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Assessing Risk and Uncertainty in Fisheries Rebuilding Plans

  • Biology
  • Communication
  • Design
  • Ecology
  • Economics
  • Geography
  • Political Science


This paper deals with risk and uncertainties that are an inherent part of design-ing and implementing fisheries rebuilding plans. Such risk and uncertainties stem from a variety of sources, biological, economic and/or political factors, and are influenced by external factors like changing environmental conditions. The aim of this paper is to characterize such risks and uncertainties and to as-sess the importance of it in relation to the performance of fisheries rebuilding plans, to give some examples where uncertainties have negatively affected the ability of rebuilding plans to reach their intended targets and to give some guidelines how to deal with risk and uncertainties. The conclusion is that when designing fisheries rebuilding plans, it should be taken into account the availability of relevant information, such that progress is (indisputable) measurable, and causes of potential failure can be clarified. Rebuilding plans need to consider biological, economic and distributional consequences in order to reduce uncertainties and to ensure successful implementation of the plan. Risk communication is also valuable in the process, since it gives transparency of the objectives and means to meet these objectives, elucidates crucial information from stakeholders and legitimates the whole process of designing and implementing the rebuilding plans, which is essential for the success of these plans. To that end the plans should be as simple and realistic as possible. It is recommended to apply risk analysis and to use the precautionary principle only in cases where large uncertainties exists and/or potentially high costs exits of ignoring the uncertainty cannot be resolved. Two fisheries rebuilding plans are analysed and how they address risk and uncertainties are evaluated. This study was done under contract with the OECD. The authors are grateful to Gunnar Haraldsson and Saba Khwaja for comments and advise.

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