Read all about EBFM workshop

presentations, interviews and a short summary

Stimulating workshop about EBFM

Last week 50+ people from science, policy and fisheries sectors met in Stockholm to discuss how to implement an ecosystem based fisheries management (EBFM) in the Baltic Sea.

The Baltic Sea Centre, Fisheries Secretariat and ICES hosted the workshop and the event was located in “Bullkyrkan” (or Sweet bread church) in Stockholm Old Town. The cosy atmosphere together with initiated and engaged participant created a stimulating and productive workshop. 

The two days long workshop was divided into three themes:

  • Ecosystem based fisheries management in the unique Baltic Sea context.
  • Development of advice towards ecosystem based fisheries management.
  • Bridging the gap between advice and decision makers in fisheries policy.

Each theme were built on a series of keynote talks and summarized in moderator-led discussion groups at the end of the first two themes. A panel discussion with representatives from science, policy and fisheries followed the final theme.

As the discussions matured it was clear that the issue goes beyond solely management of commercial fisheries. Other interest groups as well as political frameworks and directives besides the Common fisheries Policy  (CFP) have to be considered, such as the objectives in the Marine Spatial Planning and the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD).

A full minute report, including the recommendations of the working groups, will be found in the linklist below this article in a couple of days. While we are waiting for that to finnish there is this short version: 

The presentations of Valerio Bartolino (Mareframe and SLU Aqua), Eskil Krikegaard (ICES) and Rudy Voss (Kiel University) and following discussions all kept the message that the basic scientific structure for managing complex biological interactions in commercial fish stocks already exists, however, it is highly political what to do with this knowledge. Thorsten Blenckner (Stockholm University) added that the Baltic is a unique region that is affected by many anthropogenic stressors, and since different stressors affect different regions a sub-regional approach might be needed.

Marcin Rucinski (Polish Ministry of Agriculture and Fish) described how regional policy structures already are at place but the cooperation between them must improve to actually be able to undertake the issues of EBFM. Management trade-offs were raised as perhaps the most central issue when it comes to implementing EBFM. It is also clear that both science and the policy structure must improve. It is a two-way relation between fish stock development and the nature and therefore a broader perspective in the fisheries management is needed.

Trade-offs must also be understood and clearly defined to avoid different interpretations in the developing phase. This was clearly exemplified in the presentations about the development of the Baltic multiannual plan, by Polish Member of European Parliament Jarosław Wałęsa, and the different interpretations of the MSY concept, presented by Michael Earle (working for the Greens in the European Parliament).

Another issue that was raised in both presentations and group discussions was that to implement EBMF in an efficient and sustainable way, all interest groups must be included and represented - also in the first steps and the right questions must be asked (e.g. presentation by Roland Cormier, Helmholts-Zentrum). In fact that was not the case even in the workshop since there was biases in the representations of different Baltic Member States, stakeholders and gender.

The importance of including all different perspectives and interests when implementing EBFM was also raised by Dorothy Dankel (University of Bergen). It is not likely that anyone at the workshop missed that when she dramatically illustrated it by the massacre of a cupcake on stage (a view of her presentation is highly recommended).

A much appreciated presentation was given by the Swedish fisherman Bengt Larsson, who described the realities and challenges of small-scale fisherman, and his innovative ways to handle that by selling his catch directly to consumers using social media and phone text messages.

Finally we concluded that the implementation of EBFM is a step-by-step process and everything cannot be done at once. We should take advantage of the tools and ambitions that already exists. It is a continuous process and one strong ambition of both the organisers and the participants was to continue organise meetings on the topic.  Preferably scheduled back-to-back with other meetings on Baltic management to attract a wide range of participants. 

Is the baltic sea ready for ecosystem-based fishery management?

After the workshop the Baltic Eye science journalist, Henrik Hamrén, asked some participants about their view on the implementation on EBFM in the baltic sea. This is what they answered: 


Ulrika Gunnartz 

Ulrika is working with the development of a Swedish EBFM strategy at the Agency for Marine and Water Management.

Key messages: We have already started to implement key principles of an Ecosystem based approach in the Baltic and the structures are there, however, fish is managed in isolation. 

Fish as a part of the ecosystem should be further acknowledged and considered in the advices. It is always a challenge to balance different interests. 

Not everything has to be based on consensus, but trade-offs have to be clear and the decisions must be transparent.

Marcin Rucinski:

Marcin Rucinski

Marcin Rucinski from the Polish Ministy of Agriculture and Fisheries is also Baltifish chair and Helcom FISH chair.

Key messages: Not all issues can be tackled at the same time. Science is there, however policy and decision system not yet ready which should be included in the next revision of the reform. Baltfish is still young. Patience is needed to get the fishermen or other stakeholders who are the addresses of the policy on board. They should also own the implementation.

It is a step-by-step approach. The next step is the revision of the technical measures of fisheries and how to include all tools in other policies, not limited to CFP.

Eskild Kirkegaard

Eskild from ICES about science and implementation of EBFM.

Key messages: EBFM is a continuing process but we are ready to start implementation already now. It is up to management task to speed up the process. ICES is independent of policy pressures and it’s roll is to be on the forefront in science for the future, should not wait for requests. Social and economic aspects are not yet considered in the ICES scientific advices.

Jarosław Wałęsa

Jaroslaw is a Member of European Parliament. He talks about the Baltic Multiannual Plan.

Key messages: It is not the perfect plan but the best available and based on science. The new plan is providing some material to improve ecosystem based fisheries in the Baltic.  Still it is a compromise and will be reviewed after three years after it’s implementation.

Gustaf Almqvist

Marinekolog & Omvärldsanalytiker

Maciej Tomzcak

Maciej Tomczak


Henrik Hamrén

Henrik Hamrén


Relaterade artiklar