Ecosystem-based management requires the application of new strategies to account for the response of marine populations to environmental variability. The Environmental Research Division uses a variety of methods to characterize variability in the North Pacific Ocean and to understand the mechanisms leading to the regional ecosystem response. Understanding how marine populations respond to interannual to decadal ocean variability is essential to managing resources in a dynamic ecosystem. Indices of environmental state are being developed that identify shifts in ocean processes and the corresponding response of marine populations to changes in productivity. The goal is to incorporate these indices into stock assessment models to improve the management of California Current living marine resources.
Ecosystem-based management also requires better understanding of the interaction of species and their overlapping distributions. New techniques are being developed for mapping spatial distribution patterns of fisheries data. The need to protect overfished stocks from further exploitation while still harvesting the more abundant stocks requires many new management tools. One such tool under development is a detailed map of fishery catch that allows identification of hotspots for single and multiple species.