Skip to main content

Responsive Results-Based Management and capacity building for EU Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement- and international waters

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - FarFish (Responsive Results-Based Management and capacity building for EU Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement- and international waters)

Reporting period: 2018-12-01 to 2020-05-31

About 20% of the EU fishing fleet’s catches come from non-EU waters, either from international waters or from within waters of countries that have signed bilateral agreements with the EU, granting EU vessels access and restricted fishing rights. These agreements are of two types, i.e. northern agreements with countries in the Northern Atlantic that have shared stocks with the EU and Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreements (SFPAs) with non-EU countries that are not fully utilizing their fisheries resources. The SFPAs are intended to enhance fisheries governance for sustainable exploitation within the relevant waters and contribute to stable fish supply and development in the fisheries sector. The agreements include financial support which aims to promote sustainable fisheries development in the partner countries by strengthening their administrative and scientific capacity.
Many of the countries that have signed SFPAs with the EU lack the infrastructure and know-how to sufficiently manage and utilize their marine resources. Biological knowledge, control and monitoring of the fisheries are weak, which is also often an issue in international waters. The management measures in these fisheries are often based on limited science, and management decisions are made in the context of limited enforcement capabilities. Understanding of the biology and ecology of target and by-catch species in these areas are incomplete, and appropriate stock assessment and management tools need to be further developed and implemented to provide a more solid knowledge base and advice on fisheries management. Increased accountability and transparency are needed to improved compliance.
The role and responsibilities of the EU fleet are significant in ensuring sustainable utilization of the resources to which they have access, whether that is under SFPAs or in international waters. The overall goal of FarFish is to provide knowledge, tools and methods to support responsible, sustainable and profitable EU fisheries outside European waters. To achieve this, FarFish is developing practical, achievable and cost-effective fisheries management tools and advice. The work is done in collaboration of scientists, policy makers, resource users and other stakeholders aimed to improve fisheries management competences. FarFish is providing a better knowledge base of these fisheries and encouraging resource users to actively take part in the management.

Six case studies (CSs) have been selected for FarFish to represent EU fisheries within the high seas and SFPAs. These are the high seas fisheries in the SW and SE-Atlantic (FAO areas 41 & 47); and the SFPA fisheries in Cape Verde, Senegal, Mauritania and Seychelles.
During the first three years of the FarFish project the consortium has completed 40 deliverables and reached 12 milestones.

FarFish is centred on wide scale stakeholder involvement and participatory processes throughout all its work. The objective of this is to involve stakeholders in creating solutions for the policy context in the six CSs. This work is instrumental for achieving specific objectives of the project e.g. for development of Management Recommendations (MRs) and Decision Support Tools (DSTs). The stakeholder participation has so far been extremely important and successful, providing key inputs to the project and increasing the likelihood of uptake of project outcomes, thereby ensuring that FarFish has permanent impact.

FarFish’s objectives of advancing biological knowledge, which includes collecting and collating data related to biological characteristics of the main fish stocks in the CSs, has been a key component of the project so far. Data has been collected from multiple sources and used as input to other work in the project. This is however a challenging work, as data availability is often scarce and complicated.
As part of advancing biological knowledge, FarFish has performed an evaluation of current stock assessment models used in each of the CSs, providing important perspective on the appropriateness, relevance and applicability of stock assessment models currently in use within the CSs.
The project has as well initiated a pilot self-sampling program to demonstrate how such an approach can be applied to advance biological knowledge in the CSs.

FarFish has awarded significant efforts at mapping and analysing the CS value chains, and the current legal and contractual practices and constraints in these fisheries. This is currently an ongoing work which will result in a comprehensive value chain and governance structure analysis, and associated policy recommendations that will be provided towards the end of the project.

Major component of the FarFish project is to develop so called MRs for each of the CSs. MR is a formal agreement between resource users (operators) and the relevant authorities on how to reach overall objectives for the respective fishery, by shifting responsibility for the management from authorities (top-down) to the operators (bottom-up). The project has so far produced guidelines on how to develop MRs, which will be published as a European standard (CEN Workshop Agreement - CWA) towards the end of the project. Each CS has as well went through two iterations of developing MRs for based on the guidelines. The first iteration MRs have as well been audited by independent auditor, and the second iteration MRs will be audited towards the end of the project (which will then be followed up with final MRs).

FarFish has developed general fisheries management- and other DSTs to support the FarFish CSs in developing MRs and to contribute to capacity building. Main results so far include the development of the FarFish DataBase (FFDB) and DSTs, as well as production of visualization materials to support development of MRs in the CSs.
For the duration of the project the FFDB is intended for internal use, but alternatives for ensuring that it lives on beyond the project are being explored. Tools for using Data Limited Methods (DLM) for stock assessment have been developed, interactive maps for analysing satellite and AIS signals have been developed, and an interactive platform to integrate codes visualization and data interaction tools for the selected CSs has been developed as well.

A major objective of the FarFish project is to build capacities, professional skills and competences of stakeholders within the CSs and beyond within the field of fisheries management. Main results so far include development of a special university-level certificate program that was run in Tromso in early 2020, a six-month post-graduate program tailor-made for FarFish that has already graduated several students, in-country workshops in a selected CS country that is being prepared, e-learning materials and platforms which have been (and will continue to be) developed etc.
Dissemination of the project itself is also a vital part of FarFish, which has included broad scope dissemination to various target audiences, which has resulted in high interests all around the world.
FarFish has in many respects already contributed to improving knowledge on and management of EU fisheries outside Europe, while promoting to sustainability and long-term profitability. This will though become more apparent towards the end of the project, as results will be highlighted, disseminated and hopefully implemented.