Ecosystem-based fishery management (EBFM) is a holistic approach to maintaining ecosystem quality and sustaining associated benefits. Sustaining the diverse products and services expected from marine ecosystems requires a broad interdisciplinary approach. Here, we propose a three-step
approach to implementation of EBFM that consists of goals, metrics, and management. Setting policy goals is an important first step in the fishery-management process. Goals must be translated into clear quantifiable terms, i.e., metrics. Metrics, alternatively referred to as performance measures
or reference points, are used to indicate the status of system attributes. Multiple metrics will generally be needed to account for diverse, and possibly conflicting, societal goals. Biotic metrics range from single-species to whole-system attributes. Abiotic metrics describe environmental
conditions. Human metrics describe human activities and are essential for managing human impacts. These metrics can serve as the basis for decision criteria and reference points for the management process. We illustrate our approach to EBFM using the groundfish trawl fishery system in the
Georges Bank region of the northwest Atlantic.
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