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.
Ecosystem-based Management (EBM)
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.
European policy-makers are increasingly aware of the ecological and socioeconomic relevance of marine recreational fisheries(MRF), but there are still gaps in the information needed to achieve sustainable management. How is the current management of European MRF performed? Is it promoting the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF)? The management of MRF in Europe was reviewed by analyzing how different European regulations align with the EAF in different geographic and administrative scales. Text mining tools were used to identify key concepts and analyze the text of legal regulations on MRF in the European Union (EU), Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom (UK). Also, the Ecosystem Fisheries Legal Assessment (EFLA) framework was used to assess the alignment of the regulations with the EAF. The number of regulations about MRF in Spain and Portugal is higher than in the UK and the EU, probably because the relative higher importance of regional regulations in Spain and Portugal, and the limitations imposed to recreational fishers in marine protected areas (MPAs). The lack of specific regulations on MRF in the EU, and open-access in the UK for recreational fishers, except for Atlantic salmon Salmo salar, explain their lower number of regulations. The EFLA framework showed that the European public policies on MRF follow the EAF principles. Enough attention is payed to ecological components, but socio-economic sustainability could be improved. However, policy efficiency could be lower than expected because potential institutional misfits derived from the eventual confluence of different spatial scales.
Across the Pacific Islands, declining natural resources have contributed to a cultural renaissance of customary ridge-to-reef management approaches. These indigenous and community conserved areas (ICCA) are initiated by local communities to protect natural resources through customary laws. To support these efforts, managers require scientific tools that track land-sea linkages and evaluate how local management scenarios affect coral reefs. We established an interdisciplinary process and modeling framework to inform ridge-to-reef management in Hawai‘i, given increasing coastal development, fishing and climate change related impacts. We applied our framework at opposite ends of the Hawaiian Archipelago, in Hā‘ena and Ka‘ūpūlehu, where local communities have implemented customary resource management approaches through government-recognized processes to perpetuate traditional food systems and cultural practices. We identified coral reefs vulnerable to groundwater-based nutrients and linked them to areas on land, where appropriate management of human-derived nutrients could prevent increases in benthic algae and promote coral recovery from bleaching. Our results demonstrate the value of interdisciplinary collaborations among researchers, managers and community members. We discuss the lessons learned from our culturally-grounded, inclusive research process and highlight critical aspects of collaboration necessary to develop tools that can inform placed-based solutions to local environmental threats and foster coral reef resilience.
Ecosystem‐based fisheries management (EBFM) has been considered to be a solution to the multifarious problems of fisheries management in areas within and beyond national jurisdictions. However, the literature has introduced different versions of EBFM and there are controversies among commentators concerning the legal status of EBFM in international fisheries law. This article seeks to examine the legal status of EBFM. It also explores the essential features that an EBFM model should incorporate to function effectively. The article argues that the implementation of EBFM has been gaining ground as a legal obligation in international fisheries law.