Workshop on Ecosystem Based Fisheries Advice for the Baltic (WKEBFAB)
New version: The list of participants was edited, May 2022
The main aim of the meeting was to organise a meeting with members of the ICES/HELCOM Working Group on Integrated Assessments of the Baltic Sea (WGIAB) and the ICES Baltic Fisheries Assessment working group (WGBFAS), as well as invited experts on ecosystem-based fisheries management from other sea regions, to propose a roadmap towards providing ecosystem based fisheries advice (EBFAdvice) for the Baltic Sea. The specific objective was to conclude on ecosystem aspects that could be added to the fisheries advice provided by ICES. In order to achieve this, the WK reviewed working international EBF approaches, reviewed ecosystem indicators relevant for EBFAdvice in the Baltic and evaluated how existing ecosystem models can be used for giving advice on ecosystem-based catch options. The lack of management strategy evaluations implemented for the Baltic Sea became apparent and the WK stresses their development and application as a key step for implementation of EBFAdvice. Several ecosystem indicators are currently operational for the Baltic Sea region, mainly via developments in HELCOM and in relation to the Marine Strategy Framework Directive. These indicators could potentially support an EBFAdvice by providing an integrated ecosystem assessment framing, but further work is needed to assess how selected existing indicators could be analytically linked to the developing EBFAdvice.
The WK proposed a roadmap on utilising ecosystem information in stock assessment and advice for the Baltic Sea over 2022-2023. As a central aim for the work, the WK agreed to test the use of Scaling factors for the species-specific long term Ftarget derived catch options (hence, applying an approach similar to the Feco approach developed by WKDICE and WKIRISH). The WK also proposed to produce Ecological and socio-economic profiles (ESP) of the specific stocks, which would identify quantitative indicators/factors for ecological processes that can be used to scale the species-specific Ftarget. Additionally, the WK proposed to amend the regular fisheries advice with information on Ecosystem consequences / Ecosystem risks as a result of the stock specific advice in question. The WK agreed that at its first stage of implementation, the EBFAdvice would focus on developing the F scaling factor, ESP and risks, as described above, in relation to the already existing single species assessment and stock-prediction models (while in the long term, multi-species or specific food web models would preferentially be used). It was identified that the implementations should be part of the ICES Benchmark process, where the approach would be tested and accepted. The proposed next benchmark of the small pelagic stocks in the Baltic 2022-2023, creates the first window of opportunity to test scaling factors.
The WK recommends that the F scaling factor, ESP and risks be formulated in such a way that they can be integrated into existing ICES advice products, namely the advice on fishing opportunities, the Baltic Sea Ecosystem Overview and the Baltic Sea Fisheries Overview. The WK, further, proposed a number of changes to the ICES advisory process, in order to facilitate the operationalization of the roadmap and EBFAdvice.
The work required to eventualize the proposed roadmap is dependent on further funding, and is foreseen to be facilitated by two more workshops (WKEBFAB 2 and 3). It should be noted that the working group for integrated assessment (WGIAB) has already suggested in their meeting ToRs for 2022-2024 to assist in the work of WKEBFAB and this collaboration is expressed as an item in the TORs.
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