A Call for Evidence-Based Conservation and Management of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources

By Steven J. Cooke, Sean Wesch, Lisa A. Donaldson, Alexander D. M. Wilson, and Neal R. Haddaway

Natural resource management agencies implement conservation policies with the presumption that they are effective and of benefit to aquatic ecosystems. However, it is often difficult to decide what management action to implement and what will be most effective. Here we call for natural resource management agencies to fully adopt and implement evidence-based management (EBM) for conservation and fisheries management.

On average, $21.5 billion was spent each year on conservation and habitat restoration from 2001 to 2008. That value is expected to rise to $76.1 billion annually, as governments try to meet biodiversity targets

We support this call by providing a primer on systematic reviews, a core tool in evidence synthesis but one that is rarely used in the context of fisheries management. We highlight the benefits and challenges associated with implementing EBM, with a particular focus on the routine decisions and management actions undertaken by natural resource practitioners. We submit that by adopting EBM, practitioners would have access to the best available evidence on the effectiveness of various management and conservation interventions, while providing defensible and credible evidence to inform decision-making processes and policies.

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