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Sea Around Us project newsletter, issue 41, May/June 2007 Forrest, Robyn; Sea Around Us Project May 31, 2007

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SSSS Seeee e aaaa a     AAAA Arrrr r ouououou ounnnn ndddd d     UUUU Ussss sThe Sea Around Us Project NewsletterIssue 41 – May/June 2007Continued on page 2 - EUSince 1998, accordingto the “Code ofConduct forResponsible Fisheries” (FAO1995), the Europeanprocedure for theproduction of scientificadvice is largely based on astandard method called the“precautionary approach”.This uses single-speciesassessment models and isthe basis for the adoptionby politicians of annual TotalAllowable Catches (TACs)for the main target stocks.Such an approach issupposed to ensure longterm sustainability ofexploited stocks and marineecosystems. Undoubtedly, ithas had positive effects forsome severely depletedstocks, usually leading tomore restrictive access toallow stock recovery.Nevertheless, the overallstate of European fishesstocks remains grim, withthe situation deterioratingfor some species.  Moregenerally, the currentprocedure should beconsidered inappropriatefrom an EcosystemApproach to Fisheries (EAF)perspective.Indeed, the current approachhas consisted of assessingstocks close to the edge ofthe abyss by determiningthe minimal spawningbiomass (and the maximalfishing effort) that can beapplied to ensure,theoretically, stockregeneration and bringingstocks back within safebiological limits. Even withsafety margins, this approachtends to maintain lowabundances, with stocksabove critical limits.Conversely, EAF should implya major change regardingconservation measures forresources management:single-species policy targetsshould be changed toprovide the maximal stockbiomass that allowssustainable high catches. Inother words, an ecosystemapproach must deal with theminimization of fishingimpacts on the majorexploited stocks.  This wouldbe the first step to reducingecosystems impacts andpreserving ecosystemintegrity, biodiversity andfunction and should lead tohigher catches in the longerterm and to economicprofitability.The shift from a minimumstock biomass target to amaximum target would havehuge consequences. Fromthat perspective, the 2002Johannesburg decision(endorsed by the EuropeanCommission) to restore stocksto levels that permit themaximum sustainable yield(MSY) “as much as possiblenot later than 2015” is a stepin the right direction. Its mainpurpose is not to maximizecatches but to enforce theidea that further biomassreductions, due to increasingfishing pressures, areunacceptable when they leadto decreasing catches. Such adecision should implyenormous changes, as currentlevels of overcapacity areover 50% for the majority ofAn Ecosystem Approach toFisheries should imply ashift in EU policy targetsused for single-speciesmanagementby Didier Gascuel*Page 2Sea Around Us – May/June 2007The Sea Around Us project is a Fisheries Centre partner-ship with the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia,USA. The Trusts support nonprofit activities in the areas of culture,education, the environment, health and human services, public policyand religion. Based in Philadelphia, the Trusts make strategic investmentsto help organisations and citizens develop practical solutions to difficultproblems. In 2000, with approximately $4.8 billion in assets, the Trustscommitted over $235 million to 302 nonprofit organisations. ISSN 1713-5214   Sea Around Us (ONLINE)The Sea Around Us project newsletter ispublished by the  Fisheries Centre at theUniversity of British Columbia. Included withthe Fisheries Centre’s newsletter FishBytes,sixissues of this newsletter are publishedannually. Subscriptions arefree of charge.Our mailingaddress is: SeaAround Us project,Aquatic EcosystemsResearch Laboratory,2202 Main Mall,Vancouver, BritishColumbia, Canada, V6T1Z4. Our fax number is (604)822-8934, and our email address isSeaNotes@fisheries.ubc.ca. All queries(including reprint requests), subscriptionrequests, and address changes should beaddressed to Robyn Forrest, Sea Around UsNewsletter Editor.The Sea Around Us website may be foundat www.seaaroundus.org and contains up-to-date information on the project.EU - Continued from page 1 Ecopath with Ecosim one ofNOAA’s top 10 breakthroughsby Ussif Rashid SumailaThe US National Oceanic andAtmospheric Administration(NOAA) has during its historycharted the seas, forecast theweather, launched satellites intospace, modeled the climate,managed fisheries and muchmore. As part of the organization’s200th anniversary, it reflected onthe outstanding individuals,inspiring achievements, anddefining moments that shaped theNOAA of today, selecting the mostdeserving to be honoured as theNOAA ‘Top Ten Breakthroughs’(http://celebrating200years.noaa.gov/toptens.html#categories).Ecopath modeling was one of thetop ten – a significantachievement given the numerousoutstanding contributions ofNOAA and its predecessors duringtheir history. For anybody studyingmarine ecosystems, however,  thisrecognition is not a surprise. Backin 1993, the renowned ecosystemmodeler R.E. Ulanowicz hinted atthe potential of Ecopath when hewrote “The heavens were openedto us by Galileo and his telescope,the world of microbes by Pasteurand his microscope. It may not bemuch of an exaggeration to saythat the realm of ecosystems isbeing opened to us by Polovina,Pauly, and Christensen.”  This wasbefore Ecopath, which is static, wasextended by Carl Walters by theaddition of Ecosim and Ecospace -dynamic and spatial versions of themodeling software, respectively.The Ecopath approach was initiatedby NOAA scientist Dr JeffreyPolovina in the early 1980s, andmodified into its current form byPauly, Christensen and Walters.Ecopath has the ability to representcomplex ecosystems using novelequations, smaller data sets andlimited computing power –advantages that most otherecosystem modeling approacheslack. This quality of the Ecopath suitealong with numerous courses andlectures given by its authors haveresulted in its widespread use. Arecent addition is the optimal policysearch module, which usesnonlinear optimization to improvean objective function by iterativelychanging relative fishing rates. Thismodule connects the functioning ofan ecosystem to human behaviour,allowing different policy andmanagement objectives to beanalyzed. This new developmenthas brought the Ecopath approachinto full cycle, with implications forour ability to impact positively onpolicies for the sustainable use andmanagement of marine ecosystemsworldwide.I wish to conclude by congratulatingDrs Jeffrey Polovina, Daniel Pauly,Villy Christensen and Carl Walters,and of course NOAA, for thissignificant contribution to the worldof marine ecosystem science, policyand management.Ecopathmodelingwas one ofthe top ten– asignificantachievementgiven thenumerousoutstandingcontributionsof NOAAand itspredecessorsmajor European stocks. It wouldalso lead to a re-definition ofmanagement measures, bycombining TACs and fishingeffort limitations. However, MSYtargets usually lead to a 2.5 to 3-fold reduction in fish abundancecompared to the unexploitedstate. This is probably notsufficient from the EAFperspective, as the same amountof catch could result from moreconservative exploitationpatterns if larger mesh size wasused. Therefore, managing notonly fishing effort but fishingpatterns as well would lead tothe same increases in catch butto stronger reductions of impacton marine ecosystems,according to the new suggestedtarget.* Visiting Professor (Rennes,France) hosted by the SeaAround Us project at theUBC Fisheries Centre.


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