The Atlantis ecosystem model has been used to assess alternative management strategies for the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery.
Atlantis ecosystem model rated best in the world
A marine ecosystem model developed by Dr Beth Fulton of CSIRO has been rated best in the world by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
14 September 2007 | Updated 14 October 2011
A 2007 United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation report, which reviewed the world’s leading 20 ecosystem-modelling platforms, has rated CSIRO's Atlantis ecosystem model as the best in the world.
The model was developed by Dr Beth Fulton, an ecosystem modeller with the Wealth from Oceans National Research Flagship. She leads a marine ecosystem modelling team based at CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research in Hobart, Australia.
Support for ecosystem management
Marine ecosystem modelling supports management that seeks to balance sensible development and resource use with the conservation of biodiversity and functioning marine ecosystems.
The Atlantis model has been applied to more than 15 ecosystems, primarily in temperate regions of Australia and the United States to investigate:
appropriate strategic management options for regional fisheries
the effects of complexity on model performance
robust indicators of the ecological impacts of fisheries
regional marine planning
spatial management to meet conservation goals.
The success of Atlantis lies in its capacity to strike a balance between realism and tractability.
Atlantis has been applied to more than 15 ecosystems, primaily in Australia and the United States
Dr Fulton was the first to systematically explore the optimum level of complexity for an ecosystem model. She identified which aspects of spatial resolution, temporal resolution, functional group aggregation, and representation of ecological process are vital to model performance.
Simulating the fishery ecosystem
Ecosystems are created in Atlantis three-dimensionally, using linked polygons that represent major geographical features. Information is added on local oceanography, chemistry and biology such as currents, nutrients, plankton, invertebrates and fish. The model is then set in motion, simulating ecological processes such as:
The Atlantis framework used for management strategy evaluation incorporates a range of sub-models for each major step in the management cycle. They simulate the marine environment, the behaviour of industry, fishery monitoring and assessment processes, and management actions and implementation.
Guiding management in the south-east fishery
A version of the model, Atlantis SE, has been developed to provide strategic advice to the Australian Fisheries Management Authority (AFMA) on management of the Southern and Eastern Scalefish and Shark Fishery (SESSF), which harvests some 150 species in a region covering a third of Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone.
A major project completed in 2007 used Atlantis to assess ecological and socio-economic outcomes of alternative management strategies for the SESSF. The modelling exercise tested management approaches for their effects on:
fishing practices and fleet behaviour (such as changes in targeting practices)
fleet size, structure and gear use
harvest volumes and catch rates for commercial stocks
the composition and structure of the food web
profitability and trading of quotas
public perceptions of the fishery
recovery of ecological systems.
This was one of few studies ever undertaken to explore alternative management strategies at a whole-of-fishery and whole-of-ecosystem level. It provided managers, industry and other stakeholders with the first sound basis to evaluate integrated rather than piecemeal solutions to complex fishery management problems.
Atlantis has also been used to address questions relating to climate change.
Read more about Dr Beth Fulton: a world leader in ecosystem modelling.