Science Serving Maryland's Coasts


Facilitating Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management in Chesapeake Bay

Principal Investigator: 

Jonathan G. Kramer

Start/End Year: 

2007 to 2009


Maryland Sea Grant


Objective 1: Recognize the Principles for Developing EBFMPS in Chesapeake Bay In order for the EBFMP operational structure to be successful, a new set of principles needs to be recognized by the scientists, managers and stakeholders. Maryland SG will build consensus on an ecosystem management approach (EMA) that includes the following principles: I. The EMA effort will focus on management recommendations based on scientific consensus and recognize that factors extend across ecological and socioeconomic boundaries. 2. The EMA effort will efficiently utilize extant capacity and structure(s) within the Chesapeake Bay fisheries and non-fisheries communities and the Chesapeake Bay Program. In addition, the effort should recognize the importance of an interdependent, but quasi-independent structure that has political and regulatory support. 3. The EMA effort will recognize and build on the roles, standing and capacity of diverse stakeholders outside of the fisheries management and scientific communities. Stakeholders representing many constituencies can provide critical insights and help foster engagement with numerous communities. 4. The EMA effort should result in a sustainable process that becomes part of the Chesapeake Watershed management approach. 5. The EMA effort will yield viable actions within a systematic context (short- to mid- to long-term). 6. The EMA effort will embrace public outreach to engage specific constituencies and ultimately the general public. Objective 2: Implement a new process for developing EBFMPS Completing the development of EBFMPs will depend on how successful the Bay community is at adopting a new approach to fisheries management. The new approach will foster novel interactions among traditional fisheries managers and non-fisheries managers. Since an EMA will have inherent socioeconomic implications, the executive and legislative branches of government at the state and federal levels must be fully aware of the complexities and be supportive of the process. While the primary goal of the EMA is to expand fisheries management beyond its traditional single-species focus, the single species aspects cannot be dismissed. By design there must be both species-specific endpoints (i.e., specific management actions) as well as overlap between these species (and possibly others) that require multi-species approaches. Managing "non-fisheries" ecosystem factors (habitat, socioeconomic factors and externalities) adds additional complexity that takes into account the impact of ecosystem processes on fisheries and at the same time accounts for fisheries impacts on the ecosystem. The new EBFMP operational structure will promote discussion, develop consensus, and result in practical actions. This grant will provide funding for Maryland Sea Grant to facilitate the EBFMP process. Maryland Sea Grant (MDSG) will bring both skill and experience to the effort. The MDSG program has developed a strong reputation as an unbiased platform for discussion and consensus building with a particular emphasis on difficult issues facing the Chesapeake Bay. Strong facilitation and organizational skills have enabled the program to work with communities and stakeholders across the region. Of particular relevance has been the program's participation with the Bi-State Blue Crab Advisory Committee and numerous efforts related to the oyster fishery ( With direct links to researchers, managers and many stakeholder communities, MDSG is uniquely positioned to facilitate this important process. MDSG is well recognized for its ability to synthesize complex concepts for multiple audiences and has strong logistic and outreach support needed for the EBFMP effort. MDSG will focus on consensus building, synthesize critical documents and foster active communication among participants. At appropriate times, outreach materials of various types (briefings, print and web-based) will be prepared for various audiences. Figure 1 presents a model for the new operational structure. Its components represent a mix of extant and new committees and are designed to be both efficient and interactive. The organizational structure may evolve depending on the input of committee members and other stakeholders in the process. Ongoing review of the effectiveness of the structure is anticipated as a key component of developing the adaptive management tools that are needed to implement EBFMPs. Each component of the new organizational structure is described. Chesapeake Executive Council: The process and its outputs should be vetted and supported by the Chesapeake Bay Program's Executive Council. This high-level recognition provides an essential foundation for ad validation of the effort. The Executive Council will be briefed (optimally) 1:2 times 'a year. Chesapeake Fisheries Ecosystem Advisory Committee (CFEAC): The CFEAC will play a central role as the body charged with translating scientific advice into policy recommendations and their implementation. It will be composed of -15 members representing a broad cross-section of important policy makers, managers and stakeholders. To be effective, the CFEAC should include legislative representation (possibly through the Chesapeake Bay Commission), state natural resource agencies (MD-IDNR and VMRC), the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, Atlantic State Marine Fisheries Commission, commercial fishing interests, recreational fishing interests and non-governmental organizations (e.g., Chesapeake Bay Foundation and/or others). In addition, individuals representing non-fisheries, watershed-focused interests from diverse perspective will be included. To insure strong coordination, federal representatives (U.S. EPA, NOAA and U.S. FWS) will be represented in an ex officio capacity. It is anticipated that the CFEAC will meet 24 times a year for substantive discussions of the process and interim outcomes. Fisheries Ecosystem Workgroup: The Fisheries Ecosystem Workgroup will be a new committee charged with integrating and synthesizing scientific products emanating from the operational teams (see below). It will be responsible for reviewing species-specific biological background documents, developing necessary multi-species cross cuts and the critical connections between resource, watershed and socioeconomic parameters that will build the ecosystem-based implementation strategies. The workgroup will examine the reference points developed and recommend bow they can be translated into viable policy alternatives for the CFEAC to consider. Ultimately, their primary outcome will be the development of EBEMP goals, objectives, strategies and actions. This will require a close working relationship between the workgroup and the operational teams. Therefore, it will be comprised of the chairs of the operational teams (see below). The Workgroup will meet monthly, with additional interactions as needed. Operational Teams Biological Background/Plan Development Teams: To accommodate the need to develop a detailed analysis of the characteristics and management requirements of a given fishery, the current plan development teams will be enhanced/expanded. New members may be drawn from a number of communities (academic research scientists, federal and state agencies and stakeholders) based upon expertise. Ideally, the Biological Background/Plan Development Teams will work concurrently on their designated species. Realistically, this will most likely not occur at the beginning while the process is being "worked-out." With that in mind, it is important that leadership and membership for all teams be established very early in the process. This will ensure that there are ongoing efforts to build multi-species insights into the development of each background document and will facilitate rapid starts as new teams come on line. It is anticipated that the striped bass team will complete their draft first with at least one other team beginning their work in the first year. The chair(s) of each team will be members of the Fisheries Ecosystem Workgroup. The frequency of meetings for the Biological Background/Plan Development Teams will vary depending upon the workload and impending deadlines for production of analyses. As currently envisioned, these teams will have a limited lifetime focused on producing their reports. They will be re-convened, as revisions are needed over time.