Considering Habitat in the Interdisciplinary Fisheries Management Profession
Terra Lederhouse and Thomas E. Bigford
Aquatic habitat conservation has always been an important component of effective fishery management. Rebuilding and maintaining sustainable fisheries requires an approach that goes beyond controlling fishing effort and includes strong conservation of the habitats that provide the essential nursery, feeding, and breeding grounds that result in productive fisheries. Despite this link, habitat conservation and fisheries management are all too often treated as distinctly separate management approaches by natural resource organizations. Fisheries management has struggled to move beyond traditional approaches dominated by stock assessment models and actions that emphasize fishing mortality. Habitat conservation often proceeds with little consideration of how changes in habitat function influence the productivity of a fishery. The growing number of threats facing fisheries, from climate change and sea level rise to increasingly developed coastlines, hastens the need to bridge the gap between these disciplines.