Integrated assessment of fishery systems

Fisheries play an important role in food security worldwide, but many aquatic food resources are not harvested sustainably. Research in 2013 by the Evolution and Ecology Program (EEP) addressed sustainability and management options in important fishing areas.

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EEP research has addressed sustainability and management options in the Barents Sea adjacent to Norway and Russia [1] [2], and the coastal seas of China [3]. EEP is also developing general tools and approaches for integrated assessments of fishery systems.

Traditionally, sustainability has been assessed from a mainly ecological perspective, with the result that important socioeconomic mechanisms such as size-dependent pricing, as reported in [4], are often overlooked.

Ideally, ecological and socioeconomic perspectives are analyzed jointly, as they yield complementary insights [2] [5] [6].

EEP’s research has also drawn attention to the challenges of “evolutionary sustainability,” highlighting that fishing may favor adaptations that, in the long run, reduce the value of the provisioning services provided by fish stocks [7] [8].    

Furthermore, new research in EEP has shown that the evolutionary and economic dimensions are fundamentally linked [1] (see Figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1. Productivity of the cod stock in the Barents Sea increases when the stock is adapting to fishing.

Finally, a comprehensive framework for assessing consequences of management policies through the integration of eco-evolutionary and socioeconomic perspectives has been introduced in terms of so-called Evolutionary Impact Assessments (EvoIAs) [9]. This utility of this innovative approach has already been demonstrated in a case study of the plaice fishery in the North Sea  [10]. 

Ultimately, managing aquatic systems requires reconciliation of the preferences of all stakeholders with an interest in the resources and services these systems can provide. To facilitate the identification of management options that are agreeable to all stakeholders, EEP are developing a framework for the evaluation of joint stakeholder satisfaction based on multi-criteria utility functions [11]. In 2013 work on this line of research focused on integrating into this framework analyses of the consequences of various kinds of uncertainties.


[1] Eikeset AM, Richter A, Dunlop ES, Dieckmann U & Stenseth NC (2013). Economic repercussions of fisheries-induced evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA 110: 12259–12264.
[2] Eikeset AM, Richter AP, Dankel DJ, Dunlop ES, Heino M, Dieckmann U & Stenseth NC (2013). A bio-economic analysis of harvest control rules for the Northeast Arctic cod fishery. Marine Policy 39: 172–181.
[3] Shen G & Heino M (2014). An overview of marine fisheries management in China. Marine Policy 44: 265–272.
[4] Zimmermann F & Heino M (2013). Is size-dependent pricing prevalent in fisheries? The case of Norwegian demersal and pelagic fisheries. ICES Journal of Marine Science 70: 1389–1395.
[5] Johnston FD, Arlinghaus R & Dieckmann U (2013). Fish life history angler behaviour and optimal management of recreational fisheries. Fish and Fisheries 14: 554–579.
[6] Meng XZ, Lundstrom NLP, Bodin M & Brännström Å (2013). Dynamics and management of stage-structured fish stocks. Bulletin of Mathematical Biology 75: 1–23.
[7] Heino M, Baulier L, Boukal DS, Ernande B, Johnston FD, Mollet FM, Pardoe H, Therkildsen NO, Uusi-Heikkila S, Vainikka A, Arlinghaus R, Dankel DJ, Dunlop ES, Eikeset AM, Enberg K, Engelhard GH, Jorgensen C, Laugen AT, Matsumura S, Nussle S, Urbach D, Whitlock R, Rijnsdorp AD & Dieckmann U (2013). Can fisheries-induced evolution shift reference points for fisheries management? ICES Journal of Marine Science 70: 707–721.
[8] Heino M, Dunlop ES, Godø OR & Dieckmann U. Management implications of fisheries-induced evolution. In Dieckmann U, Godø OR & Heino M eds. Fisheries-induced Evolution, Cambridge University Press, UK, in revision – a.
[9] Laugen AT, Engelhard GH, Whitlock R, Arlinghaus R, Dankel DJ, Dunlop ES, Eikeset AM, Enberg K, Jørgensen C, Matsumura S, Nusslé S, Urbach D, Baulier L, Boukal DS, Ernande B, Johnston FD, Mollet F, Pardoe H, Therkildsen NO, Uusi-Heikkilä S, Vainikka A, Heino M, Rijnsdorp AD & Dieckmann U (2014). Evolutionary impact assessment: Accounting for evolutionary consequences of fishing in an ecosystem approach to fisheries management. Fish and Fisheries 15: 65–96.
[10] Mollet FM, Poos JJ, Dieckmann U & Rijnsdorp AD. Evolutionary impact assessment of the North Sea plaice fishery, in revision – c.
[11] Dankel DJ, Heino M & Dieckmann U. Can integrated assessments reconcile stakeholder conflicts in marine fisheries management?, in preparation.

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Last edited: 27 May 2014


Ulf Dieckmann

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Evolution and Ecology


Capacity Building and Academic Training

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Seeing the ocean for the fish

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