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The many faces of ecosystem-based management: Making the process work today in real places


  • Tallis, Heather
  • Levin, Phillip S.
  • Ruckelshaus, Mary
  • Lester, Sarah E.
  • McLeod, Karen L.
  • Fluharty, David L.
  • Halpern, Benjamin S.


Despite the widely accepted need for ecosystem-based management of coastal and marine systems, many managers struggle with how to put these principles into practice. Commonly voiced concerns include complicated and expensive implementation, prohibitive data requirements, and lack of testing with long-term applications. We address some of these perceived barriers by providing guidance on strategies and approaches that can be used for the steps of one ecosystem-based management process, the integrated ecosystem assessment framework, including scoping, defining indicators, setting thresholds, risk analysis, management strategy evaluation, monitoring and evaluation. Importantly, we demonstrate how an ecosystem-based management approach can be utilized in a variety of contexts which vary widely in data quality and availability, governance structure, and time frame. We then illustrate the suggested steps in the process by exploring two case studies that represent realistic ends of the data/governance/time frame spectrum: Puget Sound, Washington, USA and Raja Ampat, Indonesia. By providing concrete suggestions for how to move forward with key steps in an integrated management process, we show that ecosystem-based management is feasible from a range of starting points and that for any given starting point there are numerous productive paths forward.

Suggested Citation

  • Tallis, Heather & Levin, Phillip S. & Ruckelshaus, Mary & Lester, Sarah E. & McLeod, Karen L. & Fluharty, David L. & Halpern, Benjamin S., 2010. "The many faces of ecosystem-based management: Making the process work today in real places," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(2), pages 340-348, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:marpol:v:34:y:2010:i:2:p:340-348

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    Cited by:

    1. Röckmann, Christine & van Leeuwen, Judith & Goldsborough, David & Kraan, Marloes & Piet, Gerjan, 2015. "The interaction triangle as a tool for understanding stakeholder interactions in marine ecosystem based management," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 52(C), pages 155-162.
    2. Wasson, Kerstin & Suarez, Becky & Akhavan, Antonia & McCarthy, Erin & Kildow, Judith & Johnson, Kenneth S. & Fountain, Monique C. & Woolfolk, Andrea & Silberstein, Mark & Pendleton, Linwood & Feliz, D, 2015. "Lessons learned from an ecosystem-based management approach to restoration of a California estuary," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 58(C), pages 60-70.
    3. van Hoof, Luc, 2015. "Fisheries management, the ecosystem approach, regionalisation and the elephants in the room," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 20-26.
    4. repec:eee:ecoser:v:16:y:2015:i:c:p:112-120 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. van Leeuwen, Judith & Raakjaer, Jesper & van Hoof, Luc & van Tatenhove, Jan & Long, Ronán & Ounanian, Kristen, 2014. "Implementing the Marine Strategy Framework Directive: A policy perspective on regulatory, institutional and stakeholder impediments to effective implementation," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 50(PB), pages 325-330.
    6. Peter Arbo & Thuy Pham Thi Thanh, 2014. "The missing link in marine ecosystem-based management," ERSA conference papers ersa14p248, European Regional Science Association.
    7. Kahui, Viktoria & Richards, Amanda C., 2014. "Lessons from resource management by indigenous Maori in New Zealand: Governing the ecosystems as a commons," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 102(C), pages 1-7.


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