Royal Society Publishing

Regime, phase and paradigm shifts: making community ecology the basic science for fisheries

Marc Mangel , Phillip S. Levin


Modern fishery science, which began in 1957 with Beverton and Holt, is ca. 50 years old. At its inception, fishery science was limited by a nineteenth century mechanistic worldview and by computational technology; thus, the relatively simple equations of population ecology became the fundamental ecological science underlying fisheries. The time has come for this to change and for community ecology to become the fundamental ecological science underlying fisheries. This point will be illustrated with two examples. First, when viewed from a community perspective, excess production must be considered in the context of biomass left for predators. We argue that this is a better measure of the effects of fisheries than spawning biomass per recruit. Second, we shall analyse a simple, but still multi–species, model for fishery management that considers the alternatives of harvest regulations, inshore marine protected areas and offshore marine protected areas. Population or community perspectives lead to very different predictions about the efficacy of reserves.