EAF is not a rigid recipe and it should not take years to generate the first ‘operational’ EAF based plan

While the four main steps of EAF can appear to be a linear sequence, starting at step 1 and moving sequentially to the end of step 4, the starting point for a fishery will depend on what triggered the planning process and what has already been achieved. Furthermore, because this is an iterative process, some steps and activities may need to be re-visited as new information or problems arise.

EAF management planning is best done as a participatory process. Therefore, sufficient time will be needed to obtain the political and financial support of policy-makers/government and the cooperation and acceptance by stakeholders to ensure the legitimacy of any plan that is developed.

It is technically possible for a small group to complete most of the EAF steps and activities within a very short time (e.g. one to two 2 weeks). Such a short process is, however, unlikely to have included adequate consultation with stakeholders, or thoroughly reviewed the potential implications of all proposed management actions to guarantee acceptance. Conversely, a process that takes many years to complete will almost certainly lose commitment and support.

The EAF plan does not have to be (nor will it ever be) perfect at the beginning. Because it is an adaptive process, the plan can include the actions needed to generate any essential improvements that have been identified during the planning stages. Therefore, for the initial EAF planning process, a balance should be made between generating a plan that is 80% ‘correct’ in a short time compared with taking a substantially longer time to get it 95% ‘correct’, by which time it may be too late, especially where there are urgent issues to address.

In such situations do not wait until you have completed the entire planning process, appropriate remedial actions should begin immediately.

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