A parable of compliance issues and their link to EBFM outcomes.
Fisheries Stakeholders are understandably most concerned with immediate problems. Often these problems are related to proposed rule changes. This short term focus is in itself a serious problem for introducing Ecosystems Based Fisheries Management (EBFM), which is typically seen as a long-term approach. However, the short-term response of fishers to rule changes may well have long-term consequences by either changing their fishing patterns or by changing the extent to which fishers obey the rules. Either response could have a long-term impact on achieving EBFM.
This is a difficult area to study because it involves fishers’ unrecorded behaviour, but it is probably the case that many of the responses of fishers may be influenced by how much it costs them to change their behaviour to comply with new rules. Changes in behaviour may include changes in fishing gear, fishing grounds or fishing effort. To examine these possibilities requires that a short-term area based model is available that can consider the costs and consequences of changes in fishing gear or fishing ground. There can be technical difficulties with doing this, but this paper attempts to show how these might be overcome. However, given the sensitive nature of compliance issues, these approaches are applied to the mythical fisheries of Atlantis rather than to real life fisheries. Initial results of the model applied to the important Atlantean Fishing fleets are shown, and most importantly how much compliance might cost in these cases is indicated (i.e. the profit forgone by complying). Pursuing this scientific parable further also allows an open discussion of ways to mitigate non compliance. It suggests how stakeholders and managers might be able to improve trust and compliance by adding fishers’ information to the scientific information used in models of compliance. This would increase transparency and help with identifying and encouraging responsible behaviours that improve compliance and thus the chances of EBFM being successful. The purpose of the parable is to spark discussion and wider thinking about fisheries management and compliance in an EBFM context.