Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nationsfor a world without hunger
Fisheries and Aquaculture Department
Activity 2.2 – Issue prioritisation and risk assessment
Overview of the activity
A large number of issues can be generated through the issue identification process, even for a small fishery. It is therefore essential to determine their priority to decide if you should, or should not, be undertaking any direct management actions to ensure the appropriate use of what are usually scarce resources.
Most robust prioritization processes are based on risk assessment principles because these directly assess the likelihood of not achieving acceptable performance against each relevant management objective. Because risk includes uncertainty, these assessments can be completed with little or no quantitative data. We deal daily with risk and uncertainty (even activities such as crossing a road) but generally we don’t realise it. Risk assessment principles enable making the most informed decision with whatever information is available.
To determine the priorities for the fishery, the approach taken is to ask - what is the ‘risk’ that the current fishery management system will not meet its agreed objectives for each of the identified issues? Where the current or anticipated future performance of the fishery is not considered acceptable, direct management actions would need to be applied.
If an issue is associated with more than one objective (e.g. target stocks often have economic &/or social objectives in addition to stock sustainability), the performance for each of these should be assessed separately as the risks may differ. If a number of issues have high or unacceptable ‘risk’ ratings, additional prioritization that considers their relative importance to community outcomes may be needed to determine which of these issues should be addressed, or in what order.
For each issue:
There are a number of different methods available for use which can be separated into a number of categories; including informal vote and simple risk ranking which can operate with minimal levels of data and therefore higher levels of direct stakeholder involvement. There are also a number of more formal qualitative risk assessment methods, which require more information and a greater technical capacity of those involved in the informal assessments. Two common versions are the CxL based methods (for qualitative analysis of ecological, social and economic components), and the SICA based method (for qualitative ecological analysis). Where more data and technical capacity are available, semi-quantitative methods such as PSA that examine the inherent vulnerability of a species may be useful. Even fully quantitative risk methods can be used by those fisheries with sufficient data and access to specialists in simulation modeling and their use is warranted.
To assist compare priorities among issues that may have similar individual risk scores or levels, simple informal vote ranking methods are especially useful where the comparison of priorities is among different social or economic issues. More complicated multi-criteria analyses can be used to separate among high risk issues where there is sufficient information and agreement about the criteria to use.
Different consultation methods can be used to assess the risks for different types of issues and objectives. The type of audience can also affect what may be the best method. Furthermore the different methods can sometimes best be used in combination to obtain the most effective input from different stakeholder groups and therefore the most robust and accepted priorities. For the highly technical analyses that involve complicated methods, only a small number of individuals effectively participate (but a broader group can be observers). Therefore, the best consultation mechanism can vary from the use of a single expert to obtaining input from the entire community.
L= Low or Long; H= High; M= Medium, S=Short