Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 7445
Title: Marine ecosystem regime shifts: challenges and opportunities for ecosystem-based management
Author: P. S. Levin, Christian Möllmann
Publication Year: 2014
Journal: Philosophical Transactions Royal Society of London
Volume: 370
Keywords: regime shift,iea,ecosystem based management,


Regime shifts have been observed in marine ecosystems around the globe. These phenomena can result in dramatic changes in the provision of ecosystem services to coastal communities. Accounting for regime shifts in management clearly requires integrative, ecosystem-based management (EBM) approaches. EBM has emerged as an accepted paradigm for ocean management worldwide, yet, despite the rapid and intense development of EBM theory, implementation has languished, and many implemented or proposed EBM schemes largely ignore the special characteristics of regime shifts. Here we first explore key aspects of regime shifts that are of critical importance to EBM, and then suggest how regime shifts can be better incorporated into EBM using the concept of Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA). An IEA uses approaches that determine the likelihood that ecological or socio-economic properties of systems will move beyond or return to acceptable bounds as defined by resource managers and policy makers. We suggest how to apply IEAs for regime shift cases of avoiding an undesired and returning to a desired state. We discuss the suitability and short-comings of methods summarizing the status of ecosystem components, screening and prioritizing potential risks, and evaluating alternative management strategies.

Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management
Assess ecosystem status and trends.