Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
What is EAF
The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) is a practical way to implement sustainable development principles
The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF), and other related concepts (e.g. Ecosystem Based Management, EBM), have developed in response to the need to implement, in a practical manner, the principles of sustainable development (WCED, 1987), the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992) and the Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries (FAO, 1995). EAF is consistent with all these principles and has been adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries (COFI) as the appropriate approach to implement these principles for the management of fisheries.
EAF also covers the human or social elements of sustainability
There are many different definitions of ecosystem based approaches (e.g. FAO, 2003). All include the need to maintain the ecosystem resources for their sustainable use, while recognising that humans are an integral part of the process. So, while the term EAF can be misinterpreted because this name doesn’t include the non-ecological components of sustainability, EAF not only deals with all the ecological consequences of fishing, but it also explicitly deals with the social and economic implications (good and bad) generated by the management and institutional arrangements related to fisheries.
EAF includes conventional fisheries management and doesn’t need complete knowledge about the ecosystem
EAF seeks to improve all fishery management processes by adopting risk management principles that recognises complete knowledge is never available and is not essential to start the process. EAF works by the identification and assessment of all relevant issues and the establishment of participatory processes to help address high priorities effectively and efficiently. It assists with making the best decisions with the information available by using a precautionary (to reflect the risk) and an adaptive approach (to improve knowledge and adjust decisions). Implementing EAF helps to develop comprehensive fishery management systems that seek the sustainable and equitable use of the whole system (ecological and human) to best meet the community’s needs and values.