About this website

Here you will find a description of the aims and activities of the Irish research project to build an ecosystem approach for fisheries management. An important part of the project is engaging with all interested parties - the fishing industry, regulators, marine scientists and the public. This website is one of the principal means for building a community of active participation in the project.

What is the Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management?

It is a move away from traditional single stock fisheries management, with the purpose of maintaining sustainable fisheries that do not damage the ecosystems upon which they rely. EAFM recognises that the viability of every commercial fish stock depends absolutely on the health of the ecological community within which it lives and takes part. The aim of the fishery manager in EAFM is therefore not merely to ensure a sustainable yield of commercial harvest from the sea, but to ensure the long-term health, diversity and vitality of the marine ecosystem. For example, if sand-eel stocks (one of the natural prey for cod) are depleted, EAFM asks what impacts this has on both commercial species like cod, and other marine creatures such as dolphins and seabirds which may depend on sand-eels. Cod management under EAFM attempts to take all these interactions into account.

Critically the EAFM also incorporates the socio-cultural and economic determinants of 'real-life' management into its design. An important element of this project is the study of sources of conflict in the current management structure - whether and how greater participation by fishermen in management can help to resolve conflict and improve the long-term viability of sustainable management. Designing more participative, flexible and responsive management systems is vital to EAFM development.

The Research Consortium

The project itself is a seven year, 3.9m research programme funded under the Irish Beaufort Marine Research Awards (see logos on the left). The aim is to develop an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Management for Irish Waters that is both directly useful for fisheries management under Irish responsibility and as a worked example, which in collaboration with other national efforts will set a new global best practice. The participants form a multi-disciplinary consortium comprising research groups from University College Cork, Queen's University Belfast, and the Marine Institute (institutions' links below). The work is divided up into nine work packages , each of which has its own webpages on this site. The work packages integrate by focussing collectively on a nested set of case studies to develop biological and social understanding of the combined human-eco system.

Marine Institute Queen's University Belfast Aquaculture Fisheries Development Centre Coastal And Marine Resources Centre University College Cork