Utilizing Ecosystem Concepts in Fisheries Management Strategies

Utilizing Ecosystem Concepts in Fisheries Management Strategies

Kristine D. Lynch, William W. Taylor, John M. Robertson, and Kelley D. Smith

Utilizing Ecosystem Concepts in Fisheries Management StrategiesThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Fisheries ecosystem management programs and policies must incorporate holistic, integrative, and multidisciplinary collaborative strategies. Those who manage fisheries are often administratively, procedurally, and disciplinarily separated from those who manage other related ecosystem elements, such as forests, wildlife, water quality, and land use. This organizational and philosophical division within agencies can render ecosystem management programs incomplete, inefficient, and ineffective. Since management processes influence how managers conceptualize and respond to resource issues, it is important that management systems be congruent with the dynamics of ecosystems. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources(MDNR) is redesigning their management processes to enable more efficient and effective ecosystem management. Boundaries for management units within all divisions (including Fisheries Wildlife, Forest Management, and Parks and Recreation) are being redrawn along watershed and eco-region lines. Instead of each division developing their management plans in isolation, the design and implementation of all management plans will require input and contributions from managers in all relevant divisions. Furthermore, each management plan will be based on and measured by locally specific criteria and indicators that are most diagnostic for each ecosystem. New management plans will thereby be more comprehensive and ecosystem-specific, although they will require a great deal of coordination, collaboration, and communication among agency personnel. By redesigning their management planning and implementation processes to incorporate ecosystem priorities and activities, the MDNR should experience long-term improvements in the sustainability of fisheries (and other) ecosystems.

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