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Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Operational

Final Report Summary - MEFEPO (Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Operational)

Executive Summary:
The Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO) project was designed to further development of a framework, and the supporting evidence base (natural and social science), to integrate the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) objectives within a reformed Common Fisheries Policy in the context of ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM).

The framework developed consists of two key elements: (1) an institutional structure that can support greater stakeholder involvement in fisheries management at an appropriate geographical (regional) scale; and (2) a decision-support management tool (management strategy evaluation matrix) to help stakeholders and decision-makers to simultaneously consider ecological, social and economic implications of management decisions.
The project’s outputs have already made a significant contribution to the development of EBFM, the reform of the CFP and the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in Europe through the following mechanisms:

• There has been considerable interaction between the project, stakeholders (e.g. Regional Advisory Councils) and decisions makers at EU and national levels.
• A number of members of the project team have attended workshops, briefing and discussions events with various representatives of the Commission and DG MARE.
• Production and dissemination of the regional atlases which bring together ecological and socio-economic data from the technical reports, has allowed stakeholders access to definitive information on the state of the marine environment and the issues that need addressing in relation to fisheries.
• Development of the framework to incorporate information on ecological, social and economic status of the system will allow managers and stakeholders to simultaneously consider the ecological, social and economic implications of proposed management decisions.
• The operational governance model developed for regionalisation of European fisheries management could support implementation of EBFM in Europe.

The main dissemination activities include: 4 press releases; 9 documents and newsletters specifically targeted at stakeholders, and translated from English into appropriate languages (French, Spanish and Portuguese); 13 scientific articles (current status: 3 published, 1 accepted, 4 in review and 5 in preparation); articles in popular press; >10 conference presentations; and input to 6 workshops.

Assessment of project progress towards implementation of EBFM was measured against the ICES (2005) 11-step test; we considered the extent to which each step had been achieved based on evidence from the work undertaken within the project. Whilst we are able to report progress in the development of EBFM, operational EBFM has yet to be achieved and we identified the need for further research and development against all steps before implementation of an ecosystem approach could be considered to be complete. In particular there was: (1) uncertainty with respect to choice of appropriate, specific and measurable social and economic objectives, descriptors and associated indicators, comparable to those being developed for the ecological pillar through the MSFD; and (2) an absence of indicators for key ecosystem components impacted by fishing activities and reference levels (“operational objectives”).

The project has clearly set out what an ecosystem approach to European fisheries management should look like, the institutional structures required to support it, the science and social science knowledge gaps that might hinder implementation, and the research and management priorities for implementation but, most fundamentally, it has set out a workable vision for EBFM utilising existing knowledge and developing from existing structures within an adaptive management framework.

Project Context and Objectives:
BACKGROUND

The Green Paper on the Reform of the Common Fisheries Policy (i) identified the need for EBFM taking account of the ecological, social and economic pillars of sustainability, (ii) stated an intention to move towards a longer term approach to fisheries management, and (iii) made commitments to greater stakeholder involvement in management. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) defines environmental objectives for European seas, based on sustainable utilisation of healthy marine ecosystems in support of sustainable development. The Integrated Maritime Policy specifies that individual sectors (e.g. fisheries) need to support MSFD objectives. The Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO) project was designed to further development of a framework, and the supporting evidence base (natural and social science), required to integrate the MSFD objectives within a reformed CFP.
Understanding of the links between ecological, social and economic systems is essential in order to ensure that management decisions are appropriately informed and the transition to EBFM has considerable implications for the knowledge base required to support management. Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have been developed as a tool to assist managers and stakeholders simultaneously consider the ecological, social and economic implications of management decisions. Through structured interaction with stakeholders through the Regional Advisory Councils (RACs), interviews and workshops, the MEFEPO project has developed FEPs for the North Sea (NS), North West Waters (NWW) and South West Waters (SWW) RAC Regions (see Fig. 1, attached).

MAJOR OBJECTIVES

MEFEPO had 3 specific and verifiable scientific and technical objectives: (1) Demonstrate how an ecosystem approach to fisheries can be made operational for the 3 regions by identifying the management objectives, and the operational strategies required to achieve those objectives, using economic, social and ecological approaches (WP1, WP2, WP5, WP7). (2) Evaluate the different modes of fisheries governance, and their combinations, and their implications on the development of the institutional frameworks used to manage the fisheries to provide a transitional framework towards a mature ecosystem approach to fisheries management (WP3, WP4, WP6, WP7, WP10). (3) Develop operational FEPs for the 3 regions targeted at an audience of non-scientists with managerial, policy and RAC roles, and which provides a vision of a mature ecosystem approach and a description of how it can be delivered (WP9, WP8, WP10).

COMPLETED PROJECT ACTIVITIES

2008/09
(i) Technical review documents on the ecological, social and economic features were produced for each of the 3 project regions (NS, NWW and SWW). The reports utilised a new reporting framework to align the information from the three pillars of sustainability: ecological, social and economic (WP1). (ii) Review documents suitable for non-scientists (Atlases) on the ecological, social and economic features were published for each of the three project regions (NS, NWW and SWW). The Atlases have been translated into appropriate languages for each of the project regions. The Atlases have been well received by stakeholders and demand has necessitated a second print run (WP1). (iii) Technical documents developing operational management objectives for each of the three project regions (NS, NWW and SWW) were produced (WP2).

2009/10
(i) A technical report on operational tools and adaptive management within European Fisheries was produced. This report includes assessment of: the efficiency of different fisheries management tools in relation to their objectives; the appropriateness of the CFP for managing EU fisheries; and potential influence and impacts of environmental stakeholders on fisheries management outcomes (WP3).
(ii) A technical report on the governance structures, institutional arrangements and perspective for adaptation of ecosystem management in the EU focussing on the three project regions (NW, NWW and SWW). This report describes the context of the CFP, the challenges faced by EU fisheries management, and examines stakeholder perceptions of regionalisation of the CFP (WP4).
(iii) Progress was made in the development of operational objectives for each of the three project regions (NW, NWW and SWW), for a stakeholder workshop in November 2010 (WP5).

2010/11
(i) Following the stakeholder workshop (November 2010), a technical report on the development and selection of operational management strategies for the NS, NWW and SWW was produced. This process utilised a framework that allowed the combination of scientific information (based on modelling or expert judgement) with stakeholder preferences to examine the potential of different management scenarios to achieve ecological objectives (WP5).
(ii) Building upon earlier project findings, three key operational challenges to the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management were identified (governance structure, regionalisation and knowledge base), and mechanisms to overcome these challenges were developed with stakeholders at a workshop (April 2011; WP6).
(iii) Fisheries Ecosystem Plans were developed for each of the three project regions (NS, NWW and SWW; WP7). Central to the FEPs was a management strategy matrix which presents an overview of the potential impacts of different combinations of management tools on the ecological, social and economic status of the system, and an operational model for regionalisation of the CFP.
(iv) The FEPs were launched at an additional stakeholder workshop in Brussels (October 2011), attended by policy-makers, industry, NGOs and others (WP9). Supporting stakeholder summary documents were also produced for each of the regional FEPs in appropriate languages, and distributed in advance of this meeting. These summary documents are being utilised as a key communication tool of the MEFEPO project outputs.
(v) Second editions of the review documents suitable for non-scientists (Atlases) on the ecological, social and economic features were produced in response to requests from stakeholders (WP1 revisited).
(vi) Finally, project progress towards development and implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management in European waters was assessed against the 11 point test developed by ICES (2005), and immediate priorities for research and governance development were identified (WP8).

OPERATIONAL FISHERIES ECOSYSTEM PLANS FOR THE THREE PROJECT REGIONS

Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have been developed (WP7) for each of the three project regions (NS, NWW and SWW) drawing upon the wealth of information and outputs from earlier MEFEPO project work packages (WP1 to WP6). The FEP framework consisted of two key elements: (1) an institutional structure that can support greater stakeholder involvement in fisheries management at appropriate geographical (regional) scale; and (2) a decision-support management tool (management strategy evaluation matrix) to help stakeholders and decision-makers to simultaneously consider ecological, social and economic implications of management options.

(1) Supporting institutional framework

Through structured interaction with stakeholders (WP4 & WP6), we developed an institutional framework based on a decentralised management structure with decision-making power devolved to Member States (MS) co-ordinated at the regional level, enhanced Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) with appropriate scientific support, and a more collaborative approach between MS, RACs and scientists to develop fisheries management plans (see Fig. 2). Whilst the institutional structure and formal distribution of powers remains largely unchanged, this model would: enhance stakeholders’ participation in management at the regional scale; facilitate involvement in the development of management objectives and appropriate descriptors for all three pillars, and in the evaluation of management strategies; and thus give credibility to the management process and foster stakeholder support.

(2) Supporting decision-making

Central to the FEPs was a management strategy evaluation matrix (see Table 1; WP5 & WP6), which could be used to explore the potential impacts of different management strategies on multiple objectives (ecological, social and economic) for the marine environment. ‘Descriptors’ for the ecological, social and economic status of the fisheries were developed to enable simultaneous consideration of the potential impacts of different management strategies on the three pillars of sustainability (see Fig. 3; WP5 & 6). Application of the management strategy matrix was demonstrated using case study fisheries within each region. In each case, the potential performance of a limited number of management strategies were evaluated; the efficacy of the management strategies was considered in the context of high level management objectives for European fisheries and trade-offs associated with different management approaches were examined.

SYNTHESIS AND REVIEW OF PROGRESS TOWARDS IMPLEMENTATION OF EBFM

The final MEFEPO task was to assess progress towards development and implementation of EBFM in European waters and identify the immediate priorities for research and governance development (WP8). Whilst we are able to report progress in the development of EBFM, operational EBFM has yet to be achieved and we identified the need for further research and development against all steps before implementation of an ecosystem approach could be considered to be complete. Particular issues were related to: (1) uncertainty with respect to choice of appropriate, specific and measurable social and economic objectives, descriptors and associated indicators, comparable to those being developed for the ecological pillar through the MSFD; and (2) an absence of indicators for key ecosystem components impacted by fishing activities and reference levels (“operational objectives”). Annex 3 of the WP8 report summarises the priorities identified for future research.

POTENTIAL IMPACTS AND USE

This project was designed to stimulate interest in and provide an evidence base (scientific and social) to underpin discussions over the future of the CFP and the move to sustainable fisheries managed in an ecosystem context. The project results have contributed to these objectives with considerable progress towards developing EBFM in Europe and significant interaction between the project and stakeholders (including industry, RACs, policy-makers and managers). MEFEPO has also highlighted key research and management priorities for the future. Completed project reports are available on the MEFEPO project website; the website also provides background information on the project and work packages, and project partner details. In 2010/11, summary documents of the Fisheries Ecosystem Plans were produced for each of the project regions (NS, NWW and SWW) and have been widely distributed (electronically and hard-copies) to stakeholders (translated into appropriate languages; see Fig. 4, attached). Project partners have attended and presented MEFEPO project findings at a number of meetings hosted by the European Commission (e.g. 2001; IFM and ULIV) and international meetings reaching academic communities, policy and decision-makers (e.g. ICES Annual Science Conference 2011 and the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2011).
This dissemination builds upon that already undertaken by project partners at earlier stages of the project, and presentations at meetings of the three RACs. ?
Project Results:
1. BACKGROUND

Since the reform of the EU Common Fisheries Policy in 2002, effort has been devoted to addressing the governance, scientific, social and economic issues required to introduce an ecosystem approach to fisheries management (EAFM) in Europe. Fisheries management needs to support the three pillars of sustainability (ecological, social and economic) and Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) have been developed as a tool to assist managers considering the ecological, social and economic implications of their decision.

The core concept of the Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO) project is to deliver operational frameworks (FEPs) for three regional seas; the North Sea (NS), North Western Waters (NWW) and South Western Waters (SWW; Fig 1). Regional sea scale was chosen given delineation of European waters based on biological criteria and their direct relation to fisheries management through the established Regional Advisory Councils (RACs). This will ensure that MEFEPO’s outputs are of relevance to the RACs and on scales directly comparable to the advice they provide to the Commission. The NS, NWW and SWW regions were selected as they represent a range of challenges in terms of knowledge, data availability, the number of national interests, spatial extent, and a broad range of physical and biological characteristics.

A key focus of the MEFEPO project has been on how best to make current institutional frameworks responsive to an ecosystem approach to fisheries management at regional and pan-European levels in accordance with the principles of good governance. This involves developing new linkages and means of allowing dialogue between the disparate groups of marine stakeholders and developing a decision-making process which integrates a wide breadth of interests. It also requires the integration of the considerable body of ecological, fisheries, social and economic research which has been developed in recent years to support an ecosystem approach and investigate how existing institutional frameworks need to evolve to incorporate this information.

2. CHARACTERISATION OF THE ECOLOGICAL, SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC FEATURES OF PROJECT REGIONS

The project developed a new reporting framework to align the information from the three ‘pillars of sustainability’ (ecological, social and economic), and considerable effort was invested in developing comprehensive regional reviews on the ecological, social and economic features. Non-technical stakeholder documents (Atlases) were produced for each of the project regions to inform debate between stakeholders and managers, and to raise the profile of the MEFEPO project and the work of the Commission (NWW, Connolly et al. 2009; NS, Paramor et al. 2009; SWW, Velasco et al. 2009). The North Sea and North Western Waters Atlases were revised for a second edition (published in August/September 2011) in response to interest from stakeholders. Atlases were produced in English and languages appropriate to each region to ensure that information was accessible to all stakeholders:
• North Sea - English and French
• North Western Waters – English and French
• South Western Waters – English, Spanish, French and Portuguese

3. DEVELOPMENT OF MANAGEMENT OBJECTIVES SUPPORTED BY METRICS AND INDICATORS

The objective here was to develop a set of operational environmental objectives on the basis of commitments through the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD). To assess the impacts of fishing on GES it was necessary to identify descriptors which were directly and principally impacted by fishing activities, rather than human activities more generally. This was achieved through consultation at two project workshops; workshop participants included policy makers, NGO representatives and marine scientists external to the MEFEPO project, in addition to MEFEPO project partners. There was unanimous agreement among participants that four of the eleven descriptors were directly impacted by fishing activities, descriptors 1, 3, 4, and 6 relating to biodiversity, commercial species, food webs and seafloor integrity respectively.

The current status of three RAC regions was assessed with respect to these objectives, using (operational) indicators that had been identified and developed in previous EU projects (SWW, Borges et al. 2010; NS, Le Quesne et al. 2010; NWW, Nolan et al. 2010). This was this was the first attempt to assess the impacts of fishing on multiple environmental objectives across large marine regions within the context of the MSFD. The ‘conservation status of fish’ indicator was selected to report on D1 (biodiversity); ‘status of commercial stocks’ indicator was selected to report on D3 (commercial species); the ‘large fish indicator’ was selected to report on D4 (food webs); and the ‘proportion of area not trawled’ was selected to report on D6 (seafloor integrity).

The two survey based indicators, the conservation status and large fish indicators, could be applied across the regions, and the status of commercial stocks indicator could be applied to the extent that stock assessments are available. Applying the indicator of the proportion of area not impacted by mobile bottom gears proved problematic as VMS data is required from individual nation states and national datasets were not available to all partners. The preliminary assessment concluded that GES is currently compromised across all regions by fishing activities (Table 1). However a number of caveats are associated with this conclusion and the full reports should be consulted for a full explanation of this assessment (SWW, Borges 2010; NS, Le Quesne et al. 2010; NWW, Nolan et al. 2010).

Whilst it is considered that the indicators identified for each descriptor provide a rational starting point for the assessment of the impact of fishing on GES they do not provide a complete and robust set of indicators to establish fishing impacts on GES. The indicators to assess GES in terms of biodiversity and sea-floor processes are identified as priority areas for development.

4. OPERATIONAL INSTRUMENTS AND ADAPTIVE MANAGEMENT

The efficiency of the different fisheries management tools were assessed in relation to their intended effect on four specified aspects: politically acceptability, cost effectiveness, ecological effectiveness and dynamical effectiveness. This work demonstrated that the operation of the CFP, and its appropriateness as a tool for managing the EU fisheries was dependent on the actors (stakeholders groups) involved and the governance structure in which it operated (Aanesen et al. 2010).

Expert opinion (MEFEPO project members) showed both divergence and agreement regarding the intended effects of the different tools with some tools considered to be able to be successfully implemented at an EU level, whilst others were considered more appropriate for implemented at a national level.

The way the CFP operates, and the degree to which it is an appropriate tool for managing the EU fisheries was found to be dependent on the actors (interest groups) involved, their interests, and the power structure (who decides what). In the last couple of decades, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), especially those concerned with environmental matters (ENGOs), have taken an increased interest in fisheries activities, particularly in the EU due to the poor performance of fisheries. The aim of the NGOs is to influence the preferences, and thus decisions, of other interest groups such that environmental concerns obtain a greater weighting in the resultant regulations.

This work demonstrated that when a new stakeholder is given a say in the regulations of the fisheries and the new stakeholder has strong environmental interests towards the fishery, the authorities may moderate their regulations, e.g. by setting lower taxes (restrictions) or supporting (subsidising) the fishery activity. Although the aggregate of the regulations from the two regulators (NGO and authorities) in combination is likely to be greater than the regulations by the authorities alone (i.e. the reduction in the authorities’ regulations is smaller than the regulations introduced by the new stakeholder, such that the aggregate tax rate is higher, and subsidy rate lower).

Finally, the growing number of marine and maritime policies has implications for fisheries management at both EU and national levels (e.g. Natura 2000, MSFD) - environmental interests gaining increasing importance at the expense of economic and social interests. The main underlying hypothesis is that fisheries in EU waters are not only increasingly having to deal with other users and uses of the ocean but are also being confronted with a shift on the stage upon which marine policy is conceived. This shift consists of moving marine natural resource management away from National Fisheries ministries and DG MARE towards the environmental stage, resulting in more integration over a range activities and stakeholders and a more conservationist discourse.

5. INSTITUTIONAL FRAMEWORK OF FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

The option of regionalising the CFP was explored with stakeholders (Raakjær et al. 2010). A conceptual framework used to resolve questions related to who, where and what in the set-up of a more regionalised governance system (Fig. 2). Stakeholders had broad and varying reasons for wanting to regionalise the CFP, which has implications for what they perceive as the best way to move forward. A survey of RAC participants sought opinion on the value of regionalisation and identified that legitimacy was the key factor.

There was varying degrees of stakeholder support for a range of different theoretical models for regionalisation (Fig. 3); the models identified as most likely to receive stakeholder support were Regional Fisheries Management Organisation and the Regional Fisheries Co-Management Organisation (Box 1). These were both relatively ‘ambitious’ models in the sense that they, as they were described, required the establishment of a formalised regional management body with significant authority over management in its area. Both models (and particularly the latter model), include a strong element of co-management extending beyond a consultative role of stakeholders (Raakjær et al. 2010). However, placing authorities - in a formal sense - at a regional level is both legally and politically controversial, therefore further work was needed to accommodate the stakeholders’ wish for a significant regional structure and associated stakeholder influence within a structure that is legally and politically feasible.

6. DEVELOPING OPERATIONAL OBJECTIVES

A framework was developed that allowed the combination of scientific information (modelling or expert judgement) with stakeholder preferences, to examine a range of management scenarios to achieve ecological objectives, and the social and economic impacts of the proposed management measures (Piet et al. 2011a).

The framework consisted of the three pillars of sustainability reflecting ecological, social and economic objectives that should be achieved simultaneously. The ecological pillar is made up of four Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) descriptors which are considered to be affected by fisheries (biodiversity, commercial fish and shellfish, food-web and seafloor integrity) (see Section 3). Two descriptors were chosen for the economic pillar (efficiency and stability) and three for the social pillar (community viability, job attractiveness and food security). Each descriptor had at least one indicator attached to it (Fig. 4).

Application of the framework involved the use of models or expert judgement to assess how management measures affect the indicators representing the descriptors together with an assessment of the stakeholder weighting of the importance of these descriptors. This combination should allow the selection of the “best” management measures to achieve the objectives.

Stakeholder workshop

A stakeholder workshop was held in Dublin (November 2010) to present the framework developed, assess the stakeholder preferences and discuss the application of the framework in light of stakeholder preferences. The workshop involved partners and stakeholders from all three project regions (NS, NWW and SWW) and Poul Degnbol (formerly the Scientific Advisor to DG MARE and now head of the Advisory Programme at ICES) was invited as a keynote speaker to raise the profile of the workshop and encourage stakeholder attendance. A discussion paper presenting the context for the framework was produced and distributed to attendees in advance of the workshop.

Stakeholder views on the framework

There was support for the framework used to integrate ecological, economic and social aspects in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. However, specific issues were raised, such as the selection of descriptors and indicators, and the development of management scenarios to test policy/management options. Stakeholders could see the usefulness of the management scenarios as a tool to check whether it is possible to balance the different ecological, economic and social objectives against each other in the management process. However, they highlighted tensions between the need for simplicity in terms of model outputs, and the need for complexity in order to deliver useful results. It was suggested effort should be invested in improving the models rather than expanding them. It was also highlighted that regional diversity (smaller scale than the regional seas) needed to be recognized.

Stakeholder preferences

Data on stakeholders’ preferences was collected based on assigning weights (between 0-100) and importance (6 being very important; 1 being not important) to the pillars and the descriptors within the framework.

• Weights assigned to pillars: responses of policy representatives (management authorities) were closest to the overall average for all stakeholders. However, policy representatives assigned less weight to the social pillar compared to the average response, and compared to industry and NGO respondents. It is worth noting that all stakeholder groups assign the lowest weight to the social pillar. Respondents from the industry stakeholder group assigned more weight to economic than ecological interests; NGO respondents assigned the highest weight to the ecological pillar.
• Weights to descriptors: Overall, the commercial fish descriptor was given the highest weighting, followed by foodweb, biodiversity and efficiency. The lowest weight was assigned to job attractiveness.
• Differences between stakeholder groups: across all stakeholder groups, similar (high) weight was given to commercial fish. Industry assigned relatively high weights to descriptors such as efficiency, commercial fish and stability compared to the other stakeholder groups; low weights were assigned to sea floor integrity, foodweb, biodiversity and job attractiveness. NGO representatives assigned the highest weights to food web and biodiversity, and lower weights to efficiency, stability, community viability and job attractiveness. Both industry and NGOs showed preference for the economic descriptors over the social descriptors (except for food security); policy representatives assigned the highest weights to three of the four ecological descriptors.

Modelling and decision support tools

This work his WP demonstrated that decision-support tools could be used to deliver a “preferred management scenario” to achieve policy objectives in a formal and transparent process that takes stakeholders’ opinions into account and combines this with scientific evidence, provided that the management scenarios utilised are meaningful and that there is sufficient appropriate and reliable information to parameterise the underlying modelling approaches. However, there were major issues with the availability and quality of information (ecological, social and economic) to underpin this framework.

Differences in the available of scientific evidence between regions required different simulation models approaches in the NS and NWW, with different degrees of sophistication and thus data requirements. Data limitations in SWW prevented modelling approaches from being implemented, and scientific information was based on expert judgement. Considerable health warnings were given in both the NS and NWW approaches as a result of the assumptions and confidence in the model output in general; the sensitivity analysis conducted for the NS showed that at least some of these assumptions had considerable consequences on the model output and thus the outcome of the process. This underlines the importance of finding the right balance between quantitative and qualitative information depending on the information available when presenting this information to stakeholders. The applied decision-support tool was deemed appropriate to combine the scientific information with stakeholder preferences to determine the “best management option” to achieve policy objectives.

7. IDENTIFYING AND OVERCOMING OPERATIONAL CHALLENGES TO ECOSYSTEM BASED FISHERIES MANAGEMENT

The objective of this work package was to identify key operational challenges to introducing an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, drawing upon findings from earlier MEFEPO work packages, and develop possible solutions to these operational challenges with stakeholders. The three key operational challenges identified for consideration were:

• Governance structure: should new stakeholder groups be given a say in the fisheries management, and if yes, how? (Section 4)
• Regionalisation of the management system: who, what, where and how? (Section 5)
• Knowledge base underpinning the management system, how do we deal with uncertainty and the absence of data? (Section 6)

Stakeholder workshop

Linkages were apparent among the operational challenges identified for consideration, and all were deemed to be applicable to all regions, therefore a single stakeholder workshop was held, and representatives from all regions (NS, NWW and SWW) and a broad range of stakeholders including representatives from the fishing industry, ENGOs and policy makers were invited.

Discussion papers on each of the challenges were developed and distributed to participants in advance of the workshop to help structure the discussion. Day one consisted of an introductory plenary session, followed by concurrent sessions on the three operational challenges (Group 1: Governance structure; Group 2: Regionalisation; and Group 3: Knowledge base). Stakeholder preferences for discussion groups were accommodated where possible; in total 25 stakeholders attended the meeting including representatives from National and European Government, non-governmental organisations (NGOs, including environmental NGOs), and industry.

Significant results

The work package report summarised the key discussion from the group and plenary discussion (van Hoof et al. 2011). Workshop participants validated the operational challenges identified by the MEFEPO project (governance, regionalisation and knowledge base) and were asked to suggest solutions to overcome these challenges. Participants noted that whilst governance structure and regionalisation are two different issues, there are closely related and crucial to the current debate. It was also highlighted that the knowledge base and the role of science in the management system will depend on the institutional structure of the system and the mode of decision making.

Whilst the Governance and Regionalisation groups started from different basis, both highlighted the need to strengthen management at the regional level and engage stakeholders, and there was consensus that the RACs have an important role to play (Figs. 5 and 6). A main driver in the call for regionalisation of policy is the desire to have policies be tailored to local/regional circumstances. This implies that, depending on the issues to be addressed and the parties involved in the development of policy, the role of the RACs may be shaped in different ways. Whilst stakeholder preference was for the RACs to have more power there was acknowledgement that devolution of power in relation to European fisheries was limited to member state (MS) level.

Regionalisation of (fisheries and marine) policy is also a key issue in the wider debate on marine policy. With the introduction of RACs under the 2002 CFP reform, a regional focus in fisheries policy was established. The Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) explicitly calls for regional cooperation between member states. Both the CFP and MSFD are based on an ecosystem approach. This implies that the ecosystem in its entirety, over all ecosystem parts including all human activities, is the core entity for policy development. This in turn implies that fisheries activities cannot be addressed in isolation but should be observed in the context of the wider ecosystem and other activities. The participants in the workshop suggested the current system of RACs to be expanded to accommodate this wider focus. This would include incorporating representatives from other sectors in the regional advisory system. This in turn will raise basic governance issues concerning participation, transparency, openness and responsibility in devising regional marine policies.

The stakeholders supported and built upon the structure of the “three pillar” matrix developed in WP5, to be used in the development of the FEPs to explore the potential impacts of different management strategies (consisting of one or more management tools) on ecological, social and economic descriptors, and assist managers and stakeholders to understand the implications of management decisions (Table 3). Fisheries policy and management will need to incorporate input from a broader range of stakeholders (through the institutional change proposed) and will be required to incorporate more complex ecosystem-based ecological components, alongside social and economic components to deliver ecological, social and economic sustainability. The increase in data requirements for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management has consequences for those providing the data, in terms of the skill base and resources required to identify, collect and analyse appropriate data and provide advice.

Next steps

The outputs from this workshop will be utilised by the MEFEPO project in the development of regional Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) for the North Sea, North Western Waters and South Western Waters in WP7. The aim being to outline what an ecosystem approach to fisheries management could look like for each of the regions, including the institutional structure required to support this approach to management, and clear instructions of the steps required for implementation. The key operational challenges identified in the MEFEPO project (governance, regionalisation and knowledge based) and opinions expressed by participants during the workshop build upon current discussion regarding the reform of the CFP (in 2012). These challenges will have bearing on the development of FEPs, particularly in relation to how increased stakeholder participation will be formalised, and how stakeholder knowledge and expertise, and wider societal concerns, will be incorporated in the fisheries and wider marine policy process.

8. DEVELOPING FISHERIES ECOSYSTEM PLANS

Development of the Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs) for the North Sea (Piet et al. 2011b), North Western Waters (Bloomfield et al. 2011) and South Western Waters (Borges et al. 2011) drew upon the wealth of information and outputs from earlier MEFEPO project work packages. The FEPs also considered the next steps required for implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management in European Fisheries. The following sections provide an overview of the supporting institutional framework required to support the transition to EBFM, and of the decision-making support tool developed to combine ecological, social and economic data in support of sustainable EBFM.

Supporting institutional framework

Reform of the governance and institutional structure was considered to be a key element for successful transition and implementation of EBFM. Through structured interaction with stakeholders (Raakjær et al. 2010; van Hoof et al. 2011), the MEFEPO project developed an institutional framework based on a decentralised management structure with decision-making power devolved to Member States (MS) co-ordinated at the regional level, enhanced Regional Advisory Councils (RACs) with appropriate scientific support, and a more collaborative approach between MS, RACs and scientists to develop fisheries management plans (Fig. 6). Whilst the institutional structure and formal distribution of powers remains largely unchanged, this model would: enhance stakeholders’ participation in management at the regional scale; facilitate involvement in the development of management objectives and appropriate descriptors for all three pillars, and in the evaluation of management strategies; and thus give credibility to the management process and foster stakeholder support (Bloomfield et al. 2011).

Supporting decision-making

Central to the FEPs was a management strategy evaluation matrix (Table 3, van Hoof et al. 2011), which could be used to explore the potential impacts of different management strategies on multiple objectives (ecological, social and economic) for the marine environment. ‘Descriptors’ for the ecological, social and economic status of the fisheries were developed to enable simultaneous consideration of the potential impacts of different management strategies on the three pillars of sustainability (Fig. 7). Ecological descriptors, drawn directly from the MSFD (EC 2008), were selected at a MEFEPO stakeholder workshop as those most impacted by fishing activities (biodiversity, commercial fish, food-webs and seafloor integrity) (Le Quesne et al. 2010). Social and economic descriptors were defined to monitor the main aspects of fishing contributing to the economic and social wellbeing of society, in particular coastal communities (Piet et al. 2011a). Economic descriptors focus on fishers’ ability to maximise economic efficiency of fishing operations (efficiency) and minimising fluctuations in harvesting possibilities over time (stability). Social descriptors monitor employment opportunities within the catching sector (community viability) and securing catch potential for human consumption (food security).

Application of the management strategy matrix was demonstrated using case study fisheries within each region. In each case, the potential performance of a limited number of management strategies were evaluated; the efficacy of the management strategies was considered in the context of high level management objectives for European fisheries. The suite of management strategies comprised of “business as usual” (BAU) and alternative strategies applying different management tools, to explore how the objectives of EBFM may be most effectively achieved, and trade-offs associated with different management approaches were examined. Management strategy matrices were completed based on the best available evidence (modelled, empirical and expert judgment) and predicted change in descriptor status associated with implementation of each strategy was assessed as: improvement, stable, deterioration or unknown.

9. SYNTHESIS AND REVIEW OF PROGRESS TOWARDS IMPLEMENTATION OF EBFM

Assessment of progress was measured against the ICES (2005) 11-step test; we considered the extent to which each step had been achieved based on evidence from the work undertaken within the project. Whilst we are able to report progress in the development of EBFM, operational EBFM has yet to be achieved and we identified the need for further research and development against all steps before implementation of an ecosystem approach could be considered to be complete.

Most notably there was: (1) uncertainty with respect to choice of appropriate, specific and measurable social and economic objectives, descriptors and associated indicators, comparable to those being developed for the ecological pillar through the MSFD; and (2) an absence of indicators for key ecosystem components impacted by fishing activities and reference levels (“operational objectives”). Further research is required to develop descirptors, indicators, limits and targets across all 3 pillars (building upon the process developing for the ecological pillar through the MSFD). We recommend that this process is undertaken collaboratively (Member State, scientists, and industry), and subject to periodic review to ensure that descriptors and indicators are fit-for-purpose.

Consultation with stakeholders (industry, managers and NGOs) demonstrated a desire for a more collaborative (and transparent) approach to fisheries management with greater stakeholder involvement in the development of fisheries management and policy, implemented at appropriate regional scales. The reformed institutional structure proposed by the MEFEPO project builds upon the Regional Advisory Council model implemented through the 2002 Reform of the CFP, and would help to support commitments under the MSFD to achieve “good ecological status” at a regional level, with actions devolved to member states. However, further research is required to harmonise differences in spatial scales among policies and resolve conflicts among policies and their associated objectives, including the development of approaches to incorporate management of and interactions among a broader range of activities.

Management priorities should focus on:

• Implementing of appropriate governance mechanisms, at appropriate geographical scales, that facilitate true stakeholder engagement in the development of fisheries policy and management.
• Developing of fisheries management plans for each of the region’s fisheries considering the ecological, economic and social implications for ecosystem components, which can then be integrated into regional FEPs. The absence of data must not be allowed to prevent decisions from being made and management advice should be formulated based on the best available evidence.
• Implementing of management plans within an adaptive management regime, responsive to changes in environmental conditions, and new knowledge and understanding on the marine environment.

Ultimately management decisions will be made on the basis of overarching objectives. Multiple objectives for managing the human activities within the marine environment means that trade-offs are required, both between the pillars of sustainability in the development of fisheries management plans, and between individual fisheries when integrating fisheries management plans into regional FEPs. It may not be possible to meet all objectives or satisfy all stakeholder groups simultaneously due to the nature of the trade-offs.

Resolution of these trade-offs is not a technical or scientific decision, however application of decision support framework such as the management strategy evaluation matrix, coupled with agreed (and formalised) guidance on the priority to be given to objectives when trade-offs have to be made, will aid managers in making appropriate decisions on the basis of the best available information. Furthermore, development and assessments of management strategy evaluations, and subsequent implementation of FEPs, through a reformed governance structure such as that developed by the MEFEPO project would facilitate greater stakeholder involvement in the management process, and help to foster trust and support of subsequent management measures, and thus increase the likelihood of successful transition to EBFM for European fisheries.

Immediate research priorities

Building upon the assessment of MEFEPO project progress towards development and implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management, a number of research priorities were identified and are summarised below:

(1) Spatial differences in marine policy exist (e.g. CFP at RAC level; MSFD applying their specific (sub) regions) and inconsistencies occur between policies, objectives and sectors operating in the marine environment. Research is required to examine the potential for harmonising management across regions. Where this is not feasible protocols need to be defined to cope with the inconsistencies in spatial boundaries of different management and assessment areas applied under different polices and sectoral management processes. Research is required to develop tools and mechanism to help resolve conflicts between policies, between objectives and across spatial scales, and examine the impacts of management decisions across activities / sectors.

(2) Understanding of the links between ecological, social and economic components – for fisheries and other activities in the marine environment – need to be improved. There is a particularly urgent need to understand the relative magnitude of the different impact pathways. Research is also required to develop understanding of synergistic and cumulative impacts within and among sectors (and activities). Tools must be developed to incorporate information (qualitative and qualitative, empirical/modelled/stakeholder derived) on a broader range of activities and their associated impacts to inform decision for sustainable use of the marine ecosystem.

(3) Fisheries models remain rooted in single species population models. In order to support ecosystem based approaches there is the need for predictive tools that take account of other ecological and human drivers in the system. There is a growing body of work on cumulative impacts of fishing on ecological components but little information regarding interactions within and with social and economic properties. It is extremely unlikely that a single tool will deliver the necessary information and hence research is required to: (a) identify the most critical components and interactions in each regional ecosystem; (b) develop appropriate indicators of system status, to understand how the indicators respond to system changes; (c) establish limits and targets for the selected indicators; and (d) to develop management tools to influence the indicators. This needs to be done for ecological, economic and social aspects of the system.

(4) Building upon (3), research should examine regional differences in potential social and economic descriptors (and thus indicators, limits and targets) based on region- specific objectives.

(5) The EAFM broadly considers the impact of fishing on the environment, and the impact of the environment on fishing. The MSFD elaborates the higher level objectives for the acceptable limits of fishing impacts on the environment. However further research is required to translate these higher level objectives into a comprehensive set of SMART objectives and targets. In particular there is a need to increase understanding of the links between environmental status and delivery of ecosystem goods and services so that target levels for what constitutes ‘good’ environmental status can be defined in relation to impacts on the delivery of ecosystem goods and services. Beyond ecological objectives, the EAFM considers the social and economic ‘status’ of fisheries and associated coastal communities, and further research is required to elaborate social and economic objectives of fisheries, and to define the boundaries of the extent to which fisheries managers should try and manage the social and economic status of fisheries and associated communities.

(6) Building upon the application of the management strategy evaluation matrix developed in the MEFEPO project (and the other research activities proposed above), case study fisheries should be identified for more detail examination based on finer resolution differences in management strategies (consisting of one or more management tools). Building on the premise of collaborative working, this could for example be taken forward collaboratively for the case study fisheries with one of the RAC regions to build upon the development of Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEP), taking account of trade-offs among objectives (within a particular fishery) and across fisheries when integrated into the FEP.

(7) In addition to the development of tools to measure and report on ecosystem status, development of management requires tools to evaluate, in a simulation environment, the consequences of management actions. While part of this response is biological, much of it is mediated through human behaviour – how do people respond to the management regime? Therefore research is required to both develop management scenario simulations and to provide information on the behaviour of key players with which to parameterise the models.

(8) Research is required to develop and critique methods that can be used to express uncertainty and confidence in relation to advisory inputs generated by different processes (e.g. modelled, expert judgement, stakeholder derived) ranging from qualitative assessments based on limited data through to formal quantitative assessments based on extensive data.

(9) In relation to the ecological pillar, monitoring data currently available only allows status to be defined in relation to some ecosystem components. Research is required to address specific limitations related to: i) habitat maps showing location of threatened and declining habitats, ii) regional scale datasets on abundance of benthic organisms, large pelagic fish, seabirds and cetaceans, and iii) abundance of coastal fish communities. Research is also required to assess the need to individually monitor fishing impacts on each ecological component as the response of components may be correlated. This second point also stands for the social and economic pillar but assessment of status for the social and economic components is currently being impeded by the absence of clear objectives, descriptors etc. (see (1), (3) and (4)), and this remains a key research priority.

(10) Further research needs to be undertaken to support the implementation the MEFEPO proposed adaptive management cycle including the science-policy interface, appropriate regional governance structures and multi-stakeholder involvement. Alternative models of the advisory and management process need to be developed to propose options for coupled advisory and management systems that are able to provide, and respond, to broader remit of EAFM than currently operates under the ‘single stock advisory and management process’.

REFERENCES

• Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C., van Hoof, L., Abreu, H., Borges, M.F. Connolly, P., van Hal, R., Hegland, T., Porteiro, C., Le Quesne, W., Raakjær, J. & Frid, C. (2010) Operational tools and adaptive management Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 3 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp3_reports_and_outputs/
• Bloomfield, H., Nolan, C., Le Quesne, W.J.F. Raakjær, J., Christensen, A.S. Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C., Piet, G.J. & Frid, C. (2011) Fisheries Ecosystem Plan: North Western Waters, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operation (MEFEPO): Work Package 7 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp7/
• Borges, M.F. Bloomfield, H., Mendes, H., Duchene, J., Rui Pinho, M., Porteiro, C., Velasco, F., Raakjær, J., Christensen, A.S. Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C. & Frid, C. (2011) Fisheries Ecosystem Plan: South Western Waters, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operation (MEFEPO): Work Package 7 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp7/
• Borges, M.F. Velasco, F., Mendes, H., Rui Pinho, M., Silva, C., Porteiro, C., Frid, C.L.J. Paramor, O.A.L. Piet, G.J. Rogers, S.I. & Le Quesne, W.J.F. (2010) Assessing the impact of fishing on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive objectives for Good Environmental Status. Developing and testing the process across selected RAC regions: The South Western Waters Region, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 2 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp2_reports_and_outputs/
• Borges, M.F. Velasco, F., Mendes, H., Pinho, M.R Silva, C., Porteiro, C., Frid C.L.J. Paramor, O.A.L. Piet, G.J. Rogers, S.I. and Le Quesne, W.J.F (2010) Assessing the impact of fishing on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive objectives for Good Environmental Status. MEFEPO WP 2 Technical Report: SWW. ,
• Connolly, P., Kelly, E., Dransfeld, L., Slattery, N., Paramor, O.A.L. & Frid, C.L.J. (2009) MEFEPO North Western Waters, Marine Institute. ISBN 978 1 902 895 45 1.
• EC (2008) 'Directive 2008/56/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 establishing a framework for community action in the field of marine environmental policy (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)', Official Journal of the European Union, vol. L 164/19, p. 22.
• ICES (2005) Report of the ICES Advisory Committee on Fishery Management, Advisory Committee on the Marine Environment and Advisory Committee on Ecosystems., vol. ICES Advice. Vols. 1–11., International Council for the Exploration of the Seas, Copenhagen, p. 418.
• Le Quesne, W.J.F. Frid, C.L.J. Paramor, O.A.L. Piet, G.J. Rogers, S.I. & Velasco, F. (2010) Assessing the impact of fishing on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive objectives for Good Environmental Status. Developing and testing the process across selected RAC regions: The North Sea, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 2 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp2_reports_and_outputs/
• Nolan, C., Connolly, P., Le Quesne, W.J.F. Frid, C.L.J. Paramor, O.A.L. Piet, G.J. Rogers, S.I. & Velasco, F. (2010) Assessing the impact of fishing on the Marine Strategy Framework Directive objectives for Good Environmental Status. Developing and testing the process across selected RAC regions: The North Western Waters, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 2 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp2_reports_and_outputs/
• Paramor, O.A.L. Allen, K.A. Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C., Hegland, T., Le Quesne, W.J.F. Piet, G.J. Raakjær, J., Rogers, S.I. van Hal, R., van Hoof, L., van Overzee, H.M.J. & Frid, C.L.J. (2009) MEFEPO North Sea Atlas, University of Liverpool. ISBN 0 906370 60 4.
• Piet, G., Röckmann, C., Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C., Quesne, W.L. Bloomfield, H., van Hal, R., Nolan, C., Velasco, F., Borges, M.F. Porteiro, C., Rui Pinho, M., Hily, C., Duchêne, J. & Frid, C. (2011a) Development and selection of operational management strategies to achieve policy objectives, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 5 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp5_technical_report_final/
• Piet, G.J. Bloomfield, H., Rockmann, C., Miller, D., van Hal, R., Raakjær, J., Christensen, A.S. Aanesen, M., Armstrong, C. & Frid, C. (2011b) Fisheries Ecosystem Plan: North Sea, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operation (MEFEPO): Work Package 7 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp7/
• Raakjær, J., Abreu, H., Armstrong, C., Hegland, T.J. Hoof, L.v. Ounanian, K., Ramirez, P., Röckmann, C. & Zetterholm, S. (2010) Exploring the Option of Regionalising the Common Fisheries Policy, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO): Work Package 4 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp4_reports_and_outputs/
• van Hoof, L., Bloomfield, H.J. Aanesen, M., Raakjær, J., Piet, G.J. Christensen, A.S. Armstrong, C., Pastoors, M.A. Hegland, T.J. Rockmann, C. & Frid, C.L.J. (2011) Key operational challenges to the introduction of an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Workshop Report, Haarlem, Netherlands, April 2011, Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operation (MEFEPO): Work Package 6 Report. http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/reports-and-outputs/wp6/
• Velasco, F., Aanesen, M., Abreu, H., Armstrong, C., Bashmashnikov, I., Borges, M.F. Cabanas, J.M. Garza, D., Hegland, T., Lens, S., Martins, A.M. Mendes, H.V. Mendonça, A., Pereiro, J., Pérez, M., Porteiro, C., Raakjær, J., Rui Pinho, M., Samedy, V. & Serrano, A. (2009) MEFEPO South Western Waters Atlas, University of Liverpool. ISBN 0 906370 61 2

Potential Impact:
SOCIO-ECONOMIC IMPACTS AND WIDER SOCIETAL IMPLICATIONS

The Making the European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan Operational (MEFEPO) project was designed to stimulate interest in and further development of a framework, and the supporting evidence base (natural and social science), required to integrate the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) objectives within a reformed Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) in the context of sustainable ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM).

The 2009 Green Paper on the reform of the Common Fisheries Policy recognises the importance of EBFM of European fisheries and states an objective to “provide for sustainable exploitation of living and aquatic resources and or aquaculture in the context of sustainable development, taking account of the environmental, economic and social aspects in a balanced manner” (COM(2009)163). Thus the project has worked to integrate information on social and economic components with ecological information and consider the impacts of management decisions on the fishing communities as well as on the ecosystem components. The Green Paper acknowledges that economic and social sustainability are dependent on productive fish stocks and healthy marine ecosystems, and sets out a commitment to manage European fisheries within the constraints of the MSFD to achieve good environmental status (GES), defined as, “environmental status of marine waters where these provide ecologically diverse and dynamic oceans which are clean, healthy and productive within their intrinsic conditions, and the use of the marine environment is at a level that is sustainable, thus safeguarding the potential for uses and activities by current and future generations…” (Article 3(5); COM 2009).

The work completed has contributed to these objectives through a number of mechanisms (below) and we believe the project’s outputs have already made a significant contribution to the development of EBFM, the reform of the CFP and the implementation of the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in Europe.

• There has been considerable interaction between the project, stakeholders (e.g. Regional Advisory Councils) and decisions makers at EU and national levels.
• A number of members of the project team have attended workshops, briefing and discussions events with various representatives of the Commission and DG MARE.
• Production and dissemination of the regional atlases which bring together ecological and socio-economic data from the technical reports, has allowed stakeholders access to definitive information on the state of the marine environment and the issues that need addressing in relation to fisheries.
• Development of the framework to incorporate information on ecological, social and economic status of the system will allow managers and stakeholders to simultaneously consider the ecological, social and economic implications of proposed management decisions.
• The operational governance model developed for regionalisation of European fisheries management could support implementation of EBFM in Europe.

MAIN DISSEMINATION ACTIVITIES

Summaries of the dissemination activities and the scientific articles stemming from the project are included in Table 4 and 5, respectively. Completed project reports are available on the MEFEPO project website (http://www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo/); the website also provides background information on the project and work packages, and project partner details. The website has been updated throughout the project and will continue to be supported, and updated (e.g. PDFs of scientific papers), by ULIV after the project end date.

The project released four press releases to raise awareness of the project and articles have appeared in Danish Fishing News (focussing on the governance research led by the IFM-AAU team), British Ecological Society Bulletin (article on trans-disciplinary studies) and University of Liverpool Precinct Magazine (overview of MEFEPO). Articles have also been published in the Norwegian paper Nordlys (19th April 2010) and in the Killybegs Fishermen’s Organisation newsletter (Ireland). A further article summarising the project is due for publication in the Science, Technology and Innovation Projects magazine in Spring 2012.

The project produced nine documents and newsletters specifically targeted at stakeholders including: (1) regional seas Atlases (NS, NWW and SWW), which draw together information on the ecological, social and economic components of the ecosystem; (2) regional newsletters to update on project progress; and (3) regional Fisheries Ecosystem Plans summary documents demonstrating the application of the management strategy evaluation matrix developed by the project and the proposed institutional structure to support implementation of EBFM in Europe. All regional documents have been produce in English and translated into appropriate languages to ensure accessibility to all stakeholders. Stakeholders (including industry, policy makers and non-governmental organisations) were also targeted for involvement in the workshops organised as part of the project and contributed to the development of the management strategy evaluation matrix and proposed institution structure.

Project partners have attended and presented at each of the three associated RAC meetings (SWW RAC, 11th November 2009, Madrid, Spain; NS RAC, 18-19th February 2010, Ostend, Belgium; and NWW RAC, 2-4th March 2010, Madrid, Spain). Partners have also been involved in presenting at other EU-funded project meetings, for example MI gave presentations on MEFEPO at a Project PISCES (Partnerships Involving Stakeholders in the Celtic Sea Eco-System) meeting in Cardiff in 2010, and UiT presented at the EcoFishMan (Results-based management to achieve Common Fisheries Policies objectives) in Norway in 2011. A number of the project team are also involved in other EU-funded project which has allowed information sharing and learning from other project experiences.

In total, MEFEPO project work has been presented at 10 conferences; 5 other presentations have been given and MEFEPO work has contributed to 6 workshops (e.g. ICES working groups). Project partners have attended and presented MEFEPO project findings at a number of meetings hosted by the European Commission (e.g. ULIV at a lunch-time seminar entitled Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management in January 2011 and IFM attended Options for Structuring Regionalisation in October 2011) and international meetings reaching academic communities, policy and decision-makers (e.g. Norwegian Association of National Economists 2010, ICES Annual Science Conference 2011 and the World Conference on Marine Biodiversity 2011). This dissemination builds upon that already undertaken by project partners at earlier stages of the project, and presentations at meetings of the three RACs.

A number of scientific articles have been published, are in review or preparation that stem from the research undertaken in the MEFEPO project: 3 are published, 1 is accepted, 4 are in review and 5 are currently in preparation. The MEFEPO work is dominant in an upcoming special issue of the Maritime Studies journal on ‘Regionalisation of the CFP’ to be published in the early summer of 2012 (co-ordinated by one of the MEFEPO project partners (IFM). Three of the five articles in the special issue are from the work undertaken in the MEFEPO project.

EXPLOITATION OF RESULTS

The results of this project are not amenable to commercial exploitation. They are directly relevant to the development of improved management and regulation of European fisheries and their uptake and application will lead to a more sustainable sector. This is both the commercial and social value of this work. ?
List of Websites:
www.liv.ac.uk/mefepo
Project co-ordinating team: Prof. Chris Frid (cljfrid@liv.ac.uk) and Dr Helen Bloomfield (h.j.bloomfield@liv.ac.uk)