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IBEFISH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 44192
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES
Country: Finland

Managing fisheries for ecosystem benefits

Ecosystem-based approaches to fisheries' management (EBAFM) consider the health of the entire ecosystem in making decisions, including all species as well as their habitats. These approaches extend traditional management goals of obtaining the maximum sustainable yield for a specific species to considering sustainability of the system as a whole, increasing the complexity of the decision-making process.
Managing fisheries for ecosystem benefits
The ‘Interaction between environment and fisheries - a challenge to management’ (Ibefish) project was initiated to assimilate, make recommendations on and then disseminate information collected in previous research projects regarding EBAFM, with a focus on the interaction of fisheries’ locations and the local environment or ecosystems.

The approach took into account both damaging effects of fisheries on local ecosystems as well as how environmental changes can affect fish stocks and cause economic losses. In addition, extending the management to include the ecosystem rather than a single species inherently includes a greater number of stakeholders with differing views and goals. The researchers also addressed this issue during the course of the project.

Specifically, the investigators summarised the results of previous projects and developed a framework for participatory decision making to achieve the goal of integrated ecosystem-based management. They evaluated information management, legitimacy (for example, legality and transparency), social dynamics and cost.

One of the main findings of the Ibefish project was that it was quite difficult to obtain full stakeholder participation in the ecosystem approach due to a variety of factors. For example, stakeholders expressed doubt about the confidentiality of information they were asked to provide, they had different ways of viewing ecosystems and they often did not share a common language. Furthermore, fishermen were often sceptical about scientific information and advice and the goals of EBAFM were often seen as opposing the interests of the fishing industry.

The Ibefish researchers concluded that implementation of EBAFM requires institutional innovation through a delicate process of societal decision making. EBAFM incorporates cross-sector and multi-level governance and thus improved fisheries’ management requires an enhanced knowledge base, improved legitimacy and trust building on the part of management across all levels and jurisdictions to encourage stakeholder participation.

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