Reply to Andersen et al. (2016) "Assumptions behind size-based ecosystem models are realistic"
Weyl, Olaf L. F.
Holt, Sidney J.
Tsikliras, Athanassios C.
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In a recent publication (Froese et al., ICES Journal of Marine Science; 73: 1640-1650), we presented a critique of the balanced harvesting (BH) approach to fishing. A short section dealt with the size-spectrum models used to justify BH, wherein we pointed out the lack of realism of these models, which mostly represented ecosystems as consisting of a single cannibalistic species. Andersen et al. (ICES Journal of Marine Science; 73: 1651-1655) commented on our paper and suggested that we criticized size-spectrum models in general and that we supposedly made several erroneous statements. We stress that we only referred to the size-spectrum models that we cited, and we respond to each supposedly erroneous statement. We still believe that the size-spectrum models used to justify BH were highly unrealistic and not suitable for evaluating real-world fishing strategies. We agree with Andersen et al. that BH is unlikely to be a useful guiding principle for ecosystem-based fisheries management, for many reasons. The use of unrealistic models is one of them.