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As discussed in pages 37 to 41, a management plan is a formal or informal arrangement between a fishery management authority and stakeholders. It provides information for all those with interests in a fishery, or an ecosystem, on key aspects on the resources, the ecosystem, the nature and importance to humans of the fisheries, and all aspects of how the fisheries will be managed. Whether or not there is a management plan in existence for a particular fishery or set of fisheries at present, the formal development of an EAF management plan will be an important guide to developing an ecosystem approach. The plan will be an essential tool in implementing the approach.This Appendix describes a process for development of a management plan that could help managers and stakeholders to ensure that the final plan satisfactorily addresses the goals and needs of all the legitimate stakeholders, that it considers the major interactions between fisheries and species and that it is comprehensive and achievable.


Identify the fishery or fisheries, geographic area and stakeholders: The spatial coverage of the management plan must coincide with a well-defined ecosystem. Ecosystems, however, are not clearly defined entities with definite and fixed boundaries, and they may cross or be contained within fishery management areas. A preliminary specification of the area concerned is necessary, if only to allow the identification of stakeholders with common or competing interests. EAF will need to recognize the existing fisheries, management entities and jurisdictions and build on these as necessary to ensure that management recognizes and is consistent with the ecosystem boundaries.

Identify and evaluate the broad issues: This is the first step in developing operational objectives for a fishery or ecosystem and provides a preliminary evaluation of the issues associated with a fishery. The step is intended to identify the potential consequences, positive and negative, that the existing fishery or fisheries and the current or potential management tools may have for the ecosystem and the stakeholders. The evaluation should consider the human (economic and social) and ecological components of sustainable development and it should start from and be guided by the high-level policy goals set at the national or regional level. The high level policy goals are likely to be found in the national or local legislation, such as a national fisheries act and environmental acts.

Under EAF, consideration of the impacts of fisheries will need to be expanded to include not only sustainable use of the target resources and its benefits for humans but also impacts on and benefits from other living and non-living ecosystem components. This would include, for example, the direct effects of fishing on discarded species and on the habitat, as well as the indirect effects of the fishery on ecosystem structure and processes, for example by altering the balance of predator and prey or influencing competition between different species. Any issues related to implementing the current or future management should also be examined.

The first step in developing operational objectives for a fishery or ecosystem is to undertake a preliminary evaluation of the issues associated with a fishery. The evaluation should consider the ecological and human (economic and social) aspects of the fishery or fisheries as well as issues related to implementing the current or future management (ability to achieve). An analysis of broad issues, and the finally agreed operational objectives, should start from and be guided by the high-level policy goals set at the national or regional level.


When all the potentially important issues have been agreed, relevant information on all aspects of the fisheries and ecosystem, including the people dependent on them for their livelihoods, must be compiled and analysed to allow for the formulation of more detailed objectives. This information will be important for later steps in the process.

The information requirements are outlined on pages 9 and 10 of this document.


Setting the broad objectives: The broad objectives for the fishery provide statements of the intended outcomes of the fishery management plan in addressing the set of issues identified in Step 1 above. These broad objectives provide a link between the principles and policy goals and the specific detail on what a particular fishery is trying to achieve. For example, working from the general terms of a fisheries policy, the broad management objectives for a given fishery might be identified as to:

It is important that those responsible for setting the broad objectives consult with those with responsibility for implementing the relevant policies and agreements. In most situations, this will involve several levels of government and several major stakeholder groups.

Developing operational objectives from broad objectives: The broad objectives provide more detail than the issues identified in Step 1 but they are still too broad to be implemented by a manager and they must be translated into even more specific operational objectives. Operational objectives should have direct and practical meaning for the fishery being considered. They provide the yardstick against which the performance of the fishery and its management can be evaluated. Operational objectives should be achievable, able to be measured and linked to a specific time period. The process for deriving operational objectives from policy goals should be as transparent and participatory as possible to ensure interested parties feel a sense of ownership and to encourage compliance.

There is a practical limit to how many operational objectives (and linked indicators) are useful for management decision-making. There should be a process of screening the possibilities, and only the most important and feasible ones should be selected. The consultation and decision process will vary from one fishery to another, but it will involve three tasks:

These tasks should be undertaken in full consultation with representatives of the stakeholders. It will also be important to involve technical experts who can provide relevant technical and scientific information where it is needed. In some cases, it may be found that the information available is inadequate to address some important concern or to resolve differences of opinion, and there will be the need for additional data analysis or collection before further progress can be made. However, even if good information is not available and cannot be produced, the process should still be followed using the best available information, which could be in the form of expert opinions and unbiased qualitative judgements.

Task 1: identify the issues under each of the broad objectives

This task involves a further step in breaking down the goals found in the national fisheries legislation, into the detailed concerns, or issues, at a level at which they could be directly addressed by a manager or management agency.

For example, starting from the following broad objective:

to manage harvested species within ecologically sustainable levels by avoiding overfishing and maintaining and optimizing long-term yields.

the following issues relevant to this objective and referring to the target-species could be identified for the fishery in question:

-   the spawning stock declining to a level that could lead to reduced recruitment;

-   the older age classes being removed from the stock by fishing leading to a lower long-term yield (growth overfishing);

-   the stock is reduced to very low densities in some parts of its range, leading to lower productivity and less efficient fishing operations;

-   etc.

The broader EAF issues would also need to be identified. For example, the target-species in this fishery could be important prey for the target-species in another valuable fishery. In that case it may be necessary to ensure that the abundance of the prey species was not reduced by the first fishery to a level at which the productivity and yield of the predator was adversely affected.

By a similar process, other broad objectives might be translated into specific issues against which operational objectives can be set. For example, specific issues related to an ecosystem approach could include: minimizing the catch of selected vulnerable or endangered species, maintaining the area of identified essential habitats, maintaining selected prey populations at high abundance to allow for predator feeding, and achieving an acceptable net economic return on capital.

In identifying the issues, it is important to ensure that all possible interactions between a fishery and the ecosystem have been considered. As a part of the process that has been followed in Australia to implement “ecologically sustainable development” for their fisheries, useful guides and frameworks have been developed for identifying issues in fisheries and prioritising them. Ecologically sustainable development in fisheries is effectively equivalent to EAF and the Australian guidelines are useful in EAF as well. Two reports of particular relevance are:

-   Fletcher, W.J., Chesson, J., Fisher, M., Sainsbury, K.J., Hundloe, T., Smith, A.D.M. & Whitworth, B. 2002. National ESD Reporting Framework for Australian Fisheries: The “How To” Guide for Wild Capture Fisheries. FRDC Project 2000/145, Canberra, Australia.

-   Fletcher, W.J., Chesson, J., Sainsbury, K.J., Hundloe, T. & Fisher, M. 2003. National ESD Reporting Framework for Australian Fisheries: The ESD Assessment Manual for Wild Capture Fisheries. FRDC Project 2002/086, Canberra, Australia.

The full reports can be found at

Task 2: rank the issues

This stage involves reviewing the detailed issues which have been identified in Task 1 above, and identifying the most important of them that need to be addressed by management. Operational objectives, indicators and reference points will need to be developed for the high-priority issues so that suitable management measures can be identified and progress in achieving the objectives can be monitored. One way of identifying the high-priority issues is to conduct a risk assessment. A risk assessment can range from a qualitative and opinion-based exercise to a quantitative and data-based assessment.The choice of the approach to follow will usually depend on the amount of information available and the capacity of the group to develop and utilize mathematical models. Where the information or skills to undertake a more quantitative approach are not available, it is still possible to use the best available information to estimate the likelihood of an undesirable event happening and the consequences, in relation to the operational objectives, if that event did occur. For example, scores on a scale of, say, 1 to 5 could be allocated separately to the likelihood and the consequence of an event. The relative priority of that event would then be the risk value, which is calculated as the score for the likelihood multiplied by the score for the consequence. Comparing the risk values for different events provides a means of prioritizing the events, or issues.

The two reports listed under Task 1 also provide useful guidance on this task.

Task 3: develop operational objectives for priority issues

Each issue is then dealt with in the management plan in a manner that depends on its allocated risk value. Issues with high risk values are elaborated into detailed operational objectives and comprehensive plans made for addressing them in the EAF management plan. Some issues with medium risk values might require identification of a mechanism in the plan for ongoing review and some form of back-up plan. Low-risk issues might be noted in the plan, explaining why they are considered low risk.


The next step is to agree on indicators, reference points and performance measures for each of the objectives identified. Under EAF, the standard single species reference points and indicators will usually need to be complemented with others addressing the ecological, social and economic operational objectives.

Each indicator should be an ecosystem or population property that is thought to be modified by the impact of the fishery so that its value would change if the fishery impact changes. The final selection of indicators and reference points should also take the technical, management and operational issues of a given fishery into account. The management agency must have the capacity to measure the indicators and to monitor them regularly.

All stakeholders should feel confident that the indicators are both meaningful and workable.

The overall aim in setting indicators, reference points and performance measures is to provide a framework to evaluate whether the management rules are having the desired effect and to assess the performance of the fishery in achieving its objectives.


The next step in developing the management plan is to choose a suitable management measure or set of measures for achieving each objective. The management measures are intended to control or moderate the impact of the fishery on the target resources, bycatch species and the ecosystem.

For example:

In practice, a management regime or management strategy will consist of a mixture of different management measures, each intended to help to achieve one or more operational objectives. Together, this mixture of measures should achieve the full set of objectives for that fishery or ecosystem.

The development of measures and decision rules should ideally be underpinned by good information that, in data-rich situations would include results from rigorous data analyses, including modelling the dynamics of the system or sub-system. In data-poor situations, the best available information should be objectively analysed and considered. In both cases, validated stakeholder information, including traditional ecological knowledge where it is available, should be included. As far as possible, management measures that have minimum undesirable impacts on all operational objectives should be selected.

It is more difficult to formulate effective rules and management measures in a multispecies fisheries than in a single species fishery or one with only a few target species because of differences in the productivity of the species caught. In a multispecies fishery, decisions about adjustments to management rules should be based on indices that reflect the general state of the resources and take into account the operational objectives for both high productivity and low productivity species.


The EAF management plan should include arrangements for undertaking regular reviews to assess the success of the management measures in attaining the agreed objectives. The reviews should involve all stakeholders and allow for objective examination of the actual performance of the management measures. The review should examine progress in achieving the objectives and identify and correct any problems that have occurred. To do this, participants in the review will need to be well-informed by comprehensive reports produced by technical experts, based on analyses of data and information collected by an effective and well-directed monitoring programme during the implementation of the management plan. In addition, the review panel should consider information and perceptions from the stakeholders.

It will usually be necessary to conduct both short-term and long-term reviews. Short-term reviews could be undertaken every year to ensure that nothing unexpected is occurring in the ecosystem and allow for minor adjustments to the management measures where necessary. Short-term reviews will be important for regular, often annual, adjustments to more flexible management measures such as total allowable catches or allowable fishing effort. Long-term reviews, typically every three to five years, will be more comprehensive and may re-evaluate the entire management plan, including checking to see whether the operational objectives are still suitable for all involved.

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