Toward a definition of conservation principles for fisheries management

, ,


Conservation, like beauty, is clearly in the eye of the beholder. The lack of a clear definition of what is meant by the term conservation, however, may encourage misconceptions about the degree to which biological objectives can be traded off against pressing economic and social objectives. Our purpose is to promote a dialogue about the meaning and practice of conservation, which might lead toward consensus on essential biological objectives. We present a brief history of the philosophical evaluation of the term conservation and offer a definition of conservation based on the argument of an ecological ethic. This ethic requires that human benefits be derived in a sustainable manner and recognizes that human uses need to be reconciled with intrinsic and necessary ecosystemic functions and structures. We then present a preliminary set of operating principles applicable to the management of fish stocks that are consistent with an ecological or ecosystemic view of conservation. By proposing a set of conservation principles for fisheries management we hope to initiate a debate about just what those principles ought to be