University Of Tasmania

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Ecological risk assessment for the effects of fishing

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-17, 09:48 authored by Hobday, AJ, Smith, ADM, Stobutzki, IC, Bulman, C, Daley, R, Dambacher, JM, Deng, RA, Dowdney, J, Fuller, M, Furlani, D, Griffiths, SP, Johnson, D, Kenyon, R, Knuckey, IA, Scott LingScott Ling, Pitcher, R, Sainsbury, KJ, Sporcic, M, Smith, T, Turnbull, C, Walker, TI, Wayte, SE, Webb, H, Williams, A, Wise, BS, Zhou, S
Management of fisheries around the world is challenged by fishing impacts on habitats, bycatch species, threatened and endangered species, and even associated ecological communities. One response to these other factors has been a call for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM), which demands consideration of the above non-target interactions. A challenge with implementation of EBFM is the scale and range of issues to be considered, all of which cannot be addressed at the same level of detail as for target species, due to data or time constraints. We developed an approach to progress the EBFM mandate in Australia, using a new ecological risk assessment framework applied to fisheries, termed Ecological Risk Assessment for the Effects of Fishing (ERAEF). Novel features of this framework include its hierarchical structure and its precautionary approach to uncertainty. The amount of information required increases through the hierarchy, and allows application in data-limited situations. The ERAEF framework has been applied to over 30 fisheries in Australia and elsewhere. The efficiencies in application of the hierarchical approach are illustrated by the south-east otter trawl fishery, where following Level 1 assessment of all components, an initial set of 600 species and 158 habitats was reduced to a group of concern of 159 species and 46 habitats using the Level 2 analysis, with the number of species of concern further reduced to 25 following Level 3 analysis. As a result of the assessments in Australia, management actions have been enacted for a range of the high risk species. Overall, the ERAEF approach offers a realistic method to assess ecological risk in an EBFM context, and has applicability in a wide range of fisheries. The interactive and inclusive nature of the approach also has the advantage of bringing stakeholders, scientists and managers together to develop management solutions.


Publication title

Fisheries Research










Institute for Marine and Antarctic Studies


Elsevier Science Bv

Place of publication

Po Box 211, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 1000 Ae

Rights statement

Crown copyright 2011

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Assessment and management of terrestrial ecosystems