Ecological data from observer programmes underpin ecosystem-based fisheries management
Gilman, Eric; Weijerman, Mariska; Suuronen, Petri (2017)
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ICES Journal of Marine Science
Data required from fisheries monitoring programmes substantially expand as management authorities transition to implement elements of ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM). EBFM extends conventional approaches of managing single fishery effects on individual stocks of target species by taking into account the effects, within a defined ecosystem, of local to regional fisheries on biodiversity, from genotypes to ecological communities. This includes accounting for fishery effects on evolutionary processes, associated and dependent species, habitats, trophic food web processes, and functionally linked systems. Despite seemingly insurmountable constraints, through examples, we demonstrate how data routinely collected in most observer programmes and how minor and inexpensive expansions of observer data fields and collection protocols supply ecological data underpinning EBFM. Observer data enable monitoring bycatch, including catch and mortality of endangered, threatened and protected species, and assessing the performance of bycatch management measures. They provide a subset of inputs for ecological risk assessments, including productivity–susceptibility analyses and multispecies and ecosystem models. Observer data are used to monitor fishery effects on habitat and to identify and protect benthic vulnerable marine ecosystems. They enable estimating collateral sources of fishing mortality. Data from observer programmes facilitate monitoring ecosystem pressure and state indicators. The examples demonstrate how even rudimentary fisheries management systems can meet the ecological data requirements of elements of EBFM.
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