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Origin of Ocean Management Regimes
Large Marine Ecosystems: An Instrument to Foster Regional Fisheries Management and Science Arrangements
Ecosystem-Oriented Management as a Link for Fostering Sustainable Fisheries
Customary International Law and the Management of Large Marine Ecosystems
Ecosystem Considerations: The Formulation of a Best-Practices LME Approac
The Ecosystem Approach and Best Practice
The Precautionary Principle/ Approach as Adaptive Managemen
Managing Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem
Governance Issues for Ecosystem-Oriented Fisheries Management
Large Marine Ecosystems as Sustainable Science Ecosystem-Oriented Management Units
Goals and Objectives in Protocols for Fisheries Management
LMEs as a Part of Integrated Coastal Management
The Need for Ecological Study: Jellyfish and Contemporary Climate Change
Legitimacy for Domestic Ecosystem-Oriented Fisheries Management
References Cited

NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-NE-184

A Large Marine Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management and Sustainability: Linkages and Concepts towards Best Practices

Frank J. Gable
University of Rhode Island, The Coastal Institute, Narragansett, RI 02882

Web version posted November 23, 2004

Citation: Gable FJ. 2004. A large marine ecosystem approach to fisheries management and sustainability: linkages and concepts towards best practices. NOAA Tech Memo 184; 84 p.

Information Quality Act Compliance: In accordance with section 515 of Public Law 106-554, the Northeast Fisheries Science Center completed both technical and policy reviews for this report. These predissemination reviews are on file at the NEFSC Editorial Office.

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This technical memorandum addresses interdisciplinary aspects of fisheries assessments as linkages for adaptive management and sustainability of large marine ecosystems (LME). Natural and human-induced impacts of living marine resources are considered. Management and the ecological aspects of fish stock populations in the United States Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem are examined for prospective and emerging “best practices” from a synthesis of the scientific literature. In accordance with the passage of the domestic Oceans Act of 2000 (Public Law 106-256; e.g., Watkins, 2002) this manuscript further develops linkages through natural and social science for an interdisciplinary science policy and governance practice for LME’s. It is meant to provide background information and promote dialogue on ecosystem-oriented management of living marine resources. Consideration is given to the precautionary approach in the introduction of ecosystem-oriented management of the fish stocks of the Northeast Shelf ecosystem.


The concept of LME's emerged from an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) selective symposium in the mid 1980's concerning variability and management of large marine ecosystems (Sherman et al., 1991; Alexander, 1993). “Marine ecosystems may be defined as major units of ecological function in the marine environment. Ecosystems are communities of organisms and their physical, chemical and geological environment – distinct assemblages of species coevolved with a particular environment over long periods of evolutionary history – interacting as an ecological unit” (Grassle, 2001).

This study incorporates the "tools" of a policy orientation approach (Gable, 2003) for commercial marine fisheries management consistent with the LME concept using the case study approach. The focus is on the multi-method modular plan linked to the "precautionary principle” (approach) in relation to the authorities of the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC), the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council (MAFMC) and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission (ASMFC) as well as state agency jurisdictions. The Northeast Shelf LME can be considered as a part of the Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) statistical areas, and NEFMC, MAMFC, and ASMFC management locales (see Figure 1). The study advances an ecosystem approach to living marine resources science policy.


Following the September 1945 Truman Proclamations (nos. 2667 & 2668) in the United States concerning U.S.  policy with respect to the natural resources of the subsoil and seabed of the continental shelf and coastal fisheries in certain areas of the High Seas, several ocean law measures were discussed and debated in a series of international fora. One of them, the Convention on the Continental Shelf was agreed to in April of 1958 in Geneva (signed by the U.S. in June 1964). It contains 15 codified articles. A related agreement, the 1958 Convention on the Territorial Sea and the Contiguous Zone, was also codified at Geneva and was ratified by the U.S. Senate in 1961. This agreement contains 32 articles that included preexisting rules regarding international customary law that provided a greater degree of precision and clarity. The Convention on the High Seas contains 37 mostly short articles and Annex III (Convention on Fishing and Conservation of the Living Resources of the High Seas). It was also adopted in 1958. According to Merrell, et al. (2001) “in 1958, the United Nations convened the first international conference of plenipotentiaries to examine the  law of the sea, and to embody the results of its work in one or more international conventions. The 1958 conference produced four conventions that codified, to a great extent, customary law and brought international attention to the oceans.” Years later, the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) began its substantive work in 1974 two years after the first U.N. Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm (see Emmelin, 1972). UNCLOS III, consisting of 319 articles plus several annexes, was signed on December 10th, 1982. It was ratified by the requisite number of countries th, 1994.

Domestically, the U.S. Congress enacted the Marine Re- sources and Engineering and Development Act of 1966 (Public Law 89-454) that created a blue ribbon executive-level commission on marine science activities later known as the Stratton Commission, named for the chairman of the 15 member panel. Their report, Our Nation and the Sea issued in January of 1969, reviewed the status of American ocean  policy and provided specific recommendations for improving marine resource and ocean management practice. One of the major outcomes from those recommendations was the creation of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA; est. October 1970; Nelson, 1969). Merrell, et al., (2001) also mention that among many public laws that can be traced to the Commission’s 1969 report was the original Magnuson Fishery and Conservation Management Act of 1976 (Public Law 94-265).

Two other noteworthy American actions pertinent to ocean management were (1) the Presidential Proclamation of December 27, 1988, (No. 5928) in accordance with international law as reflected in the applicable provisions of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea and customary international law extending the U.S. territorial sea to 12 nautical miles. Earlier, (2) the Presidential Proclamation (5030) of March 10, 1983 established the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the U.S. designating sovereign rights over natural resources out to 200 nautical miles from the baseline from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured in accordance with international law. In addition, the Oceans Act of 2000 (P. L. 106-256; effective January 20, 2001) was passed by congress with the task of reviewing the importance of American oceans and marine resources and formulating a “scientifically based strategy for protecting and sustaining our oceans” and that this “requires a coordinated and comprehensive national ocean policy” (Watkins, 2004). One of the ocean governance approaches advocated by the U.S. Ocean Commission is the principle of ecosystem-based management (Watkins, 2004; see also Witherell, 2004).


LME’s are regions of ecological unity of ocean space comprising coastal locales from river basins and estuaries to the outer margins of continental shelves and seaward boundaries of coastal current systems (Griffis and Kimball, 1996). A combination of ecological criteria including unique bathymetry, hydrography, productivity and trophic relationships characterize LME’s (Sherman, 1989). LME’s are areas yielding 90 percent of the annual catch of global marine fisheries (Garibaldi and Limongelli, 2003; Sherman and Duda, 2001). Thus, the LME approach considers accommodating human utilization of its resources while maintaining ecosystem integrity. Some areas of the globe have embraced ecosystem considerations  as part of fisheries ecosystem management within the scale of an LME (Sherman, 1994; Done and Reichelt, 1998; Duda and Sherman, 2002).

English, et al., (1988) discussed Southeast Asia where the emphasis was on studies of Large Marine Ecosystems (LME’s) using a multispecies approach for the management of resources. Initiated in 1983, as a response to the Third United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), was the South east Asian Project on Ocean Law, Policy and Management (SEAPOL). It was designed to promulgate a network of regional specialists in ocean development and management as a part of the Law of the Sea. These regional specialists selectively incorporated information on coral, mangrove and soft bottom benthic communities in the coastal living resources project (English, et al., 1988). These authors noted on page 372 of their manuscript, “science is a central issue in any attempt to manage LME’s;” “the management of LME’s involves political, socioeconomic, scientific and technical aspects.” The ASEAN Coastal Living Resources Project was an early example of a multinational approach to the management of LME’s (English, et al., 1988).

In Australia and New Zealand the LME approach was selected as a means for introducing an ecosystem-based approach to the assessment and management of marine resources because of its focus on resource management. Done and Reichelt (1998) emphasize that in the Oceania LME, “the scope of the focus on fishery management is placed on optimization of catch per unit of effort (CPUE) for targeted commercial species along with bycatch and discard minimization.” Integrated within the LME approach, as utilized in Australian and New Zealand jurisdictional waters, is also a focus on both coastal zone and watershed catchment management. Here, the scope of emphasis for coastal zone management (CZM) is “directed toward habitat protection for both catch and bycatch species (prohibited and non specified species bycatch) as well as water quality maintenance. The reduction of polluted land-based runoff into surface waterways that drain towards the shore is the principle scope of emphasis for watershed catchment management” (Done and Reichelt, 1998). Thus, in Oceania, “the quest for resource sustainability may best be achieved through the combination of management effort directed to wards coastal habitats and catchment watersheds as well as the fishery” (Done and Reichelt, 1998).

The governments of the Republic(s) of Angola, Namibia and South Africa in their desire to manage development  and protect for future use the Benguela Current LME in an integrated and sustainable manner committed themselves to establishing the “Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem” (BCLME) program with specific ecosystem-based actions, principles and policies (O’Toole, 2002). The reasons for the establishment of the BCLME, included: (1) significant transboundary implications of unsustainable practices of harvesting of living marine resources (fish stocks), (2) increasing habitat degradation and alteration which may have contributed to increased incidence of harmful algal blooms, as well as (3) inadequate governance capacity to assess and monitor ecosystem status and trends, either nationally or regionally. The original Strategic Action Program (SAP) was adopted by signature by government ministers at the end of February of 2000 in the spirit of the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio Declaration) and Agenda 21 principles. The BCLME program was established as an international body under the terms and conditions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (entry into force November 1994) and international customary law principles (see e.g. Belsky, 1985). At the outset, for example, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is represented on the Interim Benguela Current Commission for the initial five year BCLME program development phase. Original start   up funding was secured from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) in partnership with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and scientific and technical assistance coming from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the U.S., and ocean science agencies in France, Germany, and Norway.

In another regional setting north of the BCLME, according to Ukwe et al., (2003) the countries of the Gulf of Guinea littoral “adopted an integrated and holistic approach using the LME concept to sustainably manage the environmental and living resources of the region.” The genesis for the Guinea Current LME was founded in 1995 with a pilot project initiative by six littoral nations regarding biodiversity conservation and water pollution control. Ministers representing the six countries responsible for the LME project signed the Accra Declaration as an expression of support for inter-nation cooperation in fostering sustainable management practices. Donor agency funding was secured via the GEF with implementation provided through the UNDP in concert with the U.N. Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) with technical support from NOAA/NMFS and the U.N. Environment Programme. “The project is anchored in the concept of LME’s as geographic units for improving the assessment and management of marine resources” (Ukwe, et al., 2003). The overriding goal of the ongoing Guinea Current LME Strategic Action Plan (SAP) centers on biological diversity and the control of aquatic pollution with regard to restoring and sustaining the health of the living marine resources of the region. Ukwe, et al. (2003) mention four specific objectives to achieve the goal revolving around five LME modules (see Figure 2) including governance capacity building along with ecosystem management database development as well as living marine resources assessment and long-term monitoring and protection strategies. Sherman (1995) illustrated the ecosystem level “energy matrix” which is comprised of interactions of individuals, populations, or communities of organisms. In general, the concept of LME’s has been embraced by the world’s coastal developing nations, but the “predominant variables” for any given LME may be different even from its neighbor, depending upon the results of issue prioritization based on consensus reached through a Transboundary Diagnostic Analysis (Sherman and Duda, 1999b).


More recently, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York, “resolutions” have been crafted for adoption by member nations to apply by 2010 the “ecosystem approach” to the conservation, management and exploitation of highly migratory (pelagic) and “straddling” fish stocks (Jahnke, 2003). Resolution A/57/L.49 concerning a number of fisheries issues was introduced by the United States of America through Ambassador Mary Beth West, the then Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Oceans and Fisheries to the fifty-seventh session of the General Assembly on December 10th 2002 (West, 2003). Resolution A/57/L.50 regarding the conservation and management of straddling fish stocks and highly migratory fish stocks was also introduced at the same time by Ambassador West. In her remarks before the General Assembly, she indicated that “the fisheries draft resolutions are an assemblage of current ocean issues drawn from the priorities and interests of Member States.” And “they represent consensus… in making the oceans safe and healthy environments for sustainable development” (Jahnke, 2003).

Ambassador West’s statement also contained an emphasis on the agreed to Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development Plan of Implementation adopted on September 4th of 2002. She remarked that the Plan calls on the world community to establish by 2004, a regular United Nations process for global reporting and assessment of the state of the marine environment based on existing regional assessments. The Plan suggests the world community to elaborate regional programmes of action and to improve links with strategic plans for the sustainable development of coastal and marine resources (Jahnke, 2003). Thus, the prescribed benefits of an in place LME approach to living marine resources conservation biology and management can be seen at work in the international arena (Alexander, 1999; Belsky, 1985).

The introduced “Resolution (on Oceans and the Law of the Sea, A/57/L.48) similarly calls upon States to develop national, regional and international programmes aimed at halting the loss of marine biodiversity. The United States welcomes this emphasis on integrated regional approaches  to oceans issues.” While at the podium, Ambassador West went on to state, “in that context (regarding integrated, regional approaches to ocean issues), we would like to bring to this body’s attention the White Water to Blue Water oceans partnership initiative currently being planned for the Caribbean… it aims for an integrated approach to the management of freshwater watershed and marine ecosystems.” “We hope it might serve as a successful model for similar efforts in other regions of the world.” Moreover, “the United States also looks forward to collective efforts to establish an interagency coordination mechanism on oceans and coastal issues within the United Nations system” (UNGA, 2002)1.

Specifically, the written draft resolution A/57/L49 introduced by Ambassador West, noted also, with particularity, “the importance of implementing the principles elaborated in Article 5 of the Provisions of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 relating to the Conservation and Management of Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks (entered into force on December 11th 2001), including ecosystem considerations in the conservation and management of straddling fish  stocks and highly migratory fish stocks.”  Draft resolution A57/L.49 as adopted (now known as 57/142) “encourages all States to apply by 2010 the ecosystem approach… and supports continuing work under way at the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to develop guidelines for the implementation of ecosystem considerations in fisheries management…” (UNGA, 2003).

Similarly, Resolution 57/141 Oceans and the Law of the Sea (formerly draft A/57/L/48) “calls upon States to promote the conservation and management of the oceans in accordance with Chapter 17 of Agenda 21 (i.e., Earth Summit, Rio De Janeiro, June 1992; e.g. Garcia and Newton, 1994) and other relevant international instruments, to develop and facilitate the use of diverse approaches and tools, including the ecosystem approach, the elimination of destructive fishing practices, the establishment of marine protected areas (MPA’s) consistent with international law and based on scientific information, including representative networks by 2012 and time/area closures for the protection of nursery grounds and periods, proper coastal and land use and watershed planning, and the integration of marine and coastal areas management into key sectors.” In Section XI Marine Environment, marine resources and sustainable development of said Resolution 57/141 of December 12th 2002 calls upon States“to improve the scientific understanding and assessment of marine and coastal ecosystems as a fundamental basis for sound decision-making through the actions identified in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation, including that of relevant data collection of the marine environment” (UNGA, 2003).

In late November of 2003 an analogous resolution was adopted by the General Assembly. Demonstrating a pattern of agreement by the international community towards sustainable fisheries another marine affairs oriented instrument was placed on the table at the U.N. General Assembly. Reaffirming its resolutions, inter alia, 57/142 and 57/143 of December 12th 2002 (see above), draft resolution A/58/L.18 was on the agenda at the fifty-eighth session in New York. After a successful roll call adoption of the “sustainable fisheries… and related instruments resolution” (adopted as RES/58/14 on November 24th2003) there was affirmation that in seeking “responsible fisheries in the (large) marine ecosystem” (Section IX) there is the encouragement for Member States to apply by 2010 the ecosystem approach. This ecosystem approach and its relevant guidelines, in part, developed by FAO (Rome, Italy) would provide for the “implementation of ecosystem considerations in fisheries management” (UNGA, 2004).

Resolution 58/14 of 2003 also “notes with satisfaction” the activities of the World Bank housed Global Environment Facility (GEF) aimed at “promoting the reduction of bycatch and discards in fisheries activities.” Discards add to the effect of fishery landings, for example, “a mid1990’s assessment suggested that about 25 percent of marine catch is discarded” (Hanna, 1999). Moreover, the GEF has adopted the LME approach to ocean stewardship of living marine resources (Duda and Sherman, 2002). Resolution 58/14 of 2003 in Section VIII “encourages States to develop ocean policies and mechanisms on integrated management, including at the subregional and regional levels;” the LME approach is just such a mechanism and policy program. The flexible LME approach can aid in achieving sustainable fisheries by addressing ecosystem considerations like: fishing overcapacity, large-scale pelagic driftnet fishing, fisheries bycatch and discards, aid in accomplishing subregional and regional cooperation in fostering responsible fisheries in the marine ecosystem, as well as address capacity-building and cooperation as it relates to science policy technical assistance and financial aid mechanisms (see: UNGA, 2004).

As regards “good governance” for the environment, West (2003) emphasizes the promotion of “sound science based decision-making” within legal, programmatic, and regulatory frameworks while stating, “changes in marine     and coastal systems can undermine the basic economic and environmental services provided by the oceans.” She also writes, “when it comes to the coastal environment, however, we have learned that regional approaches are often most effective” (West, 2003). The large marine ecosystem (LME) paradigm provides just such an effective approach both internationally and/or domestically in the U.S. The LME approach or initiative provides and promotes science based decision-making for the ocean and coastal activities, especially in the realm of commercial fisheries science policy. The LME modular assessment approach (Figure 2) is an improved science-based application to best practices of integrated coastal management (e.g., West, 2003; Ajayi, et   al., 2002; Done and Reichelt, 1998).


While the adoption of ocean affairs related resolutions by the Member States of the United Nations General Assembly demonstrate a willingness to move towards ecosystem-based fisheries management (as a tenet of adaptive management), more importantly “this acceptance may be emerging into customary rules of international law which promote consideration of total ecosystems and the establishment of standards for those systems” (Belsky, 1985)2. Knecht (1994) recognized “that the use of the ecosystem approach in dealing with large marine ecosystems is already close to becoming international law.” “Soft laws essentially are statements of international cooperation, usually in the form of an international treaty or agreement, which are not binding on (all) States but have the capacity to  promote evolving notions of customary law, they have great importance in the evolution of customary law” (MacDonald, 1995).  He reiterates that “customary international law consists of ‘rules’ and ‘norms,’ written and unwritten, that may or may not find expression in treaties … precisely because of its informal nature that customary law is central to international dialogue; often custom will be on the basis on which to forge ahead in international disagreements in an attempt to find common ground” (MacDonald, 1995). Alexander (1999) postulates, “the articles of the 1982 United Nations Conference on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) generally support the principles of ecosystem management for living marine resources. Most indications now point toward a general acknowledgement of the benefits of integrated ecosystem management in the world’s oceans and seas.” The objectives of UNCLOS are parallel to those of LME management (Alexander, 1999). Moreover, Cole (2003) asserts that “there have been structural changes in fisheries decision-making, notably a transformation from a state led approach towards multileveled decision-making procedures due to key developments in, inter alia, international law.” Further, she asserts that “there have been considerable shifts in authority dealing with fisheries regulation and a new, distinct, global structure is emerging in essence attributed to globalization” (Cole, 2003).

The European Community has recently enacted reforming legislation for its Member States proscribing a “road   map” towards their Common Fisheries Policy. The Council of the European Union, a regional body of Member States, enacted Council Regulation (EC) No. 2371/2002 of December 20th 2002 on the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy (COEU, 2002). This regulation is binding in its entirety and directly applicable in all Member States. In some respects, the Europeans seem to be in sync with the United States by establishing Regional Advisory Councils (Article 31) to enable fisherfolk and other stakeholders the benefit of providing their local knowledge and experience concerning diverse conditions throughout European Community jurisdictional waters. This appears somewhat analogous to the idea for the creation of nonregulatory regional ocean councils in the U.S. (see Watkins, 2004). Though the European Regional Advisory Councils are not designed to be independent management bodies with the authority to make decisions (Gray and Hatchard, 2003) unlike the eight regional fishery management council’s structure in the U.S.A. that do.

The scope and objectives of EC No. 2371/2002 (Article 2(1)) include the provision to “aim at a progressive implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.” Included here is the “good governance”objective of a “decision-making process based on sound scientific advice which delivers timely results. Broad involvement of stakeholders at all stages of the Common Fisheries Policy from conception to implementation” is another objective under the “principles of good governance” (Article 2(2)). Specifically, the Regional Advisory Councils were established to “contribute to the objectives of Article 2(1), that is, “ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management” and in particular to advise the European Commission on matters of fisheries management with respect to certain  sea areas or fishing zones.

Under the heading “conservation and sustainability, Article 5(3) recovery plans” and Article 6 (3) “management plans” “may cover either fisheries for single stocks or fisheries exploiting a mixture of stocks, and shall take due count of interactions between stocks and fisheries.” Therefore, objectives or aims of the European Commission’s “new” approach to fisheries management refocuses policy towards a long-term view to fostering higher yield sustainable fisheries while moving towards an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management. Curiously under Article 3 “definitions,” none was provided for what is meant by an ecosystem-based approach! Though, however, it may be gleaned from the wording above as it relates to both Recovery and Management Plans. Gray and Hatchard, (2003) suggest that for coherence with other European Community environmental policies, the principle of ecosystem management applies to gear regulations under the Common Fisheries Policy.


“There is a need to enhance the conservation objectives of fisheries management plans to include explicitly ecosystem considerations.” Internationally, Wagner (2001) affirms that the recent Reykjavik Declaration of Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem (October, 2001) includes “ecosystem considerations in fisheries management that provides a framework to enhance management performance.” These “considerations” incorporate increased attention to predator-prey relationships and understanding of the impact of human activities as well as the role of habitat and factors affecting ecosystem stability and resilience, among others (Figure 3).  The effects of fishing from an ecosystem perspective, and the effects of environmental change or alterations on fish stocks is one intent in providing the New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) and other similarly situated regulatory agencies this kind of information[3]. In general, due to data limitations and the lack of breadth and complexity of most single species models, the effects of fishing on ecosystems have not been incorporated into most stock assessments (Livingston, 2001; Figure 4). “ Predation on pelagic fish and squids is an important and large component of the overall dynamics of the North east Shelf Ecosystem. Herring, except at very large sizes (>30cm), seldom grow out of the window of predation by  fish over most of their life history” (Overholtz, et al., 1999). “Consumption of pelagic fish and squid by predatory fish appears to equal or exceed landings in most years from 1977-1997.” In the 1990’s, “for herring, consumption also exceeds the current value of MSY for this stock” (Overholtz, et al., 1999).

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council  (NPFMC) utilizes as ecosystem consideration indicators: physical oceanography indices (e.g., temperature and decadal regime shifts);  habitat (e.g., groundfish bottom trawling effort by subregion, closed areas to trawling, and biota bycatch by all gears in habitats of particular concern (HAPC’s)); target groundfish (e.g., total biomass, total catch by subregion, groundfish discards including target species discards, recruitment by subregion); fleet size analogous to humans as a part of the ecosystem (e.g., total number of vessels actually fishing); forage (e.g., forage species such as herring et al., bycatch by subregion); other species (e.g., spiny dogfish, various shark species, jellyfish and prohibited, other, and nonspecified species bycatch example(s) of prohibited bycatch include halibut mortality, herring, crab and salmon species, among others); marine mammals (e.g., seals, sea lions); seabirds (e.g., population trends and bycatch as well as breeding chronology and species productivity); and, aggregate indicators (such as possible regime shifts and trophic level food web catch by subregion). All of these categories come under the rubric of ecosystem considerations (Livingston, 2001) at an LME scale whether in the Gulf of Alaska or the U.S. Northeast Shelf ecosystem (Sherman, 1994; e.g., Giordano, 2003).

Regarding precautionary and conservative catch limits,  the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) mandates that “all fish caught in any fishery (including bycatch), whether landed or discarded are counted towards the TAC for that stock” (Witherell, et al., 2000). As a further management precautionary approach it is assumed that there is 100 percent mortality for all discards regardless if some fish actually survive. Species are discarded by a fishing vessel because they are either unwanted “economic discards” or they are regulatory “prohibited species” (Witherell, et al., 2000). In the North Pacific, a “best practices” approach institutionalizes that a “comprehensive and mandatory observer programme” requires 100 percent coverage on any vessel more than 49m in length overall (Witherell, et al., 2000). This has been adopted as a “best practice” to provide limits on bycatch and discards, it does not necessarily address “ecosystem concerns” (Witherell,   et al., 2000).

Other emerging “best practices” (Figure 5 and Figure 6; see also Sainsbury and Sumaila, 2003) utilized in the American waters of the North Pacific for limits on bycatch and discards include certain gear restrictions, for example, to prevent ghost fishing and reduce bycatch of non target species gillnets for groundfish are prohibited (Witherell, et al., 2000). Further, the NPFMC “adopted an improved retention and utilization programme for all groundfish target fisheries. Beginning in 1998, 100 percent retention of Pollock and Pacific Cod was required, regardless of how or where it was caught” (Witherell, et al., 2000). By 2004, the NPFMC expects that for most regulated species, the discard rate will be about five percent (Witherell, et al., 2000). It is a plausible way to manage commercial fisheries while incorporating, with time, ecosystem considerations.

Ecosystem considerations may also translate to specific concerns in a given LME or subarea. Examples of these concerns may entail harvest rate(s) fishery effects on species composition. Significant differences exist in the rate of harvest of groundfish species in the New England Region. Some are harvested close to their Fabc  (acceptable biological catch) levels while other species are taken at variable lower levels. Perhaps some trawl fisheries are constrained by bycatch limitations for prohibited species (e.g., yellowtail flounder) and commercial landings prices for flatfish. As witnessed in the Northeast United States Continental Shelf LME (Sherman, et al., 1996; Sherman and Skjoldal, 2002) shifting or resulting high biomasses of predator species (e.g., dogfish and skates) can have substantial impacts on the trophodynamics of the marine ecosystem and shift the species assemblages. Disproportionate harvest rates require constant analysis for lasting season-to-season implications on the commercial groundfishery. “Fish populations on Georges Bank changed from dominance by commercially important groundfish species to less desirable species such as dogfish and sandlance. Concurrent with a decline in the desirable groundfish from overfishing were increases in pelagics (herring, mackerel) and elasmobranches (spiny dogfish, skates)” (Boehlert, 1996).

Witherell, et al., (2000) emphasize that for the North Pacific, “the basic ecosystem consideration is a precautionary approach to extraction of fish resources.” They suggest that the “precautionary principle was developed over the past 10 years as a policy measure to address sustainability of natural resources in the face of uncertainty” (e.g. Kinzig, et al., 2003; Hilborn, 1987). One of their main hypotheses concerning integrating ecosystem considerations in fisheries management is that “if fisheries are managed sustainably using a precautionary approach, it is likely[4] that the overall ecosystem processes, ecosystem integrity, and biodiversity are also protected to some degree” (Witherell, et al., 2000; see also Figure 7). Witherell (1999) mentions that specific “ecosystem consideration” chapters have been prepared as supplementary information in select annual stock assessment and fishery evaluation reports (e.g.,North Pacific Fishery Management Council documents dated1998 &1999). In addition, the NPFMC established an Ecosystem Committee in 1996 whose mission was to suggest possible ecosystem-oriented approaches into the fishery management process (e.g., hosting workshops, meetings and informal discussions) whereby the Committee utilized the scientific literature to identify elements and prospective principles of ecosystem-oriented management (see Figure 8 and Figure 9; Table 1). Witherell (1999) stresses that the NPFMC and the National Marine Fisheries Service have used a precautionary approach, incorporated as part of ecosystem considerations, by: a) relying on scientific research and advice, b) conservative catch quotas, c) comprehensive monitoring and enforcement, d) bycatch controls, e) habitat conservation areas, and f) additional ecosystem considerations (see Figure 10 and Figure 11; Restrepo, et al., 1999).

Other “considerations” result from the impacts of fishing gear on habitat and ecosystems. From numerous articles on this subject that appear in the open scientific literature, most research appears performed on trawl gear. Though not the focus of this research, bottom trawls, as well as other gear types can alter the benthic structure, sediments and nutrient cycling in certain situations  (Witherell et al., 1997). Now internationally banned pelagic drift nets or “ghost fishing” created significant bycatch discard issues as well as marine debris problems. Climatic changes are another “consideration.” Related to oceanic temperature conditions are year class strengths of commercially important species (e.g. Sainsbury et al., 2000). Herring and cod appear to respond favorably with strong year   classes with the onset of warm current regimes. Declines in stocks may be seen, however, for other finfish (Witherell, 1998; Mountain, 2002; Fogarty, 2001). More “retrospective”ecosystem change research on this topic might prove valuable when trying to prepare optimal yield (OY) and maximum sustainable yield (MSY) figures from biomass estimates for a commercial species. Witherell (1998) writes about the occurrence on a decadal or longer frequency in the North Pacific Ocean, of shifts between warm and cool periods and the compelling links between ocean conditions and living marine resources production. Significant, rapid and sometimes unexpected changes may be fostered by variable ocean conditions (Skud, 1982; McFarlane, et al., 2000). These shifting oscillations in the ocean are characterized as “regime shifts” (Steele, 1998; see e.g., Figure 12).

The NPFMC also incorporates select marine protected areas (MPA’s) as a tool for managing bycatch and habitat protection as well as time/area closures (e.g., Lubchenko, et al., 2003; Botsford, et al., 2003; Hastings and Botsford, 2003; Carr, 2000). Agardy (2000) reckons in regard to MPA’s that “the ideal situation seems to be establishment of closed areas within the context of a larger multiple use protected area such as a coastal biosphere reserve, marine sanctuary (as in the U.S.), or other large scale MPA.” She does hypothesize, however, that “closures having a scientific basis may be viewed by the fishing community as exclusionary practices that are somehow rooted in social discrimination.” She also mentions “the spatial dispersal of the harvesting sector is just as important to the health and character of the ecosystem as biological dispersal processes, virtually all analysis of marine reserves ignores the inevitable response of the harvesting sector to closures” (Agardy, 2000; see also Agardy, et al., 2003).

Other ecosystem-oriented management approaches include the NPFMC’s adopted regulation prohibiting a directed fishery for select forage fish that are found to be important prey for higher trophic level species (such as groundfish) (Witherell, et al., 2000). These authors discuss continuing progress towards ecosystem-based management that the NPFMC is trying to fulfill. A draft approach for introducing ecosystem-oriented management for the Northeast U.S. Continental Shelf LME (see Figure 8 and Figure 9) has been crafted to foster dialogue. The approach is grounded in elements and principles of ecosystem-based management identified in the scientific literature. The approach provides a prospective definition for fisheries ecosystem-based management as well as a presentation on objectives, goals, guidelines, assumptions and understanding (see also Witherell, 1999). A “mission statement” of an agency, as it relates to ecosystem considerations, also would be an important component of an emerging policy (see: Lynch, et  al., 1999).


Apollonio (1994) mentioned, “any community of fish species is part of a larger marine ecosystem.” The ecosystem concept necessitates that all components cannot be maximized simultaneously. Apollonio (1994) adds “that variability in fisheries population biomass increase as fishing mortality (F) increases toward the fishing mortality at MSY  (Fmsy).” The New England experience indicates that “as the high-value species have been fished down, increasing attention has been focused on species of lower value, such as squid” and dogfish (Apollonio, 1994). Sutinen (1999) has uncovered, “fisheries harvesting multiple species are expected to be more difficult and costly to manage than single species fisheries. This expectation is supported in the evidence, with a high proportion of multispecies groundfish fisheries experiencing poor resource conservation and economic performance” (see Figure 13). Therefore, it is important to consider fiscal resources needed to adequately address additional information needs related to ecosystem-based fisheries management.

Sainsbury and Sumaila (2003) proffer that best practice management of combined effects of all users achieved through integrated management of appropriately defined local ecosystems. They suggest that their listing of potential “best practice reference points” and components “provide a starting point to accommodate ecosystem considerations in fisheries management and that evolving substantially in the near future will be best practice reference points including those related to LME’s concerning effects of nonfishery uses on the marine environment” (Sherman and Duda, 1999a&b; Table 2; Figure 5; see also e.g. Vandermeulen, 1998).

Ward (2000) identified “gaps and uncertainties” in the process of deriving his draft key marine ecosystem sustainability indicators. These included problems with (a) limited ecological knowledge; (b) limited scientific understanding of credible cause-effect environmental issues; (c) resolving capacity of monitoring system data capture and analysis processes; (d) the synthesis and aggregation of data; (e) implementation issues (case study trials, reference sites, interpretive models); and (f) adapting and revising sustainability indicators. “Indicators focused mainly on inputs such as financial or human resources, input loads of pollutants, size of human population or on outputs, such as number of permits, size of quota, or number of areas brought under formal management (e.g. MPA) are unlikely to be suitably robust” (Ward, 2000). “Outcome-based indicators are crucial components of any effective management system, and are needed for compliance with ISO 14001 (International Organization for Standardization, Switzerland) ‘best practice’ and international standards for environmental management” (Ward, 2000). Similarly, Villa and McLeod (2002) point out that “no rigorous experimental testing of vulnerability estimates is possible given our current state of knowledge of the structure and functions of the environment.” These authors support the view of ecosystem integrity as “the maintenance of the community structure and function characteristic of a particular locale deemed satisfactory to society” (Villa and McLeod, 2002).

One way that fishery management practitioners may bring to bear a “precautionary approach” in their work, and a recommended management action provided here, is by agreeing to voluntary environmental standards that provide value to business and other operations. Thus, the ISO 14000 family of international Standards on environmental management supports the objective of “sustainable development” (e.g., Table 3) of a wide-ranging portfolio of standardized methods that provides business entities and government with best available scientifically valid data on the environmental effects of economic activity; a precursor to the technical basis for environmental (fishery) regulations. The ISO 14000 Series, first printed in September of 1996, meets the needs and concerns of those interested in the environmental management of organizations. Specifically, the ISO 14000 family of Standards is comprised of a systematic approach of documents related to environmental management systems (EMS; i.e., ISO 14001 and ISO 14004) and procedures and documents related to environmental management tools, such as EMS audits and environmental performance evaluations. In the issue at hand, for example, how much is “allowable” discard and bycatch in a given fishery? The former Chairman of the New England Fishery Management Council proclaims, “we have not been able to adequately calculate bycatch in most of our fisheries because of the lack of information or the funds to collect it” (Hill, 2002). Careful consideration will need to be given to the scientific and financial commitment required to introduce ecosystem-based fisheries management of the Northeast Shelf Ecosystem.

Thus, establishment and implementation of an organization’s environmental and ecological based management system is central in ascertaining its ecosystem policy, objectives, and targets providing a benchmark frame of reference for continuous adjustment and improvement of environmental performance. Tools for environmental management exist to assist the organization in fostering and promoting its ecologically oriented policy, objectives and targets. The ISO 14000 compliance standards are practical tools for the manager (boat captain; fishery permit holder, regulator, etc.) who isn’t satisfied with compliance to legislation and directives, they’re for the proactive organization providing a strategic approach to conducting, implementing and evaluating environment and ecosystem-related measures that can bring a sustainable return on investment.   Under ISO 14001, the fishing and public administration sectors have their own codes. Sainsbury, et al., (2000) also depict the ISO 14000 standards as important operational strategies for achieving fishery ecosystem objectives. More information on ISO 14000 EMS usage in the private sector is found in Coglianese and Nash (2002 & 2001). Therefore, adoption of ISO 14000 compliance standards appear compatible to a sustainable “precautionary approach” paradigm.


Dovers and Handmer (1995) provide one salient definition for on-the-ground usage of the precautionary principle (approach) “where there are threats of serious or irreversible environmental damage, lack of full scientific certainty should not be used as a reason for postponing measures to prevent environmental (ecological) degradation. In the application of the precautionary principle, public and private decisions should be guided by: (i) careful evaluation to avoid, wherever practicable, serious or irreversible damage to the environment (ecosystem), and (ii) an assessment of the risk-weighted consequences of various options.”  These authors suggest that other elemental themes for the precautionary principle may be found in the open literature. Two salient interpretations may be added for LME usage through the following commentary: (iii) “the precautionary principle recommends an anticipatory or preventive approach rather than a defensive one which simply reacts to environmental (ecological) damage when it becomes apparent; and (iv) uncertainty as to the severity of the environmental impacts resulting from a development decision or an ongoing human activity should not be an excuse to avoid or delay environmental protection measures” (Dovers and Handmer, 1995). These authors also address the issue of the “shifting burden of proof” towards those proposing a possible harmful action rather than those advocating environmental (ecological) protection, such as designated stewardship agencies. Similar in nature to the philosophy of these authors, this manuscript presents a view believing that the “shifting burden of proof” conundrum is “beyond official definitions of the precautionary principle” (Dovers  and Handmer, 1995) and workable on-the-ground reality considering democratic governmental sectoral regulation(s) especially when considering the overall scale and scope of an LME setting.

It should be noted that the “shifting burden of proof” is neither a goal nor objective of an LME approach to living marine resources sustainability. Another view of the “precautionary principle” (approach) is an “idea that speaks to the interest of maintaining the integrity of complex ecosystems and their dynamics” while taking into accord “the great number of fisheries today depleted or threatened with commercial crashes” (Scheiber, 1997). In order to facilitate better sustainable governance of the oceans and its attendant living resources, Costanza et al. (1998), posit their viewpoint, with respect to fisheries, even under controlled access, management decisions are often made at scales that do not consider all sources of ecological information. They also suggest that management fails to consider public owners relying instead to focus on user groups. They say this has led to fishery management decisions that encompass more risk than caution. MacDonald (1995) does proffer, however, that two international arrangements that may formalize the strictest interpretation of the precautionary principle (including that of the shifting burden of proof) despite scientific uncertainties are the protection of the ozone layer found in the Montreal Protocol of 1988, and decisions prohibiting certain whaling practices implemented through the International Whaling Commission (IWC). Most other documents encompass non-binding agreements like the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries and the Rio Conference (UNCED) declaration(s).

Gerrodette et al. (2002) mention with “regard to the standards of proof required that must be met” (e.g., Charles,   2002) “it would be impossible to demonstrate ‘no harm’ given the large uncertainties in making any predictions about marine ecosystems.” “A basic feature of any precautionary or risk-averse approach to natural resource management is that the less certain we are about the effects of an action, the more cautious we should be. The Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation Management Act National Standards Guidelines clearly say so. ‘Criteria used to set target catch levels should be explicitly risk averse, so that greater uncertainty regarding the status or productive capacity of a stock or stock complex corresponds to greater caution in setting target catch levels’” [50 CFR 600.310 (f) (5) (iii)] (Gerrodette, et al., 2002). These authors advocate, “for current U.S. fishery management precautionary buffers (the difference between targets and limits) should therefore be a positive  function of uncertainty.”

Charles (2002) states “with regard to the impact of fishing gear on the ocean habitat the key issue is whether a conservation rationale exists to favor one technology over another.” He mentions that the traditional status quo approach is treating all fishing gears equivalently. Charles (2002) also brings to light the problematic issues surrounding, if, when, and how fishing areas and closed targeted fisheries will reopen to fisherfolk. He suggests that one “robust management” policy measure includes adaptive management “involving suitable monitoring processes, integration of knowledge (notably traditional ecological knowledge and fisher knowledge), and mechanisms for incorporating new information, so management actions can be reassessed as needed to adapt to unexpected circumstances, to avoid compromising conservation goals”(Charles, 2002). Holling (1996) proffers, “in adaptive management, policies are designed as hypotheses and management implemented as experiments to test those hypotheses”with “consequences of the (management) actions potentially reversible and that the experimenter learns from the experiment (see also Figure 14). In another view, Lackey (1997) asserts that the “hypothesis testing approach works well in research for narrow, mechanistic questions in science, but not for more complex and typical research and policy questions.” Despite the foregoing commentary regarding hypothesis testing, the present problems in commercial fishery catch are unsustainable from season to season and from species to species. The culprit for this fishery unsustainability is pointed at “overfishing (e.g., Figure 15) or inefficient harvesting” (e.g., Repetto, 2001).

Gislason et al., (2000) mention, however, “the power to detect indirect effects of fishing in marine ecosystems is    low, and therefore some such impacts may be masked.” They further state, “it is often difficult to separate out the effects of fishing from other anthropogenic influences (e.g., pollution, habitat modification) and from natural environmental variability this is particularly the case in nearshore ecosystems” (Gislason et al., 2000). Willmann and Insull (1993) conclude that environmental changes brought about in other sectors seemingly unrelated to fisheries can result in concomitant loss of fish habitat and water quality deterioration, “for example, land-based pollution providing a toxic effect on fish.” Thus, they suggest that coastal fisheries management ought to encompass other sectors into integrated policy making. Much research indicates, however, that present global exploitation patterns (as well as regional) do not necessarily employ a precautionary approach and are consequently unsustainable (Pauly, et al., 2002; Pauly et al., 2000; Pauly et al., 1998).

Akin to adaptive management is the policy orientation framework or cycle (Gable, 2003). Using science in adaptive management necessitates providing explicit expectations of the outcome of policies in order for designing methods to measure their effectiveness. It also involves collection and analysis of data so that the actual outcomes can be compared with hypothesized expectations. Berkes et al. (2000) suggest that adaptive management “may be viewed as the scientific analogue of traditional ecological knowledge because of its integration of uncertainty into management strategies and its emphasis on practices that confer resilience. Adaptive management emphasizes processes including resource uses that are part of ecological cycles of renewability.”

Costanza et al. (1998) subscribe to the paradigm of “adaptive management” that includes cross-disciplinary stakeholder groups, and intergenerational considerations wherein uncertainty is acknowledged as a core principle (Figure 16). They state that “precaution” is already well accepted in the international community where decisions concerning the use of marine living resources incorporate uncertainty about potentially irreversible environmental impacts, and thus are risk-averse. Adaptive management as defined by Grumbine (1994) “assumes that scientific knowledge is provisional and focuses on management as a learning process or continuous experiment where incorporating the results of previous actions allows managers to remain flexible and adapt to uncertainty.” Christensen et al. (1996) subscribe to a definition of adaptive management that to manage resources sustainably in an environment of uncertainty it is a process that combines democratic principles, scientific analysis, education, and institutional learning  (see also Table 2). Both definitions are analogous to the policy orientation concept (Lasswell, 1951).

Richards and Maguire (1998) profess that the “precautionary approach is now embodied in several international agreements, including the United Nations Straddling Fish Stocks and Highly Migratory Fish Stocks Agreement and the voluntary FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. Article 6 of the “Straddling Stocks” Agreement, which was ratified by the requisite number of countries as of December 11th 2001, and thus incorporated into the Law of the Sea Treaty, provides “the essence of the precautionary approach whereby ‘States shall be more cautious when information uncertain, unreliable or inadequate. The absence of adequate scientific information shall not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take conservation and management measures’ and improved methods are required for dealing with risk and uncertainty” (Richards and Maguire, 1998).

Stock-specific reference points provide the principle mechanism for applying the precautionary approach for harvest management strategies for developed fisheries. The “Straddling Stocks” Agreement, in Article 6, provides that signatory States “shall determine, on the basis of the best scientific information available, stock-specific reference points and the action to be taken if they are exceeded. Two types of reference points are identified: limit reference points set boundaries which are intended to constrain harvesting within safe biological limits within which the stocks can produce maximum sustainable yield while target reference points are intended to meet management objectives” (Richards and Maguire, 1998). “Reference points have been generally defined in terms of the fishing mortality rate F and expressed as targets rather than limits. Although reference points have been applied mainly in the context of biological science, economic or social reference points could and should also be developed and adopted” (Richards and Maguire, 1998).

“The Straddling Stocks Agreement clearly specifies Fmsy, the fishing mortality that can produce maximum sustainable yield (MSY), as a limit reference point that should not be exceeded. In addition, Bmsy, the biomass that can yield the long-term average MSY on application of Fmsy, is suggested as a rebuilding target for overfished stocks a specific limit reference point for stock biomass is not defined. However, given Fmsy, as a limit reference point, Bmsy could also be interpreted as a limit reference point” (Richards and   Maguire, 1998; see also Restrepo, et al., 1999). “The question of appropriate reference points for a variable environment has received limited scientific attention to date (Richards and Maguire, 1998). Hollowed et al. (2000) found that for Georges Bank harvest strategies “it was impossible   to derive a single fixed value for Fmsy.” Decadal variability can lead to abrupt changes suggesting evidence for “environmental forcing is strong in most marine systems” (see Figure 12).

Regarding implementing the precautionary principle (approach) through limit reference points is, “they allow specification of simple quantitative objectives with measurable criteria for determining whether they are met. This is essential for practical (workable) fisheries management” (Hall, 1999) and, “such reference points typically will need to be set for localized regions.”  Hall, (1999) hypothesizes that  when science “uses multispecies fisheries models to help derive suitable reference points for management, they are almost always more conservative more precautionary than the conclusions one draws using only single species models.” Hall suggests that more promising system level reference points for medium-term performance measures may be the trophic status or size structure of the catch these could be equated to “ecosystem health and integrity.” In principle, simpler to understand, augment and implement are traditional single species management approaches of  target and non-target reference points. Thus, the reference point characteristically retains the capacity for proper regulatory performance measures according to Hall, (1999; but  see: Sutinen, et al., 2000). Basically, “the status of an ecosystem can be assessed” according to Link, et al. (2002) and that it is “not novel to assess the status of single species fish stocks.” For the assessment and management of “large marine ecosystems,” lessons from single species stock assessment, environmental impact assessment (EIA), and ecological risk assessment tools and procedures provide appropriate management decision criteria (Link et al., 2002). Indeed, May et al. (1979) found, “MSY cannot serve as a guide when applied to each species individually” especially since many harvested species have robust interactions.

“It is time to propose a wider range of conservation and ecosystem objectives for fisheries management, as well as corresponding indicators and reference points that trigger management action. The reference points for a fishing plan could be the total permissible bycatch level of the species at risk” (Gislason, et al., 2000). “The indicators for directly impacted species (target and bycatch species) are well established. They include, for example, measure for exploitation rate (using size and age structure changes), spawning stock biomass and geographic distribution. Reference points for forage species (such as herring) may include consideration of prey requirements in addition to spawning stock biomass requirements for safeguarding recruitment”(Gislason, et al., 2000).

For fisheries management, “tools to achieve ecosystem objectives gear restrictions, closed areas and seasons, including MPA’s, quotas and bycatch limits and restrictions on days-at-sea, are the same as those already in use    to achieve single species related conservation objectives” (Gislason, et al., 2000). These are also referred to as input output controls and technical measures. “The similarity between single-species fisheries management and an eco system approach should not come as a surprise”  (Sissenwine and Mace, 2003; Figure 17). “Fisheries management science refers to the broad integration of fisheries science, fisheries management and management science.” “The development of fisheries management science incorporates biological, ecological, economic, social and political aspects. Currently, the scientific field is dominated by the biological sciences” (Richards and Maguire, 1998). The use of a policy orientation approach to LME oriented fisheries management is somewhat analogous and would in corporate the disciplinary subdivisions listed above (see: Gable, 2003; Clark, 1992).

Restrepo et al. (1999; see Figure 10 and Figure 11) helps to “succinctly” define a version of the precautionary approach whereby “in fisheries, the precautionary approach is about applying judicious and responsible fisheries management practices, based on sound scientific research and analysis, proactively (to avoid or reverse overexploitation) rather than reactively (once all doubt has been removed and the resource is severely overexploited) to ensure the sustainability of fishery resources and associated ecosystems for the benefit of future as well as current generations.” These authors also suggest that the precautionary approach can be categorized into fisheries research, fisheries management and fisheries technology. Considering if the precautionary principle is science based, “international environmental policy ultimately relies on scientific evidence to identify issues of concern and, of course, ‘scientific evidence is rarely, if ever, absolute’” (MacDonald, 1995).

MacDonald (1995) emphasizes that with “respect to fisheries management, the risk of management error can never be completely eradicated. Scientific uncertainty is the accepted norm in fisheries management. A zero risk strategy would imply no development at all. A strategy hardly viable.” Restrepo et al. (1999) proffer that the “basic idea of using reference points in a precautionary approach to fisheries management is that targets should be set sufficiently below limits so that the limits will be avoided with high probability and targets will be attained on average.” Domestically the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 “redefined optimum yield to be no greater than maximum sustainable yield. The new definition of optimum yield also included  the protection of marine ecosystems as a national benefit to be considered in setting targets.” These authors argue that “conservation constraints should be met before other objectives” under the precautionary approach. Young (2003) cautions, however, “applications of the precautionary principle can be expected to lead to lowering of total allowable catches. Carried to extremes, the precautionary principle can become a weapon in the hands of those who wish to terminate consumptive uses of living resources, regardless of the consequences for human welfare.” He then suggests that this situation has already transpired within the aegis of the International Whaling Commission.

MacDonald (1995) emphasizes that the precautionary principle “is not a scientific risk assessment device and should not be recognized as such it is principally applied for its value-laden character. It is up to the policymaker to determine how to apply the principle. In fisheries management a flexible precautionary principle clearly is needed.” Domestically in the United States the turtle excluder device (TED) employed in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico shrimp fisheries, “though at the time not labeled a ‘precautionary approach,’” may be just that kind of sustainable fisheries policy measure or tool. “The precautionary principle is not yet recognized as accepted customary law” (MacDonald, 1995), but it is appears to be heading that way during the last decade or so (see e.g., Belsky, 1989).

Presently, there is a proposed Northwest Atlantic Fisheries Organization (NAFO) Precautionary Approach Frame work that places an emphasis on risk analyses for selected stocks employing fishing mortality and stock biomass reference points “security margins”  (Fbuf and Bbuf) whereby the “more uncertain the stock assessment, the greater the buffer (Fbuf & Bbuf) should be” (NAFO, 2003). In effect, in the Northeast United States Continental Shelf LME fisheries managers have already established zoning areas for fisheries management. As described in several United Nations agreements (e.g. Annex II of the UN Straddling Stocks Agreement to which the United States is a signatory) Flim equals Fmsy because “Fmsy as a limit is in conformance” with the prescribed precautionary approach. In the September 2003 adopted “Precautionary Approach” framework NAFO points out that “fishing somewhat below Fmsy results in a relatively small loss in average catch, but a large increase in average biomass (which, in turn, results in a decreased risk to the fish stock, and increase in Catch Per Unit Effort (CPUE), and a decrease in the costs of fishing).” There is now consideration of multispecies situations with the desirability for a stable as possible total allowable catches (TAC’s).  That is, the NAFO Scientific Council adopted a precautionary approach that takes into account concerns expressed by fisheries managers. For example, Fmsy has been recommended as a positive “first step towards ecosystem-based management” objectives ensuring that no principle fish stock is “fished harder than the single species.” NAFO, (2003) states, “ecosystem-based management will likely require even more conservative fishing mortality targets than ‘traditional’ single-species management.” This precautionary approach may also include a de-emphasis of Bmsy that attempts to avoid the impossible problem of “maintaining all stocks in a multispecies assemblage simultaneously at their respective single-species Bmsy.”

Among the precautionary management measures placed on the table by Caddy (1999), he suggests that “several simple size-based (fishery) reference points should be formulated assuming that a precautionary approach oriented fishery should allow for species to spawn at least once in life history.” He adds that “a precautionary reference point is one allowing the cohort a reasonable probability of spawning at least once before capture, and this criterion can be used to test other F-based reference points for their conformity -- with this principle those reference points or indices are not easily intercalibrated.” See also Caddy (1999) for a review of his “traffic light” approach for employing graduated precautionary management responses in fisheries policy.

Restrepo and Powers (1999) discuss the United States NOAA/NMFS utilized strategy of control rules (CR). Following on the preceding discussion(s), some control rules, that is, fishing mortality (F), should be altered depending on the spawning biomass of the resource (B). They suggest control rules to mean a description of a variable by which managers have some direct control as a function of some other variable related to the resource (i.e., F & B). They employ a “precautionary control rule default target optimum yield (OY) consisting of setting the TAC target F (mortality) 25 percent below the limit (Flim) or also referred  to as the “maximum fishing mortality threshold” (Restrepo and Powers, 1999).

Darcy and Matlock (1999) state that with regard to the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 (Public Law 104297) or its predecessor Magnuson-Stevens Act of twenty years earlier, that Congress did not use the term ‘precautionary approach’ anywhere. They go on to mention, however, that the drafters of the National Standard Guidelines (found in the Federal Register; the MSFCMA requires, at section 301(b)), the Secretary of Commerce, through the Undersecretary of Oceans and Atmospheres, establish advisory “guidelines” based on the ten National Standards (see Table 4). The MSFCMA does not, however, explicitly mention, “control rules” to be promulgated as “guidelines.” These authors suggest that the precautionary approach is implicit in the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 and explicit in the “guidelines” prepared for National Standard 1 to prevent overfishing. Hsu and Wilen (1997) assert that the Sustainable Fisheries Act Standards do effectively “provide directives that are consistent with broad conservation goals and sensible ecosystem management.”

Considering the 10 National Standards in the Act, Hill (2002) comments that “avoiding or reducing significant social and economic impacts on communities dependent on access to the fishery, which is under a rebuilding program is impossible...There are inherent competing interests between the varying Standards depending on the perspective one might hold. This has inevitably led to lawsuits... as to whether the Council has properly complied with the law.”  As a policy alternative, both Goethel (2002) and Hill (2002) suggest that they would have “Congress qualify or rank the 10 National Standards in order of importance.” An in place ISO-14000 environmental management system would afford organizations the tools to carry out such a task themselves, and to amend it using the steps in the policy orientation process (Table 5 and Table 6; see also Figure 18 & Figure 19)  as appropriate.

Rosenberg (2002) discusses control rules stating they “essentially relate management action to control the fishing mortality rate to the status of the resource in terms of biomass or some other measure. A control rule provides a framework for pre-agreed management actions as called for  in the precautionary approach. Uncertainty in the status of the resource can be included explicitly through the specification of management targets to be achieved on average and management thresholds that should never be exceeded.” “Control rules leave little room for negotiation and consideration of issues such as (stock) rebuilding timeframes and allocation between States, groups or gear types” (Rosenberg, 2002). Generally, these were designed by marine scientists before the managers had provided any precautionary management systems of their own. Indeed those described in Rosenberg (2002), for example, have subsequently not been adopted by the regional international community because of concerns expressed by the managers (see NAFO, 2003). Perhaps the marine scientists got a bit ahead of themselves. Thus, Rosenberg (2002) concludes that “the mechanistic approach of control rules to implementation of precautionary management may be hindering agreement on conservation restrictions, simply because it leaves so little room for negotiation.”

Concerning the implementation of the precautionary approach domestically, Rosenberg (2002) indicates, “the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 carries forward many of the ideas of the precautionary approach with regard to preventing overfishing, the use of reference points, reducing bycatch and protecting habitat.” And, “the burden of proof continues to be on managers to prove that restrictive measures are essential rather than to show that harvesting can be safely allowed.” Therefore, reference points to establish targets or thresholds for defining overfishing is a tool used  to implement precautionary management in the USA, maximum sustainable yield (MSY) remains as a standard reference point. Garcia, (1994) theorizes, “in a way, the MSY could be considered a measure of the maximum assimilative capacity of the stock” (Table 7). “The need to reduce fishing pressure has resulted in (control) rules that do not allow fishers to shift from one fishery to another as easily as in the past” (Rosenberg, 2002). Thus, the need for an LME ecosystem-based approach to living resources biomass allocation in an adaptive management environment is necessary to foster sustainable yields. Rosenberg (2002) laments “as Regional Administrator for the National Marine Fisheries Service, I found it hard to understand all the rules and changes, and the fishermen certainly found it equally hard.”5

Garcia (1994) suggests that the precautionary principle refers to “the ‘hard line’ rule proposed for management of highly polluting activities. The ‘approaches’ refers to the practical ways and sets of measures which are precautionary in nature but may lead to more realistic application in fisheries.” “The burden of proof is traditionally on research and management with the rare exceptions where scientific work has been used to limit the development programmes on new fisheries” (Garcia, 1994). Internationally, “the precautionary principle requires nations to take preventive or corrective action even in the absence of sufficient scientific evidence of a causal link between a suspected factor and the adverse effects observed” (Garcia, 1994; Table 8). Thus, the United States in adopting the original Magnuson-Stevens Act enacted a precautionary action by restricting distant water fishing fleets from within the 200 nautical mile (pre-EEZ) fisheries zone.

Garcia (1994) believes, “although U.N. General Assembly resolutions are not legally binding, they can have enormous political significance” noting their resolutions in the early 1990’s on ‘large-scale pelagic driftnets.” “A U.N. General Assembly resolution may have an effect wider than that of a recommendation (its legal status) in revealing what State practice is, or pointing to what States might be willing to accept.” He also indicates that the “precautionary principle” is no more than a nonbinding norm, operating within the framework of particular agreements, but it “may be on its way to becoming part of customary international law” (see also Belsky, 1985). Richards and Maguire (1998) hold that the precautionary approach is acquiring acceptance as a basis for fishery management.” Further, they maintain, on page 1546 of their article, “that regardless of the extent to which uncertainties can be quantified,” precaution dictates a different philosophical and practical approach to “fisheries management science.” MacDonald (1995) cautions, however, that a more flexible “approach” is required with respect to fishery management and that a steadfast “principle” (or rule) cannot be applied in all management realms.

In a more up-to-date synopsis, the European Community on December 20th, 2002, regarding the conservation and sustainable exploitation of fisheries resources under the Common Fisheries Policy (Council Regulation LEC No. 2371/2002, noted in the Official Journal of the European Communities dated 31/12/2002, this regulation entered into force on January 1st, 2003) has adopted objectives embraced by plurality by the Member States Community. They “shall apply the precautionary approach in taking measures de signed to protect and conserve living aquatic resources, to provide for their sustainable exploitation and to minimize the impact of fishing activities on marine ecosystems. It should aim at a progressive implementation of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management”…, etc. (Article 2 (1)). Article 3 (i) provides a description of the “precautionary approach to fisheries management means that   the absence of adequate scientific information should not be used as a reason for postponing or failing to take management measures to conserve target species, associated or dependent species and nontarget species and their environment. Precautionary reference points are biological reference points and are designed to mark the boundary between acceptable risks and unacceptable risks.”

Further, Article 5 (3) and Article 6 (3) requires that “recovery plans and management plans,” respectively, should   be drawn up on the basis of the precautionary approach, and, Article 6 (2) shall include conservation reference points, which under Article 3 (k) “means values of fish stock population parameters (such as biomass or fishing mortality rate) used in fisheries management, for example, with respect to an acceptable level of biological risk or desired level of yield.” Three types of reference points are typically considered including limit reference points (“means values of fish stock population parameters such as biomass or fishing mortality rate) which should be avoided because they are associated with unknown population dynamics, stock collapse or impaired recruitment (Art. 3 (j)), precautionary or buffer reference points and target reference points. Thus, a precautionary approach has been linked to best practices for living marine resource capture and exploitation actions and it is therefore incumbent upon countries to apply it through customary international law and practice.

To Sissenwine and Mace (2003) the “precautionary approach means that, when in doubt, err on the side of conservation.” Further, they state that “an ecosystem approach for responsible fisheries management requires taking into account trophic interactions in a precautionary fishing mortality rate strategy” which they define “is geographically specified fisheries management that takes account of knowledge and uncertainties about, and among, biotic, abiotic and human components of ecosystems, and strives to balance diverse societal objectives” (see also Figure 17). Sissenwine and Mace (2003) believe, “fisheries ecosystem plans (FEP) are useful vehicles for designing and implementing an ecosystem approach to responsible fisheries management.” They list three key elements to consider in developing FEP’s including (a) ocean zoning concepts; (b) specificity while authorizing fishing activities; and (c) hierarchical decision-making processes. Sissenwine and Mace (2003) suggest the creation of a new profession of fisheries and ecosystem practitioners that provide salient scientific advice.


Regarding  responsible  fisheries,  Sinclair and Valdimarsson (2003) state “fish has become the most internationally traded food, as some 37 percent (by quantity) of all fish for human consumption is traded across borders.” Related to the situation of governance for responsible domestic or international marine fisheries, Sinclair and Valdimarsson (2003) lament, “there is no complete global inventory of fisheries management systems and approaches, whether at the level of countries, stocks or fisheries.” They go on to state, “several of the 31 regional fishery bodies  (across the globe) implement policies based on total allowable catch (TAC) and national quotas… these approaches are complemented by a series of technical measures, including power and size regulation of vessels; size and mesh dimensions for gear; closed/open seasons/areas for fishing time encompassing effort ceilings; and catch characteristics involving minimum landing size, licensing schemes and stage of maturity/age characteristics.” A movement towards ecosystem-oriented fishery management may heighten the urgency for addressing rights-based and limited access regimes (Sinclair and Valdimarsson, 2003; Sutinen at al., 2000).

Sinclair and Valdimarrson (2003) argue, “a first step in moving towards ecosystem-based fishery management is to identify and describe the different ecosystems and their boundaries, and then to consider each as a discrete entity  for the purposes of management. Thereafter, ecosystem management objectives must be developed. The central objective of ecosystem-based fishery management is to obtain optimal benefits from all marine ecosystems in a sustainable manner.” These authors, on page 401 of their paper, suggest, “once the objectives have been identified and agreed upon, it is necessary to establish appropriate reference points and/or sustainability indicators… which must be based on the best scientific evidence available” (see Figure 21). The general principles utilized in conventional single-species management will still apply regarding achieving objectives in suitable ecosystem-based fisheries management strategies. Degnbol (2002; Table 9) ascertains that a “reference point connects management action and outcomes; the reference point is the yardstick by which it is measured whether management has achieved its objectives and which indicates the direction for future management action.” Sinclair and Valdimarsson (2003) claim that responsible fisheries invoke an “emphasis on application of the precautionary approach as central to ecosystem-based fisheries management” along with “assessing impact(s) of climate change.”

Concerning the objectives for ecosystem approaches to fisheries management, Degnbol (2002) finds that unclear concepts reflect unresolved conflicts and that “the real challenge of ecosystem-based fisheries management is the implementation” stage. Degnbol (2002) asserts, “effective capacity reduction supplemented with measures to reduce habitat damage from fishing gear and to protect sensitive habitats may address most ecosystem concerns without requirements for detailed tracking of all interactions and addressing of all issues separately.” Some practical obstacles to implementing ecosystem-based management include “defining the management unit, developing understanding and creating planning and management frameworks” (Slocombe, 1993). Defining new management units, such as an LME, is a critical step. It may be a “prerequisite for other steps toward ecosystem-based management. Oftentimes it may be best to just transcend existing administrative boundaries and management units” (Slocombe, 1993). Slocombe (1993) suggests, “the wide popularity of sustainable development is also becoming a major catalyst for ecosystem-based management. Cooperative management, management responses  to complex demands and pressures, and protected areas are thought to be three common origins of ecosystem-based management” (Figure 22).

In terms of developing understanding, “natural science information alone is not enough, if the goal is management     of an entire watershed or (large marine) ecosystem. The management unit includes people, their social and economic activities, and their shared and individual beliefs” (Slocombe, 1993). In the marine environment, as a basis for future planning and management, “synthesis or existing information may be eminently useful in terms of developing understanding” (Slocombe, 1993). On page 621 of his paper, Slocombe states, “initial research priorities in most areas would be gathering and reviewing existing information, identifying and filling gaps, and integrating it.” Holistic interdisciplinary study of ecosystems gained impetus in the 1970’s from the UNESCO Man and Biosphere programs (including the marine biosphere reserve concept mentioned earlier; see: Kenchington and Agardy, 1990; Slocombe, 1993).

Slocombe, (1998) describes desirable characteristics of goals as those that should be broad and generally agreed  upon, with a degree of normative implication and reflection  of specific values and limits, whereas “objectives are the specific doable tasks needed to achieve the goal(s)” (see Figure 23 and Figure 24). “Targets are readily observable, usually quantifiable, events or characteristics that can be aimed for as part of a goal or objective. Targets are a subset of the broad set of indicators, which are a priori identified system characteristics that can provide feedback on progress toward goals and objectives. Criteria are specific targets, of  ten thresholds, that indicate when explicit, normative goals and objectives have been met” (Slocombe, 1998). “At a minimum, goals and objectives that address the biophysical environment and socioeconomic community in terms of structure, function, and process at an integrated ecosystem level are best” (Slocombe, 1998).

Garcia and Staples (2000; see Table 10) state that a criteria is “an attribute of the sustainability information system   in relation to which indicators and reference points (targets) may be elaborated.” These authors provide examples suggesting that revenue is a criteria related to the well-being of humans in the fishery, spawning biomass is a criteria related to the well-being of the stock and fishing capacity is a criteria related to fishing pressure. “A reference point indicates a particular state of a fisheries indicator corresponding to a situation considered as desirable (Target Reference Point, TRP), or undesirable and requiring immediate action”(Limit Reference Points, LRP, and Threshold Reference Point, ThRP; Garcia and Staples, 2000).


McGlade (2001) suggests that governance is a social function whose success is vital to our future viability; it centers on the management of complex interdependencies among individuals, corporations, interest groups, and public agencies who are engaged in interactive decision-making taking actions that affect each other’s welfare.” While  the scientific basis for fisheries management is traditionally built around a series of models, the majority of which are aimed at single species, they are all “focused on the biological aspects of commercially important fish stocks rather than their status within the marine ecosystem or the marketplace” (McGlade, 2001). McGlade (2001) emphasizes, “by placing such a strong emphasis on the biological rather than human or economic aspects of fisheries and by concentrating only on commercially important species, fisheries managers have not succeeded in generating effective governance of fisheries or policies.” She states that in activities such as fisheries, where direct scientific evidence is generally missing… “the concept of an expert as part of the system of governance has to be broadened to include those who have particular knowledge about a system” (McGlade, 2001; see also Figure 25). McGlade (2001) suggests, “the effectiveness of any form of governance depends on good communication, coordination, and integration between the various institutions, users, and beneficiaries. Time and again the importance of this has been underestimated in fisheries, leading to widespread dissatisfaction and skepticism about the ways and forms of intervention in management.” International conventions, such as the Montreal and Kyoto Protocols, are often about the need to identify what the problem actually is and what opportunities exist for solving it” (McGlade, 2001).

“In many instances where responsible participation by stakeholders has been the paradigm for ocean resource governance, such as regional fishery management councils in the U.S., self-interests have overshadowed scientific assessments leading to unsustainable exploitation of the resources” (Boesch, 1999; see also Hanna, 1999; Figure 26). Regarding the precautionary principle, fundamentally it has its basis in policy not science. Scientific information is often marginalized or overwhelmed because of the dominance of economic ratcheting in fishery management decisions (Boesch, 1999; Ludwig, et al., 1993; see also Hennessey and Healey, 2000; Hanna, 1999). “Scientists should also have a better understanding of the policy-making process and the different roles they may play in the adaptive cycles linking crisis identification, weighing alternatives and the evaluation of implementation” (Boesch, 1999). Interdisciplinary science employing “ecosystem considerations” along with developing local and regional institutions and frameworks that can integrate scientific information into socioeconomic and political decisions are needed (Boesch, 1999; Botsford, et al., 1997). Concerning global climate change, there are likely to be many additional consequences to marine environments, resources and their governance. Science will be increasingly challenged by governance to forecast and predict short- and long-term effects and develop means to cope (Boesch, 1999).

“Fishery governance as currently constructed is incompletely designed variable in multicomponent fishery systems. Instead of accounting for the multiplicity of ecosystem goods and services, it narrowly focuses on single species commodity production” (Hanna, 1999). In fisheries, the overwhelming characteristic of the environment is variability (Hanna, 1999). Regarding governance issues, “great uncertainty exists about the distributional consequences of new forms of property rights such as individual transferable quotas” (Hanna, 1999). “Moving to ecosystem management requires an explicit consideration of multiple objectives not only for the production of commodity species but also for the protection of species that provide ecosystem services” (Hanna, 1999). “In some cases, fishery users are being given more responsibility for management without the corresponding transfer of skills related to information gathering and presentation, critical assessment or negotiation” (Hanna, 1999). Imperial (1999) asserts that ecosystem-oriented management “needs to develop low-cost mechanisms to facilitate communication, make decisions, and resolve conflicts between scientists, agency officials, interest groups, and the public in order to minimize information asymmetries (e.g., Figure 27). This may be one reason why many ecosystem-based management programs utilize collaborative approaches to decision-making.” “Like many other government programs, ecosystem-based management  is the result of an evolutionary process of experimentation, goal definition and redefinition, and the search for appropriate implementation strategies” (Imperial, 1999).

Morrissey (1996) asserts that ecosystem-based management was founded by biological scientists and its focus is upon “the healthy productivity of the place and the relationship of all its living elements.” And that a “favorable science policy on ecosystem-based management would be “adaptive to individual situations,” while at the same time having the same standards of  measure stemming from “common scientific grounds.” “Those involved in global change research study ecosystem functions at Earth System scale.  For social scientists, the question of whether ecosystem management… is beneficial or detrimental is a human value judgment” (Morrissey, 1996).  Domestically, Griffis and Kimball (1996) suggest that the regional marine fishery management councils “appear to have the breadth of responsibility and adequate structure needed for stakeholder input and involvement in decision making… some Councils have functioned better than others and there are lessons to be learned from both the successes and failures.” Murawski (2000) emphasizes that in the U.S., “current management is characterized as being concerned with ‘conservation of the parts’ of systems, as opposed to the interrelationships among them.” He suggests, “there is no specific ecosystem analogue to single-species definitions of overfishing.” “For the Northeast USA Continental Shelf, the decline in the groundfish resource, combined with restrictive management directed to that component, has resulted in the predictable scenario of serial depletion. The practice of allowing many species to remain outside any management control until they show signs of overfishing encourages excess depletion (e.g., Hagfish) and serial depletion, and exacerbates bycatch problems” (Murawski, 2000). He reiterates, “situations such as those existing off the northeast USA could benefit greatly from a more formal mechanism to incorporate ecosystem perspectives (i.e., considerations or interactions) in the development of management goals and conservation measures (Murawski, 2000).6

“Ecosystem approaches, whether implemented as perspectives on traditional overfishing paradigms or through explicit ecosystem-based definitions, require research and advisory services not typically provided by fish stock assessment science. Nevertheless, additional ecosystem monitoring and research is necessary with increased emphasis on species interactions, diversity and variability at various temporal and spatial scales” (Murawski, 2000). He suggests, “ecosystem considerations may increasingly be used to modify regulations intended primarily to conserve high value species, to address bycatches (e.g. sea turtles and  marine mammals are of significant concern), predator-prey demands and the side-effects of fishing effort” (Murawski, 2000). Both Goethel (2002) and especially Hill (2002) lament that “vessel capacity represents the most substantive and controversial issue facing fishery managers at this time” in the Northeast Continental Shelf area.

Yaffee (1996) emphasizes, “it is critical that innovations  in influencing human behavior, managing organizations, and developing decision-making. processes receive significant attention as ecosystem management develops, for it is these changes that will determine the future effectiveness and relevance of such approaches.” He suggests that “what  works is the use of collaborative decision-making. approaches, developing information and info networks, mobilize organizational change and innovation, educate and be educated and empower individuals” (Yaffee, 1996), though, however, innovations in scientific knowledge and understanding may actually define and drive the debate.

Juda and Hennessey (2001) illustrated four kinds of governance related matrices for consideration of management of LME’s. These included a human use matrix; the effects of human use on ecosystems; impacts of ecosystem alterations on human uses; and, a governance/use matrix example illustrating the Gulf of Maine as a geographical setting (see also Sutinen, et al., 2000). The use of matrices, coupled with careful analyses, can illustrate integrated relationships between ecosystem effects from human uses and may also provide a conceptual tool to educate public stakeholders (e.g., Olsen 2000). Matrices may also be an appropriate comparative risk assessment LME approach to marine natural resource assessment (e.g., Gable, 2000; Harwell et al., 1992).


A new field of “sustainability science” is evolving. The concept of sustainability relates to understanding the fundamental character of interactions between nature and society (Kates et al., 2001). For illustration here, nature refers to the greater Georges Bank area and society refers to, in part, fisherfolk, other stakeholders and government regulators of that “commons.” The interaction of global processes with the ecological and social characteristics of particular places and sectors may foster a better overall understanding for ecosystem interactions (e.g., Olsen, 2000). Griffis and Kimball (1996) argue that a main ingredient of ecosystem approaches to resource management includes defining sustainability and making it the primary goal or objective.

A novel approach to coastal and nearshore ecosystems was applied by Sherman (1991). This concept is known as the large marine ecosystems (LME) approach to the assessment and management of marine resources and is considered to present an emerging international customary law paradigm for moving toward fishery sustainability (Belsky, 1985; Sherman and Duda, 1999b). Indeed, the LME approach provides for accommodating human use while maintaining ecosystem representation and integrity, among other goals (e.g., Grumbine, 1994). Machlis et al., (1997) describe five working principles that are central to LME management, though considerably less inclusive in actual practice. These principles include “(1) socially defined goals and management objectives, (2) integrated holistic science, (3) broad spatial and temperal scales, (4) adaptable institutions, and (5) collaborative decision-making.”

The Northeast Continental Shelf comprises 260,000 km2 from Cape Hatteras, North Carolina to the Gulf of Maine. This region has contributed some $1 billion annually to the economy of the adjacent coastal states from yields of living marine resources such as, molluscs, crustaceans, fish and   algae (Sherman, 1991; Pontecorvo et al., 1980). Historically throughout the United States in 1994, for example, $3.8 billion in dockside revenues from U.S. commercial fisheries was contributing to a total of $20.2 billion in value added to  the Gross National Product (West Group, 1996). Further, by weight of catch, as a whole the U.S. is the fifth largest fishing nation in the world and the second largest seafood exporter, having shipped more than $3 billion worth of fishery products in 1994 (West Group, 1996). By 1999, U.S. commercial landings from marine fisheries provided some $3.5 billion with a value-added estimated contribution of $27 billion to the U.S. economy (Scavia et al., 2001). These figures didn’t include proceeds from recreational fishing efforts.

“Despite appeals for ecosystem management of ocean fisheries, development of multispecies stock assessment methods and new concepts of large marine ecosystems, few fisheries are actually managed on a multispecies basis”(Botsford, et al., 1997). “New assessment methods and management approaches account for both biological and technical (for example, through nets harvesting several species) interactions among species. However, ecosystem management of marine systems requires a sophisticated understanding of ecosystem dynamics and the organization of component communities. The development of marine ecosystem management lags significantly behind management of terrestrial and freshwater systems due to undersampling of the oceans, their three-dimensional nature and the difficulty in replicating and controlling experiments” (Botsford, et al., 1997; see also Rudd, 2004).

“Ocean ecosystems are influenced as much by changes in the physical environment as by humans. The effects of    the physical environment on marine ecosystems make it difficult to define sustainability in the context of ecosystem management” (Botsford, et al., 1997; but see: Gislason, et al., 2000; Witherell, et al., 2000; Kates, et al., 2001; Busch, 2003; Busch, et al., 2003). A promising challenging “protocol for the development of ecosystem models for management involves use of adaptive management to identify strong interactions and erect interaction webs that include physical as well as biological components” (Botsford, et al., 1997). In the mid-1990’s Boehlert (1996) suggested, “research on multispecies or ecosystem management has come a long way, but the approach is not at a stage for implementation. Adaptive fisheries management uses management regimes in an experimental manner to learn about the processes regulating fish population size as well as interactions among species.”

Young (2003) remarks, “analysts are increasingly aware that fish stocks clearly are components of larger ecosystems. Both abiotic and biotic processes operating in these larger systems can have dramatic impacts on the condition of individual stocks. Interdependencies between different species also can have major consequences for the condition of individual stocks. Consider the case of cod, which prey on herring and capelin. Significant changes in the size and location of herring and capelin stocks may go unnoticed by those focusing on cod stocks.” Young, (2003) states, “the North Atlantic Oscillation, for instance, can make areas inhospitable to specific groups of fish. Shifts in the abundance of cod off New England and the eastern coast of Canada are thought by many observers to be associated with changes in water temperatures in the northwestern Atlantic Ocean. Large marine ecosystems are not the stable systems they were once thought to be. Ecosystems may not automatically return to equilibrium following relatively severe perturbations.” Operating within and beyond the bounds of large marine ecosystems (LME’s) are climate change and variability forces that affect the condition of individual fish stocks. Long-range transport of pollution from terrestrial runoff and from merchant vessels are other large scale exogenous forces exerting variability on individual fish stocks (Young, 2003). “Ecosystem approaches in fisheries management are still in their infancy” (Perry, at  al., 1999; Figure 28).

“Considerable progress has been made in recent years in developing ecosystem-based approaches to large marine ecosystems… There have since been significant moves toward more such integrated approaches (pioneered for Antarctic waters with the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) to marine resource management that better recognize ecological linkages and attempt to take account not just of target species but also the ecosystem to which they belong. The CCAMLR has raised awareness of the interdependency of its various components” (Larkin, 1996). Belsky (1999) argues “that prevention of harm and ‘rational and equitable use’ mean that resources and uses must be studied and managed in a comprehensive manner, focusing on the large marine ecosystems in which resources exist.” As such, “the concept of large marine ecosystems (LME’s) is now widely accepted” (Probert, 2002). Belsky (1999) adds, “the evolution of the marine ecosystem approach from preferred policy to binding (international) customary law is demonstrated by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS, 1982), which came into effect in November, 1994.” “The movement towards an ecosystem approach is best represented by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR) which was ratified in 1982. This treaty represents the first attempt to develop and apply an ecosystem management approach” (English, et al., 1988). And, as discussed and described in this manuscript, LME’s are now a part of “best practices”international customary law (see: Belsky, 1985; Juda and Hennessey, 2001; Duda and Sherman, 2002). Knecht, (1994) proffers, “the ocean governance process and policymakers… need to take account of goals and principles emerging at the international level since these are likely to play a role in shaping future national ocean governance schemes” (see also Costanza, et al., 1998).

Sutinen and Sobeil (2003) state, “The World Bank and  the Global Environment Facility (GEF) have adopted the LME approach to marine ecosystem research and management, viewing it as an effective way to manage and organize scientific research on natural processes occurring within marine ecosystems and to study how pollutants travel within marine systems.” LME’s also are an appropriate scale to conduct a comparative risk assessment (e.g., Gable, 2000). Longhurst, (2003) points out, “LME’s are clearly an idea with which the international funding agencies are comfort able because it suggests formal structure (the standard five LME modules; Figure 2). It has achieved a high level of recognition and has become a symbol for generalized environmental concern among scientists and national environment agencies.” And, as discussed and described in this manuscript, LME’s are now a part of “best practices” international customary law (see: Belsky, 1985; Juda and Hennessey, 2001; Duda and Sherman, 2002).

Sutinen and Sobeil (2003) also remark, “LME’s can be divided further into subsystems such as the Gulf of Maine, Georges Bank, Southern New England, and the Mid-Atlantic Bight in the case of the Northeast USA Continental Shelf” (see Figure 29; Sherman, et al., 1996). The LME approach to management links watershed catchment basins and intertidal coastal zones with continental shelves and littoral ocean currents.” Rosenberg (2003) suggests, “the LME can extend from riverine and estuarine environments out into the coastal ocean, and even far offshore.” The LME management approach, inter alia, provides a framework for research assessment, modeling and monitoring to potentially provide prediction for better policy decision-making. It also aids in focusing assessments and management on sustainable ecosystem oriented integrity. And, the LME approach addresses sustainable development of living marine resources in a holistic multi-faceted manner. (Sutinen and Sobeil, 2003). One jarring problem to successful implementation of the LME approach, according to Sutinen  and Sobeil, (2003) may be the imperfect fit between the spatial and temporal scales of government jurisdictional agencies and ecosystems.

In the United States, for example, the eight regional fishery management councils resulting from the MFCMA of 1976 (applied March 1st 1977) provides a salient mechanism (but see Okey, 2003) for alliances and partnerships between and among private sector stakeholders such as the fishing and processing industries, non-federal agencies such as particular state marine resources divisions, interstate compacts such as the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and nongovernmental for profit and nonprofit organizations. LME management also requires an increase in overall interagency coordination at all levels of government (federal, state and regional/local) (Sutinen and Soboil, 2003). Rosenberg (2003) states that the “LME concept is helpful for thinking of the linkages of biological, chemical and physical factors across large areas of the coastal ocean. Affecting any one part of the LME potentially can have repercussions throughout the region. The LME provides a framework for thinking about potential impacts.” The impacts on fisheries ecosystems (the biological, oceanographic and physical environment that supports commercial and recreational species within a specified management area) of multiple ocean uses, including sand and gravel mining, submarine telecommunications cables, oil and gas energy development, marine transportation, contaminants disposal (also known as “ocean dumping”), recreational tourism and aquaculture, can occur at the scale of LME’s or may be localized in scope (Rosenberg, 2003).

Rosenberg (2003) argues, “aquaculture may cause habitat degradation and competitive interactions between farmed and wild fish, which in combination reduce the productivity of the ecosystem and hence fisheries.” “Aquaculture is considered by some to eventually mitigate global overfishing, yet those cultured fish which require more meal derived from wildfish per unit mass of aquaculture fish produced place even further pressure on already overexploited wild populations” (Verity, et al., 2002). From a management policy perspective, competing uses of the oceans are likely to be complex (Rosenberg, 2003). Verity et al., (2002) state, “it is well known that fish recruitment and fishery yield can vary 10-fold from one year to another, and that variability within one region over many years has scarcely been studied.” “There is substantial evidence that climate influences long term fluctuations in fish stocks that are also exploited commercially. The notion that climate changes and fisheries exploitation interact to cause more persistent changes in ecosystem structure and function than either would alone derives from evidence that climate and exploitation together accelerate species replacement” (Verity, et al., 2002; see also Skud, 1982).  Verity et al. (2002) proffer, “one of the very reasons that it is so difficult to discriminate direct human impacts on fisheries from climate-induced changes is that the two may often be synergistic.”

Considering the need for expanded perspective in the marine pelagic ecosystem, “a new conceptual framework is required around which to organize future research, data interpretation, and diagnostic prediction” (Verity, et al., 2002); the LME approach can now be considered as a best practice. Changing the paradigm about marine pelagic ecosystems will take time to implement (Verity et al., 2002). They conclude, “linking research and education is fundamental to achieving success in any endeavor where public policy, environmental conservation, and stewardship of natural resources are all equal players” (Verity et al., 2002). “'The ecosystem concept is very much like the concept of the hereafter: everyone understands what is meant by it but no one can define exactly what it is’” (Verity et al., 2002; but see Figure 8 & Figure 9; see also Haeuber, 1996; Figure 30).

Schramm and Hubert (1996) suggest, “ecosystem management makes a lot of sense if we identify it as a philosophy, a set of values. It recognizes that humans including their societies, technologies, economies, needs, and values are part of the ecosystem.” “Implementation of ecosystem management presents a basic hurdle: consideration of the environment and all its components such as ecosystem health, ecological integrity, biological diversity, and the values of people (e.g., the general public, private property owners, and elected officials” (Schramm and Hubert, 1996). “The essential components of ecosystem management are sustainable yield, maintenance of biodiversity and protection from the effects of pollution and habitat degradation. It is centered on managing the top-down or fisheries component in the context of special measures of protection for particular species” (Larkin, 1996). Larkin (1996) claims, “the development of the LME concept is a contemporary crystallization of broader perspectives in fisheries management.”

Beamish and Mahnken (1999) suggest that ecosystem management “requires an understanding of the influences  that regulate species naturally. Two of the most frequent news topics in recent years have been fisheries and climate. Climate will continue to be an important item in the news… but fisheries may become less so, as we stabilize our expectations through an improved understanding of the interrelationships among species and their ecosystems.” “Regimes are large, linked climate-ocean ecosystems that shift in states over 10 to 30 year periods” (Beamish and Mahnken, 1999). These authors on page six of their manuscript find that “shifts in the mean carrying capacity occur when there are shifts in a regime.” And carrying capacity is considered to be the mean biomass that can be supported in an ecosystem in a particular state or regime. “Ecosystem management is an exercise in long-term, precautionary thinking. It is acceptable not to know things” (Beamish and Mahnken, 1999).

Larkin (1996) laments that a perennial source of debate in fisheries management is “whether changes in the physical environment (bottom up) or the effects of harvesting (top down) are responsible for major changes in abundance. Applied to marine ecosystems, the term ecosystem management is scientific shorthand for the contemporary appreciation that fisheries management must take greater note of the multispecies interactions” (Larkin, 1996, see: Figure 31). “The point remains that the biological objective of ecosystem management must specify the species mix that is desired in the yield and this may only be possible in general terms” (Larkin, 1996). “The combined abundance of all species in a guild, that is, species that exploit the same class of resources in a similar way might more accurately reflect changes in resources or limiting factors. The relative abundance of species within a guild might change if only some species are harvested” (Larkin, 1996; see also Garrison and Link, 2000). Often the best way of ensuring acceptance and implementation of research findings with special relevance to fishing is through participatory research. Integrated fisheries management (IFM) “stress the interaction between the fish resources, the fishing industry and institutional structures” (Larkin, 1996). Larkin (1996) mentions “the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) has as the main goal of ecosystem management to ensure that human activities do not significantly alter the natural course of ecosystem dynamics” (see also Figure 32).

MacKenzie (1997) finds that the “complexity of the ecological system virtually demands an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.” Further, “scientific information must be translated into public policy and framed within the legal structures that govern society. Once agencies and individuals are enjoined in the process, a framework for decision-making must be created. This is the key procedural challenge of the ecosystem approach” (Figure 33). Using lessons learned from experience in the Great Lakes of North America, integrated resource management strategy demonstrates, “while consensus is viewed as important, most decisions are made through a formal voting procedure with majority rule” as it should. “The ecosystem approach is advocated as a promising tool for marine integrated resource management” (MacKenzie, 1997; see also Odum, 1969; Christensen, 2000; Slocombe, 1993 & 1998). MacKenzie (1997) declares, “the agency perspective is important because a basic challenge of the ecosystem approach is to bring different agencies, organizations, and interests into close working relationships.” Procedural aspects and issues, such as agency participation, decision-making process and the (inter)disciplinary representation of individuals are important to integrated resource management. Challenges to an ecosystem approach, including that referring to program implementation include, funding or budgeting, demonstrating tangible results, tracking projects, and training, among others.


Pitcher (2001) states, “many fisheries ecologists call for ecosystem management but there have been few clear statements of what its objective should be. Trying to define alternative optimal sustainable yields for each stakeholder results only in confusion.” McGinn (1999) posits that the fisherfolk community, fishery managers, politicians and the public (i.e., society) all need to coalesce to reshape fishery incentives (e.g., Figure 27). McGinn (1999) adds that in order to move toward sustainable fisheries, reshaping fishing practices behavior and incentives should be facilitated that are ecologically sustainable, economically viable and socially diverse. Barber and Taylor (1990) state, “objectives operationally support goals, that is, ideals, major accomplishments, ends, or states of affairs to be achieved, and are measurable.” Further, “objectives are specific, measurable, and verifiable statements of intermediate tasks that must be accomplished to attain a goal.” Objectives support goals,  “they are verifiable, specific, and quantifiable, and have a performance measure attached through which the management agency can be evaluated for its progress and effectiveness” (Barber and Taylor, 1990). It is implied that a “fisheries management organization’s goals and objectives are a reflection of the participants’ values (those of the managers as well as the values of those trying to influence the decisions). Making these value judgments involves identifying, selecting, articulating, and ranking goals and objectives” (Barber and Taylor, 1990; see also Figure 34).

“The formalization of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) objectives undoubtedly involved values that formed the utilization ethic of managers and the belief that socioeconomic issues should not be considered (Barber and Taylor, 1990). The goal of maximum sustainable yield (MSY) can be challenged on several grounds, one of which is that “it did not account for species other than the focus of the fishery.

It was not holistic MSY left out too many relevant features,” such as ecosystem considerations. “Greater holism in fisheries management can be achieved by consideration of multiple species interactions, broadscale physical forcing and the response of management to pressure for greater harvests under uncertainty” (Botsford, et al., 1997). “In more recent years, industry has become more involved in management with the advent of optimum yield (OY) goal, which has been legally formalized under the Magnuson Fisheries Conservation and Management Act (MFCMA) as amended in the United States. Based on the OY goal, the MFCMA recognized the importance of socioeconomic and political goals and objectives.” “The goals and objectives of optimum yield management are more diverse than those established solely for conservation purposes” (Barber and Taylor, 1990).  This seems true today with the three additional National Standards promulgated in October 1996 by way of the Sustainable Fisheries Act (P.L. 104297) including sustainable communities and safety at sea  (see Table 4).

The fisheries manager “may recognize that the short-term economic health of fishermen or political needs must be addressed, or to ‘survive’ in the organization, emphasis might be placed on values that weigh more heavily towards social or economic goals than towards conservation goals” (Barber and Taylor, 1990). “A common management action that typifies a suboptimal external focus is to set very broadly stated goals, without supporting objectives, that accommodate the values of many diverse external groups. We contend that fisheries management suffers from this common management error” (Barber and Taylor, 1990). The purpose of their paper is “a call to recognize that clearly defined goals, measurable objectives, and acknowledged values are necessary components of effective fisheries management” (Barber and Taylor, 1990).

According to De La Mare (1998) “fisheries management requires the collaboration of fisheries managers (decision makers), scientists, the fishing industry and other community interests. It requires, inter alia, the formulation of public policy and the development of scientific advice for its implementation. Objectives for fisheries management are usually expressed in vague terms which scientists find ambiguous or uninterpretable.” He emphasizes, “fisheries management involves both biotic and abiotic factors. The biotic factors are the exploited stocks and their interactions with competitors, predators and prey, as well as the effects of the physical environment on them; the study of this complex forms the mainstream of fisheries science.” Regarding the scientific approaches to fisheries management further progress is required in areas not well studied, “these lie largely in the management world and often involve the interface between science and policy” some feel that management objectives and procedures are considered to be outside the realm of science (De La Mare, 1998).

A management-oriented paradigm (one that crosses the boundaries of traditional fisheries scientific, economic and policy research) would have decisionmakers pondering, “the objectives, the time scales over which they are to be achieved and considering the means and the path we choose to get there. Not considering the system as a whole tends to lead to myopic short-term solutions to problems” (De La Mare, 1998). Regarding the multiple objectives fisheries management structure, one solution, will lie in the “redefinition of ‘ownership’ away from single species to portfolios of species. The promotion of sustainable ecosystems does not necessarily depend on a particular property rights regime but rather on an institutional environment that promotes those basic functions” (Hanna, 1998). Burroughs and Clark (1995) remark that long term sustainability of primarily commercial species, manipulation to improve higher value stocks, and maximizing economic benefits to the fisherfolk,  are typical objectives for LME management. Greater holism for multispecies ecosystem management of fisheries as an agent of “human dominated” fisheries management is stressed by Botsford et al. (1997).

Brodziak and Link (2002) suggest that partly because of the nature of the fishery-management institutions and the lack of a management oriented paradigm reliable and effective management is probably the most difficult step in ecosystem-based fishery management. Further complicating the situation for managers are the multispecies nature of some fisheries and bycatch issues. Their contention is that although it may be sufficient to rebuild depleted groundfish resources, a single-species approach to fishery management does little to help rebuild the fishery (Brodziak and Link, 2002). Considering LME goals, Sherman and Duda (1999a&b) highlight a paradigm shift in ecosystem management from a) individual species to ecosystems; b) small spatial scale to multiple scales; c) short-term perspective to decadal long-term; d) human independent to humans as an integral part; e) management apart from research to adaptive management; and f) managing commodities to sustaining production for goods and services coming out of the ecosystems (see also Witherell, 2004 at page 185).


Alexander (1999) defines LME management as “the regulation of activities and resources to achieve certain objectives. The most common objective being sustainability of the living marine resources including ecologically sensitive areas preservation.” Other prospective objectives for LME management may include, user conflict accommodation (e.g., “wind farms” in traditional/historical fisheries catch areas); obtaining wealth from the sea in greater values; and, or increasing (applied) scientific knowledge of regional or global phenomena to formulate better forecasts or predictions of weather and climate events on fisheries variability. The holistic or integrated approach to LME management would typically involve the drainage basins of rivers and lakes whose waters flow into the coastal zone that encompass an LME area (Alexander, 1999).

“Both integrated coastal management (ICM) and the management of large marine ecosystems (LME’s) are concepts that were endorsed by the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in June, 1992” (Olsen, 1999). Olsen goes on to say, “both LME management and ICM are based on the principle that an overt systems approach to resource management holds the greatest promise for defining sustainable intensities and types of human use at various scales. The focus should be on ecosystems defined as coherent, self-defined, and self-organizing units, comprising interacting ecologic, economic, and social components.”

Olsen (1999) states, “ICM’s emphasis on the process of governance (arrayed around the policy process), on participation, on public education, on (issue-driven) consensus building, and on voluntary compliance all can be of real use as the management of LME’s and research on the ecosystem process become more important. Indeed, the evolution of domestic U.S. oriented LME’s depicts the importance of problems raised by the interactions between human society (for example, the 10 National Standards found in the Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996, see: Table 4) and the coastal ecosystems of which they are a part” (Olsen, 1999). Olsen (2001) states that integrated coastal management “is a form of adaptive management,” and that it “requires understanding the interplay between social processes and ecosystem change.” “Ecosystem governance of all kinds, and coastal governance in particular, are not nested across scales and are full of contradictions and gaps.” Science gives legitimacy to particular policy options or lines of argument and makes the debate over contentious issues an informed one (Olsen, 2001).

Olsen (2003) argues, “the ultimate goal of sustainable forms of coastal development is today an undefined ideal.” He further suggests, “sustainable development requires achieving yet to be defined equilibria among both social  and environmental qualities” (Olsen, 2003). Regarding a framework and indicators for tracking the processes by which integrated coastal management initiatives evolve, Olsen (2003) states, “there are many variations to how the policy cycle model (e.g., Figure 18) can be adapted to integrated coastal management, but the central idea of a multiple step cycle of planning-commitment -- implementation-evaluation remains constant” (see also e.g. Gable, 2003; Jones, 1984). “A culture of learning with high standards of accountability and professional excellence must be fostered within the emerging profession of coastal ecosystem governance” (Olsen, 2003).

Perrings (2000) states, “there is a general consensus that land-based processes pose a major threat to marine capture fisheries in many parts of the world, however, the linkages between terrestrial activities and the state of such systems are complex.” Indeed, Perrings on page 514 of his manuscript also mentions, “other coastal developments, particularly for tourism also have had adverse effects on the productivity of hard-substratum marine systems such as coastal ecosystems.” It is likely that the serial depletion of fish stocks is an example of environmental degradation linked to structural adjustment policies. Perrings (2000) suggests that from his analysis “four main categories of ‘sustainability’indicators dominate the marine capture fisheries literature:”  (a) stock catch levels; (b) biodiversity indicators; (c) ecosystem health indicators, and (d) indicators of socioeconomic stress. Ecosystem health indicators, for example, are oftentimes combined with biomass yield and biodiversity indicators (Perrings, 2000; Sherman, 1995 & 1994).

Conventional socioeconomic stress indicators (e.g. catch per unit effort (CPUE), employment, investment, prices, productivity and income distribution) are sometimes combined with biological indicators focuses on the industry rather than the underlying ecosystem (Perrings, 2000; see Figure 35). Under this rubric, “the indicators should make it possible to fit models of the causal linkage between terrestrial activities and capture fisheries” in integrated coastal area management (e.g. Figure 15). He proffers, “the problem in regulated fisheries lies in the fact that harvesting limits have been set in the context of negotiations that make little reference to fishery science” (Perrings, 2000). He cites as one example, the problem of the Atlantic Blue Fin Tuna (underreporting of catch issues) as well as the earlier collapse of North Sea and Atlantic herring resources.

“An indicator is a statistic or parameter that tracked over time, provides information on trends in the condition of a phenomenon and has significance extending beyond that associated with the properties of the statistic itself. Environmental indicators focus on trends in environmental changes, stresses causing them, how the ecosystem and its components are responding to these changes, and societal responses to prevent, reduce or ameliorate these stresses” (Vandermeulen, 1998). As the basis for indicator development an ‘issues’ approach can be adapted. Vandermeulen (1998) acknowledges, “natural forces may also cause stresses, but the focus for indicators is on human causes since decision makers in society have more ability to do something about them.” An example indicator of sustainable use or marine resources with links to coastal zone management includes commercial catch of all Atlantic herring stocks designated in a yearly trend series, in relation to spawning biomass trends and/or landed value of catch (Vandermeulen, 1998).

Bowen and Riley (2003) claim, “creating an indicator framework that has a place for both process and outcome indicators can help trace management efforts more directly  to environmental and social conditions.” They suggest that process indicators include, among others, laws written and passed, budget provided and money spent, licenses or permits issued or denied and management programs implemented. “Outcome indicators document the changes in social or physical conditions brought about by the activities of the public program (e.g. measures of organizational learning or progress; see e.g. Figure 4). “Achieving the goals (and objectives) of integrated coastal management (and LME approaches) requires a clear picture of programmatic progress, environmental conditions and influencing anthropogenic factors. Attempting to tease out the relative contributions of natural cycles, episodic events, and anthropogenic influence requires sophisticated statistical analysis and the occasional heroic assumption(s).” Socioeconomic, ecological, and management indicators all fit into a linked approach to (e.g. LME) program performance (Bowen and Riley, 2003).

Antunes and Santos (1999) claim, “the development of monitoring systems capable of providing information on (large) marine ecosystems and their response to pressures generated by human activities, is essential to improve ocean governance.” Further, “interdisciplinary research is needed to develop linked physical-biological-chemical models and to integrate the socioeconomic dimension” (Antunes and Santos, 1999). The LME approach does this effectively. “Compared to other research areas, fisheries science started early to link the knowledge accumulated by natural and human science (economics and biology, in particular; Catanzano and Mesnil, 1995). “In many cases, the choice of gear is the primary factor in the fisherman’s ‘project,’ even more so than the choice of target species.” Since “most  gears require a special vessel design or at least specific on-board equipment” (Catanzano and Mesnil, 1995).

Clay and McGoodwin (1995) state that a fisheries system involves the “physical environment, marine organisms, and the people who harvest, utilize and manage these resources.” “Social scientists see fisheries as complex systems, involving harvesters, buyers, processors, wholesalers, retailers and consumers; support industries such as equipment, fuel and ice suppliers; families and community networks; and scientists, managers, administrators, and legislators. The interactions of these various individuals and groups, their knowledge bases, values and perceptions of  the fishery, all contribute to the types of fisheries policies enacted, as well as to the success or failure of management systems.” Social science studies examine both the structure of national, regional, and local management institutions and the adoption of formal and informal rules at the management/agency level by which fisheries policies are crafted (Clay and McGoodwin, 1995). “There is increasing recognition that fisheries management is as much a ‘people management’ problem as a biological or economic one. By definition, a fishery does not exist in the absence of human fishing effort. Effective fisheries management must be responsive not only to the biological and economic concerns, but to social and political ones as well” (Clay and McGoodwin, 1995).

Crance and Draper (1996) suggest that an important behavioral solution in coastal zone management resources decisions is “based on awareness of ecosystem resources, regional coordination for resource protection, and the use and development with due regard to needs of local populations.” Tradeoffs between economic, social and ecological components or resource management may become clearer when behavioral solutions are incorporated in (fishery) management plans” (Crance and Draper, 1996). “The central defining concept in integrated coastal management is the effective integration across sectors, disciplines, agencies, and stakeholders for the sustainable use of coastal areas and resources” (Poitras, et al., 2003). For the integration across sectors, they define consensus as “the building of agreement regarding integrated coastal management decisions among government agencies, user groups and local communities through informed discussion, negotiation and public participation” (Poitras, et al., 2003).

A policy orientation approach (e.g. Gable, 2003) within  an LME paradigm may be quite complementary to the existing scientific and conservation rationale to management (units) of LME’s espoused by Sherman (1991 & 1994) and the ecosystem elements for management described in Hennessey (1998; see: Table 2). Combining local and scientific knowledge, including the intuitions and experiences of fisherfolk (MacKinson and Noettestad, 1998; Wilen, et al., 2002) into a LME policy process framework may uncover the logical set of policy activities associated with government regulation of fisheries while simultaneously producing a learning-based approach to fisheries management from an overall  coastal area management perspective (e.g., Crance and Draper, 1996; Olsen et al., 1998).


The North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC) noted, for example, “jellyfish in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Eastern Bering Sea have increased with the largest increases occurring in the 1990’s in the Eastern Bering Sea and late 1980’s for the Gulf of Alaska. Some relationship with oceanographic variables is hypothesized” (Livingston, 1999; see also Brodeur, et al., 1999). One “other species”indicator discussed as it relates to “nonspecified species bycatch” was that there were large increases in jellyfish in 2000 relative to 1999 and they were dominant species in the “nonspecified bycatch (Livingston, 2001). Pitcher, (2001) reports on huge jellyfish increases in the Adriatic, Bering, Black and South China Seas and the role gelatinous zooplankton play in destabilizing marine ecosystems.

Perhaps there are other factor(s) or threats at work in the temperate zone of the North Atlantic Ocean. Levitus et al. (2000) have found a “statistically significant” warming of  the world ocean, in the last few decades, including temperate regions of the North Atlantic. Barnett, et al., (2001) more or less confirmed the ocean warming hypothesis discussed  by Levitus and his colleagues. Moreover, Robinson (1994) has uncovered that there is a relatively constant predator-to-prey size ratio in littoral aquatic food chains and that large interannual variability in plankton production results from climatic atmospheric forcing in coastal nearshore environs. Therefore, this recent ocean warming trend in temperate oceanic regions could lead to a possible “regime shift” in the large marine ecosystem encompassing the Northeast United States Continental Shelf (Steele, 1998). “The regime concept forces scientists to examine the natural processes that regulate fish abundance, particularly those processes linked to climate-ocean conditions”(McFarlane, et al., 2000; see also Figure 12).

Steele and Schumacher (2000) have found that “pelagic invertebrate predators, such as “jellies” play a large role in present energy flow patterns for Georges Bank. They are also a dominant component of unexploited open ocean eco systems.”  Mlot (1997) writes that hydroids, which are related to jellyfish and anemones, prey directly on Georges Bank fish larvae, and on copepods, which the fish also eat, they can reduce the survival of fish larvae by 50 percent. Further, Purcell and Arai (2001) found that gelatinous predators’ selection for fish eggs and larvae has been positive for every species for which it has been calculated. They go on to mention that large gelatinous species while feeding on high densities of ichthyoplankton may eat tens to hundreds of fish eggs and larvae daily (Purcell and Arai, 2001). In the Gulf of Maine area Mills (2001) suggests that it seems that the numbers of ‘jellies’ may have increased in recent decades in important fishing grounds perhaps in relation to ocean warming. Quoting from Mills (2001) “the problem of ocean change is very real. It is unfortunate that we have so little population and ecological data about medusae and ctenophores in the field that we usually cannot presently distinguish between fluctuations and long term, possibly irreversible change.”

Thus, an ecosystem-oriented hypothesis is that there is a natural experiment of interactions between pelagic invertebrate “jellies” with commercial fish species in the northwest Atlantic Ocean continental shelf area that may have equally deleterious regional effects on populations as that of overfishing (e.g. Safina, 2003; Repetto, 2001) or inefficient harvesting. Finding the ecological data that will either prove or find the null hypothesis as part of overall fisheries science and management in this large marine ecosystem is therefore necessary (e.g. Fogarty, 2001). Jackson et al. (2001) have illustrated some of the important top-down (food web) ecosystem interactions due to overfishing that in temperate estuarine environments, jellyfish have become more abundant trophically after anthropogenic fishing efforts to the detriment of zooplankton on which they feed. Thus, an assumption is that there is a synergistic effect between these “forcings.” Earlier, Vitousek et al. (1997) found that 22 percent of recognized marine fisheries as of 1995 were over-exploited or already depleted, and 44 percent more were at their limit of exploitation. Further, they mentioned that worldwide commercial marine fisheries discard 27 million tons of nontarget species annually, a quantity nearly one-third as large as total landings. Gelatinous marine invertebrates such  as ctenophores, or comb jellies, are common predators in coastal waters (Madin, 2001; Moeller, 1984) and biological information needs to be found about them in order to ascertain sustainable harvest levels of commercial fishing from season to season.

Murawski (1993) has tested the sensitivity of marine fish distributions in the western North Atlantic to oscillations in ocean temperature for select commercial groundfish species and indications are fishery ranges may, in time, move poleward. This type of evolutionary global change marine science should be taken into account in fishery management plans (FMP’s) and strategies (e.g., Scavia et al., 2002; Figure 20). The effects of increased carbon dioxide on marine fisheries are indirect rather than direct, and occur through changes in the physical and chemical characteristics of the ocean environment (e.g., Frank et al., 1990; Levitus et al., 2000). Indeed, climate induced alterations can best be discerned, and policies developed to mitigate unwanted effects, in a holistic ecosystem-oriented manner that an LME program provides. Climatic variability has a principal controlling influence on the structure of a littoral marine fish assemblage (Attrill and Power, 2002) and thus recruitment variability (e.g., Rothschild, 2000).

Gonzalez (1996) finds, “major ecosystem processes are climate-driven governed by broad regimes of temperature and precipitation” (see Figure 12). As a regulatory agency embraces the goal of protecting entire ecosystems “it will need to rank ecosystems at risk in order to set priorities.” A “zoom-lens approach” (see also by example, Figure 19) affords an agency to see more clearly at which scale monitoring is appropriate and to “focus” or refine their efforts (Gonzalez, 1996). Thus, it is quite likely, “a high degree of interagency cooperation at various scales will be required for an ecosystem approach to be workable and successful”(Gonzalez, 1996; see also Grumbine, 1994).


Lasswell (1951) stated more than fifty years ago that “the pace of specialization in philosophy, natural science, biology, and the social sciences has been so rapid that colleagues... often complain that they cannot understand one another.” Hayes (1992) believes “science has become more difficult for nonspecialists to understand is a truth universally acknowledged.” Lasswell (1951) further commented that broad fields of knowledge (e.g. marine affairs) are needed in order to have a vision of the whole, thus, the ecosystem-oriented approach of the LME embraces such a view in living marine resource management. Lasswell (1951) points out that policy sciences policy orientation can be considered “as the disciplines regarded with explaining the policy-making and policy-executing process.” These are then combined with locating data and information and providing interpretations which are relevant to the policy problems of a given timeframe, scale, and domain (Lasswell, 1951; e.g., MacKinson and Noettestad, 1998; Longhurst, 1998). Hence, a policy orientation approach that provides a summary of Northeast Shelf LME living resources and their utilization practices (Gable, 2003) could serve for identifying the best practices record for the ecosystem while utilizing the best available science ecosystem-oriented indices (Link et al., 2002).

Lynch et al., (1999) suggest that a new “joint venture”strategy for ecosystem management is emerging among regulatory agencies (Figure 29). Management agencies “continue to struggle with the problem of how to define in operational terms, let alone implement an ecosystem-based framework for managing fisheries” (Hall, 2002). Haeuber (1996) suggests, “the evolution of scientific knowledge regarding the functioning of natural systems and the linkages between natural and human systems, has increased our understanding of the emerging generation of environmental problems.” “Focusing events” in the marine environment have lifted the visibility of fishery related environmental problems (Haeuber, 1996). “Environmental events can change the carrying capacity for short or long periods and alter the competitive environment indirectly, or through direct mortality may change predator-prey proportions or the relative dominance of competing species” (Hollowed, et al., 2000; see also Skud, 1982).

“An interdisciplinary scientific effort is needed to develop methodologies for better understanding and detection of ecosystem change, as well as evaluation of different ecological functions” (von Bodungen and Turner, 2001; Figure 36). Ecosystem management “involves working across property boundaries and political jurisdictions, and requires intellectual, physical and monetary resources to address environmental issues which are not the exclusive domain of any one entity” (Michaels, et al., 1999). Knowledge of species life history parameters is perhaps a good starting point for ecosystem assessment and management approaches (King and McFarlane, 2003). “Environmental pressure builds up via socioeconomic driving forces and is augmented by natural systems variability, which leads to changes in environmental systems states and finally to the loss of goods and services. Although marine systems may  be much more sensitive to changes in their environment, they also may be much more resilient more adaptable in terms of recovery response to stress and shock” (von Bodungen and Turner, 2001).  These authors claim, “fisheries policies in most countries have reflected the schism between science and managers/users. It has not been straightforward for scientists to relate their science to the various stages in the policy cycle, and for policy makers to recognize what science is needed or what scientific results have to be incorporated at which time in the policy cycle (von Bodungen and Turner, 2001).

Talaue-McManus et al. (2003) suggest, “climate change, international trade and development, and mass tourism are among what may be considered as global factors affecting coastal areas.” As regards to interpreting indicators, their interpretation in site-specific cases, however, requires as much knowledge as is available about the geophysical and biological processes taking place upstream in an LME estuary or watershed and within an estuary as well as down stream in the adjacent receiving waters of the coastal ocean, where the “quantity and quality of river discharge is a critical determinant of the status of continental shelf ecosystems” (Hall, 2002). Thus, this is important because out of 13,200 known species or marine fish, almost 80 percent are coastal (Belfiore, 2003). And as mentioned earlier, “no widely accepted and tested set of sustainable measures exists” for coastal waters (Belfiore, 2003; Figure 37).


One may assume that the LME process is entering an advanced state of utilization if one employs the “policy process” found in Jones (1984). And it appears that facets of the LME paradigm, in combination with the precautionary approach, have taken root in international custom law.   But has marine ecosystem-oriented management for the public domain explicitly seen legitimation through legislation by elected government in the United States (Keiter,  1996)?7  The answer is a “qualified yes” since this research is pertinent to evolving Congressional policy as well as the findings of the Congressional mandated U.S. Ocean Com mission (see e.g., Watkins, 2004 & 2002). In July of 2002, the U.S. House Resources Committee voted to pass a bill reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens (Sustainable Fisheries) Act wherein the language emphasizes the need for a move to ecosystem-based management. The 2002 House bill (H.R. 4749) emphasized movement toward ecosystem-based fisheries, as opposed to the traditional species-based management plans (e.g., Schiermeier, 2002).8

The bill, in section six, would require the Secretary of Commerce (likely through the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmospheres, i.e., NOAA) in concert with the eight Regional Fishery Management Councils (established in 1977) to create a definition for “ecosystem” and “marine ecosystem.” It would also necessitate an identification of specific marine ecosystems within each region, as well as a pilot ecosystem based fishery management plan on both the Atlantic and Pacific seaboard. Also required as a part of the House of Representatives bill, are criteria for the development of ecosystem-based management plans, and description and identification of areas of scientific understanding for which sufficient data are not yet available. And, the Secretary of Commerce would be required (when the bill becomes Public Law) to formulate research plans to meet  the data deficit identified in a mandated report to Congress. Consequently, this study has attempted to introduce components of an “east coast” ecosystem-based fishery management plan design as potentially required by H.R. 4749, while taking into account sufficient data requirement needs of the regional Councils’ policy managers and their constituent audience. This study has also attempted to begin to answer a question posed by Link (2002a) “what does ecosystem-based fisheries management mean?” In addition, a 108th Congress Senate working draft bill was released on February 12th. Maine’s Senator Olympia Snowe is the sponsor of the legislation referred to as the Fishery Conservation and Management Amendments Act of 2004. It too contains a section related to ecosystem research priorities with a pilot program for fishery ecosystem plans (e.g., Zabel, et al., 2003). Both bills, when passed, would need to be reconciled between the chambers in conference committee.

With the passage of the Oceans Act of 2000 (P.L. 106 256; e.g., Watkins, 2002) this study has sought to enhance fostering of sustainability natural and social science in forging linkages between best practices solutions to reemerging living marine resources issues within the concept of sustainability and the “precautionary principle” (see Foster, et. al., 2000) that includes ecological considerations of fish stocks as component parts of a model large marine ecosystem. No single model is necessarily appropriate to all ecosystems because they are complex, dynamic and non-linear (Low, et al., 1999). According to Jackson et al. (2001), all coastal ecosystems are already perturbed, and therefore in need of better and proper management. A shift in the current fisheries science paradigm toward more successful and integrated approaches utilizing the best available science to dealing with the fisheries problems is required now (Lane and Stephenson, 1999).


Presently, the LME systems approach utilizes a “five module framework.” The modules include, a) productivity,   b) fish and fisheries, c) pollution and ecosystem health, for example, collecting organisms as bioindicators of pollutants in finfish and bivalves, d) governance, (e.g., Juda, 1999; Hennessey, 1994; Juda and Hennessey, 2001) and e) socioeconomics (e.g., Charles, 1988; Dyer and Poggie, 2000; see Figure 2). The tool of comparative risk assessment may encompass aspects of the five module LME framework (e.g., Gable, 2000). As part of the LME framework, ecosystem services can be defined as “the conditions and processes through which natural ecosystems, and the species that comprise them, sustain and fulfill human life” (Batabyal, et al., 2003). Ecosystem resilience refers to the amount of disturbance that can be sustained before a change in (eco)system control or structure occurs (Batabyal, et al., 2003). Thus, it is appropriate to discuss fishery resources in concert with socioeconomics and adaptive management parameters in the framework described in Sherman (1995) into a policy orientation approach. Because domestically no legal requirement exists to implement an FMP for a stock  that is not overfished, as a result, fisheries science and management is continuously playing catch up (Murawski, 2002). Combining coastal pollution, changes in biodiversity, the degraded states of fish stocks, and the deteriorating condition of coastal habitat fosters a limiting economic achievement of the full sustainable potential of coastal eco systems (Sherman, 1995).

From the discipline of natural resource economics, it appears that people are prompted into action because of the perception or impending reality of economic loss (e.g., Swallow, 1996). In the Northeast Continental Shelf ecosystem, the New England groundfish fishery is often cited as not being managed optimally (Sutinen and Upton, 2000). The overall fisheries industry to the United States ocean sector economy remains quite viable and significant   (Sherman, 1991; Pontecorvo, 1989; Pontecorvo et al., 1980). Kerry (2002) laments, however, “the combination of multiple statutory mandates, complicated regulatory procedures, and resource limitations have made it almost impossible for managers or fishermen to respond quickly, flexibly, or appropriately to address a management problem. In addition, implementation of the Sustainable Fisheries Act has been plagued by conflict, delays, and inconsistent interpretations of what we enacted in 1996.” When fishing restrictions are lifted, after a period of time, oftentimes a “wave of lawsuits” follows (Braile, 2000). For example, as of May 1st, 2002 “there were 104 open docket cases against the agency,” i.e., NMFS (Kerry, 2002). This would lead even the casual observer to suspect that fisheries resource management in the U.S. is principally driven in response to lawsuits. In general it is (Greene, 2002; Gade et al., 2002; Daley, 2002; Wilmsen, 2002). Greene (2002) comments that the willingness of fisherfolk, environmentalists, scientists, and the courts to find common ground will determine the future of the New England fishing industry.

Traditionally, in the U.S. littoral fishery resources have been ‘common property’ since ownership is held by all citizens” (Macinko and Raymond, 2001). Property rights regimes have been promulgated in the U.S. (e.g. Individual Fishery Quotas and Individual Transferable Quotas) and some researchers suggest these present a more long-term sustainable management method (Sutinen, et al., 2000; Edwards, 2003). While this may be true, research here indicates that an in-place transparent ecosystem-oriented fishery management science policy program is “very likely” better accomplished while living marine resources are held “in the public trust.” Combining local and scientific knowledge, including the intuitions and experiences of fisherfolk (MacKinson and Noettestad, 1998) into a policy process framework for analysis with select functional activities with attendant potential product(s) and benefits (Jones, 1984; Clark, 1992) may uncover the logical set of activities associated with elected government legislative regulation of fisheries. This may be accomplished while at the same time producing a learning-based approach to fisheries management from an overall coastal area management perspective that has already encompassed property rights regimes for select species such as surf clam/ocean quahogs (e.g., Crance and Draper, 1996; Olsen et al., 1998).

A policy orientation formula (Gable, 2003; Table 5 & Figure 18, Figure 19, Figure 38) provides a view of fisheries professionals as participants immeasurably involved in decision making streams and actions over time that collectively determine what truly happens to fishery stocks within an identifiable marine ecosystem. Applying explicit knowledge of decision-making processes is essential to effective sustainability of living marine resources. An example of (local) knowledge in the policy process is public participatory awareness concerning the status of forage fisheries (herring; e.g. Gamble, 2003), consequences of optional harvest strategies, and economic rent returns derived from sundry transparent management options. Ocean science and ocean policy considerations can aid fisheries professionals in sorting through the mix of science, analysis and politics involved in important conservation and sustainability policies and programs (e.g., Clark, 1992). The present study has explored the legislation, marine policies, science, and the newly mandated ecosystem-based approach for furthering the implementation of the LME modular strategy to fisheries management, both domestically and internationally, while generically taking into accord themes and select “national standard” parameters found in the U.S. Sustainable Fisheries Act of 1996 and prospective amendments to that legislation.

  1. At the 74th Plenary Meeting of the U.N. General Assembly, on December 12th 2002, 132 nations were in favor of A/57/L.48 adopted as Resolution A/57/141, only one against (Turkey) and two abstaining (Columbia & Venezuela). In their affirming statement before the General Assembly, Japan through Ambassador Akamatsu, explained its position prior to voting on the three resolutions. In essence, Japan decided to associate itself with “the consideration of the ecosystem in the conservation and management of marine living resources” regarding draft resolution A57/L.49. By voice vote draft resolution A/57/L.49 was adopted as resolution 57/142. Similarly, draft resolution A/57/L.50 was adopted as resolution 57/143. See: Online available November 10th 2003.
  2. From Belsky (1985) “at a certain point, a series of state practices, codified in treaties or working agreements, and supported by the writings of legal scholars and the acknowledgement or acceptance of the world community, passes from mere examples of national action to a customary norm of international law. A total ecosystem approach to conservation and management of resources could become binding customary international law via this route.”
  3. From the NEFMC Executive Committee Minutes of January 9, 2004 (correspondence and reports document #10 of January 2729, 2004) one of the discussion “problem statements” was that there is a need for advice on ecosystem management principles. “What is ecosystem based management? We need to know what it is before it is applied to our plans.” Further, from the “minutes” it was mentioned that… “very primitive with ecosystem management… descriptive knowledge should be first step. Understanding ecosystem is difficult but right thing to do.” In addition, one draft goal stated was to “improve ecosystem-based management integration of habitat and bycatch, and interactions between fishery management plans (FMP’s).”
  4. From inter alia, Mahlman (1997) & Easterling et al., (2000) & the U.S. Global Change Research Program ( ) quantitative terminology used in global (climate) change and policy (and applicable here) includes:
    • “virtually certain projections” = > 99% probability or chance of being true
    • “very likely” or “very probable” = 90 to 99% or 9 out of 10 probability or chance
    • “likely” or “probable” = 67 to ~90% or 2 out of 3 chance of being true
    • “possible” = 33 to ~66% probability or chance of being true
    • “unlikely” or “some chance” = 10 to ~33% probability or chance of being true
    • “very unlikely” or “little chance” = 1 to 10% probability or chance of being true
    • “improbable” = < 1% probability or chance of being true.
  5. From the NEFMC Executive Committee Minutes of January 9, 2004 under the discussion section on “problem statement” the present NOAA/NMFS Regional Administrator stated that “ecosystem management means something different to everyone; at some point all must agree as to what it means …need to have better linkage with everything we’re doing and not working separately.” This manuscript provides a baseline dialogue on the meaning of large marine ecosystem-oriented fisheries management (see also Figure 20).
  6. NEFMC member Erik Anderson of New Hampshire at the November 4, 2003 Council meeting in Peabody, Massachusetts put forward a motion stating that population parameters used for groundfish would incorporate “ecosystem interactions” as a condition of (stock) status determination. This was the first Council meeting that an ecosystem-oriented approach was voted on and passed unanimously by the members. John Boreman, Director of the NMFS NEFSC (Woods Hole, MA.) aided when asked by vice chairman Thomas Hill to elaborate, "…what we’re going to be looking at is   just all species, the whole ecosystem. So, it’s all trophic interactions and competitors, predators, prey, anything that would affect the population growth of a given species.” The word ecosystem is an “expression of carrying capacity in the system that may be less than the biomass target. If there are factors out there in the ecosystem that limit the carrying capacity of that particular species, we should know about that, or we should include that factor in the analysis.” Thus, Erik Anderson’s use of his terminology “ecosystem interaction(s)” is equivalent to the “ecosystem considerations” found in this manuscript. (Source: notarized written transcription of the audiographic tape dated March 5th, 2004 and received April, 2nd, 2004 by the NEFMC at pages 158161).
  7. It is important to note that according to Keiter (1996) “Congress is the ultimate policy-making institution; it establishes the nation’s basic natural resource management policies and priorities,… with implementation coming through the executive branch of government.”
  8. The New England Fishery Management Council (NEFMC) at their scheduled Providence, Rhode Island public meeting provided excerpted copies for review and discussion of portions of the Preliminary Report of the U.S. Commission on Ocean Policy Governors’Draft, April 2004. Distributed were the Executive Summary and Chapter 19, Achieving Sustainable Fisheries, as NEFMC Correspondence  & Reports (May 1113, 2004) documents.


Funding for this study provided through a competitive contract from NOAA/NMFS/NEFSC Narragansett, Rhode Island Lab, P.O. No. EA133F03SE0707. Additional support garnered through a U.S. National Academy of Sciences National Research Council Research Associateship Award (No. 0497420 marine science & fisheries) performed at the NOAA/NMFS Narragansett Lab under the program on “marine ecosystems assessment and management.” Thanks to Kenneth Sherman, Chief, NMFS Office of Marine Ecosystems Studies for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript as well as Dean Emeritus John A. Knauss of the University of Rhode Island (URI), Professor Timothy Hennessey of URI and Phil Logan, Chief, Social Sciences Branch (NMFS, Woods Hole, MA.) for discussions and review on aspects of the study and other anonymous reviewers. Portions of the project are a spinoff of my marine affairs Ph.D, graduate program of study at URI. The figures and tables were ably crafted in QuarkxPress software by Sarah Litchfield. The Social Science Branch of the NMFS NEFSC covered publication costs for binding and distribution for the NEFSC “technical memorandum” series.


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