The Brandt's Cormorant of the California Current is a “boom-or-bust” species like its congeners in other eastern boundary, upwelling driven ecosystems, and like many of the prey upon which they depend. These birds produce many recruits when fish availability is high, leading to rapidly increasing populations, but few recruits, and may even exhibit die-offs, when the opposite is true. Unlike cormorants in the Peru and Benguela currents, however, Brandt's Cormorant population changes have yet to be correlated with those of its prey. Herein, using multi-decadal time series of cormorant colony size, diet, prey availability and mortality, in the context of changes in breeding site and fishery management, we provide insight into why central California colonies near San Francisco — a major portion of this species' global population — expanded from principally one offshore island in the 1960–70s to include a large mainland component by the 1990s. Involved were increases and decreases, respectively, of northern anchovy, a coastal forage species, and young-of-the year rockfish, more prevalent offshore. With protection of breeding sites and a shift towards ecosystem-based fisheries management by the 1990s, variations of the central California Brandt's Cormorant population are now driven naturally by forage fish availability, and perhaps inter- and intraspecific competition for prey and space when population sizes are high. This species, owing to its “boom-or-bust” natural history and the relative ease of assessing breeding population size and diet, may be ideal for monitoring the state of the central California Current food web.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
The lack of a strategic planning to order a defined marine territory may result in a patchwork of overlapping policies, sometimes reinforcing the legislation, but sometimes contradicting it. In Brazil, Integrated Coastal Zone Management (ICZM) and Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) policies have been implemented to marine management, however, in an independent way. This article presents the patchwork of marine policies in the State of São Paulo (Southeast of Brazil) and analyses their implementation process, symmetry and the integration between them. The policies analysed were the State Plan for Coastal Zone Management and the Marine Protected Areas of São Paulo Coast. Four main procedures were conducted: 1) a historical survey of marine policies legal establishment; 2) the analysis of criteria used to determine the marine zonings, 3) the production of maps to identify policies and marine zonings overlaps and; 4) the analysis of the implementation stage of policies by comparing the procedures accomplished by the policies analysed with the procedures proposed by the marine planning, management and conservation (MPMC) frameworks. It was observed that the policies analysed have not fully implemented the management procedures yet, such as the plans of management and monitoring programs, accomplishing only the basic procedures recommended by the MPMC frameworks. Marine zonings' criteria were mainly derived from political-economic interests at the expense of ecological features. Asymmetry and little integration between policies were verified. It resulted in the MPAs being ruled in part by the ICZM policy. A wider Ecosystem-based Marine Spatial Planning strategy (EBM-MSP), supported by a committee of integration, could sew this “blue patchwork”, considering the multiple uses in the territory and fostering policies full implementation. To achieve coherence on this decision-making process, MPMC policies' instruments should be founded on ecosystem-based management and on governance mechanisms with representatives' parity. Future studies should advance in investigating marine policies' symmetry and integration, stakeholders' dynamics and zoning criteria towards the sustainability of ecosystems services.
Ecosystem-based management (EBM) necessarily requires a degree of coordination across countries that share ocean ecosystems, and among national agencies and departments that have responsibilities relating to ocean health and marine resource utilization. This requires political direction, legal input, stakeholder consultation and engagement, and complex negotiations. Currently there is a common perception that within and across national jurisdictions there is excessive legislative complexity, a relatively low level of policy coherence or alignment with regards to ocean and coastal EBM, and that more aligned legislation is needed to accelerate EBM adoption. Our Atlantic Ocean Research Alliance (AORA) task group was comprised of a small, focused and interdisciplinary mix of lawyers, social scientists, and natural scientists from Canada, the USA, and the EU. We characterized, compared, and synthesized the mandates that govern marine activities and ocean stressors relative to facilitating EBM in national and international waters of the North Atlantic, and identified formal mandates across jurisdictions and, where possible, policy and other non-regulatory mandates. We found that irrespective of the detailed requirements of legislation or policy across AORA jurisdictions, or the efficacy of their actual implementation, most of the major ocean pressures and uses posing threats to ocean sustainability have some form of coverage by national or regional legislation. The coverage is, in fact, rather comprehensive. Still, numerous impediments to effective EBM implementation arise, potentially relating to the lack of integration between agencies and departments, a lack of adequate policy alignment, and a variety of other socio-political factors. We note with concern that if challenges regarding EBM implementation exist in the North Atlantic, we can expect that in less developed regions where financial and governance capacity may be lower, that implementation of EBM could be even more challenging.
An ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) is as a new paradigm in fisheries management. In this study, a combination of geographic information systems (GISs) and multi-criteria decision-making method (MCDM) is proposed as a framework supporting an ecosystem approach to European sardine (Sardina pilchardus, Clupeidae) fishery management in Portugal. This case study was chosen due to the recent severe decline shown by the species. To develop an EAFM for the sardine fishery, a set of criteria were defined based on literature review and expert knowledge. To address multiple conflicting objectives, namely conservation and fisheries, five scenarios were considered: (i) baseline; (ii) nurseries protection; (iii) spawning areas protection; (iv) fishery profit driven, and (v) safeguarding dependent fishing communities. Combination of GIS and MCDM methods highlighted important areas to implement spatial conservation measures for sardine. The analyses indicate that some areas are suitable for conservation in several scenarios, such as the area near Aveiro and the area near the Tejo estuary. However, conservation measures implemented in the area near Aveiro would imply higher economic trade-offs when compared with the actions applied in the region near the Tejo estuary. Results also suggested some of the conservation objectives, such as the protection of sardine eggs and juveniles, to not be compatible. The proposed framework is an important tool supporting EAFM by addressing conflicting objectives, trade-offs and identifying areas that could be considered as potential fishery closure sites or subjected to further analyses.
Ecosystem-based management emerged in the 1980s, as an alternative to traditional resource management approaches that focused on limited species or had narrow political boundaries. Since then, ecosystem-based management has grown at a rapid pace, requiring the practices of science, communication and management to work together. It does not replace the existing strategies and methods, but it emphasizes the links between the environment and society.
Ecosystem-based management means engaging a broad range of people and organizations that have a stake in how an ecosystem is being managed, from the private and public sectors, to conservation communities, scientists and the policymaking arena. Stakeholders are involved throughout the planning stages, decision-making process and final management decisions. This is often challenging because each stakeholder group might operate by and respond to different mandates, timescales and authorities. The approach therefore requires cross-sectoral coordination and the integration of multi-and intersectoral concerns, in order to build institutional linkages, thereby avoiding conflicts
Freshwater biodiversity is declining, despite national and international efforts to manage and protect freshwater ecosystems. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has been proposed as an approach that could more efficiently and adaptively balance ecological and societal needs. However, this raises the question of how social and ecological objectives can be included in an integrated management plan. Here, we present a generic model-coupling framework tailored to address this question for freshwater ecosystems, using three components: biodiversity, ecosystem services (ESS), and a spatial prioritisation that aims to balance the spatial representation of biodiversity and ESS supply and demand. We illustrate this model-coupling approach within the Danube River Basin using the spatially explicit, potential distribution of (i) 85 fish species as a surrogate for biodiversity as modelled using hierarchical Bayesian models, and (ii) four estimated ESS layers produced by the Artificial Intelligence for Ecosystem Services (ARIES) platform (with ESS supply defined as carbon storage and flood regulation, and demand specified as recreation and water use). These are then used for (iii) a joint spatial prioritisation of biodiversity and ESS employing Marxan with Zones, laying out the spatial representation of multiple management zones. Given the transboundary setting of the Danube River Basin, we also run comparative analyses including the country-level purchasing power parity (PPP)-adjusted gross domestic product (GDP) and each country’s percent cover of the total basin area as potential cost factors, illustrating a scheme for balancing the share of establishing specific zones among countries. We demonstrate how emphasizing various biodiversity or ESS targets in an EBM model-coupling framework can be used to cost-effectively test various spatially explicit management options across a multi-national case study. We further discuss possible limitations, future developments, and requirements for effectively managing a balance between biodiversity and ESS supply and demand in freshwater ecosystems.
The latest reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) which regulates the exploitation of fish stocks in European waters entails a move from the traditional single stock management towards Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). Meanwhile the Marine Strategy Framework Directive dictates that Good Environmental Status (GES) should be achieved in European waters by 2020. Here we apply an EBFM approach to the west of Scotland demersal fisheries which are currently facing several management issues: depleted stocks of cod (Gadus morhua) and whiting (Merlangius merlangus), increased predation from grey seals (Halichoerus grypus), and large bycatch of juvenile whiting by crustacean fisheries. A food web ecosystem model was employed to simulate the outcomes of applying the traditional single stock fishing mortalities (F), and management scenarios which explored F ranges in accordance with the CFP. Ecosystem indicators were calculated to assess the performance of these scenarios towards achieving GES. Our results highlight the importance of considering prey-predator interactions, in particular the impact of the top predators, cod and saithe (Pollachius virens), on juvenile cod and whiting. The traditional single stock approach would likely recover cod, but not whiting. Exploring the F ranges revealed that a drastic reduction of juvenile whiting bycatch is necessary for the whiting stock to recover. Predation from grey seals had little impact overall, but did affect the timing of cod and whiting recovery. With the exception of whiting, little difference was observed between the single stock scenario, and the best scenario identified towards achieving GES. The findings advocate for the use of ecosystem modelling alongside the traditional single stock assessment models used for tactical decision making in order to better inform fisheries management.
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has emerged as an important paradigm in fisheries management, yet implementation of EBFM has lagged. Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have emerged as a means to implement EBFM. Here, a critical, in depth analysis of the FEP for the U.S. west coast is conducted, with the goal of highlighting lessons learned, and to further develop the FEP framework. This was accomplished by first benchmarking the contents of the FEP against recent guidance from the Lenfest Ocean Program entitled “Building Effective Fishery Ecosystem Plans: A Report from the Lenfest Fishery Ecosystem Task Force”. Subsequently, to gain a deeper understanding of the FEP's successes and challenges, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants involved either in the creation of the FEP or its subsequent use. Results from the benchmarking show that this FEP has been successful in providing a strong conceptual foundation for EBFM, but, generally, is weaker in areas that promote the movement of knowledge to action. In contrast, our interviews revealed a general sense of success. Underlying this result is a strong focus of the FEP on process-oriented objectives that have established institutional processes that are a precursor of the transition from conventional to ecosystem-based fisheries management. Given the substantial repercussions regarding human and ecological well-being that fisheries actions can have, the incremental processes employed in this region may, in the long-term, facilitate the implementation of EBFM in this region.
Fishery managers worldwide are evaluating methods for incorporating climate, habitat, ecological, social, and economic factors into current operations in order to implement Ecosystem Approaches to Fishery Management (EAFM). While this can seem overwhelming, it is possible to take practical steps toward EAFM implementation that make use of existing information and provide managers with valuable strategic advice. Here, we describe the process used by the U.S. Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (Council) to develop an ecosystem-level risk assessment, the initial step proposed in their recently adopted EAFM guidance document. The Council first defined five types of Risk Elements (ecological, economic, social, food production, management) and identified which management objectives aligned with each element. Based on an existing ecosystem status report for the region and other existing sources (including expert opinion), potential ecological, social, economic, and management indicators were identified for each risk element. Finally, low, low-moderate, moderate-high, and high risk criteria were defined for each indicator, and the indicator data were used to score each risk element using the criteria. The ultimate outcome is a ranked risk assessment in order to focus on the highest risk issues for further evaluation and mitigation. The risk assessment highlights certain species and certain management issues as posing higher cumulative risks to meeting Council management objectives when considering a broad range of ecological, social, and economic factors. Tabular color coded summaries of risk assessment results will be used by the Council to prioritize further EAFM analyses as well as research plans over the coming 5 years. As ecosystem reporting and operational EAFM continue to evolve in future years, the Council foresees integrating these efforts so that ecosystem indicators are refined to meet the needs of fishery managers in identifying and managing risks to achieving ecological, social, and economic fishery objectives. Overall, ecosystem indicator-based risk assessment is a method that can be adapted to a wide range of resource management systems and available information, and therefore represents a promising way forward in the implementation of EAFM.
This study provides an integrated perspective to ecosystem based management (EBM) by considering a diverse array of societal goals, i.e. sustainable food supply, clean energy and a healthy marine ecosystem, and a selection of management measures to achieve them. The primary aim of this exercise is to provide guidance for (more) integrated EBM in the North Sea based on an evaluation of the effectiveness of those management measures in contributing to the conservation of marine biodiversity. A secondary aim is to identify the requirements of the knowledge base to guide such future EBM initiatives.
Starting from the societal goals we performed a scoping exercise to identify a “focal social-ecological system” which is a subset of the full social-ecological system but considered adequate to guide EBM towards the achievement of those societal goals. A semi-quantitative risk assessment including all the relevant human activities, their pressures and the impacted ecosystem components was then applied to identify the main threats to the North Sea biodiversity and evaluate the effectiveness of the management measures to mitigate those threats.
This exercise revealed the need for such risk-based approaches in providing a more integrated perspective but also the trade-off between being comprehensive but qualitative versus quantitative but limited in terms of the “focal” part of the SES that can be covered. The findings in this paper provide direction to the (further) development of EBM and its knowledge base that should ultimately allow an integrated perspective while maintaining its capacity to deliver the accuracy and detail needed for decision-making.