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The Large Marine Ecosystem network approach to WSSD targets
Research Area: Background Year: 2006
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Large Marine Ecosystem, WSSD
  • Sherman, K.
Journal: Ocean & Coastal Management Volume: 49
Pages: 640-648
Since the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development, considerable movement has been made by international organizations engaged in ocean affairs towards adopting ecosystem-based assessment and management practices. A decade later, at the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD), another significant milestone was reached with the support, by over 100 countries, for a Plan of Implementation that agreed on several specific ecosystem-related targets including: achievement of ‘‘substantial’’ reductions in land-based sources of pollution by 2006; introduction of the ecosystems approach to marine resource assessment and management by 2010; designation of a network of marine protected areas by 2012; and the maintenance and restoration of fish stocks to maximum sustainable yield levels by 2015. An international financial mechanism, the Global Environment Facility (GEF), is assisting developing countries in meeting the WSSD targets by supporting Large Marine Ecosystem (LME) assessment and management projects. Of the 29 LMEs for which published case study information is available on analyses of principal forces driving changes in biomass yields, fishing effort was the primary forcing mechanism in 14 LMEs, climate forcing was the principal factor in 13 LMEs, eutrophication in one case and the data were inconclusive in another. Fishing effort was a secondary driver of change in biomass yields in the 13 LMEs driven by climate forcing. Mitigating actions for reducing fishing effort to promote recovery of lost biomass yield is proving successful in one case study. Actions for improving forecasts of oceanographic conditions affecting fish stocks are underway in four GEF-supported LME projects (e.g., Humboldt Current, Canary Current, Guinea Current and Benguela Current); measures to assess and manage excessive fishing effort are planned for eight LME projects, eutrophication reduction and control in another; and six LMEs with relatively stable decadal biomass yields appear suitable for mandating precautionary total allowable catch levels. The GEF/LME projects include countries that contributed to 45% of global marine biomass yields in 1999.
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