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Ecosystem-based Responsive Fisheries Management in Europe

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New approach to improve fishery productivity

Developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, a new responsive fisheries management system (RFMS) is set to make European fisheries more efficient.



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The EU-funded 'Ecosystem-based responsive fisheries management in Europe' (ECOFISHMAN) project developed a new system of fisheries management. This involved switching from an outdated micromanagement system to a results-based management (RBM) system in which fishermen play an essential role. Ecological, economic and social aspects were taken into consideration, as well as ways of improving cooperation and mutual understanding between stakeholders and policymakers. The consortium also presented case studies from Iceland, the Mediterranean, the North Sea and Portugal to illustrate the superiority of the new RFMS. Researchers analysed the situation of discarded fish worldwide and considered specific reasons for the practice, discard mitigation and stakeholder participation. They also studied economic incentives for reducing discards. The project team compiled a list of more than 200 indicators (ecological, social, governance and economic) that was classified against 9 screening criteria by a selection of fisheries and social scientists. Each fishery was rated based on the list of indicators in order to establish an optimal approach for the entire industry. Notably, ecological-based indicators were weighted more than the productivity of the fishery, whereas the governance and social indicators achieved slightly lower mean scores. ECOFISHMAN will contribute to the development of the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) and in particular to a new discard policy. It has addressed the challenges of fisheries management by proposing the introduction of an RBM system based on specifying maximum acceptable limits of negative impacts — i.e. the RFMS. In the RFMS, stakeholder involvement is increased and the whole ecosystem, rather than just selected species, is taken into consideration. Therefore, ECOFISHMAN will improve the productivity of European fisheries and minimise negative effects, including fish discards, overexploited fish stocks, fleet overcapacity and a low degree of compliance. ECOFISHMAN outcomes will increase long-term thinking in the seafood industry by encouraging managers to focus on sustainable growth rather than short-term availability of catch. They will also support consumer demands for seafood products from sustainable stocks.


Responsive fisheries management, fishermen, discarded fish, seafood, sustainable stocks

Project information

Grant agreement ID: 265401


Closed project

  • Start date

    1 March 2011

  • End date

    28 February 2014

Funded under:


  • Overall budget:

    € 3 810 200,34

  • EU contribution

    € 3 000 000

Coordinated by: