To sustain healthy marine ecosystems, Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management (EBFM) is a more effective and holistic management approach to broadly and consistently consider ecosystem in managing fisheries. It is a new direction for fishery management, essentially reversing the order of management priorities to start with the ecosystem rather than the target species.
In details, EBFM should avoid degradation of ecosystems as measured by indicators of environmental quality and system status, and account for the requirements of other ecosystem components such as nontarget species, protected species, habitat considerations and various trophic interactions. By maintaining system characteristics within certain bounds, this approach may protect ecosystem resilience and avoid irreversible changes in coastal ecosystems .
Despite current uncertainties about ecosystems and their responses to human actions, EBFM should move forward because the potential benefits of implementation are as large as or greater than the potential risks of inaction. In California's nearshore fishery, this has already begun and precautionary restrictions have been placed on allowable catches, with the understanding that they can be eased as ecosystem-related information increases.