Date of Award

2018

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Oceanography

Department

Oceanography

First Advisor

Jeremy Collie

Abstract

Balanced harvest is a controversial Ecosystem-Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) concept conceived with intent to minimize ecosystem disruption and maximize human benefits compared to traditional management. However, most marine ecosystems lack comprehensive production estimates necessary for implementation. We developed and tested two new methods for estimating fish production at the species level with minimal data requirements. Application of our techniques to four ecological production units in the Northwest Atlantic (Mid-Atlantic Bight, Georges Bank, Gulf of Maine, and western Scotian Shelf) from 1991-2013 provided a direct estimate of 2032 kt yr-1 of total fish production. The degree of balance between catch and production distributions at the species level, assessed using application of a number of ecological indices, ranged from 0.14 to 0.91 on a scale from 0-1. Increased balance was positively associated with increased yield in the Gulf of Maine (Spearman’s, p < 0.001) but negatively associated in the Mid-Atlantic Bight (Spearman’s, p =0.045). Despite indefinite results about ecological and human impacts, we provide rare empirical exploration of balanced harvest at the species-level and outline new indicators for EBFM.

Available for download on Monday, July 27, 2020

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