Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management — A Cooperative Project
Maryland Sea Grant, in coordination with state and federal agency partners and research institutions, has developed and coordinated the Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) Project for Chesapeake Bay since January, 2008. This project implements a new technical and scientific foundation for EBFM and moves beyond traditional single species management to consider the interconnections between species, their physical and living environments, and human influences. The major ecosystem interconnections between the five key species are pictured below.
Maryland Sea Grant launched the EBFM Project with a pilot
study of striped bass and has since facilitated the development of technical
briefs pinpointing the critical ecosystem stressors for four of the five key
species identified in the Fisheries Ecosystem Plan (FEP) for Chesapeake Bay: striped
bass, menhaden, blue crab, and Alosines spp. (oysters are forthcoming).
These critical ecosystem stressors are being
evaluated by a team of scientific advisors called the Fisheries Ecosystem
Workgroup, the Chairs of Species and Quantitative Teams operating within the
Members of the Quantitative
Ecosystem Teams develop ecosystem based reference points based on the critical ecosystem
stressors, which may then be used by fishery managers to develop control rules
for ecosystem based fishery management issues.
Integral to the success of this program is a bottom-up approach to
management focusing on scientist and stakeholder input and ownership over the
Therefore, this new
approach concentrates on fully engaging Bay managers, scientists, watermen, and
non-fishery stakeholders connected to the Bay.
To date over 85 scientists, managers, and NGOs from within and beyond the Chesapeake Bay region have volunteered to contribute their expertise to this effort. The final products of this effort will be a set of background and critical ecosystem issue briefs for each of the key species and a management tool linking ecosystem based reference points for each of the critical ecosystem stressors as identified by the Fisheries Ecosystem Workgroup. Maryland Sea Grant's role in this process is to recruit and unite scientific and technical expertise to the project, provide an unbiased platform which facilitates interactions among the project’s participants, synthesize scientific outcomes, and communicate these outcomes to stakeholders and fishery managers including the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Goal Implementation Team for Sustainable Fisheries. The diagram below illustrates this new operational structure for ecosystem-based fishery management in the Chesapeake Bay.