In line with its commitment towards environmental conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, the Government of Sweden (through its Ministry of Agriculture) decided to organize, in close cooperation with FAO, a Technical Consultation on the Precautionary Approach to Capture Fisheries (including Species Introductions). The meeting was hosted by the Institute of Marine Research, Lysekil, Sweden at the invitation of the Swedish National Board of Fisheries and was formally opened by her Excellency the Swedish Minister of Agriculture, Mrs Margareta Winberg.
The meeting was chaired by Per Wramner (Swedish National Board of Fisheries), assisted by Armin Lindquist (Swedish National Board of Fisheries) and Serge Garcia (FAO, Vice-Chairman). The participants attended in their personal capacity and were selected on the basis of their technical competence and level of expertise. Their deliberations were based on 7 background documents prepared specifically for the purpose, as well as on a number of other documents considered of relevance. Four Working Groups were established to discuss and prepare the sections of the draft guidelines related to: Research, Management, Technology and Species Introductions.
The Administrative Report of the meeting, including Agenda, List of Participants, background documentation, opening address by the Swedish Minister of Agriculture, and composition of Working Groups, has been published as FAO Fisheries Report, (527), 1995.
The following document first characterises the concept of precaution, then defines some of the important terms used in the Guidelines, and provides specific guidelines for management, research, technology development and transfer, and species introduction. Under each of these topics, a discussion is provided on its specific aspects, followed by specific guidance for implementation.
Within the framework outlined in Article 15 of the UNCED Rio Declaration, the precautionary approach to fisheries recognises that changes in fisheries systems are only slowly reversible, difficult to control, not well understood, and subject to changing environment and human values.
The precautionary approach involves the application of prudent foresight. Taking account of the uncertainties in fisheries systems and the need to take action with incomplete knowledge, it requires, inter alia:
consideration of the needs of future generations and avoidance of changes that are not potentially reversible;
prior identification of undesirable outcomes and of measures that will avoid them or correct them promptly;
that any necessary corrective measures are initiated without delay, and that they should achieve their purpose promptly, on a timescale not exceeding two or three decades;
that where the likely impact of resource use is uncertain, priority should be given to conserving the productive capacity of the resource;
that harvesting and processing capacity should be commensurate with estimated sustainable levels of resource, and that increases in capacity should be further contained when resource productivity is highly uncertain;
all fishing activities must have prior management authorization and be subject to periodic review;
an established legal and institutional framework for fishery management, within which management plans that implement the above points are instituted for each fishery, and
appropriate placement of the burden of proof by adhering to the requirements above.
Key concepts in past discussion of the precautionary approach have been the burden of proof and the standard of proof (i.e., the responsibility for providing the relevant evidence and the criteria to be used to judge that evidence). Often, the precautionary approach has been taken as requiring that human actions are assumed to be harmful unless proven otherwise (reversal of the burden of proof). In regard to these concepts, it is recognised that:
all fishing activities have environmental impacts, and it is not appropriate to assume that these are negligible until proved otherwise;
although the precautionary approach to fisheries may require cessation of fishing activities that have potentially serious adverse impacts, it does not imply that no fishing can take place until all potential impacts have been assessed and found to be negligible;
the precautionary approach to fisheries requires that all fishing activities be subject to prior review and authorization; that a management plan be in place that clearly specifies management objectives and how impacts of fishing are to be assessed, monitored and addressed; and that specified interim management measures should apply to all fishing activities until such time as a management plan is in place, and
the standard of proof to be used in decisions regarding authorization of fishing activities should be commensurate with the potential risk to the resource, while also taking into account the expected benefits of the activities.
Decision Rule: Specification of how pre-agreed management actions will respond to estimated or perceived states of nature.
Fishery Technology: The equipment and practices used for finding, harvesting, handling, processing and distributing aquatic resources and their products.
Genetically Modified Organism: An organism in which the genetic material has been altered anthropogenically by means of gene or cell technologies.
Genetically selected organism: An organism produced by selective breeding.
Introduced Species: Any species intentionally or accidentally transported and released by humans into an environment beyond its present range.
Management procedure: A description of the data to collect, how to analyze it, and how the analysis translates into actions.
Risk: The probability of something undesirable happening (note that when a technical definition in a decision theoretic framework is needed, it would be appropriate to use the terms “expected loss” or “average forecasted loss”, not risk)
States of Nature: A description of a condition and dynamics of the resource and the fishery including parameters such as stock abundance, age structure, fishing mortality, the economic condition of the industry and the state of the environment.
Statistical uncertainty: Stochasticity or error from various sources as described using statistical methodology.
Transferred species: Any species intentionally or accidentally transported and released by humans into an environment inside its present range.
Uncertainty: The incompleteness of knowledge about the state or processes of nature.
Management according to the precautionary approach exercises prudent foresight to avoid unacceptable or undesirable situations, taking into account that changes in fisheries systems are only slowly reversible, difficult to control, not well understood, and subject to change in the environment and human values.
An important element of the precautionary approach is to establish legal or social management frameworks for all fisheries, which is not the current situation. At a minimum, such frameworks should establish rules controlling access to fisheries (e.g., all boats must be licensed), data reporting requirements, and processes for planning and implementing more comprehensive fishery management. Plans for management institutionalize prudent foresight that takes into account potential consequences of fishery development and events affecting it. Comprehensive plans for fisheries can take a long time to develop. For this reason the legal or social management framework should include interim measures that safeguard the resources until such plans are adopted.
The precautionary approach gives due concern to long-term effects in the specification of management objectives and in the development of management frameworks, procedures, and measures. The consequences of management and fishery development are evaluated to reduce the possibilities of changes that are not potentially reversible on a 2 to 3 decade time scale. Processes for determining acceptable changes and impacts are used to support the precautionary approach. Thus, a precautionary approach links fisheries management intimately with general environmental management.
Precautionary management involves explicit consideration of undesirable and potentially unacceptable outcomes and provides contingency and other plans to avoid or mitigate such outcomes. Undesirable or unacceptable outcomes include overexploitation of resources, overdevelopment of harvesting capacity, loss of biodiversity, major physical disturbances of sensitive biotopes, or social or economic dislocations. Undesirable conditions can also arise when a fishery is negatively influenced by other fisheries or other activities and when management fails to take action in the face of shifts in the external conditions affecting, for example, the productivity of the fish stocks.
The operational interpretations of precautionary management will depend on the context. Different interpretation may be appropriate depending on the scale of the fishing operations (artisanal or small-scale fisheries vs. highly capitalized and technologically advanced fisheries) and on the state of the exploited system (early stages of exploitation versus systems in a state of obvious overexploitation).
The precautionary approach is included in all stages of the management process. Thus, precaution should be identifiable in the different stages of management, from planning through implementation, enforcement and monitoring to re-evaluation. These issues are covered in the following paragraphs organized according to the different stages in a management process.
3.2 Management Planning
A precautionary approach to managing a fishery involves developing, within management strategies and plans, explicit consideration of precautionary actions that will be taken to avoid specific undesirable outcomes. As over-development of harvesting capacity is a common cause of undesirable outcomes, a management plan should include mechanisms to monitor and control that capacity. Consideration needs to be given to how uncertainty and ignorance are to be taken into account in developing and varying management measures. For all fisheries, plans should be developed or revised to incorporate precautionary elements. The plans, even where no additional precautionary elements are considered necessary, should be re-evaluated in accordance with the process outlined below. Where there are multiple fisheries, plans will also be required to implement precautionary approaches to their aggregate impact on the marine environment. The plans should consider time scales of at least two to three decades, or longer in the case of long-lived species.
To ensure broad acceptance, all stages of planning should involve consultation with the fishing industry, conservation groups, and other interested parties. Fisheries plans should also be coordinated with integrated coastal-area management plans. In order to identify a management plan that has broad acceptance, it is best to consider a range of alternatives, each of which has been developed and evaluated through the components set out below. The range of alternatives may differ in their basic approach or in detail. For example, a basic approach using total allowable catches (TACs) could be contrasted with one using effort controls. Variations in detail might involve different decision rules for the TACs.
Specifying management objectives
The first step is to identify the broad management objectives to be achieved. The management objectives need to consider both the manner in which the benefits from the fishery are to be realized, as well as the possible undesirable outcomes which are to be avoided. Broad objectives include considerations of long-term interests and the avoidance of irreversible or slowly reversible changes. Typically, the catches are to be as large as possible, so long as the probability of substantial stock depletion is below an acceptably low level and catches can be kept reasonably steady.
The general objectives could be taken as the starting point for setting the more specific objectives for a particular fishery. To be precautionary, priority should be accorded to restoration of already overfished stocks, to avoidance of overfishing, and to avoidance of excessive harvesting capacity. Objectives should also include restricting the environmental impacts of fishing to acceptable levels. Some examples are limiting or eliminating bycatch and incidental mortality of non-target species and containing the possible effects of some types of fishing gear on bottom communities.
Specifying operational targets and constraints
Targets identify the desired outcomes for the fishery. For example, these may take the form of a target fishing mortality, or a specified level of average abundance relative to the unfished state. In some cases, these targets are likely to be identical with those that would be specified for fisheries management, regardless of whether a precautionary approach was to be adopted. In other cases, targets may need to be adjusted to be precautionary, for example, by setting the target fishing mortality lower than FMSY.
The operational constraints explicitly define the undesirable outcomes that are to be avoided. For example, to avoid the risk of declining recruitment, a minimum spawning stock biomass, range of ages, or geographic range could be set to define safe limits within which the stock should be maintained with a specified high probability. Specific limits may also be required to deal with ecosystem effects, with bycatches and with other side-effects of the fishery.
Operational targets and constraints should be expressed in measurable terms such as target reference points and limit reference points (refer to FAO documents). The details of what can be measured will often vary with different species and fisheries, and so the operational targets and constraints will need to be expressed in ways that take this into account. The specification of operational targets and constraints cannot be separated from consideration of the types of data and methods that can be used to assess the status of the stocks. In all cases attention should be given to the rate at which targets are approached so as to avoid overshooting them and hence violating the constraints.
Specifying the procedure to apply and adjust management measures
A management plan must indicate which management measures are to be applied, and the circumstances under which the measures are to be varied. This should involve the formulation of decision rules, which specify in advance what action should be taken when specified deviations from the operational targets and constraints are observed. The specification should include minimum data requirements for the types of assessment methods to be used for decision-making.
Precautionary management measures listed below under “Examples of Precautionary Measures” could be included in the plan. To be precautionary, decision rules are required for responding to unexpected or unpredictable events with minimum delay. All foreseeable contingencies should be considered when developing the plan. For example, plans should include explicit effort-reduction measures that apply in response to unpredicted, marked decline in recruitment.
It is highly desirable that the procedure makes regular small adjustments to the management measures so as to maintain acceptably low levels of probability that the constraints are violated. It is not always possible to simultaneously attain a target (desired outcome) for a fishery and respect constraints designed to prevent undesirable outcomes. For example, a specified target fishing mortality such as FMSY may reduce the spawning stock biomass to a level near the levels where there should be a precautionary constraint designed to avoid the probability of declining recruitment. If, for example, the constraint is to maintain spawning stock biomass above 30% of the average unfished level with high probability, then a FMSY target that would reduce the spawning stock biomass to 35% of the unfished level could have a too high probability of violating the constraint. Precautionary management must adjust targets to be consistent with the constraints.
A precautionary approach requires that the feasibility and reliability of the management options be evaluated. A management plan should not be accepted until it has been shown to perform effectively in terms of its ability to avoid undesirable outcomes. The evaluation can be used to determine whether the data and assessment methods available for management are sufficient to meet the management objectives. The evaluation should attempt to determine if the management plan is robust to both statistical uncertainty and to incomplete knowledge on factors such as uncertain stock identity and abundance, stock dynamics, and the effects of environmental variability and trends. As well, evaluations should consider the dynamic behaviour of the harvesting sector and managers' ability to change harvest levels.
For economically valuable fisheries, and where substantial scientific expertise is available, there will usually be substantial benefits from employing powerful evaluation techniques such as simulation modelling. Such analyses will often reveal which sources of uncertainty are critical to achieving satisfactory results for the various objectives. The evaluation will also need to take into account the practicality of implementing, and securing compliance with, the range of management measures included in the plan.
For small fisheries and artisanal fisheries, computationally intensive management analyses are often not possible or cost-effective. In such cases, management measures will probably not depend on quantitative analyses, but rather on assessing the practicality of ensuring that the precautionary measures are accepted and observed by the fishing community. An example would be closing certain areas to fishing to protect a sufficient proportion of the stock. Another example would be to establish a community-based fisheries management system. This would decentralize fisheries management authority to resource users and could reduce the cost of fisheries management and enforcement. Other examples of simple precautionary measures applicable to such fisheries are given in the section “Examples of Precautionary Measures” below.
If management options are found to be inadequate with respect to precaution, then one or more of the following aspects can be modified and then re-evaluated until the management system is judged to be adequate. These aspects may include:
modification of the operational targets and constraints;
re-specification of the procedure to apply management measures;
further research to reduce critical uncertainties, or
consideration of more powerful assessment and monitoring methods.
3.3 Implementation, Monitoring, and Enforcement
Management plan implementation puts in place all planned decision rules. This involves the practical interpretation of objectives and procedures, and the implementation of detailed instructions for compliance, monitoring of the fishery, and enforcement tactics. Elements of the implementation phase include: stock assessments, rule setting, economic assessments, and communication of decisions and rationale to the public and fishing industry. Because the public and industry are more inclined to understand and support measures on which they are consulted, public participation in the implementation phase is important. Peer review of stock assessments and a transparent process help to guard against error, which is essential to effective implementation of the planned measures. Independent auditing of the monitoring procedures should also be a regular feature of the management system. The effect of the measures on compliance should be studied specifically.
Monitoring of a fishery involves collection of all information relevant to ensuring that the plan is being executed and that it is achieving the desired results. In particular, data are needed to determine whether that precautionary decision rules are being violated. A precautionary approach to monitoring will use many and various sources of information, including environmental and socio-economic data.
Precautionary monitoring of fishing should seek to detect and observe a variety of ancillary impacts, e.g., environmental changes, fish habitat degradation, and effects on birds, mammals and other biota. This monitoring function could use information from fishing participants, indigenous people, and other public groups, and have appropriate procedures to process and analyze this information.
In a precautionary management system, contingency rules should be implemented to ensure compliance with operational targets and constraints in the face of major adverse events with low probability. There should also be mechanisms for revising targets and constraints in the light of unexpected events.
A precautionary system of enforcement and the penalties for non-compliance should have the flexibility for prompt action by redeployment of monitoring and enforcement resources. For example, the first signs of bycatch problems should be followed by more extensive sampling in problem areas according to an agreed procedure or enhanced surveillance of the fishery. In the case of emergency, it should be possible to rapidly modify regulations.
3.4 Re-evaluation of Management Systems
The level of precaution in the management system needs to be re-assessed periodically. This includes: (1) the degree of precaution in the objectives, operational targets and constraints in relation to observed changes in the fishery and the environment, (2) the use of scientific information and other information in the management process, (3) the applicability of the contingency plans for unexpected conditions, and (4) auditing of all procedures in the fisheries management system. Special re-evaluations should be initiated as soon as it becomes apparent that the fishery inadvertently violates the limit reference points established in the plan.
3.5 Implementation guidelines
There are several precautionary measures that fisheries management agencies should take in order to avoid undesirable or unacceptable outcomes in the development of fisheries. Some of these will apply to all types of fisheries, whereas others will be useful only in specific situations such as overexploited fisheries. For illustrative purposes, we list precautionary measures for four typical situations: (1) new or developing fisheries; (2) overutilized fisheries; (3) fully utilized fisheries; and (4) traditional or artisanal fisheries.
The listed measures could be included in comprehensive fisheries plans, but could also be used in the interim for immediate precautionary action. An example interim measure in the case of new fisheries would be a conservative cap on fishing effort. In overutilized fisheries an interim measure would be a rapid reduction of fishing mortality. Once various proposed management plans have been evaluated by the methods discussed above, the approved plan can replace the interim action.
New or developing fisheries
Some of the precautionary measures listed below for new or still-developing fisheries will also apply to fully utilized, overutilized, or artisanal fisheries, as described later. Most of these recommendations also apply to existing fisheries that are not yet managed:
always control access to the fishery early, before problems appear. An open access fishery is not precautionary;
immediately put a conservative cap (or default level) on both fishing capacity and the total fishing mortality rate. This could be achieved by limiting effort or total allowable catch. As well, attention should be paid to preventing excessive investment in the processing sector. The conservative caps should remain in place until analyses of data justify an increase in fishing effort or fishing mortality. The objective is to prevent that the development of the fleet's fishing power and capacity outpaces the ability of management to understand the effect of existing fishing effort;
build in flexibility so that it is feasible to phase vessels out of the fleet, if this becomes necessary. To avoid new investments in fishing capacity, temporarily license vessels from another fishery;
to limit risks to the resource and the environment, use area closures, which are relatively quick to implement and are easily enforceable. Closures provide refuges for fish stocks, protect habitat, and provide areas for comparison with fished areas;
establish precautionary, preliminary biological limit reference points (e.g., spawning stock biomass less than 50% of the initial biomass) in the planning stage as described above;
encourage fishing in a responsible manner to ensure long-term persistence of a productive stock or other parts of the ecosystem. For instance, encourage voluntary agreements on conduct in the fishery through co-management, commnity management, or some form of tenure of fishing rights;
encourage development of fisheries that are economically viable without long- term subsidies;
establish a data collection and reporting system for new fisheries early in their development;
immediately start a research programme on the stock and fisheries, including the response of individual vessels to regulations. When issuing a fishing license, require a vessel to report detailed information, including standard biological data and economic information, and
take advantage of any opportunities for setting up experimental situations to generate information on the resources. This could be done by contrasting different harvesting strategies on subpopulations, for instance.
Most of the above recommendations also apply to fish stocks that are already overutilized, but in addition, special precautionary measures need to be taken for such stocks. These are:
immediately limit access to the fishery and put a cap on a further increase in fishing capacity and fishing mortality rate;
establish a recovery plan that will rebuild the stock over a specific time period with reasonable certainty. This will include several of the components below;
reduce fishing mortality rates long enough to allow rebuilding of the spawning stock. If possible, take immediate short-term action even on the basis of circumstantial evidence about the effectiveness of a particular measure. In some cases this can be accomplished by entirely closing some areas to fishing;
when there is a good year class, give priority to using the recruits to rebuild the stock rather than increasing the allowable harvest;
reduce fishing capacity to avoid recurrence of over-utilization. Remove excessive fishing capacity from the fishery; do not provide subsidies or tax incentives to maintain fishing capacity. If necessary, develop mechanisms to eliminate some fishing effort;
alternatively, allow vessels to move from an overutilized fishery into another fishery, as long as the pressure from this redeployment does not jeopardize the fishery that the vessels are moving into;
do not use artificial propagation as a substitute for the precautionary measures listed above;
in the management plan, establish biological reference points to define recovery, using measures of stock status, such as spawning stock biomass, spatial distribution, age structure, or recruitment, and
for species where it is possible, closely monitor the productivity and total area of required habitat to provide another indicator of when management action is needed.
Fully utilized fisheries
These are fisheries that are heavily harvested but not yet overexploited. Regulatory agencies must particularly watch for signs that the population is becoming overexploited. While some precautionary measures from the above lists apply here, additional measures to take in this situation are:
ensure that there are means to effectively keep fishing mortality rate and fishing capacity at the existing level;
there are many “early-warning signs” that a stock is becoming overutilized (e.g., age structure of the spawners shifting to an unusually high proportion of young fish, shrinking spatial distribution of the stock or species composition in the catch). These warning signs should trigger investigative action according to prespecified procedures while interim management actions are aken, as noted below;
when precautionary or limit reference points are approached closely, prespecified measures should be taken immediately to ensure that they will not be exceeded (i.e., do not wait until violation of a limit point is imminent to start deciding what to do about it);
if limit reference points are exceeded, recovery plans should be implemented immediately to restore the stock. The recommendations for overutilized stocks described above should then be implemented;
to prevent excessively reducing the reproductive capacity of a population, avoid harvesting immature fish, unless there is strong protection of the spawning stock. For example, if immature fish exceed a specified percentage of the catch, close the local area to all harvesting.
Traditional or artisanal fisheries
These are low-technology fisheries carried out by large numbers of small vessels, often where there is no central management agency. Again, many of the recommendations above apply to these fisheries. The following precautionary steps can also apply to some recreational fisheries:
keep some areas closed to fishing in order to obtain the benefits noted above as item (d) under “New or Developing Fisheries”. Also ensure that excessive fishing effort does not develop in the open areas;
delegate some of the decision-making, especially area closures and entry limitations, to local communities or cooperatives;
ensure that fishing pressure from other (e.g., industrial) segments of the fishery does not deplete the resources to the point where severe corrective action is needed, and
investigate the factors that influence the behaviour of harvesters to develop approaches that can control fishing intensity. For example, improving incomes of individual harvesters may reduce pressure on resources.
Application of the precautionary approach to fishery management depends on the amount, type and reliability of information about the fishery and how this information is used to achieve management objectives. The precautionary approach to fishery management is applicable even with very limited information. Research to increase information about a fishery usually increases potential benefits while reducing the risk to the resource. The scientific and research input that is required for the precautionary approach to fisheries is considered under the following headings; management objectives, observations and information base, stock assessment and analysis and decision processes.
4.1 The Role of Research in Establishing Management Objectives
There is a valid scientific role in helping managers develop objectives, so that scientific input to the overall management process is as effective as possible in achieving management intent. The precautionary approach requires continuing and anticipatory evaluation of the consequences of management actions with respect to management objectives. Scientific evaluation of consequences with respect to management objectives requires explicit definition of quantifiable criteria for judgement. An important scientific contribution is in the development of operational targets, constraints and criteria that are both scientifically usable and have management relevance.
Research is required to help formulate biological objectives, targets and constraints regarding the protection of habitat, the avoidance of fishing that significantly reduces population reproductive capacity, and reduces the effects of fishing on other (e.g., non-target) species. Combined with biological research, research on socio-economics and the structure of fishing communities is needed to formulate management objectives.
Until stock specific research leads to the establishment of alternative operational target based on research and practical experiences, a precautionary approach would seek to: (a) maintain the spawning biomass at a prudent level (i.e., above 50% of its unexploited level), (b) keep the fishing mortality rate relatively low (i.e., below the natural mortality rate), (c) avoid intensive fishing on immature fish, (d) protect the habitat.
4.2 Observation Processes and Information Base
A precautionary approach to fisheries requires explicit specification of the information needed to achieve the management objectives, taking account of the management structure, as well as of the processes required to ensure that these needs are met. Periodic evaluation and revision of the data collection system is necessary.
A precautionary approach would include mechanisms to ensure that, at a minimum, discarded catch, retained catch and fishing effort data are accurate and complete. These mechanisms could include use of observers and identification of incentives for industry co-operation.
Recognizing that resource users have substantial knowledge of fisheries, a precautionary approach makes use of their experience in developing an understanding of the fishery and its impacts.
The precautionary approach is made more effective by development of an understanding of the sources of uncertainty in the data sampling processes, and collection of sufficient information to quantify this uncertainty. If such information is available it can be explicitly used in the management procedure to estimate the uncertainty affecting decisions and the resulting risk. If such information is not available, a precautionary approach to fishery management would implicitly account for the unknown uncertainty by being more conservative.
Precautionary fishery monitoring is part of precautionary research. It includes collection of information to address issues and questions that are not only of immediate concern but which may reasonably be expected to be important for future generations on in case objectives are changed. In formation should be collected on target species, bycatch, harvesting capacity, behaviour of the fishery sector, social and economic aspects of the fishery, and ecosystem structure and function. Measures of resource status independent of fishery data are also highly desirable.
The precautionary approach relies on the use of a history of experience with the effects of fishing, in the fishery under consideration and/or similar fisheries, from which possible consequences of fishing can be identified and used to guide future precautionary management. This requires that both data and data collection methods are well documented and available.
There are many management processes and decision structures used throughout the world, such as regional management bodies, co-management, community-based management, and traditional management practices. Research is needed to determine the extent to which different management processes and decision structures promote precaution.
4.3 Assessment Methods and Analysis
Biological reference points for overfishing should be included as part of a precautionary approach.
A precautionary approach specifically requires a more comprehensive treatment of uncertainty than is the current norm in fishery assessment. This requires recognition of gaps in knowledge, and the explicit identification of the range of interpretations that is reasonable given the present information.
The use of complementary sources of fishery information should be facilitated by active compilation and scientific analysis of the relevant traditional knowledge. This should be accompanied by the development of methods by which this information can be used to develop management advice.
Specifically the assessment process should include:
scientific standards of evidence (objective, verifiable and potentially replicable), should be applied in the evaluation of information used in analysis;
a process for assessment and analysis that is transparent, and
periodic, independent, objective and in-depth peer review as a quality assurance.
A precautionary approach to assessment and analysis requires a realistic appraisal of the range of outcomes possible under fishing and the probabilities of these outcomes under different management actions. The precautionary approach to assessment would follow a process of identifying alternative possible hypotheses or states of nature, based on the information available, and examining the consequences of proposed management actions under each of these alternative hypotheses. This process would be the same in data-rich and data-poor analyses. A precautionary assessment would, at the very least, aim to consider: (a) uncertainties in data; (b) specific alternative hypotheses about underlying biological, economic and social processes, and (c) calculation of the theoretical response of the system to a range of alternative management actions. A checklist of issues for consideration under these headings is found in the following paragraphs.
Sources of uncertainty in data include: (a) estimates of abundance; (b) model structure; (c) parameter values used in models; (d) future environmental conditions; (e) effectiveness of implementation of management measures; (f) future economic and social conditions; (g) future management objectives, and (h) fleet capacity and behaviour.
Specific alternative hypotheses about underlying biological, economic and social processes to be considered include: (a) depensatory recruitment or other dynamics giving rapid collapse; (b) changes in behaviour of the fishing industry under regulation, including changes in coastal community structure; (c) medium-term changes in environmental conditions; (d) systematic underreporting of catch data; (e) fishery-dependent estimates of abundance not being proportional to abundance; (f) changes in price or cost to the fishing industry; and (g) changes in ecosystems caused by fishing.
In calculating (simulating) the response of the system to a range of alternative management actions, the following should be taken into account:
short-term (1–2y) projections alone are not sufficient for precautionary assessment; time frames and discount rates appropriate to inter-generational issues should be used, and
scientific evaluation of management options requires specification of operational targets, constraints and decision rules. If these are not adequately specified by managers, then precautionary analysis requires that assumptions be made about these specifications, and that the additional uncertainty resulting from these assumptions be calculated. Managers should be advised that additional specification of targets, constraints and decision rules are needed to reduce this uncertainty.
Methods of analysis and presentation will differ with circumstances, but effective treatment of uncertainty and communication of the results are necessary in a precautionary assessment. Some approaches (see also the Appendix to this section) that could prove useful are:
where there are no sufficient observations to assign probabilities to different states of nature that have occurred, decision tables could be used to represent different degrees of management caution through the Maximin and Minimax criteria;
where the number of different states of nature and the number of potential management actions considered are small, but probabilities can be assigned, decision tables can be used to show the consequences and probabilities of all combinations of these, and
where the range of states of nature is large, the evaluation of management procedures is more complex, requiring integration across the various sources of uncertainty.
A precautionary approach to analysis would examine the ability of the data collection system to detect undesirable trends. When the ability to detect trends is low, management should be cautious.
Since concern regarding the reversibility of the adverse impacts of fishing is a major reason for a precautionary approach, research on reversibility in ecosystems should be an important part of developing precautionary approaches.
4.4 Implementation Guidelines
The following measures could be applied in order to implement a precautionary approach to fishery research:
take into account the best scientific evidence available when designing and adopting management and conservation measures, in accordance with the provisions of the 1982 UNCLOS Convention. In the context of precautionary management, the best scientific evidence is described in section 4.3;
require a minimum level of information to be made available for any fishery to start or continue;
ensure that the “lack of full scientific certainty shall be not used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation” (principle 15 of the Rio Declaration);
reduce critical uncertainties in the management plan;
take measures aimed at eliminating or reducing non-reporting and misreporting, inter alia, by ensuring that the fisheries sector cooperates in data collection and the public is fully informed of the results and uncertainty in the assessment;
systematically analyze various possible management options using the whole range of available models (bioeconomic, multispecies and behavioural), showing: (a) the likely direction and magnitude of the biological, social and economic consequences; (b) the related levels of uncertainty and the potential costs of the proposed action (risk assessment), and of no action (status quo scenarios);
promote multidisciplinary research, including: (a) social, economic and environmental sciences, and (b) research on management institutions and decision-making processes;
develop scientific information on multispecies and ecosystem processes as a foundation for identifying acceptable degrees of disturbance;
identify biological limit and target reference points for affected species and stocks, habitats and the ecosystem at large;
identify bioeconomic reference points to address the objectives of the fishery management plan;
improve methods for quantification of direct and indirect impacts of fishing;
improve understanding of the performance of different management structures in relation to precaution;
develop methods for optimizing the monitoring system, and
develop research and development programmes aiming at improving the performance of fishery technology in relation to environmental impacts and precautionary management.
The Minimax/Maximin approach is a way of examining uncertainty and guiding decisions without the need for explicit statements of probabilities on the alternative hypotheses (Schmid, A. 1989, Cost-benefit analysis, West View Press). In the table below, S1 and S2 represent the alternative hypotheses about the resource (sometimes called “the different states of nature”). In this example, S1 is a hypothesis that implies a higher level of resource productivity and sustainable yield than S2. In the table rows, D1 to D3 represent alternative decisions. In this example D1, D2 and D3 broadly represent respectively a high, medium, and low level of fishing effort. The Ps represent the probabilities being placed on hypotheses being true. Values in the table represent the relative value of the outcome of a decision as applied to a given state of nature. In the example, these values could be regarded as representing sustainable catch.
The Maximin Values Criterion is a cautious approach that leads to selects the maximum (highest) of the minimum outcome. The following table gives the relative value of outcomes for decisions given the hypothesis being true. Decision 2 would be chosen by this approach.
The Minimax Regret Criterion is a less cautious approach that selects the minimum of the maximum regret. The following table give a measure of regret for each decision when the hypothesis is true. Decision 3 would be chosen by this approach.
The decision table approach uses the probabilities of alternative hypotheses of the state of nature, along with the values of the outcomes of decisions to give an expected value and variance of each action across all alternative hypotheses.
The decision is to select the desired trade-off between the variance and the expected value of the outcome. The variance is a measure of uncertainty and the expected value gives the expected result of choosing a given policy. Policy D1 has a high expected outcome with the highest uncertainty, and a 0.3 probability of a very poor outcome. On the other hand, policy D2 has a much lower expected outcome with lower uncertainty, and no probability of a poor outcome.
Methods that integrate across uncertainty: Where the number of possible states of nature is large, as is almost always the case, a mathematical equivalent operation to that described above for a simple decision table can be carried out. This results in the calculation of outcome probabilities for each possible decision, integrating across uncertainties.
Recognizing that many aquatic resources are overfished and that the fishing capacity presently available jeopardize their conservation and rational use, technological changes aimed solely at further increasing fishing capacity would not generally be seen as desirable. Instead a precautionary approach to technological changes would aim at:
improving the conservation and long-term sustainability of living aquatic resources;
preventing irreversible or unacceptable damage to the environment;
improving the social and economic benefits derived from fishing, and
improving the safety and working conditions of fishery workers.
Fishery technology consists of the equipment and practices used for finding, harvesting, handling, processing and distributing of aquatic resources and their products.
Different fishery technologies will have different effects on the ecosystem, the social structure of fishing communities, the safety of fishery workers and the ease, effectiveness and efficiency of management of the fishery. It is the amount and context in which fishery technology is used (e.g. when, where and by whom) that influence whether the objectives of fisheries management are reached, and not the technology. For instance, the current overfishing of many aquatic resources is the product of both the efficiency of the finding and catching technologies and of the amount used. Similarly, building a fishmeal plant might involuntarily result in severe changes in the way the fishery is conducted, and in the community's social structure.
Fishery technology is constantly evolving and its efficiency in catching fish will increase over time. For example, a 4% increase in efficiency per year would cause a doubling of the fishing mortality rate in 18 years if the fishing effort remained constant. A precautionary approach to management should take such increases into account.
A precautionary approach should be adopted for the development of new technologies or the transfer of existing technologies to other fisheries to avoid unplanned abrupt changes in fishing pressure or social structures. Certain technologies will be considered undesirable, if they create unacceptable effects (e.g., poison or explosives) or if their adoption leads to wasteful use (e.g., at sea, sorting machines have been banned where they might increase discarding).
Fishery technologies produce side effects on the environment and on non-target species. These effects have often been ignored but, in the context of a precautionary approach, some technologies may warrant a review. Similarly, a precautionary approach would encourage careful consideration of the side effects of new fishery technologies before they are introduced.
Each fishery technology has advantages and disadvantages that should be balanced in a precautionary approach, and it may be better to have a mixture of technologies. When new fishery technology is introduced, it should be carefully evaluated to assess its potential direct and indirect effects. If a mix of fishery technology representing “best current practice” in an area can be identified, precautionary management would encourage its adoption while it would discourage damaging ones. Responsible fishery technology achieves the specific fishery management objectives with the minimum damaging side effects. These concepts (of responsible fishing and best current practices) were addressed by the UN General Assembly1 and in the Cancun Declaration2.
A precautionary approach would provide for a process of initial and on-going review of the effects of fishery technology as it is introduced or evolves in local practice. However, the extent to which a precautionary approach can be applied to the management of technological changes depends on the existing level of management. In some cases, education of fishermen and consumers towards responsible practices may be the only possible approach. Where elaborate research, management and enforcement systems are in place, a wider variety of options are available for application of the precautionary approach. However, although some gears and practices are prohibited they may continue to be used. The adoption of a precautionary approach to the management of new fishery technology depends on the ability to achieve compliance through education and/or enforcement. The following sections assume that institutional arrangements exist to achieve compliance.
5.3 Evaluating the Impacts of Technologies
A precautionary approach to developing and selecting responsible technologies for fishing requires an appropriate understanding of the consequences of their adoption and use. These consequences, particularly the impacts on non-target species and ecosystems, may be highly uncertain. Nevertheless, some information exists and more can be obtained. The problem of evaluating impacts is relevant both to the use of existing technologies and to the development of new ones, as well as to the introduction of existing technologies to new areas. The description of a given technology would state its relative impacts and advantages for a given species in a specific environment. Target fishery, environmental and ecosystem, socio-economic and legal factors should be considered when evaluating the impacts of fishery technologies.
The factors to consider when evaluating the impacts of fishery technology include:
target-fishery factors such as selectivity by size and species (e.g., target, non- target, and protected species; discards; survival of escapees; “Ghost fishing”; and catching capacity;
environmental and ecosystem factors such as bio-diversity; habitat degradation; contamination and pollution; generation of debris and rubbish disposal; direct mortality; predator-prey relationships;
socio-economic factors such as safety and occupational hazards; training requirements; user conflicts; economic performance; employment; monitoring and enforcement requirements and costs; and techno-economic factors (i.e., infrastructure and service requirements; cost and technological accessibility; product quality; and energy efficiency), and
legal factors such as existing legislation; need for new legislation; international agreements; and civil liberties.
1 General Assembly resolution 44/228 of 22 December 1989 on UNCED referred instead to “environmentally sound technology”, stressing the need for socio-economic constraints to be taken into account. The wording does not pretend to limit the choice to a single “best” or soundest technology, implying that many “sound” technologies may be used together, depending on the socio-economic context of their introduction
2 The Cancun Declaration (Mexico, 1992) provides that “States should promote the development and use of selective fishing gear and practices that minimise waste of catch of target species and minimise by-catch of non-target species”, focusing on only one aspect of responsible fishing technology
These factors could be used to identify beneficial new technologies or damaging ones, to assess the ability of a fishery to accommodate increased use of an established technology and to help direct monitoring and special reporting procedures towards important questions. Technologies for aids to navigation, fish-locating devices, processing and distribution could also be described and evaluated using the above criteria. This will require a suitable description of technologies, cross-referenced against a range of possible impacts. Other elements relevant to the specific technology/area evaluated would also be included.
The approaches used to evaluate impacts will vary according to the human and financial resources available to collect information. If resources are limited, it may be possible to make decisions based on existing information on the impacts of similar technologies in similar environments. Monitoring of existing fishing practices (for examle recording of bycatch) will provide additional information.
Where financial and human resources are limited, existing information on impacts could be used to do desk studies following the approach to evaluation suggested above. Although some general guidelines can be given, based on known characteristics of types of resources and technology, the most appropriate mix of technologies to be used in a particular fishery should be established on a case-by-case basis, following evaluations made at appropriate regional and national levels. Such evaluations could be refined with practical experience and weighed in accordance with local social and economic values.
In the case of new technologies, or technologies new to an area, pilot studies may be cost-effective in evaluating the impacts and can be useful in demonstrating the benefits of new technology. For example, the introduction of escape ports in lobster traps for undersized individuals demonstrated to fishermen that catch rates of large lobsters increased. On the other hand, pilot studies cannot demonstrate long-term gains such as increased yield per recruit, but they will show the short-term losses.
Considerable resources are required for major experiments to measure effects of fishery technology on the marine environment, but well-designed experiments of this type (either as research projects or via experimental management) will provide the most useful information on which to judge the impacts of technologies in particular areas or habitats. This information may be relevant in other areas than the study sites or fisheries from which the data were derived.
Procedures developed in other contexts for protecting the environment3 could also be suitable when evaluating new technologies in fisheries or major alterations to existing ones. This would be particularly necessary when there are vulnerable resources or fragile ecosystems, that must be protected. In a precautionary approach, proponents of new fishery technology would be required by the State to provide for a proper evaluation of the potential impacts of new techniques before authorization is given.
The maximum cost that could be justified for evaluating new fishery technology or practices should be in proportion to the expected benefits and impacts.
In a precautionary approach to managing fishery technology, a designated lead authority should have the mandate to evaluate and decide on the acceptability of a proposed new technology, or changes to existing technology, and oversee the impact evaluation procedure. Proponents and other stakeholders should be able to appeal if the proper procedure has not been followed or if the decision by authorities does not appear to agree with the conclusions of the review.
As authorization procedures in the majority of cases would be for minor technical improvements, the procedures could be kept simple and administration costs held at a relatively low level. However, minimal progressive improvements will accumulate over time and periodic reviews of the impacts of existing technology will be necessary. Increases in catching efficiency result from the rapid growth in the use of modern information technologies in most fisheries around the world (acoustic fish detection and identification, gear and vessel monitoring, satellite-based environmental sensing and navigation, and easy inter-vessel communication). However, information, formally treated as “a measure of the reduction of uncertainty”, can also potentially improve selectivity, safety and profitability of fishing operations and thus create beneficial effects.
3 Before introducing a possibly dangerous technology or discharging pollutants, industries have to provide information on the potential impact in order to obtain a permit from authorities. Usually a number of special measures are prescribed for monitoring the effect and limiting the possible impacts on the environment. A softer approach is the Prior Informed Consent (PIC), a more stringent one the Prior Consultation Procedures (PCP); the former mainly requires a consent from those who could possibly become affected, while the latter is a more formal procedure. Those mechanisms however are efficient only when there is a powerful and competent environmental authority.
Restricting the use of improved information technologies will rarely be justified or successful and there should be a positive attitude towards technical progress in fisheries in general especially with regards to safety at sea and fishermen's health.
The benefits of technological improvements need adequate extension work and education to encourage their adoption. The promotion of the best technology would benefit from improvement in international cooperation regarding technology transfer, as underscored in UNCED's Agenda 21. The successful international efforts in the Eastern Central Pacific in training crews in effectively avoiding bycatches of dolphins through the use of specifically designed technology is a good example of what can be achieved in this respect.
5.5 Technology Research and Development
Fishery technology research in support of a precautionary approach would encourage the improvement of existing technologies and promote the development of appropriate new technologies. Such research would not just concentrate on gears used for capture; for example, research into the cost-effective purification of water supplies to ice plants might considerably reduce post-harvest losses and improve product quality and safety.
Technological developments such as satellite tracking may also help precautionary management by improving monitoring of commercial operations and by enabling research to reduce uncertainty about relevant aspects of fisheries science.
5.6 Implementation Guidelines
The following measures could be applied in order to implement a precautionary approach to fishery technology development and transfer.
Effective mechanisms to ensure that the introduction of technology is subject to review and regulation should be established.
A first step in the evaluation procedure is the documentation of the characteristics and amount of the fishery technology currently used.
Procedures for the evaluation of new technologies with a view to identify their characteristics in order to promote the use of beneficial technologies and prevent usage of those leading to difficult-to-reverse changes should be established.
These procedures should evaluate with appropriate accuracy the possible impacts of the proposed technology in order to avoid wasteful capital and social investments.
Authorities should ensure that proponents and other stakeholders understand their obligations and their rights regarding such procedures.
The extent of the evaluation procedures should match the potential effects of the proposed technology, e.g., from desk study through full scale impact studies, possibly including or leading to pilot projects.
Authorities should implement technology gradually to minimize the risk of irreversible damage or overinvestment.
Existing technologies and their effect on the environment should be reviewed periodically.
Technological developments may modify the practices of fishery workers. To achieve the full benefits of the technology and to ensure the safety of fishery workers, training in the proper use of the new technology should be provided.
In fisheries that are being rehabilitated, the opportunity should be taken to review the mix of technologies used.
Research into responsible fishery technology should be encouraged.
Technology research for the reduction of uncertainty in stock assessment and monitoring should be encouraged.
Because of the high probability that impacts of species introduction be of irreversible and unpredictable impacts, many species introductions are not precautionary. Therefore, a strictly precautionary approach would not permit deliberate introductions and would take strong measures to prevent unintentional introductions. Recognizing the difficulties with introductions, the objectives of a precautionary approach to species introductions in relation to capture fisheries should be to reduce the risk of adverse impacts of introductions on capture fisheries, to establish corrective or mitigating procedures (as in contingency plan) in advance of actual adverse effects, and to minimize unintended introductions to wild ecosystems and associated capture fisheries.
In relation to aquaculture, experience has shown that animals will usually escape the confines of a facility. As a consequence, the introduction of aquatic organisms for aquaculture should be considered as a purposeful introduction into the wild, even though the quarantine/hatchery facility may be a closed system.
Introduction and transfers (hereafter referred to as introductions) are an effective means to increase protein, generate income and provide employment. However, some intended and many unintended introductions may result in significant and serious impacts on capture fisheries. The numbers of unintended introductions, for example by means of ballast water, greatly outnumber those purposefully introduced for capture fisheries. In the case of introduced species for fishery purposes, the risk to capture fisheries can be reduced by the use of internationally accepted codes, such as the 1994 ICES Code of Practice (see Annex A)4. This code forms a basis for a more precautionary introduction and should be widely circulated and explained.
For a precautionary approach to fishery management, irreversible changes in the time scale of human generations and other undesirable impacts should be avoided, taking into account uncertainty. Species introduction, either purposeful or unintended, may have such undesirable effects. Once a species has been introduced, it cannot usually be eradicated, although it may be possible to mitigate its undesirable effects.
The difficulty in reversing an introduction and its adverse effects should figure prominently in the decision process on whether to allow an introduction. Assessment of the risks of intentional introductions on fisheries is necessary for the precautionary approach; the ICES Code of Practice provides a procedure for such an assessment.
To encourage more compliance with the precautionary approach to introductions, the existing Code of Practice formulated for the ICES region can be modified and adapted to suit more national implementation of the codes by streamlining its procedures without weakening the rigour of the codes.
Unintended introductions are inherently unprecautionary because they can rarely be evaluated in advance. A precautionary approach would aim at reducing the risk of such unintended introductions and minimize their impact.
6.2 Main Issues and Objectives
Introductions are considered here from the perspective of the fishery sector. The main reasons for deliberate introductions include production of protein, employment, generation of foreign exchange, biological control and recreation. Species have been introduced through activities associated with transport (i.e., ballast water, ship and oil-rig fouling), trade in living organisms including aquarium species, aquaculture and fisheries (commercial, recreational, stock enhancement, organisms carried on fishing equipment, live bait fish). Many of these activities have increased over the last century and are expected to increase further in the future.
4 Editor's note: The ICES Code of Practice originally drafted by ICES was subsequently finalized jointly by ICES and EIFAC for use by FAO Regional Fisheries Bodies. The Code is still being evolved and supplementary material is being produced by FAO to assist in its implementation mainly in developing countries
Potential impacts of some introductions on the fishery sector included changes in the distribution and abundance of fishery resources through disease, changes in predator- prey relationships, changes in competition, mixing of bad (maladapted) genes, and habitat modification. There may also be second and third order changes that affect the ecosystem. Changes in fishing strategy and the fishing community may also require changes in fishing gear and season to allow for a newly introduced species to establish itself or to avoid potential side issues associated with the new fishery. Climate changes may also have significant consequences that may modify the environment, making it more suitable for introductions of either useful or harmful species.
The use of introduced species, including genetically modified and genetically selected organisms, may allow for continued or increased production from habitats that have been so altered or degraded that native fisheries are no longer viable. Care should be taken not to use this potential productivity from introduced species as justification for further abuse of habitat or for delaying their restoration.
6.3 Research and Technology
The ICES Code of Practice (Annex A) describes the research activities that should be conducted in advance of an introduction as follows: (1) desk assessment of the biology and ecology of the intended introduction; (2) preparation of a hazard assessment (detailed analysis of potential environmental impacts); (3) examination of the species within its home range. The results of the above research should be contained in a prospectus or proposal to be submitted to the competent authority for evaluation and decision.
Technological intervention can be used during and following the introduction; such technologies may include:
use of hatcheries and quarantine stations to reduce the change of spread of disease to fishery resources, and to impart some control on numbers of exotic organisms released;
use of sterile organisms to reduce the chance of interbreeding with natural fish stocks;
genetic stock identification to reduce or prevent genetic changes in the fishery resource;
disease diagnostics to monitor the health of the introduced species, and
development of the use of limited (pilot) scale introductions to assess impacts and performance.
Continued research and technological intervention on introduced species as part of a monitoring and evaluation scheme should be conducted to assess their impact, health and performance within their new habitat. In this regard, databases or registries of introduction of aquatic species, including their ecological and socio-economic impact, have been established and should be maintained by competent organizations with input from the fishery sector.
Although unintended introductions may arise from several sources, such as fouling organisms, removal of natural barriers and aquarium fish trade, ballast water is probably the most significant and troublesome for the fishery sector and, therefore, emphasized here. In the case of ballast water and sediment, desk studies may be undertaken to determine (1) main ballast water sources, (2) volumes of ballast introduced, and (3) likely “hot spots” as sources of introductions.
Active research should take place and continue on:
practical methods for treating organisms in ballast water and sediment;
study of dynamics of target species in voyage;
study of algal cysts in ships ballast sediment and in port areas;
effectiveness of reballasting activities;
design changes to ballast water tanks to kill or control harmful species in ballast water, and
vessel design that will facilitate the treatment and handling of ballast sediments and water.
Research into new effective non-biocidal antifouling materials should continue to reduce the risks of introductions on ships' hulls and to replace those biocidal application detrimental for capture fisheries. Antifouling agents are designed to reduce drag and increase the fuel efficiency of a vessel and its long-term efficacy, but they should also be environmentally friendly. Consideration should also be given to those antifouling agents designed to control organisms that would be especially harmful to capture fisheries, even though they may not affect the performance of the vessel.
The first step to managing introductions is to establish a management authority with responsibility for evaluation of proposed introductions, approval in accordance with these guidelines and assuring monitoring of the effects of the introduction. The management of species introductions will involve comparative risk assessment and choices between various options to increase productivity. Management options are limited here to those in the aquatic sector, although countries may be aware of broader issues, such as the development of other sector (e.g., agriculture).
International codes of practice, such as the ICES code, provide a good framework for the management of purposeful species introductions. These codes should not be seen as a hindrance to development, but rather as a tool to help importers make good choices with regard to introductions. Implementation of the code should increase the probability of success of an appropriate introduction.
Intended introductions should be controlled. As a consequence, those making an introduction should follow the ICES or similar code of practice as appropriate and would be expected to demonstrate caution by preparing a proposal covering: (1) the purpose and objectives of the introduction in advance of the introduction, (2) all relevant biological, ecological, and genetic data of the species in the target area likely to be affected, (3) analysis of potential impacts at the introduction site, including potential ecological, genetic and disease impacts and consequences of its spread, and (4) a qualitative and, where possible, a quantitative risk assessment.
If this proposal is approved: (1) a brood stock should be established at a suitable quarantine site; (2) all effluents from facility should be appropriately sterilized; (3) isolated first generation individuals, free of disease, should be released to the wild in small numbers; and (4) studies of the introduction in the new environment should be continued.
A contingency plan should take account of negative effects should they become apparent and warrant intervention.
The code should also cover introductions that are part of current commercial practice (live trade in fish and shellfish) and recommend: (a) periodic inspection prior to exportation; (b) regular inspection; and (c) quarantine and control if appropriate.
The concern expressed in relation to the introduction of species for fisheries, using the ICES Code, should apply to those species under consideration for biological control, which may have implications for capture fisheries. Bio-control programmes should be weighed carefully against other control methodologies, such as physical and chemical techniques or through intensive fishing. It is likely biological control techniques will take some years to evaluate, through field trials. Much may be learned from the studies on biological control in other disciplines, such as entomology.
The proposal submitted by the potential importer of an exotic species and its review by the competent authority serve as precautionary measures to reduce the chance of a harmful introduction. Governments may wish to consider for national legislation that, if these elements of the code are not followed, the importer of an exotic species may be financially responsible and subject to liability, should significant negative effects arise.
Care should be taken to ensure that the introduced population has an adequate genetic resource base, i.e., genetic diversity, low inbreeding, etc. This may reduce the need for additional introductions, which might otherwise be necessary to increase the genetic resource base. In addition, consideration should be given to the use of gametes, e.g., eggs, cryopreserved sperm, as import material instead of whole organisms to reduce the risk of introducing disease or unintended organisms.
Introduction of undesirable species via ballast water poses problems for fisheries worldwide. In addition to unintentional introductions by ballast water, there are many other mechanisms, including fishing and trade in live fish. Fishing can introduce species by transporting live or fresh bait, or biologically contaminated fishing gear between ecosystems. With trade in live organisms (for aquarium or human consumption), there is the risk of escape.
Authorities responsible for regulating fishing and trade in fish products should establish regulations to reduce these risks, commensurate with the severity of potential adverse impacts. However, the national and international competent authorities that deal with ballast issues are seldom also responsible for fishery management matters. Cooperation between these authorities would greatly aid the management of this problem.
In order to reduce the risk of introductions of organisms in ballast water on capture fisheries in or near deballasting areas, the following methods of prevention include, as recommended by the IMO (1994, Annex B): (a) non-release of ballast; (b) ballast water exchange(s) in or near approved areas; (c) preventing or minimizing uptake of contaminated water or sediment (in shallow water, near dredging operations, during algal blooms); (d) special ballasting facilities on shore; (e) education of crews about ballast-water management procedures, and (f) treatments of ballast water, including changes in temperature and salinity and use of biocides (chemicals).
Although the issues of ballast-water transport, fouling organisms and other unintentional introductions may fall outside the mandate of fishery ministries, the fishery sector could contribute to the management of such introductions, which impact upon the industry. This could be accomplished by promoting the establishment and maintenance in the appropriate institution, of an accessible database on ballast or fouling organisms that have a demonstrated impact on fisheries, by promoting a network of experts who would identify problems, assist with species identification, and delimit areas of impact. The fishery sector may be well placed to detect the spread of harmful ballast/fouling organisms and should, therefore, contribute to such databases and networks once established, and may take a lead in instigating action on environmental management.
Introduced organisms may cause major changes in ecosystems, especially in port and associated, partly enclosed or enclosed areas, such as lagoons. Such introductions may result in changes in the productivity of local harvested species. Monitoring of introduced organisms and fisheries in these areas may provide useful information as a basis for modifying management techniques and policy for harvested resources.
6.5 Implementation Guidelines
Those making introductions should consider the ICES code as a means to reduce introductions of harmful or nuisance species, including parasites and diseases, which may impact on capture fisheries:
To encourage a more precautionary approach, governments outside the ICES region should follow the principles or recommendations of the code according to their particular circumstances. Critical elements to be considered are a proposal, independent review by a scientific body, and subsequent protocols if an introduction is approved.
In addition to codes of practice issued by ICES and IMO, the following may be useful as a precautionary approach to introduced species:
establish clear and straightforward procedures and protocols on the mechanisms for the management of introduced species under the relevant competent government agencies with authority to address issues of compliance, responsibility, and liability;
promote cooperation between the fishery sector and other sectors dealing with the aquatic environment in order to coordinate policy and regulation of introduced species, especially the national shipping sector, and port authorities and international organizations, e.g., ICES, FAO, IMO and ICLARM, which have relevant expertise;
encourage relevant groups (e.g., importer and regulatory agencies) to consider the development of a contingency plan in the event that the introduced species does no fulfil expectations or causes adverse impacts;
promote education, training and awareness of harmful species introductions, disseminate as widely as possible the ICES and IMO codes of practice and advise responsible authorities within the fishery and other sectors on the procedures of these codes;
develop an international information system in appropriate institutions on ballast or fouling organisms, which have demonstrated impacts on fisheries, by promoting a network of experts who would identify problems, species identification, and areas of impact, arrange standardization of sampling methods (inter-calibration), and develop a monitoring system so that changes can be evaluated in high-risk areas. Should unwanted species be detected, an eradication programme should be considered;
encourage compliance with the code by the fishing industry and other users of aquatic resources; national governments could encourage self-policing and self-enforcing by fishing industry and other users of the resource in minimising the impacts of introducing species by unauthorised means, and
conduct research on the applicability of information gained from introductions of limited numbers of animals (e.g. pilot/experimental introductions).
Promotion and maintenance of databases on species deliberately introduced for capture fisheries is suggested. This would include the impact of these introductions. Importers or fishery managers may wish to consult such databases to assist in the proposal formulation and its evaluation.
The development of effective non-biocidal antifouling applications to reduce the risk of introduction from ship fouling is encouraged.