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The challenge

Overfishing and short-term thinking in European fisheries

Marine ecosystems around the world are under pressure. Overfishing and fleet overcapacity threaten fish stocks. Short-term thinking about fisheries management, along with lack of stakeholder involvement, adds pressure to the ability for fisheries to be sustainably managed.

We need new approaches to make fishing more environmentally, economically and socially sustainable. MareFrame, an EC-funded RTD project, aims to remove the impediments to more widespread use of the ecosystem-based approach to fisheries management.

Our response

Lending a hand for world-wide sustainable fishing industries

Research is underway to address the future sustainability of European (and global) fisheries, investigating ways to achieve a balance between ecological and human well-being.

The MareFrame project is addressing challenges in European fisheries by taking a whole-of-ecosystem approach, moving from a single-species to a multi-species modelling approach that includes environmental and socio-economic factors. The same lessons can be applied to fisheries around the world to facilitate a greater adoption of an ecosystem-based approach to fisheries.

Fisheries and aquaculture are important industries in Australia, both economically and socially.

We are part of an international consortium of 28 partners from 14 countries contributing to this research, which will look at advancing fisheries management and ecosystem models.

The project will provide new decision support tools and technology that will assist fisheries managers to explore alternative options, appreciate benefits and consequences of different actions and ultimately make decisions that lead to sustainable fisheries industries over the long-term.

CSIRO’s role in this research is to contribute to the development of ecosystem models such as Atlantis and MICE (Models of Intermediate Complexity for ecosystem assessment) and review the strengths and limitations of different ecosystem modelling approaches and the ways in which they can support decision-making.

Through close collaboration with key end users such as fishing industry and environmental groups, the MareFrame project will assess ecosystem models to see which models can best incorporate new research and data sets, best explain the ecosystem and most importantly, best address the questions that end-users are asking.

This project builds on existing collaborations with researchers in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, France, Germany, Italy, Norway and the United Kingdom. This body of work has looked at ecosystem modelling applications in EU waters, but also how to improve and extend the modelling and ecosystem-based management approaches.

The results

Sustainable fisheries

Through the assessment of six ecosystem models, over eight regions of interest, the MareFrame project will identify which models are best performing. The end product will be a decision support framework that fisheries managers can use to investigate the effect of desired management strategies.

This will not just show the results of chosen strategies on the ecosystem, but also the effects on human welfare.

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