Science Advisory Report 2011/075
Developing a framework for science support of an ecosystem approach to managing the Strait of Georgia, British Columbia
- Canada’s Oceans Act (implemented in 1997), committed DFO to developing an ecosystem approach to managing human interactions with Canada’s marine systems.
- As perhaps the most human-dominated marine ecosystem in Canada, the Strait of Georgia is an appropriate system for which to develop an ecosystem approach to management.
- This assessment, based in part on the findings from the Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative, provides strategic direction for DFO Science in support of an ecosystem approach to managing human interactions with the Strait of Georgia.
- The core elements for science support of an ecosystem approach to managing human activities in the Strait of Georgia include: developing indicators, monitoring programs, identifying baseline levels, employing spatial management, identifying anthropogenic stressors and thresholds, and developing modeling tools.
- The development of a comprehensive ecosystem approach, requires collaboration among other DFO Sectors and with external partners. The potential exists for collaborations with the process being developed for the Pacific North Coast Integrated Management Area.
- A workshop is recommended to develop a shortlist of ecosystem status and management indicators for the Strait of Georgia. This workshop should consider existing monitoring programs and propose new ones to provide the necessary data.
- A number of natural and direct anthropogenic stressors are impacting the ecosystem of the Strait. An evaluation of their impacts, as well as the determination of critical thresholds in an ecosystem framework, is needed.
- Models developed by DFO Science are being used to better understand the ecosystem of the Strait and to provide support to the management decision making process. An ecosystem approach will not rely on any single model.
- Long term monitoring programs are essential to provide the data for determining appropriate ecosystem baselines, status and thresholds of indicators, as well as model development and validation. Targeted research may be needed to understand ecosystem interactions that may be impacted as conditions move beyond their baselines.
- Spatial management, which accounts for interactions among ecological processes at a variety of nested geographic scales, is a key component of an ecosystem approach. It requires support from space-based modeling efforts, which should be integrated with monitoring programs.
- Many elements of an ecosystem approach are still in development and support is needed now so that ecosystem indicators, monitoring and field programs, and models can be available within 1-3 years, important knowledge gaps filled and critical thresholds determined (3-5 years), and operational ecosystem forecasts available (5+ years).
This Science Advisory Report has resulted from a Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat Pacific Regional Advisory Meeting of February 16-17, 2011 on The Strait of Georgia Ecosystem Research Initiative: developing an ecosystem-based approach for the Strait of Georgia. Additional publications from this process will be posted as they become available on the DFO Science Advisory Schedule.
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