Report on requirements for fisheries governance to be effective

Effective governance is crucial for translating knowledge around fisheries into the implementation of Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM). In Europe to date, a lack of cooperation and coordination between the EU, national, and regional governance structures has hampered the implementation of EU legislation intended to achieve more sustainable outcomes for fisheries. As a result, fisheries management in the region continues to struggle to achieve established ecological and social objectives.

In this report, our Social and Economic Effects of and on Fishing theme provides a foundation to increase understanding of how effective EU fisheries governance currently is, when judged according to EBFM. The report also sets out a research plan for identifying opportunities to improve fisheries governance and therefore the likelihood of successful implementation of EBFM in Europe.

SEAwise research

Drawing on existing knowledge and research undertaken across the EU and key lessons from the understanding of governance, we’ve outlined a new set of definitions and criteria designed to support effective fisheries governance across the EU:

  • Governance: A social process that steers the interplay of public and private actors (e.g. governments, regional authorities, civil society,and private industry) with the aim of tackling societal problems and creating societal opportunities.
  • Fisheries governance: The overall framework of politics, policies, laws, norms, values, regulations, and institutions that guide the management and conservation of fishery resources. For fisheries governance to be effective, the tenets of effective governance outlined above must also be met. The report explores wider considerations and approaches for understanding the effectiveness of different fisheries governance approaches within the context of EBFM.
  • Effective governance: For governance to be effective, the constellation of actors noted above must be able to speak to each other, coordinate their efforts, and collaborate in defining, framing and understanding problems to ultimately reach solutions. Crucially, all these actors must be included in decision-making processes that are fair, equitable, and transparent.

Building upon these definitions and criteria, we then set out a framework of attributes and indicators that may be used in evaluating the effectiveness of fisheries governance at both the regional seas level (i.e. the SEAwise Case Study regions) and the sub-regional level (e.g. the Bay of Biscay within the Western Waters). These attributes and indicators include:

  • Evidence of stakeholder group collaboration in processes of decision-making. 
  • An understanding of how voluntary codes and standards (e.g. the Marine Stewardship Council Fisheries Standard) may supplement or replace legislation, or challenge it to improve.
  • The capabilities of different actors within the governance system to observe, understand, and act on problems.

What happens next?

The report provides a research plan for further study into the effectiveness of, and potential for improving, governance at the regional and sub-regional level in the SEAwise case study regions. Analysis will result in recommendations on how the effectiveness of governance could be improved in order to help provide the conditions needed for successful implementation of EBFM.

Read the full report here.

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