This report is the main outcome of the second workshop of WP6 entitled "Building an operational scientific network for implementing EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Sea" held in Split (Croatia) in October 2013. The main aim of the workshop was to discuss how to build an operational scientific network for implementing EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Sea. Here we summarize the discussions and conclusions of the workshop, and present the recommendations and future initiatives proposed to advance EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Seas region.

This workshop followed a previous workshop in 2012 entitled "Scientific Strategy for a Global Approach to Promote Regional Ecosystem-based Approach to Fisheries (EAF) in the Mediterranean and Black Seas" that was held in Sète (France) in July 2012. This first workshop aimed at discussing what is needed to advance on a robust scientific strategy to promote EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

As a result of the Workshop a first draft of the Constitutional Framework of the "EMBASEAS NETWORK" (A scientific network in support of the application of EAF in the Mediterranean and Black Seas) was produced. In the last CREAM Coordination meeting, held in Barcelona on 8 April 2014, the text was discussed in depth with the members of the CREAM Consortium and also with relevant representatives of the CREAM External Advisory Committee (Black Sea Commission, FAO and GFCM).

As the result of this discussion, a new text of the EMBASEAS Constitutional Framework has been proposed for approval of the future members of EMBASEAS. This text is available at Network Proposal of Constitutional framework.pdf

The network should be independent and individually based, but with clear links to regional bodies such as GFCM, FAO, BSC, the EU Joint Research Centre, and other regional and intergovernmental institutions, as well as with non-governmental organizations promoting EAF. Key players of the network should be interested scientists of different disciplines, participating as independent individuals, rather than as national or institutional representatives. The network should have strong links with local and regional organizations involved in EAF initiatives, and seek the involvement of other stakeholders such as professional and recreational fishers, other users of the marine environment, naturalists, local experts, and policy makers.

Such a network should have the capability to define a clear, strong, and shared vision for EAF in the region. This could be achieved by gaining a broader view on the EAF implementation strategy, in particular by keeping track of what needs to be pursued to ultimately ensure a good status of the Mediterranean and Black Sea ecosystems. The network should communicate experience obtained in implementing EAF, identify key objectives and topics, and establish a road map of coordinated actions to accomplish them. The scientific network should also aim to promote the efficient coordination of scientific activities, to date local or fragmented, using local initiatives but contributing to the regional vision. This would bridge different geographical scales and promote the exchange of experiences and the use of innovative tools such as models, indicators, scenarios, and other integrative tools. The methodology and manner of linking the initiatives from the local to the regional level can be a considerable challenge for the network.

In the short term, the network could start as a networking activity of scientists and stakeholders to promote the EAF approach by exchanging information, coordinating activities, and improving the capacity of developing science for EAF in the region. The network should promote concrete scientific actions considering available data, tools, and initiatives at different geographic scales to improve process-based ecological knowledge in the area. The group identified several novel topics and initiatives with added value to the network (e.g., the ecology and impact of Non-indigenous species NIS, cumulative impacts, the impacts of specific fishing gear, building scenarios, .). One of the first tasks of a coordinated scientific initiative would be to identify, document, and promote successful case studies in the region. This could help establish bridges between scientists, policy makers, and other users of the sea, in a transversal way dealing with the best territorial management unit. Other potential immediate activities include the documentation of initiatives, the sharing of already available information and scientific capabilities, the improvement of the training capabilities, and capacity building of the scientific community and stakeholders, and the establishment of mechanisms to disseminate knowledge to end users.

In the medium-long term, the network should aim at providing scientific advice in support of the implementation of an EAF (from the local to the regional level), and informing on the adaptive management in the whole Mediterranean and Black Sea, where at present only stock assessment advice is taken into account (if at all). Thus, the ultimate goal of the network should be to provide the scientific grounds upon which to link management advice to sound scientific information, thus creating an ecosystem knowledge-based management approach. By establishing successful liaisons with local and regional organizations and initiatives, needing scientific advice to promote EAF, the scientific network could contribute to the management of territorial units and provide a stable platform to share success stories, resources, ideas, and expertise. The network could facilitate the discussion of common problems and possible solutions with local applicability in a coordinated manner and under a common regional vision and strategy. Scientists involved in early practices of EAF could find in the network a suitable platform for networking among themselves to learn tactics on how to implement EAF at the local level, while also building a strategy at regional level. The ultimate goal should be to link management advice to good scientific information and transform policy strategies and goals into operational objectives. Another important role of the network would be to anticipate the needs of stakeholders - both local communities and managers - and the global changes that may occur in the future in the Mediterranean and Black Seas.

The network should also be used as an opportunity to anticipate the future and invest in tools such as generic and validated models and indicators. In this manner scientists would be able to contribute to initiatives and calls for predicting the dynamics of the ocean, and building scenarios of socio-ecological systems. Indeed, it is already clear that in a few years, scientists will have to provide integrated and multidisciplinary scientific advice on possible future scenarios and the available alternatives to avoid adverse changes in ecosystems and ecosystem services, integrating data on ecology, climate, socioeconomics, and demographics. These tools will enable us to investigate the future of the region, and analyse how to reconcile long-term objectives with local constraints (exploring trade-offs with a suite of socioeconomic and ecological objectives) following the successful initiative of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). EMBASEAS could be a focal point for the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). There is thus a clear need to start building on the capability to integrate, modify, improve, innovate, fit and calibrate complex models and frameworks, which will require the promotion of data integration, harmonization, and accessibility. The scientific community should build a roadmap of coordinated actions to develop a common strategy and make future progress; and the EMBASEAS network may be a good opportunity to achieve this.


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