The Common Fisheries Policy (CFP) has three main objectives (according to the Commissions communication on the reform of the CFP from 2002):
• responsible and sustainable fisheries and aquaculture activities that contribute to healthy marine ecosystems
• an economically viable and competitive fisheries industry which will benefit the consumer
• a fair standard of living for those who depend on fishing activities
The FACTS project interprets these objectives as dependent on each other. However, despite the obvious need for fisheries management that accounts for the ecosystem as a whole, such management has not yet been implemented. This might be due to the lack of quantitative models that both mimic ecosystem effects of fishing and are applicable for management purposes.
Another probable problem is that traditional fisheries reference points such as minimum acceptable spawning stock biomass or maximum sustainable yield have not yet been defined in an ecosystem context. Applying the maximum sustainable yield to a given species will often render it impossible to get the maximum sustainable yield for its predators or prey.
There exists, hence, a substantial need for improvement. This is foreseen in the Marine Strategy Framework directive: In view of the dynamic nature of marine ecosystems and their natural variability, and given that the pressures and impacts on them may vary with the evolvement of different patterns of human activity and the impact of climate change, it is essential to recognise that the determination of good environmental status may have to be adapted over time (taken from Directive 2008/56/EC (Marine Strategy Framework Directive)).
The Marine Strategy Framework Directive constitutes the vital environmental component of the Union's future maritime policy, designed to achieve the full economic potential of oceans and seas in harmony with the marine environment. To his end, FACTS will develop the decision tools to assess the consequences at an ecosystem level of a given set of harvesting priorities, including their economic implications.
Furthermore, we will make these decision tools available where they are needed: in the ICES and STECF working groups that delivering the basics for the recommendation of harvesting strategies to the Commission. This can be done because key participants in the FACTS project are active members of these working groups.