Synthesis report on social and economic aspects of fishing for online tool

In contrast to traditional fisheries management, Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM) includes both ecological and social objectives and explicitly recognises these as interdependent. In this respect, an important aspect of EBFM is the consideration of the societal benefits of fisheries, and potential social impacts of specific management measures. However, to do this we first need to understand the different social and economic aspects of fisheries, and have an accurate picture of the links between fisheries and society. 

Under our Social and Economic Effects of and on Fisheries theme we sought to build this picture, by collating work already carried out by SEAwise, summarising the various social and economic aspects of European fisheries and identifying various indicators that capture these links – from sea to land (and with management).

SEAwise research

As part of this work, a number of key social and economic aspects were investigated by the researchers, and considered across several different fisheries across the SEAwise Case Study regions. The aspects considered included comparisons between small-scale and large-scale fisheries in terms of their operations and wider economic and societal contributions; fishing communities; the impact of fuel prices on fish prices; and the carbon footprint of different fisheries. 

Based on our work, we found that:

  • Small-scale fisheries (SSF) are more represented in the Mediterranean than in the other regions.
  • In all cases, the carbon footprint of the SSF is lower than that of the large-scale fleet (LSF), on account of the high fuel usage associated with active versus static gears and the longer distances to fish travelled by the LSF.
  • Though landing values for the SSF are generally lower than that of the LSF, from a social perspective employment in the SSF is generally equal, and in some cases higher than in the LSF.
  • The effect of fuel price on the price of fish was found to be region and species dependent, with some species such as turbot in the North Sea or Nephrops in the Western Waters affected more adversely than others
  • Due to longer distances travelled to fish and higher fuel usage on account of active gears used by the LSF, the price of fuel had a greater impact on the profits (here measured as Gross Value Added (GVA) of LSF compared to the SSF); however, negative impacts were expected for both fleets. 

The outcomes of a workshop held during the summer involving SEAwise researchers working on this topic also fed into this report. During that workshop GVA and fuel consumption were identified as the most important economic indicators, while the most important social indicators identified were employment and average wages. Carbon emissions were also identified as a major aspect of fishing in terms of human footprint.

What happens next?

In future work, we will employ a range of models to evaluate how different management measures might affect the social and economic aspects of fisheries collated in this work. This knowledge will subsequently feed into the in-development EBFM Tool and Toolbox, in support of EBFM. 

Read the full report here.

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