University Of Tasmania
151903 - It's not the destination it's the journey.pdf (434.63 kB)

It's not the destination, it's the journey: multispecies model ensembles for ecosystem approaches to fisheries management

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journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 11:00 authored by Jonathan Reum, Townsend, H, Gaichas, S, Sagarese, S, Kaplan, IC, Gruss, A
As ecosystem-based fisheries management becomes more ingrained into the way fisheries agencies do business, a need for ecosystem and multispecies models arises. Yet ecosystems are complex, and model uncertainty can be large. Model ensembles have historically been used in other disciplines to address model uncertainty. To understand the benefits and limitations of multispecies model ensembles (MMEs), cases where they have been used in the United States to address fisheries management issues are reviewed. The cases include: (1) development of ecological reference points for Atlantic Menhaden, (2) the creation of time series to relate harmful algal blooms to grouper mortality in the Gulf of Mexico, and (3) fostering understanding of the role of forage fish in the California Current. Each case study briefly reviews the management issue, the models used and model synthesis approach taken, and the outcomes and lessons learned from the application of MMEs. Major conclusions drawn from these studies highlight how the act of developing an ensemble model suite can improve the credibility of multispecies models, how qualitative synthesis of projections can advance system understanding and build confidence in the absence of quantitative treatments, and how involving a diverse set of stakeholders early is useful for ensuring the utility of the models and ensemble. Procedures for review and uptake of information from single-species stock assessment models are well established, but the absence of well-defined procedures for MMEs in many fishery management decision-making bodies poses a major obstacle. The benefits and issues identified here should help accelerate the design, implementation, and utility of MMEs in applied fisheries contexts.


Publication title

Frontiers in Marine Science



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Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Frontiers Research Foundation

Place of publication


Rights statement

Copyright 2021 The Author(s) Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

Repository Status

  • Open

Socio-economic Objectives

Fisheries - wild caught not elsewhere classified