I just saw a new item at http://news.mongabay.com/2007/0218-fisheries.html entitled
"10 commandments that could save world fisheries"
A team from the University of Oregon (as far as I can make out - please correct me if I'm wrong) were making a presentation on Sunday at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco. According to the news article, they have proposed 10 commandments for fisheries managers "to protect the world's marine fish populations while ensuring ongoing production of sea food in a sustainable manner".
- "Keep a perspective that is holistic, precautionary and adaptive. We must consider whole systems, we must fish with more caution, and we must learn by testing new approaches. Instead of talking about ecosystem management, we refer to 'ecosystem-based' management, because it's misguided to think that we can totally understand or completely control entire marine ecosystems."
- "Question every assumption, no matter how basic it is or what the conventional wisdom suggests." The group says that some traditional fishery goals -- like "maximum sustainable yield" -- are based on flawed concepts.
- Maintain an 'old growth' structure in fish populations, since big, old, fat, female fish have been shown to be the best spawners, but are also susceptible to overfishing.
- Characterize and maintain the natural spatial structure of fish stocks, so that management boundaries match natural boundaries in the sea.
- Monitor and maintain seafloor habitats to make sure fish have food and shelter.
- Maintain resilient ecosystems which are able to withstand occasional shocks.
- Identify and maintain critical food-web connections, including predators and forage species.
- Adapt to ecosystem changes through time, both short-term and on longer cycles of decades or centuries, including global climate change.
- Account for evolutionary changes caused by fishing, which tends to remove large, older fish.
- Include the actions of humans and their social and economic systems in all ecological equations.
Now, does anybody actually have any major argument against any of these "10 commandments"?
I don't think I do, although of course it is easier to follow some of them than others. And I suspect that some of them are probably more important, or critical, to the aim of "protecting the world's marine fish populations while ensuring ongoing production of sea food in a sustainable manner" than others.
I'd argue with some of details, like the insistence on using the phrase "ecosystem-based management" instead of "ecosystem management" because "it's misguided to think that we can totally understand or completely control entire marine ecosystems". I worry that this uses the same logic as the people who say that because we can't always do single species-based management successfully yet, so what hope of doing ecosystem-based management? It misses the point. It's not about absolute control - its about looking at the bigger picture.
More anon, perhaps, when I've digested these a bit more thoroughly, and checked out what some of the gurus have said on these subjects. Like all blogs, the main purpose of bringing this to your attention is to see what other people think, so I'd welcome any comments from you ...