Journal Article

Trophodynamic indicators for an ecosystem approach to fisheries

P.M. Cury, L.J. Shannon, J-P. Roux, G.M. Daskalov, A. Jarre, C.L. Moloney and D. Pauly

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 430-442
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
Trophodynamic indicators for an ecosystem approach to fisheries

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Acknowledging ecological interactions, such as predation, is key to an ecosystem approach to fisheries. Trophodynamic indicators are needed to measure the strength of the interactions between the different living components, and of structural ecosystem changes resulting from exploitation. We review trophodynamic indicators derived from models, as well as from emergent patterns such as trophic cascades and regime shifts. From 46 indicators identified in the literature, six (catch or biomass ratios, primary production required to support catch, production or consumption ratios and predation mortality, trophic level of the catch, fishing-in-balance, and mixed trophic impact) were selected because of their ability to reveal ecosystem-level patterns, and because they match published criteria. This suite of indicators is applied to the northern and southern Benguela ecosystems, and their performance is evaluated to depict drastic and contrasted ecosystem changes. A few complementary indicators are suggested as needed to detect the trophodynamic impacts of fisheries and ecosystem changes. Trends in indicators are sensitive to the choice of trophic level made for certain species. Trophodynamic indicators appear to be conservative, because they respond slowly to large structural changes in an ecosystem. Application of the selected indicators to other marine ecosystems is encouraged so as to evaluate fully their usefulness to an ecosystem approach to fisheries, and to establish international comparability.

Keywords: Benguela; ecosystem; fishery management; foodweb controls; indicators; trophodynamics

Journal Article.  7221 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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