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 (EBM)
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.
The complexity of current socio-environmental impacts on marine and coastal ecosystems has pushed scientific endeavors toward more participative and holistic approaches, such as the Post-Normal Science, Marine Ecosystem-Based Approach and Integrated Coastal Management. Knowledge integration is a key element of these approaches. Nevertheless, the development of integrated and interdisciplinary research still faces many obstacles. Here, we discuss the process of scientific knowledge production and integration among the diverse research areas of Oceanography and between science and society. Aiming to contribute to the development of future interdisciplinary scientific research and to improve science-policy interface in coastal zones, we conducted an analysis of an oceanographic research project in which an interdisciplinary and applied approach was adopted to understand the components, processes and importance of a coastal bay in Southeast Brazil. From interviews with project researchers, a documentary analysis and a social network analysis, we showed that interdisciplinarity was stronger (a) within groups from related research fields and (b) with specific management modules. Similarly, integration between the project and society was limited to specific research modules. In addition, it was possible to identify actions that would foster integration in future research projects, related to developing common research goals, concepts and methods, such as promoting opportunities for integration and investing in publications for lay people in addition to scientific publications. Despite not achieving the objectives of interdisciplinarity and integration with every project module, the project resulted in important legacies that have impacted the Araçá Bay community and local decision-making. This project can be considered to be a good example of integrated science in Brazil, especially regarding the under-explored potential of interdisciplinarity development within oceanographic projects.
Unprecedented and rapid changes are ongoing in northern high latitude, marine ecosystems, due to climate warming. Species distributions and abundances are changing, altering both ecosystem structure and dynamics. At the same time, human impacts are increasing. Less sea ice opens for the opportunity of more petroleum-related activities, shipping and tourism. Fisheries are moving into previously unfished habitats, targeting more species across more trophic levels. There is a need for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and ecosystem-based management (EBM) to take the rapid, climate driven changes into account. Recently, there has been much development in qualitative, semi-quantitative, and quantitative scientific approaches to support EBFM and EBM. Here, we present some of these approaches, and discuss how they provide opportunities for advancing EBFM and EBM in one high-latitude system, namely the Barents Sea. We propose that advancing EBFM and EBM is more about adding tools to the toolbox than replacing tools, and to use the tools in coordinated efforts to tackle the increasing complexities in scientific support to management. Collaborative and participatory processes among stakeholders and scientists are pivotal for both scoping and prioritizing, and for efficient knowledge exchange. Finally, we argue that increasing uncertainty with increasing complexity is fundamental to decision making in EBFM and EBM and needs to be handled, rather than being a reason for inaction or irrelevance.
The appetite for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) approaches has grown, but the perception persists that implementation is slow. Here, we synthesize progress toward implementing EBFM in the United States through one potential avenue: expanding fish stock assessments to include ecosystem considerations and interactions between species, fleets, and sectors. We reviewed over 200 stock assessments and assessed how the stock assessment reports included information about system influences on the assessed stock. Our goals were to quantify whether and how assessments incorporated broader system-level considerations, and to explore factors that might contribute to the use of system-level information. Interactions among fishing fleets (technical interactions) were more commonly included than biophysical interactions (species, habitat, climate). Interactions within the physical environment (habitat, climate) were included twice as often as interactions among species (predation). Many assessment reports included ecological interactions only as background or qualitative considerations, rather than incorporating them in the assessment model. Our analyses suggested that ecosystem characteristics are more likely to be included when the species was overfished (stock status), the assessment is conducted at a science centre with a longstanding stomach contents analysis program, and/or the species life history characteristics suggest it is likely to be influenced by the physical environment, habitat, or predation mortality (short-lived species, sessile benthic species, or low trophic-level species). Regional differences in stomach contents analysis programs may limit the inclusion of predation mortality in stock assessments, and more guidance is needed on best practices for the prioritization of when and how biophysical information should be considered. However, our results demonstrate that significant progress has been made to use best available science and data to expand single-species stock assessments, particularly when a broad definition of EBFM is applied.