An ecosystem, productivity, ocean, climate (EPOC) model has been developed in the R statistical language to help explore topical issues on Antarctic marine ecosystems, including impacts of climate change, consequences of over-exploitation, conservation requirements of recovery and interacting species, and the need to evaluate whether harvest strategies are ecologically sustainable. As such, it can be used to facilitate the development of plausible ecosystem models for evaluating management procedures for krill following the recommendations of the workshop held by WG-EMM in 2004. EPOC has been designed as an object-oriented framework currently built around the following modules: (i) Biota, (ii) Environment, (iii) Human activities, (iv) Management, (v) Outputs, and (vi) Presentation, statistics and visualisation. Each element within a module is an object carrying all its own functions and data. EPOC is designed to be a fully flexible plug-and-play modelling framework. This is because of the need to easily explore the consequences of uncertainty in model structures but, more importantly, to enable ecosystem modelling to proceed despite widely varying knowledge on different parts of the ecosystem and avoiding the need to guess model parameters for which no information exists. EPOC provides these opportunities as well as examining the sensitivity of outcomes to changes in model structures, not only in the magnitude of parameters but in the spatial, temporal and functional structure of the system. A case study for Antarctic krill is presented as an example.
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