The ecosystem approach to fisheries – science driven or issue driven?
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The ecosystem approach to fisheries (EAF) represents a multi-objective aiming at 1) broadening the management perspectives from single species to including ecosystems considerations, 2) maintaining a precautionary approach and 3) increasing the involvement of stakeholders. ICES, as a science community and provider of advice, has a particular responsibility in these respects, but developing advice in accordance with the EAF has proven difficult and time consuming. In this paper, I discuss the role of science for the EAF in terms of applied versus basic research and in terms of type-I, II and III errors. I argue that the science community augment two problems in our demand for political attention to knowledge gaps, often in our own field of interest. First, the managers are implicitly advised to postpone the EAF until the knowledge gaps are filled, which is in contradiction with the precautionary approach. Second, this may take attention away from more urgent ecosystem issues. One solution to this problem is to consider scientists as stakeholders and involve all interested parties when deciding what should be the present priority of ecosystem issues. As ICES is not in power to arrange this, an alternative is that ICES carries out this exercise itself among its own scientists. I briefly discuss how this can be done. Keywords: EAF, participation, transparency, uncertainty