Develop a plan that outlines all the activities that need to be undertaken to implement the Management System and monitor its progress.

Overview of the activity

Having an agreed set of management measures to deal with each of the key issues for your fishery is good, but to be useful, they need to be implemented.  The translation from policy to action is, however, often not done well.  Developing an operational plan that precisely identifies all the activities and processes that need to be undertaken, by whom and when can reduce the chances that your EAF Management Plan becomes another document gathering dust. 

Generating an operational plan requires going through the full set of EAF management measures developed in Step 3.3 and determining (i) what are the specific activities that need to be done; (ii) who are the actual persons/institutions that will be responsible for completing these activities; and (iii) are there really enough resources (both people and financial) to complete each of the tasks.  It is not until after this detailed analysis is done that you can be confident that your proposed management arrangements are feasible.

The operational plan will usually be developed by the management agency, given that their staff and resources are most often required. If specific actions are to be undertaken by other groups, they need to be involved in planning for these aspects. The plan should include a schedule of activities and responsibilities with clear milestones. It should be monitored regularly to ensure adequate progress is being made with regular reviews (at least once every 6 months) undertaken to see if the plan is being implemented successfully or if any revisions are required.

The operational plan can be a simple text document, a spreadsheet or use project management software.

Relevant questions

Development of operational plan

  • What are the various tasks needed to implement the management plan?
  • Which institutions and who precisely from these will need to undertake each of these tasks/activities?
  • What activities are interlinked and when do specific milestones need to be set to ensure overall progress can be made?
  • Are there sufficient resources (both human and financial) to complete each of the activities in the plan, now and into the future?
  • Clearly allocate and communicate this to the various staff and stakeholders their individuals tasks necessary to implement the Management Plan?
  • Determine how formal the operational plan should be?

Monitoring and review of Progress

  • Are those allocated responsibility for completing a task in the Operational Plan doing what they are supposed to be doing?
  • Was the task specification explicit enough?
  • Do they consider their action as a necessary part of the process and of their role in the agency?
  • Do they have the capacity to do what is expected from them now and in the future?
  • Is there need for support to improve effectiveness?
  • Is there need to review the timelines, the person responsible or even the scope of the task itself?

Key actions

  • Develop an operational plan that clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities (and resources) for undertaking each of the required activities and establishes timelines and milestones.
  • Develop specific activity plans for each of the groups in charge of implementing the plan in its various elements (e.g. research group, compliance group, policy group, industry, information management, industry, others).
  • Reassess if the agreed management plan is feasible with the current resources available - if not then you will need to return to step 3.3.
  • Develop communications plans to inform all relevant stakeholders of what actions will be occurring and when.
  • Agree on time scales for review of each major element
  • Establish the consultation and review processes (including external audit) and its TOR including the adaptive management environment for this (potentially)
  • Monitor the execution of the Management Plan making sure that each of the activities outlined in the operational plan is being undertaken as planned.
  • Develop / improve implementation capacity if needed.


To assist with this process, operational planning templates and a checklist of common activities are available in some of the EAF guides.  These outline the nature of the activity, the designated implementation unit/institution, the time frames, the expected outputs, etc. which might be sufficient in most cases.

There are also many generic project planning steps and project management guides plus a large number of project management software packages (some of which are ‘free’).  These software systems can, however, be complex to use and if not used routinely can lead to a waste of time from the time taken in the initial start up and input of data.

Some form of communication strategy will often be needed to ensure those who need to know what is required of them are adequately informed. This includes both communication within the management agency but also to all important stakeholders, in other agencies and in the industry and the community.

The selection criteria for these tools are given in the table below.

Tools and information sources

Selection criteria







Operational Plan templateEasyLLLL-MS
Communication toolsEasy - ModLMMM-HM
Project planning stepsModerateMLLLM
Project planning and management softwareFairly HardM-HM-HMLM-L

L= Low or Long; H= High; M= Medium, S=Short


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