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Multi-Species Management

Multi-species management

Multi-species management (MSM) specifies the development of a particular ecologically balanced assessment and operation in protecting fish and wildlife . Such protection of species and the environment that supports and sustains them relies on understanding the species' interaction with each other, and within a particular environmentwhether a body of water, a marshland, or other natural surroundings. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) play key roles in overseeing this management due to the imperative for restoring and maintaining an effective ecosystem . In concert with the Endangerd Species Act (ESA), the focus in MSM is on lessening the possibility of certain species being added to the Endangered Species list in addition to the management of those species currently thriving.

In the fall of 2002, the College of Foresty at Oregon State University was hosting a symposium, Innovations in Species Conservation for the purpose of studying the issues of strategies for conserving species, ecological risks and uncertainties associated with certain strategies, and examining social and legal contexts of conservation strategies. The announcement for the symposium pointed out that, "In the past, efforts to conserve species have focused on providing appropriate habitat for, and population management of, individual high-profile species protected by laws and regulations. Some regional plans have been designed to conserve a broad array of species and biological diversity by specifying protection of rare and uncommon species." But according to the research indicated, there also remain some questions regarding the multi-species direction. The discussion goes on to say that, "Such approaches have proven to be complex and expensive, and have placed constraints on the ability to meet other important management objectives. Multiplespecies or ecosystem approaches addressing species assemblages at regional scales may be more efficient and lessen management constraints, but the degree to which they protect individual species rests more on hypothesis than on systematic testing. Such multi-system approaches may also be more susceptible to legal challenges due to a lower level of certainty regarding the outcomes for a particular species."

Still, by 2002, evidence continues to emerge from extensive research over the last few decades, that MSM has produced some results that indicate success. The theory is that if one species, or aspect of an ecosystem is out of balance, therefore the entire system is out of balance. In a 1999 article written by Dick Monroe, Vice President of Environmental Affairs for Darden Restaurants, he noted that global management of whales and seals directly affected the seafood and restaurant industry. It was his concernin opposition to the philosophy of many animal rights and whale watch groupsthat whales were consuming between three and six times the total annual catch of all commercial fisheries. He noted that an MSM approach must be supported because when the focus is simply on one species, another is sure to lose out and the supply depleted.

The Kyoto Treatythe United States backed out of support of the treaty under the George W. Bush administration in 2001also specifies MSM as one of its components. Throughout the United States, under the sponsorship of various government and private agencies, MSM had become an important research approach to environmental concerns. It represents a worldwide effort as well as one for the United Statesespecially in countries that rely heavily on the fishing industry as a support of their economic system. In Norway, for instance, in order to manage certain fishing stocks in the Barents Sea, it was crucial for researchers to determine how much of that species waaas eaten by another fish. The Institute of Marine Research in Bergen (Norway) developed a multi-species model to address this issue, among others. In managing the stock of capelin, it was crucial to know how much of it was consumed by the cod, and also in marine mammals. Beginning in 1987, Norwegian and Russian scientists cooperated in collecting this information. By 1993, the groups had collected samples from the stomach content of over 50,000 cod. This example of the mechanism by which MSM operates is typical of similar programs throughout the United States, and around the world.

[Jane E. Spear ]



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Russell, Dick. "Hitting Bottom.&rdquo Amicus Journal February 3, 1997 [cited July 2002].

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Cardin, Ben. Testimony in Support of the Reauthorization of the Chesapeake Bay Office of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration HR 4789. September 21, 2000 [cited July 2002]. <>.

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U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. USA 20460 202-260-2090,

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Washington, D.C. USA,

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