EAF implementation in Southern Africa: Lessons learnt
The practical implementation of an ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) management has proved difficult to achieve. Without simple and structured guidelines for implementing an EAF, managers are grappling with the complexity of implementation and the need to prioritise resources and management actions. Ecological risk assessment has been put forward as a structured procedure. There is a need to review regularly whether progress is being made in addressing the issues and priorities identified through ecological risk assessment. Such reviews require a framework providing clear objectives for the respective fishery and delineating the steps required towards their achievement. This paper proposes a generic framework for reviewing ecological risk assessments through stakeholder workshops. This framework is aided by a fuzzy logic tool to track EAF implementation and informs the development of proactive work plans which incorporate EAF objectives. The advantages and disadvantages of a generic and participatory approach are discussed and compared with other related methods for evaluating progress in implementing an EAF. Keywords: Ecosystem approach to fisheries, EAF, Ecological risk assessment, ERA, Fisheries management, Management plans, Sustainable fisheries, Expert systems, Decision support, Monitoring and evaluation.