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    ABSTRACT: An ecosystem approach is widely seen as a desirable goal for fisheries management but there is little consensus on what strategies or measures are needed to achieve it. Management strategy evaluation (MSE) is a tool that has been widely used to develop and test single species fisheries management strategies and is now being extended to support ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM). We describe the application of MSE to investigate alternative strategies for achieving EBFM goals for a complex multispecies fishery in southeastern Australia. The study was undertaken as part of a stakeholder driven process to review and improve the ecological, economic and social performance of the fishery. An integrated management strategy, involving combinations of measures including quotas, gear controls and spatial management, performed best against a wide range of objectives and this strategy was subsequently adopted in the fishery, leading to marked improvements in performance. Although particular to one fishery, the conclusion that an integrated package of measures outperforms single focus measures we argue is likely to apply widely in fisheries that aim to achieve EBFM goals.
    PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e84242. · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Spatial and temporal trends and variation in life-history traits, including age and length at maturation, can be influenced by environmental and anthropogenic processes, including size-selective exploitation. Spawning adults in many wild Alaskan sockeye salmon populations have become shorter at a given age over the past half-century, but their age composition has not changed. These fish have been exploited by a gillnet fishery since the late 1800s that has tended to remove the larger fish. Using a rare, long-term dataset, we estimated probabilistic maturation reaction norms (PMRNs) for males and females in nine populations in two basins and correlated these changes with fishery size selection and intensity to determine whether such selection contributed to microevolutionary changes in maturation length. PMRN midpoints decreased in six of nine populations for both sexes, consistent with the harvest. These results support the hypothesis that environmental changes in the ocean (likely from competition) combined with adaptive microevolution (decreased PMRNs) have produced the observed life-history patterns. PMRNs did not decrease in all populations, and we documented differences in magnitude and consistency of size selection and exploitation rates among populations. Incorporating evolutionary considerations and tracking further changes in life-history traits can support continued sustainable exploitation and productivity in these and other exploited natural resources.
    Evolutionary Applications 02/2014; 7(2):313-22. · 4.15 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The widespread depletion of commercially exploited marine living resources is often seen as a general failure of management and results in criticism of contemporary management procedures. When populations show dramatic and positive changes in population size, this invariably leads to questions about whether favorable climatic conditions or good management (or both) were responsible. The Barents Sea cod (Gadus morhua) stock has recently increased markedly and the spawning stock biomass is now at an unprecedented high. We identify the crucial social and environmental factors that made this unique growth possible. The relationship between vital rates of Barents Sea cod stock productivity (recruitment, growth, and mortality) and environment is investigated, followed by simulations of population size under different management scenarios. We show that the recent sustained reduction in fishing mortality, facilitated by the implementation of a "harvest control rule," was essential to the increase in population size. Simulations show that a drastic reduction in fishing mortality has resulted in a doubling of the total population biomass compared with that expected under the former management regime. However, management alone was not solely responsible. We document that prevailing climate, operating through several mechanistic links, positively reinforced management actions. Heightened temperature resulted in an increase in the extent of the suitable feeding area for Barents Sea cod, likely offering a release from density-dependent effects (for example, food competition and cannibalism) through prolonged overlap with prey and improved adult stock productivity. Management and climate may thus interact to give a positive outlook for exploited high-latitude marine resources.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 02/2014; · 9.81 Impact Factor

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Jun 2, 2014