For more than a decade, scientists have recognized that fisheries management should consider the interconnections between fishing, fished species, humans, and the well-being of the larger marine environment. There is strong support for this approach, known as ecosystem-based fisheries management, but no clear path to implementation.
Recognizing this, the Lenfest Ocean Program has charged a team of scientists with creating a practical blueprint that managers can use to make ecosystem-based fisheries management operational. The Fishery Ecosystem Task Force will hold a series of meetings and provide recommendations in 2016. The Task Force’s main output will be an outline of the components of effective Fishery Ecosystem Plans (FEPs). It will provide a set of specific questions that every FEP should address and a set of recommendations for how each question can be answered. The goal is for managers to be able to do so using existing data and a way that is useful for their specific management contexts, ecological dynamics, and socioeconomic circumstances. The group will focus on guidance for U.S. fishery management councils but will also provide a framework that can be adapted by other management bodies. It will meet four times over a two-year period in four regions around the U.S.