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.