The two workstreams within this project aim to address issues and meet the overall objectives of improving consistency and robustness in the application of the Risk Based Framework (RBF) methodology.

Projects included

  • Species Performance Indicators (PIs)
  • RBF developments

RBF - Species Performance Indicators (PIs)

The SICA uses qualitative information made known by stakeholders to assess the risk of fishing activities to ecological components. Within the SICA the spatial scale, temporal scale and the intensity of a risk-causing activity on a particular scoring element (species, habitat, and ecosystem) are scored. The results of these exercises are then used to inform the scoring of the consequence of the activity on the scoring element. The consequence score is then converted to an MSC score and determines the SICA score for that PI.

The PSA is a semi-quantitative method which can be used to assess PIs 1.1.1, 2.1.1, 2.2.1 and 2.3.1 (all species PIs). A similar method is currently being developed for PI 2.4.1 (habitats).

When the RBF is triggered for a species PI, SICA is always undertaken. The use of the PSA depends on the PI which is being assessed.

Principle 1

Concerns have been raised that scoring a SICA can be difficult and highly time-consuming. It has been suggested that while the information collected to score the scale and intensity  can help inform the scoring of consequence, there is other information that is also needed to robustly score consequence (such as data for proxies related to trends in the fishery).

Concerns have also been raised with the method in which conditions are set using the RBF for PI 1.1.1. It has been suggested that it is difficult for small-scale fisheries to be able to fulfil this condition due to associated costs. Also, concerns have been raised around current requirements where a fishery may pass using the RBF but not be allowed to use it for re-assessment, because it scored less than 80 on either of SICA or PSA at the initial assessment.

Principle 2

A number of issues have been raised when scoring a SICA for P2. Firstly, the difficulties that have been identified in scoring a SICA have led to concerns with the robustness of the score. Secondly, as just one species is used to determine the SICA score, concerns have been raised that the risk to all species may not be properly evaluated. Thirdly, if the result of SICA is less than 80, the score is not used and becomes redundant, and all species have then to be considered anyway in the PSA.


Risk Based Framework Developments

The issues being considered within this paper are:

Issue 1

Vertical overlap is one of four susceptibility attributes which are scored as part of the PSA within the RBF. Vertical Overlap considers whether a species occurs at the same depth in the water column as the fishing gear and if the overlap of gear with depth range is low, medium or high. Currently, there is no guidance on how to interpret differences between low, medium and high so overlap is being scored inconsistently in different RBF assessments.

Issue 2

Concerns have been raised that when assessing the susceptibility of a species to capture as part of the PSA, there is a greater risk posed to a concentrated distribution of species and this is not currently taken into consideration when scoring.

Issue 3

When scoring fisheries using the RBF for Performance Indicator (PI) 1.1.1, the impact of all fisheries affecting the target stock need to be taken into account. When scoring using the PSA, risk-scores are determined for each fishery individually, then weights assigned according to the known proportions of total catch of the given target stock.

Issue 4

Selectivity of a fishing gear is scored as one of four susceptibility attributes which are scored as part of the PSA within the RBF. Selectivity is scored as low, medium and high risk depending on the potential for a gear to capture a species. The low, medium and high risk score cut-offs for determining the risk are specific to individual gear types and so need to be developed for each gear types accordingly.

Concerns have been raised about the lack of guidance in how to develop these cut-offs, and inconsistencies in use of new cut-offs in RBF assessments.

Issue 5

A final issue raised at the TAB workshop was that under the current equations converting from the PSA score to an MSC score a highly productive species (productivity score = 1) could score a 60 even if it had maximum susceptibility scores (susceptibility = 3). Thus for these species (mussels, squid, crabs) the PSA appears less precautionary than was originally intended.

To find out more about the history of development for the Risk Based Framework, please click here.