Model-free ecosystem-based fisheries management

Model-free ecosystem-based fisheries management

Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is a holistic framework that has been proposed to incorporate ecological factors that are relevant to fishing into management decisions. These include oceanographic conditions, habitat, and predator-prey interactions. Implementing EBFM requires a means to assess how such factors affect fish populations, as well as the impact of fishing in that context. A common way to do this is to build mathematical models that explicitly include multiple species or an entire ecosystem, but managers do not always have the data required to apply such models to their systems.

With this project, Dr. Steve Munch will further develop an innovative method to forecast fish abundance, known as empirical dynamic modeling, or EDM. This method can account for ecosystem considerations even when data are limited. And unlike ecosystem models, it makes forecasts using only past trends in the data, so there is no need for an equation or model that constrains how ecosystem factors affect abundance. This makes for a flexible approach that can detect a wide range of possible patterns.

Dr. Munch will test this approach on a diverse group of fisheries, such as Georges Bank cod, Pacific halibut, Chinook salmon, and Atlantic silversides. He also plans to develop software tools to apply it to additional U.S. fisheries, and to present these tools at a series of workshops at NOAA’s fishery science centers.

Recent Work