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.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
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.
Ecosystem based management (EBM) is an ocean management theory that examines an ecosystem holistically, accounting for both human uses and natural processes. EBM has gained popularity due to growing conflicts over ocean space, fueled by increasing demands for natural resources and a rising awareness for environmental values. EBM asserts that by scoping short-term natural resource exploitation to allow for the preservation of the ecosystem's core structure and function, sustainable long-term exploitation can be achieved. Therefore, determining the ecosystem's structure and function is a main tenet to EBM. To translate EBM theory to practice, important ecological areas, or “ecological hotspots,” are identified to understand the core ecosystem spaces that drive overall function. Marine Spatial Planning (MSP) is a process in which to operationalize EBM theory, including ecological hotspots. The literature has taken time to assess EBM from the theoretical perspective, however few studies exist that examine EBM-MSP interactions as EBM theory is translated into practice and secondly compare approaches across countries. This paper focuses on a comparative analysis of how ecological hotspots were (or are being) identified within two ecosystems, the Barents Sea and Gulf of Maine. The EBM ocean plans to be assessed are the Norwegian Barents Sea-Lofoten ocean management plan (BSMP) and the U.S. Northeast Ocean Plan (NEOP). It is found that the motivating factors that prompted the development of the BSMP and NEOP influenced when and how quickly ecological hotspots were determined. This paper aims to contribute to the discussion revolving around how EBM-MSP decision-making processes are operationalized.
The ecosystem approach to management (EAM) is a policy principle and management tool of increasing importance in European environmental governance. In the Baltic Sea region (BSR), this approach has developed in line with a progressive environmental management agenda, reaching from hot spot solutions to new holistic agendas. This paper examines the spatial dimensions of the EAM in the Baltic Sea Region (BSR). The analysis is based on an analytical framework which combines regional environmental governance with debates on socio-spatial relations. It is found that the development, implementation, and spread of EAM corresponds with changing socio-spatial relations. Reterritorialisation of both institutional arrangements and policies is needed to solve cross-boundary problems. Place-making such as hot spots and pilot projects (e.g., in maritime spatial planning) are first steps towards the upscaling of local experiments and re-scaling of policies is also needed for the implementation of EAM in a macroregional multi-level setting, stretching from the EU to the local level. Analyzing regional environmental governance from a spatial perspective reveals institutional ambiguities and even institutional voids because the successful implementation of EAM requires new institutional arrangements.
This study considers how to reconcile different spatial scales to find the best common denominator to be used as an ecosystem-based management unit. For this, two fishery production zones differing ecologically, economically, legally and institutionally were investigated. The first case study is located within French territorial waters, in a MPA created in 2007- the Parc Naturel Marin d'Iroise (PNMI). The second case study, the Bay of Biscay, covers both territorial waters and the French exclusive economic zone. The paper adopts a multidisciplinary approach. Relevant questions concern how marine space is shared between exploited species and fishing fleets, especially the spatial mobility strategies they employ. An assessment of the institutional system established for the PNMI contributes to the discussion of changes in coastal space use. It is obvious that the area in need of protection, defined on the basis of essential fish habitats, does not solely concern the fisheries located within the coastal zone. Experiments conducted by scientists and professionals in the Bay of Biscay provide other key points for the discussion in terms of what institutional frameworks to promote.
This paper analyzes the trophic role of Pacific herring, the potential consequences of its depletion, and the impacts of alternative herring fishing strategies on a Northeast Pacific food web in relation to precautionary, ecosystem-based management. We used an Ecopath with Ecosim ecosystem model parameterized for northern British Columbia (Canada), employing Ecosim to simulate ecosystem effects of herring stock collapse. The ecological impacts of various herring fishing strategies were investigated with a Management Strategy Evaluation algorithm within Ecosim, accounting for variability in climatic drivers and stock assessment errors. Ecosim results suggest that herring stock collapse would have cascading impacts on much of the pelagic food web. Management Strategy Evaluation results indicate that herring and their predators suffer moderate impacts from the existing British Columbia harvest control rule, although more precautionary management strategies could substantially reduce these impacts. The non-capture spawn-on-kelp fishery, traditionally practiced by many British Columbia and Alaska indigenous peoples, apparently has extremely limited ecological impacts. Our simulations also suggest that adopting a maximum sustainable yield management strategy in Northeast Pacific herring fisheries could generate strong, cascading food web effects. Furthermore, climate shifts, especially when combined with herring stock assessment errors, could strongly reduce the biomasses and resilience of herring and its predators. By clarifying the trophic role of Pacific herring, this study aims to facilitate precautionary fisheries management via evaluation of alternative fishing strategies, and thereby to inform policy tradeoffs among multiple ecological and socioeconomic factors.
Cumulative effects assessments are a legal requirement in many jurisdictions and are key to informing marine policy. However, practice does not yet deliver fit-for-purpose assessments relative to sustainable development and environmental protection obligations. The complexity of cumulative effect questions, which are embedded in complex social-ecological systems, makes multiple, methodologically diverse assessments a necessity. Using the expansion of marine renewable energy developments in European Union waters as a case study, this paper explores how social-ecological systems thinking and cumulative effects assessment theory can combine to structure CEAs that better support the management and regulation of maritime activities at regional scales. A general perspective for cumulative effects assessment is proposed to remove ambiguity of intent and to orient assessments towards a common objective. Candidate principles for practice are presented for consideration. These principles are integrated into a stepped assessment approach that seeks to improve cumulative effects assessments of localised activities relative to the information needs of decision-makers implementing the ecosystem approach.
Fishery ecosystems are complex and influenced by various drivers that operate and interact at different levels and over multiple scales. Here, we propose a holistic methodology to determine the key mechanisms of fisheries, trophodynamics, and environmental drivers of marine ecosystems, using a multilevel model fitted to data on global catch, effort, trophic level, primary production, and temperature for 130 ecosystems from 1950 to 2012. The model describes the spatial‐temporal dynamics of world fisheries very well with a pseudo R2 = 0.75 and estimates the effects of key drivers of fishery production. The results demonstrate the integrative operation of bottom‐up and top‐down regulated trophic interactions at the global level and great variations in their relative importance among different types of ecosystem. The estimation of key drivers’ effects on marine ecosystems provides practical mechanisms for informed ecosystem‐based fisheries management to achieve the sustainable objectives that are consistent with the needs of specific fisheries.
The Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management (EBFM) paradigm has been incorporated in the new Chilean Fisheries Act, requiring Chile to transition into EBFM. Chile is a major fishing nation and has substantial industrial and artisanal fleets that provide significant social and economic benefits to Chile and its coastal communities. With Chile facing global challenges, such as food security and climate change, transitioning to EBFM is seen as a mechanism for improved management of Chile's marine resources. Using Chile as an example to review coherence, strategies and implication of policies for transitioning toward EBFM. In Chile, the implementation of EBFM, in general, appears to be making progress and should be able to be applied for all fisheries (and aquaculture). Despite positive outcomes, there are weaknesses that can harm the successful implementation of EBFM. Changes such as management councils and scientific committees structured around ecosystems rather than single species, the engagement of broader types of stakeholders, and the use of appropriate reference points are necessary for a strong implementation of EBFM. Incorporating these modifications under the current management framework would enable Chile to improve its implementation of EBFM and prepare its fisheries to address future management challenges under scenarios of change.