EUfishmeal, together with the Nordic Marine Think Tank (NMTT), has hosted a Conference on Improved Fisheries Management Models to discuss the Fmsy project and consider a way forward the management of North Atlantic Fisheries.
The central conclusion of the Fmsy project is that managing Northeast Atlantic fisheries using new Fmsy values would increase the sustainable catch by several million tonnes per year. Furthermore, the Fmsy values estimated in the project can be applied directly by ICES in their advice, and subsequently be adopted by management bodies in their current fisheries management.
Conference participants defined the key issue of present fisheries management regimes and practices as one of substantial ‘under-achievement’ as present practices leave in the sea a potential benefit which could be made available for fishing communities and society at large.
Participants recalled that the Fmsy-project’s findings show that, on average, North Atlantic stocks could return 30% more than is currently the case, and this without added risk for overfishing.
The meeting participants recommended that a working group under the ICES umbrella should be set up to review and validate the work of the Fmsy project, and also to consider how it may be integrated with ICES advice. The European Commission and/or Member countries of ICES should request such work to be commenced.
The Nordic fishing nations have a clear interest in seeing that the new Fmsy values are implemented, and that it happens urgently. The suggested ICES Working Group could recommend a fast-track application of the results of the Fmsy project.
The Conference included stakeholders from government agencies dealing with fisheries management, international fisheries management organisations, NGOs and the fishing industry.
The Fmsy project has involved internationally highly recognised scientists and estimates Fmsy values based on ecosystem functioning for specific North Atlantic fish stocks and some relevant stocks from the sea off North America.
According to the conference, stock assessment models currently used in the North-East Atlantic ignore important aspects of ecosystem functioning in terms of density dependent population dynamics with respect to growth, sexual maturity and mortality as well as species relations. This leads to a considerable underestimation of the fishing pressure (Fmsy) and the level of maximum sustainable yield (MSY), a central reference point in fisheries management.