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European fisheries ecosystem plan

The US National Marine Fisheries Service developed the concept of Fisheries Ecosystem Plans (FEPs). The plans are designed to incorporate the principles and policies of ecosystem conservation into fisheries management. Specifically, an FEP provides a description and understanding of the basic environmental and human context in which a fishery is managed, it directs the use of that information for fisheries management and defines strategies by which management objectives can be developed and implemented.
The European Fisheries Ecosystem Plan (EFEP) will be achieved through the involvement of marine scientists, social scientists, economists and the stakeholders (fishers, fisheries managers, NGOs, etc). The North Sea will be used as a case study; however, consideration will be made of the additional issues/regional differences that would influence the development of such plans for the northern/sub-Arctic and Atlantic margin fisheries.

The objectives of the project are:
1) to consult and develop links with stakeholders who have an interest in the North Sea
2) the characterisation of the biological and physico-chemical environment of the North Sea which supports the fishery and development of a conceptual model of the North Sea's key processes and food web
3) the rationalisation of the North Sea web into a 'significant web' that includes, amongst other criteria, habitats/species (as defined in EC legislation). A review of the metrics that have been used to measure the state/health of ecosystems and, potentially, develop new and/or modify existing ones
4) to calculate total removals of harvest, by-catch and incidental mortality in the North Sea
5) to assess the degree of uncertainty in numbers 3 and 4 and review the input from stakeholders, and to develop a set of possible management regimes for later testing on the 'significant web model'
6) to assess the evidence for ecosystem effects of fishing and match management responses that are acceptable to stakeholders against them where they are significant
7) to feed back the results of management scenarios to stakeholders, elicit views and develop a draft FEP for the North Sea.

Progress to Date
The project is progressing well.

The deliverable of Work Package 2 is a report that details the biological and physico-chemical environment of the system that supports the North Sea fisheries. It also provides an assessment of the ecological effects of fishing activities to determine which processes are of the greatest importance to the ecosystem. It includes an overview of models, which may be useful and relevant to the EFEP project and an assessment of the modelling approaches required to address the identified issues. The full review is available at the EFEP website ( and can be downloaded as pdfs.
Links have been formed with stakeholders who have an interest in the North Sea and this includes fishermen, fisheries managers, the public, NGOs and marine ecologists. The fishermen interviewed have stated that they want more involvement in fisheries management and they feel that their opinions are valid and important.


Scientist responsible for the project

Dove Marine Laboratory, University of Newcastle,
NE30 4PZ Cullercoats
United Kingdom (The) - GB

Phone: +44 191 252 4850
Fax: +44 191 252 1054


Project ID QLRT-2000-01685
Area 5.1.2
Start date 01 January 2001
Duration (months) 36
Total cost 1 546 189 €
Total EC contribution   1 237 923 €
Status Completed
Web address of the project

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