cannot address these issues. The path forward will require melding of the understanding of ecosystem processes, the human dimension, and the possible policy options. Tradeoffs between conflicting goals can then be decided with input from diverse users, including tradeoffs needed to implement restoration or rehabilitation activities when deemed necessary.
This chapter discusses the application of model-based scenario analysis for shaping fishery management goals and the current capabilities for conducting such analyses. Also presented is a discussion of environmental ethics and the public involvement needed to make sound decisions for our future and ensure that all uses of ocean resources are represented when setting fishery management policies.
Fisheries management in the United States in recent years has tended to follow prescriptive policies defined in terms of nonspecific biological reference points used to set targets and limit harvest rates and to specify biomass thresholds to be avoided. In this management setting, the scientific support for management decisions is largely couched in terms of how different levels of catch or effort controls fare against the accepted generic standards. For example, annual quotas are estimated so as to meet a target exploitation fraction with a low probability of exceeding the thresholds. A stock assessment is conducted annually and the resulting estimate of stock size is normally multiplied by the target exploitation fraction to calculate the allowable catch. In terms of management goals, a de facto decision about the “best” policy is implied in the choice of the generic reference points. Thus, the role of the annual stock assessment is largely limited to informing tactical decisions, such as the choice of an annual catch quota, instead of being concerned with evaluating the consequences of different strategic policy choices for the ecosystem and for all different stakeholders. Ecosystem considerations are discussed in regular stock assessments, and environmental impact statements are required for major fishery management actions, but in general these actions do not involve a comprehensive evaluation of management strategies and there is no legal requirement to account for these ecosystem interactions.
Certainly science—including social and economic science—has a much larger role to play in informing strategic policy choices. In some countries and for other U.S. resource management organizations, fishing strategies or management procedures are designed by taking into account the nature of the system and the specific management issues involved. Different candidate strategies are tested using simulation models, and their performance is evaluated by examining graphical outputs of model projections and various performance statistics that measure policy outcomes according to different, often conflicting, management goals. The role of fishery scientists in these cases is to integrate all available information (scientific and empirical) to help assess the likely consequences of alternative