Arctic Challenge for Sustainability Project

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The 6th EA Workshop on Ecosystem Approach Guidelines and Integrated Ecosystem Assessment

A workshop entitled “The 6th EA Workshop on Ecosystem Approach Guidelines and Integrated Ecosystem Assessment” has been held at Alaska Fisheries Science Center in Seattle on January 9 – 11, 2018.

A total of 59 participants including myself from AC member countries, UK and Japan, comprising scientists, multinational organizations (HELCOM, OSPAR, etc.), and NGOs discussed for three days to establish the outlines for the guidelines. Although I have assumed it to be a complicated and hard work, the workshop was quite productive. I suppose most of the of the participants have already had experience in EA planning and practice in their own countries or multi-national organizations, making the workshop fruitful.   

A decade or two ago, when the term “ecosystem based fishery management” (EBFM) began to spread (e.g. Pauly et al. 2002; Pikitch et al., 2004), it seemed to be idealistic for me. But in this workshop, I have realized that EBFM has been implemented in various parts of the subarctic/arctic oceans. Now it is getting the norm of fishery management in western countries. Ecosystem approach comprises the following six steps: 1) identify the ecosystem to delineate management unit based on ecological and political criteria 2) Describe the ecosystem based upon information on biological and physical components and processes among them 3) Assess the ecosystem to pick up ongoing and potential threats for sustainability 4) Set ecological objectives to ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem 5) Evaluate the ecosystem based on multiple criteria from different parties (e.g. fishers, indigenous people, scientists) and 6) management of human activities by legislation and cooperative processes. Of these items, understanding of fluctuating, complicated and unpredictable ecosystem, item 2) and 3), have been most important for myself. However, now I have realized that we also need to consider broader aspects of ecosystems. Unfortunately, we presently have very few and poor basis for the EBFMs in Japan. One of the reasons is that the lack of comprehensive view of “fishery ecosystem”, in which negative aspects such as habitat destruction by trawling have been overlooked. Thus, the workshop has been an eye-opening experience for me.

Orio Yamamura (Hokkaido University / A member of Theme 6)