EarthLabs > Fisheries > Lab 3: Oh What a Tangled Web: Ecosystem-Based Management (Old)

Oh What a Tangled Web: Ecosystem-Based Management

Introduction

Marine ecosystem food web. Image courtesy of NOAA.

Of the resources humans derive from marine ecosystems, food is one of the most important, with over a billion people worldwide relying on fish as a main source of protein. Sustainable production of healthy and abundant seafood requires healthy marine ecosystems. However, modern fishing practices often have negative impacts on marine ecosystems through habitat destruction, incidental deaths of non-target species (by-catch), and changes in the structure and function of ecosystems.

Traditionally, fisheries management has focused on restoring depleted fish populations one species at a time. This approach ignores other species, that while commercially insignificant, may be vital to the overall function and health of the ecosystem. Although single species fisheries management may be an effective way to reverse dwindling numbers of a particular fish species, it does not adequately protect marine ecosystems from the harmful impacts of human influence.

Ecosystem-based management (EBM) is an approach that considers all components of an ecosystem, including humans. In 2005, COMPASS (Communication Partnership for Science and the Sea) released a Scientific Consensus Statement on Marine Ecosystem-Based Management. According to this report, ecosystem-based management:


In the first part of this investigation, you will learn about the EBM process and EBM tools. In the second part of the investigation, you will play a game in which you make decisions about how to manage different types of fisheries.

After completing this investigation, you should be able to:



Keeping Track of What You Learn

Throughout these labs, you will find two kinds of questions. Your teacher will let you know which answers you should record and turn in.


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