EarthLabs > Fisheries > 3A: Ecosystem-Based Management Tools (Old)

Oh What a Tangled Web: Ecosystem-Based Management

Part A: Ecosystem-Based Management Tools

Marine ecosystems are incredibly complex systems of living organisms, their environment, and the processes that drive them. Ecosystem-based management (EBM) can be as complicated as the ecosystems themselves and requires intimate knowledge of a system's complex workings. EBM tools can help construct a clearer picture of the current state of an ecosystem's resources. Such tools can also help determine the best management approaches (e.g., implementing fishing quotas or alternative gear types) for maintaining the health of a particular ecosystem.

Artist's rendering of the complexities of the Gulf of Alaska marine ecosystem. Image courtesy of Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council GEM (Gulf of Alaska Ecosystem Monitoring and Research) project. Click on the image for a larger view.
  1. Go to the EBM Tools Network website and read the sections entitled:
    • EBM Process
    • Types of Tools
    • Using Tools
    • Developing Tools

    Checking In

    Make sure you can answer the following questions before moving on.
    • What are the 4 steps in the EBM process?
      • Characterize the Content for EBM
      • Set Goals, Analyze Scenarios, and Select Actions
      • Implement Actions, Monitor, and Adaptively Manage
      • Engage Stakeholders
    • What are the major types of EBM tools?
      • Decision Support Tools
      • Conservation and Restoration Site Selection Tools
      • Land Use Planning, Urban Planning, and Smart Growth Tools
      • Watershed and Marine Ecosystem Models
      • Dispersal and Habitat Models
      • Hazard Assessment and Resiliency Planning Tools
      • Socioeconomic Tools
      • Stakeholder Engagement, Communication, and Visualization Tools
      • Fisheries Management Tools
      • Model Development Tools
      • Data and Project Management Tools
    • What is a stakeholder?
      Stakeholders include anyone who will be influenced, be affected by, or be carrying out management actions.

    Stop and Think

    1: According to the reading, EBM tools should be "MODULAR" and "INTEROPERABLE." Define these two terms and explain why these qualities are desirable in an EBM tool.


  2. The Census of Marine Life (CoML) is a global initiative to assess and explain the past, present, and future diversity, distribution, and abundance of life in the oceans. The Pacific Ocean Shelf Tracking (POST) project is one tool in the CoML toolbox that will help researchers learn about the life, death, and migration habits of ocean creatures.

    Click on the image below to watch a short animation about how the POST tool will work.

  3. Movie courtesy of POST.

    Checking In

    Answer the following questions to check your understanding of the information presented in the POST animation.

    • How does POST track animals?
      The POST project uses newly developed acoustic technology to track the movement of individual animals. Tags implanted in the animals' abdomens send out unique signals, which are picked up by receivers placed on the ocean floor. Most species and many life history stages can be studied using POST.
    • What types of data will POST provide?
      With tracking tags and listening arrays, POST will be able to track where marine animals travel, how fast they are moving, and where they die. POST will also measure water properties such as temperature and salinity (saltiness).

    Stop and Think

    2: What type of EBM tool is POST? Explain your choice.

    3: How might POST data be useful for fisheries management?



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