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Looking at the perspectives of implementing EAF, one might wonder how to ensure that an ecosystem approach to fisheries is more successful than conventional management has been over the past 50 years. A number of changes have been proposed to improve conventional management (Garcia and Grainger, 1997; Mace, 1997; Sutinen and Soboil, 2003; Cochrane, 2000; Sissenwine and Mace, 2003). They are also needed to successfully implement EAF. Among them, features stressing prominently the need to better set and clarify the operational objectives and their relation with management structure, process, and measures, rationalizing and bringing transparency in the implementation path between high-level policies and on-the- ground fishing operations.

This section elaborates briefly on a number of operational objectives stemming from the set of conceptual objectives and principles (given in Section 7) as well as the policy guidance available in existing international instruments and the Code (Sections 5 and 6). In relation to each of these objectives, it considers some of the measures available to implement them. Looking at some key aspects of the practical implementation of EAF, this section does not pretend to be comprehensive and was developed to provide a checklist for consideration by the FAO Expert Consultation in charge of developing the FAO Guidelines on the ecosystem approach to marine capture fisheries (FAO, 2003) which the reader is advised to look at for a more complete treatment of the matter.

The set of principles and conceptual objectives reviewed in Section 7 reflect high-level policy agreements (albeit not always binding) to be used as a basis to develop national or regional policies. They need, however, to be translated into more operational objectives before specific targets, limits and measures can be elaborated. As seen in Section 6, the Code provides more detailed objectives and some practical measures. However, additional specifications will be required in most cases, adapting the Code's guidance to local conditions, developing consensus among stakeholders on their relative priority (ranking) and resolving possible conflicts between them before designing an EAF implementation strategy and management plan for a specific subsector or fishery.

Many of the measures needed in principle will be examined below. It is important to stress, however, that not all of these are immediately needed in all fisheries. The implementation challenge can only be faced, in many areas, if a stepwise approach is adopted, dealing with more vulnerable fisheries first and, in these, with the most urgent issues in an effort which can only be commensurate with the resources available.

8.1 Targets, Constraints, Indicators and Reference Points

Operational objectives usually relate to specific development targets expressed in terms of physical or economic output the system intends to produce. They can be set, for instance, as an average amount or a range of catches, revenues or employment. They can also be set as limits reflecting ecological or socio-economic constraints (e.g. minimum spawning biomass, minimum viable revenues) within which the system is bound to remain. The use of the terms "objectives" and "constraints" is not entirely innocent. In conventional use of the terms in fisheries, the fishery system aims at the objectives while simultaneously attempting to comply with the constraints. However, what may be considered an ecological "constraint" in conventional fisheries management (e.g. conserving critical habitats) may be considered a conservation objective in the context of ecosystem management. Similarly, what may be considered an objective in fisheries management (e.g. maintaining people's livelihood) might be considered a constraint from the point of view of ecosystem management. The spirit of EAF would require that both targets and constraints be formally considered as "objectives" and be used as the basis for performance assessment.

It has been argued that, because ecosystems are complex, dynamic and unpredictable, and as they do not maximize their functions but tend to optimize them, management strategies aiming at maximizing some aspect of the ecosystem will fail (Kay and Schneider, 1994). It follows that, in order to improve their probability to be implemented, strategies would need to adopt, in relation to their operational objectives, reasonable targets and constraints as well as time frames for producing the expected outcome.

The history of fisheries management has shown that "objectives" have often remained rhetorical, with little real linkage with practical management measures and fishing operations. In order to improve on this aspect of management failure, it will be necessary to develop a strong link between the selected objectives and a formal and continuous assessment of the performance achieved (Sainsbury and Sumaila, 2003). In practice, this will require that objectives are formally organized in a system of sustainability indicators or sustainable development reference system (SDRS) (FAO, 1999a; Garcia and Staples, 2000) in which objectives and constraints are respectively used as target and limit (or threshold) reference values as required by the precautionary approach (Garcia, 1996b; FAO, 1996a). Improving performance assessment requires that national policies and related management strategies be documented, publicly available, transparent and developed through a consultative process. Policies should be established with a long-term horizon and determine the appropriate pathway for the adaptation trajectory, defining intermediate steps and milestones.

8.2 Priority Setting

The difficulty in identifying, selecting and ranking objectives, already substantial in conventional management systems, increases in an EAF context because of the exponential increase in possible options provoked by the additional number of parameters and stakeholders and the lack of general agreement on definitions and concepts. In the USA, for instance, the NMFS panel on ecosystem-based management agreed that the goal was to "maintain ecosystem health and sustainability", recognizing, however, that neither "health" nor "sustainability" could meet with an agreed definition[6]. The issue has been extensively discussed and is more comprehensively treated in FAO, 2003. Obtaining consensus when selecting and ranking objectives, however, is not easy; it seems to be easier to obtain consensus among stakeholders on what is not acceptable to most (i.e. on limits) than on what is collectively desired (i.e. objectives) (Cury et al., 2002).

In setting priorities in EAF, just as in conventional fisheries management, careful attention will need to be given, inter alia, to:

The general aim of introducing EAF is to improve the performance of fisheries management in relation to both human and ecological well-being. In order to do so, the best practices of conventional fisheries management (e.g. on control of fishing capacity) need to be more effectively implemented and new ecosystem-based considerations need to be introduced. These two aspects will be addressed successively below.

8.3 Improving Conventional Management

There is no shortage of prescriptions to improve conventional fisheries management (see for instance Cochrane, 2000 and 2002; Sutinen and Soboil, 2003). This form of management covers a wide range of management strategies, structures and measures used with variable success. In general, however, conventional approaches need basic improvements without which no EAF could be successful. These adjustments include: better identification and ranking of objectives; improved priority for the long-term social and economic benefits; control and, where appropriate, reduction of fishing capacity; suppression of "bad subsidies", generating overcapacity; introduction of market incentives such as allocation of user rights; improving compliance through decentralization, participation, improved transparency and more deterrent enforcement; more attention to uncertainty and its consequences through implementation of the precautionary approach; adopting a system of sustainability indicators and, using indicators, the undertaking of performance assessments as a routine procedure.

Control of fishing capacity requires better harmonization between development and management programmes and between electoral and fishery management targets. It also requires the reduction or suppression of subsidies. The precautionary approach has been adopted at the highest level at UNCED, as well as in the UN Fish Stock Agreement and the Code. It needs to be formally adopted by fishery authorities and implemented at sectoral and subsectoral level, with the active participation of industries. It needs to be actively promoted at central level and within the fishery associations. Market-driven incentives intend to modify industry's behaviour. Marketable forms of property or use rights could be established. This may not be possible for fisheries in isolation and may require a change in national policies regarding use rights across the whole range of natural renewable resources. The reduction or suppression of subsidies seems to be the main measure required against overcapacity in many FAO member countries and by most environmental NGOs. A number of countries (and most developing ones) argue that "good subsidies" are still needed to steer fisheries development in the appropriate direction (including towards capacity reductions) and to protect small-scale industries and coastal communities' livelihood in the process.

Improving compliance requires that fishers adhere to other relevant national fisheries laws, regulations and strategies but also to relevant, perhaps more stringent, international or regional management regimes. This is particularly important, considering the large number of relevant agreements criss-crossing the development of a modern fisheries policy. In addition, the policy should aim at ensuring that the means to enforce the management regulations are available and this may imply interministerial agreements, e.g. between the Navy and the fisheries ministries.

EAF adds complexity to management but brings additional tools for the task. Some of its "specificities" have already been proposed as part of conventional management in the past but are briefly referred to in the following subsection because of their particular "ecosystem" nature.

8.4 Improving Ecosystem Well-being

We have not been able to find a straight definition of human and/or ecosystem well-being. In the sustainable development literature, where the term is often used, human well-being is taken as an aggregate conceptual indicator reflecting the state of individual and population health, household and national wealth, knowledge and culture, community functioning (freedom, peace, order, governance) and equity. Ecosystem well-being reflects the state of water and habitat, species and genetic diversity, resource use, etc.

Operational objectives related to ecosystem well-being must therefore be set in relation to the elements that, jointly, will contribute to maintain the ecosystem function and productivity. While the objective of achieving ecosystem well-being (together with human well-being) may not be very operational in itself, its explicit expression in fisheries policies will signal the willingness and commitment of the country to the objectives of EAF. Much work is in progress (see for instance even though there is still a shortage of operational indicators of ecosystem well-being, as well as a shortage of related operational targets and limit reference values.

For instance, the maintenance of the trophodynamic balance (i.e. of a balance between predators and preys) is not very operational, as it is not easily translated into a measurable objective or represented by a useful indicator. The average trophic level or Fish-in-Balance index (Pauly and Palomares, 2000) calculated on landings may reflect the long-term trends of the ecosystem trophic structure, but the trends and eventual changes in either direction cannot yet be safely interpreted.[7] A large number of objectives can contribute to ecosystem well-being either directly or indirectly. Some of them are examined below in more detail.

8.5 Rebuilding Ecosystems

Rebuilding strategies are requested for depleted stocks under conventional management and indispensable under EAF. Depleted stocks must be rebuilt at least to their MSY level of abundance and preferably even higher (e.g. according to the UN Fish Stock Agreement). It should be obvious that rebuilding the various target stocks of an ecosystem would contribute greatly to improvement of the state of the exploited ecosystem. It is not obvious, however, that rebuilding target stocks, if successful, will also rebuild depleted populations of associated and dependent species. Indeed, successful rebuilding of a target stock of predators may very well lead to decline in its prey populations. In addition, particular measures might be needed for endangered species.

Considering the present state of fishery resources, their recovery and that of the ecosystem in which they normally live should be a strong priority objective. In practice, "recovery" may imply a suite of complex interventions to, inter alia:

Twenty years ago, Regier (1982) called for the development of "ecological engineering" to correct major ecological deficiencies and deformities and "therapeutic ecology" to aid natural recovery processes. Little progress in that direction seems to have been made, at least in the marine environment. Because of the need to experiment and the costs implied, realistic milestones and targets for recovery are needed. Improvement of the state of the resources and of their critical habitats can only be a gradual process, compatible with ecosystem processes as well as changed social and economic conditions.

In implementing a policy of ecosystem rebuilding (as suggested, for instance by Pitcher and Pauly, 1998), it would be unrealistic, for instance, to expect to return to preindustrial conditions, sometimes referred to as "ghost" or "pristine ecosystems", because of the irreversibility of many interconnected impacts (particularly coastal or land-based ones) and their link to existing and often already stressed livelihoods (Ward et al., 2002). Return to "pristine" conditions would require not only measures to reduce or indeed eliminate fishing (e.g. from protected areas) and replant seagrass or mangroves, but also eliminate major public works such as dams, weirs and reservoirs, reestablishing some tidal inlets but closing others leading to ports. It would imply reintroducing original species but also eliminating accidentally introduced ones. Pushing the concept to its limits, this would require downsizing major megacities (sources of sewage) and, in the end, reverting the human migration processes from the rural areas to cities and from the hinterland to the coastal zone. Many of these actions are technically and socio-economically impossible.

The broad objective of ecosystem "rebuilding" (taken in a pragmatic sense) can also be approached through other sub-objectives related to reduction of capacity, protection of habitats, endangered species, elimination of deleterious fishing techniques, such as: reduction of waste and discards, improving selectivity and finding an acceptable destination for the bycatch (e.g. human food); elimination of destructive fishing techniques (e.g. using poisons or explosives) and practices (such as catching fish larvae or juveniles); elimination of illegal fishing, a factor of overfishing and risk for endangered species, reinforcing the deterrence of the enforcement; control and reduction of fishing pressure; last but not least, this objective remains the cornerstone of any form of fisheries management and is central to the success of any ecosystem approach to fisheries. It has also been shown that highly adaptive management (e.g. based on harvest control laws and other preagreed courses of action and not on constant fishing effort policies)[8] was more likely to avoid ecosystem-related crises and facilitate recovery (Nowlis and Bollermann, 2002).

8.6 Maintaining Reproductive Capacity of Target Resources

This subsection tends to overlap with the preceding one as the target resources are part of the ecosystem and their rebuilding contributes to ecosystem rebuilding. However, as this is one of the main concerns of fisheries management and one for which the action needed is well known, we decided to treat the subject separately.

EAF, just as conventional fisheries management, will aim at preserving and, where appropriate, rebuilding the reproductive capacity of the target resources and their recruitment, preserving simultaneously ecosystem nurseries, feeding and spawning grounds in optimal state. Reproductive biomass of the target species needs to be maintained at a sufficient level by:

It should be noted that protecting recruitment in a given fishing regime is also an excellent way of improving spawning stock.

8.7 Maintaining Biological Diversity

EAF aims at the maintenance of diversity in terms of the variety of ecosystems, species and genetic variability within species. Management will need to focus primarily on the habitats or species directly impacted by fishing, but significant attention must be given to non-fishing impacts, promoting a more effective role of fisheries departments in the environmental (and integrated) management of the coastal areas and watersheds. The difficulty in distinguishing the effects of fishing from other anthropogenic influences (e.g. pollution and habitat modification), as well as from natural environmental variability, is a significant impediment in determining the most useful measures to take. Relevant management objectives or strategies may include:

The above should apply both to target and non-target species and will require partnership with fishers, fish traders, the gear development industry, the tourism industry (in relation to coastal development); the land-based chemical industry (for land-based pollution), the urban development managers (for sewage treatment and control), etc., possibly within some sort of integrated basin/coastal area management framework.

Alien species, introduced voluntarily or accidentally, can be a particularly serious threat to an ecosystem. They may be introduced with the solid or liquid ballast used by tankers, as well as through fouling of boat hulls. While the regulations regarding ballast are improving, fouling is difficult to control in practice, as antifouling treatments tend to be damaging for the environment. Aquaculture is also a growing source of alien species. The existing Code of Conduct for species introduction (FAO, 1996a) should be implemented.

Endangered species have always been a concern, but the question of their survival or reestablishment (as dealt with, for instance, by CITES) has tended to be at least partly disconnected from their harvest operational management. The trend is now for a closer integration of this issue in fisheries management. This is illustrated, at global level, by the growing collaboration between FAO and CITES and should be reflected at national level by improved coordination between the ministers of environment and fisheries. A systematic identification and characterization of endangered species is needed, as well as specific considerations of the relative impact of fisheries and other activities (e.g. coastal development versus fishing mortality in the case of turtles).

8.8 Protecting and Enhancing Habitats

It is necessary to protect functional habitats from fishing and land-based pollution and degradation, maintaining connections between interdependent habitats, accessibility of fishery resources to critical habitats and overall productivity. It may be necessary also to restore damaged habitats (if possible) or to create new ones, with the view to reestablishing the original biological functionality or establishing an alternative and to increase the diversity of habitats[9] on which the biodiversity of exploited populations depends. This will be easier inland than in the coastal oceans or the high seas. The task can be arduous (e.g. to restore eroded grass beds in polluted, turbid waters) or even impossible. The diversity of habitat conditions the biological diversity of the aquatic ecosystems and the variety and stability of the flow of goods and services it can provide.

Fishing, other economic activities and unexpected climatic events (hurricanes, climate change), may lead to a loss of habitat diversity or a reduction of their accessibility to species. Habitat management is therefore needed to take preventive, corrective or mitigating action (Kaiser et al., 2003). For example, the access of fish to their spawning grounds must be protected and facilitated, e.g. through control of vegetation growth, maintenance of tidal passes, construction of fish passes in dams, elimination of some fishing techniques across migration routes or of other obstacles. Similarly, physical connections between habitats might need to be reestablished, e.g. through a network of MPAs or "corridors" to maintain their interconnection and facilitate free and safe flow of species and life stages between them.

In riverine habitats, management techniques include: monitoring and maintenance of the natural characteristics; maintenance of the banks; vegetation control; safeguarding or restoration of fast-flowing zones; safeguarding or restoration of calm shallow zones, favourable for the development of aquatic vegetation such as mangroves and easily flooded marshes, generally used as spawning grounds and nurseries; creation of thresholds to eliminate suspended matter and thus the turbidity which limits the light penetration and primary productivity. A biological knowledge of the periods and duration of reproduction of fish and of larval ecological requirements is necessary to understand the impact of natural modifications of the physical environment. Any physical installation which supports the diversity of the habitat and the mineralization of the nutritive substances trapped in the mud must be encouraged.

In lakes and lagoons, restoration of the physical environment includes control of vegetation, which must be sufficient (but contained) to provide shelter, spawning grounds, support for food, etc. It may need to be limited to certain areas, to reduce risks of dystrophy, using mechanical or biological means. The latter include introduction of herbivorous fish or planting of trees along the banks to dim the light and thus reduce photosynthesis while still contributing organic matter (dead leaves).

In coastal marine areas the vegetation (e.g. seagrass or algal beds) should not be destroyed by the fishing gear. The necessary protection can be provided through proper zoning of fishing practices, excluding mobile bottom gear (trawls) from the coastal areas, supplemented, as appropriate, by artificial reefs and other antitrawl devices. The concept of marine protected areas could apply (see below for more details). Conventional measures aiming at reducing gear impact on the bottom or biological habitat (e.g. seagrass beds) should receive particular attention (through gear development, the creation of protected areas and effective prohibition of destructive fishing techniques and practices).

In all habitats, an inventory of the sources of degradation, including chronic pollution and physical installations altering the ecosystem, is necessary. It is useful to predict the modifications physical installations can produce on the overall ecosystem. Hydrological basins (with their forestry, agricultural, aquaculture and other development activities), water streams and trophic levels are interconnected, and any modification of one of them is reflected on the whole functioning of the ecosystem. For example, modifying a river profile can affect some of its parameters such as slope, current velocity and sediment coarseness. This may in turn induce qualitative and quantitative transformations affecting energy and matter cycling, the river output and the physical and chemical properties of the water.

Enhancement methods have been applied for more than a century throughout the natural range of the Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar L.). Hatcheries, the cornerstone of enhancement programmes, are used to facilitate colonization of new habitats; restore and rehabilitate stocks; supplement wild stock production; compensate for major environmental disturbances or problems such as hydroelectric development and acid rain and support fisheries entirely dependent upon restocking. Enhancement methods may also foster research and technology development. However, enhancement is one of a series of management measures that require careful planning and should be fully integrated with the management of stocks, resources and the ecosystem.

Man-made structures (artificial habitats) can be placed in the aquatic environment to improve its productivity or protect it (e.g. from trawling). They often tend to imitate natural reefs or rocky zones which seem to support more diversified and productive ecosystems than featureless sandy plains. Artificial habitats are used on flat substrates to diversify the physical habitat available to fishery resources by adding volume and structure. The creation of an artificial reef leads to a modification of fishing techniques usable in the area, making it possible to protect or reconstitute biotic habitats previously degraded by fishing, maintaining or increasing the diversity of the habitats and of the organisms depending on it. Man-made structures may also reduce temporal variability and optimize the biogenic capacity of the ecosystem. The brush park technology ("acadjas" in Benin or "vovomora" in Madagascar) increase the primary production (filamentous algae) and the abundance of Tilapia and shrimps. In the Thau Lagoon (in France), the introduction of immersed concrete blocks allowed the settlement and production of mussels and oysters, which, under shellfish farming conditions, reach a biomass of 30 000 tonnes. In the last two examples, the man-made structures improve the production of the ecosystem without reducing its diversity. The physical installation of habitats is more effective where space is indeed the limiting factor. Artificial habitats are used in Spain to restore seagrass beds and in Monaco to restore populations of precious red coral for economic exploitation (Jensens et al., 2000).

The following measures would facilitate habitat management:

Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is likely to become mandatory for all fisheries development activities as it already is in many countries for all activities with impacts on the environment and public health. While such assessments may be retroactively requested for established fisheries, they should be part of the documentation required when requesting permission to start a new fishery.

8.9 Protecting Selected Marine Areas

Marine protected areas (MPAs) are regularly proposed as central to biodiversity and ecosystem management and, by extension, are often considered in the context of fisheries management (Sutinen and Soboil, 2003; Sainsbury and Sumaila, 2003). The 1982 Convention proposes to protect areas from pollution, referring to measures "necessary to protect and preserve rare or fragile ecosystems as well as the habitat of depleted, threatened or endangered species and other forms of marine life." (Article 194.5). Protected areas are called for in the CBD which calls on states to establish a network of protected areas at the national level where special conservation measures are needed. Marine and coastal protected areas (MCPAs) are one of the five programme elements established by the 1995 Jakarta Mandate, which sees protected areas as instruments integrated into wider environmental conservation strategies. Because of their central role in ecosystem protection, marine protected areas deserve a particular treatment under an EAF approach.

Protected areas are of widespread use in ecosystem protection. The protected area conventions take two forms, which identify the values to be protected. Some identify areas in which all potential activities are regulated, restricted or prohibited, depending on their degree of harm. Others identify specific areas particularly vulnerable to an activity (e.g. oil spill) and narrowly prohibit or regulate that activity (particularly sensitive areas). MPAs cannot directly address all threats to an area and its populations. They can do little to insulate essential habitats against negative effects, e.g. of pollution from adjacent areas. Surreptitious risks arise from modified sediment or nutrient flows by rivers into coastal habitats or the withdrawal and diversion of freshwater for upstream development.

MPAs are considered effective for conservation purposes but pressures for more lucrative economic activities in coastal areas may compete with this objective. "Several of the regional instruments recognize the limitations of area designation if the application of other specialized instruments is not strengthened at the same time" (Kimball, 2001). The effectiveness of buffer zones around the MPA perimeter to shield them from external influences may also be eroded if the ambient social pressure is too high. This has led to strategies embedding protected areas within a larger bioregional approach to conservation and targeting directly the sources undermining conservation on an activity-by-activity basis.

The debate about the exact role and effectiveness of MPAs is still open (Hilborn et al., in press). The consequence of Kimball's analysis for fisheries is that they will not operate properly in terms of enhancing and sustaining yields without improving conventional management and, specifically, without reduction and control of fishing capacity. On the other hand, if capacity could be adequately controlled, it is not obvious that MPAs would be necessary. However, there is general agreement that MPAs are useful for biodiversity conservation, and partisans and opponents of this management measure may often be talking at cross purposes.

8.10 Reducing Bycatch and Discards

Bycatch of vulnerable non-target species and endangered species, as well as juveniles of target and non-target species, can have very significant impact on the ecosystem. In addition, discarding resources accidentally killed (bycatch) is often considered as socially unacceptable. Accidental capture and discards can be reduced by:

8.11 Reducing Ghost Fishing

To address the specific risk of ghost fishing, where it exists, it is necessary to:

8.12 Reducing Uncertainty and Risk

In the context of conventional fisheries management, it has already been agreed that the adoption of objectives, policies and implementation strategies (including management strategies) need to take account of uncertainty, risk and their implications in the framework of the precautionary approach. Scientists will need to track more systematically the uncertainty related to the knowledge accumulated and its consequences for policy options and decision-making. The evolving understanding should be integrated into adaptive management strategies. The FAO Guidelines on the precautionary approach to marine capture fisheries (FAO, 1996a) elaborate on the problem of prior consent and pilot projects. The EIA should ideally include an assessment of the impact of non-fishing activities.

The EAF broadens significantly the field of considerations to be made, increasing the amount of scientific uncertainty and related risk for the resources and the people depending on them. This is the reason why the precautionary approach, already adopted as a necessary complement to conventional fisheries management, is also systematically and a fortiori seen as an integral part of EAF. The related FAO guidelines (FAO, 1996a) and scientific documentation (FAO, 1996b) contain substantial guidance for an effective implementation of this complicated approach, which requires, inter alia:

The FAO Guidelines on EAF (FAO, 2003) focused heavily on these aspects and should be examined for more details.

8.13 Improving the Institutional Set-up

The failure of conventional fisheries management is largely the result of inadequate institutions, weak organizations, insufficient participation and coordination, poor enforcement and unclear rights of use. We will not review all of them and only stress a few of particular importance for an EAF.

Laws and regulations for fisheries need to be modernized to take the ecosystem requirements more clearly into account. They should clarify rights, responsibilities and liability. Fisheries and environmental legislation need to be harmonized. National fisheries authorities need to be strengthened. Their mandate should be redefined and expanded to cover the ecosystem management. Links with the research capacity should be strengthened (where appropriate). Their "litigation power" should be increased to improve their effectiveness. At present, fishery management authorities have only relatively weak power in this respect. To become really deterrent, monitoring, control and surveillance systems need to be more effective and result more frequently in penalties of significance for the enterprise.

The EAF cannot be implemented effectively without formal adoption of the EAF approach and its framework, signalling the political will and commitment of the country or the regional commission towards ecosystem-based management. The 1982 Convention on the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources is the first and only convention explicitly taking an ecosystem stand. Australia has already adopted a framework for Ecologically Sustainable Development (ESD) and its large-scale marine planning. Section 5 of this paper has shown that the UN Fish Stock Agreement and the Code contain already a substantial EAF framework, and it should be possible to adopt formally the EAF, referring to them. The framework should be completed, at national level, by dispositions improving the interaction between the line ministries in charge of the various uses of the ecosystem (environment, tourism, transports, defence, etc.).

EAF national or subsectoral guidelines, possibly based on international templates such as those prepared by FAO (2003), could be developed and promoted as a means to mobilize industry and the stakeholders' collaboration and develop ownership among them.

Intersectoral planning and coordination must be improved, on an ecosystem basis, particularly when resources are shared (e.g. space shared among aquaculture, transportation and fisheries) or nuisances are transboundary. This requires developing collaboration between institutions in charge of the different economic sectors as well as of research, environment, etc. Such collaboration will not be very effective without explicit allocation of natural resources and space and improved coherence between sectoral legislative frameworks. A requirement in this respect is to improve coordination between regional fishery and environmental commissions. The ultimate objective would be to integrate fisheries into coastal areas management, as provided by the Code.

The Code (Art. 10; FAO, 1996a) recognizes the need to integrate fisheries management with the management of coastal areas in order to manage fisheries as one of the interacting uses of the coastal area, under some suprasectoral authority, such as a Coastal Area Management Agency, charged with the responsibility to:

The Fisheries Departments are only partially responsible for this matter and are generally not the most important sector or ministry in the area. Nonetheless, fisheries departments can actively promote the establishment of a coastal area management (CAM) framework, where negative interactions from other sectors are significantly affecting the productivity and the future of the fisheries or are threatening to do so. In general, earlier establishment of these institutions will be preferable, as dismantling competing industries is usually difficult. Action required includes:

8.14 Matching Jurisdictional and EAF Boundaries

Current jurisdictional areas, at national or regional levels, have rarely been designed on the basis of ecosystem considerations.[11] As a consequence, rights and responsibilities are often presently defined within jurisdictional boundaries which do not match ecological boundaries (Garcia and Hayashi, 2000). A significantly large number of stocks[12] straddle the boundaries of established EEZs as well as of the areas under jurisdiction of regional fishery bodies. The problem is worse in areas where EEZs have not yet been established (as in the Mediterranean) or are still disputed (as in the South China Sea). If fisheries management is defined at the broader ecosystem level, a significantly larger number of the resource complexes will be found to be "transboundary".

As a result, existing institutional boundaries would often need to be adjusted to better match ecosystem ones. This need is already reflected in conventional management, in the pressure for extension of the coastal State rights and responsibilities beyond the 200 miles zone, where large straddling stocks exist, e.g. in the Northeast Atlantic and Southwest Pacific. The 1995 UN Fish Stock Agreement (and the principle of compatibility between management measures that it provides) as well as the Code are attempts to deal with the problem within the Law of the Sea context. In inland ecosystems the relevant spatial units (lakes, rivers) need to take account of the broader watershed in which development takes place and from which impacts are received. In coastal areas the sea-use and land-use planning administrations need to cooperate, developing integrated systems of information and a governance capable of allocating resources and enforcing use rights. Zoning activities can be a way to allocate immobile resources. In most cases, the boundaries of the exclusive economic zones and the coastal ecosystems will not match, requiring bilateral (or multilateral) negotiations. At subnational level, the decentralization of management responsibility to coastal communities will need to account for ecosystem boundaries promoting intercommunities coordination. In the open ocean, the jurisdictional boundaries of the fishery organizations may not properly match the ecosystem boundaries (e.g. in the case of Large Marine Ecosystems).

In practice, the difficulty in defining ecosystem boundaries and the potentially high costs of political interaction will lead to pragmatism. The relevant boundaries for EAF will account as much as possible for the scale of the ecosystem interactions, processes and externalities but will ultimately be determined by the policy questions and management problem at hand. This, in turn, implies that societal goals and preferences (values) are established and agreed, against which the management "problem" can be determined. Watersheds, for instance, are ecosystems with fairly discrete physical boundaries. On the contrary, coastal zones tend to be artificial constructions with weak ecosystem and strong jurisdictional bases. Because aquatic ecosystems are interconnected, it is tempting to define as large a geographical scale as possible. However, for scientific, policy decision-making and management purposes, "reductionism" is necessary. When modelling ecosystem processes for the purpose of fisheries management, there is a trade-off between holism (for the sake of ecosystem realism) and pragmatism (for the sake of institutional effectiveness).

EAF boundaries definition implies therefore an identification of the main interactions with neighbouring ecosystems, adjacent jurisdictions and management institutions. An important task for research will be to identify and redraw the boundaries of the ecosystems, the fishing grounds of the various components of the different fisheries, the critical habitats and specially sensitive areas to be protected, the areas under the various local, national and international jurisdictions, the areas occupied by competing activities, etc. Fisheries mapping and Geographical Information Systems (GIS) will need to be finally recognized (Caddy and Garcia, 1986).

8.15 Improving the Decision-making Framework

The conventional decision-making framework for fisheries management is deficient (Garcia and Grainger, 1997; Cochrane, 2000; Sutinen and Soboil, 2003). In general, the governance (institutional) component of an EAF needs to include such things as:

New institutional structures that involve municipalities, government departments and Non- Governmental Organizations (NGOs), as well as representatives of commercial interests, need to be developed in a cost-effective manner (Gislason et al., 2000). The application of the Code thus implies the creation of an institution and mechanism to consult, inform and involve in a democratic and representative way all those using the ecosystem. The economic or financial interests in all the activities significantly affecting the use of the ecosystem must be taken into account, and the major difficulty in that respect is to find the way to involve those responsible for land-based pollution. The amount of information needed to support the implementation of a management plan may require the creation of specialized databases, central information systems (GIS), services of consultants, engineering and design departments, both in the public and private sectors, to develop the capacity to provide information and studies most relevant to the social demand.

8.16 Improving Statistics and Inventories

Any fishery management system would be "blind" without a mechanism to collect reliable data on the fishery sector and resources to be analysed by scientists in order to provide a basis for decision-making. EAF requires a more comprehensive data collection system and analytical capacity than conventional management to monitor, understand and forecast the behaviour of the fishery, additional components of the fished ecosystem and the other uses of such ecosystem. Areas in which more data are needed include:

8.17 Monitoring and Indicators

The data collected on the fishery activities (including the catching, processing and trade subsectors) need to be used for monitoring the status and trends of the fisheries, their resources, associated and dependent species, and their environment. As stressed by the FAO Advisory Committee on Fisheries Research (FAO-ACFR, 2001; 2002), accurate knowledge about status and trends of fisheries is essential but generally insufficient or totally lacking. EAF requires that conventional monitoring systems (at best using standard fishery statistics) be complemented or strengthened to follow trends of key environmental factors, habitat, endangered species, associated and dependent species, etc.

· Environmental monitoring is needed to detect changes in water quality or the habitat. It would assist in detecting and analysing medium-term natural variability (e.g. El Niño and other similar oscillations). It could also help in detecting and avoiding or mitigating environmental crises (anoxia, contamination).

· Biological monitoring would help detect spatio-temporal changes in the organization of communities as measured for instance by species richness and the presence/absence of a particular population which, by its life strategy, happens to be sensitive to particular disturbances (e.g. pollution). The disappearance of a sensitive population can be preceded by a reduction in its abundance (lower survival). As a consequence, species richness and abundance of key species together give a relevant measurement of the integrity of the ecosystem and an indication of the cumulated effect of the disturbances. The disappearance of one of the populations could lead to a demographic explosion of a more resistant population (e.g. algae or macrophytes) with all the corresponding harmful effects such as dystrophic crises, "red tides" and other toxic algal blooms.

· Fisheries monitoring is essential to conventional management and we will not dwell on it here. Data on catch and effort but also on costs, revenues, prices, employment, etc., are essential to the achievement of human well-being objectives (FAO, 1999b; FAO-ACFR, 2002).

Monitoring can be undertaken as an automatic continuous process (e.g. through buoys measuring sea temperature, salinity or other chemical properties). It can be spatially comprehensive if based on satellite remote sensing (e.g. as for waves, wind, sea surface temperature or chlorophyll and some types of habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs, etc.). It can also be quasi-continuous if undertaken with the sector's cooperation during normal fishery activities (e.g. through fishing log books or satellite-based vessel monitoring systems). Some of the data most difficult to obtain through the conventional quasi-census processes of the classical fishery data collection systems could be obtained at regular intervals using statistical sampling of space and time. While these procedures are gaining momentum and can be cost-effective, they sometimes meet with lack of confidence by policy-makers and the sector not used to deal with statistical estimates. They can, in some cases, still be overexpensive for some developing countries or low-value fisheries.

Monitoring the state and trends in coastal environments is in most countries beyond the responsibility of the fisheries departments. Some of the data useful for an EAF, such as land-based contamination or abundance of pathogens, are not within the competence of the fishery management authority. As a consequence, EAF implies the development of improved interagency collaboration by strengthening institutional links through which the data needs and concerns of fisheries can be made more visible at higher governance levels. Strategic alliances of fisheries authorities with environmental ministries and institutions could be of assistance.

To be fully useful and to ensure their long-term funding, monitoring systems need to be used in policy development for objective setting and performance assessment. This is best ensured by nesting data collection and monitoring systems as part of a sectoral (or national) system of indicators of sustainability. The debate on the extension to EAF of the conventional (but still unused) concept of sustainability indicators has only started (Hall, 1999; Witherell, 2002; Witherell et al., 2000). FAO guidelines are available for the development of Sustainable Development Reference Systems (SDRS) (FAO, 1999a) but implementation remains limited to a few advanced countries. Some ecosystem indicators are available in these guidelines as well as in the EAF Guidelines (FAO, 2003). Additional work is being undertaken by the SCOR-IOC Working Group 119 on Quantitative Ecosystem Indicators for Fisheries Management.[13]

8.18 Improving Research Capacity

The data collected as indicated above have value only if analysed and transformed into strategic information, understanding and scientific advice usable by decision-makers. Similarly, monitoring is worth its cost only if fully integrated into decision-making, feedback and performance assessment. More specific research is needed to understand, inter alia, the behaviour of the sector and the ecosystem and their interrelationships; to measure the resilience of the resource to fishing or environmental degradation; to elaborate policy options for decision-making which account for natural variability, market trends, climate change and other uncertainties; to detect responses to management action and, ultimately, assess governance performance. The present chronic shortage of understanding is related to insufficient research capacity and inadequate processes of communication between research and policy or management.

Research means are commonly insufficient. In most developing countries, the scientific capacity available for the required recurrent assessments has decreased during the last decade because of low salaries and poor working conditions. The trend will not be easily reversed. In the developed world, the broadening of the research spectrum, within largely stagnating if not decreasing budgets, has reduced critical mass in the ecological disciplines. This is a problem because of the higher requirements of the EAF in terms of ecological data, basic understanding and scientific advice. More research is needed to develop management approaches (e.g. adaptive management, co-management, habitat rehabilitation, risk management), to test specific tools (such as protected areas), to develop more ecological fishing gear and practices (Valdemarsen and Suuronen, 2003), and to reduce post-capture losses, genetic impact or spreading of pests and diseases.

As a consequence, the "best scientific information" available required by the 1982 Convention as a foundation for management is often poor. This increases uncertainty, leads to poor scientific advice, impedes performance assessment, reduces transparency of decision-making, opens the way to misinformation and unwarranted interpretations potentially hampering the needed public debate, impedes the analysis of natural variability and of human impacts, reducing forecasting capacity. Simple improvements required include: (a) an inventory of the most important habitats, in terms of extension or of species or fishery supported, with their characteristics and location; (b) some understanding of the specific role of these habitats for the productivity and resilience of the resources and ecosystem health and sector well-being; (c) explicit societal value judgements and preferences regarding ecosystem states and uses that could also be used in systems of sustainability indicators.

Research objectives need to be reviewed, focusing on understanding and forecasting of ecosystem variability and reaction to exploitation by fisheries and other industries. Impact assessment and rebuilding strategies need particular attention.

The research scope needs to be broadened to cover the range of ecosystem components. In particular, environmental economics and social sciences should increase their contribution. It is also necessary to identify alternative or competing uses of these systems and establish contact with their respective authorities. Overall, more means need to be allocated for research.

Formal and systematic ex-ante and ex-post impact assessments need to be undertaken.[14] The impact on the target resource is usually studied as part of the stock-assessment routine but assessments of other impacts (e.g. on the bottom and habitats) and impacts of non-fishery activities (e.g. changes to river drainage, habitat alteration, injection of nutrients and contaminants, introduced species, pests and diseases, etc.) are rare or non-existent and in any case not routinely conducted. The absence of requirements for an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) in most countries, for fisheries but also for other industries, explains the poor efforts in this direction. In the absence of specific information, generalizations tend to be made. These can be dangerous because impacts tend to be site-specific and resource-specific. The impact of a management strategy depends greatly on the species and the socio-cultural context (e.g. the community history, level of education, local governance, well-being, alternative opportunities, etc.). As a consequence of scarce impact assessments, risks may be poorly perceived. In addition, impacts may interact with each other, leading to unpredictable cumulative effects and they can be transboundary, potentially leading to difficulties with the neighbouring countries.

More specifically, the EAF requires an assessment or characterization of the sensitivity or vulnerability of the species of importance to fisheries and ecosystem processes in terms of their resilience to disturbances such as fishing, habitat degradation, pollution, etc. Sensitivity can be described and assessed based on the biological and life-cycle characteristics of the species. The risk of extinction is becoming very relevant considering the levels of overfishing measured on many important resources. This concept is illustrated by the increase in the number of proposals for listing fishery species under Appendices I and II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) during the last few years. This risk has been analysed by FAO (2000) and can be related to (i) the life cycle of the species; (ii) its market value related to its availability relative to the demand, and (iii) the effective level of deterrence of protection measures.

More importantly perhaps, ecosystem modelling and option analysis are not yet widely used in management-oriented fishery science. Considering the significant broadening of the options available for policies and management in an EAF, the critical analysis of such options, with their pros and cons, and consideration of the consequences of uncertainty, would be essential. The shortage stems in part from the lack of data mentioned above but also from a lack of quantitative models and human capacity to use them. This is often aggravated by the lack of measurable policy or management objectives. Progress must be made to improve the relevance of ecosystem models to decision-making and management. Conceptual models of the food webs, such as ECOSIM and its developments (Pauly et al., 2000), are very useful as exploratory tools. However, most of the ecosystem models available are useful as concepts or for the exploration of possible behaviour in an ecosystem but cannot be used for operational management purposes. Because of the costs of data collection and the uncertainties attached to the responses obtained by highly parameterized models, advances will be needed in simpler and more reliable models. The challenge is particularly high in data-poor areas.

8.19 Management Planning

As already stated above, the main difficulty met by countries and fishery authorities in implementing instruments that have been agreed and adopted, even at the highest political level, resides in the design of the operational management strategy and plan as well as in their implementation. An EAF management plan is a central requirement to formalize the approach and send to stakeholders a clear expression of the Government's willingness to act.

A management plan usually includes: (i) the issues covered; (ii) the setting of agreed targets and limits (related to constraints); (iii) details of the management actions that will be taken to meet targets and stay within limits; and (iv) procedures to measure performance in achieving the above. Objectives and constraints will be reflected in the agreed target and limit reference points. The plan will also specify pertinent time frames, identify stakeholders, ensure transparency and establish oversight processes and identify socio-economic externalities as well as jurisdictional issues. It is also best developed with a high degree of stakeholders' participation. Issues, problems and solutions related to the development of a fisheries management plan in an EAF context are not specific to it and are indeed relevant for conventional fisheries management. We will not dwell on these conventional aspects which have been properly addressed elsewhere (FAO, 1997a; Cochrane, 2002; FAO, 2003) and limit the treatment to a few selected aspects of central relevance to EAF.

8.20 Certification

Certification of management systems[15] could be an effective measure as well as a condition for improved international trade. The development of norms, such as the ISO 14000 standard, may provide a useful base for such systems. In order to be useful, an ecosystem-approach to fisheries does not have to be ISO-accredited. Moreover, as the ISO accreditation systems only audit the management process, they cannot guarantee that the expected environmental outcomes will be generated.

The EAF should normally have a broader scope than certification as it would encompass all aspects and issues of the activities related to the overall sustainability of the resources and the fishery as covered within a management plan, administered by a regulatory body. However, a certification system may be developed to only address a single issue. For example, within a fishery, some operators may wish to certify the origin of the catch (catch certification) or the quality of fish handling to achieve improved quality of fish products reaching the market. The use of certification may be more appropriate for those aspects that are not covered by fisheries legislation. As such, certification could be an important mechanism to foster the objectives of the EAF, and the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) has elaborated and is implementing a system of ecolabelling specific to capture fisheries. While there are still resistances from industry as well as governments to ecolabelling in general, the concept seems to be progressing and might be part of the general landscape of fisheries management within a decade (FAO, 1999c).

[6] Both, however, are understood in relation to satisfaction of human needs and health requirements.
[7] A decrease in the index may reflect a change in the ecosystem as well as in the catch only, and result from a climate oscillation (e.g. temporarily favouring small pelagics' abundance) or a change in fishing strategy (to target a particular group of fish). For example, a total trawl ban, a powerful measure in an overfished area, would decrease the index (a change normally perceived as negative). On the opposite, a decision to develop intensive fisheries for, say, manatees and small cetaceans in an already overfished area would increase the index (a change normally considered as positive). An extension of the fished area or a change in discarding practices would move the index in any direction, depending on the gear and target species.
[8] "Reactive management" is not taken here as describing management which only reacts to problems once they occur (i.e. the contrary to preventive management). It refers to management schemes such as those based on harvest control laws which attempt to tailor fishing pressure to changes in the resources based on pre-agreed courses of action. The concept comes closer to "adaptive management".
[9] e.g. in terms of hydraulic conditions or types of substrate in spawning, nursery and feeding areas.
[10] A fishing technique used in Southeast Asia implying outright destruction of reef areas through pounding of the habitat to scare fish into entangling nets.
[11] The FAO statistical divisions, for instance, which correspond also to areas of jurisdiction of many regional fishery organizations, are a compromise between ecological considerations (biogeography) and political boundaries.
[12] More than 1 500 according to Caddy, 1996.
[13] See at http//
[14] Ex-ante assessments are part of the precautionary approach and aim at predicting the potential impacts of new gears and practices, increases or reductions in fishing capacity, etc., and are used to develop management strategies. Ex-post assessments are useful to assess the performance of the latter.
[15] This section is modified from: Commonwealth of Australia, 2002. (

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