Pathways between climate, fish, fisheries, and management: A conceptual integrated ecosystem management approach

Francis Wiese, Stantec, Environmental Services, Anchorage, AK, United States and R John Nelson, Institute of Ocean Sciences, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Sidney, BC, Canada
Variability in the abundance and distribution of marine fishes is influenced by environmental conditions, predator-prey relationships, multispecies interactions and direct human impacts. The productivity of fishes is thus an integrated function within a buffered system with some capacity to absorb impacts of changing environmental conditions. The adaptive response of the system depends on the system structure and the nature of the pathways that link environmental factors to the taxon in question. This paper presents the “Star Diagram”, a new general conceptual model of marine ecosystems that depicts the general pathways between climate, fish, and fisheries and their intersection with climate policy and management. We illustrate the use of the Star Diagram to identify key factors, pathways and drivers that influence marine taxa under a warming scenario and discuss population trends under a long-term warming scenario. Going forward, the challenge to managers will be to balance the magnitude of the effect of harvest and the adaptability of their management system, with the scale and degree of resilience and the behavioral, physiological or evolutionary adaptation of the ecosystem and its constituents. Such a fully integrated management approach should at least contain four adaptive components, including adaptive decision making, governance, information, and participation. The Star Diagram helps highlight how adaptive management can match the temporal and spatial scales of the system to more effectively integrate the diverse components of the social-ecological system; it promotes synoptic, pro-active adaptation to help avoid exacerbating climate impacts.