Fisheries management has evolved from a traditional, relatively narrow focus on biological sustainability of the target species, to being charged with also addressing ecosystem and habitat protection, biodiversity conservation, economic targets, and social outcomes to support decision-making for sustainable management. These multiple objectives are further complicated by the need to account for the impacts of global climate change. To deal effectively with this complexity, an ecosystem approach to fisheries requires a mix of methods, models, and tailored solutions.
In this talk, I will examine progress in integrating the paradigms of fisheries stock assessment, ecosystem management, climate science and social science. Drawing largely on Australian examples, I review recent advances in models for an ecosystem approach to fisheries, focusing on "Models of Intermediate Complexity for Ecosystem assessments" (MICE), which limit complexity by restricting the focus to those components of the ecosystem needed to address the main effects of the management question under consideration.
Key attributes of ecosystem models for use in tactical decision-making include fitting to data, being question-driven, and accounting for a broad range of uncertainties. These models are also being used to explore the notion of tipping points. More recently, socio-ecological MICE are being extended to represent dynamically the two-way feedbacks between ecological systems and linked socio-economic systems. I will present an example that focuses on incorporating a dynamic feedback between ecosystem characteristics and peoples' sense of place, using a new Sense of Place Index (SOPI) to allow the quantitative integration of environmental psychology into socio-ecological models.
Another approach I will cover is the use of Management Strategy Evaluation to evaluate climate change impacts and include social, economic and ecological considerations – the so-called triple bottom line. Continuing on the theme of expanding research horizons beyond the biophysical and production end of fisheries, I will present examples of the value of a more holistic system view of seafood industries and specifically supply chains. Given the rapid progress in developing new methods and integrated assessments around the world, I argue that a fundamental paradigm shift is occurring in how we do fisheries science.