Reference points for predators will progress ecosystem-based management of fisheries
Ecosystem‐based management of fisheries aims to allow sustainable use of fished stocks while keeping impacts upon ecosystems within safe ecological limits. Both the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Aichi Biodiversity Targets promote these aims. We evaluate implementation of ecosystem‐based management in six case‐study fisheries in which potential indirect impacts upon bird or mammal predators of fished stocks are well publicized and well studied. In particular, we consider the components needed to enable management strategies to respond to information from predator monitoring. Although such information is available in all case‐studies, only one has a reference point defining safe ecological limits for predators and none has a method to adjust fishing activities in response to estimates of the state of the predator population. Reference points for predators have been developed outside the fisheries management context, but adoption by fisheries managers is hindered a lack of clarity about management objectives and uncertainty about how fishing affects predator dynamics. This also hinders the development of adjustment methods because these generally require information on the state of ecosystem variables relative to reference points. Nonetheless, most of the case‐studies include precautionary measures to limit impacts on predators. These measures are not used tactically and therefore risk excessive restrictions on sustainable use. Adoption of predator reference points to inform tactical adjustment of precautionary measures would be an appropriate next step towards ecosystem‐based management.
Authors: Hill, Simeon L., Hinke, Jefferson, Bertrand, Sophie, Fritz, Lowell, Furness, Robert W., Ianelli, James N., Murphy, Matthew, Oliveros-Ramos, Ricardo, Pichegru, Lorien, Sharp, Rowland, Stillman, Richard A., Wright, Peter J., Ratcliffe, Norman