Comparing species and ecosystem-based estimates of fisheries yields
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Three methods are described to estimate potential yields of commercial fish species: (i) single-species calculation of maximum sustainable yields, and two ecosystem-based methods derived from published results for (ii) energy flow and for (iii) community structure. The requirements imposed by food-web fluxes, and by patterns of relative abundance, provide constraints on individual species. These constraints are used to set limits to ecosystem-based yields (EBY); these limits, in turn, provide a comparison with the usual estimates of maximum sustainable yields (MSY). We use data on cod and haddock production from Georges Bank for the decade 1993-2002 to demonstrate these methods. We show that comparisons among the three approaches can be used to demonstrate that ecosystem based estimates of yields complement, rather than supersede, the single-species estimates. The former specify the significant changes required in the rest of the ecosystem to achieve a return to maximum sustainable levels for severely depleted commercial fish stocks. The overall conclusion is that MSY defines changes required in particular stocks, whereas EBY determines the changes required in the rest of the ecosystem to realize these yields. Species specific MSY only has meaning in the context of the prey, predators and competitors that surround it.
Author Posting. © The Author(s), 2011. This is the author's version of the work. It is posted here by permission of Elsevier B.V. for personal use, not for redistribution. The definitive version was published in Fisheries Research 111 (2011): 139-144, doi:10.1016/j.fishres.2011.07.009.
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