EAF-Nansen Programme

The EAF IMT tool: monitoring progress and achievements of effective fisheries management


The Nansen Programme has been operating since 1975, and evolving through various phases in time. In its current stage, the Programme is known as the EAF-Nansen Programme with its long-term objective that: "sustainable fisheries improve food and nutrition security for people in partner countries." Since 2006, a key purpose of the initiative has been to support a number of partner countries in the implementation of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF) management in their fisheries. In order to achieve that, multi-stakeholder groups were constituted and participatory process for the development of fisheries management plans, following the steps of EAF in the FAO EAF Guidelines, was set up (FAO, 2003).

As a way of monitoring progress and achievements of implementing the EAF in sustainable fisheries management around Africa, a newly developed tool, called EAF Implementation Monitoring Tool (EAF IMT) has been developed. The tool is intended to support each partner country's work towards improving their fisheries management systems and operational planning, by helping the countries identify potential progress and gaps/difficulties. It can also help determine where training and other support can be needed. What's more, the tool helps monitor the achievements of Outcome 2 of the EAF-Nansen Programme, per which "fisheries management institutions manage fisheries according to the EAF principles."

Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries

According to FAO definition, the main purpose of the EAF approach is: "to plan, develop, and manage fisheries in a manner that addresses the multiple needs of societies, without jeopardizing the options for future generations to benefit from the full range of goods and services provided by marine ecosystems." This definition entails ecological, and human (social and economic) consequences of fishing activities for the health and productivity of marine ecosystems. In practical terms, the main purpose of applying the EAF principles by developing countries is to plan, improve, and manage their fisheries more effectively.

The structure of the EAF-IMT tool is based on the three principal components of EAF:

  • Ability to achieve – represents the management and institutional "systems" in place/ proposed, in order to deliver expected results (e.g. stakeholder participation, conflict resolution), taking into consideration external factors that might affect the performance. This element is composed of 12 segments/units including: legislation, consultation, compliance, reporting and communication, among others;
  • Ecological well-being – contains all ecological "assets" (e.g. stocks, habitats, ecosystems), relevant to a fishery and an ecosystem where it occurs, and the issues/impacts being generated by the fishery that may be affecting them;
  • Human well-being – one of the key drivers in EAF composed of four main categories: Livelihood; Food Security; Health & Safety; Gender & Equity. This component states that ecosystem health is fundamental for human health and well-being. In EAF, it's essential to maintain the capacity of aquatic resources to ensure food security and employment, which are fundamental to human health.
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Methodology of scoring

The EAF IMT tool can be used in a multitude of ways, depending on country's circumstances and requirements. Designed to support the EAF-Nansen Programme's partner countries in strategic planning of improving their EAF implementation, the tool monitors how a country is progressing towards: a) having in place a suitably designed assessment process; b) a management system, including measures appropriate to risk level, developed and implemented; c) achieving agreed objectives.

The EAF IMT allows for the EAF implementation to be assessed at multiple levels, from the individual EAF issue, to the EAF component level, up to the entire EAF level. It also allows for the scoring to be done at the category (assessment, management and outcome) levels.

The scoring procedure is guided by specific scoring tables for each EAF component. The tool can use equal weightings by components, or the components can be adjusted based on specific priorities within the partner country.

Practical use

The Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries is critical in ensuring active participation of all relevant stakeholders. Similarly, the EAF IMT tool is expected to prompt the same level of engagement and inputs, generated through community meetings, formal stakeholder workshops, or focused discussions. Current experience using the new system shows that a two-stage process can yield the most effective and efficient results:

  • Stage One – Small group of experts – at this stage, it's recommended that a small group of experts (6-10) with relevant expertise and experience (scientists, fisheries manager, fishermen) and led by a "champion" provide comprehensive input to conduct an initial assessment for each fishery. At this level, it's advisable to determine whether all, or only some, scoring categories apply for the fishery;
  • Stage Two Validation of scoring during a workshop at this stage, a wider audience participation is recommended, to review, agree on, and validate the score. During the workshop, it's recommended to have a facilitator, together with a prior explanatory training to facilitate the comprehension of each participant's role


End result

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The final outcome from applying the tool is that through a participatory process all the elements of the three main EAF components have indicative scores and suitably detailed and documented justifications for these, including the information on the source used. The results are presented in a form of a dashboard, with the overall fishery score and the score for each component. Also, graphical and visual representations of the scores for each scoring categories and elements are used, so that users can easily determine where greater efforts must be put in order to improve fisheries management.

All scores are justified and detailed in a living document, which allows any user to understand the score assigned to each element, and thus compare the results obtained over time.

Once the management plans are developed and operational, the tool may not always need to be used on an annual basis, but it is important that its application is considered as part of the normal management review cycle. In the end, a baseline value needs to be established, against which progress will be monitored later on.

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