Policymakers and managers struggle to balance competing uses of marine resources at sustainable levels, e.g., demands for food, energy and opportunities for recreation. In recent years, some marine resources have shown signs of degradation and depletion because of the growing number and intensity of human uses. Current legislation, under which marine resources are governed by multiple agencies with different mandates, allows for neither a complete understanding of the cumulative impacts of human uses on marine resources nor a clear direction to correct past management and policy errors.
Drawing on our broad expertise, PISCO can provide managers and policy makers with the integrated ecosystem-based planning tools that are vitally needed. PISCO research is conducted at the scale of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, but focused on dynamics of coastal, kelp forests and rocky reefs, and oceanography of the nearshore ocean - the most productive and diverse components of this ecosystem. PISCO scientists examine causes and consequences of ecosystem changes over spatial scales that are relevant to marine species and management. PISCO scientists catalyze collaboration among ecologists, economists and policy experts, working together to develop the concepts and tools needed to address some critical limitations of current management practices and policies.
Increased scientific understanding of ecological connections within marine ecosystems has raised public awareness of the importance of an ecosystem approach to ocean management. In 2005, over 220 scientists signed a consensus statement, developed by the Communication Partnership by Science and the Sea, that define ecosystem-based management and identify practices that are consistent with an ecosystem approach to management.
PISCO's research focuses on the elements needed to support ecosystem-based management. Our research program is designed to investigate ecosystem function and key ecological and physical processes. Our research is place-based, focusing at the scale of the California Current Large Marine Ecosystem, specifically on the west coast of the United States. PISCO's interdisciplinary approach, bringing together intertidal and subtidal ecology with oceanography, physiology, and genetics, facilitates an understanding of the interconnectedness within systems. PISCO scientists promote collaboration between ecologists, oceanographers, economists, and managers, with the goal of developing decision-support and planning tools based on sound science and relevant to ocean management.