Demystifying fisheries assessment and management practices

Bill Lart, Sustainability and Data Advisor within our Responsible Sourcing team, introduces Seafish’s new sustainable fisheries assessment and management guides.

Sustainability and the implementation of responsible sourcing practices have never been higher on the seafood supply chain agenda. Maintaining the health of the world’s fish stocks is essential in order to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy healthy and nutritious seafood. A lot of good work has been undertaken in this area in recent years and significant improvements in the sustainability of fisheries have been made possible thanks to developments in both fish stock assessment and changes in management practices.

Responsible fisheries management processes are informed by advice generated by fisheries scientists based on scientific assessment of the health of fish stocks. It’s important that professionals working across the UK seafood supply chain have an understanding of how fish stocks are assessed and managed as this can facilitate responsible sourcing, inform attitudes to risk and enable businesses to respond to consumer preferences. Facilitating a shared understanding of how fish stocks are assessed and how fisheries are managed is also an essential part of the seafood industry’s social licence to operate. 

A central part of Seafish’s role in this area is to make robust and independent data and information available to all interested stakeholders. However, we recognise that fisheries science and management practices can appear complex. To help make these topics more accessible, we’ve created a suite of documents that can be understood without the need for complex mathematical formulae and/or previous training or expertise in fisheries science.

To communicate this information in a way that meets the needs of multiple stakeholders we’ve taken a two-pronged approach and created both ‘Overviews’ which outline how stocks are assessed and managed and ‘Guides’ for those wishing to access more in-depth information on the techniques used for stock assessment and management. The overviews have been designed to provide a top-level summary of key information suitable for both decision makers across the supply chain, as well as those outside industry who want to get a feel for how good fisheries management works. Advisors to the Seafood industry, NGOs or government should find the guides comprehensive and accessible and they will also make useful revision texts for students.

We’ve devoted considerable time and effort to developing content and diagrams that explain fisheries assessment and management in an accessible way and sought input from fisheries scientists and apprenticeship providers to ensure that we created accurate and useful materials. We hope that those working across and outside the seafood supply chain will find these resources helpful, and we welcome comments or feedback from users.

Further info

Find out more and access the Sustainable Fisheries Management and Assessment Guides