The concept of management using ecosystem principles is broadly endorsed by many scientists, but opinion still differs about many terms associated with the state of ecosystems, the attributes that will retain ecosystem productivity, and principles that should guide management. These
terms and concepts are explored in relation to evolution of a number of proposed principles. The review of background papers and documents on ecosystem principles necessary for this exploration gave the author a sense of ecological rejuvenation but left him struggling with the growing ecological
jargon. A reading of the ecosystem-based management report prepared for the U.S. Congress left him feeling not with it, politically incorrect, or senile—perhaps all of the above. A survey of the author’s associates confirmed that confusion and uncertainty about terms and concern
about promoted ecological concepts were widespread. This paper discusses the evolu- tion of principles for the management of marine living resources, terms associated with ecosystem management, and ecological perceptions. Use of these terms in the report to Congress and the confusion they
could evoke, as well as the report’s positive contributions, are also noted. The paper concludes with comments on the nature of trade-offs anticipated in the implementation of ecosystem principles.
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