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Jake Rice84


The six factors of unsustainability are mapped onto the four major components of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). An analysis is given of which dimension(s) of sustainability are most responsive to each combination, whether the responses are likely to favour or impede improved sustainability of the fishery, and if the responses are expected to differ in the short and long term. Results are summarised, and justified with examples. In conducting this analysis a discussion is presented as to how uncertainty is affected by the EAF components, and the clarity with which the EAF component can actually guide decision-making is taken into account. This is done by raising Uncertainty to the level of another factor of Unsustainability. Finally, the potential of each responsive combination to offer some escape from the maze of unsustainability - where gains in one dimension are at the expense of losses in others - is considered.


The Ecosystem Approach (EA) has been widely acknowledged to be an important step forward in fisheries management (FAO 2002a, Pikitch et al 2004). It has been embraced as a central component of marine policy instruments nationally and internationally, such as the Johannesburg Declaration (UN 2002), Reykjavik Declaration (FAO 2002b), Bergen Declaration (2001), and the EU Marine Strategy (EC 2003). These commitments suggest that the EA should help provide at least some solutions to the conundrum of a persistent trend towards unsustainability in fisheries (FAO 2004), despite strong commitments by governments to the principle of sustainability. Is that the case?

FAO (2002a) defines an EAF:

“An ecosystem approach to fisheries strives to balance diverse societal objectives, by taking into account the knowledge and uncertainties about biotic, abiotic, and human components of ecosystems and their interactions and applying an integrated approach to fisheries within ecological meaningful boundaries”.

The many treatments of the EAF have four core concepts in common. These are as follows.

Throughout all four concepts a holistic view should be taken, such that the interactions among parts receive as much attention as the parts themselves.

In considering unsustainability of fisheries, it is important to focus on the multi-dimensional nature of sustainability. Although Charles (2001) points out the existence of four dimensions; ecological, economic, social, cultural, and institutional, this paper focuses on contrasting the biological and the social/economic dimensions. Many of the major impacts of an EAF will be expressed in contrasting ways along these axes. The prominence of governance issues in the EAF suggest that a more detailed treatment by social scientists possibly could refine differences among the social, economic, and institutional dimensions, but there is no reason to expect those differences would alter greatly trade-offs that have to be made between the ecological dimension of sustainability and the other dimensions.

The factors which contribute to the pervasiveness of unsustainability have been identified (FAO 2002b) as:

Past investigations have determined that the pervasiveness of unsustainability can be traced in large part to the interaction of these factors with the multi-dimensionality of sustainability. Measures often can be identified which address any one of the factors if it is conspicuously unfavourable on one of the dimensions. However, in rectifying that pathology, conditions are made worse on other dimensions (FAO 2002b). Across many case histories, this lack of globally favourable options seems nearly universal, and progress requires redefining objectives on at least one of the dimensions of sustainability (FAO 2004). Sustainability has long been recognised as requiring societal choices, but not all options are equally viable. Unfortunately, the limits of ecosystems rarely can be redefined to accommodate intensive human uses, and social, political, and economic forces often make it challenging to redefine objectives regarding uses to make them inter-compatible and all achievable within the bounds of ecosystem limits.

In this paper I shall map the six factors of unsustainability onto the four major components of an EAF. I will analyse which dimension(s) of sustainability are most responsive to each combination, whether the responses are likely to favour or impede improved sustainability of the fishery, and if the responses are expected to differ in the short and long term. Results are summarised in Table 1, and justified with examples below. In conducting this analysis it is necessary discuss how uncertainty is affected by the EAF components, to take account of the clarity with which the EAF component can actually guide decision-making. This is done by raising Uncertainty to the level of another factor of Unsustainability. Finally, I will consider the potential of each responsive combination to offer some escape from the maze of unsustainability –which gains on one dimension are at the expense of losses on others.


Many fisheries assessment methods are based on equilibrium assumptions about populations and ecosystems (Hilborn and Walters 1992, Quinn and Deriso 1999), and many of the basic tools in fisheries economics are also based on equilibrium assumptions about both fish supply and market conditions (Clark 1990). Nonetheless (at least on the biological side) practitioners have acknowledged these assumptions are made for practical reasons, not because they are believed. Significant scientific effort has been expended dealing with at least the most obvious non-equilibrium conditions; for example multispecies VPA to deal with predator-prey dynamics (Pope 1991, ICES 2002a), including environmental forcing in recruitment and growth (ICES 2002b, 2003a), and finding assessment tools and management approaches which are robust to non-stationarity (ex. Butterworth and Punt 1999, Hilborn et al. 2002).

There are many ways that environmental forcing can affect stock dynamics and production. Environmental variation often has pattern of regimes at decadal and multi-decadal scales (Francis and Hare 1994, McKinnel at al. 2001, Conners et al. 2002). These regimes, in turn have important implications for stock productivity and sustainable management approaches (Rice 2001, Klyashtorin 2001, Chavez 2003). Some major oceanographic events, such as ENSOs (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) can affect stock dynamics throughout entire ocean basins or even globally (Polovina et al. 1996, Greatbatch et al. 2004). Many Eastern Boundary Current and Boreal ecosystems appear to have a “wasp-waist” structure, with a key forage species at a central position in the food web and sensitive to strong, direct environmental forcing on its productivity (Rice 1995, Cury et al. 2003). Correspondingly, there are many calls to accommodate such environmental considerations in scientific advice on fisheries. How would dealing with such forcing affect the factors of sustainability?

Dealing with environmental forcing is going to have major impacts on Complexity and Lack of Knowledge, and the effects may be either positive or negative. The effect can be positive in that the true complexity of the ecosystem being exploited is more fully acknowledged. Taking a positive view assumes that the contribution of Complexity to unsustainability arose from dealing analytically with a simple representation of the fisheries production system and then basing management on the analytical results. Because the ecosystem being exploited was much more complex than the representation, the analyses were not wholly reliable and results of management rarely led to the expected results (ex. Harris 1990). Adding environmental forcing to the representation of production necessarily reduces the discrepancy between the analytical results and actual productivity of the system, although both are still probabilistic representations (ex. Cury and Roy 1989). The benefits can be large if the environmental forcing is strong.

The negative aspect of considering environmental forcing in an EAF is that the Lack of Knowledge is likely to be amplified. Single-species representations may oversimplify factors such as natural mortality by presenting them as constants. However treating them as dynamic life history parameters means that their functional forms must be represented analytically, and the parameters of the functional relationship estimated. This is not simple; after half a century of effort it is still not straightforward to model how recruitment depends on mature biomass. Additional terms for effects like water temperature or predator abundance can be added to those functions (ex. Swain and Sinclair 2000, Williams and Quinn 2000), but the underlying shape of the relationship is rarely known. Nonparametric density estimation methods offer a means to avoid this problem to a limited extent (Rice 1993). However, those methods highlight the general scarcity of data on how expected stock status or yield is related to ecosystem conditions. Within an EAF context, tasks as comparatively simple as improving the estimates of predation mortality on harvested North Sea fish required analysing tens of thousands of stomachs and several years of analytical work (Daan 1989, Pope 1991, Hislop 1997). There is a trade-off to be faced –the greater the improvement sought by addressing ecosystem Complexity directly within an EAF, the more chronic will be the limitations presented by Lack of Knowledge of what causes and organises the Complexity.

The above discussion of Complexity and Lack of Knowledge has focused on the Ecological dimension of sustainability. If environmental forcing in an EAF interprets the “environment” as the biotic and abiotic marine ecosystem, links to social and economic dimensions of sustainability are mostly indirect, and mediated by the state of the resource.

If “environmental forcing” is defined very broadly to include the state of human society as part of the “environment” then there are direct linkages as well. If a change in global oil prices, for example, is considered an “environmental forcer” then it affects the social and economic dimensions of sustainability directly. Such interpretations of “environmental forcing” are uncommon, however, and usually brought into planning and managing use of resources in other ways. If they are part of this consideration, however, the same basic trade-off applies. There is a benefit on the Complexity side of the ledger, as dynamic social and economic systems are represented more realistically in the models used for planning and management. There is a directly reciprocal cost, however, for as the representations get more realistic the demands for knowledge and data escalate.

Consideration of environmental forcing also has major effects on how Uncertainty contributes to unsustainability. Conceptually, the effect should be strongly positive, because many sources of uncertainty are related to the environmental dynamics of the ecosystem. If we knew the shapes of the functional relationships between environmental forcers and stock productivities, and had the data to estimate the parameters of those relationships, two major sources of uncertainty (Rosenburg and Restrepo 1994, Patterson et al 2001) would be included directly in assessments. If we could forecast future states of nature, we could carry those relationships into planning and management of the fisheries.

The reality is different. We rarely know which relationships to use, can rarely estimate parameters with accuracy and precision, and even more rarely can predict future states of nature with confidence. Pragmatic alternatives are available. Multiple alternative representations can bracket the plausible ways that environmental factors may relate to the stock dynamics. This strategy is currently adopted to consider possible effect of both oceanographic conditions (Anon 2003, ICES 2004a) and seal predation (Shelton et al 1997, Bogstad et al. 2000, CSAS 2002) on cod stocks in Barents Sea, and Icelandic and Canadian waters. Give multiple plausible representations of a fisheries ecosystem, management approaches can be sought which are robust in the face of that uncertainty –strategies that are sustainable whichever relationship is correct (Smith et al 1999, Butterworth and Punt 1999).

The effects of these EAF strategies are often incorrectly presented to clients as ways to reduce uncertainty. With current knowledge we rarely remove uncertainty by adding complexity to the models. What we do is explain it better. We cannot make uncertainty go away, but scientists can include it more clearly in advice and managers and planners can accommodate it more fully in their work. This has potential to make a large positive contribution to sustainability on the ecological dimension, if management is risk averse.

In the medium to long term, even short term predictions of resource trajectories from environmental forcers can provide large benefits on the social and economic dimensions as well. Economic planners stress that any reduction in short-term uncertainty about yield can provide significant improvements to costs and profitability. For example, a management-year forecast of environmentally driven recruitment to the Australian Northern Prawn fishery is estimated to have a potential value to the market of well over a million dollars annually. Predictions of decadal-scale patterns of productivity could guide fleet investment strategies with comparable benefits to economic sustainability. Likewise, communities could plan for future good or lean times in their fisheries.

Overall, applying an EAF can only reduce the contribution of Uncertainty to unsustainability. How much it is reduced on the various dimensions depends on knowledge and complexity and on the scope to accommodate changes to harvesting levels. If there is little scope to reduce harvesting when the environmental conditions are unfavourable, then social and/or economic sustainability must suffer, at least in the short term, to obtain the gains in ecological sustainability which can result from addressing environmental forcing realistically.

Dealing with environmental forcing of stock dynamics would have a strong positive effect on Externalities, at least on the biological dimension of sustainability, simply by making the definition of the fishery and “resource” inclusive of many more parts of the ecosystem. Oceanographic conditions, habitat quality, and abundance of predators and prey of the target species are no longer Externalities. These are fundamental parts of the EAF.

On the social and economic dimensions of sustainable, dealing with environmental forcing can make a small to a great positive contribution to addressing Externalities. Considering the state and trajectory of the ecosystem in an integrated way gives managers and economic planners better headlights for looking at expected fishery yield. Retrospective analyses of variance in stock productivity suggest that considering environmental influences on stock dynamics sometimes can provide fisheries managers with information which can help them intervene proactively (Sainsbury and Sissenwine, in press). This must be viewed in the context that forecasting accuracy of stock-environment relationships are always weaker than their goodness-of-fit to historic data sets, and requires scope to reduce harvesting in response to forecast reductions in productivity.

For the social and economic benefits of better “environmental headlights” to be large, managers must respond rapidly to warnings, and harvesters have to comply with the management actions. The track record of rapid response to science advice on harvest reductions is poor, unfortunately, even in the single-species framework85 (Rice 2003; ICES 2003b). There is little reason for optimism that the response by managers and the receptivity of industry to decisive management actions will suddenly be much higher when the catch reductions are advised on the basis of an environmental factor, rather than on the state of the exploited stock. Currently even the science advice often is only weakly directive when ecosystem considerations imply that catches should be reduced. For example, faced with a nearly complete absence of capelin in the usual feeding grounds for Icelandic cod, the science advisory response was a Management Consideration that “Due to the low abundance of capelin, an expected reduction in the growth of cod will lead to predicted landings and SSB in 2005 and 2006 being lower than otherwise expected. The exact extent of such a reduction cannot be estimated, but is expected to be in the range of 5–10 percent” (ICES 2004b). With evidence of substantial discarding of the very large 1996 year-class of North Sea plaice, scientific advice merely noted the retrospective pattern in the assessments was likely caused by the discards, and included special comments that “Because discards are not included in the assessment, the fishing mortality on juveniles is underestimated”, and “The high estimates of discards in recent years may be caused by a reduction in growth, which extends the time when the fish is undersized and subject to discarding” (p 266, ICES 2001a). Even the science advisory bodies are not placing enough trust in the environmental influences on stock dynamics to base strong advice on major observed patterns. Hence, in practice the consequences of considering environmental forcing on Externalities is likely to be at best weakly positive on the social and economic dimensions of sustainability.

Environmental forcing would be neutral with regard to Lack of Effective Governance and Inappropriate Incentives, because these have their roots in human institutions, not natural ecosystems. In the long term, how those human institutions respond to improved forecasting horizons can make sustainability either harder or easier to achieve on all three dimensions. Availability of forecasts cannot be assumed to change incentives or governance directly, but the forecasts would contribute to an environment where better planning can occur. If those opportunities can be taken, governance and incentives can both improve, first on social and economic dimensions and consequently on the biological one. On the other hand, if ineffective governance and inappropriate incentives are important contributors to unsustainability in a fishery, it is unlike that the human components of the system can respond effectively to environmental forecasts.

At least as a first order effect, environmental forcing would also be neutral relative to Poverty and Lack of Alternatives, and High Demand for Limited Resources. Taking a holistic view in an EAF means one should acknowledge that there are second order ways that environmental forcers could affect these factors. For example, major climate-ocean events such as El Nino have many impacts of weather and terrestrial growing conditions (Hoerling and Kumar 2002, Neelin et al. 2003). These could cause the poorest people to depend even more strongly on ocean productivity as agriculture suffers from floods or droughts, or offer at least temporary alternatives to such dependence, depending on what part of the world is being considered (Neelin et al. 2003, Weilen n.d.). Similarly the environmental forcing of stock dynamics will be expected to change supply of the targeted resource directly, but not demand. If the same environmental conditions change the supply of other ecosystem components (McKinnell et al. 1999, Rice 2002), the shift in composition of the resource base and concomitant harvesting opportunities may affect markets in many indirect ways. These can result in environmental forcing driving High Demand for Limited Resources and Improper Incentives in ways that make the factor either easier or harder to address.

Impacts on Demand and Incentives are affected by the degree to which demand can be shifted from one resource to another as abundance varies. There are limits to product substitutability (ex. Asche and Hannesson 2003). Moreover reviews of marine ecosystems consistently fail to find large biomasses of unexploited fisheries resources at which to redirect effort in response to stock declines (Garcia and Newton 1997, FAO 2002c). Thus pressures from both Incentives and Demands are likely to be exacerbated at least some of the time when environmental forcing causes stock declines.


Single-species fisheries management strives for sustainability of the target species. Adjustments to harvest levels are made on the basis of increases or decreases in the biomass and/or fishing mortality of the target species (e.g. ICES 2003b). Only when a target species plays a central role as food for many parts of the ecosystem is management likely to consider directly the status of species not being harvested. In such cases the accommodation can be as simple as allocating some biomass to support generalised needs of predators, or as sophisticated as applying harvest control rules based on monitoring the status of specific dependent predators (reference points in ICES 2003b, Ashford and Croxall 1998).

In the past decade much scientific attention has been directed at quantifying the ecosystem effects of fishing, and developing management approaches which ameliorate them when they are serious. Among the major types of detrimental ecosystem effects of fishing are:

Evidence for each type of effect, and consequences of them for sustainability of marine communities and target species, are reviewed in Hall (1999) and Jennings and Kaiser (1998). Contemporary fisheries management policy statements all include a commitment to consider the effects of fishing on the ecosystem in management (summary in Rice, in press). How would dealing with the ecosystem effects of fishing address the factors of unsustainability?

Considering the effects of a fishery on the ecosystem will have substantial impacts on Complexity and Lack of Knowledge. The situation will be similar to that described for considering the effects of environmental forcing on the target species. By adopting an EAF one considers the linkages of the exploited species to the rest of the ecosystem, and the full scope of impacts of the fishery on ecosystem components. If a fishery had unsustainable effects on ecosystem components other than the target species, then the fisheries management approach was treating the production system in too simple a way. For example, the fishery may have damaged the habitat responsible for the production of the target species (Murawski et al. 2001) or changed community structure so that the ecological role of the target species has been filled by another species (Jennings et al. 1999, Rogers and Ellis 2000). An EAF will necessarily include the habitat and community relationship as a central part of management of the fishery.

This makes the complexity of the management system more similar to the complexity of the fish productivity system, and should be have a positive effect on Complexity as a factor in unsustainability.

As with considering environmental forcing, however, the potential gains in addressing Complexity must be balanced against the increased need for Knowledge. Quantifying the ecosystem effects of fishing has often proven costly and difficult, and the interpretation of even intensive studies is disputed among experts (ICES 2000). Management measures intended to address one undesired consequence of fishing many cause other effects that are at least as serious (Dinsmore et al. 2003). On the output side of the ledger (ecosystem effects of fishing), just as with input side (environmental forcing), the greater the improvement sought by addressing ecosystem Complexity directly within an EAF, the more chronic will be the limitations presented by Lack of Knowledge. The balance will be case specific, but at least thinking about how the fishery is affecting the ecosystem is more likely to provide insights that contribute to sustainability than not considering the problem at all.

The situation will be similar on the social and economic dimensions of sustainability. If the benefits provided by a fishery are being eroded as the fishery degrades the productivity of the ecosystem supporting it, an EAF which ceases the erosion of the ecosystem should improve sustainability of the yields. Social and economic returns from the fishery should be more stable in the medium and long term. There are two problems getting to that point, however. The first is the familiar trade-off between Complexity and need for Knowledge, which is even more demanding on the social and economic dimensions. It is difficult enough to quantify how a fishery is altering the composition of fish and benthic communities. Translating those impacts into social and economic consequences is far more complex, requiring not just knowledge of the biological consequences of the direct ecosystem perturbations, but also what those biological consequences mean for future human uses of the ecosystem. The second problem is that even if we do not know exactly how to keep the ecosystem effects of fishing within sustainable boundaries, we know that in the overwhelming number of cases the direction will be to fish less, and perturb the system less. If there is little scope for reducing fisheries without immediate social displacements or economic loss in single-species management, then an EAF requiring greater reductions to reduce ecosystem effects of fishing will cause even greater short term social or economic unsustainability. The long term solution might be greater sustainability on all three dimensions of sustainability, but only after significant transition costs have been paid by someone, and the industry has adjusted to practices and harvest levels which disturb the ecosystem less.

Considering ecosystem effects of fishing will increase the contribution that Uncertainty makes to unsustainability. This differs from considering environmental forcing on stock dynamics. In that case, much of the uncertainty was about the status and yield from the exploited stock. In the output case, the uncertainty is about how the fishery is affecting ecosystem components. In some cases this may feed back on future yields from the target species, such as reducing either damage to essential fish habitat of the target species (Collie et al. 2000) or catch and discarding of undersized or illegal fish in a mixed fishery (Pastoors et al 2000, Williams 2002). Often, though, dealing with the effects will provide no benefits to the fishery –only the ecosystem.

In the ecosystem context there will be substantial uncertainty about what a fishery is actually doing to all parts of the ecosystem, for example:

Considering all these sources of uncertainty won’t necessarily provide benefits to the ecological dimension of sustainability. Rather, it may overwhelm the decision-making capacity of management institutions unless some procedures are followed to identify and focus on the highest risks, which will themselves still be uncertain (ICES 2001b, Rice and Rochet in press, Rochet and Rice in press).

Responding effectively to the greatest ecological uncertainties will necessarily mean reductions in harvest; probably substantial ones. Management of mixed-stock salmon fisheries, for example, found that protecting the weakest stocks requires foregoing significant catch in stocks of greater productivity (ICES 2003c), and the pattern is general (Musick 1999). As agencies designate increasing numbers of marine species as threatened or endangered (Musick 1998, IUCN 2003) the uncertainty about their by-catch rates in fisheries will go up, amplified by uncertainty about the mortality that they can sustain (CSAS 2004a). Dealing with uncertainty about species-at-risk requires precautionary decision-making (FAO 1996a, b), because extinction is unquestionably serious or irreversible harm. In light of this substantial uncertainty and risk aversion, substantial reductions in catches will be necessary to gain in ecological sustainability. This must increase risk of unsustainability on social or economic dimensions.

Not only does considering the ecosystem effects of fishing require catch reductions, it increases uncertainty about the planning environment for social and economic dimensions of fisheries. This increases the likelihood of negative effects on social or economic dimensions of sustainability, at least in the short term.

An increase in planning uncertainty will be true for several different aspects of the ecosystem effects of fisheries. The need to accommodate protection for species designated as at risk of extinction will be a key part of an EAF. Bodies authorised to designate species at risk are only beginning to look at marine fish. For example the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC) had reviewed fewer than 15 species of marine fish for designation prior to 2000, but at present has over 100 species in some stage of formal review. In Europe, OSPAR is considering its first set of 11 marine species for protection as Threatened and/or Declining (OSPAR 2003). Regulations to avoid catch of these species or ensure their release alive could have major economic repercussions. For example in the Canadian case, there are estimates that over 125 million dollars of sockeye salmon catch might have to be foregone over the next four years, if two small sockeye stocks are formally listed under the Species at Risk Act. The situation presents industry with uncertainty about whether listing will occur, what new regulations will be implemented should the stocks be listed, and what the impact of the regulations would be on their operations.

Planning can also be made more uncertain by the desire to protect habitat from damage by fishing and to create marine protected areas in general (Sladek Nowlis and Roberts 1999, Roberts et al. 2002). There is substantial debate about the certainty and magnitude of long-term benefits from MPAs (Hilborn et al 2004), but in the short term even the consultative process leading to new designations increases the uncertainty about the social and economic dimensions of sustainability. Once implemented, uncertainty about the magnitude and timing of benefits will stay high for some time.

Considering the ecosystem effects of fishing as part of an EAF has a strong positive impact on the role of Externalities in unsustainability. As with the input side of the EAF, Externalities are reduced. An EAF makes unsustainable consequences of fishing, including but not restricted to consequences which feed back on future yields to the fishery, included in assessments and addressed in management. This should lead to a substantial reduction in what is considered “external” to the fishery and to improvements in the biological dimension of sustainability. As with input considerations, however, the benefits which may accrue must be viewed in the context of Complexity and Lack of Knowledge, and Uncertainty. Declaring the ecosystem effects of a fishery to be a part of the management problem and not an Externality, does not mean enough is known about those effects to increase sustainability quickly and decisively. Rather, the likely consequence will be a major call for greatly restricted harvests; restricted in some combination of amount, space, and time (e.g. Pikitch et al. 2004). That is going to increase pressure on the social and economic dimensions of sustainability, without a certainty of improved sustainability on the ecological one.

If we consider the human components of the ecosystem to be part of the EAF, one major effect on the social and economic dimensions of sustainability is that the effects of fishing on uses of marine ecosystems must be managed. For example, potential conflicts with ecotourism (Boncœur et al. 2004) would become part of the EAF, rather that viewing fishing and ecotourism as two separate planning and operating structures, each an externality to the other. There are many benefits from multiple use planning (v.Bodugen and Turner 2001, Sorensen 2002), and done well there could be substantial gains to sustainability on social and economic dimensions, and either neutral or beneficial effects on the ecological dimension. However, there is no certainty that conflicts between fisheries and other uses of the marine ecosystem would be resolved quickly and easily. Even conflicts among different fishing sectors, defined by gears, nations, or other factors, can prove very difficult to reconcile (Cochrane 2000, Cochrane and Payne 1998). Merely the act of defining the impacts of fishing on other economic activities to be part of the EAF management task, and not an Externality, does not ensure progress on reducing the impacts will be rapid and decisive.

Considering the ecosystem effects of fishing in a biological context will be largely neutral with regard to Lack of Effective Governance and Improper Incentives. The dimensions are largely orthogonal. However, it will be very difficult to deal with the effects of fishing on the ecosystem without EAF becoming involved in multiple-use planning. This will necessarily require a change in the governance approaches applied in managing fisheries. Indeed such changes are an explicit component of the EAF (FAO 2002a), and will be analysed below. From the perspective of costs and benefits of considering ecosystem effects of fishing however, an EAF provides a compelling reason to improve governance and incentives. If the consequences of fishing on other ecosystem components are considerations in managing a fishery, then groups concerned about those other ecosystem components necessarily become stakeholders in fisheries management processes. Incentives to avoid harm to those ecosystem components will be different from the incentives which foster unsustainable exploitation of the target species. One major difference is that the calculation of economic benefits of sustainable fishing can include benefits of improved performance of other industries than are affected by the ecosystem effects of fishing. Initially, this gives cause for substantial optimism.

This optimism needs to be tempered by the challenges to implementation, however. The reason that governance systems and incentive structures in fisheries often are ineffective is not because they were intended to function poorly. They often function poorly because the nature of many fisheries makes it hard to build and implement effective governance systems. The incentives which drive fisheries to overexploit and trade the long-term for the short term will not go away, just because an EAF says that fisheries management should consider the effects of fishing on the ecosystem. Even more complex governance systems will have to be created to accommodate more numerous and diverse participants. If incentives to forego harm to targeted resources function weakly, why should incentives to avoid harm to ecosystem components that are not used, at least by the fishers, function more effectively? Hence considering the ecosystem effects of fishing has the potential to diminish the contribution Inappropriate Incentives make to unsustainability of fisheries, and thereby can promote improvements in Governance. Achieving that potential is likely to even more elusive than has been success in building effective governance in single-species management approaches, and in instituting incentives which foster long-term sustainability of uses.

At least in the short term, considering ecosystem effects of fishing will be neutral with regard to Poverty and Lack of Alternatives. In the longer term there could be moderate improvements, if new economic opportunities arise from a healthier ecosystem expected if the impacts of fishing on other ecosystem components are reduced. This is a vague promise, however, and must be balanced by the likelihood that achieving the improvements in ecosystem health will be at the expense of reduced or greatly altered fishing opportunities and thus carry high transition costs. Science advisors have routinely advised on the direct benefits of improved yield in the medium term with lower fishing mortality on the target species, yet the transition costs to enjoying the benefits have deterred progress (e.g. ICES 2003b).

There is no reason to expect the transition costs will be any less of an impediment to progress towards a healthier ecosystem, when the benefits are described vaguely and will be received indirectly if at all. Gear modifications to reduce by-catch or habitat damage, although sometimes quite effective (Linnane et al 2000, Valdemarsen and Suuronen 2002) often require increased investment, whereas spatial management to protect specific habitat features may require increased travel or more concentrated fishing (Hilborn et al 2004). If participants are stuck in a fishery due to poverty, even small incremental costs to fishing might be a deterrent to adopting the modified fishing methods. Where Poverty is a key driver of unsustainability, addressing ecosystem effects of fishing will progress very slowly.


Single-species fisheries management ignores the reality that many fisheries exploit multiple stocks, presenting two types of problems for sustainability. True mixed-stock fisheries often target several stocks simultaneously, with high risk of overfishing the more readily caught stocks while applying enough effort to take the full allowable catch of all stocks in the complex (ICES 2003b, Rice 2004). Even when individual fisheries target different species, by-catches of non-target species in one fishery may threaten the sustainability of harvests in the fisheries targeting that species (Alverson et al. 1994) or other ecosystem components (Furness 1998). Both problems can be addressed within existing management frameworks, but only if the industry sectors cooperate with each other, and with the management agencies.

In other cases, even different industries may conflict over space or use of a resource, for example the potential for conflicts between fisheries and offshore energy industries (e.g. McCarthy 2004, CSAS 2004b). Many states have established specific agencies to deal with the potential impacts of one industry on others, for example the Canadian Offshore Petroleum Panel in Canada with regard to conflicts between fisheries and offshore hydrocarbon undertakings. Again, however, these agencies are successful only to the degree that the different industries cooperate in their planning and their operations.

For both inter-industry and intra-industry conflicts, unsustainability of fisheries can arise from failure to plan well or failure to cooperate with implementing plans once they have been developed. This makes the EAF commitment to more integrated multiple-use planning a promising contribution to improved sustainability of fisheries. How is the promise reflected relative to the factors of unsustainability?

Integrated multi-use planning has the potential to produce substantial positive benefits for Poverty and Lack of Alternatives on the dimensions of social and economic sustainability. A central focus of integrated planning and multi-use management is to ensure that coastal residents have diverse opportunities for employment, and that needs of subsistence users are not compromised by commercial enterprises (Ommer 1995, Walker et al. 2002). Where new or expanded opportunities for work can be identified, the number of alternatives for gaining a livelihood is increased. At a minimum, the integrated management should ensure other economic pursuits do not increase the poverty of the resident subsistence users, and may improve opportunities.

Such improvements on the social and economic dimensions should not be at the expense of reduced sustainability on the ecological dimension, as long as the ecological constraints of the ecosystem are respected during the integrated planning. However, a commitment to integrated management is not a guarantee that biological constraints on human activities will be respected in the planning and management. This has often not been the case in the simpler case of single-species planning and management, where fishing capacity routinely has expanded beyond that necessary to harvest the resource sustainably, in the face of pessimistic forecasts of future harvest availability (FAO 2001). It is a hope but not a demonstrated fact that conducting integrated management as part of an EAF will counter that tendency effectively.

The provision in EAF for integrated planning and multi-use management should have a substantial positive effect on Externalities. A central goal of integrated management is to minimise conflicts among different human activities in marine environment. This defines all the competing human uses as part of the fisheries management problem to be solved, and thus the multiple uses cease to be Externalities. If successful this aspect of an EAF should address both inter-industry and intra-industry aspects of unsustainability. The impacts of each fishery on the status of resources exploited by other fisheries become a part of integrated fisheries management, as do the impacts of other economic enterprises on a fishery. Thus the expanded scope and responsibilities of integrated management reduce the contribution of Externalities to the ecological dimension of unsustainability.

As with the other considerations however, to have benefits on the social and economic dimensions of sustainability requires that some scope exists for reduced or redistributed fishing harvests. If there is no scope for such reductions or redistributions, then transition costs are a deterrent to achieving an improved social or economic status in the longer term. Accommodating the needs of other resource users (or users of other overlapping resources) will involve displacing participants in at least some of the competing fisheries or economic pursuits. These displacements will have a social or economic cost, contributing to risk of increased unsustainability on those dimensions. For the transition costs not to be an impediment to progress, it will be necessary that the integrated management has identified new economic activities, as per the discussion under the Poverty and Lack of Alternatives theme.

Adoption of integrated planning and management should have a positive effect on the contribution of Complexity and Lack of Knowledge to unsustainability. Single-species fisheries management is oversimplified in assuming that all the fishing mortality is captured in the catch data from the fisheries (Myers and Quinn 2002, Richards et al. 1998) and in assuming that natural mortality and recruitment are unaffected by other human activities in the area occupied by the stock. Fisheries management based on those assumptions can fail, sometimes by a large amount, when they are false. For example, the North Sea plaice stock experienced a period of significant overfishing in the late 1990s, because yield estimates did not take account of the significant discarding of the very large 1996 year-class as juveniles (ICES 2002c). Lack of integrated planning of coastal activities has several times led to degradation of coastal habitats essential for fish production, to accommodate coastline developments involving the clearing of features such as mangrove stands (Ron and Jose 1999, Mumby et al. 2004).

Integrated fisheries management and integrated regional planning make the management problem closer to matching the complexity of the system and range of human activities being managed. Sharing of information that each industry or fishing sector has about its own operations and plans necessarily increases the information available to the managers and participants in each fishery. When separate industries share monitoring data, habitat inventories, etc, all sectors benefit from increased knowledge. Such sharing of information should allow effects of past discarding, for example, to be included in subsequent fisheries management decisions. Each of these changes is a first order reduction in the contribution of Complexity and Lack of Knowledge to unsustainability, on any or all of the dimensions, with little incremental operational cost, but potential transition costs where harvests have to be reduced to accommodate other uses of marine resources.

Adoption of integrated planning and management should also have a positive effect on the contribution of Uncertainty to unsustainability. Some uncertainty in single-species management can be attributed to lacking information about the impacts of other fisheries or other commercial activities on the harvests available from the target species (ex. Greenstreet et al. 1999, Cury et al. 2003). By moving to integrated fisheries management and regional planning, managers and participants in interacting activities should exchange more information about their planned activities (ex. Kimball 2001, Walker et al. 2002). This could result in a reduction of uncertainty on any or all of the ecological, social, and economic dimensions of sustainability. The degree to which uncertainty is reduced on each dimension depends on the degree of interaction of the fisheries or commercial enterprises, which can vary from modest to substantial.

Under the two ecological aspects of an EAF, it was argued that in taking an EAF would result in a case-by-case trade-off between reduction of Uncertainty and increase in Complexity and Lack of Knowledge. At the integrated planning forum, fisheries experts will want to know more and different kinds of information about the performance of other fleets or activities of other industries. This may be erroneously interpreted as a comparable trade-off. It is true that to obtain maximum ecological benefits from integrated planning and management, each industry and fishery will have to invest in collecting information that they might not collect for their own needs. This increases costs with potential negative effects on economic sustainability. For example, the observer program for monitoring halibut by-catch in the northeast Pacific groundfish trawl fisheries cost over US$ 300 per vessel-day through the 1990s. The research program to better understand the just the highest priority impacts of seismic exploration on Gulf of St. Lawrence snow crab fisheries costs US$ 200 000 annually. However, just the sharing of existing information by interacting fisheries or industry allows some movement forward on sustainability. How far forward they can move depends on the degree of interaction and, as discussed under Externalities, how much each sector is willing and able to accommodate the needs of other users. This will necessarily be case-specific, but just sharing information among industries may not require substantially increased investments in acquiring knowledge by any of them.

The adoption of more multiple-use planning will be largely neutral with regard to the contribution of High Demand and Inappropriate Incentives to unsustainability, at least in the short term. Neither of those factors would be expected to be affected directly, as they would continue to be created by forces outside even the expanded planning environment. In the longer term there could be positive effects, if the expanded planning horizon improved the number of economic opportunities of the region, diversified food supplies, or stabilized marketing of fisheries. Any of those improvements might allow the fishery to resist pressures to overexploit in the medium term (reduced effect of Inappropriate Incentives), or shift some of the demand for fish as either subsistence food or a source of currency to other products. Integrated planning may also lead to shared objectives with broader conservation values, and more incentives to pursue them. These effects could be strongly positive in reducing these two factors of unsustainability on economic and social dimensions, without increasing pressure towards unsustainability on the ecological dimension. However, those benefits only begin to be possible after effective integrated planning has been in place for some time, and alternative industries (including possibly agriculture and aquaculture) are operating successfully. That may not occur quickly.


However well-designed a fisheries management plan may be, its success in promoting sustainable fisheries depends on how well it is implemented. If fishers are not committed to the objectives of the plan, the ways that they actually operate may result in fisheries very different than the fisheries envisioned in the plan (Rice and Richards 1997). When participants in a fishery do not believe that the management authorities give appropriate attention to their needs or views, they are unlikely to cooperate with those authorities. Likewise, if they do not feel assessments produced by fisheries scientists accord with their experiences, they are unlikely to cooperate with fisheries management plans based on those assessments (Scott 1998, Felt et al. 1997, Jentoft 2000). The divergence between the actual fishery and the provisions of the plan can contribute substantially to ecological unsustainability in the short term, for the sake of maintaining harvests in the short term. Of course, as the resource is overharvested, social and economic sustainability will deteriorate in the medium and longer term.

Participatory governance is included as a cornerstone of an EAF specifically to address the role of Ineffective Governance in driving fisheries towards unsustainability. It is widely argued (Ommer 1995, Felt et al. 1997, Jentoft 2000, Nielsen 2003) that including stakeholders in the governance system increases its legitimacy in their eyes, and fishers are much more likely to comply with a management plan which they helped to develop. Experience has also shown that when fishers participate in the assessment process, and see the information that they contribute reflected in the results, they give more credibility to the recommendations for management. In Canadian stock assessments, for example, invited participants from industry attend all full assessment meetings, and the stock status reports include a mandatory section entitled “Industry Perspective (CSAS website www.dfo-mpo/csas). By improving the correspondence between the actual fishery and the provisions of the fishery management plan, the inclusive governance systems can make some positive contributions to sustainability on the ecological dimension in the short term. Through improved stock status the inclusive governance can lead to substantial improvements to ecological, social and economic dimensions in the medium and longer term.

Improved Governance also makes a positive contribution to reducing unsustainability due to Complexity and Lack of Knowledge. The prosecution of a fishery is a complex social process (Finlayson 1994), and approaching it as a top-down governance process or without regulation at all both take an unrealistically simple approach to that complex process. By making the process more inclusive, developing the management plan and implementing it in the fishery is made more complex, even if only the fishing industry itself is brought into the process. Many jurisdictions view environmental groups as legitimate stakeholders in these processes; for example the US now has members of environmental groups on its Fishery Management Councils (Okey 2004); in Canada it is policy to invite members of ENGOs to the zonal Advisory Process meetings and in Europe the first EU Regional Fisheries Management Council has several ENGOs on the list of stakeholders. Inclusion of these viewpoints make the process itself even more complex; correspondingly driving the expert dialogue leading to the management plan to address much more of the true complexity of how the fishery operates within the ecosystem. This contributes to a greater chance of sustainability on the ecological dimension. Moreover, because those included are from the industries and communities most closely associated with the fishery, they will necessarily bring to the table their social and economic concerns as well, increasing the opportunity for gains on those dimensions as well.

In the case of inclusiveness of governance, the gains in sustainability due to dealing with Complexity are not necessarily offset to some degree by even greater Lack of Knowledge. Rather, each stakeholder group brings additional knowledge to the table –experiential knowledge (Stanley and Rice in press, Mackinson and Nøttestad 1998, McGoodwin et al. 2000) from those participating in the fishery and community leaders, and additional perspectives on risks and consequences which can be drawn out by members of environmental groups. The result is that more knowledge is available on all three dimensions of sustainability. The knowledge may still be far less that ideal for management, but it is greater than with specialist-only approaches. Transactions costs do increase, because meetings require more logistic support, but the cost is often small compared to the gains.

Adopting inclusive governance makes a substantial positive contribution to at least one aspect of uncertainty as well. Implementation uncertain can play a major role in unsustainability, reflecting the discrepancy between what the managers expected when the management plan was adopted and how the fishery really operates (Rosenberg and Restrepo 1994). If the inclusive processes do lead to a management plan with which the fishery will comply, the implementation uncertainty will be reduced greatly. These benefits can also be obtained without increases in the cost of missing knowledge. For example, the European Fisheries Ecosystem Project found that the work of social scientists in the project had greater impact that their investigations of the environmental forcers of North Sea fisheries, and impacts of the fishery on the ecosystem. Their contribution made it possible to identify a set of objectives endorsed by the fishing industry, government officers, and environmental groups. More importantly, industry provided clear and consistent information on management measures with which they would readily cooperate, and ones which would be unlikely to elicit cooperation. This information rarely coincided with the views of managers and scientists with regard to what management measures they would prefer, but retrospectively all agreed that many of the measures preferred by industry would be effective at moving towards the common objectives (see documents on

There is a downside to the inclusive, participatory governance process, in that the greater the diversity of participants, the more difficult it is likely to be to achieve consensus at the meetings. In the CSAS processes, there has been about a 20 percent increase in the time needed for major assessment meetings, in order to obtain consensus on wording on conclusions once all peer review has been completed. At least four times in the past five years, meetings have adjourned without achieving consensus on a key issue. This should not be viewed as a failure of the inclusive process, however. Rather it is a clear demonstration that the information basis really is inadequate for a clear and consistent interpretation, and that uncertainty needs to be acknowledged in developing the management plan and prosecuting the fishery. The uncertainty has not been increased by the inclusive governance process. The uncertainty was always there, and the inclusive governance process provided valuable information where uncertainty and risk was high.

There is, of course, some interplay between the potential for gains in addressing uncertainty and gains in addressing complexity. The inclusive governance systems are high maintenance. For each inclusive zonal meeting sponsored by CSAS, we budget an additional US$25 000 for bringing in external participants (and honoraria and consulting fees are not paid), and major meetings may cost as much as five times that much. Hence where Poverty and Lack of Alternatives is a contributor to unsustainability, the overhead of inclusive governance systems will be a deterrent to effective implementation. If the governance can be brought close enough to the communities that meeting costs are not an issue, then inclusiveness may make some positive contribution to social and economic sustainability through allowing some degree of community planning for the consequence of fishery reductions. Such benefits are speculative and unlikely to be large, however, just because alternatives to fishing are unlikely to be available in the most pressing cases, so planners have few options to discuss.

The effect on the contribution of Externalities to unsustainability is similar to the other aspects of an EAF, and probably positive. By defining the “fisheries management” community more inclusively, fewer groups and perspectives are excluded from the process. This makes many social and economic aspects of the fishery not external, and must decrease the pressure towards unsustainability on these axes. As noted under uncertainties however, simply making a process more inclusive does not ensure that the process will reach better decisions quickly or at all in some cases. Although not studied systematically (at least to my knowledge) it seems likely that where the pressures towards social or economic unsustainability due to Externalities would be most intense, it is because the “external” pressures were both strong and oriented in directions away from sustainable uses. In those cases bringing those pressures into the management process is likely to make the dynamics of the inclusive processes difficult, and the points on which consensus can be established quite basic and cautious. The truly divisive issues, which often represent the greatest pressures towards unsustainable activities, would not be reconciled quickly. Where there is a history of difficult interactions, distrust is high, and participants are very cautions (ICES 2004). Hence progress towards sustainability could expect to be made, but not necessarily swiftly.

Inclusive governance cannot be expected to reduce excessive Demand for limited resources directly, but it may be able to alter the Incentives which drive a fishery towards unsustainability. This would require that “trust” and “belief” are themselves incentives to comply with fisheries management plans, or else that the inclusive governance processes had economic instruments available to it that would not be available to classic top-down management systems. In such cases the benefits would be from the increased economic instruments, and not directly from the inclusive governance component of the EAF. However, if inclusive governance systems create to incentives for participants to live up to their word given during the inclusive processes or provide access to economic instruments like certification, then this can become a major positive incentive towards sustainability on all three dimensions, at least in the medium term. Whether there are gains or losses in the short term on social and economic dimensions of sustainability depends on the size of the transition costs incurred in implementing the results of the process. An inclusive process is likely to be at least an effective tool for getting estimates of those transition costs at the stage when options are still being developed as would be a top-down process, and this might at least result in more moderate transition costs than would occur when there was a severe tension between the participants in the fishery and those managing it.


  1. The greatest effects of considering environmental forcing and ecosystem effects of fishing will be on Complexity and Lack of Knowledge and Externalities (ecosystem), and be expressed more strongly on the biological dimension of sustainability. There will be a trade-off between addressing Complexity and Externalities better, and being more constrained by inadequate knowledge.

  2. The greatest effects of multiple-use planning and inclusive governance will be Lack of Effective Governance, Externalities (social & economic system), and Poverty and Lack of Alternatives, and the first-order effects will be on social and economic sustainability. Tradeoffs of opportunities and constraints relative to the same factors are less apparent on for these factors.

  3. Uncertainty will be increased when any of the components of an EAF are adopted. The increase will often be large, especially for considering environmental forcing and ecosystem effects of fishing.

  4. Because of the increase in uncertainty, harvesting opportunities under an EAF are expected to be even more limited than under single-species management. If decision-making is not risk averse (precautionary) then benefits from trying to implement an EAF will be hard to obtain.

  5. If different stakeholder groups distrust each other and interact poorly, then benefits from multi-use planning and inclusive governance under an EAF will be hard to obtain.

  6. Even without considering increased uncertainty, addressing environmental forcing and ecosystem effects of fishing will require catch reductions –often large –much more often they will permit increased harvesting. Therefore it is likely that to obtain benefits on the ecological dimension of sustainability will require significant loss on the social or economic dimension, at least in the short and medium term.

  7. Although in the short-term there are tradeoffs among dimensions, longer-term effects of an EAF could be improvements on all the dimensions of sustainability, butonly if

    1. Management is risk averse to uncertainty

    2. Transition costs (often large) can be borne as harvesting is reduced, and

    3. Increased transaction costs of the governance system can be borne.

Table 1. Tabulation of likely short term and longer term effects of the four components of an Ecosystem Approach to fisheries on the ecological and social/economic dimensions of sustainability, disaggregated by the six factors of Unsustainability and Uncertainty

 Factor of Unsustainability Time FrameEcological DimensionSocial & Economic Dimension
ENVT FORCINGComplexity & Lack of KnowledgeShort TermPositive –Complexity
Negative –Lack of Knowledge
Variable; Indirect relationships
Mediated by state of resource
Long TermPositive-gains depend on:
Knowledge matching Complexity and use of Precautionary decision-making (Both unlikely to be large)
Positive –Improved planning horizons
Negative –Requires large investments to gain knowledge.
Any gains require scope to reduce harvests when environmental predictions suggest conditions are unfavourable.
ExternalitiesShort TermPositive –More influences included as part of the management issue. Requires stronger science advice on these relationships.Positive - More influences included as part of the management issue
Long TermAny gains depend on management responding to more complex forecastsPositive - but large gains require decisive management response to complex & uncertain forecasts
UncertaintyShort TermPositive –ecosystem treated more realistically.
Often explained but NOT reduced
Positive – Improved risk forecasts
Negative –Precaution requires greatly reduced harvesting
Long TermPositive –ecosystem treated more realistically.
May be reduced if knowledge increases to match complexity (unlikely)
Positive –Improved risk forecasts
Negative –Precaution requires greatly reduced harvesting when faced with environmentally driven uncertainty
Lack of Effective GovernanceShort TermNeutralNeutral
Long TermDepends on how industry responses to forecasts. Gains least likely where needed most.Could create more stable industry and communities, facilitating improved governance.
High Demand For Limited ResourcesShort TermNeutralNeutral or negative impact of pessimistic predictions on markets.
Long TermPositive –if marketing plans for resource fluctuations
Negative –if race for fish gets advance notice of constraints
Either –Depending on how covarying parts of ecosystem increase or decrease ability to meet demands.
Positive - Some opportunity to plan for varying ability to supply markets
Negative –If markets increase demand for resources when limitations expected.
Either direction –many parts of ecosystem may fluctuate together, making alternative ways to meet demand either easier or harder (and case specific).
 Inappropriate IncentivesShort TermNeutralNeutral or negative as race for fish increases when forecasts imply declines.
 Long TermDepends on how industry responses to forecasts. Gains least likely where needed most.Positive –improved planning horizon
Negative –Amplify short-term thinking when resource deteriorations expected. Gains least likely where needed most.
Poverty and Lack of Alternatives Short TermNeutralNeutral
Long TermIndirect –mediated by response to human institutions to forecasts, and resource responses to human activities Positive –improved planning horizon
Negative –Many environmental drivers may drive poorest parts of population to greater dependence on the sea.
ECOSTSTEM EFFECTSComplexity & Lack of Knowledge Short TermPositive –Complexity closer to real problem
Negative –Knowledge often not available to match complexity.
Negative –likely to require reductions or displacement of harvesting.
Little knowledge of many economic links to ecosystem impacts.
Long TermPositive - gains depend on:
Knowledge matching Complexity and use of Precautionary decision-making
(Both hard to achieve)
Positive –Improved ecosystem status, more opportunities for sustainable uses.
Negative –requires investments in knowledge. Has large transition costs.
Externalities Short TermPositive –All consequences included as part of the management issuePositive –Inter-sector conflicts foreseen and managed.
Negative –More complex planning required.
Long Term Any gains depend on management responding to more complex forecastsPositive –Inter-sector conflicts foreseen and managed.
Negative –More complex planning required.
UncertaintyShort TermLarge increases if management is risk averse More uncertain; don’t know what issue will arise next. Precautionary harvesting needed, so catch reductions necessary.
Long TermPositive –More impacts foreseen, managed or mitigated.
Negative –Complexity means Uncertainty will always be high; Knowledge will help
Negative - Highly precautionary harvested needed; Not possible to take some yields due to ecosystems impacts.
Unstable planning horizons;
Large investments needed in research and monitoring.
Lack of Effective GovernanceShort TermNeutral or positive –Including other values in management may reduce major effects. Positive –focuses attention on need for multi-use planning.
Negative - Necessary governance systems made more complex (and realistic).
Long Term Large gains if governance responds to being in spotlight; No gains if governance remains weak.Positive - Focus on multi-use payoffs may provide incentives for multi-sector planning and cooperation.
Negative –minimum governance systems requires higher overhead.
High Demand For Limited Resources Short TermLittle direct effectLikely to be increased as harvesting opportunities limited further by need to reduce ecosystem effects of fishing.
Long TermCatch reductions to improve ecosystem quality, make demand pressures more severe.
Benefits if eco-certification can make demand function constructively.
Can be amplified greatly if major ecosystem effects require major catch reductions.
Possibility that eco-certification can make demand function constructively.
Inappropriate IncentivesShort TermPositive - Legitimises many non-yield conservation incentives.
Negative –Amplifies negative consequences of short-sighted activities.
Potential for improvements by giving additional participants legitimate role in decision-making about fisheries.
Challenge because many benefits of dealing with ecosystem effects will not be incentives to the fishing industry itself
Long TermImproves incentive structure but any gains require improved governance and have high transition costsPositive - Potential for major overall gains by adding benefits in other industries to incentive structure for fisheries.
Negative –fewer harvesting opportunities with more restrictions.
Poverty and Lack of Alternatives Short Term No direct link, unless immediate protection of valued ecosystem components, then user displacements w/o gains.Neutral or negative –New restrictions and increased investments in gear.
Poverty will slow progress.
Long TermIndirect effects –depend on response of social and economic system. Positive - More stability in all activities using marine ecosystems
Negative - fewer harvesting opportunities with more restrictions. Higher costs to fishing.
MULTIPLE USE PLANNING Complexity & Lack of Knowledge Short Term Improved. Better human uses due to increased information sharing and decreased competition among industries.Complexity Improved. Interacting activities are planned and conducted together.
Lack of knowledge –Increased as consequences of activities on other activities often poorly known. Gains due to opportunity for sharing information across industries.
Long TermImproved. Degree depends on degree of cooperation among industries. Can be large with good planning & zoning of uses to most suitable areas.Improved –degree depends on degree of cooperation among industries in sharing information and accommodating other used. Some transition costs.
Externalities Short TermPositive. Direct conflicts that degrade ecosystem brought to decision forum.Gains. All interacting uses made part of the management planning.
Long Term Possible major gains from considering impacts of each activity on other uses and ecosystem.Gains from all interacting uses made part of the management planning.
Decision-making made more complex. Large transition costs if little scope for harvest reductions.
Uncertainty Short TermImprovement due to information sharing. Knowledge of impacts of other activities on fisheries Improved due to more information sharing on common problems.
Increases in Uncertainty due to demand for knowledge of consequences of each activity on other users and their needs.
Long TermImprovement due to information sharing and increased science & monitoring capacity from combined industry resources.Improved –more stable planning horizons as each user more aware of plans of interacting industries.
Lack of Effective GovernanceShort TermSome improvement as obvious conflicts that impact ecosystem are addressed.Opportunity for improved governance through inclusiveness of multiple-use planning. Limited by trust that exists among interacting users.
Long Term Indirect. Impacts mediated by size and type of social and economic effects.Great improvements if groups build trust and respect.
Great stresses if there is little scope for compromise on multiple-use conflicts.
High Demand For Limited Resources Short TermNeutralNeutral on external demands. Possible opportunity for reductions in local demands if other food sources are part of planning.
Long TermIndirect. Impacts mediated by size and type of social and economic effects. Neutral to some gain. External demands not affected by integrated management; local demands might be.
Inappropriate IncentivesShort TermNeutral directly. Indirectly participants in integrated planning may have more conservation-oriented values. Neutral to external incentives. Can create local opportunities that improve local incentive structure.
Long TermIndirect. Impacts mediated by size and type of social and economic effects. Needs of other users can be represented as additional incentives to responsible behaviour.
Poverty and Lack of Alternatives Short Term Modest gains. Impacts of conflicts could be reduced and effort redicted.Positive. Pressures from conflicting uses could be reduced and new opportunities found.
Long Term Declines unlikely. Gains mediated by improved economic & social conditions reducing dependency on environment.Potential for substantial gains if opportunities can be diversified.
Transition costs likely.
INCLUSIVE GOVERNANCE Complexity & Lack of Knowledge Short TermGains –more perspectives in assessment and management process. Users contribute knowledge of ecosystem status and processes.Gains by bringing existing social dynamics into the planning.
Risk of loss due to more complex (possibly dysfunctional) decision-making with more stakeholders at the table.
Long TermGains –more perspectives in assessment and management process. Users contribute knowledge of ecosystem status and processes. Less over-harvesting though better complianceGains –Complexity of governance matches complexity of behaviour. More buy-in to management makes planning and operations more stable. High transition costs if participants distrust each other, or do not share objectives.
Externalities Short TermImproved. Benefits from bringing more ecosystem values to the decision table.Improvements –Inclusive governance brings in previously excluded parties. Transaction costs increase, possibly by large amount.
Addressing previously external ecosystem values may require substantial catch reductions.
Long Term Benefits from bringing more ecosystem values to the decision. Gains depend on ability to bear transition costs and build trust.Same as short term. Benefits depend on capacity to accommodate catch reductions demanded by participants with non-consumptive ecosystem values.
UncertaintyShort Term Decrease in implementation uncertainty means fishery impacts on ecosystem closer to management plan expectations.Less uncertainty about industry reaction to management plans.
Dynamics of inclusive groups may be unpredictable in early stages
Long TermMajor decrease in implementation uncertaintyMore stable planning and lower enforcement costs.
Lack of Effective Governance Short TermGains due to improved compliance with management plansGains –lower enforcement costs, likely more orderly fishery. Higher transaction costs.
Long TermGains mediated by degree of compliance and cooperation with common goals. Gains –possibly large if governance leads to strong support for management plans and stable fishery.
Possible permanent increase in transaction costs.
High Demand For Limited ResourcesShort TermNo direct impactPossible small benefits by focusing community attention on local demands
Long TermIndirect impacts mediated by market responsesLittle impact on long-term, external demands. Inclusive governance does help obtain eco-certification.
Inappropriate IncentivesShort TermSome benefits from social incentives towards responsible behaviour.May create new community-based incentives> May allow access to new economic instruments.
Long TermBenefits from social incentives such as Code of Conduct Can foster economic incentives such as eco-certification. Social incentives can come to be important.
Poverty and Lack of Alternatives Short Term Little effectPoverty may be result of social dynamics that make empowerment of inclusive governance difficult.
Poverty may make transaction costs hard to bear.
Benefits possible if governance can be brought closer to substance users.
Long TermUnpredictable. Depends on degree of cooperation with management plans arising from the process.Unpredictable. Depends on social dynamics of making governance work.


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84The views expressed in this paper are solely those of the author, Jake Rice, Canadian Science Advisory Secretariat, Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Ottawa, Canada,

85Note. Although the text discusses single-species management, unless specifically qualified, it should be assumed that the arguments are intended to apply to the target species of a mixed-species fishery as well. This is consistent with the concept of TROM –target-resource oriented management –FAO 2003, although that term has yet to become established in dialogue about fisheries science and management.

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