The emergence of EAFM creates many opportunities for coral reef managers to work with fisheries managers in the conservation of reef ecosystems. EAFM is gaining prominence and increasingly being adopted in national fisheries policies. It is the principle approach to fisheries management advocated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to comply with the FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries. FAO have identified the following principles for EAFM:
- Fisheries should be managed to limit their impact on the ecosystem to the extent possible.
- Ecological relationships between harvested, dependent and associated species should be maintained.
- Management measures should be compatible across the entire distribution of the resource (across jurisdictions and management plans).
- The precautionary approach should be applied because the knowledge on ecosystems is incomplete.
- Governance should ensure both human and ecosystem wellbeing and equity.
EAFM includes four main planning steps:
- Initiation and scope — This step asks managers: What are you going to manage and what objectives do you want to achieve?
- Identification of assets, issues, and priority — This step requires managers to identify all of the relevant issues for the fishery and determine which of them need direct management intervention for the fishery to achieve its objectives.
- Development of the EAF management system — This step works to determine the most appropriate set of management and institutional arrangements needed to achieve the objectives.
- Institutionalization, monitoring, and performance review — This step establishes the new management system and reviews its performance.
For coral reef managers wishing to explore opportunities to engage with fisheries managers in EAFM, FAO’s EAFnet offers an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries Toolbox that can be used to help reef managers identify which methods and approaches provide the best opportunity for input and engagement given the type of fishery, ecosystem setting, resources and capacity.