Advancing an Ecosystem Approach in the Gulf of Maine

Fishermen without Borders

Jean Guy d’Entrement


Abstract.—The Gulf of Maine (GoM) may have defined borders to some, but to the Canadian fishing industry, it carries a flow of larvae, nutrients, and other resources that help sustain the fishery from Georges Bank to the West Scotian Slope to the Bay of Fundy and all points in between. The GoM provides a source of wealth to people and communities, as well as supplying what may be one of the last natural foods on the planet. The fishing industry has been using the GoM for centuries, yet it is only recently that monitoring and data gathering has been taking place. In my opinion, we can extract much more value from the fisheries than we presently do. If the fisheries resource of the GoM is not delivering its full potential, who is ultimately responsible and accountable? In the past decade, transboundary groundfish resources from Georges Bank have been successfully managed through the Transboundary Management Guidance Committee. We can improve decision making even further in a greater ecosystem context, recognizing that decisions have to be made with the information available. An ecosystem approach to fisheries proposes a pragmatic view based on assessing the risk of not meeting agreed objectives.