DEFINITIONS and CONCEPTS OF ECOSYSTEM-BASED MANAGEMENT FROM THE LITERATURE

Dave Packer
NOAA/NEFSC/NMFS
James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory
Highlands, NJ 07702
dave.packer@noaa.gov

July, 2002

The following reports and scientific papers are
listed in chronological order:

Grumbine, R.E. 1994. What is ecosystem management?
Conserv. Biol. 8: 27-38.

1. Maintain viable populations of all native species in
situ.

2. Represent within protected areas, all native ecosystem types across
their natural range.
3. Maintain evolutionary and ecological processes.
4. Manage over periods of time of sufficient duration to maintain evolutionary
potential of species and ecosystems.
5. Accommodate human use and occupancy within these constraints.

The paper also states that ecosystem management is:

…integrating scientific knowledge of ecological relationships
within a complex sociopolitical and values framework toward the general
goal of protecting native ecosystem integrity over the long term.

 

Ecological Society of America (ESA). 1995. The scientific bases
for ecosystem management: An assessment by the Ecological Society of America.
Washington, DC.

The report established that every ecosystem management effort, regardless
of its specific definition, should include eight principles:

1. Long-term sustainability as fundamental value.
2. Clear, operational goals.

3. Sound ecological models and understanding.
4. Understanding complexity and interconnectedness.
5. Recognition of the dynamic character of ecosystems.
6. Attention to context and scale.
7. Acknowledgment of humans as ecosystem components.
8. Commitment to adaptability and accountability.

Also see Christensen et al. 1996 discussion of this report published
in Ecological Applications, below.

 

IEMTF. 1995. The ecosystem approach: healthy ecosystems and sustainable
economics. Rep. Interagency Ecosys. Manage. Task Force, Vol. I – Overview.
Nat. Tech. Info. Ser., PB95 265583 U.S. Dep. Comm., Springfield, VA.

The ecosystem approach is a method for sustaining or restoring natural
systems and their functions and values. It is goal driven, and it is based
on a collaboratively developed vision of desired future conditions that
integrates ecological, economic, and social factors. It is applied within
a geographical framework defined primarily by ecological boundaries.

The goal of the ecosystem approach is to restore and sustain the health,
productivity, and biological diversity of ecosystems and the overall quality
of life through a natural resource management approach that is fully integrated
with social and economic goals.

The ecosystem approach is a comprehensive regional approach to protecting,
restoring, and sustaining our ecological resources and the communities
and economics that they support.

The ecosystem approach integrates ecological protection and restoration
with human needs to strengthen the essential connection between economic
prosperity and environmental well being. The ecosystem approach provides
the framework that draws together federal, state, local, and tribal governments,
and the public, to achieve the ultimate goal of healthy, sustainable ecosystems
that provide us with food, shelter, clean air and water, and a multitude
of other goods and services.

The ecosystem approach is a logical way for federal agencies, state and
local governments, tribes, and the private sector to carry out their responsibilities
for protecting and managing resources. It requires federal agencies to
be sensitive to the needs and rights of landowners, particularly those
whose lands are adjacent to federal property boundaries, and to work with
them toward common goals. Agencies must also be sensitive to the needs
of affected communities, and must actively seek public involvement in
agency decision making. (p. 17)

The approach recognizes the fundamental connection between human communities
and the environment. Agencies must consider the broad-scale, long-term
ecological consequences of their actions. Agencies need to use the best
scientific information available and modify their actions in light of
new information. (p. 18)

This paper also lists the following characterizations:

• More partnerships and greater collaboration. Traditional resource
management tends to use public involvement sparingly, often too late to
allow the public to make a difference. Under the ecosystem approach, public
collaboration on a regular and sustained basis is key. Bottom-up, grass-roots
generation of ideas gives local communities more “ownership”
of goals and solutions. Agencies as well as communities contribute toward
achievement of shared goals.

• Broader program perspective. Traditional natural resource management
tends to be characterized by actions taken on behalf of narrow programs
and specific jurisdictional boundaries, without respect to impacts on
other programs or land areas. Conflicts between resource uses are not
uncommon, and cumulative long-term impacts are sometimes overlooked. Under
the ecosystem approach, resource management plans are based on a collaborative
vision for the ecosystem, considering the mandates, needs, interests,
and goas of all stakeholders. Actions involve other programs and resource
managers in order to avoid costly duplication of effort and conflict.
• Broader resource perspective. Traditional resource management
tends to be oriented toward one or a few resources, such as timber, minerals,
single wildlife species, or water, with passing attention paid to other
resources. Under the ecosystem approach, management is oriented toward
interacting systems, and addresses ecological, economic, and social concerns.
The explicit goal of the ecosystem approach is the concurrent achievement
of sustaining ecological systems, human communities, and economic infrastructure.
• Broader geographic and temporal perspective. Traditional resource
management tends to be site specific, with little consideration of how
a proposed action fits into the context of the broader ecosystem or landscape.
Under the ecosystem approach, the frame of reference is much broader.
Although site-specific actions are necessary, they will be conducted in
the broader ecosystem context, and evaluated over a longer time frame.
• More dynamic planning processes. Traditional resource management
plans tend to be relatively static and are revised only periodically or
on fixed time schedules, such as five or ten years. Under the ecosystem
approach, resource management is more dynamic. Management plans and actions
are modified as necessary, based upon changes in our knowledge of the
ecosystem, new information, availability of new methods and approaches,
and assessments of progress toward goals.
• More proactive. Traditional resource management tends to be reactive
and crises driven. Under the ecosystem approach, resource management is
more proactive, aimed at achieving long-term ecosystem conditions, not
simply at accommodating short-term demands. (p. 18-19)

Common principles that federal agencies should adopt to guide them in
implementation of the ecosystem approach:

• Develop a shared vision of the desired ecosystem condition that
takes into account existing social and economic conditions in the ecosystem,
and identify ways in which all parties can contribute to, and benefit
from, achieving ecosystem goals.
• Develop coordinated approaches among federal agencies to accomplish
ecosystem objectives, collaborating on a continuous basis with state,
local, and tribal governments, and other stakeholders to address mutual
concerns.
• Use ecological approaches that restore or maintain the biological
diversity and sustainability of the ecosystem.

• Support actions that incorporate sustained economic, sociocultural,
and community goals.
• Respect and ensure private property rights and work cooperatively
with private landowners to accomplish shared goals.
• Recognize that ecosystems and institutions are complex, dynamic,
characteristically heterogeneous over space and time, and constantly changing.
• Use an adaptive approach to management to achieve both desired
goals and a new understanding of ecosystems.
• Integrate the best science available into the decision-making
process, while continuing scientific research to improve the knowledge
base.

• Establish baseline conditions for ecosystem functioning and sustainability
against which change can be measured; monitor and evaluate actions to
determine if goals and objectives are being achieved. (p. 20-21)

 

Christensen, N.L., A.M. Bartuska, J.H. Brown, S. Carpenter, C.
D’Antonio, R. Francis, J.F. Franklin, J.A. MacMahon, R.F. Noss, D.J. Parsons,
C.H. Peterson, M.G. Turner, and R.G. Woodmansee. 1996. The report of the
Ecological Society of America Committee on the Scientific Basis for Ecosystem
Management. Ecol. Appl. 6(3), 665 691.

This paper summarizes selected definitions of ecosystem management (references
cited are in the paper):

• regulating internal ecosystem structure and function, plus inputs
and outputs, to achieve socially desirable conditions (Agee and Johnson
1988)

• the careful and skillful use of ecological, economic, social,
and managerial principles in managing ecosystems to produce, restore,
or sustain ecosystem integrity and desired conditions, uses, products,
values, and services over the long term (Overbay 1992).
• the strategy by which, in aggregate, the full array of forest
values and functions is maintained at the landscape level. Coordinated
management at the landscape level, including across ownerships, is an
essential component (Society of American Foresters 1993).
• a strategy or plan to manage ecosystems for all associated organisms,
as opposed to a strategy or plan for managing individual species (Forest
Ecosystem Management Team 1993).
• the optimum integration of societal values and expectations, ecological
potentials, and economic plus technological considerations (Eastside Forest
Health Assessment Team 1993).
• a resource management system designed to maintain or enhance ecosystem
health and productivity while producing essential commodities and other
values to meet human needs and desires within the limits of socially,
biologically, and economically acceptable risk (American Forest and Paper
Association 1993).

• integration of ecological, economic, and social principles to
manage biological and physical systems in a manner that safeguards the
ecological sustainability, natural diversity, and productivity of the
landscape (Wood 1994). (p. 668)

Other definitions:

Ecosystem management is management driven by explicit goals, executed
by policies, protocols, and practices, and made adaptable by monitoring
and research based on our best understanding of the ecological interactions
and processes necessary to sustain ecosystem structure and function. (p.
668)

Ecosystem management must include the following:
1 Long-term sustainability as fundamental value.

2 Clear, operational goals.
3 Sound ecological models.
4 Understanding complexity and interconnectedness.
5 Recognition of the dynamic character of ecosystems.
6 Attention to context and scale.
7 Acknowledgment of humans as ecosystem components.

8 Commitment to adaptability and accountability. (p. 669)

The following are fundamental scientific precepts for ecosystem management:
9 Spatial and temporal scales are critical.
10 Ecosystem function depends on its structure, diversity, and integrity.
11 Ecosystems are dynamic in space and time.
12 Uncertainty, surprise, and limits to knowledge. (p. 670-676)

 

Larkin, P.A. 1996. Concepts and issues in marine ecosystem management.
Rev. Fish. Biol. Fisheries 6: 139-164.

This paper has a long discussion on the definitions of ecosystem management
for the marine environment, and summarizes them as follows:

1. Sustainable yield of products for human consumption and animal foods;
2. Maintenance of biodiversity;
3. Protection from the effects of pollution and habitat degradation.

These components must be reconciled with the social and economic costs
involved and to a large extent their implementation will reflect the prevailing
set of values. (p. 149)

 

Commonwealth of Australia. 1998. Australia’s Ocean Policy.
Oceans Policy Marine Group, Environment Australia, Canberra, ACT. 52 p.

Ecosystem-based oceans planning and management aims to ensure the maintenance
of:
• ecological processes in all ocean areas, including, for example,
water and nutrient flows, community structures and food webs, and ecosystem
links;

• marine biological diversity, including the capacity for evolutionary
change; and
• viable populations of all native marine species in functioning
biological communities.
An important element of managing our oceans to maintain marine ecosystems
is representation within protected areas of marine ecosystem types across
their natural range of variation.
With the fundamental objective of maintaining ecosystem integrity, ecosystem
based management requires development beyond the strictly sectoral focus
of some management approaches with the aim of ensuring that:
• Connections across ecological dimensions (populations, species,
habitats, regions) are taken into account, not just effects at one level.

• Planning and management boundaries recognize ecological entities,
integrating across other administrative, sectoral and jurisdictional boundaries.
• Data are collected for ecosystem-based management, to provide
the basis for sectoral and cross-sectoral integration.

• Management is monitored for maintenance of ecosystem health, against
ecosystem-based performance indicators, and can be adapted in response
to environmental and other indicators of change.
• Management decisions are planned and precautionary, based on assessments
of the consequences of use, rather than solely reactive.

• There is recognition that human activity is a fundamental influence
in many marine ecological patterns and will be the focus for planning
and management action.
• Natural and human values should be integrated taking into account
that, while biological diversity values must be recognized and incorporated
as a key part of planning and management processes, human values will
play a dominant role in decisions about ocean uses.

This document also lists principles for ecologically sustainable ocean
use:

• The maintenance of healthy and productive marine ecosystems is
fundamental to the management of both the oceans and of the land.
• The benefits from the use of Australia’s common ocean resources,
and the responsibilities for their continued health and productivity,
should be shared by all Australians.

• Internationally competitive and ecologically sustainable marine
industries are essential for wealth generation, employment and continued
regional development.
• Economic, environmental, social and cultural aspirations are to
be accommodated through integrated planning and management of multiple
uses of ocean resources.
• Management of human activities that affect our oceans will require
progressive improvement in our understanding of living and non-living
ocean resources and processes.
• Ocean planning and management decisions should be based on the
best available scientific and other information, recognizing that information
regarding ocean resources will often be limited.
• If the potential impact of an action is of concern, priority should
be given to maintaining ecosystem health and integrity.

• Incomplete information should not be used as a reason for postponing
precautionary measures intended to prevent serious or irreversible environmental
degradation of the oceans.

 

EPAP (Ecosystems Principles Advisory Panel). 1999. Ecosystem-Based
Fishery Management – A Report to Congress. United States Department
of Commerce, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NMFS, Silver
Spring, 54 p.

A comprehensive ecosystem-based fisheries management approach would require
managers to consider all interactions that a target fish stock has with
predators, competitors, and prey species; the effects of weather and climate
on fisheries biology and ecology; the complex interactions between fishes
and their habitat; and the effects of fishing on fish stocks and their
habitat. (p. 1)

This paper also recommends the creation of Fisheries Ecosystem Plans
(FEPs) by the Councils, and each FEP would require the Councils to take
the following eight actions:

1. Delineate the geographic extent of the ecosystem(s) that occur(s)
within Council authority, including characterization of the biological,
chemical and physical dynamics of those ecosystems, and “zone”
the area for alternative uses.
2. Develop a conceptual model of the food web.
3. Describe the habitat needs of different life history stages for all
plants and animals that represent the “significant food web”
and how they are considered in conservation and management measures.
4. Calculate total removals—including incidental mortality—and
show how they relate to standing biomass, production, optimum yields,
natural mortality and trophic structure.

5. Assess how uncertainty is characterized and what kind of buffers against
uncertainty are included in conservation and management actions.
6. Develop indices of ecosystem health as targets for management.
7. Describe available long-term monitoring data and how they are used.

8. Assess the ecological, human, and institutional elements of the ecosystem
which most significantly affect fisheries, and are outside Council/Department
of Commerce (DOC) authority. Included should be a strategy to address
those influences in order to achieve both FMP and FEP objectives. (p.
28)

Also, from the Charter of the NMFS Ecosystem Principles Advisory Panel:

A basic premise of ecosystem-based management is that the relationship
between living marine resources and the ecosystem within which they exist
must be well understood. This requires a more comprehensive approach to
fisheries research than is necessary for traditional single-species management
approaches, although single-species stock assessments have become increasingly
sophisticated and some now incorporate environmental parameters. Successful
implementation of ecosystem-based management will require consideration
of, inter alia, essential habitat requirements, hydrography, trophic relationships
and physical and biological processes.

Managers must also understand the complex linkages between natural ecosystems
and the economic, social and political dynamics of human systems. Humans
are integral components of ecosystems and their interests, values and
motivations must be understood and factored into resource management decisions.
Information on human systems is as important as that from natural systems
and must be included in any ecosystem research and management efforts.
(p. 47)

 

National Research Council. 1999. Sustaining marine fisheries.
National Academy Press, Washington. 164 p.

Ecosystem based management is an approach that takes major ecosystem
components and services – both structural and functional –
into account in managing fisheries. It values habitat, embraces a multispecies
perspective, and is committed to understanding ecosystem processes. Its
goal is to achieve sustainability by appropriate fishery management. (p.
2)

Humans are components of the ecosystems they inhabit and use. Their actions
on land and in the oceans measurably affect ecosystems, and changes in
ecosystems affect humans. Thus, sustainability of fisheries at an acceptable
level of productivity and of the ecosystems they depend on requires a
much broader understanding of appropriate and effective management than
has been encompassed by traditional, single-species fishery management.
(p. 2-3)

…the adoption of an ecosystem-based approach for fishery management
whose goal is to rebuild and sustain populations, species, biological
communities, and marine ecosystems at high levels of productivity and
biological diversity, so as not to jeopardize a wide range of goods and
services from marine ecosystems, while providing food, revenue, and recreation
for humans. An ecosystem-based approach that addresses overall fishing
mortality will reinforce other approaches to substantially reduce overall
fishing intensity. It will help produce the will to manage conservatively,
which is required to rebuild depleted populations, reduce bycatch and
discards, and reduce known and as-yet-unknown ecosystem effects. (p. 5)

 

Sinclair, M.M., R. O’Boyle, L. Burke, and S. D’Entrement. 1999.
Incorporating ecosystem objectives within fisheries management plans in
the Maritimes Region of Atlantic Canada. ICES CM 1999/Z: 03. 20 p.

There are a diverse number of marine commercial and recreational activities
taking place within the Maritimes Region. These industrial sectors include
marine transportation, at-sea disposal of pollutants, aquaculture, oil
and gas exploitation, eco-tourism, recreational activities, and commercial
fishing. In addition, land-based activities (such as bridges and causeways,
disposal of industrial contaminants and sewage) impact on the coastal
zone environments, and finally, airborne transport of contaminants arising
from distant human activities can impact the waters of the Region. Acid
rain impacts on the rivers and lakes of Nova Scotia due to industrial
activities in the United States are perhaps the most dramatic example.
For some of the industrial activities sectoral regulatory frameworks are
already in place, including management plans with conservation objectives.
It may become confusing and misleading if we use the term “ecosystem
management” for each of the plans for the diverse industrial sectors.
For consistency in terminology amongst the diverse regulatory activities,
it would be preferable to talk about incorporating ecosystem objectives
within the conservation component of the sectoral management plans. Then,
for larger areas such as the southern Gulf of St. Lawrence, the eastern
Scotian Shelf, and the Gulf of Maine area, the various sectoral plans
may need to be adjusted to ensure consistency in approach with respect
to ecosystem considerations. For those activities that are presently unplanned,
efforts will be needed to develop some management framework if the ecosystem
impacts are expected to be of significance. The combination of the industrial
sectoral plans into an Integrated Management Plan could logically be defined
as the “ecosystem management plan” for an ocean area. Nevertheless,
it must be stressed that we would be managing the aggregate human activities
within an ocean area, in such a manner that specific ecosystem features
are sustained rather than actually managing a marine ecosystem. Perhaps
the term ecosystem management should not be used. The discussion smacks
of semantics, but we need to develop an accurate set of terms in order
to communicate effectively with a diverse number of stakeholders. Our
recommendation is to adopt the terminology of “incorporating ecosystem
objectives within management plans,” rather than the term “ecosystem
management,” even for the integrated plan. (p. 2-3)

The ecosystem objectives for Ocean Management Areas need to be set by
Canadian Society. The objectives should be similar, or possibly identical,
for the wide range of ocean uses. We assume that such objectives will
include:
– maintenance of biodiversity
– maintenance of habitat productivity
The challenge to DFO Science is to reach consensus on performance measures
and reference points that will support decision making on ocean use activities
that threaten biodiversity and habitat productivity. The biodiversity
objective will need to include several components such as ecosystem and
species diversity, genetic variability within species and species at risk.
The habitat productivity objective will need to address directly impacted
species, ecologically dependent species and trophic level considerations.
For discussion purposes the above components are considered to capture
the necessary ecosystem features that need to be protected in the aggregate
sectoral management plans. The next steps are to provide the respective
performance measures and reference points. (p. 7)

 

O’Boyle, R. (Chair and Editor). 2000. Proceedings of a
workshop on the ecosystem considerations for the Eastern Scotian Shelf
Integrated Management (ESSIM) Area. CSAS Proc. Doc. 2000/14. 92 p.

The ICES/SCOR Symposium on the Ecosystem Effects of Fishing, which was
held in Montpellier in March 1999, provided some guidance on a framework
for the incorporation ecosystem considerations with fisheries management.
The Symposium overview paper (Gislason et al. 2000) lists six potential
ecosystem objectives for ocean management – three addressing biodiversity
and three addressing habitat productivity. The traditional conservation
objective for the target species of fisheries management is subsumed within
the latter three: (p. 15-16)

9. Maintenance of ecosystem diversity.
10. Maintenance of species diversity.
11. Maintenance of genetic variability within species.

12. Maintenance of directly impacted species.
13. Maintenance of ecologically dependent species.
14. Maintenance of ecosystem structure and function. (p. 16-18)

In relation to the long-term objectives, it was felt that as a guide
for the ESSIM initiative, human activities should be managed so as to
maintain within acceptable bounds:

15. The diversity of ecosystem types.
16. Species diversity.

17. Genetic variability within species.
18. Productivity of directly impacted species.
19. Productivity of ecologically dependent species.
20. Ecosystem structure and function.
21. Marine environmental quality. (p. 74)

 

Sainsbury, K.J., A.E. Punt, and A.D.M. Smith. 2000. Design of
operational management strategies for achieving fishery ecosystem objectives.
ICES. J. Mar. Sci. 57: 731-741.

The broad ecosystem objectives stem mainly from high-level agreements,
treaties, and policies that set out principles and objectives for human
use of biological resources. For example, objectives from the Law of the
Sea Convention (LOSC), the U.N. Convention on the Environment and Development
(UNCED) and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) include:
• Manage marine living resources sustainably for human nutritional,
economic, and social goals (LOSC and UNCED);
• Protect and conserve the marine environment (LOSC);
• Protect rare or fragile ecosystems, habitats, and species (UNCED);

• Use preventative, precautionary, and anticipatory planning and
management implementation (UNCED);
• Protect and maintain the relationships and dependencies among
species (UNCED);
• Conserve genetic, species and ecosystem biodiversity (CBD). (p.731)

 

Witherell, D., C. Pautzke, and D. Fluharty. An ecosystem-based
approach for Alaska groundfish fisheries. ICES. J. Mar. Sci. 57: 771-777.

In 1996, the [North Pacific Fishery Management] Council established an
ecosystem committee to discuss possible approaches to incorporating ecosystem
concerns into the fishery management process. The committee has held workshops,
meetings, and numerous informal discussions on related issues and habitat
concerns. The committee provide the Council and stakeholders with information,
and provides feedback to scientists on research needs. The committee also
developed a draft policy for ecosystem-based management of North Pacific
fisheries based on principles developed in the scientific literature (e.g.,
Grumbine 1994; Mangel et al. 1995 ; Christensen et al. 1996):

Definition

Ecosystem-based management is a strategy to regulate human activity towards
maintaining long-term system sustainability (within the range of natural
variability as we understand it) of the North Pacific. To provide future
generations the opportunities and resources we enjoy today.

Objective goals
22. Maintain biodiversity consistent with natural evolutionary and ecological
processes, including dynamic change and variability.

23. Maintain and restore habitats essential for fish and their prey.
24. Maintain system sustainability and sustainable yields of resources
for human consumption and non-extractive uses.
25. Maintain the concept that humans are components of the ecosystem.

Guidelines
26. Integrate ecosystem-based management through interactive partnerships
and other agencies, stakeholders, and public.
27. Utilize sound ecological models as an aid in understanding the structure,
function, and dynamics of the ecosystem.

28. Utilize research and monitoring to test ecosystem approaches.
29. Use precaution when faced with uncertainties to minimize risk; management
decisions should err on the side of resource conservation.

Understanding
30. Uncontrolled human population growth and consequent demand for resources
are inconsistent with resource sustainability.
31. Ecosystem-based management requires time scales that transcend human
lifetimes.
32. Ecosystems are open, interconnected, complex, and dynamic. (p. 775-776)

 

Jamieson, G., R. O’Boyle, J. Arbour, D. Cobb, S. Courtenay,
R. Gregory, C. Levings, J. Munro, I. Perry, and H. Vandermeulen. 2001.
Proceedings of the national workshop on objectives and indicators for
ecosystem-based management, Sidney, BC, 27 Feb. – 2 Mar. 2001. Can. Sci.
Adv. Secretariat Proc. Ser. 2001/09. 140 p.

There was consensus that ecosystem-based management has two, broad, overarching
goals:

1. The sustainability of human usage of environmental resources and,
2. The conservation of species and habitats, including those other ecosystem
components that may not be utilized directly by humans.

The workshop focused on the second goal, and three conceptual objectives
were developed:

1. To conserve enough components (ecosystems, species, populations, etc.)
so as to maintain the natural resilience of the ecosystem.
2. To conserve each component of the ecosystem so that it can play its
historic role in the foodweb (i.e., not cause any component of the ecosystem
to be altered to such an extent that it ceases to play its identified
historical role in a higher order component).
3. To conserve the physical and chemical properties of the ecosystem.
(p. 17)

Under the first conceptual objective (biodiversity) are three nested
components:

1. To maintain communities within bounds of natural variability.

2. To maintain species within bounds of natural variability.

3. To maintain populations within bounds of natural variability.

Activities in relation to endangered and threatened species would be
addressed under #2.

The second conceptual objective relates to the productivity of the ecosystem,
and there are three nested components:

1. To maintain primary production within historic bounds of natural variability.

2. To maintain trophic structure so that individual species/stage can
play their historical role in the food web.
3. To maintain mean generation times of populations within bounds of natural
variability.

While the biodiversity conceptual objective considers the structure of
the ecosystem, this conceptual objective deals with its functioning. #1
under productivity relates to conservation of the based of the food web.
#2 requires that human activities that impact one part of the food web
not adversely impact another. #3 relates to the maintenance of the productivity
of individual populations. Traditional fisheries management activities
would address these components for target and non-target species.

The third conceptual objective is intended to safeguard the physical
and chemical structures within which the ecosystem resides, and there
are four nested components:

1. To conserve critical landscape and bottomscape features.
2. To conserve water column properties.

3. To conserve water quality.
4. To conserve biota quality.

#1 relates to the maintenance of physical features on the land (landscape
and factors that influence the aquatic environment through run-off) and
under the water (bottomscape). Note that bottomscape is meant to include
corals, sponges, marine plants, and other organisms that, through their
biological activity, create structural bottom features. #2 addresses issues
related to movement of the water (i.e. tides, currents, etc.). #3 deals
with the chemical condition of the water, #4 deals with bioaccumulation
of contaminants. (p 18-19)

 

National Oceans Office. 2002. Ecosystems – nature’s
diversity. The South-east Regional Marine Plan Assessment Reports. National
Oceans Office, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia. 224 p.

Ecosystem-based management is a significant shift in managing of human
use of the environment. In principle, it recognizes that ecosystems are
complex, interconnected and dynamic and that we rely on these ecosystems
for essential resources. The effects of human actions on one part of an
ecosystem cannot be considered in isolation from the rest, nor from the
combined and cumulative effects of all human activities that affect the
whole ecosystem. This shift is a response to the growing realization that
we need to move to a more integrated approach for assessing and managing
human use of natural resources if we are to maintain healthy marine ecosystems
and the benefits we derive from them.

Management needs to address the complexity and uncertainty in the marine
ecosystem. To do this it must be pro-active, managing the ocean so that
we avoid further damage to the diversity and long-term productivity of
ocean ecosystems. Management also needs to be precautionary, this means
we must not postpone management because of scientific uncertainty and
it must be adaptive so that new information and understanding can be incorporated.
Adaptive management requires ‘feedback’ mechanisms, such as
monitoring the effects of use on the ecosystem through ‘indicators’;
setting ‘targets’ for desirable states of the ecosystem and
‘limits’ for undesirable conditions; and developing agreed
‘rules’ for changing use in response to signals from the monitoring.
Adaptive management relies on ecosystem objectives and indicators of ecosystem
health and integrity. These objectives and indicators need to be based
on the best possible understanding of the structure and function of the
Region’s ecosystems and should be developed in the context of the
natural variability and inherent uncertainties in our understanding of
marine ecosystems. They should also reflect the relative vulnerability
of different ecosystems to individual, combined, and cumulative impacts
of human uses. Once we have developed objectives and indicators we can
use them to develop adaptive strategies, monitor the status of the ecosystem,
the impacts of human activities and the effectiveness of management.

Ecosystem-based management requires a move away from boundaries based
on jurisdictions and sectoral patterns of use towards planning based on
the characteristics of the ecosystem. There are few ‘hard’,
well-defined boundaries in ecosystems. Gradients of change in characteristics
between different areas are common, and a variety of ecosystem processes
link the different areas. This assessment covers all marine environments
of the Region – both State- and Commonwealth-managed. Ecosystem-based
boundaries are a way to identify areas that have recognizable differences
from adjacent areas. They are flexible, to accommodate new knowledge and
to allow for differences in the characteristics of a particular area and
predictions of how these areas will respond to human uses and management.