Why the Ecosystem Approach Fisheries Management?

Effective fisheries management has always been a challenge, especially in complex multi-species, multi-gear fisheries. Traditional stock-based approaches have largely been ineffective, with management measures often not taking other important aspects of the fisheries into account. As many fisheries have declined over the past 30 years, the need for more effective and equitable management is increasingly evident.

The ecosystem approach offers a practical and effective means to manage fisheries more holistically. It represents a move away from fisheries management that focuses on target species, towards systems and decision-making processes that balance environmental, human and social well-being within improved governance frameworks.

Support for an ecosystem approach to fisheries management has long been in place through a range of global declarations and policy instruments. Recognition also exists at the national and regional levels that it offers the most practical and effective way to manage complex fisheries. However, progress in developing ecosystem-based management plans has been slow, mainly due to a lack of experience in implementing this integrated and holistic approach.

The Essential EAFM training course has been designed to address these capacity development needs and provides the practical skills, tools and resources to do so.

Use of the ecosystem approach to fisheries management has been endorsed by:

  • United Nations General Assembly (2012)
  • UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio +20) (2012)
  • World Conservation Congress (2012)
  • World Summit on Sustainable Development (2002)
  • Reykjavik Declaration on Responsible Fisheries in Marine Ecosystems (2001)