A key factor in reaching a determination on the status of ecosystem condition is the quantitative output from 5 modules of spatial and temporal indicators of ecosystem (i) productivity, (ii) fish and fisheries, (iii) pollution and ecosystem health, (iv) socioeconomics and (v) governance. Advances in technology now allow for cost-effective measuring of the changing states of LMEs using these suites of indicators. The five-module indicator approach to the integrated assessment and management of LMEs has proven useful in ecosystem based projects in the United States and elsewhere.

The modules are customized for each LME through a transboundary diagnostic analysis (TDA) process and a strategic action plan (SAP) development process for the groups of nations or states sharing an LME. These processes are critical for integrating science into management in a practical way, and for establishing appropriate governance regimes (Duda and Sherman 2002; Olsen et al. 2006). Of the five modules, three are science-based indicators that focus on productivity, fish/fisheries, and pollution/ ecosystem health. The other two modules, socioeconomics and governance, support the development of indicators that improve measures of economic benefits to be derived from a more sustainable resource use, as well as advance legal and administrative support for ecosystem-based management practices (Figure 1). The first four modules support the TDA process, while the governance module is associated with periodic updating of the SAP development process. Adaptive management regimes are encouraged through periodic assessment processes (i.e., TDA updates) and through updating the action plans as gaps are filled (Wang 2004).

LME Modules

Figure 1. LME modules as suites of condition indicators for inputs to integrated ecosystem assessments


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Olsen SB, Sutinen JG, Juda L, Hennessey TM, Grigalunas TA. 2006. A Handbook on Governance and Socioeconomics of Large Marine Ecosystems. Kingston, RI: Coastal Resources     Center, University of Rhode Island. 94 p.
Wang H. 2004. An evaluation of the modular approach to the assessment and management of large marine ecosystems. Ocean Development and International Law 35:267-286.