Ecosystem and Climate Information for Species, Fisheries, and FMPs

As a follow-on to the Climate and Communities Initiative, in September 2022 the Council endorsed the near-term schedule presented by the Ad Hoc Ecosystem Workgroup (EWG). This would begin with the Ecosystem and Climate Information for Species, Fisheries, and FMPs Initiative.

This initiative would: (i) review the incorporation of climate and ecosystem information into the Council’s harvest-setting and fisheries management processes, (ii) determine the need and appropriate timing for additional, FMP-specific ecosystem and climate information, and (iii) where there is a need for additional ecosystem and climate information, develop clear pathways for it to be used in the setting of scientific uncertainty, harvest policy, and specific management actions.  Under this initiative, the Council would facilitate and prioritize a process for Integrated Ecosystem Assessment (IEA) scientists, stock assessors, management teams, and advisory bodies to collaborate on assessing the need for and developing climate and ecosystem information in support of annual or biennial fisheries harvest-setting processes.  This initiative would therefore also address Fishery Ecosystem Plan Objectives 1a, 1b, 2a, 6a, and 6b.

Ecosystem and climate reporting developed out of this initiative would be distinct from and in addition to the annual ecosystem status report (ESR), and would be targeted for use in management under particular fishery management plans (FMPs).  Reporting could build off examples from the annual ESR, such as the salmon-focused stoplight charts, but with applications developed and articulated through FMP-specific work between scientists and Council advisory bodies. This initiative could result in development of automated, FMP-specific indicator reports (similar to automated landings reports from the Pacific Fisheries Information Network) that document concerns about assessment models, population dynamics, and the ecosystem or environment. These indicators could be derived from the array of indicators available from the annual ESR on the status and trends of components of the CCE and beyond, with a goal of making the information available when needed during harvest-setting processes and for specific management actions. To implement this initiative, Council staff would map out the harvest-setting processes for the four FMPs to help the Council consider its harvest-setting schedule separate from its other work.  The Council would then ask for advice from its advisory bodies on which of the FMPs, and the particular target stocks within FMPs, might be best suited to be the first to begin discussions on FMP-specific reporting of ecosystem and climate information in support of harvest-setting processes and specific management actions.  After prioritizing the FMPs, the EWG and ecosystem scientists would collaborate with the FMP-specific advisory bodies to schedule separate scoping discussions for each FMP, as prioritized by the Council.  Based on those scoping discussions, FMP-specific indicators could be developed into suites of indicators, projections, or decision tables to assess scientific uncertainties and inform harvest-setting processes (e.g., Dorn and Zador 2020) and specific management actions.  Ecosystem scientists would periodically check in with the appropriate advisory bodies on tailoring information for use in each FMP’s annual or biennial management process.  The initiative would be considered complete with the first round of FMP-specific ecosystem and climate reporting, although the contents and formats of those reports would likely need regular adjustments to suit their users. 

-Adapted from the description in the FEP Initiatives Appendix

The Ad Hoc Ecosystem Workgroup submitted a report for Council consideration in March 2023 detailing a work plan for this initiative.