EFIMAS aims to develop models for mixed fisheries and long-term management taking into consideration the various social and economic impacts of policy decisions.
- Project Dates: April 2004 - March 2008
- Project Leader: Professor Selina Stead
- Staff: Jenny Hatchard
- Sponsors: European Commission
- Partners: Rasmus Nielsen (PI) and Doug Wilson
European fisheries are under pressures that result in the decline of fishing stocks, fleet vessels and available jobs in the fishing industry. On the other hand, management and regulation of fisheries increases in complexity, since examining single species proved insufficient to address the sector needs. The rationale for EFIMAS was to develop models for mixed fisheries and long-term management taking into consideration the various social and economic impacts of policy decisions.
In this context, the EFIMAS project aimed to develop and integrate a set of innovative tools into a robust management strategy evaluation (MSE) framework within which to simulate and assess the different consequences of a range of options and objectives within alternative management regimes. The project applied a holistic multidisciplinary approach, integrating knowledge from biology, economy and sociology. The finalised framework structure allowed for increased participation of scientists, stakeholders and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in future policy decisions.
Firstly, a thorough literature review was elaborated and resulted in the publication of a book which provided a solid knowledge base for fisheries' management. Different systems were categorised and the adequacy of alternative schemes and decision processes was described in terms of the respective knowledge utilisation.
European fisheries management is rapidly changing toward a more responsive and efficient system and increasing stakeholder participation in decision making is an important part of that. Participation brings about changes in the role of science, as well, and the EFIMAS project has contributed significantly to the development of the FLR (and other) suite of tools for facilitating science-based decision making in a participatory context. The classic role played by science in fisheries is to set limits on exploitation according to objective criteria. Under conditions of high stakes and high uncertainty this traditional role is undermined as stakeholders use the political flexibility that uncertainty creates and managers arguably try to make their own decisions easier by turning political problems into technical ones.
With the right tools, science can play a helpful role even when uncertainty is high. One strategy is participatory modelling which has been practised in EFIMAS. The approach uses scenario-based models to evaluate different options. Participatory modelling can involve managers, the fishing industry, conservation NGOs and any other groups concerned with developing good, science-based policy. Participatory modelling is not a substitute for using science to set limits. But when limits are needed, this technique can focus on crafting strategies to meet them in efficient ways. Modelling can force stakeholders to clarify their objectives and explicitly address the trade-offs implied by various strategies.
The common management evaluation framework and tools developed under EFIMAS for evaluating management strategies is a key tool for participatory modelling. It facilitates collaboration across disciplines, ensures that models and software once developed are easily validated, and widely available. In particular it details how to implement a variety of fishery, biological and economic models and software in a common framework so that alternative management strategies and procedures can be evaluated for their robustness to uncertainty before implementation. The design of the framework, including the adoption of object-orientated programming can be extended to new processes and new management approaches – for example ecosystem-based approaches. The management evaluation frameworks developed in EFIMAS and sister projects is open source, which is important for promoting transparency and allowing technology transfer between disciplines and researchers.
On the fisheries modelling side of the project, the developed stochastic models took into consideration fleet interactions and emphasised in different types of uncertainties, such as ambiguities in data collection and assessment, system modelling, provision of advice, management decisions and implementation of the proposed solutions. In addition, the models were capable of performing reliable sensitivity and risk analyses of the different options' consequences; hence, both existing and innovative strategies could be evaluated. All models operated using an integrated suite of software facilities, with implementation of common language and interface. The tools were successfully applied on typical European systems with different biological, economic, social and technical characteristics which were regulated by various management schemes.
The developed software was open source and accessible through the Internet so as to promote transparency and enhance technology transfer between disciplines and researchers. The evaluation of its performance was continuous, based on the case studies and on feedback received by scientists, stakeholders and end users during interviews and meetings.
Apart from the book and the modelling tools, EFIMAS produced a specific policy and project implementation plan which provided detailed information to the European Commission. The acquired knowledge was further disseminated via numerous actions such as publications, participation in conferences, working groups and training activities and regular communication between EFIMAS members and researchers involved in relevant projects.
The evaluation framework established through EFIMAS and its sister projects is open source simulation tools and is made available from www.efimas.org and http://flr-project.org/. The evaluation framework has been used in ICES (www.ices.dk) stock assessment and mixed fisheries working groups, in EU STECF (http://europa.eu/-scadplus/leg/¬en/cha/c11127.htm) working groups and EU RACs (Regional Advisory Councils), in NAFO Scientific Council working groups (www.nafo.int), and by IWC (www.iwcoffice.org), and presented through a long row of scientific papers, conferences, user courses and workshops produced under EFIMAS. By incorporating a wider range of variables and their uncertainty to illuminate the decision process and allowing for stakeholder feed-back in the evaluation process, fisheries management will be made more accessible to all kinds of stakeholders.
Contributing to policy development
- EFIMAS produced and provided a specific Policy Brief / Policy Implementation Plan / Project Implementation Plan in relation to the management evaluation framework developed which details the application of the evaluation framework at the EU fishery management level.
- EFIMAS provides more holistic scientific management advice to fishery managers, including a robust management evaluation tool and framework driven by numerically defined harvesting rules.
- The project developed an evaluation framework of existing and new interactive fishery advice and management models that identify the socio-economic, as well as the biological, consequences of given management decisions.
- EFIMAS implemented the developed management evaluation framework(s) and the tools hereunder in important and typical EU fisheries systems representing different types of fisheries and management systems.
- The project has helped albeit the extent of which is difficult to measure, to improve trust of stakeholders by incorporating a wider range of variables to illuminate the decision-making process and make it more accessible to them.
- Review of global management systems and decision-making processes relevant for EU fisheries published in a book by Elsevier.
- Project Flyer and two project Technical Leaflets.
- Two public websites related to EFIMAS and a project DocuWiki web site with the management evaluation framework, the toolbox and simulation models including documentation available, as well as with the case specific implementations of the management framework available (October 2004 – June 2008).
- Preliminary software package and toolbox of operational models to compare alternative fisheries management options, objectives and regimes (October 2006 / February 2007).
- Preliminary case specific implementation of the software package of operational models and tools (by October 2006 / February 2007)
- Final software package in R/FLR as well as modifications and implementations of alternative Management Evaluation Frameworks (Evaluation Frame/TEMAS and the ISIS-Fish simulation tool) with high level of documentation - and aiming at a high level of user-friendliness when experts are implementing it in cooperation with stakeholders (by March 2008).
- Final case specific implementation of the software package of operational models and tools (by March 2008).
- Policy Brief / Policy Implementation Plan detailing the application of the evaluation framework at the EU fishery management level (by March 2008).
- A comprehensive row of specific project deliverables, technical reports, scientific paper and book publications, and popular outreach publications have been produced under EFIMAS which combined have been listed in the attached “EFIMAS List of Dissemination, Products and Activities” by June 2008 (up-dated May-June 2008).
- Outputs from establishment of the EFIMAS Fisheries Management Evaluation Framework and the case study specific implementation of the framework are fully reported and available from the EFIMAS DokuWiki (http://wiki.difres.dk/efimas/doku.php?id=efimas) as well as delivered through the technical reports and dissemination reporting associated to the project deliverables. The Deliverables submitted so far have been approved by the EU Commission (see also “EFIMAS List of Dissemination, Products and Activities” by March-April 2008 (updated May-June 2008).
Linkages with other fisheries management initiatives
EFIMAS was one of the largest among a string of EU supported projects that aimed to evaluate and improve management of European fish stocks. EFIMAS has worked closely with a range of national and international projects, including related EU FP5 and FP6 research projects.