Transboundary fish stocks complicate sustainable fishing strategies, particularly when stakeholders have diverse objectives and regulatory and governance frameworks. Pacific sardine (Sardinops sagax) in the California Current is shared by up to three fishing nations— Canada, the United States, and Mexico—and climate-driven abundance and distribution dynamics can complicate cooperative fisheries, leading to overfishing. This study builds on previous analyses by integrating ecosystem linkages into a game theory model of transboundary sardine fisheries under various climate scenarios. Cooperative fishing strategies that account for the ecosystem-wide value of sardine as forage for other species result in increased economic benefits compared to strategies that only account for the single-species value of sardine fisheries to a given fishing country. Total ecosystem landed value is maximized at a sardine fishing rate only somewhat lower than sardine FMSY, which is more precautionary but still allows the fishery to operate. Incorporating ecosystem dynamics into management-applicable models can highlight ways in which ecosystem-based fisheries management can improve both sustainability and profitability and help managers prioritize wider ecological research. Ecosystem-based management will be increasingly required to understand and adapt to the observed rapid shifts in species distributions due to climate change, and to design strategies to achieve sustainable and profitable fisheries amidst changing ecosystems.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
Coral reefs are exceptionally biodiverse and human dependence on their ecosystem services is high. Reefs experience significant direct and indirect anthropogenic pressures, and provide a sensitive indicator of coastal ocean health, climate change, and ocean acidification, with associated implications for society. Monitoring coral reef status and trends is essential to better inform science, management and policy, but the projected collapse of reef systems within a few decades makes the provision of accurate and actionable monitoring data urgent. The Global Coral Reef Monitoring Network has been the foundation for global reporting on coral reefs for two decades, and is entering into a new phase with improved operational and data standards incorporating the Essential Ocean Variables (EOVs) (www.goosocean.org/eov) and Framework for Ocean Observing developed by the Global Ocean Observing System. Three EOVs provide a robust description of reef health: hard coral cover and composition, macro-algal canopy cover, and fish diversity and abundance. A data quality model based on comprehensive metadata has been designed to facilitate maximum global coverage of coral reef data, and tangible steps to track capacity building. Improved monitoring of events such as mass bleaching and disease outbreaks, citizen science, and socio-economic monitoring have the potential to greatly improve the relevance of monitoring to managers and stakeholders, and to address the complex and multi- dimensional interactions between reefs and people. A new generation of autonomous vehicles (underwater, surface, and aerial) and satellites are set to revolutionize and vastly expand our understanding of coral reefs. Promising approaches include Structure from Motion image processing, and acoustic techniques. Across all systems, curation of data in linked and open online databases, with an open data culture to maximize benefits from data integration, and empowering users to take action, are priorities. Action in the next decade will be essential to mitigate the impacts on coral reefs from warming temperatures, through local management and informing national and international obligations, particularly in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, climate action, and the role of coral reefs as a global indicator. Mobilizing data to help drive the needed behavior change is a top priority for coral reef observing systems.
Ecological and socio-economic indicators are used as proxies for attributes of ecosystems and human communities, respectively. End-to-end models are used to predict how ecosystems will respond to alternative management actions and changing environmental conditions. Despite the importance of these two tools for Ecosystem-Based Management (EBM), there has been limited integration of ecological indicators directly into end-to-end models; the former are typically calculated post hoc with output from the latter. Here we explore how ecological indicators can be better incorporated into end-to-end models and examine the importance of this union with regards to cumulative impacts and indirect effects, setting management objectives, practical indicator selection, and applications to management. We conclude that the inclusion of ecological indicators in end-to-end models is not only feasible, but provides needed guidance on describing ecosystem status relative to strategic as well as tactical ecosystem-level management goals, and will escalate the implementation of EBM.
Goal 14, ‘Life Below Water’, of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals sets a target for nations to increase the number of marine protected areas managed using ecosystem-based management, which requires interventions focused on fish stock conservation and enhancement, environmental sustainability and ecosystem services of benefit to human beings. Although not adhering to the International Union for Conservation of Nature's criteria for marine protected areas, whale sanctuaries are an increasingly common approach to conservation around the world. This paper is the first in the academic literature to use a case study approach to review the extent to which whale sanctuaries contribute to ecosystem-based management. A fifteen-criteria framework for marine ecosystem-based management is applied with reference to six whale sanctuary case studies, including the International Whaling Commission's two designations in the Indian Ocean and Southern Ocean. The review underscores the generally very limited contribution of whale sanctuaries to ecosystem-based management, unless they are explicit in stating conservation goals and embedding these within iterative management plans. The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is cited as an example of an approach that comes closest to fulfilling the objectives of ecosystem-based management, albeit its designation lacks consideration of ecosystem dynamics and the interrelationships between multiple economic actors operating within its boundaries. In order to meet the requirements of Goal 14, the case studies in this paper reveal advancements necessary for whale sanctuaries to transition towards ecosystem-based management: establishment of objectives broader than the conservation of whale stocks, assessment of the contribution of the sanctuary to human well-being and trade-offs in ecosystem services, accounting for ecological and socio-economic dynamics, and ensuring broad stakeholder consultation and participatory adaptive management.
A growing number of studies suggest a participatory ecosystem approach to support decision-making toward resilience and sustainability in social-ecological systems. Social-ecological resilience (SER) principles and practices are recommended to manage natural crises. However, it is necessary to broaden our understanding of SER on human-induced disturbances driven by economic development projects. In this paper we present the social-ecological system of Araçá Bay (Brazil), a small-scale fishery community that has experienced successive disturbances due to development projects since the 1930s. There was a lack of studies about the impacts of development projects in this bay. As part of a major project that aimed to build an ecosystem-based management plan for Araçá Bay through a participatory planning process, we focused on investigating fishers’ traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to understand Araçá Bay’s small-scale fisheries social-ecological system. The objectives were to: (1) investigate fishers’ TEK regarding management practices and linked social mechanisms, human-induced disturbances and their consequences for the social-ecological system, ecosystem goods and services, and future threats; and (2) provide information based on TEK to the participatory planning process and analyze its contribution to Araçá Bay’s ecosystem-based management plan. Combined methods were used during 3 years of intense research-action (2014–2017): in-depth ethno-oceanographic interviews with expert fishers; monitoring Araçá Bay participatory meetings; and participant observation. Genuine local practices and social mechanisms from traditional culture were recorded, as well as TEK about 57 target fish species and methods to protect habitats and natural resources. Fishers also reported ecosystem disturbances and recovery processes. TEK was codified through SWOT analysis to assist the participatory planning process. Ecosystem services and threats based on TEK were brought to the participatory process, acknowledged by the participants, and incorporated into the management plan. TEK analysis proved to be an important methodology to provide historical environmental data regarding the impacts of development projects and support planning in disturbed ecosystems. In order to support coastal marine ecosystem-based management strategies toward SER and sustainability, researchers and practitioners should consider traditional territories in planning, recognize local practices and social mechanisms, and consider TEK on ecosystem goods and services and on historical human-induced disturbances.
Advances in ocean observing technologies and modeling provide the capacity to revolutionize the management of living marine resources. While traditional fisheries management approaches like single-species stock assessments are still common, a global effort is underway to adopt ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) approaches. These approaches consider changes in the physical environment and interactions between ecosystem elements, including human uses, holistically. For example, integrated ecosystem assessments aim to synthesize a suite of observations (physical, biological, socioeconomic) and modeling platforms [ocean circulation models, ecological models, short-term forecasts, management strategy evaluations (MSEs)] to assess the current status and recent and future trends of ecosystem components. This information provides guidance for better management strategies. A common thread in EBFM approaches is the need for high-quality observations of ocean conditions, at scales that resolve critical physical-biological processes and are timely for management needs. Here we explore options for a future observing system that meets the needs of EBFM by (i) identifying observing needs for different user groups, (ii) reviewing relevant datasets and existing technologies, (iii) showcasing regional case studies, and (iv) recommending observational approaches required to implement EBFM. We recommend linking ocean observing within the context of Global Ocean Observing System (GOOS) and other regional ocean observing efforts with fisheries observations, new forecasting methods, and capacity development, in a comprehensive ocean observing framework.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is a globally mandated approach with the intention to jointly address ecological and human (social-cultural, economic and institutional) dimensions. Indicators to measure performance against objectives have been suggested, tested, and refined but with a strong bias towards ecological indicators. In this paper, current use and application of indicators related to the human dimension in EBFM research and ecosystem models are analysed. It is found that compared to ecological counterparts, few indicators related to the human dimension are commonly associated with EBFM, and they mainly report on economic objectives related to fisheries. Similarly, in the most common ecosystem models, economic indicators are the most frequently used related to the human dimension, both in terms of model outputs and inputs. The prospect is small that indicators mainly related to profitable fishing economy are able to report on meeting the broad range of EBFM objectives and to successfully evaluate progress in achieving EBFM goals. To fully conform with EBFM principles, it is necessary to recognise that ecological and human indicators are inter-dependent. Moreover, the end-to-end ecosystem models used in EBFM will need to be further developed to allow a fuller spectrum of social-cultural, institutional, and economic objectives to be reported against.
Harvesting wild seaweeds has a long history and is still relevant today, even though aquaculture now supplies >96% of global seaweed production. Current wild harvests mostly target canopy-forming kelp, rockweed and red macroalgae that provide important ecosystem roles, including primary production, carbon storage, nutrient cycling, habitat provision, biodiversity and fisheries support. Harvest methods range from selective hand-cutting to bottom trawling. Resulting ecosystem impacts depend on extraction method and scale, ranging from changes in primary production to habitat disruption, fragmentation, food-web alterations and bycatch of non-target species. Current management often aims for sustainable harvesting in a single-species context, although some agencies acknowledge the wider ecosystem structure, functions and services seaweeds provide. We outline potential ecosystem-based management approaches that would help sustain productive and diverse seaweed-based ecosystems. These include maintaining high canopy biomass, recovery potential, habitat structure and connectivity, limiting bycatch and discards, while incorporating seasonal closures and harvest-exclusion zones into spatial management plans. Other sustainability considerations concern monitoring, enforcement and certification standards, a shift to aquaculture, and addressing cumulative human impacts, invasive species and climate change. Our review provides a concise overview on how to define and operationalize ecosystem-based management of seaweed harvesting that can inform ongoing management and conservation efforts.
The Arctic is a complex geographical area to govern sustainably due to strong geopolitical and socio-economic interests, high ecological vulnerability and importance, and significant legal and institutional fragmentation. Intensifying human pressures in this area necessitate an ecosystem-based and adaptive governance approach, an approach that enables managing socio-ecological resilience in the Arctic. As the Arctic is a large geographic area crossing multiple national jurisdictions and maritime zones, including high seas areas, regionally coordinated and coherent governance approaches would be desirable. This paper assesses the status quo for ecosystem-based governance (EBG) in the Arctic, suggests a focus on three core components of EBG, and proposes three forms of legal coherence to foster these core components. The paper concludes with examining what role the Arctic Council plays and could play to strengthen EBG in the Arctic.
Managing coastal areas under an Ecosystem Based Approach–Marine Spatial Planning framework acknowledges the complexity associated with the need to address multiple environmental and socioeconomic issues. The development of efficient management plans is critical to the implementation success of the framework; in this regard, unresolved challenges remain for measuring the effectiveness of planning plans and monitoring implementation progress. This paper describes the development of a Bayesian Belief Network as a prototype Decision Support Tool to assist coastal planning in the catchment areas of the Sydney Harbour, New South Wales, Australia. The model was co-designed with local managers, underpinned by the Drivers-Pressures-States-Impacts-Responses analytical framework to identify key coastal cause-effect relationships, and by the Recreational Opportunity Spectrum framework to account for significant recreational areas. The Bayesian Belief Network was structured on a conceptualisation of the relationships between key pressures affecting coastal management targets (biological areas and human activities) and their impacts on the state of the variables, with emphasis on the beach ecosystem. The socio-economic component of the model consists of predictive socio-economic modelling on preferred beach activities, the assessment of beach recreational settings, and a beach quality survey. Conditional probability tables were derived from local and regional databases. The model structure allows decision makers enhanced understanding of key interactions between management variables, assessment of management scenarios, and increased accountability of planning decisions. Future work on the prototype could expand the model to become a Bayesian Decision Network, through the integration of proposed management actions and their utilities, thereby helping managers identify optimal decisions.