Workshop 3: Management Strategy Evaluation

Management Strategy Evaluation: Achieving Transparency in Natural Resource Management by Quantitatively Bridging Social and Natural Science Uncertainties

Marine and human systems are complex, which makes describing their interactions and potential outcomes difficult. The often-obscured links between climate change and environmental variability adds to this complexity and thus to developing management strategies for marine resource use. The Ecosystems Approach to Fisheries adopted by the FAO Committee on Fisheries defines Management Strategy Evaluation (MSE) as a modelling-based approach aimed at testing the robustness of possible management arrangements (plans) by examining sets of decision rules, such as those used to adjust total allowable catch or effort controls, to determine which perform best in achieving the management objectives for a fishery. MSEs are designed to simulate physical, biological, management, and societal systems such that their effects on policy goals and societal objectives can be measured. As a result, the modelling tool provided by the MSE approach allows evaluation of sufficiently realistic simulations of potential policy choices in complex systems. Simulation testing can be used to determine the robustness of a particular management plan to uncertainties. Analysis based on the MSE approach allows a choice of management planning to be made that has the most reasonable likelihood of achieving the management goals. Ultimately, robust and transparent policy evaluation by integration of natural and social sciences will quantitatively evaluate trade-offs, reduce unintended consequences and increase resource sustainability.


This workshop will bring together natural and social scientists who have relevant theoretical and empirical knowledge of different scale fisheries from a variety of locations. The overall workshop goal is to develop a coherent understanding of best practice principles and MSE approaches for different fisheries (including small and large scale fisheries), cultural, and societal characteristics. Five different sub-objectives have been defined for the workshop: 1) determine the information from natural and social sciences that is essential for MSE development (e.g., the role of institutions); 2) consider different methods and modelling tools for MSE development; 3) define societal management goals and needs (boundary conditions for the MSE); 4) focus on generalizable but new and innovative MSE approaches (leading to MSE best practices) across cultural and social settings and fishery characteristics; and 5) generate ideas for effective communication strategies to convey MSE predictions (and best-practice principles) to decision-makers.

Outcomes and expected impact

Participants will be exposed to discussions of the pros and cons of different approaches for MSE implementation and communication of MSE results. This will facilitate development of a research community that has best practices as a goal and an understanding of what this means in terms of practical application and conveying results to managers and policy-makers. The mix of natural and social science participants in the workshop will build on an effort to develop a community of researchers who work at this interface. Because MSEs are relatively new, researchers and managers from all nations are at the same point in learning about their development and implementation. This common learning will be advanced during the workshop by engaging in discussions focused around selected case studies. Outcomes from the workshop will also include consideration of the development of potential future graduate courses to ensure longevity of the workshop results and continued syntheses.

The workshop will aim to develop a scientific paper on the use, applicability, and comparability of MSE in different cultural, societal and fisheries contexts. Where possible, case studies from the workshop will be used to underpin this research.

Confirmed invitees:

Keynote speaker – André Punt (University of Washington, USA)

Ana Parma (Centro Nacional Patagónico, CONICET, Argentina)

Jason Link (Ecological Research, NOAA Fisheries, USA)

Workshop conveners

Ingrid van Putten, CSIRO and University of Tasmania, Australia

Cisco Werner, NOAA Fisheries, USA

Gavin Fay, University of Massachusetts, USA

Programme for Workshop 3