Advancing an Ecosystem Approach in the Gulf of Maine

Observations and Analysis of Change in the Gulf of Maine: Present Status and Future Directions

Jeffrey A. Runge


Abstract.—This chapter summarizes contributions to a theme session of the 2009 Gulf of Maine Science Symposium held in St. Andrew’s, New Brunswick in October, 2009. The session highlighted the present status of science required to observe, interpret, and predict changes in the Gulf of Maine ecosystem in the context of strategies for regional implementation of an ecosystem approach to management (EAM). Perspectives on present ecosystem approaches to Gulf of Maine fisheries management contrast the integrated ecosystem assessment approach by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with the more incremental advancement to EAM based on traditional fisheries management practices undertaken by Fisheries and Oceans Canada. A section on contributions from the broader research community provides perspectives on observations and different approaches to analysis, including coupled physical biological modeling as a tool for the integration, interpretation, and prediction of multidisciplinary environmental data. The Atlantic Zonal Monitoring Program has established an observing system for physical and biological characteristics of Canadian coastal waters, and NERACOOS (the Northeast Regional Association of Coastal Ocean Observing Systems) is developing infrastructure for coordination of U.S. regional observing activities. A common theme is the need for more sustained time series of critical physical and biological variables that document change, especially in nearshore, coastal, and benthic habitats. Additionally, there is a need to development and maintain bridges to transfer new research knowledge, understanding, and analysis tools to the state, provincial, and federal agencies and fisheries management councils where EAM will be implemented.