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International fisheries: assessing the potential for ecosystem management


  • D. Webster



Single-stock management dominates the international regulation of marine fisheries. Indeed, the maximum sustainable yield (MSY) rubric is used in 10 of 16 marine regional fisheries management organizations (RFMOs). Early on, MSY was the best, and often only, scientific benchmark available. Now, scientists know much more about ecosystem interactions and have the tools to implement multi-species management, but RFMOs continue to manage stocks and species separately. This article explores the reasons for this continuity and the potential for change in the system. In it, I propose that a focus on allocation rather than conservation generates preferences for MSY over the lower, more precautionary, catch limits that would result from an ecosystem approach. I test this hypothesis using RFMO data. I then move on to discuss the results and propose that strategic considerations should be taken into account when advocating for ecosystem-based management. Copyright AESS 2013

Suggested Citation

  • D. Webster, 2013. "International fisheries: assessing the potential for ecosystem management," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, Springer;Association of Environmental Studies and Sciences, vol. 3(2), pages 169-183, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:jenvss:v:3:y:2013:i:2:p:169-183
    DOI: 10.1007/s13412-013-0123-2

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Pitcher, Tony J. & Kalikoski, Daniela & Short, Katherine & Varkey, Divya & Pramod, Ganapathiraju, 2009. "An evaluation of progress in implementing ecosystem-based management of fisheries in 33 countries," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 33(2), pages 223-232, March.
    2. Powers, Joseph E. & Monk, Melissa H., 2010. "Current and future use of indicators for ecosystem based fisheries management," Marine Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(3), pages 723-727, May.
    3. Rudd, Murray A., 2004. "An institutional framework for designing and monitoring ecosystem-based fisheries management policy experiments," Ecological Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 109-124, January.
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