Fisheries can cause major impacts on ecosystems, but the goal of managing them sustainably requires more and different information than we now have. Few fisheries have the legal mandate for ecosystem-based management or to apply precautionary management when information is lacking,
so fishermen have little incentive to demand improved information. The California Marine Life Management Act of 1998 requires the maintenance of ecosystem health and diversity in California’s complex nearshore ecosystems. We present the key elements, the scientific rationale, and an
implementation plan for the transition from information-poor, precautionary management to information-rich, spatially explicit ecosystem-based management in the California near- shore finfish fishery. These elements are included in a fishery management plan adopted by the state in 2002. Marine
reserves serve as reference points in repeated-measures before–after control-impact experimental design, in addition to their more familiar conservation benefits. The complexity of scientific monitoring, the statistical power of the monitoring design, and the benefits to consumptive
and nonconsumptive uses and values all increase from information-poor to information-rich management. The most significant scientific hurdle comes with incorporation of ecosystem and environmental variability effects.
The Bulletin of Marine Science is dedicated to the dissemination of high quality research from the world's oceans. All aspects of marine science are treated by the Bulletin of Marine Science, including papers in marine biology, biological oceanography, fisheries, marine affairs, applied marine physics, marine geology and geophysics, marine and atmospheric chemistry, and meteorology and physical oceanography.