Fisheries management in the context of shared seas

Richard L. Shelmerdine, Rachel Shucksmith, Beth Mouat

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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There is increasing legislative and policy emphasis on the importance of effective management of the marine environment as a shared resource, with aspirations to maximise environmental, economic, and social benefits, also termed the ecosystem approach to management. As extensive and long-term users of the marine environment, fisheries and the integration of fisheries management into a wider marine management system, play a major role in achieving these objectives as well as helping to ensure the long-term sustainability and existence of the sector. There are many examples of managing fisheries interactions within the UK and globally. Many of these are related to a single interaction. Many Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) have been shown to have a positive effect on fisheries when the MPAs have been integrated within fisheries management measures outside of the MPA area.

While seeking to achieve the UK management objectives of increased economic prosperity by growing economic use, particularly of emerging industries such as marine renewables, coupled with increased protection through a network of MPAs, fisheries are being subject to increased spatial conflicts which need to be understood and effectively managed. Due to the nature of these interactions, the majority of conflicts occur relatively close to shore and have a greater effect on the inshore fisheries.

The report addresses three main areas covering conflicts (Section 2), available data (Section 3), and example case studies (Section 4). There are a number of marine management measures that have been trialled and/or implemented around the world to tackle a range of spatial and temporal use conflicts. Spatial and temporal management measures were considered under three main topics of fisheries management measures (Section 2.1), marine conservation management (e.g. MPAs, Section 2.2), and licencing mitigation and management measures (e.g. safety zones during marine developments, Section 2.3).

Understanding what data is available, its accessibility, limitations, and at what spatial and temporal scale would be appropriate for management decision making is an important but complex task for any manager (Section 3). However, without such knowledge, management decisions may be questioned by stakeholders and governance structures may be weak or difficult to enforce. This section outlines some of these issues, highlights alternate data sources which are freely available, discusses how the data can be used with its limitations, and how it can be enhanced through stakeholder/fisher engagement.

Six case study areas (Section 4) were identified with aspects of their management and management tools being highlighted. Case studies covered multiple geographic scales from local through to international management strategies. The use of spatial planning, voluntary codes of practice, stakeholder engagement, and more detailed fishing information were key factors in several of the areas.

Finally, the information was pooled together to outline some key recommendations for managers (fisheries and marine) and recommendations for the use of data (Section 5.1). Recommendations for managers included a better understanding of how scale can influence decisions, stakeholder engagement, establishing trust through open dialogue, and the consideration of temporal impacts of developments. Data recommendations included fisheries data, socio-economic data, availability of data in online databases, and the use of predictive habitat maps and what information should accompany them.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherFisheries Innovation Scotland
Number of pages55
ISBN (Print)978-1-911123-13-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2017


  • Inshore fisheries management
  • marine data
  • best practice


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