FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 477

FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 477

Models for an ecosystem
approach to fisheries

Éva E. Plagányi
University of Cape Town
South Africa

Rome, 2007

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The views expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.

ISBN 978-92-5-105734-6
ISSN 0429-9345

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© FAO 2007

Plagányi, É.E.
Models for an ecosystem approach to fisheries.
FAO Fisheries Technical Paper. No. 477. Rome, FAO. 2007.108p.


This report reviews the methods available for assessing the impacts of interactions between species and fisheries and their implications for marine fisheries management. A brief description of the various modelling approaches currently in existence is provided, highlighting in particular features of these models which have general relevance to the field of the ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF). The report concentrates on the currently available models representative of general types such as bionergetic models, predator-prey models and minimally realistic models. Short descriptions are given of model parameters, assumptions and data requirements. Some of the advantages, disadvantages and limitations of each of the approaches in addressing questions pertaining to EAF are discussed. The report concludes with some recommendations for moving forward in the development of multi-species and ecosystem models and for the prudent use of the currently available models as tools for provision of scientific information on fisheries in an ecosystem context.


Preparation of this document  (Download pdf 674 kb)
List of tables and figures
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Executive summary

1.  Introduction  (Download pdf 46 kb)

2.  Review of current modelling approaches  (Download Full 2pdf 1,061 kb)

2.1 Whole ecosystem and dynamic  (Download 2.1.1 to 2.1.5pdf 710 kb)
      system models
2.1.1 ECOPATH with ECOSIM (EwE)
2.1.2 Biogeochemical models
2.1.3 ERSEM and SSEM
2.2 Minimum realistic models  (Download 2.2 to 2.5pdf 493 kb)
2.2.1 The original MRM
2.2.2 ESAM (Extended Single-species Assessment Models)
2.2.3 MSVPA approach
2.2.5 Multi-species statistical models
2.3 Individual-based models
2.3.1 OSMOSE
2.4 Bioenergetic models

2.5 CCAMLR model development
2.5.1 Predator-prey models
2.5.2 KPFM (Krill-Predator-Fishery Model)
2.5.3 EPOC model (Ecosystem Productivity Ocean Climate Model)
2.5.4 Mori and Butterworth multi-species model
2.5.5 SMOM (Spatial Multi-species Operating Model)
3.  Comparison of models  (Download 3 to 10pdf 349 kb)
3.1 Level of complexity and realism
3.2 Functional response formulations
3.3 Whole ecosystem models vs MRMs
3.4 Advantages, disadvantages and limitations
4.  Potential of tools to address multi-species research questions

5.  Roles for models in operational management procedure development

6.  Moving models forward – future developments

7.  Prudent use of the precautionary principle

8.  Pointers from previous studies and workshops

8.1 Modelling interactions between marine mammals and fisheries
8.2 Areas of focus
8.3 General guidelines
8.4 Ecosystem-based management strategies
8.5 Practical steps to implementing an EAF
9.  Summary of model comparisons and recommendations


Appendix   (Download Full Appendixpdf 723 kb)

Tables A  1a-d Model comparison

Tables A  2a-d Model comparison

Tables A  3a-d Summary of advantages, disadvantages and
limitations of each method

Tables A  4 Model comparison to address EBFM questions