its to protect juveniles and the spawning potential of the stock. Whether or not these single-species management strategies achieve their specific goals, their practice often neglects other important and pervasive problems. Furthermore, regulations designed for one fishery may negatively influence other species on the same fishing grounds through gear conflicts, bycatch, habitat destruction, or subtle but important shifts in predator-prey relationships.
Shortcomings in marine resource management also derive from inadequate coordination among agencies charged with these responsibilities. Frustration rises when conventional approaches fragment management into a myriad of regulations from multiple state and federal agencies, each addressing only one component of the problem. The deficiencies in fishery management and ecosystem protection cannot be overcome by continuation of ocean management on a multijurisdictional basis, in which different species are managed separately, agencies may apply regulations independently of each others, and state and federal policies are not fully coordinated. When this piecemeal approach is followed, the interests of various stakeholders are developed in parallel, some stakeholders receive no representation at all, and instead of integrated management, competing regulations may develop that fail to meet objectives of conservation and sustainable use. Also, this narrowly focused approach to management tends to underrepresent the values of the general public and disproportionately represent organized user groups, whether they are commercial fishers, recreational fishing groups, or dive tour operators.
It is clear that despite good intentions and dedicated effort on the part of resource managers at federal, state, and local levels, most existing strategies to regulate fishing or other removals of living marine resources have neither prevented the decline of these resources nor slowed the destruction of habitat. Increasingly, methods are being sought that preserve ecosystem components essential for the health of marine resources, especially when such overarching factors as genetic diversity, species diversity, spawning biomass, and ecosystem stability require protection. Thus, new approaches are necessary to allow a more integrated and comprehensive attack on problems that transcend the concerns of single-species management.
A growing body of literature documents the effectiveness of marine reserves for conserving habitats, fostering the recovery of overexploited species, and maintaining marine communities. There is a rising demand for ecosystem-based approaches to marine management that consider the system as a whole rather than as separable pieces of an interlocking puzzle. Congress recognized this in the 1996 reauthorization of the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act (NOAA, 1996a) and requested that the National