Small and Mighty: Why forage fisheries management could benefit from an ecosystem based framework. A case study on Bay of Fundy/Southwest Nova Scotia herring stock component [graduate project].
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Forage fish are defined as low to mid-trophic level species that are preyed upon by many top predators within their respective ecosystems. The dependence on these forage fish from top predators makes them a crucial link between autotrophs and predators within an ecosystem. It has been suggested that forage fish species are more valuable in the water, acting as support for these top predators, than being directly fished for other uses such as human consumption, bait or fish meal/oil. In Nova Scotia (Canada), many lobster fishers rely heavily on forage fish species as bait within lobster traps. Forage fisheries within Atlantic Canada include Atlantic herring (Clupea harengus), mackerel (Scomber scombrus), and capelin (Mallotus villosus). The current management of these fish in Canada is based on single species assessments. However, due to forage fish’s unique interactions with both their ecosystems and other fisheries, a management plan that focuses on these interactions is crucial for ecosystem sustainability. Accordingly, this project assessed the current single species management of these forage fisheries using a holistic analysis on a case study of the Southwest Nova Scotia/Bay of Fundy herring stock component. This holistic analysis assessed factors within a political, economic, socio-cultural, technological and environmental framework through a PESTE analysis. From this analysis, the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats within the current management regime were determined. Using these opportunities and threats, a gap analysis was conducted to identify the feasibility of alternative ecosystem based management frameworks for forage fisheries.
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