CCAMLR ecosystem monitoring and management: future work
Harvesting of marine living resources in the Southern Ocean is managed by the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources (CCAMLR). CCAMLR is widely known for its ecosystem approach to managing fisheries with the maintenance of ecological relationships included in the conservation objectives. In the late 1980s, CCAMLR’s precautionary approach was developed, incorporating principles of how to use scientific evidence in the decision-making process. Even though this approach was based on the management of a single species (Antarctic krill, Euphausia superba), it takes account of the needs of predators in the assessment of catch limits. The success of this process is due to the formulation of a management procedure which includes decision rules that specify how harvest controls will be adjusted based on the scientific information available and the assessments that arise from such information. To assist the Commission in meeting its objectives, the CCAMLR Ecosystem Monitoring Program (CEMP) was set up to detect the effects of fishing on krill predators. CCAMLR needs to adopt a management procedure which has a good chance of maintaining ecological relationships and meeting the needs of predators, incorporating: (i) operational objectives that articulate the target conditions of relevant aspects of the system, (ii) methods for assessing the status of the system, (iii) decision rules on how to adjust harvest controls given the difference between the assessment and the agreed objectives, and (iv) methods for dealing with uncertainty. This paper reviews progress in developing ecosystem-based management procedures by summarising the gaps in the existing approach, the types of models developed for the Antarctic marine ecosystem, the implications of the large scale of the fishery for designing a monitoring program to detect the effects of fishing, and the types of procedures already proposed for management of the krill fishery. It highlights the need to focus future work in these areas, including the need to evaluate candidate management procedures in advance of the expansion of the krill fishery. Most importantly, operational objectives for dependent species and feasible management options need to be clearly articulated to guide this work.