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  • Ecosystem modelling

One of the outputs of the project is a review of the methods available for assessing the impacts of interactions between species and fisheries and their implications for marine fisheries management. The review, prepared by Dr Éva Plagányi, University of Cape Town, South Africa, was published in 2007 as a Fisheries Technical Paper entitled “Models for an ecosystem approach to fisheries”. The Fisheries Technical Paper was used as background document for the workshop on “Modelling ecosystem interactions for informing an ecosystem approach to fisheries: best practices in ecosystem modelling”, which was held in Tivoli, Italy, from 3-6 July 2007. Nineteen leading experts in ecosystem modelling took part in the workshop and considered the current status of and best practices for marine ecosystem modelling. The workshop produced a series of recommendations on best practices in ecosystem modelling for informing an ecosystem approach to fisheries, which is being published as part of the FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries series.

  • Fisheries assessment methods for data poor fisheries

The project is also looking at new methods for the assessment of fisheries exploiting resources with high species diversity especially in data poor fisheries. One such method is a fisheries dynamics assessment model developed by Vasconcellos and Cochrane (2005)(1). This Bayesian assessment model relies only on the catch time series and assumptions about the trend in growth of effort over time to assess the status of the stock and level of exploitation in data poor fisheries. The project is currently testing this fisheries dynamics assessment model using data from a set of case studies. In testing the model any significant problems which would lead to poor management advice are being investigated with a view towards exploring the feasibility of using such models for management advice for fisheries where only catch data exist.

Another area of work is the identification and testing of indicators that could be used to assess the resources and fisheries in high diversity, data poor situations, and to inform fisheries management in such situations. Building on the recommendations of a small meeting of experts on ecosystem indicators, held in Rome, 23 – 26 October 2006 , the project is currently working on the development of an ecosystem simulation model to be used as an operating (or testing) model to assist in the identification of robust indicators for fisheries in high diversity, data-poor situations.

  • Toolbox for an ecosystem approach to fisheries

Since the adoption of the Reykjavik Declaration on Responsible Fisheries in the Marine Ecosystem, FAO has been active in the promotion of the EAF including through the preparation of technical guidelines, the provision of technical support for countries and international conferences, and the compilation of methods and tools for evaluating fisheries interactions in the ecosystem. The organization has not been alone in these efforts and a number of other groups and individuals have also been working at regional, national and local scales to facilitate the adoption and the implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries. As a result, numerous tools to implement ecosystem-based management are available (e.g. http://www.ebmtools.org). The time seems right to systematically find out what tools are available for implementing the ecosystem approach to fisheries, assess their usefulness and applicability, particularly in less developed countries, identify what tools are needed but are not yet available, how they should be developed, and the potential role of FAO and other partners in their development. There is also a need to improve the effective distribution and utilization of existing tools. The project has been therefore engaged in the development of a useful, easy to use and effective “toolbox” to assist interested parties in implementing the EAF. To this end a technical workshop was held on February 26-29, 2008 at FAO in Rome to review and assess the usefulness and applicability of the currently available tools for applying the EAF and to plan the development of an EAF “toolbox”. A report with the results and recommendations from the workshop is being finalized.

(1) Vasconcellos, M., Cochrane, K. 2005. Overview of world status of data-limited fisheries: inferences from landings statistics (English) In: Fisheries assessment and management in data-limited situations; Proceedings ; Lowell Wakefield Symposium, 21, Anchorage, AK (USA), 22-25 Oct 2003. Kruse, G.H. (ed.) Gallucci, V.F. (ed.) Hay, D.E. (ed.) Perry, R.I. (ed.) Peterman, R.M. (ed.) Shirley, T.C. (ed.) Spencer, P.D. (ed.) Wilson, B. (ed.) Woodby, D. (ed.) / Alaska Univ., Fairbanks (USA). Alaska Sea Grant College Program , 2005, p. 1-20.

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