Journal Article

Balancing exploitation and conservation of the eastern Scotian Shelf ecosystem: application of a 4D ecosystem exploitation index

Alida Bundy, Paul Fanning and Kees C.T. Zwanenburg

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 503-510
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2004.12.008
Balancing exploitation and conservation of the eastern Scotian Shelf ecosystem: application of a 4D ecosystem exploitation index

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Few indicators exist that measure the effects of fishing at the whole-ecosystem level. A 4D ecosystem exploitation index is proposed that integrates four measures of ecosystem status: (i) the trophic balance of exploitation, (ii) the intensity of exploitation, (iii) species richness, and (iv) disturbance of the trophic structure. The central concept is that fisheries should extract yield in proportion to the productivity at each trophic level, at sustainable exploitation rates, with minimal disturbance to the trophic structure, and with no loss in species richness. The ecosystem exploitation index is tested on simulated ecosystem data and applied to data from the eastern Scotian Shelf, Canada. The model simulations provided consistent results that should facilitate cross-system comparisons of exploitation and ecosystem status. When applied to actual observations, the results were less coherent, likely attributable to lag effects and environmental impacts. All fisheries likely alter the trophic structure of ecosystems, and the rate and trophic pattern of exploitation determines the level of change. Exploiting all trophic levels equally would always result in less change to trophic structure than top-heavy exploitation. Further testing is required to determine lag effects and sensitivity to various assumptions.

Keywords: disturbance index; ecosystem exploitation index; ecosystem indicator; species richness; trophic balance index; trophic level

Journal Article.  4699 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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