EAF-Nansen Programme

Regional workshops on the use of EAF-IMT tool pave the way towards strengthening fisheries management in the Programme partner countries


From January until March this year, a set of regional online workshops on the use of EAF-Implementation Monitoring Tool (IMT) was organised by FAO for the partner countries of the EAF-Nansen Programme. The first session took place from 18 to 21 January and included 11 French-speaking partner countries. The second and the third training, both conducted in English, took place in February and March, and brought together additional 12 partner countries from the Atlantic and the Indian coast of Africa and the Bay of Bengal. Nine partner countries, including Myanmar, are still to be trained in the use of the tool. Each country was represented by at least three delegates holding theoretical and practical experience in the area of fisheries management.

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One of the main objectives of the EAF-Nansen programme is to build capacity of management administrations in applying the ecosystem approach to fisheries, or EAF, through the development and implementation of management plans at a national level. The EAF-IMT tool has therefore been designed with a twofold approach: for the countries, to help monitor progress and achievements in implementing the EAF, together with addressing potential gaps or challenges, that indicate where greater efforts need to be made in order to improve the countries’ fisheries management. For the programme, the EAF-IMT serves to identify the countries’ needs and ways to strengthen their fisheries management, as well as to evaluate the progress achieved under Outcome 2 of the EAF-Nansen programme, per which “fisheries management institutions manage fisheries according to the EAF principles.”

The workshops were organized with the aim of:

  • Improving participants knowledge about the EAF and FAO work, including materials and tools developed to support the implementation of the EAF for sustainable fisheries management;
  • Training participants in the use of the EAF-IMT tool;
  • Supporting participants to start the initial EAF implementation assessment (=baseline) of the fisheries in their respective countries;
  • Strengthening technical skills of participants to identify and analyze gaps and constraints in the EAF implementation at a national level;
  • Encouraging the exchange of views on the implementation of the EAF nationally and among the countries.

The agenda of the training covered theoretical presentations on the EAF-IMT tool and was followed by practical working group exercises, structured around the three key components of the EAF that form the basis for the EAF-IMT tool: ability to achieve, ecological well-being and human well-being. Equipped with additional guidance materials and resources, the participants were tasked to give a brief presentation of the EAF implementation in each of their countries and to apply the tool to one selected fishery.

For the ongoing field projects under the EAF-Nansen programme, the tool was applied to develop the baseline and first scoring reference for the beach seine fisheries in the Gulf of Guinea region (Togo, Benin and Côte d’Ivoire) and for the small and medium pelagic fishery in the United Republic of Tanzania. The tool is currently being used as a regular part of the EAF field project to improve the management systems and operational planning. Once the fisheries management plans are developed, the tool may not always need to be applied annually, but it is important to consider it as part of the normal management review cycle.

The EAF-IMT tool has also been tested outside the original scope of the analysis, focusing on four EAF pilot studies in the Mediterranean Sea, supported by EastMed and CopeMed - the FAO Mediterranean Fisheries Management Support Projects. The research targeted demersal fisheries in Egypt, purse seine fishery in Lebanon, small-scale fisheries in El Biban Lagoon in Tunisia, and small-scale fisheries in Gökva marine protected area in Turkey.

The first impressions from the discussion indicate that the tool is easy to understand and easy to use. The tool also explains well the management process at a given time.  In order to monitor the progress made, it is recommended to repeat the EAF IMT assessment at regular intervals, as well as at critical times (at the start of the planning process), including a wider participation of stakeholders. Given its useful approach to compare the EAF implementation in any type of fishery, the tool will likely be applied in other areas of the world to monitor progress towards achieving the objectives of sustainable fisheries management.

“Now that countries are trained in the use of the EAF IMT tool, the EAF Nansen Programme will continue to support partners, using the tool to assess the implementation of the EAF and to strengthen fisheries management for a sustainable use of marine and coastal resources,” explained Matthieu Bernardon, FAO fisheries expert, leading trainings on the EAF-IMT tool.