Journal Article

Limits to transparency—exploring conceptual and operational aspects of the ICES framework for providing precautionary fisheries management advice

Kjellrun Hiis Hauge, Kåre Nolde Nielsen and Knut Korsbrekke

in ICES Journal of Marine Science

Published on behalf of ICES/CIEM

Volume 64, issue 4, pages 738-743
Published in print May 2007 | ISSN: 1054-3139
Published online May 2007 | e-ISSN: 1095-9289 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/icesjms/fsm058
Limits to transparency—exploring conceptual and operational aspects of the ICES framework for providing precautionary fisheries management advice

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Hauge, K. H., Nielsen, K. N., and Korsbrekke, K. 2007. Limits to transparency—exploring conceptual and operational aspects of the ICES framework for providing precautionary fisheries management advice. – ICES Journal of Marine Science, 64: 738–743.

ICES precautionary approach to fisheries management advice is based on limit reference points (LRPs) reflecting stock status and precautionary reference points (PRPs) reflecting risk levels. As LRPs are exclusively science-based, while PRPs are management-based, this framework is deployed towards satisfying the ideal of a clear division of science and management's responsibilities. We discuss the variety of technical definitions of reference points and their use in the advisory process. There are inconsistencies in the use of reference points and a tendency to downplay uncertainty. Although the framework can be improved, we argue that some dilemmas will remain. First, transparency of uncertainty presupposes a simple and understandable framework. However, translation of the complexity of natural and human interactions into simple concepts leads to problematic standardization. Second, a clear-cut division of responsibility between science and management is not feasible because LRPs cannot be purely science-based and PRPs cannot be purely management-based. Such dilemmas set fundamental limits to what can be expected from the framework in terms of handling and communicating uncertainty. We suggest that comprehensive dialogue between science and management and explicit reflection on their respective roles will prove more effective at enhancing precautionary and transparent advice on fisheries than adhering to the ideal of strict separation.

Keywords: fisheries management; precautionary approach; reference points; transparency; uncertainty

Journal Article.  5182 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Environmental Science ; Marine and Estuarine Biology

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