Attempts to operationalize Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) have highlighted at least three major challenges:
- Recognizing when a marine ecosystem is compromised or is at risk of becoming compromised;
- Implementing EBFM in ways that are suitable for different types of fisheries; and
- Identifying which indicators can help deliver the most useful scientific information.
These challenges stem in part from continued scientific disagreement over which indicators best reflect ecosystem structure and function, which can then be used to assess the overall state of an ecosystem. Thus the Lenfest Ocean Program and the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) are supporting Drs. Beth Fulton and Keith Sainsbury to work with a team of researchers to develop practical indicators for ecosystem structure and function, along with guidelines for applying those indicators in a variety of ecosystems and management contexts.
As part of the research approach, Drs. Fulton and Sainsbury will also convene an advisory committee composed of a manager, a policymaker, and a scientist from nations associated with four case study regions: Bering Sea, Alaska, USA; marine waters off southeast Australia; marine waters off southwest India; and the Humboldt Current upwelling system in Chile. The advisory committee will work with the research team to provide guidance on existing regulatory frameworks, identify indicators that could be readily applied in their regions, and explore how best to operationalize the findings.