The context of the Mediterranean and Black Sea may be seen as difficult for the implementation of an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF). Working with the similar concept of Ecosystem Based Fisheries Management (EBFM), Hilborn expressed that there are "core" and "extended" aspects of EBFM. The "core" consists of three primary features:

(a) A correct single species management right, i.e., keeping fishing mortality at or below FMSY, and keeping the fleet capacity in line with the potential of the resources

(b) preventing by-catch of non-target species, which can be achieved by gear modification, providing incentives for by-catch avoidance, or by area and seasonal closures, and

(c) the avoidance of habitat-modifying fishing practices primarily by closing areas or banning specific fishing methods or gears in sensitive areas.

Consideration of trophic interactions and area-based management characterize "extended" EBFM. Hilborn concludes that we will have great difficulty in moving EBFM beyond the core components of eliminating overfishing of the main species, reducing by-catch and habitat impact, and protecting endangered or charismatic species without firmer policy guidance regarding the social objectives of fisheries and their impact on marine ecosystems and human communities. This policy guidance was given recently since UNEP-MAP agreed that, as a starting point, the 11 EU MSFD descriptors will be used as a basis for defining the Mediterranean ecological objectives taking into account the regional specificities. This approach was confirmed in December 2013 (Istanbul, COP 18) by the 21 Mediterranean Countries Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention and the European Commission.

In terms of scientific developments, IndiSeas provides a way forward and the steps that the scientific community as a whole need to take to make EAF a reality:

1. Combining and integrating multi-disciplinary indicators. These include indicators of climate, ecological and human dimensions that represent different facets of the EAF. Integration should be quantitative to compare, classify and rank the status of exploited marine ecosystems. It should also be graphical so that we can communicate ecosystem status to a broad spectrum of stakeholders including managers, decision-makers and the public.

2. Developing a synergy between model- and data-based approaches. This will allow the testing of the sensitivity and specificity of ecological indicators to ?shing versus climate, the performance of indicators for decision support, and the fishing identification of reference levels and tipping points of ecosystems submitted to different drivers. This important step allows models to handle explicitly multiple drivers, their impacts, and expected feedbacks in marine ecosystems. It will therefore enable ecosystem indicators to be tested in a fully integrated way under various scenarios of global change and fsheries management.

3. Using research survey data. Global comparisons of states of marine exploited ecosystems have previously relied almost exclusively on commercial catch data. Catch data have advantages of easy access through FAO and Sea Around Us Project ( databases, extensive geographical coverage, and existence of long time series, but have biases associated with sampling by commercial vessels.


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