(portions excerpted from the Ecosystem Management Report to MAFAC, May 2003 and the Ecosystem-Based Fishery Management – A Report to Congress by the Ecosystem Principles Advisory Panel, April 1999)



AHERMATYPIC (CORALS) -- Corals that do not have zooxanthellae. Their distribution is not restricted by depth, temperature, or light penetration. Found from 0 to 5,880 m (0 to 19,000 ft), and 0 to 35oC (32 to 95oF). Both colonial and non-colonial (i.e. single polyp) species in about equal number. Although often referred to as "deep sea" or "solitary" corals, they often occur in shallow water and many are colonial. Their distribution overlaps that of the hermatypes and is exclusive in waters deeper than about 100 m (330 ft).

ALLOWABLE BIOLOGICAL CATCH – Catch that can be taken in a specific year that achieves the biological objectives, or avoids the biological constraints, of fishery management. Such objectives and constraints are usually set in terms of stick sizes that must be maintained and/or fishing mortality rates that shall not be exceeded. Estimates of allowable biological catch should be based on the best scientific advice available.

BIODIVERSITY -- the variety of genes, species, and ecosystems in a region. Each category describes different aspects of a living system and is scientifically measured in different ways to characterize the composition (identity and variety of living forms), structure (physical organization), and function (ecological and evolutionary processes) of the system. (see and

BIOHERM -- a deep-water coral bank that over centuries has formed a mound of unconsolidated sediment and coral debris and is capped with thickets of coral, such as Oculina or Lophelia.

BURDEN OF PROOF – The responsibility to demonstrate a fishing activity will or will not lead to overfishing or negative effects on the ecosystem.

BYCATCH – Unintentional catch; i.e., catch that occurs incidentally in a fishery that intends to catch fish with other characteristics (e.g., size, species).

CARRYING CAPACITY – The numbers or biomass of resources that can be supported by an ecosystem.

COLONIAL CORALS -- Corals with more than one polyp and which may be part of a coral reef or some other coral assemblage. this may also be referred to as a colony, unit or individual coral.

CONSERVATION AND MANAGEMENT – The rules, regulations, conditions, methods, and other measures (A) which are required and useful to rebuild, restore, or maintain any fishery resource and the marine environment; and (B) which are designed to ensure that: (i) a supply of food and other products may be taken, and that recreational benefits may be obtained, on a continuing basis; (ii) irreversible or long-term adverse effects on fishery resources and the marine environment are avoided; and (iii) there will be a multiplicity of options available with respect to future uses of these resources (NMFS 1996).

DISCARDS – A portion of what is caught and returned to the sea unused. Discards may be either alive or dead. There are many types of discards, such as economic discards (when a portion of the catch that is not economically rational to land is discarded), regulatory discards (when discarding occurs because of a prohibition on retaining some of the catch), highgrade discards (discarding of the portion of the catch with a lower value than the portion retained in order to comply with regulations that limit how much catch can be retained). Highgrading is a form of regulatory discarding.

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ECOREACH -- a subunit of an ecoregion, determined based on gradients, barriers, and other physical, chemical, and biological features of the ecoregion.

ECOREGION -- a unit determined by hydrology, plant and animal community structure, and substrate (if any). This unit is used both for assessing the quality of a resource relative to appropriate reference conditions and for conservation of natural resources while supporting local economies and culture for the lasting benefit of people living in or associated with the ecoregion.

ECOSYSTEM -- the complex set of relationships among living resources, habitats, and residents of a region. An ecosystem includes people, wildlife, fish, shellfish, plants, wetlands, water, and any other living and non-living entities that are necessary for the ecosystem to function over the long-term.

ECOSYSTEM-BASED FISHERIES MANAGEMENT -- the personal, social, political, and management decisions that are made considering ecological information. Ecosystem-based decisions acknowledge that the environment, even in the absence of anthropogenic influence, is always changing. Ecosystem approach decisions are three-dimensional because they (1) include stakeholders, perspectives, and human goals, (2) consider the health and vitality of ecosystems into the indefinite future, and (3) include the larger landscape and connections among other landscapes. This approach requires attention to ecosystem integrity, interagency cooperation, spatially explicit management measures, and time-series data for multiple species and habitats. The goal of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management is to conserve natural resources and protect biodiversity while optimizing social and economic benefits and minimizing negative social and economic impacts to communities. Ecosystem goals are set with reference to the larger environment, including ecosystem parameters or environmental conditions (e.g., water quality) that limit fishery management options.

ESTUARINE -- deepwater tidal habitats and adjacent tidal wetlands, semi-enclosed by land, but with open, partly obstructed, or sporadic access to the open ocean, and in which ocean water is at least occasionally diluted by freshwater runoff from the land. Estuarine systems extend upstream to a point where oceanic salts measure less than 0.5 ‰ during average low flow (although salinity periodically may rise above that of the open ocean by evaporation) and downstream to an imaginary line across the mouth of a river, bay, or sound, and seaward to the point where wetland emergents, shrubs, or trees are no longer present. (see

ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT – Those water and substrate necessary for fish to spawn, breed, feed and grow to maturity (NMFS 1996).

EXOTICS -- species of organisms introduced beyond their native ranges. Also known as “alien,” “invading,” “non-native,” or “nonindigenous,” these species may be intentionally or non-intentionally introduced and may include the introduced organism (generally plants, invertebrates, and vertebrates) as well as associated pests and parasites (viruses, bacteria, protozoans).

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FISHERY – (A) One or more stocks of fish which can be treated as a unit for purposes of conservation and management and which are identified on the basis of geographical, scientific, technical, recreational, and economic characteristics; and (B) any fishing for such stocks (NMFS 1996).

FISHING MORTALITY – A measurement of the rate of mortality of fish in a population caused by fishing.

FISH STOCK – A species, subspecies, geographical grouping, or other grouping of fish that is managed as a unit (NMFS 1996).

GIS -- the acronym for “geographic information system” which refers to the organized activity by which people measure aspects of geographic phenomena and processes; represent the measurements (e.g., in a computer database) to emphasize spatial themes, entities, and relationships; operate upon these representations by integrating unrelated data to predict and discover new relationships; and transform these representations to conform to other frameworks of entities and relationships. Successfully implemented, GIS aids goal setting, data analysis, and monitoring ecosystem integrity. (see

GUILD -- a group of species that perform more-or-less the same ecological role, making similar use of the same resource. Having more species per guild may increase the stability, and hence the productivity over time, of a marine community. Conversely, a loss of a number of species per guild could render a marine community more vulnerable to wild swings in stock sizes and productivity.

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HAPC --acronym for Habitat Area of Particular Concern

HERMATYPIC CORALS -- Corals that contain symbiotic, unicellular zooxnathellae in their endodermal tissue. Always found in shallow (0 to 100 m; 0 to 330 ft), warm (15 to 35oC; 60 to 95oF), sun-lit waters. Usually colonial but may be solitary. Often referred to collectively as reef corals, however some species are small and never found on reefs. This definition has been quantified to exclude some corals with aberrant zooxanthellae relationships (e.g. facultatively symbiotic species and those which appear capable of "bank building" without the benefit of symbionts.

INDICATOR SPECIES -- a species that, by virtue of its reliable occurrence in a specific substrate, community, or ecosystem, is used as a gauge for the condition of that ecosystem.

KEY SPECIES -- ecologically and/or economically important organisms that usually also are numerically abundant.

LITHOHERM -- high-relief, lithified carbonate mounds, that may be covered with thickets of live coral.  See BIOHERM above.

LONG TERM -- the fact that an ecosystem approach time frame extends beyond the next year, budget cycle, or election, to ensure that ecosystem dynamics occur within ranges that do not exceed the resilience of the system.

MARINE -- the sea realm, comprising more than 99% of Earth’s biosphere, and housing 31 of the 32 known animal phyla. Many conservation concepts developed for terrestrial systems must be considerably modified for marine systems due to the distinct physicochemical, biological, and valuation differences between the two types of systems.

MAXIMUM SUSTAINABLE YIELD – A management goal specifying the largest long-term average catch or yield (in terms of weight of fish) that can be taken, continuously (sustained) from a stock or stock complex under prevailing ecological and environmental conditions, without reducing the size of the population.

MPA -- the acronym for “marine protected area” which is a specific area of marine environment reserved and managed for the primary purpose of aiding in the recovery of overfished stocks and to insure the persistence of healthy fish stocks, fisheries and habitats.

MULTIVARIATE -- the term that describes statistical, mathematical, or graphical techniques that consider multiple variables simultaneously.

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NUTRIENT LOADINGS -- refer primarily to nitrogen and phosphorus pollution derived from municipal and industrial wastewater (point sources) and in agricultural runoff (non-point source).

OCEAN ZONING -- the authoritative regulation [and allocation] of access and use to specific marine geographic areas.

OCTOCORALS -- Species belonging to the Class Anthozoa, Subclass Octocorallia (soft corals, horny corals, sea fans, sea whips, sea pens, and others.

OECA --acronym for Oculina Experimental Closed Area

OPTIMUM YIELD – (A) the amount of fish which will provide the greatest overall benefit to the Nation, particularly with respect to food production and recreational opportunities, and taking into account the protection of marine ecosystems; (B) is prescribed as such on the basis of the maximum sustainable yield from the fishery, as reduced by any relevant economic, social, or ecological factor; and (C) in the case of an overfished fishery, provides for rebuilding to a level consistent with producing the maximum sustainable yield in such fishery (NMFS 1996).

OVERFISHED -- harvesting greater numbers of a species than are replenished by natural reproduction. The definition of overfishing should include at a minimum seven elements that define management targets and thresholds (status determination criteria, maximum fishing mortality threshold, minimum biomass threshold, biomass target, optimum yield, maximum rebuilding time period, control law or fishing mortality management strategy). (see Murawski, S.A. 2000. Definitions of Overfishing from an Ecosystem Perspective ICES Journal of Marine Sciences 57:649-658).

OVERFISHING– Fishing at a rate or level that jeopardizes the capacity of a stock or stock complex to produce maximum sustainable yield on a continuing basis (NMFS 1996).

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PRIMARY PREDATOR -- the main consumer of the prey in question or within in an eco-reach; the term usually is applied to the most significant piscivore as opposed to other consumers.

PRIMARY PRODUCTION – the creation of organic matter by plants through photosynthesis (using inorganic carbon, nutrients and external energy source) to form the base of the food chain.

QUOTA -- a specified numerical objective for landings (excluding discard mortality), the attainment (or expected attainment) of which may cause closure of a fishery.

RECRUITMENT– a measure of the weight or number of fish which enter a defined portion of the stock such as fishable stock (those fish above the minimum legal size) or spawning stock (those fish which are sexually mature).

REGIME SHIFT – major changes in levels of productivity and reorganization of ecological relationships over vast oceanic regions which could be caused by various sources including climate variability or overfishing.

ROV --acronym for Remotely Operated Vehicle

SAV -- the acronym for “submerged aquatic vegetation.”

SECONDARY PREDATOR -- the second most abundant or ecological important consumer of the prey in question or within in an eco-reach; the term usually is applied to the second most significant piscivore as opposed to other consumers.

SHORT TERM -- the fact that many traditional management decisions are confined to a yearly, budgetary, or political cycle. Ecosystem processes occur on the scale of lifespans of the ecosystem inhabitants, often on the order of decades or even centuries.

SIGNIFICANT FOOD WEB – a predator/prey interaction that is important to either the predator or prey population.

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SOLITARY CORALS -- Corals composed of a single polyp.

SAFMC --acronym for South Atlantic Fisheries Management Council

STANDARDIZATION -- refers to the need to have consistent usage of data format, ecological indicators, and language and acronyms across regions and agencies. It is necessary to instill conformity of accepted measurements or values that are applied to fisheries management through the use of similar indicators for data collection, data processing, and reporting such as with Geographic Information Systems.

STOCK ASSESSMENT– An evaluation of a stock in terms of abundance and fishing mortality levels and trends, and relative to fishery management objectives and constraints, if they have been specified.

STONY CORALS -- Species belonging to the Class Hydrozoa (fire corals and hydrocorals) and Class Anthozoa, Subclass Zoantharia (stony corals and black corals).

STRESS (STRESSOR) -- refers to a factor, environmental or anthropogenic, that causes or drives a behavior or outcome.

SURPLUS PRODUCTION– Total weight of fish that can be removed by fishing without changing the size of the population. It is calculated as the sum of the growth in weight of individuals in a population, plus the addition of biomass from new recruits, minus the biomass of mortality of animals lost to natural mortality, during a defined period (usually one year).

SUSTAINABILITY -- of a fishery must be defined in terms of goals within four separate categories. Together, these science and policy components interact transparently to form a dynamic and adaptive process: Biology – harvest is managed to maintain populations at sizes within defined ranges that take into account natural environmental stochasticity and observed effects of management and other human activities; Society – maintain or enhance diverse societal attributes of the fishery (cultural, aesthetic, spiritual, religious) for a specified planning time horizon (may include but not limited to ceremonial use, viewing aquatic species, fishing community heritage, dietary benefits, community diversity, ecosystem benefits, subsistence harvesting, area closures, promote environmental justice); Economic – the fishery constitutes a viable economic endeavor for a specified planning time horizon and yields a positive return to society measured as cumulative economic output that remains within a defined range; and Legal – the fishery must exist within a governance structure that ensures system integrity, including but not limited to regulatory authorities, treaties, constraints, requirements and infrastructure.

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TARGET SPECIES – those fish explicitly sought by fishermen to meet social and economic needs. Their catch is the direct consequence of targeted fishing effort. NON-TARGET SPECIES include all others.

TROPHIC (GUILD) -- a group of species (or particular life stages of a group of species) that feed on the same types of prey.

TOTAL ALLOWABLE CATCH (TAC) -- a specified numerical objective for catch (including discard mortality), the attainment (or expected attainment) of which may cause closure of the fishery. In Stage I, TAC is equivalent to a proxy for optimum yield of a species (OY). In Stages II and III, TAC is equivalent to OY.

WATERSHED -- all of the land area that contributes surface run-off to the water supply of a body of water such as a river, stream, or lake.

WETLAND -- an area where saturation or repeated inundation with water determines the nature of the soils, the plants, and the animals of the area. Wetlands include wet meadows, lake and river banks, swamps, bogs, marshes, embayments, bayous, river flood plains, and estuaries.

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