Inland Fisheries Management in North America Third Edition

Chapter 3: Scale and Fisheries Management

James T. Peterson and Jason Dunham

doi: https://doi.org/10.47886/9781934874165.ch3

Scale is an issue of central importance to fisheries managers. This chapter provides an overview of what “scale” is and why its consideration is essential for effective fisheries management. The overview is followed with illustrations of approaches for identifying different scales at which ecological processes may operate and how these approaches relate to incorporating scale into management practices. In contrast to the current trend of providing standard methods for sampling fishes or describing habitat in inland waters (Bain and Stevenson 1999; Bonar et al. 2009), the point of this chapter is that scaling is unique to the question and management situation at hand. With this view in mind, it becomes clear there is no single common protocol or approach that applies to inland fisheries management. Rather it is the question and the scale or scales at which questions are addressed that drive the approach. In a sense, scale is both the question and the answer in fisheries biology and management applications. A primary goal of this chapter is to explore this notion and motivate readers who are relatively new to ideas about scaling in natural systems to appreciate what many view as one of the most daunting challenges in both basic and applied biology. The range of issues and examples covered herein are far from comprehensive, but hopefully the point is made that scale fundamentally controls how fisheries managers see and understand the challenges they confront.

The literature on scale can be confusing and is littered with what King (1997) referred to as “conceptual clutter.” This lack of a clear and consistent articulation of basic concepts and terms related to scaling hampers understanding (e.g., Morrison and Hall 2002). This is partly because scale is inherently difficult to define and partly because of disparity on how researchers and practitioners in and among disciplines treat the issue of scaling. We address what we view to be a critical subset of terms, definitions, and considerations for scaling applications in fisheries management.