Moving beyond the MSY concept to reflect multidimensional fisheries management objectives
Maximising the long term average catch of single stock fisheries as prescribed by the globally-legislated MSY objective is unlikely to ensure ecosystem, economic, social and governance sustainability unless an effort is made to explicitly include these considerations. We investigated how objectives to be maximised can be combined with sustainability constraints aiming specifically at one or more of these four sustainability pillars. The study was conducted as a three-year interactive process involving 290 participating science, industry, NGO and management representatives from six different European regions. Economic considerations and inclusive governance were generally preferred as the key objectives to be maximised in complex fisheries, recognising that ecosystem, social and governance constraints are also key aspects of sustainability in all regions. Relative preferences differed between regions and cases but were similar across a series of workshops, different levels of information provided and the form of elicitation methods used as long as major shifts in context or stakeholder composition did not occur. Maximising inclusiveness in governance, particularly the inclusiveness of affected stakeholders, was highly preferred by participants across the project. This suggests that advice incorporating flexibility in the interpretation of objectives to leave room for meaningful inclusiveness in decision-making processes is likely to be a prerequisite for stakeholder buy-in to management decisions.