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July-Aug-Sept 2007
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Resource Ecology & Ecosystem Modeling (REEM) Program

Multispecies and Ecosystem Modeling

Dr. Sarah Gaichas of the Resource Ecology & Ecosystem Modeling (REEM) Program organized the “Ecosystem Modeling Applications in Fishery Management Symposium” at the American Fisheries Society (AFS) annual meeting in San Francisco, California, 2-6 September 2007. The full-day symposium with poster session was co-organized with John Field (Southwest Fisheries Science Center), Jason Link (Northeast Fisheries Science Center (NEFSC)), Howard Townsend (NOAA Chesapeake Bay Program Office) and Megan Tyrell (NEFSC). AFSC participants included Dr. Grant Thompson who contributed a poster, Drs. Sarah Gaichas and Ivonne Ortiz who presented talks, and three University of Washington students, Jodie Little, Teresa A’Mar, and Doug Kinzey, who presented work done in collaboration with AFSC scientists.

The symposium was accepted and considered timely by AFS because the objectives of fishery management are extending beyond optimizing single species yields to consider the broader ecosystem effects of fishing. Ecosystem models can provide a structured framework for addressing uncertainty and unintended consequences in fisheries management decision-making. The objective of this symposium was to explore current and potential management applications of ecosystem modeling across marine, estuarine, and freshwater systems using a variety of modeling methods.

The symposium was organized by practitioners for practitioners, with presentations including a broad range of work encompassing theoretical and technical modeling advances, as well as issue-oriented case studies, all within the context of real-world fishery management. It both showcased the current state-of-the-art in ecosystem modeling and facilitated the exchange of methods, ideas, and experience between participants working in diverse regions and ecosystems.

This symposium was intended to start an ongoing dialogue among scientists across disciplinary boundaries to improve ecosystem modeling efforts for fisheries applications and was successful at gathering diverse presenters. Participants ranged from students to senior scientists working in both academic and agency environments. Marine ecosystems from Alaska and Hawaii through the Pacific Northwest, Gulf of Mexico, and New England were represented, in addition to the estuarine Chesapeake Bay, and a tidal marsh system in Louisiana. The symposium finished with an international fishery example from the Southern Ocean.

The modeling applications presented encompassed single species models incorporating climate and predation effects, evolutionary models, individual based models, minimum realistic models of subsets of interacting species, spatially explicit models, and whole ecosystem food web models. These models were used in management applications including standard stock assessments, spatial allocation of quotas, optimal placement of marine protected areas, water and land use management, and full fishery management strategy evaluations for individual species and entire ecosystems.

The poster session and talks were well attended for the duration of the symposium, and received many positive comments. For more information on the meeting, visit Downloadable abstracts for all symposia can be found at

By Sarah Gaichas

National Ecosystem Modeling Workshop (NEMoW)

REEM Program staff served on the steering committee and made presentations at the “National Ecosystem Modeling Workshop (NEMoW)” held by NMFS in Santa Cruz, California, 29-31 August 2007. NEMoW was held as a national workshop analogous to the national stock assessment workshops and national economists meetings for the purpose of exploring the establishment of ecosystem modeling (EM) standards of use and review for living marine resource management applications. In this context, EM includes a wide range of biophysical, multispecies and ecosystem modeling methods.

There were 39 NMFS participants and 6 observers, including attendees from the AFSC’s REEM and the Status of Stocks & Multispecies Assessment Programs. A report to be issued in the future will include recommendations stemming from the workshop. Given the expressed interest of our stakeholders relayed at the workshop, it was observed that EM efforts should continue or be expanded.

A wide range of issues was identified as common and historically important. From these, workshop participants identified an extensive set of generic EM objectives and model classes that are widely applicable across NMFS. Addressing these objectives merit or in many cases require an EM approach. It was clear that these more holistic, broader EM issues will persist into the foreseeable future.

By Kerim Aydin

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