——ECOSYSTEM-BASED SPATIAL PLANNING AND MANAGEMENT OF MARINE FISHERIES: WHY AND HOW?
In a 2009 paper by Worm et al., fisheries biologists and conservation biologists found common ground in recommending spatial planning to benefit marine fisheries and biodiversity. Frontiers on land and in the ocean have few users relative to resources; as this ratio increases, governance suitable to the frontier no longer works because people’s interests collide and biodiversity is lost. Increasing ocean uses and troubled fisheries are reasons to shift to ecosystem-based marine spatial planning and management, which reflect patterns and processes of both fish and people. Protecting places can eliminate fragmentation, spatial and temporal mismatches caused by “siloed” sectoral management, where agencies that regulate different sectors in the same places largely ignore the needs of other sectors. Modern fishery management does not reflect the heterogeneity of fish populations and human uses. By reducing fishing mortality to zero, one spatial tool, marine reserves, restores large female fishes, which produce more eggs, and aids recovery of species in which females become males at larger sizes. Reserves can also maintain fishes’ genetic structure. Australia created the “gold standard” for marine spatial planning in Great Barrier Reef Marine Park, a mosaic of ecosystems with differing availability to fishing. Other nations are adopting this approach. Even the best spatial plans will have problems that cross ecosystem boundaries, but advantages accrue to fishermen who stay within designated areas and let fish come to them. Areas can be deliberately configured to improve both biodiversity conservation and fishery yields and to save on fishermen’s fuel costs.