University of Tasmania

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Ecosystem-based Fisheries Management: A Model for Managing Tasmania's Wild Capture Fisheries?

posted on 2023-05-26, 04:23 authored by Stump, N
Ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) has been identified by managers, scholars and policy-makers as an approach that can help reverse the trend in declining fish stocks globally. EBFM is an integrated approach that requires managers to look beyond the immediate impacts of fishing on target stocks to examine their impacts on by-catch and non-target species and on the marine environment. EBFM also explicitly recognises that people must be seen as integral to marine ecosystems. In EBFM, the social and economic impacts of fishing are included in the evaluation of the fishery. This study seeks to investigate how the principles of EBFM may be incorporated into management arrangements for Tasmania's wild capture fisheries. Tasmania is an island sub-national jurisdiction of Australia with a rich commercial fishing heritage dating to the time of first European settlement in the early 1800s. The wild capture fisheries make a significant contribution to the State's economy, and secure substantial revenue from exports while providing employment in regional areas. The fisheries are managed by the Tasmanian State Government under provisions contained in the Tasmanian Living Marine Resources Management Act 1995 with the objective of achieving the sustainable development of living marine resources and taking into account community needs and interests. Nevertheless, management of those fisheries appears to be based on a fragmented and prescriptive command-and-control approach, with each fishery managed as a discrete entity and integration difficult to achieve. To advance the research agenda, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 22 scholars and fisheries managers to elicit their views on the efficacy of current fisheries management arrangements; on the principles underlying EBFM, including its strengths and weaknesses; on how the principles can be incorporated into the management arrangements for Tasmania's wild capture fisheries; and on ways to identify possible barriers to the implementation of EBFM The interview participants have expertise in state, Tasmania, national, Australia and international fisheries research and management. A review of the literature, 613 journal articles, reports, conference proceedings and grey literature on the management of Tasmania's fisheries and on the theory underpinning EBFM provides the context and background against which the validity and generalisability of the research may be evaluated. Analysis of the data revealed that knowledge and understanding of the principles of EBFM, as outlined in the literature, was evident among interview participants. However, particularly amongst Tasmanian researchers and fisheries managers, there was some ambivalence regarding whether those principles could be formally integrated into management arrangements for Tasmania's wild capture fisheries. Five participants indicated that the principles of EBFM remain unclear. Twelve participants considered that a more holistic integrated approach to fisheries management was desirable and achievable, though limited confidence was shown about the specific steps that would be required for its practical implementation. Such findings lead to the conclusion that it is imperative that those involved in fisheries research and management take the most integrated approach possible to the resource, the marine environment, and the social and economic contexts in which these others are managed. At present, the current structure of fisheries management arrangements make it difficult to formally adopt EBFM in practice in Tasmania. The top down command and control‚ÄövÑvp management approach whereby Tasmania's fisheries are managed as discrete entities create a barrier to EBFM. Like wise the structure of the research agenda still predominately utilises a single species approach. Both research and management strategies which advance better integration of wild capture fisheries are warranted. A first step would be to critically review the utility of the current management and research frameworks to evaluate whether they provide the robustness required to meet future challenges.




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