Journal Article

A framework for ecosystem impacts assessment using an indicator approach

P.A. Livingston, K. Aydin, J. Boldt, J. Ianelli and J. Jurado-Molina

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 62, issue 3, pages 592-597
Published in print January 2005 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2005 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI:
A framework for ecosystem impacts assessment using an indicator approach

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  • Environmental Science
  • Marine and Estuarine Biology


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Assessment of the historical, present, and future states of marine ecosystems and the effects that humans and climate have on the state of an ecosystem are crucial to the scientific advice required to implement an ecosystem-based fishery management system. Management of federal groundfish fisheries in Alaska considers not just the target fishery, but also the possible impact those fisheries might have on other species and the ecosystem. Management actions have ranged from providing protection of endangered species in the region to preventing new fisheries from starting on key foodweb components such as forage fish. A scientific framework for providing ecosystem-based advice that puts the ecosystem first has been evolving over the past few years. This framework provides a way of assessing ecosystem factors that influence target species, the impact the target fishery may have on associated species, and ecosystem-level impacts of fishing. An indicator approach that describes ecosystem status, and trends and measures of human and climate influence has been developed to provide advice to fishery managers. This approach is now being expanded to utilize a variety of models to predict possible future trends in various ecosystem indicators. Future implementation challenges include the refinement of these predictive models, and the inclusion of climate into the models. Identification of sensitive and meaningful ecosystem indicators is also required before a more formalized decision-making process, one that includes ecosystem considerations, can be developed. Most important, the culture of fishery management and research organizations needs to change to embrace the ecosystem-based protections already mandated by various laws.

Keywords: assessment framework; ecosystem impacts; ecosystem indicators; ecosystem models

Journal Article.  3892 words. 

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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