Synthesizing lessons learned from comparing fisheries production in 13 northern hemisphere ecosystems: emergent fundamental features
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Understanding the drivers of the productivity of marine ecosystems continues to be a globally important issue. A vast body of literature identifies 3 main processes that regulate the production dynamics of fisheries: biophysical, exploitative, and trophodynamic. Here, we synthesize results from international workshops in which surplus production models were applied to 13 northern hemisphere ecosystems that support notable fisheries. The results are compared across systems, levels of species aggregation, and drivers. By applying surplus production models at single- species (SS), multi-species (MS), aggregated group, and full-system levels across ecosystems, we find that the different levels of aggregation provide distinct, but complementary, information. Further, it is clear that the triad of drivers contributes to fisheries productivity in each ecosystem, but the key drivers are system-specific. Our results also confirm that full-system yield is less than the sum of SS yields and that some MS and aggregate yields may lead to overharvest of some stocks if species groups are constructed without considering common productivity, inter-species, and en vironmental interactions. Several fundamental features emerge from this Theme Section including sigmoidal biomass accumulation curves across trophic levels, improvement of model fits by inclusion of environmental or ecological covariates, the inequality of system maximum sustainable yield (MSY) versus aggregated sums and SS sums of MSY, a 1 to 5 t km−2 fishery yield rule of thumb, and the finding that tradeoffs among ocean use objectives may not be as harsh as originally thought. These emergent features have the potential to alter our understanding of marine ecosystem dynamics and improve how we manage fisheries production.