Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 514
Title: Ten Commandments for Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Scientists
Author: R. C. Francis, M. A. Hixon, M. E. Clarke, S. Murawski, Stephen Ralston
Publication Year: 2007
Journal: Fisheries
Volume: 32
Pages: 217-233
Abstract: ABSTRACT: In an effort to accelerate the ongoing paradigm shift in fisheries science from the traditional single-species mindset toward more ecosystem-based approaches, we offer the following commandments as action items for bridgingthe gap between general principles and specific methodologies. 1. Keep a perspective that is holistic, risk-averse, and adaptive. 2. Question key assumptions, no matter how basic. 3. Maintain old-growth age structure in fish populations. 4. Characterize and maintain the natural spatial structure of fish stocks. 5. Characterize and maintain viable fish habitats. 6. Characterize and maintain ecosystem resilience. 7. Identify and maintain critical food web connections. 8. Account for ecosystem change through time. 9. Account for evolutionary change caused by fishing. 10. Implement an approach that is integrated, interdisciplinary, and inclusive. Although the shift in worldview embodied in these commandments can occur immediately without additional funding, full implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries science will require an expanded empirical basis as well as novel approaches to modeling. We believe that pursuing these action items is essential for productive marine fisheries to become truly sustainable for present and future generations.