Information is critical to EAF. It underpins the formulation of national policies, the development of management plans and the evaluation of management progress. Given that EAF involves a broadening of current fisheries management practices, it requires a broadening of the information necessary for good management. In some countries, most of the required information will be readily available, but in others EAF will have to be based on incomplete information. Where this is the case, the best available information must be used. Information is required to formulate the following components of EAF.
In addition, all the potential direct and indirect effects of the fishery on species and habitats need to be described. These should include information on aspects such as the habitats that may be affected, the species composition of both retained and non-retained bycatch, the impact of nutrient and contaminant releases, the impact of fishing on life history traits, the legal framework and the possible management measures to reduce adverse environmental impacts.
Fisheries management under EAF should be aimed at achieving the agreed objectives. As a result, the information that will need to be routinely collected in order to feed into the decision-making process will be clear once the operational objectives and indicators have been identified. Additional information may also need to be collected for the short- and long-term reviews and assessments of management performance. Due to the complex and dynamic nature of the ecosystems in which fisheries operate, there will always be gaps in the knowledge and information required but managers and stakeholders will need to make the best decisions they can using the information that is available.
Potential research gaps and requirements are presented on pages 51 and 52.