Compilation and discussion of driver, pressure, and state indicators for the Grand Bank ecosystem, Northwest Atlantic
Abstract There are global calls for new ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) approaches. Scientific support for EBFM includes assessing ecosystem indicators of biological communities, environmental conditions, and human activities. As part of a broader research project we have synthesized a suite of traditional and new indicators for the Grand Bank in Atlantic Canada, which we share here. This is an ideal ecosystem for indicator analysis because it experienced dramatic changes over the past three decades, including a collapse in fish biomass that had profound socio-economic consequences. We exploit the wealth of data for this ecosystem to investigate how individual indicators reflect observed changes in the ecosystem, and then illustrate two applications of this indicator suite. Correlations were used to show that relationships among the fish functional groups changed after the collapse, and that a subset of indicators is sufficient to characterize each ecosystem category. Lagged correlations highlighted how changes in the drivers and pressures are often not immediately manifest in the fish community structure. We also organized indicators into the DPSIR (driver-pressure-state-impact-response) management framework. This exercise illustrated that indicator categorization is contextual and not straightforward, and we advocate for use of simpler categories that clearly show what is actionable. Additional future analyses that can be performed with our newly published suite of indicators are recommended. Highlights Fisheries-management related indicators of the Grand Bank ecosystem were synthesized. 3 decades of 39 fish community, human and environmental indicators are presented. Correlations reveal redundancies and potential causal relationships between indicators. Changes in pressures were manifest at lags that varied with fish community metrics. Indicator categorization using DPSIR was informative but not straightforward.
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