GAP2 – Fishermen, scientists and policy makers combine to promote sustainable fisheries
Fishermen, researchers and policy makers from across Europe have been brought together under the European Union (EU)-funded GAP2 project to work towards sustainable fisheries. The partners of the project which aims to 'connect science, stakeholders and policy', have a common goal of improving the well-being of the marine environment and the fisheries sector upon which society depends for food.
© Fotolia, 2012
Many of Europe's fish stocks are in a poor state. In the past, centralised fisheries management policies have not always resonated with the people and communities whose livelihoods depend on fishing.
With reform of the EU's Common Fisheries Policy now underway, GAP2 wants to demonstrate that by working together scientists, fishermen and policy makers can find sustainable solutions to the challenging issues of fisheries management.
The GAP2 consortium comprises 37 partners, from 11 different European countries, including regional and national government research agencies, fisheries organisations, universities, civil society organisations and media experts. The consortium's approach is to develop a pan-European vision and encourage viable policies by working with people involved at the local, national and international levels throughout Europe.
The four-year GAP2 project which is funded under the EU's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) started in April 2011 and builds on the success of the precursor GAP project begun in 2008. The initial GAP project created a bedrock of active participation and mutual learning by developing a series of 13 case studies illustrating good collaboration between scientific bodies and fisheries stakeholders.
A study on the sustainability of brown crab stocks, for example, is helping develop a methodology for fishermen to evaluate themselves the best way to manage the stocks they exploit. The research brings together the knowledge of scientists with the local expertise of fishermen concerning the movement patterns of crabs and factors that may be influencing their behaviour.
Other case studies cover topics such as herring management in Denmark, coastal cod monitoring in Norway, tuna fisheries in the Indian Ocean, shrimp population management in Germany and Spain etc.
"GAP2 is an action plan for mobilising knowledge and skills through shared learning," commented project coordinator Steve Mackinson of the UK's Centre for Environment, Fisheries, & Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).
"We are bringing together Europe's fishermen, researchers and policy makers to work together toward sustainable fisheries. In addition to activities promoting dialogue and debate, our 13 science-fishermen partnerships serve as models of responsible research.
"By establishing global networks and exchange activities on good practice in participatory approaches, the partners are helping bring new ideas to the governance of EU fisheries."