Fishery management should incorporate the social, economic, and environmental components of fishery systems, and it is widely agreed that stakeholder participation in research and management systems can bring about a number of benefits. To understand the impacts of management rules and the trade-offs between socio-economic and environmental issues, bio-economic models are used to simulate management scenarios.
The authors of this paper evaluate the effectiveness of the collaboration between stakeholders and scientists in the construction of one of these models for the fisheries in Atlantic Iberian waters. The overall stakeholder management objectives were "to maximize yield in value (for all or key species)" and "maximize inclusive governance". For the regional fishing sector the main priorities were "to sustain the number of vessels" and "to maintain a stability in catches". To incorporate and prioritize management objectives into a model was a challenging task. The fishing industry participation in the evaluation of the model and the management scenarios provided or improved the knowledge needed for management advice.
Early and sustained engagement of stakeholders through the many phases of the modelling process is essential for identifying management priorities. There is also a need to set up a framework for interaction scientists-researchers with a system of feedback.
The participation of stakeholders in this study was beneficial for both scientists and the fishing industry. The final bio-economic model was improved by the fishers' input, which led to the improved representation of parameters within the models and the creation of alternative management scenarios. Stakeholders benefited from participating in a process which enabled them to influence decisions that may affect them directly.