Northwest Fisheries Science Center

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Document Type: Journal Article
Center: NWFSC
Document ID: 8981
Title: Recommendations on the use of ecosystem modeling for informing ecosystem-based fisheries management and restoration outcomes in the Gulf of Mexico
Author: Arnaud Gruss, Kenneth A. Rose, James Simons, C. H. Ainsworth, E. A. Babcock, David D. Chagaris, Kim de Mutsert, John Froeschke, Peter Himchak, I. C. Kaplan, Manuel Zetina Rejon
Publication Year: 2017
Journal: Marine and Coastal Fisheries
Volume: 9
Pages: 281295
Keywords: ecosystem model,Gulf of Mexico,habitat,restoration,Ecosystem base management

Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and ecosystem restoration are gaining momentum worldwide, including in the northern Gulf of Mexico (“GOM”). Ecosystem models are valuable tools for informing EBFM and restoration activities. In this paper, we provide advice and a roadmap for ecosystem modeling into the future for the GOM, with an emphasis on model development and use of model products to inform EBFM and the increasing investments in restoration. We propose eight best practices for ecosystem modeling efforts, including identification of priority management questions, scenarios as simulation experiments, calibration and validation needs, sensitivity and uncertainty analyses, and how the scenarios can be evaluated, the results documented and communicated, and the ecosystem models and codes maintained. Fisheries management in practice adheres to a prescriptive set of calculations and so the use of ecosystem modeling in GOM EBFM will likely be incremental, starting with the incorporation of environmental variables into single-species assessments, and the provision of background (stage-setting) information on environmental and food web effects (e.g., the impacts of Lionfish (Pterois spp.) invasion) and strategic advice through Management Strategy Evaluation. Management questions related to restoration in the GOM, such as the impacts of freshwater and sediment diversions, habitat restoration, and measures to mitigate nutrient loading and hypoxia, have more flexibility in how they are addressed and thus are primed for immediate use of ecosystem modeling. The questions related to restoration are appropriate for ecosystem modeling and the initiation of data collection at the project level. Ecosystem modeling efforts need to be initiated and advanced now in order for the tools to be ready in the near future. Addressing the issues and questions will benefit greatly from the proper use of ecosystem modeling.


Theme: Ecosystem approach to improve management of marine resources
Foci: Provide scientific support for the implementation of ecosystem-based management
Characterize ecological interactions (e.g. predation, competition, parasitism, disease, etc.) within and among species.