Risky business in governance

Published on April 28, 2017

Ecosystem Based Management (EBM) has evolved from an idealistic concept to a driver for dynamic oceans governance. An iteration of EBM is also defined in the EU Common Fisheries Policy, yet implementation continues to stall. Roland Cormier at Helmholtz-Zentrum may have just the answer.

Geestacht-Germany. The outcomes from policy making in fisheries, with exceptions, are largely focused on developing goals and objectives for resource use. Developing effective management measures to address these goals and objectives is a current sticking point in the EU. Cormier, a retired fishery manager from Canada now sharing time between Canada and Germany, believes that fully operationalising EBM requires a focus on operational outcomes within a continuous policy cycle. These outcomes in turn provide the necessary benchmark for testing if EBM goals and objectives are met.

However, it isn’t so much a list of operational outcomes that Cormier has proposed, but a new dialogue to help management develop these outcomes. By applying the ISO 31000 risk management standard to fisheries and marine management, Cormier can frame policy development in terms of risk. This new dialogue means a different kind of consultation process with interested communities, a systematic method to identify perceived risks.

His approach is one step closer to reality following a successful United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) workshop on 20-22 February 2017.

Hosted by Helmholtz-Zentrum in Geesthacht Germany, Cormier brought together experts from North America and Europe including members of the Group of Experts on Managing Risks in Regulatory Systems and scientists involved in marine sciences and fisheries. This team focused on the use of ISO 31000 and other risk management standards within a regulatory context to achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). The initial pilot for this workshop was SDG 14, ‘Life Below Water’. The workshop proposed approaches to proceed with SDG 14 as well as recommendations for an upcoming symposium being organised by UNECE the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES).

This workshop was also a preparatory platform for a joint UNECE and ICES symposium planned for 2018 in Iceland titled “Management tools and standards in support of Sustainable Development Goal 14”.

A risk management framework is easily scalable to meet the objectives of the Common Fisheries Policy and regionalised management in Europe, particularly if supported within a quality management system. If you would like more information on the UNECE workshop, please visit this link to see all presentations and a workshop report.

Cormier was the final keynote speaker at our own collaborative workshop with Baltic Eye and ICES on advancing Ecosystems Based Fisheries Management in a Baltic context. In line with our workshop and the ongoing preparation for the joint UNECE/ICES symposium, FishSec will develop a series of articles in the coming months to explain some of the core concepts in both risk management and its role within a quality management system for governance.