[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This report summarizes the outcomes of an IndiSeas workshop aimed at using ecosystem indicators to evaluate the status of the world’s exploited marine ecosystems in support of an ecosystem approach to fisheries, and global policy drivers such as the 2020 targets of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Key issues covered relate to the selection and integration of multi-disciplinary indicators, including climate, biodiversity and human dimension indicators, and to the development of data- and model-based methods to test the performance of ecosystem indicators in providing support for fisheries management. To enhance the robustness of our cross-system comparison, unprecedented effort was put in gathering regional experts from developed and developing countries, working together on multi-institutional survey datasets, and using the most up-to-date ecosystem models.
Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries 08/2013; 22(3). · 2.27 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: There is growing interest in models of marine ecosystems that deal with the effects of climate change through the higher trophic levels. Such end-to-end models combine physicochemical oceanographic descriptors and organisms ranging from microbes to higher-trophic-level (HTL) organisms, including humans, in a single modeling framework. The demand for such approaches arises from the need for quantitative tools for ecosystem-based management, particularly models that can deal with bottom-up and top-down controls that operate simultaneously and vary in time and space and that are capable of handling the multiple impacts expected under climate change. End-to-end models are now feasible because of improvements in the component submodels and the availability of sufficient computing power. We discuss nine issues related to the development of end-to-end models. These issues relate to formulation of the zooplankton submodel, melding of multiple temporal and spatial scales, acclimation and adaptation, behavioral movement, software and technology, model coupling, skill assessment, and interdisciplinary challenges. We urge restraint in using end-to-end models in a true forecasting mode until we know more about their performance. End-to-end models will challenge the available data and our ability to analyze and interpret complicated models that generate complex behavior. End-to-end modeling is in its early developmental stages and thus presents an opportunity to establish an open-access, community-based approach supported by a suite of true interdisciplinary efforts. Yes Yes
Marine and Coastal Fisheries Dynamics Management and Ecosystem Science 05/2013; 2(1):115-130. · 1.79 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The NW Mediterranean has a number of structural features in common with upwelling ecosystems. Therefore, an ecological model representing a NW Mediterranean exploited ecosystem was standardized and compared with four previously standardized models from coastal upwelling ecosystems: the Northern and Southern Humboldt (Chile and Peru upwelling systems) and the Northern and Southern Benguela (Namibia and South Africa upwelling systems). Results from biomasses, flows and trophic levels indicated important differences between ecosystems, mainly caused by differences in primary production, which was smallest in the NW Mediterranean Sea. However, principal component analysis (PCA) of biomasses and flows suggested a similar pattern between the NW Mediterranean and the South African systems due to the inclusion of an important fraction of the continental shelf in both ecological models representing these areas. At the same time, diets of commercial species from the NW Mediterranean were more similar to Benguela than Humboldt species.However, the relatively heavy fishing pressure in the NW Mediterranean ecosystem was highlighted relative to its primary production, and was evident from the large catches and small primary production, largest flows from TL 1 required to sustain the fishery (%PPR), the low trophic level of the catch (TLc), high exploitation rates (F/Z), largest values in the trophic spectra portraying catch: biomass ratio, the FIB index and the demersal: total catch ration. Comparisons of %PPR, the trophic level of the community (TLco), the biomass of consumers and F/Z ratios seemed to capture the ecosystem effects of fishing: large in the NW Mediterranean, Namibia and Peru upwelling systems. Small pelagic fish were the most important component of the fisheries in the NW Mediterranean and Peruvian systems. However, the smaller production and biomass ratios from the NW Mediterranean could be an indirect indicator of intense fishing pressure on small pelagic fish, also in line with results from consumption of small pelagic fish by the fishery, F/Z ratios and trophic spectra. Moreover, similarities between the NW Mediterranean and Namibian systems were found, mainly related to the demersal: total catch ratios, the FIB index, the relevance of gelatinous zooplankton in the consumption of production and the importance of pelagic-demersal coupling, in remarkable contrast to the other ecosystems. These similarities should be interpreted in terms of dynamic trajectories that the Namibian system has shown due to the collapse of its pelagic ecosystem, partly due to fishing intensity, and the signs that the NW Mediterranean could follow suit in the future.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We show that the EcoTroph model based on trophic spectra is an efficient tool to build ecosystem diagnoses of the impact of fishing. Using the Southern Benguela case study as a pretext, we present the first thorough application of the model to a real ecosystem.We thus review the structure and functioning of EcoTroph and we introduce the user to the steps that should be followed, showing the various possibilities of the model while underlining the most critical points of the modelling process. We show that EcoTroph provides an overview of the current exploitation level and target factors at the ecosystem scale, using two distinct trophic spectra to quantify the fishing targets and the fishing impact per trophic level. Then, we simulate changes in the fishing mortality, facilitating differential responses of two groups of species within the Southern Benguela ecosystem to be distinguished. More generally, we highlight various trends in a number of indicators of the ecosystem's state when increasing fishing mortality and we show that this ecosystem is moderately exploited, although predatory species are at their MSY. Finally, trophic spectra of the fishing effort multipliers EMSY and E0.1 are proposed as tools for monitoring the ecosystem effects of fishing.
Journal of Marine Systems 05/2012; 90(1):1-12. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Highlights
► There is strong need for interdisciplinary assessment of exploited marine ecosystems. ► Governance and management must be linked to the ecological status of fished ecosystems. ► Developing country marine ecosystems, in particular, are facing considerable challenges. ► Incorporating local expertise in global ecosystem assessments has major advantages. ► IndiSeas is incorporating multi-disciplinary indicators for policy and decision makers.
Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 01/2012; 4:292-299. · 3.17 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Determining the form of key predator-prey relationships is critical for understanding marine ecosystem dynamics. Using a comprehensive global database, we quantified the effect of fluctuations in food abundance on seabird breeding success. We identified a threshold in prey (fish and krill, termed "forage fish") abundance below which seabirds experience consistently reduced and more variable productivity. This response was common to all seven ecosystems and 14 bird species examined within the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans. The threshold approximated one-third of the maximum prey biomass observed in long-term studies. This provides an indicator of the minimal forage fish biomass needed to sustain seabird productivity over the long term.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Low-trophic level species account for more than 30% of global fisheries production and contribute substantially to global food security. We used a range of ecosystem models to explore the effects of fishing low-trophic level species on marine ecosystems, including marine mammals and seabirds, and on other commercially important species. In five well-studied ecosystems, we found that fishing these species at conventional maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels can have large impacts on other parts of the ecosystem, particularly when they constitute a high proportion of the biomass in the ecosystem or are highly connected in the food web. Halving exploitation rates would result in much lower impacts on marine ecosystems while still achieving 80% of MSY.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: South Africa is committed to moving towards an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) and has laid the foundations for this using a three-pronged approach: through a project (EAF Feasibility Study) under the Benguela Current Large Marine Ecosystem Programme; through a dedicated scientific working group established by the Marine and Coastal Management branch of South Africa's Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism; and through collaborative scientific and modelling studies within the joint French-South African 'Upwelling Ecosystems' Programme. This contribution provides an overview of the progress made towards developing an EAF in South Africa, both on the scientific front in terms of improved understanding of the functioning of the Benguela ecosystem and the ways in which its ecosystem components interact, and regarding the practical ways being explored to enable scientific advice to feed in to South African fisheries management while taking into account broad stakeholder concerns. The paper focusses particularly on the role played by scientific contributions (research and monitoring) to address these ecosystem issues in three important South African fisheries — pelagic, demersal and rock lobster — so that the appropriate management measures can be put into place. Socio-economic concerns are included for the rock lobster fishery.
African Journal of Marine Science 01/2010; April 2006(Vol. 28):115-157. · 0.93 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Ecosystem models provide a platform allowing exploration into the possible responses of marine food webs to fishing pressure and various potential management decisions. In this study we investigate the particular effects of overfishing on the structure and function of the southern Benguela food web, using two models with different underlying assumptions: the spatialized, size-based individual-based model, OSMOSE, and the trophic mass-balance model, Ecopath with Ecosim (EwE). Starting from the same reference state of the southern Benguela upwelling ecosystem during the 1990s, we compare the response of the food web to scenarios of overfishing using these two modelling approaches. A scenario of increased fishing mortality is applied to two distinct functional groups: i) two species of Cape hake, representing important target predatory fish, and ii) the forage species anchovy, sardine and redeye. In these simulations, fishing mortality on the selected functional groups is doubled for 10 years, followed by 10 years at the initial fishing mortality. We compare the food web states before the increase of fishing mortality, after 10 years of overfishing and after a further 10 years during which fishing was returned to initial levels. In order to compare the simulated food web structures with the reference state, and between the two modelling approaches, we use a set of trophic indicators: the mean trophic level of the community and in catches, the trophic pyramid (biomass per discrete trophic level), and the predatory/forage fish biomass ratio. OSMOSE and EwE present globally similar results for the trophic functioning of the ecosystem under fishing pressure: the biomass of targeted species decreases whereas that of their potential competitors increases. The reaction of distant species is more diverse, depending on the feeding links between the compartments. The mean trophic level of the community does not vary enough to be used for assessing ecosystem impacts of fishing, and the mean trophic level in the catch displays a surprising increase due to the short period of overfishing. The trophic pyramids behave in an unexpected way compared to trophic control theory, because at least two food chains with different dynamics are intertwined within the food web. We emphasize the importance of biomass information at the species level for interpreting dynamics in aggregated indicators, and we highlight the importance of competitive groups when looking at ecosystem functioning under fishing disturbance. Finally, we discuss the results within the scope of differences between models, in terms of the way they are formulated, spatial dimensions, predation formulations and the representation of fish life cycles.
Journal of Marine Systems 01/2010; 79:101-111. · 2.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: J. 2010. Comparing data-based indicators across upwelling and comparable systems for communicating ecosystem states and trends. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 67: 807– 832. A suite of ecological indicators was selected for communicating, in a comparable way, how fishing affects the state of several upwelling ecosystems and others in which small pelagic fish play key ecological roles. Detailed background and understanding of system-specific processes and changes is needed for proper interpretation of results. In particular, environmental forcing is important in driving dynamics in upwelling systems; fishing impacts cannot be understood without understanding the corresponding dynamics of the environment. The Saharan Coastal (Morocco) and southern Benguela, both having experienced upsurges in low-trophic-level species, differed from other ecosystems when considering indicator trends. The ecosystem off Portugal emerged as showing reduced signs of fishing impacts in recent years, although the change may also be reflecting climate change favouring recruitment and abundance of demersal stocks. The indicator suite confirmed general understanding that the Mediterranean ecosystems have been notably degraded for several decades. Results and conclusions from this descriptive synthesis are compared with other compari-sons of more complex, model-derived indicators. Even in upwelling and comparable systems, the simple data-based indicators are useful in synthesizing information on the status of an ecosystem, in particular on the ecosystem effects of fishing, to provide an eco-logical diagnosis at the ecosystem level, to be used in decision-making. Indicators of recent ecosystem state and trends over time are needed to assess the effects of fishing, but more indicators measuring biodiversity attributes and environmental change would comp-lement the suite, providing fuller assessment of the status of upwelling and comparable ecosystems.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In marine ecology, population abundance time series often reveal patterns, such as decadal pseudo-cycles, on scales that make them difficult to mathematically characterize by means of conventional models based on functional responses. We propose here a simple non-deterministic model based on three strong ecological constraints, without any use of functional responses or external factors: (i) mass balance constraints between flows and biomass, (ii) a satiation constraint relating inflows and biomass and (iii) an inertia principle restricting the variation of populations of a given species according to its lifespan. This model reproduces in a robust manner observed patterns of variability and can be used to question the relevance of other modelling approaches of ecosystem dynamics with regard to determinism, constraints and stochasticity. Referring to a non-deterministic model without any functional relationships and environmental or anthropogenic forcing can help in avoiding misleading advice based on the belief that we can explain the causes of observed patterns, which may simply result from basic structural constraints within which the ecosystem functions.
Fish and Fisheries 05/2009; 10(2):115 - 131. · 5.86 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article examines the current status of management in the Benguela Current Large Marine ecosystem and the three coastal states in which it occurs: Angola, Namibia, and South Africa. The three countries have all focused on conventional approaches to fisheries management, concentrating on target species, and management has been largely centrally controlled. They have nevertheless made some progress toward addressing wider ecosystem issues. Scientific capacity has been generally good and scientific advice plays an important role in management decisions although the management capability varies between the countries. All have sufficient capability for ensuring sustainable fisheries but there are skills shortages in some areas. Based largely on a recent project to evaluate the feasibility of implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries in the region, the article evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of the current management approaches and identifies areas of concern. Limitations and threats to capacity, particularly in production of scientific advice and in management functions, are considered a major problem.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The Benguela system is one of the four major eastern boundary upwelling systems of the world. It is unusual as there are two stratified subtropical or warm temperate boundary regions, on either side of the major wind-driven upwelling region(19–34°S), which itself is subdivided at 26°S by the powerful Luderitz upwelling cell. Important biological components cross the boundary areas at different stages to complete the life-history cycle. While the “Bakun triad” of factors responsible for the development of large pelagic fish populations (enrichment, concentration and retention) provide an important unifying principle for understanding the compromise implicit in adaptation to upwelling systems, the role of predation has been neglected, as has the fish yield relative to photosynthesis. The role global climate change will have in the Benguela in terms of shifting boundaries or weakening or intensifying gradients is being explored. The interannual and decadal signals are so strong in the region that long term trends are difficult to distinguish. Intensive resource utilisation and the collapse of several fish stocks occurred in the Benguela region during the 1960s and 1970s, with different recovery trajectories in the north and the south. The Angolan subsystem can be described as a subtropical transition zone between the wind-driven upwelling system and the Equatorial Atlantic, with gentle upwelling-favourable winds, well-defined seasons, intermediate productivity and moderate, declining fisheries. It is separated from the Namibian subsystem by the Angola-Benguela front.The northern Benguela shelf is a typical coastal upwelling system with equatorward winds, cool water, high plankton biomass and moderate to high fish biomass, which is currently in a depleted state. A shift from sardines to horse mackerel occurred during the period 1970–1990, while hake have never fully recovered from intensive fishing pressure up to 1990. Widespread oxygen-depleted waters and sulphur eruptions result from local and remote forcing, restricting the habitat available for pelagic and demersal fish species.The Luderitz–Orange River Cone is an intensive perennial upwelling cell where strong winds, high turbulence and strong offshore transport constitute a partial barrier to epipelagic fish species. Upwelling source water alters in salinity and oxygen, across this boundary zone. A decline in upwelling-favourable winds occurred between 1990 and 2005.The southern Benguela region is characterised by a pulsed, seasonal, wind-driven upwelling at discrete centres and warm Agulhas water offshore. High primary productivity forms a belt of enrichment along the coast, constrained by a front. Low-oxygen water, which only occurs close inshore, may adversely affect some resources. The west coast is primarily a nursery ground for several fish species which spawn on the Agulhas Bank and are transported by alongshore jet currents to the west coast.The Agulhas Bank forms the southern boundary of the Benguela system and it displays characteristics of both an upwelling and a temperate shallow shelf system, with seasonal stratification and mixing, coastal, shelf-edge and dynamic upwelling, moderate productivity and a well oxygenated shelf. A large biomass of fish occupies the Bank during the summer season, with some evidence for tight coupling between trophic levels. A cool ridge of upwelled water, with links to coastal upwelling and to the Agulhas Current, appears to play an important but poorly understood role affecting the distribution and productivity of pelagic fish. A boom in sardine and anchovy populations was accompanied by an eastward shift, followed by 5 years of poor recruitment by sardine but successful recruitment of anchovy, indicating changes in the early life-history patterns of these two species.
Progress In Oceanography 01/2009; · 3.71 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Previously, standardized snap-shot models of the Southern Benguela (1980–1989), Southern Humboldt (1992) and Southern Catalan Sea (1994) ecosystems were examined and found to facilitate assessment of ecosystem characteristics related to the gradient in exploitation status of the ecosystems; highest level of exploitation in the South Catalan Sea (North-western Mediterranean), high in the Southern Humboldt and lower in the Southern Benguela. Subsequently, these models were calibrated and fitted using available catch, fishing effort/mortality and abundance data series and incorporated environmental and internal drivers. This study furthers the previous comparative analyses by comparing changes in ecosystem structure using a selection of ecosystem indicators from the calibrated models and assessing how these indicators change over time in these three contrasting ecosystems. Indicators examined include community turnover rates (production/biomass), trophic level of landings and the community, biodiversity indicators, ratios of predatory/forage fish and pelagic/demersal fish biomass, catch ratios, and network analysis indicators. Using the set of model-derived indicators, the three ecosystems were ranked in terms of exploitation level. This ranking was performed using the values of these indicators in recent years (ecosystem state) as well as their trends over time (ecosystem trend). The non-parametric Kruskal–Wallis and Median tests were used to test for significance of the difference between indicators from the three ecosystems in the last 5 years of the simulation to compare present ecosystem states. We compared the slope of the lineal trend and its significance between ecosystems using the generalized least-squares regression taking auto-correlation into consideration to analyse ecosystem trends. The indicators that capture better the high impacts of fishing prevalent in the Mediterranean and Humboldt ecosystems, and the more conservative exploitation of the Southern Benguela, are the fish/invertebrates biomass and catch ratio, the demersal/pelagic fish biomass and catch ratio (depending on the ecosystem and the fishery being developed), flows to detritus, and the mean trophic level of the community (when large, poorly quantified groups such as zooplankton and detritus are excluded). This study suggests that the best option for classifying ecosystems according to the impact of fishing is to consider a broad range of indicators to understand how and why an ecosystem is responding to particular environmental or fishing drivers (or more likely a combination of these). Our results highlight the importance of including indicators capturing trends over time as well as recent ecosystem states. We also identified 23 pairs of indicators that correlated similarly in the three ecosystems (they showed a significant correlation with same sign). Further comparisons may contribute towards generalization of this list, progressing towards a better understanding of the behaviour of ecological indicators.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Fishing mortality and primary production (or proxy for) were used to drive the dynamics of fish assemblages in 9 trophodynamic models of contrasting marine ecosystems. Historical trends in abundance were reconstructed by fitting model predictions to observations from stock assessments and fisheries independent survey data. The model fitting exercise derives values for otherwise unknown parameters that specify the relative strength of trophic interactions and, in some instances, a time series anomaly for changes in primary production. We measured how much better or worse were model predictions when bottom-up forcing by primary production were added to top-down forcing by fishing. Searching for cross system patterns, the relative contribution of fishing and changes in primary production, mediated through trophic interactions, are evaluated for the ecosystems as a whole and for selected similar species in different ecosystems. The analysis provides a simple qualitative way to explain which forcing factors have most influence on modeled dynamics. Both fishing and primary production forcing were required to obtain the best model fits to data. Fishing effects more strongly influenced 6 of 9 of the ecosystems, but primary production was more often found to be the main factor influencing the selected pelagic and demersal fish stock trends. Examination of sensitivity to ecological and model parameters suggests that the results are the product of complex food-web interactions rather than simple deterministic responses of the models.