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World Fisheries Congress 2012

May 7-12, 2012
Edinburgh International Conference Centre
Edinburgh, Scotland


IOCS Presentation

Ellen K. Pikitch: “Changing the Paradigm: An operational framework for the ecosystem-based management of forage fisheries” (oral presentation) - Session: “Aquaculture and Sustainable Feed Supply”
Wednesday, May 9, 2012 - 2 p.m.
Room: Harris 2


Forage fish comprise a crucial part of marine food webs, serving as prey for marine mammals, seabirds, and higher trophic level fish. They also account for nearly 40% of global wild marine fisheries catch, much of which is processed into fishmeal and fish oil for animal feeds. Most forage fisheries are managed with traditional single species approaches, designed to maximize target fisheries yields. However, a growing body of scientific evidence indicates that forage fisheries, which commonly exhibit large population fluctuations in response to environmental variables, should be managed with an ecosystem-based approach, to sustain the other organisms that depend upon them while maintaining long-term economic benefits. A reduction in available prey-- due to fishing, environmental conditions, or a combination of both-- can have direct and lasting impacts on predator species. As fishing pressure on forage species is sustained or intensified, it will be critical to set fishing limits that account for the interconnected species and environmental variables affecting forage fish.

The Lenfest Forage Fish Task Force has developed a scientifically robust, precautionary framework for implementing an ecosystem-based management approach for forage fisheries. The novel three-tiered approach recommended by the task force provides comprehensive guidance on forage fishery management which takes account of the level of understanding about the target fishery and the ancillary effects on the ecosystem of forage fish depletion. This framework and its specific contents were derived following a review of existing theory and practice and original quantitative research conducted by the task force to determine where forage fish are most important globally, and how various management strategies impact forage fish populations and predators. We present an overview of methods, results, and recommendations of the task force, which we believe will help advance ecosystem-based fishery management generally, as well as improve the management of forage fish fisheries specifically.

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