Report on the key interactions in European socioecological systems

The SEAwise project will deliver a tool to support the implementation of Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) in Europe. As part of development of the tool, it was vital for SEAwise to identify the often complex ecological, social and economic interactions that affect fisheries management, as well as models that can evaluate how well such interactions are accounted for by fisheries management strategies. These strategies include objectives, management measures, and indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of the strategies. The research ultimately found that social interactions are often overlooked when scientists evaluate management strategies using modelling – but models do exist which could be used to address this shortfall.  

SEAwise research

The two key aims of the report were to identify: 

  1. Key ecological, social and economic interactions affecting fisheries management in European waters.
  2. Existing models that can be used to evaluate whether and how well management measures and indicators have been designed to work with or mitigate these interactions.

Working with the SEAwise project team, fisheries stakeholders across Europe put forward the issues they considered to be most important to address in fisheries management, for example jobs, MPAs, and marine pollution. SEAwise researchers then carried out a systematic review of the scientific literature to review what models have been used to date to evaluate management strategies in relation to ecological, social and economic elements and how often the use of these models produced management advice which could be implemented. (For a refresher on how models are used to design and evaluate fisheries management, see our blog post on them.)

Key findings included that:

  • The use of models to evaluate fisheries management strategies has grown significantly since the early 2000s, and mostly in Europe and North America.
  • While stakeholders prioritise social elements such as jobs, this was not well reflected in the reviewed case studies; modelling tended to include social indicators (i.e. ways to keep fisheries managers accountable as they work to achieve stated social objectives) far less often than ecological or economic ones.
  • Despite a current lack of inclusion of social indicators, the review successfully identified evaluation models that are capable of incorporating interactions between ecological, economic and social elements.
  • The vast majority of studies involving the use of ecosystem models did not yield “ready for uptake” management advice – indicating that while models and data are available, EBFM is not yet widely applied.

What happens next?

The results from this report will be synthesised with SEAwise’s earlier stakeholder scoping work as a precursor to modelling within a Management Strategy Evaluation framework.

Find the full report here.

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