At 18 months in, perhaps unsurprisingly, our objective for this case study has been modified, due to results thrown up by our work. But progress is now underway, from working with RAC members, to using the “Common Language” approach, to our development of a suitable model to aid fisheries management decisions.
Collaboration with NSRAC Members
To recap, GAP2 scientists have now met with the North Sea RAC demersal working group at three of its meetings, each time presenting and discussing the direction of work on investigation ecosystem aspects of Long Term Management Plans (LTMP). You can find short reports of each meeting on the main case study page.
Our shared learning of important scientific issues and our combined capability to address them, has led to an evolution of the work. Whereas initially, we planned to meet the RAC’s needs to develop an LTMP for fisheries catching whiting in the North Sea, we have now realised that we shouldn’t focus on whiting fisheries in isolation, since they are intimately connected to other fisheries. Instead, we have decided to frame the problem more generally as ‘mixed fisheries’.
To help address this issue, a special focus group was convened, comprising members of the RAC and scientists from the UK’s Centre for Environment, Fisheries & Aquaculture (Cefas).
However, unfortunately, there have been fewer opportunities than originally envisioned to focus on the finer details of the work, due to the RAC’s need to change meeting agendas to accommodate urgent issues. Accordingly, the working group’s Chair and Secretariat agreed that the RAC should nominate a few selected individuals to work closely with the case study on a technical basis and report periodically to the Demersal working group. To ease burden on people’s time, we will endeavour to align technical meetings with DWG meetings.
Scientists from Cefas have been working to develop a “common language” for discussing the scientific issues behind fisheries management. This work has prompted discussion at the RAC meetings.
We are trying to produce a modelling tool that can be made widely available to other researchers using the Ecopath with Ecosim software.
Good progress has been made on accounting for uncertainty in food-web interactions and incorporating this into an ecosystem modelling tool. Moreover, through sharing this work at RAC meetings, we have been able to produce a clearer technical description of the modelling work.
The next major technical milestone for GAP2 scientists is November 2012 when the uncertainty analysis routine should be available. This will enable scientists and the RAC to explore how we can evaluate different Long Term Management Plans in the face of uncertainty.
A poster of the case-study work has been prepared and was presented at the GAP2 annual meeting. You can download it here.