using the Baltic Sea as a case study. We apply a coupled ecological-economic optimization model to address the actual fisheries management challenge of trading-off the recovery of collapsed cod stocks versus the health of ecologically important forage fish populations. Management strategies based on profit maximization would rebuild the cod stock to high levels but may cause the risk of stock collapse for forage species with low market value, such as Baltic sprat (Fig. 1A). Economically efficient conservation efforts to protect sprat would be borne almost exclusively by the forage fishery as sprat fishing effort and profits would strongly be reduced. Unless compensation is paid, this would challenge equity between fishing sectors (Fig. 1B). Optimizing equity while respecting sprat biomass precautionary levels would reduce potential profits of the overall Baltic fishery, but may offer an acceptable balance between overall profits, species conservation and social equity (Fig. 1C). Our case study shows a practical example of how an ecosystem-based fisheries management will be able to offer society options to solve common conflicts between different resource uses. Adding equity considerations to the traditional trade-off between economy and ecology will greatly enhance credibility and hence compliance to management decisions, a further footstep towards healthy fish stocks and sustainable fisheries in the world ocean.