CORDIS - EU research results

Social Science Aspects of Fisheries for the 21st Century

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SAF21 (Social Science Aspects of Fisheries for the 21st Century)

Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-12-31

The aim of the SAF21 project was to understand how to manage socio-ecological complex systems better. This knowledge is hoped to be useful when developing innovative management strategies, particularly to address a shift to new regulatory regimes, which is necessary for the success of future complex pan-European initiatives. The research and development was undertaken by a group of 10 early stage researchers, managed by the SAF21 consortium, which was a mix of academic and commercial organisations. What is unique about the SAF21 project is the way the research and training programme was structured. The SAF21 network offered a practical, collaborative approach to learning, combining research with developing transferable skills through training and secondments. The aim of this doctoral program was to improve the commercialisation of R&D results, increase the employability of the researchers, expand the impact of such projects through education, outreach and communication to wider communities, as well as enabling more effective fisheries management. Exploring the fisheries models used in fisheries science, the SAF21 early stage researchers discovered that these models are not properly documented (e.g. data and code are not available), which hinders their transparency and reproducibility. Moreover, social aspects of fisheries (e.g. trust, compliance) are modeled through economic (e.g. profit) and environmental (e.g. stock size) variables. In addition, an analysis of more than 48.500 articles published in 21 scientific journals during the last 26 years indicates that the human dimension of fisheries is heavily under-researched, including in modelling. Another analysis showed that most commonly used definitions of fisheries extensively address the natural components of the fisheries system and only partially the human and management components. Among the fisheries management case studies that some of the SAF21 early stage researchers worked with during the project there are Iceland, Ireland, and Spain. If researchers or decision-makers are interested in facilitating interdisciplinary social-ecological system research in practice, SAF21 suggests using the dedicated framework developed during the project.
During the lifetime of the project (01.2015 – 12.2018) the SAF21 project:
• Organized 4 training camps.
• Organized 3 workshops.
• Through its beneficiaries and partner organisations, organized local training for ESRs and facilitated ESRs participation in training outside the network.
• Organized 4 special tracks during scientific conferences (on modelling social science aspects of fisheries, during Social Simulation Conference 2015-2018).
• Organized 1 final symposium (as theme session during the ICES Annual Science Conference 2018):
• Organized 13 secondments.
• Published 17 dissemination items in scientific journals, conference proceedings, book chapters or reports (excluding abstracts and posters accepted for presentation in conferences):
• Achieved 2 PhD completions (with the remaining 8 ESRs having concrete plans for submitting their PhD theses in 2019). Published at the time of reporting: Shaheen Syed - Topic Discovery from Textual Data: Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing for Knowledge Discovery in the Fisheries Domain (; Charlotte Weber - Towards a framework to guide and facilitate interdisciplinary social-ecological system research in practice (
* Identified patterns in fisheries science from 1990 to 2016 and in the modelling of social aspects of fisheries.
* Developed an agent-based model of the Icelandic fisheries.
* Built a GIS database pertaining to the fisheries system in Iceland.
* Calculated GINI coefficients for the Icelandic coastal communities for the last 30 years.
* Built a comprehensive database for the Faroese fisheries system.
* Developed framework for fisheries governance measurement tool.
* Designed layered approach to analyse fisheries policy formation.
* Developed platform for norm simulation in multi-agent systems.
* Identified and discussed pitfalls to beware when applying models to issues of policy relevance.
* Developed a framework to guide and facilitate interdisciplinary social-ecological system research in practice.
* Developed guidelines for identifying and documenting transferable skills and competences to enhance early career researchers employability and competitiveness.
SAF21 logo
Early stage researchers of the SAF21 European Training Network.