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"Sea Change" Report on Ecosystem Based Fishery Management released


July 24, 2007

(SitNews) - A new report says the key to success in moving toward ecosystem management of our marine fisheries is to build on existing programs in a deliberate fashion and with increased scientific research necessary to support sound decisions. That's the conclusion of the report Sea Change: Ecological Progress in U.S. Fishery Management, released today by the Marine Conservation Alliance (MCA).

"With the increased focus on the condition of our oceans and the sustainability of our fishing practices, this report provides us with vital insights into how to preserve the fragile balance between ecosystem health and our economy," said David Benton, executive director of the Marine Conservation Alliance.

Written by Brad Warren and commissioned by MCA and the University of Alaska Anchorage's Institute of Social and Economic Research (ISER), with funding provided by the Pollock Conservation Cooperative Research Council, the report outlines practical approaches toward ecosystem management, based largely on the success of Alaska and North Pacific fisheries, recently cited by National Geographic as being one of only three well managed fisheries in the world (Iceland and New Zealand were the other two).

The 25-page Sea Change report includes findings from a panel of leading scientists and national experts that were convened by ISER to discuss practical approaches to ecosystem-based fishery management and outlines 13 best practices for ecosystem-based fisheries management:

01. Follow scientific advice
02. Set precautionary catch limits
03. Develop a fisheries ecosystem plan (FEP)
04. Protect the habitat by establishing closures in vulnerable areas
05. Reduce bycatch
06. Monitor removals by fisheries, including both target and incidentally caught species
07. Protect seabirds and marine mammals
08. Manage and protect food webs
09. Incorporate data on environmental regimes and climate change into fishery management
10. Rigorously enforce catch limits and other management rules
11. Research to improve understanding of climate effects on fish stocks and ecosystems
12. Research the effects that fisheries have on ecosystems
13. Keep the discourse on fishery management public and transparent

The report notes that the North Pacific Fishery Management Council already incorporates most of these best practices into management of the regions fisheries.

Recent actions taken by the council further underscore the findings of the report. These actions included:

1. Adopting a first-ever ecosystem management plan for the Aleutian Islands.
2. Closing roughly 130,000 sq. nautical miles in the northern Bering Sea to bottom trawling as a precautionary measure to protect bottom habitat.
3. Beginning the process to close all federal waters in the Arctic Ocean to commercial fishing until the impacts of climate change can be fully assessed

"The findings and recommendations made in the Sea Change report and recent actions taken by the North Pacific Fishery Management Council demonstrate that the Magnuson-Stevens Act already provides a blueprint for managing sustainable fishing practices while ensuring that we meet the growing demand for seafood for many generations to come," Benton added.

The Marine Conservation Alliance is a coalition of seafood processors, harvesters, support industries and coastal communities that are active in Alaska fisheries. The MCA represents approximately 75 percent of the participants in Alaska shellfish and groundfish fisheries and promotes science-based conservation measures to ensure sustainable fisheries in Alaska.


On the Web:

Sea Change: Ecological Progress in U.S. Fishery Management



Source of News:

Marine Conservation Alliance


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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska