Inventory of EU Marine Climate Change Research

New search

FEUFAR - Future of European Fisheries and Aquaculture Research

Project website:

Summary information

Funding:FP6 - Specific Support Action
Total cost:626800
Ec contribution:499680
Start date:2007-01-01
End date:2008-08-31
Duration:20 months
Coordinator:Lucas Van Hoof (
Organisation:Wageningen IMARES, Institute for Marine Resources & Ecosystem Studies - Netherlands
Themes:Biological impacts: socio-economic impacts
Keywords:Fisheries; Aquaculture research; foresight
Project name:FEUFAR - Future of European Fisheries and Aquaculture Research
Project summary:Abstract
The goal of the FEUFAR project was to define the research required in the medium term (10 years), to enable exploitation and farming of aquatic resources in the context of key challenges and risks for meeting sustainability requirements. The main output of this exercise is a publication outlining the key challenges, strategic options and research needs concerning fisheries and aquaculture in both European waters and waters in which European fleets are operating under European agreements.

The FEUFAR project has applied a foresight analysis using scenarios, building a step by step analysis of the most important factors influencing the future of fisheries and aquaculture. The process of foresight analysis was embedded and founded on two core pillars; the first corner stone was the development of a series of scenarios. These scenarios have been built step-by-step based on an analysis of the main factors influencing fisheries and aquaculture.

The second cornerstone was the involvement of peer experts and stakeholders. In all the steps of the process workshops with stakeholders from the fishing and aquaculture industry and their representative organisations, environmental NGOs and consumer organisations were organised.

Workshops for experts from the fisheries and aquaculture science community were organised, and joint stakeholder and expert workshops were held.

This resulted in a research agenda that is logically argued and based on an analysis by stakeholders and experts in addition to the work of the project team. Hence the priorities described in the research agenda have both a scientific analytical basis and societal reference.

The main output of the whole exercise as reported in the following pages is a document outlining, in the opinion of the core group, the key challenges, strategic options and research needs concerning fisheries and aquaculture in European waters and waters in which European fleets are operating under European agreements.

In terms of aquaculture, the deliberate decision was made at the start of the project to focus on marine aquaculture only. Although acknowledging that freshwater aquaculture is an important issue, we felt that we could not do justice to it within the resource and time constraints of the programme. However, unlike aquaculture, European fisheries focus almost entirely on the marine environment, although a few non-marine (generally anadromous) fisheries resources are important and did find their way into the dialogue, generally as an aside.

A second issue contained in the project’s main terms of reference is an acknowledgement that European fishing fleets operate not only in European waters, but also, in some cases extensively, in waters elsewhere in the world under bilateral agreements, some of long standing. Therefore, although the dialogue with stakeholders and other interested parties tended to be focused on Europe rather than operations elsewhere, for reasons relating to their own main interests and experience, core-group dialogue continually drew on knowledge of fishing operations of EU fleets in non-European waters, seeking to discern whether the same principles were relevant and being applied there as at home. Some of the core group have experience of fisheries production and management elsewhere in the world, so could contribute to the dialogue and analyses on the basis of personal knowledge. It was obvious to the whole team that the drivers for and many of the scenarios addressing sustainable and healthy fishing were the same wherever in the world EU fleets operate, and it is therefore essential that the EU not only maintains its commercial and bilateral interests in those countries, but also be seen to be responsive to the need to develop the same principles of optimal and sustainable management as in their own waters. In many cases, fish consumer preferences and aquaculture and product development depend as much on fish imports and EU fleet catches from non-European waters as they do on EU wild fish production itself. Two-way interaction between representatives of those countries in all aspects covered in the project’s final report is therefore essential, because without it, the credibility of European commercial interests and managers will be undermined.

Future research needs were also summarised and returns to this issue in detail, addressing EU fisheries and aquaculture operations at home as well as operations of EU fleets and partnerships around the world in the same fields.

As a starting point of the process the project implemented an analysis of existing foresight analyses in fisheries and aquaculture world wide. This analysis has shown both a form of congruency among the studies as well as providing an initial list of topics for future research.

The methodology of the foresight process consists of 6 logical steps. In the first step we defined the system: the boundaries and the horizon of the world of fisheries and aquaculture was set, and split into 7 subsystems.

In the next step, for each part of the system key driving forces and relationships between them were determined. After these drivers had been determined, each driver was documented. For each driver we determined the most important indicators and described how this driver had developed over the past 20 years. Then, for each driver, a set of different hypotheses, or a number of “possible futures” was elaborated.

Based on the hypotheses for each driver we constructed hypotheses for the development of each of the subsystems. These are called ‘micro-scenarios’, possible developments for each of the subsystems.

Connecting in a logical way the micro scenarios of the different subsystems results in the “macro-scenarios”: possible futures for the entire system. The scenarios developed could be distinguished along 4 perspectives; scale of management, either regulating issues at a global/international scale or at a international-regional scale or even national-local scale; the main objective of production to be centred upon feeding people or mainly on conservation of the marine ecosystem; the extent to which society is based on environmental awareness and the main fabric of the governance system, be it free market or strict government planning and control.

Research priorities have been identified in five main areas:
- Fisheries
- Aquaculture
- Ecosystem approach to marine resource management
- Consumer preference and Market development
- Socio-economics and Governance

In addition three cross cutting themes have been developed:
- Data collection and analysis
- Risk management
- Outreach and extension services
Project outputs:The main output of the project has been a discussion between the experts in the project team, peer experts and stakeholders on developing research priorities in the field of fisheries and aquaculture. This process has been documented and continuously being disseminated through the project website.

In the process a number of project documents and workshop reports have been made. In addition members of the project team have frequently given presentations on the scope, process and results of the project to an even wider audience.

With the production of the final report a start can be made to further discuss the priorities developed in the project. In order to facilitate this further discussion a simple leaflet presenting an overview of the project and its process and methodology and the final outcome: a research agenda will be prepared and distributed widely both in the research and stakeholder communities.

In addition the draft final report will be send to experts and stakeholders for comments. These comments will be listed in an addendum to the final report.

The results of the project are a starting point for a discussion on the political priorities and the funding of relevant research. A number of topics mentioned above are already part of current national and international research programmes. However, what becomes clear in the analysis is that although attention is already given to fisheries and aquaculture topics, total effort in these fields of research should rather be on the increase then on the decline.

In addition, especially in the fields of management and governance the scenarios present a pressing need for the development of integrated multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder tools in order to address (spatial) planning and prioritisation issues. And when tools are developed they are in urgent need of being operationalised.

Also pivotal in the entire research effort has to be an understanding of the position of the consumer and their preferences next to incorporating an understanding of societal view on the sustainable utilisation of marine resources. Utilisation and conservation of marine resources in a sustainable way requires a sustainable management system balancing ecological, environmental and societal aspects. None of the research priorities presented above can be taken up in isolation, but should be considered integrated with the other aspects.