A Report on Historical, Human-Induced Changes in Newfoundland's Fisheries Ecosystem

A Report on Historical, Human-Induced Changes in Newfoundland's Fisheries Ecosystem

Melanie D. Power and Nathaniel Newlands

A Report on Historical, Human-Induced Changes in Newfoundland's Fisheries EcosystemThis is part of Ecosystem Approaches for Fisheries Management
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Description

The groundfish collapse off Canada's East Coast earlier this decade led to a change in the species that are commercially targeted. This recent change is just the latest in a series of shifts within the Atlantic fisheries, which have resulted in a decrease in the mean trophic level at which the fisheries operate. Our study investigates subsequent changes in the mean trophic level, calculated from historical catch statistics, and the changing management priorities of the Newfoundland fishery in the twentieth century. This report reviews the fishery from 1900 through 1995, with an emphasis on the period since Newfoundland joined the Canadian Confederation in 1949. We discuss the changing mean trophic level of fisheries catches in Newfoundland. Annual shifts in mean trophic level are reviewed in the context of social, economic, and political spheres in an effort to determine the management and regulatory decisions that may have contributed to the decline of trophic levels. This analysis aims to provide a direction for fisheries ecosystem management, and considers nonlinear, multispecies interactions encompassing the indirect effects on marine life other than identifiable targeted species in the ecosystem. An awareness of the trophic level impact of management decisions, based on historical trends, can indicate possible future implications of current policy decisions. This work constitutes a component of a comparative examination of Canadian management trends in Atlantic and Pacific fisheries.

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