NOAA - Ecosystem Goal Team - To protect, restore and manage the use of coastal and ocean resources through an ecosystem approach to management
Takes Account of Ecosystem Knowledge and Uncertainty
Takes Account of Ecosystem Knowledge and Uncertainty - Collect and integrate relevant ecological and socio-economic information, identify uncertainties and gaps regarding ecosystem processes, and incorporate them into management decisions
EAM builds upon existing institutions and information collected for a variety of specific purposes and provides a framework to combine data for additional value. This approach allows us to identify science priorities to reduce uncertainties, leading to better understanding of the effects of policy choices. Incorporating risk management into decision processes also helps account for uncertainty. As such, EAM can be implemented with information that is currently available. However, it is critical to continue learning about ecosystem components and processes so risks can be minimized, management actions targeted and monitored, and future actions adapted as needed to ensure that scientific and management efforts change as ecosystems change. By integrating our existing knowledge, identifying and working to fill information gaps, and developing predictive models, we can minimize management risks. In combination with being adaptive, we are able to respond quickly to natural or human-induced changes in the environment.
The principle of taking account of ecosystem knowledge and uncertainty is illustrated in the management approach taken by the Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Living Marine Resources (CCAMLR). CCAMLR joined the Antarctic Treaty System amid concerns about the effect of krill harvest on other marine populations. Although CCAMLR aims to conserve marine life, it does not exclude rational harvesting activities. Balancing these pressures is not simple and requires a great deal of information about the ecosystem. As such, CCAMLR has adopted a ‘precautionary’ approach, considering uncertainties when making management decisions in a manner that strives to minimize the long term adverse effects on the resource, rather than delaying decisions until all necessary data are available.