Ecological indicators to capture the effects of fishing on biodiversity and conservation status of marine ecosystems

Marta Coll, L J Shannon, Kristin M. Kleisner, Maria J. Juan Jordá, A Bundy, A.G. Akoglu, D Banaru, Jennifer L. Boldt, Borges Maria F., A Cook, I Diallo, C Fu, Clive Fox, Didier Gascuel, Leigh Gurney, T Hattab, Johanna Heymans, Didier Jouffre, Ben Knight, S KucukavsarScott I. Large, Christopher Lynam, A Machias, K.N. Marshall, H. Masski, Henn Ojaveer, Chiara Piroddi, Jorge Tam, D Thiao, W. M. Thiaw, Marian A Torres, Morgane Travers-Trolet, Konstantinos Tsagarakis, I Tuck, Gro I. Van Der Meeren, D Yemane, Stephani Zador, Y-J Shin

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108 Citations (Scopus)
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IndiSeas (“Indicators for the Seas”) is a collaborative international working group that was established in 2005 to evaluate the status of exploited marine ecosystems using a suite of indicators in a comparative framework. An initial shortlist of seven ecological indicators was selected to quantify the effects of fishing on the broader ecosystem using several criteria (i.e., ecological meaning, sensitivity to fishing, data availability, management objectives and public awareness). The suite comprised: (i) the inverse coefficient of variation of total biomass of surveyed species, (ii) mean fish length in the surveyed community, (iii) mean maximum life span of surveyed fish species, (iv) proportion of predatory fish in the surveyed community, (v) proportion of under and moderately exploited stocks, (vi) total biomass of surveyed species, and (vii) mean trophic level of the landed catch. In line with the Nagoya Strategic Plan of the Convention on Biological Diversity (2011-2020), we extended this suite to emphasize the broader biodiversity and conservation risks in exploited marine ecosystems. We selected a subset of indicators from a list of empirically based candidate biodiversity indicators initially established based on ecological significance to complement the original IndiSeas indicators. The additional selected indicators were: (viii) mean intrinsic vulnerability index of the fish landed catch, (ix) proportion of non-declining exploited species in the surveyed community, (x) catch-based marine trophic index, and (xi) mean trophic level of the surveyed community. Despite the lack of data in some ecosystems, we also selected (xii) mean trophic level of the modelled community, and (xiii) proportion of discards in the fishery as extra indicators. These additional indicators were examined, along with the initial set of IndiSeas ecological indicators, to evaluate whether adding new biodiversity indicators provided useful additional information to refine our understanding of the status evaluation of 29 exploited marine ecosystems. We used state and trend analyses, and we performed correlation, redundancy and multivariate tests. Existing developments in ecosystem-based fisheries management have largely focused on exploited species. Our study, using mostly fisheries independent survey-based indicators, highlights that biodiversity and conservation-based indicators are complementary to ecological indicators of fishing pressure. Thus, they should be used to provide additional information to evaluate the overall impact of fishing on exploited marine ecosystems.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-962
Number of pages15
JournalEcological Indicators
Early online date25 Sept 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Sept 2015


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