Marine mammals' influence on ecosystem processes affecting fisheries in the Barents Sea is trivial

Peter J Corkeron

Abstract

Some interpretations of ecosystem-based fishery management include culling marine mammals as an integral component. The current Norwegian policy on marine mammal management is one example. Scientific support for this policy includes the Scenario Barents Sea (SBS) models. These modelled interactions between cod, Gadus morhua, herring, Clupea harengus, capelin, Mallotus villosus and northern minke whales, Balaenoptera acutorostrata. Adding harp seals Phoca groenlandica into this top-down modelling approach resulted in unrealistic model outputs. Another set of models of the Barents Sea fish–fisheries system focused on interactions within and between the three fish populations, fisheries and climate. These model key processes of the system successfully. Continuing calls to support the SBS models despite their failure suggest a belief that marine mammal predation must be a problem for fisheries. The best available scientific evidence provides no justification for marine mammal culls as a primary component of an ecosystem-based approach to managing the fisheries of the Barents Sea.

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Footnotes

    • Received October 29, 2008.
    • Accepted December 8, 2008.
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