The EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) addresses such an ecosystem approach, together with an economic assessment of the ecosystem.
In the Baltic Sea, the overfishing of cod (Gadus morhua) has, along with eutrophication, been a major environmental concern.
Overfishing has not only decreased the productivity of this stock, and thereby affected both commercial and recreational use, but has also altered the entire food-web dynamics.
Simulating management scenarios for fisheries
The aim of this pilot study was to evaluate ecological-economic evaluation of fishery management scenarios in the Baltic Sea region.
A specific database for the economic fishing fleet data of the countries around the Baltic Sea was developed. Data from seven countries around the Baltic Sea were collected and put into the model.
The economic consequences of different management scenarios for the Central Baltic Sea was analyzed in order to discuss the trade-offs between fisheries and ecosystem health.
Trade-offs between fisheries and ecoysystem health
The modelling results indicate that fisheries in the Central Baltic Sea are only profitable if the fishing effort is low, given current stocks size and fishing fleet structure.
However this result needs to be interpreted cautiously due to data-related problems. To improve such a fisheries-related ecosystem assessment, either the type of economic data needs to be improved or another economic approach needs to be applied.
Successful method, but further research needed
This first pilot study shows that the ecological-economic modelling tool functioned reasonably well but that the uncertainties in the economic input data caused unrealistic management scenarios.
To improve such a fisheries related ecosystem assessment, either the type of economic data needs to be improved to run more realistic scenarios or another economic approach needs to be applied
FishSTERN is a subproject of the BalticSTERN research network.
The project was coordinated by Thorsten Blenckner, Baltic Nest Institute, Stockholm and Ralf Döring, Johann Heinrich von Thünen Bundesforschungsinstitut, Germany in partnership with a consortium of international research institutes.
More scientific reports will follow and in 2012 the Secretariat will compile a synthesis report, on costs of action and non action as well as cost effective measures, directed to Government and other decision makers.