Future needs for monitoring and evaluation

Monitoring. (Photo: NPI)

Adopting and Adapting an Ecosystem Approach to Management 2013
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Continued careful monitoring and evaluation of essential components will be necessary to determine the changing status of the Barents Sea ecosystem and the effectiveness of management actions — whether or not management strategies improve ecosystem services and sustainability. Monitoring objectives for ecosystem-based fisheries management (EBFM) and integrated ecosystem assessment (IEA) will likely include data collection to support:ecosystem models which can

simulate major ecosystem functioning and energy transfer in the food web; risk analyses; multispecies models; stock assessment models; assessing water quality/fish habitat; estimating total fishery removals; evaluating strategies for effective research and management of its natural and mineral resources; etc.

Two types of monitoring are particularly important to IEAs:

  1. Trend monitoring over time to detect change in the status of an ecosystem component; these observations are typically not aimed to evaluate management actions, but may prove useful in this context. Trend monitoring focuses on indicators of ecosystem status; and
  2. Effectiveness monitoring to evaluate whether specific management actions have had the desired effect. Effectiveness monitoring focuses on changes in perceived threats and links threat reduction to changes in the status of key ecosystem components. Thus, effectiveness monitoring requires the observations of threats as well as the ecosystem component(s) targeted by specific management action(s) (Levin et al., 2014)

Evaluation of ecosystem status uses data from trend monitoring to assess condition or status of particular ecosystem components. In contrast to status evaluation, evaluations to measure management effectiveness are linked to discrete management actions and to effectiveness monitoring. Two types of effectiveness evaluations have been described:

  1. Impact evaluations to determine how well a particular project performed
  2. Effectiveness evaluation to systematically evaluate and adapt management actions. Successful IEAs will evaluate the effectiveness of management actions and provide information to managers so they can adjust actions, as needed
  3. Fortunately, there is a considerable amount of information relevant to meeting EBFM objectives that is already being collected in the Barents Sea within ongoing monitoring programmes. Nevertheless, some additional monitoring will be needed as routine data products to describe ecosystem structure, function, and status are developed for IEA. Specific monitoring programmes should be defined in relation to chosen indicators of ecosystem condition

Combined reporting mechanisms

Many scientists from both Russia and Norway representing 13 institutions have contributed expert knowledge to develop this report. In addition, several hundred ship personnel, technicians and scientists have participated in collecting data which form the basis of this knowledge and present a broad overview of the ecosystem status and functioning. In the future it is recommended that full updates, such as this one, be carried out every three year. Minor updates of the most variable ecosystem components (e.g. climate, plankton, fish, and fisheries) should be carried out annually. It is also recommended that a three-year cycle be followed to update the status of the most important pressures and human activities in the Barents Sea.Within the Norwegian-Russian collaboration, a plan has been developed for joint monitoring of the Barents Sea that includes 22 environmental indicators. These data will support future updates of this report, and will be important to evaluate environmental status, and recommend appropriate management options.

Future information needs to meet the above-mentioned objectives of EBFM and IEA of the Barents Sea should be achieved through:

  1. Further development of joint Norwegian-Russian monitoring and evaluation programmes, and through collaboration to continue and improve existing mechanisms for ecosystem status reporting
    1. Increased effort on IEA-relevant monitoring
    2. Strengthened coordination of joint Norwegian-Russian monitoring of the Barents Sea
    3. Further development of the framework for joint reporting on the status of the Barents Sea ecosystem