Ecosystem-based Management of Pacific Tunas
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Ecosystem-based management is fast becoming the way to solve all the nation's fishery problems. It will rebuild fish stocks, eliminate bycatch, and halt habitat destruction; it will fix jurisdictional mismatches and encourage community participation; it will satisfy environmentalists and please fishermen. These are lofty expectations for a concept that few can explain. However, managers are still if it applies to all fisheries. To resolve this, I examined ecosystem-based management in the context of the United State’s yellowfin and bigeye fisheries and suggested ecosystem-based approaches to managing this fishery. EBM is the management of human behavior in a way that maintains healthy and productive ecosystems for present and future generations. Its main themes include: maintaining ecological integrity, matching ecological and governance boundaries, and recognizing humans as a part of the ecosystem. Using ecosystem approaches to management offers several benefits to fisheries managers, including: a tool to address non-fishing related causes for declining fisheries, such as the dams in the Pacific Northwest that have endangered most salmon runs; an opportunity to re-furbish an aging management system; and a method for setting management and conservation priorities. Some of these benefits are not applicable to pelagic fisheries. However a large number of issues currently facing the yellowfin and bigeye fisheries can be addressed with EBM. These include: the overfishing of stocks, the definition of stock boundaries, the unintentional capture of non-target species, the contamination of tuna with mercury, and the flexibility of fishermen in response to regulation. Because of these benefits, and in light of the fact that fisheries managers are clearly moving toward using EBM (Kalo et al. 2002, EPAP 1998, POC 2003, USCOP 2004, WPRFMC 2005), I found that EBM is worth pursuing in pelagic fisheries in the future, despite the challenges mangers will face when implementing it.
DepartmentNicholas School of the Environment and Earth Sciences
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