Dynamic Ocean Management
California Current Project
A tool for optimizing ecological and economic sustainability
Highly migratory species like tunas, sharks and billfishes, and wide-ranging protected species like whales, dolphins and sea turtles are difficult to manage as they cross jurisdictional boundaries that humans impose upon the open seas. Many are top predators that face multiple threats as they migrate seasonally across ocean basins. Such threats include the risk of ship-strike and accidental catch by fisheries targeting other species. Managing tuna and billfish fisheries while minimizing threats to protected species requires an understanding of how predator distribution and abundance varies with the constantly changing oceanic environment.
To address these challenges, in collaboration with NASA we are exploring the concept of Dynamic Ocean Management, an Ecosystem-Based Management approach that moves across space and time at the same scale that organisms and human use the ocean environment. One recently developed management tool, EcoCast, is designed for the California Drift Gillnet fishery to maximize catch of targeted species like swordfish while minimizing incidental bycatch of protected species such as sea turtles, sea lions, and blue sharks. Using remotely sensed oceanographic data combined with animal distribution data (surveys, fisheries catch, telemetry), we create statistical habitat models that can be used to predict the ratio of bycatch to targeted catch in near real-time.
A similar tool, WhaleWatch, was developed to help reduce human impacts to whales by providing near real-time information on where they occur and hence, where whales may be most at risk from threats, such as ship strikes, entanglements, and loud underwater sounds. Taken together, our management tools provide a framework for how dynamic approaches can be applied to other migratory species with available telemetry, fisheries catch, or survey data, and emphasize the utility of integrating multiple data types for marine conservation and management.
There are potentially large economic benefits from dynamic ocean management as well: EcoCast leads to smaller area closures, which can be more effectively enforced at a lower cost. In addition, less fuel and time are needed to reach an open area, thereby increasing fishing opportunities. Research is just starting to evaluate the economic advantages of EcoCast, but increased attention to maintaining the open status of high net revenue areas will lead to more efficient dynamic ocean management.
Read more about EcoCast and other examples of dynamic ocean management in a recent Washington Post article.
- 1. https://heatherwelch.shinyapps.io/ecocastapp/
- 2. http://www.westcoast.fisheries.noaa.gov/whalewatch/
- 3. http://oceanview.pfeg.noaa.gov/ecocast/
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