Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) is a holistic approach that recognizes all the interactions within an ecosystem rather than considering a single species or issue in isolation. The primary purpose of EBFM as viewed by the Alaska Region’s partners and stakeholders is to better to manage and conserve fish stocks in the context of the ecosystem as a whole. Recent EBFM considerations in the Alaska Region have included a focus on the role of humans in the ecosystem and the importance of maintaining healthy fishing communities.
The Council underscored its commitment to EBFM with the adoption of an ecosystem approach policy statement in 2014.
With the development of a Bering Sea Fisheries Ecosystem Plan (FEP) and Aleutian Islands FEP, the Council has progressed on the continuum of EBFM, allowing Alaska to lead internationally in fishery management, and provide a clear record of the Council’s ecosystem-based policy decision making, while still applying policies that are suited to Alaskan circumstances. The FEPs have established a broad, ongoing framework for EBFM incorporation in Council management actions designed to:
- Create a transparent public process for the Council to identify ecosystem goals and management responses;
- Serve as a communication tool for ecosystem science and Council policy;
- Provide a framework for strategic planning that would guide and prioritize fishery, habitat, and ecosystem research, modeling, and survey needs;
- Identify connected Bering Sea and Aleutian Island ecosystem components, and their importance for specific management questions;
- Assess Council management with respect to EBFM best practices, and identify areas of success and areas for improvement on a regular basis;
- Provide a framework for considering policy options and associated opportunities, risks, and tradeoffs affecting FMP species and the broader Bering Sea and Aleutian Island ecosystem (e.g. evaluation of management tradeoffs among FMPs, fisheries, or with other activities); and
- Build resiliency in Council management strategies, including options for responding to changing circumstances (e.g. climate change-driven changes to fish distribution and abundance, changes in shipping patterns, etc.).
Staff contact is Diana Evans.