Journal Article

Indicators of the health of the North Sea fish community: identifying reference levels for an ecosystem approach to management

Simon P.R. Greenstreet and Stuart I. Rogers

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 63, issue 4, pages 573-593
Published in print January 2006 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online January 2006 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.icesjms.2005.12.009
Indicators of the health of the North Sea fish community: identifying reference levels for an ecosystem approach to management

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The shift in emphasis away from the single-species focus of traditional fisheries management towards an ecosystem approach to management requires application of indicators of ecosystem state. Further, an ecosystem approach to management requires the identification of ecological reference points against which management objectives might be set. In applying indicators, identifying reference points, and setting objectives, an obvious requirement is that the indicators respond primarily to the anthropogenic activity being managed and are sufficiently sensitive that impacts of the activity and the responses to management action are clearly demonstrable. Here we apply a suite of 12 indicators to Scottish August groundfish survey data collected in the northern North Sea over the period 1925–1997. These include indicators of size structure, life-history character composition, species diversity, and trophic structure within the community. Our choice of analytical design has two purposes; first to show that fishing has unequivocally affected these various aspects of the structure of the groundfish community, and second to illustrate an approach by which long time-series data sets might be used to identify possible management reference points. The results are discussed in the context of selecting ecological indicators in support of an ecosystem approach to management and determining appropriate reference points for objective-setting.

Keywords: community metrics; Ecological Quality Objectives; ecosystem approach to management; effects of fishing; fish communities; indicators; reference levels

Journal Article.  13517 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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