Development of the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries
Management (EAFM) in European seas
16-20 January 2012, Rennes - France
DG Mare focal person: Stefanie Schmidt
Chair: Didier Gascuel
The first STECF Experts Working Group on the “Development of the ecosystem approach to
fisheries management (EAFM) in European seas” (SGMOS 10-03) met in September 2010, in
line with the recommendations of the STECF 30th plenary meting (PLEN-09-01). The overall
aim of this working group was to provide a pragmatic example of a first attempt assessment
and advice in support of EAFM. It achieved this by i. utilising long time-series of catch and
various stock assessment metrics, including the analysis of ecosystem indicators, ii. an
analysis of the characterisation of fleets impacts, iii. an analysis of fleets economic
performances, iv. an assessment of operational status of ecosystem models to support EAFM.
Based on this first attempt, the working was also requested to provide comments and
suggestions regarding the best way to improve EAFM in European waters. It especially
achieved this by suggesting several recommendations in order to promote an advice oriented
ecosystem approach in various existing STECF and CIEM committees.
During its 35th plenary meeting (PLEN-10-03), STECF acknowledged the quality and
quantity of analyses undertaken by the EWG on EAFM, and supported the conclusions
reached by the Group. STECF especially notes that “implementing EAFM is a specific task,
that has to be conducted in respect to -and in close collaboration with- the MSFD, but whose
purpose is not (or not only) to ensure GES. On the other hand, EAFM aims to take into
account not only ecological sustainability (and GES), but also economic profitability and
social fairness. Its major objective (its specific value-added) is to analyse tradeoffs between
ecology, economy and social aspects, the tree pillars of the sustainable development of
Thus, STECF recommended that the EWG on EAFM meet again in 2012 with the
participation of ecologists, biologists and economists, in order to improve and to expend the
feasibility approach set up during the previous meeting. Based on this feasibility study, the
working group should also makes any appropriate comments and recommendations regarding
the best way to improve EAFM implementation in European seas.
The STECF experts working group will meet in Rennes (France), from 16 to 20 January 2012
and will be prepared in advance by ad hoc contracts in charge of estimating a suit of
ecosystem indicators within each of the studied ecosystem.
Terms of Reference
Based on the approach developed in 2010 (SGMOS10-03) and tacking into account
improvement in the methods as suggested by the group itself and by STECF (PLEN10-03),
the working group is requested to develop the feasibility approach to provide some useful
ecosystem advices. This analysis should consider the seven marine ecosystems defined by
STECF in Atlantic and Baltic Sea (Table 1)
Table 1. Reference list of European marine ecosystems suggested by STECF in Atlantic and baltic Sea
FAO subdivisions
ICES Eco-regions
Baltic sea
ICES IIIb, 22-32
Baltic sea
Baltic sea
North sea
North sea (except VIId)
North sea
West Scotland/Ireland
ICES VIa-b, VIIb-c
North western waters
Celtic Sea and West of Scotland
Irish sea
North western waters
Celtic Sea and West of Scotland
Celtic sea
North western waters
Celtic Sea and West of Scotland
Bay of Biscay
South western waters
Bay of Biscay and Iberian Seas
Iberian coast
South western waters
Bay of Biscay and Iberian Seas
Within each ecosystem and where appropriate, the working group is requested to gather
existing knowledge and to analyse available data (or identify lack of data and suggest
improvement regarding data):
1. to examine trends in total landings and landings by species (and possibly, where data
are available and appropriate, trends in fishing effort based on STECF EWG11-11)
over the past years, trying to take into account a period of time as large of possible
(from 1950 if possible). The objective is to provide a comprehensive framework of the
main characteristics and of the dynamic of the whole fishery.
2. to build an integrated synthesis of the stocks status and stocks trends at the ecosystem
level. Such representations, based on the aggregation of assessment estimates on an
ecosystem basis, should include the degree of stocks dependency to the considered
ecosystem, and the representativeness of the considered stocks for fisheries occurring
in the ecosystem.
3. to analyse trends in ecosystem and environmental indicators computed before the
meeting by ad hoc contracts (see above and list in Annexe).
4. to undertake a comparative analysis for the results obtained in the various marine
ecosystems belonging to the same ICES eco-regions (i.e. 3a/3b/3c on one hand, and
4a/4b on the other hand), in order to assess if considering such sub-divisions appears
5. to discuss how to improve indicators-based approach in the context of MSFD. The
major aim of this should be to have a more integrative approach of the whole fishing
impact on the ecosystem and vice versa, but also to assess other impacts on GES. The
EWG should especially check if and what could be integrated from MSFD in future
works dealing on EAFM... and also suggests any feedback: what could be useful from
the "STECF" indicators list in the context of MSFD.
6. to build a fleet-based synthesis, using fleet segment as defined by DCF. Such
synthesis should include descriptors (and possibly for a subset of ecosystems and fleet
segments, trends analysis over the recent years) of: the fleets economic performance
(based on the indicators used in AER; e.g. gross revenues, gross value added, net
profit, …), and their respective contribution to the fishing mortality of each stock, and
their economic dependency on stocks.
7. to suggest a general format that could be used for the publication by STECF of an
annual EAFM report and to suggest an organizational structure that would be
responsible for addressing future ecosystem analyses (including ecosystem and bioeconomic modelling approaches).
8. More generally, based on this feasibility study, the working group is invited to
comment regarding the best way to improve EAFM implementation in European
Appendix - Request submitted to DG-Mare on the estimate (trough ad-hoc contracts) of
time series of Ecosystem and Environment indicators, within the 7 Atlantic and Baltic
Sea ecosystems
Within each of the seven ecosystems (see Table 1 above), times series of 7 types of ecosystem and
environmental indicators (list below) have to be calculated, based on:
. trawl surveys data extracted from DATRAS (ICES WebSite), for indicators 1 to 4,
. data issued from the DCF data call on the fishing effort regime for indicator 5,
. the ICES hydrographic database, for data to derive indicators 6 and 7 on hydrological and chemical
condition (see MSFD Descriptor 6, 5 and 1 indicators)
Preliminary work: Identification of available homogeneous series of surveys (indicators
1 to 4)
Within each ecosystem, time series as long as possible will be identified, taking into account demersal
trawl surveys which are using a homogeneous protocol (For instance, the time period used in the
North Sea should start in 1983, year in which all component parts of the IBTS survey were conducted
homogeneously with a GOV trawl). Only surveys covering a large part of the ecosystem will be
considered (i.e. local costal surveys excluded). Indicators 1 to 4 of the list below will be calculated for
each survey, tacking into account all stations located within the studied ecosystem. In case where
several surveys occur each year, the mean value of each indicator will be considered the yearly
estimate of that indicator. In case where several heterogeneous surveys are related the same
ecosystem, distinct estimates will be calculated for each indicator (possibly covering distinct periods
of time).
1- Conservation status of fish species (CSF)
The conservation status of vulnerable fishes is an indicator that directly reports on the condition of the
fish community by focusing on the large fish, the most impacted by fishing. According to EC
(2008)187 two indicators of the biodiversity of vulnerable fish species can be calculated from data
compiled according to the preceding process: (CSFa) an indicator of the biodiversity of vulnerable fish
species that responds to changes in the proportion of contributing species that are threatened and
(CSFb) an indicator of the biodiversity of vulnerable fish species that tracks year-to-year changes in
the abundance of contributing species. Both indicators assume that the survey catch rate provides an
index of abundance.
Calculation of the “Conservation Status of Fish” (CSF) indicators has to be based upon trawl survey
data that reports CPUE of species by length. For each ecosystem, the two indicators CSFa and CSFb
will be calculated using the method described in Annexe 3 of the STECF-SGMOS 10-03 report.
Accordingly to this Annex, only indices based on the 5 year list and the first three years as the
reference abundance will be considered.
2 - Proportion of large fish (PLF)
According to EC (2008)187 (see Annexe 3 of the above mentioned STECF-SGMOS 10-03 report) the
proportion of “large fish” or large fish indicator (LFI) will be calculated from data surveys as:
PLF = W>40cm / Wtotal , where W>40cm is the weight of fish greater than 40 cm in length and WTotal is
the total weight of all fish in the sample.
3 - Mean maximum length of fishes (MML)
According to ICES (2009) the mean maximum length of fishes will be calculated as the mean ultimate
body length (similar to the mean maximum length but based on asymptotic total length (L∞) as
opposed to Lmax) according to:
MMLn = Σ Ns. L∞ s / Σ Ns
, where: L∞ s is the von Bertalanffy ultimate body length of each
species s (from FishBase), and Ns is the total number of individuals of each species caught during the
A second index will be calculated based on the weight of fish in the sample, using:
MMLw = Σ Ws. L∞ s / Σ Ws
4 – Mean trophic level
The mean trophic level of all animals caught during each survey will be calculated as:
MTL = Σ TLs. Ws / Σ Ws
5 – Rate of discarding
The rate of discarding of commercially exploited species in relation to the total landings (in tons and
in value), will be calculated within each ecosystem, for the whole fisheries and per fishing gears, per
species (for the main species landed) and on a yearly basis. These estimates will be based on
appropriate data available from the database related to the fishing effort regime (where catch and
landing, in tonnage and value, are reported).
6 - Hydrological condition
For each ecosystem, a yearly indicator will be derived from the variables which define the
hydrological condition of marine habitats (as specified by MSFD Descriptor 1). This includes: salinity,
temperature, suspended inorganic matter, and water movements (including those driven by waves,
tides, atmospheric forcing and thermohaline circulation)
7 - Chemical condition
For each ecosystem, a yearly indicator will be derived from the variables which define the chemical
condition of marine habitats as specified by MSFD Descriptor 1 and 5). This includes: pH, nutrient
concentrations (nitrate, nitrite, phosphate, silicate), nutrient ratios, oxygen and chlorophyll,
NB. In case where any of these 7 indicators cannot be calculated, it should be explained exactly
why and any appropriate comment and suggestion will be made in order to improve the process
and/or fixe the difficulties in the coming years.
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