2003 Alaska Ecosystem Considerations
Since 1995, the North Pacific Fishery Management Councils (NPFMC) Groundfish Plan Teams have prepared a separate Ecosystem Considerations section to the annual SAFE report. The intent of the Ecosystems Considerations section is to provide the Council with information about the effects of fishing from an ecosystem perspective, and the effects of environmental change on fish stocks. The effects of fishing on ecosystems have not been incorporated into most stock assessments, in part due to data limitations. Most single species models cannot directly incorporate the breadth and complexity of much of this information. ABC recommendations may or may not reflect discussion regarding ecosystem considerations. This information is useful for effective fishery management and maintaining sustainability of marine ecosystems. The Ecosystems Considerations chapter attempts to bridge this gap by identifying specific ecosystem concerns that should be considered by fishery managers, particularly during the annual process of setting catch limits on groundfish.
Each new Ecosystem Considerations section provides updates and new information to supplement the original section. The original 1995 section presented a compendium of general information on the Bering Sea, Aleutian Island, and Gulf of Alaska ecosystems as well as a general discussion of ecosystem based management. The 1996 Ecosystem Considerations section provided additional information on biological features of the North Pacific, and highlighted the effects of bycatch and discards on the ecosystem. The 1997 Ecosystems Considerations section provided a review of ecosystem–based management literature and ongoing ecosystem research, and provided supplemental information on seabirds and marine mammals. The 1998 edition provided information on the precautionary approach, essential fish habitat, an overview of the effects of fishing gear on habitat, El Nino, collection of local knowledge, and other ecosystem information. The 1999 section again gave updates on new trends in ecosystem-based management, essential fish habitat, research on effect of fishing gear on seafloor habitat, marine protected areas, seabirds and marine mammals, oceanographic changes in 1997/98, and local knowledge.