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IN EX FISH — Result In Brief

Project ID: 22710
Funded under: FP6-POLICIES

A holistic approach to fishery management

A project's development and application of new metrics has opened the door to a new era in fishery management. The approach goes beyond simply counting fish and highlights the bigger picture beneath the ocean's surface.
A holistic approach to fishery management
Experience has shown that a fish-centric approach to fishery management is not always successful. This is because the health of fish stocks depends on a range of factors, some of which have absolutely nothing to do with the fish themselves. These so-called extrinsic drivers can be both natural, such as the climate, and man-made, like water pollution.

The 'Incorporating the extrinsic drivers into fisheries management' (IN EX FISH) project sought to make sense of this complex system. European funding was used to assemble a group of European experts from relevant fields. They scoured past and current research and produced a list of critical anthropogenic and natural factors, including environmental conditions, availability of food supply, pollutant loading and fish mortality.

The next step involved adapting a Generalised Additive Model (GAM) to evaluate the relative importance of these extrinsic drivers. They discovered that, in general, the health of fish stocks is primarily influenced by anthropogenic aspects. Implementation of corrective measures remains a significant challenge, but at least the relationship is well understood. In contrast, although natural drivers may be less threatening, they are much harder to control.

Another model, Fisheries Library in R (FLR), was subsequently used to simulate the impact of several management initiatives known as Harvest Control Rules (HCRs). In total, seven HCRs were tested over a wide range of environmental conditions.

IN EX FISH learned that the effectiveness of a given HCR could be improved by adapting it to the conditions of the local ecosystem. In order to realise the full potential of this finding, a recommendation was made to increase data collection for both natural and anthropogenic extrinsic drivers.

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