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Research Feature: Ecosystem Modeling for Fishery Sustainability

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July-Sept 2006
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A Case Study for the Gulf of Alaska

(see caption)
Food web constructed from the GOA food habits database, where each species is a node (dots) and each predator-prey interaction is a link (lines). The four “hubs” apparent in the figure are cod, pollock, halibut, and arrowtooth flounder.

One of the goals of fishery management is to sustain fisheries of individual exploited species. A key to developing ecosystem approaches to management is to extend this goal to ecosystem sustainability by focusing on sustaining relationships between species (including humans) within complex adaptive ecosystems that are robust to random disturbance and yet prone to rapid, irreversible state changes under certain conditions.

In this summary of research supported by the AFSC Status of Stocks and Multispecies Assessment Program, we review the history of commercial exploitation in the Gulf of Alaska from 1740 through the present day within the context of ecosystem sustainability. Further, we describe the development of quantitative ecosystem models that were developed for fisheries management in the GOA using two approaches: 1) a food web approach with dynamic equations describing predator-prey interactions as has been applied in many other fished marine ecosystems, and 2) a complex systems modeling approach that has been applied in many biological, social, and physical systems, but has not yet been applied in fished marine ecosystems.

Read the complete article (PDF; 667KB)


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