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Feature: The Habitat and Ecological Processes Research Program

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Shearwater, baleen whale, and euphausiid concentration near Akutan Island, Alaska. Photo by Michael Sigler.

Ecosystem-based management recognizes the physical, biological, economic, and social interactions among the affected components of the ecosystem and attempts to manage fisheries [and marine mammal species] to achieve a stipulated spectrum of societal goals, some of which may be in competition. (Marasco et al. 2005)

The AFSC established the Habitat and Ecological Processes Research (HEPR) Program in February 2005 with the goal of developing, facilitating, and integrating scientific research that supports implementation of an ecosystem approach to management. While a single species approach has been the operational paradigm for fisheries and marine mammal management for decades, ecosystem considerations have been raised for nearly as long.

The HEPR Program focuses on integrated studies that combine scientific capabilities to create comprehensive research on habitat and ecological processes. The program applies an innovative process for identifying and implementing new scientific research initiatives. The program is nonhierarchical and relies on collaboration among scientists from across the AFSC, as well as from NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory (PMEL), the NMFS Alaska Regional Office, and from other partnerships within the scientific community. These teams collaborate in developing new research using a proactive method to identify emerging issues.

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