Ecosystem Services of the Southern Ocean: Trade-Offs in Decision-Making

Cambridge-PressRecently released by “Cambridge Press University”, this is an excellent review on krill biomass,  environmental and regulatory principles applied to the krill fishery.

Written by Susie M. Grant, Simeon L. Hill, Philip N. Trathan and Eugene J. Murphy, addresses the South Antarctic ecosystem and its benefits to mankind obtained from natural ecosystems.  This report include provisioning of fishery products, nutrient cycling, climate regulation and the maintenance of biodiversity, with associated cultural and aesthetic benefits.

Potential catch limits for Antarctic krill (Euphausia superba, Dana) alone are equivalent to 11% of current global marine fisheries landings.  Management of this fishery considers a three-way trade-off between fisheries performance, the status of the krill stock and that of predator populations.

However, there is a paucity of information on how well these components represent other ecosystem services that might be degraded as a result of fishing. There is also a lack of information on how beneficiaries value these ecosystem services. A formal ecosystem assessment would help to address these knowledge gaps.
The ecosystem services provided by the Southern Ocean are significant on a global scale, as illustrated by the potential of Antarctic krill to supply the equivalent of 11% of current world fishery landings. The terms ‘‘ecosystem services’’ and ‘‘ecosystem assessment’’ are not commonly used within the community concerned with managing human activities in the Southern Ocean.  Nonetheless this community is actively gathering and applying much of the information that ecosystem assessments seek to collate.  The management of the krill fishery represents a practical implementation of this requirement despite a lack of information about how beneficiaries value the relevant ecosystem services.

A formal ecosystem assessment could provide necessary information on the wider suite of ecosystem services that fishing might interact with and how beneficiaries value these services. Such information is likely to aid the future development of krill fishery management and help remove the current reliance on interim measures. Formal and comprehensive ecosystem assessment would require considerable investment but could substantially improve coordination between management bodies focused on different human activities at both the regional and global scale.

Susie M. Grant, Simeon L. Hill, Philip N. Trathan and Eugene J. Murphy. Ecosystem services of the Southern Ocean: trade-offs in decision-making. Antarctic Science, available on CJO2013. doi:10.1017/S0954102013000308.

More at South Antarctic Krill Environment. Capture Implications