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Audit of Management Recommendations 2

Arias-Hansen, Juliana; Kvalvik, Ingrid; Hermansen, Øystein; Svorken, Marianne; Touron-Gardic, Gregoire; Vidal, Duarte; Rincón Hidalgo, Margarita; Agnarsson, Sveinn; Laksá, Unn

This document presents the audit of a draft version of the second Management Recommendations (MRs) in the FarFish project. This MR2 draft was updated during the last months of the project considering the second audit recommendations, hence providing a more final MR within the project’s lifetime. The audit process is a fundamental step for the implementation of the Results-Based Management (RBM) approach. In RBM, the resource users are directly involved in the management and decision-making process. The relevant authorities continue defining the policy goals but delegate (partly) the responsibility for the planning and implementation of the management means to attain those goals to the resource users. The auditor, as an independent third party, should be able to assess the extent to which these goals have been met (Nielsen et al., 2017). In FarFish, the auditor is enacted by a research institute. However, this role can be taken by any organization with auditing capacity or by a joint audit committee designated by both parties.

The audit of the second MRs revealed interesting results in terms of the implementation of the key activities planned for achieving the Outcome Targets (OTs). Several challenges were also found in the implementation and performance of the MRs. Some of the most common challenges referred to coordination and collaboration with the Coastal States or the acting Regional Fisheries Management Organization (RFMO), although when this was in place, the success of the action considerably increased. As the MR of the case study (CS) 1 for the Southwest Atlantic high seas, presented the critical challenge of not having a RFMO, the MR aimed to contribute towards addressing this challenge. The CS2 for the Southeast Atlantic, on the contrary, with a well-established RFMO faced the critical challenge of limited fishing activities in the area, which was reflected in a relatively low interest from the EU operators involved in the project. The high-seas fisheries CS1 and CS2, were subject to a more qualitative and somewhat subjective audit, due to the nature of the OTs and the indicators set for them.

The Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) CSs on the other hand, reported more specific indicators towards improving knowledge and methods about the status of the different stocks. Focus was also placed on strengthening and increasing observer program coverage, with improved reporting methods and protocols, aiming to fully implement electronic reporting systems in the Coastal State with capacity to adequately process data from e-logbooks. Operators’ compliance was also targeted through data analysis of satellite signals from remote sensing systems (VMS and AIS). Finally, socio-economic targets were set in this second version of the MRs, with focus on data collection for catches, landings, processing, and trade, as well as market analysis and other socio-economic variables.

The notable advancement from the MR1 to the MR2 showed extensive work that renders important results throughout the implementation of the RBM. For example, reports on the implementation of self-sampling programs for stock assessment, not only from the EU fleet but further, as in the case of Senegal involving artisanal fleet targeting the same species. In other cases, big data analysis was conducted, adding evidence to the value of remote sensing as a tool for transparency and support compliance in fisheries activities (Ruiz et al., 2019). Furthermore, several protocols and documents were developed, which are ready for implementation by the coastal state authorities, such as the harmonized catch data protocol in Cape Verde, and self-sampling training materials and a specific protocol to improve on-board observations in Mauritania.
However, several challenges were also found in the implementation and performance of the MRs. Challenges with data collection due to existing data sharing restrictions, timing, and delays of planned actions, with the added challenge of a world pandemic, as well as issues with participation and active collaboration in the programs, were found in several cases. More notable for the four SFPA CSs, was the clear difference in the success of the actions where adequate coordination and collaboration was in place with the Coastal States.

The second audit process was conducted to the extent that the MRs were reported at the time of the audit. The second version of the MRs presented at this stage are not final, as work is still ongoing within the project. Therefore, this second audit is an intermediate revision of progress based on available results, limiting therefore the possibility to audit results from ongoing work not yet reported. Within the RBM, the audit framework allows for intermediate audits to assess performance every updated version of the MR, where frequency can be stipulated in the RBM contract. A final audit of the MRs should be planned within RBM to allow for the evaluation of all the actions taken and finalized within the framework. However, within FarFish, the final audit will not be possible due to time constraints and contractual specifications within the EU research and innovation action framework. Nevertheless, the implementation of this second audit framework should serve as a guideline to continue the evaluation of the future versions of the MRs developed within the RBM approach until their completion.

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