We present a framework for evaluating the cause of fishery declines by integrating covariates into a fisheries stock assessment model. This allows the evaluation of fisheries' effects vs. natural and other human impacts. The analyses presented are based on integrating ecological science and statistics and form the basis for environmental decision-making advice. Hypothesis tests are described to rank hypotheses and determine the size of a multiple covariate model. We extend recent developments in integrated analysis and use novel methods to produce effect size estimates that are relevant to policy makers and include estimates of uncertainty. Results can be directly applied to evaluate trade-offs among alternative management decisions. The methods and results are also broadly applicable outside fisheries stock assessment. We show that multiple factors influence populations and that analysis of factors in isolation can be misleading. We illustrate the framework by applying it to Pacific herring of Prince William Sound, Alaska (USA). The Pacific herring stock that spawns in Prince William Sound is a stock that has collapsed, but there are several competing or alternative hypotheses to account for the initial collapse and subsequent lack of recovery. Factors failing the initial screening tests for statistical significance included indicators of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, coho salmon predation, sea lion predation, Pacific Decadal Oscillation, Northern Oscillation Index, and effects of containment in the herring egg-on-kelp pound fishery. The overall results indicate that the most statistically significant factors related to the lack of recovery of the herring stock involve competition or predation by juvenile hatchery pink salmon on herring juveniles. Secondary factors identified in the analysis were poor nutrition in the winter, ocean (Gulf of Alaska) temperature in the winter, the viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus, and the pathogen Ichthyophonus hoferi. The implication of this result to fisheries management in Prince William Sound is that it may well be difficult to simultaneously increase the production of pink salmon and maintain a viable Pacific herring fishery. The impact can be extended to other commercially important fisheries, and a whole ecosystem approach may be needed to evaluate the costs and benefits of salmon hatcheries.
The story of Siglufjörður (Siglufjordur), a north Iceland village that became the "Herring Capital of the World," provides a case study of complex interactions between physical, biological, and social systems. Siglufjörður's natural capital - a good harbor and proximity to prime herring grounds - contributed to its development as a major fishing center during the first half of the 20th century. This herring fishery was initiated by Norwegians, but subsequently expanded by Icelanders to such an extent that the fishery, and Siglufjörður in particular, became engines helping to pull the whole Icelandic economy. During the golden years of this "herring adventure," Siglufjörður opened unprecedented economic and social opportunities. Unfortunately, the fishing boom reflected unsustainably high catch rates. In the years following World War II, overfishing by an international fleet eroded the once-huge herring stock. Then, in the mid-1960s, large-scale physical changes took place in the seas north of Iceland. These physical changes had ecological consequences that led to the loss of the herring's main food supply. Severe environmental stress, combined with heavy fishing pressure, drove the herring stocks toward collapse. Siglufjörður found itself first marginalized, then shut out as the herring progressively vanished. During the decades following the 1968 collapse, this former boomtown has sought alternatives for sustainable development.
Predator-prey interactions shape ecosystem structure and function, potentially limiting the productivity of valuable species. Simultaneously, stochastic environmental forcing affects species productivity, often through unknown mechanisms. The interacting effects of trophic and environmental conditions complicate management of exploited ecosystems and have motivated calls for more holistic management via ecosystem-based approaches, yet the limitations to these approaches are not widely appreciated. The Chignik salmon fishery in Alaska is managed to achieve maximum sustainable yield for sockeye salmon, though research suggests that predation by less economically valuable, and thus not targeted, coho salmon during juvenile rearing limits the productivity of sockeye salmon. We examined the relationship between historical sockeye salmon recruitment and coho salmon abundance observed in the Chignik system and could not detect a clear effect of coho salmon abundance on sockeye salmon productivity, given existing data. Using simulation models, we examined the probability of detecting a known predation effect on sockeye salmon recruitment in the presence of observation error in coho salmon abundance and stochasticity in sockeye salmon recruitment. Increased recruitment stochasticity reduced the ability to detect predator effects in recruitment, an effect further strengthened when low frequency environmental variation was added to the system. Further, increased observation error biased estimates of predator effects towards zero. Thus, in systems with high observation error on predator abundances, estimates of predation effects will be substantially weaker than true effects. We examined the effects of stochasticity on the ability of an adaptive management program to learn about ecosystem structure and detect an effect of management actions intended to release a prey species from its predators. Simulation models revealed that even under scenarios of large predation effects on sockeye salmon, stochastic recruitment masked detection of an effect of increased coho salmon harvest for nearly a decade. These results highlight the challenges inherent in ecosystem-based management of predator-prey systems due to mismatched timescales of ecosystem dynamics and the willingness of stakeholders to risk losses in order to test uncertain hypotheses. It is critical for stakeholders considering EBFM (ecosystem-based fisheries management) and adaptive management strategies to be aware of the potential timelines of perceiving ecosystem change.
In the past decade, marine protected areas (MPAs) have become an increasingly used tool for science-based conservation and adaptive management of marine biodiversity and related natural resources. In this review paper, we report on rather complete time-course series (55 years uninterrupted) focusing on comparison of the strong difference, in number and area, in establishing marine (56 MNRs) and terrestrial (4284 TNRs) nature reserves in Sweden versus marine (7001 MPAs) and terrestrial (132742 TPAs) protected areas globally. Sweden appears to follow the overall global time trends. The large backlog of MPAs in relation to TPAs is due to several possible reasons, such as (i) unclear marine jurisdiction, (ii) marine conservation policies and programs developed later than terrestrial, (iii) higher costs for marine conservation management, (iv) conflicts in marine conservation, especially the fishery, and (v) the general public's historically weak awareness of the status of the marine environment.
Current global fisheries production of approximately 160 million tons is rising as a result of increases in aquaculture production. A number of climate-related threats to both capture fisheries and aquaculture are identified, but we have low confidence in predictions of future fisheries production because of uncertainty over future global aquatic net primary production and the transfer of this production through the food chain to human consumption. Recent changes in the distribution and productivity of a number of fish species can be ascribed with high confidence to regional climate variability, such as the El Niño-Southern Oscillation. Future production may increase in some high-latitude regions because of warming and decreased ice cover, but the dynamics in low-latitude regions are governed by different processes, and production may decline as a result of reduced vertical mixing of the water column and, hence, reduced recycling of nutrients. There are strong interactions between the effects of fishing and the effects of climate because fishing reduces the age, size, and geographic diversity of populations and the biodiversity of marine ecosystems, making both more sensitive to additional stresses such as climate change. Inland fisheries are additionally threatened by changes in precipitation and water management. The frequency and intensity of extreme climate events is likely to have a major impact on future fisheries production in both inland and marine systems. Reducing fishing mortality in the majority of fisheries, which are currently fully exploited or overexploited, is the principal feasible means of reducing the impacts of climate change.
What has been responsible for the increase in Chinstrap penguin populations during the past 40 years in maritime Antarctica? One view ascribes it to an increase in availability of their prey brought on by the decrease in baleen whale stocks. The contrary opinion, attributes it to environmental warming. This causes a gradual decrease in the frequency of cold years with extensive winter sea ice cover. A number of penguin monitoring programs are in progress and are expected to provide some answers to these questions. Unfortunately, it is not easy to distinguish natural variability from anthropogenic change since penguins are easily accessible predators of krill and the feeding range of the penguins has almost overlapped with the krill fishery in time and space in the last four decades. Therefore it is important to reconstruct the change of ancient penguin abundance and distribution in the absence of human activity. Many efforts have focused on surveying the abandoned penguin rookeries, but this method has not been able to give a continuous historical record of penguin populations. In several recent studies, ancient penguin excreta was scooped from the penguin relics in the sediments of the lake on penguin rookery, Ardley Island, maritime Antarctica. In these studies, penguin droppings or guano soil deposited in the lake and changes in sediment geochemistry have been used to calculate penguin population changes based upon the geochemical composition of the sediment core. The results suggest that climate change has a significant impact on penguin populations.