Mutual understanding: fisheries management and biodiversity conservation training

Instructors Mark Tasker and Jake Rice look forward to a training course this summer which focuses on understanding the interface between fisheries and biodiversity issues.
Published: 9 April 2015
​​​​​​​​What inspired you set up the Fisheries Management to Meet Biodiversity Conservation Needs training course?
Mark: We both work across this rather artificial division in the way that most countries administrations work – nature conservation on one side and fisheries management on the other. Both “sides” have separate norms and values, but are ultimately trying to achieve more or less the same thing. We wished to help both sides understand each other better – hence the course.
Jake: An increasing portion of my work has been at global and regional levels – where exactly the same artificial barriers that Mark refers to as operating at national and EU levels have been entrenched. At all these governance scales, if one’s work takes one to the policy, management, and even just the science meetings of agencies on each side of this artificial separation, one quickly realizes there is a huge overlap in the issues being discussed, but largely in at least ignorance of, and sometimes even direct denial of the discussions of the same issues in the other fora. This leads to very inefficient attempts to deal with these common issues, rather than coordinated approaches to shared challenges, using shared knowledge and the best policy and management tools from all sides. 

Why is there a need for this right now?
Mark: In Europe, the establishment of Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) is proceeding apace, but rather few have had fisheries management measures applied. Some of this is due to not understanding the mechanisms, while in other cases an inappropriate approach has led to policy difficulties. On the global stage, MPAs (or similar) are also being established, with calls for further (likely inappropriate) fisheries measures. ​​We think that these difficulties are soluble if the right approaches and tools are used.

Jake: To me, several policy developments in the late 2000s challenged policy and management agencies in both fisheries management and biodiversity conservation in ways that could not be addressed without improving the integration of policies and management efforts. These included the Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD) in the EU, the UN work on Biodiversity Beyond National Jurisdiction, and efforts by both the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and the Convention on Biodiversity to adopt ecosystem approaches to their work. It was clear that the early dialogue amongst the agencies was ineffective for several reasons, an important one being how much misunderstanding each had of the others. That was something that we thought could be helped by a course like this one. 

How crucial is it to equip students with an understanding of the linkage between fisheries and biodiversity issues?
Mark: To an extent this is one for potential students to answer. We can see the need in many places and if both sides wish to make progress then it would be a good idea to understand each other’s positions.

Jake: There has been a long history of most experts spending their careers in one stream or the other, and it is hard to resist getting entrained in the culture and attitudes of the community with which one works. If, early in the students’ careers, they can get a broader awareness of how each stream approaches these shared issues, there is a basis for better dialogue between the agencies, and a better chance of developing integrated approaches to solutions. They even get a chance to start building networks of colleagues in both streams – a network they can build on and drawn from as their careers progress. 

Which aspects of your professional work and/or skills will help you to deliver the course?
Mark: Jake has worked on fisheries issues for most of his career, but diversifying into ecosystem issues including at the global scale over the past 20 years or so. I come from a marine nature conservation background, but have been working on the fisheries/nature conservation boundary for at least 20 years. We both value ICES greatly and have worked within and chaired groups for many years.

Jake: Both of us have also progressed through our careers from young scientists focused on research in the natural sciences to points where the large majority of our time is spent being science advisors to the policy-makers and managers who we hope are using the science results as the foundations for their work. We have learned by experience the value of identifying the commonalities amongst issues being grappled with in both types of agencies, and making sure the science advice they receive is itself integrated. ICES has been an excellent place for such work.

What advice would you give to potential students?
Mark: To consider how important a better understanding of the fisheries/nature conservation overlap is for your work and career, and if you find it useful, then sign up!  Copenhagen is a fine city, particularly in June.

Jake: This convergence and integration of fisheries management and biodiversity conservation is the future, and the course can help you get to the leading edge of the wave of innovating approaches. We plan to use the course not just expose them to the ideas but also help them use the knowledge they bring to course in new ways.

The 'Fisheries Management to Meet Biodiversity Conservation Needs' training course runs 23-25 June at the ICES Secretariat in Copenhagen.
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Mutual understanding: fisheries management and biodiversity conservation training

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