The effects of fishing on marine ecosystems are probably the most widespread anthropogenic influence. The introduction of ecosystem considerations into fisheries management requires a knowledge of the relative scale of the various fisheries effects, development of suitable metrics of these and consideration of suitable limit values (reference points) for them. This will involve the application of suitable models. The direct and indirect effects of fishing on marine ecosystems are catalogued. We then identify 31 applications of models of marine ecosystems that might provide useful insights into the ecological effects of fisheries. Analysis was possible for only 22 of the models due to poor documentation of the other 9. These however included representatives of 7 generic model types. No model formulation provided coverage in all the areas necessary to cover the identified effects of fisheries. Eight models provided good coverage – nutrient dynamics and benthos were the least well represented aspects of the ecosystem. The ECOPATH with Ecosim family of models, the European Regional Seas Ecosystem Model (ERSEM) and the Anderson & Ursin multispecies extension to the Beverton & Holt model all seem likely to yield good insights. In developing these models consideration must be given to explicitly incorporate spatial factors and extrinsic forcing functions, such as climate.
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