Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries

, Volume 22, Issue 1, pp 81–94 | Cite as

What model suits ecosystem-based fisheries management? A plea for a structured modeling process

  • Alejandro Espinoza-TenorioEmail author
  • Matthias Wolff
  • Marc H. Taylor
  • Ileana Espejel


As tools within ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), a wide range of Ecosystem Models (EMs) have been designed to represent ecosystem complexity, but it is not always clear how the outputs of these models can be applied. We address this debate in a literature review to illustrate how a better understanding of ecosystem modeling within the EBFM framework could facilitate the use of EMs in the decision-making process. We classify EMs according to their complexity, and qualitatively evaluate their level of success with regard to five general goals of EBFM. In principle, no single EM is found to successfully accomplish all the EBFM goals. Therefore, we suggest that the way in which ecosystem modeling can effectively contribute to EBFM is through a structured modeling process, which should be pursued according to the context of each specific area. Within this planning strategy a range of Ems should be considered, from rather simple ones with few parameters, whose outputs are scientifically robust but possibly of limited use within the EBFM, to those which include a large number of ecosystem elements yet at the expense of increased uncertainty. If multiple EMs, despite their different assumptions, leads to consistent and converging results then robust management decisions will be supported. The present paper appears particularly useful to anyone confronted with the selection of modeling tools for the implementation of fisheries management strategies considering the particular situation of the fishery.


Ecosystem modeling Ecosystem-based fisheries management Structured modeling scheme 


  1. Bart J (1995) Acceptance criteria for using individual-based models to make management decisions. Ecol Appl 5:411–420CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bogstad B, Hauge HK, Ulltrang Ø (1997) MULTSPEC—A multi-species model for fish and marine mammals in the Barents Sea. J Northw Atl Fish Sci 22:317–341CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Branch TA, Watson R, Fulton EA, Jennings S, McGilliard CR, Pablico GT, Ricard D, Tracey SR (2010) The trophic fingerprint of marine fisheries. Nature 468:431–435PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Breckling B, Müller F (1994) Current trends in ecological modeling and the 8th ISEM conference on the state-of-the-art. Ecol Modell 75(76):667–675CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Caddy JF (1999) Fisheries management in the twenty-first century: will new paradigms apply? Rev Fish Biol Fish 9:1–43CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Caddy JF (2000) Marine catchment basin effects versus impacts of fisheries on semi-enclosed seas. ICES J Mar Sci 57:628–640CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Caddy JF, Cochrane KL (2001) A review of fisheries management past and present and some future perspectives for the third millennium. Ocean Coast Manage 44:653–682CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Caddy JF, Surette T (2006) In retrospect the assumption of sustainability for Atlantic fisheries has proved an illusion. Rev Fish Biol Fish 15:313–337CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Christensen V, Caddy JF (1994) Reflections on the pelagic food web structure in the Black Sea. Fisheries Technical Paper 495. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  10. Christensen V, Walters CJ (2004) Trade offs in ecosystem scale optimization of fisheries management policies. Bull Mar Sci 74:549–562Google Scholar
  11. Christensen V, Walters CJ, Pauly D (2005) ECOPATH with ECOSIM: a user’s guide. Fisheries Centre, University of British Columbia, Vancouvers, p 154Google Scholar
  12. Christie P, Fluharty DL, White AT et al (2007) Assessing the feasibility of ecosystem-based fisheries management in tropical contexts. Mar Policy 3:239–250CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Convention on Biological Diversity (2004) Enfoque por ecosistemas. Convention on Biological Diversity D, MontrealGoogle Scholar
  14. Drechsler M, Grimm V, Myšiak J, Wätzold F (2007) Differences and similarities between ecological and economic models for biodiversity conservation. Ecol Econ 62:232–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Espinoza-Tenorio A, Montaño-Moctezuma G, Espejel I (2010) Ecosystem-based analysis in a marine protected area where fisheries and protected species coexist. Environ Manag 45:739–750CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Espinoza-Tenorio A., Wolff M, Espejel I (2011) Are ecosystem models an improvement on single-species models for fisheries management? The case of Upper Gulf of California, Mexico. In: Environmental management systems. Nova publishers, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  17. Foden J, Rogers IS, Jones PA (2008) A critical review of approaches to aquatic environmental assessment. Mar Poll Bull 56:1825–1833CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (1995) Code of conduct for responsible fisheries. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  19. Fulton EA, Smith ADM, Johnson CR (2004a) Biogeochemical marine ecosystem models I: IGBEM—a model of marine bay ecosystems. Ecol Modell 174:267–307CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fulton EA, Parslow JS, Smith ADM, Johnson CR (2004b) Biogeochemical marine ecosystem models II: the effect of physiological detail on model performance. Ecol Modell 173:371–406CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Galindo-Bect MS, Glenn EP, Page HM et al (2000) Penaeid shrimp landings in the upper Gulf of California in relation to Colorado River freshwater discharge. Fish Bull 98:222–225Google Scholar
  22. Garcia SM, Zerbi A, Aliaume C et al (2003) The ecosystem approach to fisheries. Issues, terminology, principles, institutional foundations, implementation and outlook. Fisheries technical paper 443. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  23. Grimm V (1999) Ten years of individual-based modeling in ecology: what have we learned and what could we learn in the future? Ecol Modell 115:129–148CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Guichard F, Peterson G (2009) Ecological cross-scale interactions. In: McLeod K, Leslie H (eds) Ecosystem-based management for the oceans. Island Press, Washington, DC, pp 74–91Google Scholar
  25. Håkanson L (2003) Propagation and analysis of uncertainty in ecosystem models. In: Canham DC, Cole JJ, Lauenroth KW (eds) Models in ecosystem science. Princeton University Press, New Jersey, pp 139–167Google Scholar
  26. Hammond TR, O’Brien CM (2001) An application of the Bayesian approach to stock assessment model uncertainty. ICES J Mar Sci 58:648–656CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hilborn R (1997) Uncertainty, risk and the precautionary principle. In: Pikitch EK, Huppert DD, Sissenwine MP (eds) Global trends: fisheries management. American Fisheries Society Symposium, Bethesda, MD, pp 100–106Google Scholar
  28. Hilborn R (2003) The state of the art in stock assessment: where we are and where we are going. Sci Mar 67:15–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Hilborn R, Walters CJ (1992) Quantitative fisheries stock assessment: choice, dynamics and uncertainty. Thomson Science, New YorkCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hollowed AB, Ianelli JN, Livingston PA (2000a) Including predation mortality in stock assessments: a case study for Gulf of Alaska walleye pollock. ICES J Mar Sci 57:279–293CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Hollowed AB, Bax N, Beamish R et al (2000b) Are multispecies models an improvement on single-species models for measuring fishing impacts on marine ecosystems? ICES J Mar Sci 57:707–719CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kaufman L, Karrer BL, Peterson HC (2009) Monitoring and evaluation. In: McLeod LK, Leslie HM (eds) Ecosystem-based management for the oceans. Island press, Washington, DC, pp 115–128Google Scholar
  33. Kavanagh P, Newlands N, Christensen V, Pauly D (2004) Automated parameter optimization for Ecopath ecosystem models. Ecol Modell 172:141–149CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Keyl F, Wolff M (2008) Environmental variability and fisheries: what can models do? Rev Fish Biol Fish 18:273–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Lachica-Aliño L, Wolff M, David LT (2006) Past and future fisheries modeling approaches in the Philippines. Rev Fish Biol Fish 16:201–212CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Larkin PA (1996) Concepts and issues in marine ecosystem management. Rev Fish Biol Fish 6:139–164CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lehodey P (2001) The pelagic ecosystem of the tropical Pacific Ocean: dynamic spatial modelling and biological consequences of ENSO. Prog Oceanogr 49:439–468CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lehodey P (2004a) A Spatial Ecosystem And Populations Dynamics Model (SEAPODYM) for tuna and associated oceanic top-predator species: Part I—lower and intermediate trophic components. Oceanic Fisheries Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SCTB17, pp 1–26Google Scholar
  39. Lehodey P (2004b) A Spatial Ecosystem And Populations Dynamics Model (SEAPODYM) for tuna and associated oceanic top-predator species: Part II—tuna populations and fisheries. Oceanic Fisheries Programme, Secretariat of the Pacific Community, SCTB17, pp 1–36Google Scholar
  40. Lercari D, Chávez EA (2007) Possible causes related to historic stock depletion of the totoaba, Totoaba macdonaldi (Perciformes: Sciaenidae), endemic to the Gulf of California. Fish Res 86:136–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Levins R (1966) The strategy of model building in population biology. Am Sci 54:421–423Google Scholar
  42. Livingston AP, Jurado-Molina J (2000) A multispecies virtual population analysis of the eastern Bering Sea. ICES J Mar Sci 57:294–299CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Magnứsson GK (1995) An overview of the multispecies VPA–theory and applications. Rev Fish Biol Fish 5:195–212Google Scholar
  44. Margules CR, Pressey RL (2000) Systematic conservation planning. Nature 405:243–253PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. McLeod LK, Leslie HM (2009) State of practice. In: McLeod LK, Leslie HM (eds) Ecosystem-based management for the oceans. Island press, Washington, DC, pp 314–321Google Scholar
  46. Megrey AB, Link SJ, Hunt LG Jr, Moksness E (2009) Comparative marine ecosystem analysis: applications, opportunities, and lessons learned. Prog in Oceanogr 81:2–9CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Montaño-Moctezuma G, Li HW, Rossignol PA (2007) Alternative community structures in a kelp-urchin community: a qualitative modeling approach. Ecol Modell 205:343–354CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Morales-Zárate MV, Arreguín-Sánchez J, López-Martínez SE, Lluch-Cota E (2004) Ecosystem trophic structure and energy flux in the Northern Gulf of California, Mexico. Ecol Modell 174:331–345CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Morishita J (2008) What is the ecosystem approach for fisheries management? Mar Policy 32:19–26CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Morse WC, Nielsen-Pincus M, Force J, Wulfhorst J (2007) Bridges and barriers to developing and conducting interdisciplinary graduate-student team research. Ecol Soc 12:8.
  51. Murawski AS (2007) Ten myths concerning ecosystem approaches to marine resource management. Mar Policy 31:681–690CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  52. Ortiz M, Wolff M (2002) Application of loop analysis to benthic systems in northern Chile for the elaboration of sustainable management strategies. Mar Eco Prog Ser 242:15–27CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Pauly D, Christensen V (1993) Stratified models of large marine ecosystems: a general approach and an application to the South China Sea. In: Sherman K et al (eds) Large marine ecosystems: stress, mitigation and sustainability. AAS Press, Washington, DC, pp 148–176Google Scholar
  54. Pauly D, Christensen V, Walters C (2000) Ecopath, Ecosim, and Ecospace as tools for evaluating ecosystem impact of fisheries. ICES J Mar Sci 57:697–706CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Pelletier D, Mahévas S (2005) Spatially explicit fisheries simulation models for policy evaluation. Fish Fish 6:307–349Google Scholar
  56. Pikitch EK, Santora C, Babcock EA et al (2004) Ecosystem-based fishery management. Science 305:346–347PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Pitcher TJ, Watson R, Haggan N et al (2000) Marine reserves and the restoration of fisheries and marine ecosystems in the South of China Sea. Bull Mar Sci 66:543–566Google Scholar
  58. Plagányi EE (2007) Models for an ecosystem approach to fisheries. Fisheries Technical Paper 477. Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, RomeGoogle Scholar
  59. Prager MH, Williams EH (2003) From the golden age to the new industrial age: fishery modeling in the early 21st century. Nat Res Model 16:477–489CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Robinson LA, Frid CLJ (2003) Dynamic ecosystems models and the evaluation of ecosystem effects of fishing: can we make meaningful predictions? Aquatic Conserv: Mar Freshw Ecosyst 13:5–20CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Routledge R (2001) Mixed-stock vs. terminal fisheries: a bioeconomic model. Nat Res Model 14:523–539CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Shin JY, Cury P (2001) Exploring fish community dynamics through size-dependent trophic interactions using a spatialized individual-based model. Aquat Living Resour 14:65–80CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  63. Smith ADM, Fulton EJ, Hobday AJ et al (2007) Scientific tools to support the practical implementation of ecosystem-based fisheries management. ICES J Mar Sci 64:633–639CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Snowling SD, Kramer JR (2001) Evaluating modelling uncertainty for model selection. Ecol Modell 138:17–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Sparholt H (1995) Using the MSVPA/MSFOR model to estimate the right-hand side of the Ricker curve for Baltic cod. ICES J Mar Sci 52:819–826CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Starfield AM, Smith KA, Bleloch AL (1990) How to model it: problem solving for the computer age. McGraw-Hill, New YorkGoogle Scholar
  67. Taylor HM, Wolff M (2007) Trophic modeling of eastern boundary current systems: a review and prospectus for solving the “Peruvian Puzzle”. Rev Peru Biol 14:87–100Google Scholar
  68. Taylor LB, Wade RP, De Master PD, Barlow J (2000) Incorporating uncertainty into management models for marine mammals. Conserv Biol 14:1243–1252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  69. Tjelmeland S, Bogstad B (1998) MULTSPEC± a review of a multispecies modeling project for the Barents Sea. Fish Res 37:127–142CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tjelmeland S, Lindstrom U (2005) An ecosystem element added to the assessment of Norwegian spring spawning herring: implementing predation by minke whales. ICES J Mar Sci 62:285–294CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  71. Uchmanski J, Grim V (1996) Individual-based modeling in ecology: what makes the difference? TREE 11:437–441PubMedGoogle Scholar
  72. Walters CJ (2000) Impacts of dispersal, ecological interactions, and fishing effort dynamics on efficacy of marine protected areas: how large should protected areas be? Bull Mar Sci 66:745–757Google Scholar
  73. Walters CJ, Martell JD (2004) Fisheries ecology and management. Princenton University Press, New JerseyGoogle Scholar
  74. Wätzold F, Drechsler M, Armstrong WC et al (2006) Ecological-economic modeling for biodiversity management: potential, pitfalls, and prospects. Conserv Biol 20:1034–1041PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wolff M, Mendo J (2000) Management of the Peruvian scallop (Argopecten purpuratus) metapopulation with regard to environmental change. Aquatic Conserv Mar Freshw Ecosyst 10:117–126CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alejandro Espinoza-Tenorio
    • 1
    Email author
  • Matthias Wolff
    • 1
  • Marc H. Taylor
    • 2
  • Ileana Espejel
    • 3
  1. 1.Leibniz-Zentrum für Marine Tropenökologie GmbHBremenGermany
  2. 2.Alfred Wegener Institute for Polar and Marine ResearchBremerhavenGermany
  3. 3.Facultad de CienciasUniversidad Autónoma de Baja CaliforniaEnsenadaMexico

Personalised recommendations