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Marine Ecosystems & Management (MEAM)

10 Must-Be-Read Publications on the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

By Kevern Cochrane


The list below is based on a combination of consultation with other experts, consideration of citations as listed on Google Scholar, and my own judgment.  An important consideration in adding my own views was the need to embrace the full scope of the ecosystem approach to fisheries, or EAF - encompassing ecological, human and governance dimensions.  I take full responsibility for the final list.

In order to solicit the views of others engaged in EAF (also referred to as ecosystem-based fisheries management, or EBFM), I contacted more than 30 leaders in development and implementation of EAF/EBFM of whom 10 generously responded with suggestions.  The list obtained from them included 54 very good references, which gives an indication of the breadth and quality of the information available.

It is also significant that one publication (the FAO Guidelines) was listed by four respondents, two others by three respondents, six publications by two respondents and the remainder were proposed by only one respondent.  Again, this relatively thin and widely spread response demonstrates the breadth of the material being used by people working on EAF/EBFM, and that the approach is being built and implemented on a broad and strong foundation rather than being led by a few far-sighted individuals or groups.  While this may be disappointing for some ambitious scientists, I believe that it is a positive reflection of the strength of the underlying science and scientific capacity for EAF/EBFM and important affirmation that we are on the right track.

Finally, for the reasons given in the previous paragraph, it would be misleading to describe the list as the "Top 10" most important or noteworthy publications.  Based on my analysis, there is no such general Top 10 set of papers and the most important will depend on the specific needs and context of a reader.  Instead I have proposed a list of 10 "must-be-read" publications, which I consider a better reflection of the list.

Note: This list was updated in April 2013 when, as a result of a correction in the number of citations for the two papers reported in Google Scholar, the 2005 paper by Garcia and Cochrane "Ecosystem approach to fisheries: a review of implementation guidelines" was replaced in the list by the FAO Technical Paper by Garcia, S. M., A. Zerbi, C. Aliaume, T. Do Chi, G. Lasserre.

The List (in alphabetical order of first author)

De Young C., Charles A., Hjort A. 2008. Human Dimensions of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: An Overview of Context, Concepts, Tools and Methods. Fisheries Tech. Paper, 489. FAO, Rome. 165pp.

FAO Fisheries Department. 2003. The ecosystem approach to fisheries. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 4, Suppl. 2. FAO, Rome. 112 p.

Fletcher, W.J. 2005. Application of Qualitative Risk Assessment Methodology to Prioritise Issues for Fisheries Management. ICES Journal of Marine Research, 62:1576-1587

Garcia, S. M., A. Zerbi, C. Aliaume, T. Do Chi, G. Lasserre. 2003. The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries: Issues, Terminology, Principles, Institutional Foundations, Implementation and Outlook. FAO Fisheries Technical Paper 443. FAO, Rome. 71pp.

Larkin, P. A. 1996. Concepts and issues in marine ecosystem management. Reviews in Fish Biology and Fisheries, 6:139-164.

Link, J. S. 2002. What does ecosystem-based fisheries management mean? Fisheries, 27:18-21.

Murawski S.A. 2007. Ten myths concerning ecosystem approaches to marine resource management. Marine Policy, 31: 681–690.

Pikitch, E. K., C. Santora, E. A. Babcock, et al. 2004. Ecosystem-based fishery management. Science, 305:346-347.

Sainsbury K.J., Punt A.E., Smith A.D. M.2000. Design of operational management strategies for achieving fishery ecosystem objectives. ICES Journal of Marine Science, 57: 731–741.

Worm, B., R. Hilborn, J.K. Baum, et al. 2009. Rebuilding Global fisheries. Science, 325: 578-585.  

Note: Kevern Cochrane is former Director of the Fisheries and Aquaculture Resource Use and Conservation Division for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, and is now a professor in the Department of Ichthyology and Fisheries Science at Rhodes University, South Africa.

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