Indicators of the ‘wild seafood’ provisioning ecosystem service based on the surplus production of commercial fish stocks

G.J. Piet*, H.M.J. van Overzee, D.C.M. Miller, E.R. Gelabert

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


The ‘Wild Seafood’ Provisioning Service (WSPS), on which commercial fisheries rely, is probably one of the best studied marine ecosystem services due to its economic relevance and because extensive information sources exist for assessment purposes. Yet, the indicators often proposed are not suitable to describe the capacity of the ecosystem to deliver the WSPS. Therefore this study proposes surplus production (SP), a well-established concept in fisheries science, as the basis to calculate the capacity of marine ecosystems to provide the WSPS. SP is defined as the difference between stock production (through recruitment and body growth) and losses through natural mortality. This is, therefore, the production of the stock that could be harvested sustainably without decreasing the biomass. To assess the sustainability of the exploitation of the WSPS we also developed an indicator for this based on SP and compared it to existing fisheries management indicators. When both SP-based indicators showed a decreasing trend, contrasting with an increasing trend in the existing fisheries management indicators, the calculation of the SP-based indicators was scrutinized revealing that the weighting of the stocks into an aggregated indicator, strongly determines the indicator values, even up to the point that the trend is reversed. The aggregated indicators based on SP-weighted stocks can be considered complementary to existing fisheries management indicators as the former accurately reflect the capacity of the commercial fish to provide the WSPS and the sustainability of the exploitation of this service. In contrast the existing fisheries management indicators primarily reflect the performance of management towards achieving fisheries-specific policy goals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)194-202
JournalEcological Indicators
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Ecosystem services
  • Fisheries management
  • Fishing mortality
  • Seafood provisioning
  • Spawning stock biomass
  • Sustainable exploitation


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