The Caribbean Fishery Management Council (CFMC) recognizes the need to move toward ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) by taking into account interactions among marine species, human activities, and the environment. The CFMC is planning to develop a Fishery Ecosystem Plan (FEP) to evaluate how best to incorporate ecosystem approaches into existing management for U.S. Caribbean waters. However, stakeholders and managers in the region suggest that a key precursor to an FEP is characterizing the Caribbean’s diverse and complex marine ecosystems.
To meet this need, the Lenfest Ocean Program is funding Drs. J.J. Cruz-Motta, University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez; Stacey Williams, Institute for Socio-Ecological Research; and Tarsila Seara, University of New Haven, to investigate the structure and dynamics of U.S. Caribbean ecosystems within a fisheries context. To do so, they will collect qualitative stakeholder data through workshops while also gathering available quantitative information on factors such as fisheries landings, environmental variables, and human-induced stressors. By integrating these two types of data, the team will generate conceptual models for U.S. Caribbean marine ecosystems, which can serve as a foundation for FEP development.