Hierarchical Perspectives on Marine Complexities: Searching for Systems in the Gulf of Maine

Hierarchical Perspectives on Marine Complexities: Searching for Systems in the Gulf of Maine

Hierarchical Perspectives on Marine Complexities: Searching for Systems in the Gulf of Maine

Hierarchical Perspectives on Marine Complexities: Searching for Systems in the Gulf of Maine

Synopsis

The Gulf of Maine supports a vital fishery for North America and is one of the most intensely studied marine ecosystems in the world. An understanding of its ecology has practical applications to management of other marine systems and fisheries. This book is the first application of Hierarchy Theory to the ecological workings of the Gulf of Maine and of marine ecosystems in general. Hierarchy Theory offers a perspective that simplifies the apparent complications and contradictions of ecosystems, which encompass a number of scales of time (from minutes to decades or longer) and of space (from centimeters to kilometers). Spencer Apollonio explores in detail the idea of natural constraints inherent in hierarchical ecosystems and the impact upon such systems when constraints are reduced or removed. He argues that conventional fisheries management, which practices the removal of these constraints, may be doomed to failure. Apollonio focuses in particular on the "groundfish crisis" in the Gulf, the precipitous decline due to overfishing in populations of cod, haddock, pollock, hakes, and various types of flounders, which have together constituted the mainstay of the Maine fishing industry for centuries. Hierarchical Perspectives on Marine Complexities presents a compelling case for a new approach that holds the promise of resource sustainability in the face of enormously complicated natural and cultural forces.

Excerpt

Few living zoologists have been as fortunate as were we … on our first oceanographic cruise in the Gulf of Maine … for a veritable mare incognitum lay before us, so far as its floating life was concerned; … everything was yet to be learned as to … their relative importance in the natural economy of the Gulf.

—Henry Bryant Bigelow

The gulf of maine, as nineteenth-century historian J. G. Kohl wrote, is “a very marked and peculiar piece of water.” His explanation for that memorable characterization filled twenty pages, but his phrase neatly captures a feeling we can share. We intuitively understand him as our awareness and knowledge of the gulf expand and stir our imagination. It is the Gulf of Maine, not the Atlantic Ocean, that washes in upon the coasts of Maine and western Nova Scotia. the gulf has its own identity. Our gulf— a big, quite shallow, and largely enclosed basin—is separated from the deep waters of the Atlantic, far (200 miles) beyond the horizon, by Browns and Georges Banks as well as by fluid dynamics that are defining boundary structures just as real as are the submerged offshore banks. the gulf in its basic oceanographic characteristics is quite distinct from the Atlantic Ocean.

Because of its considerable isolation and singular identity, the Gulf of Maine seems to offer advantages for understanding marine dynamics and functions and perhaps also for the management of marine resources. Since the early twentieth century, it has been the focus of much research to those ends, and so now we know a lot about the gulf's components. But we are still trying to understand how all those parts fit together, or, as Henry . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.