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Improvements to Rapfish: a rapid evaluation technique for fisheries integrating ecological and human dimensionsa

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  • aThis paper was presented at the 6th World Fisheries Congress, Edinburgh, in 2012 (sponsored by the FSBI). As a result, its content may not fall within the normal scope of the Journal of Fish Biology.

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Abstract

This paper reports recent developments in Rapfish, a normative, scalable and flexible rapid appraisal technique that integrates both ecological and human dimensions to evaluate the status of fisheries in reference to a norm or goal. Appraisal status targets may be sustainability, compliance with a standard (such as the UN code of conduct for responsible fisheries) or the degree of progress in meeting some other goal or target. The method combines semi-quantitative (e.g. ecological) and qualitative (e.g. social) data via multiple evaluation fields, each of which is assessed through scores assigned to six to 12 attributes or indicators: the scoring method allows user flexibility to adopt a wide range of utility relationships. For assessing sustainability, six evaluation fields have been developed: ecological, technological, economic, social, ethical and institutional. Each field can be assessed directly with a set of scored attributes, or several of the fields can be dealt with in greater detail using nested subfields that themselves comprise multidimensional Rapfish assessments (e.g. the hierarchical institutional field encompasses both governance and management, including a detailed analysis of legality). The user has the choice of including all or only some of the available sustainability fields. For the attributes themselves, there will rarely be quantitative data, but scoring allows these items to be estimated. Indeed, within a normative framework, one important advantage with Rapfish is transparency of the rigour, quality and replicability of the scores. The Rapfish technique employs a constrained multidimensional ordination that is scaled to situate data points within evaluation space. Within each evaluation field, results may be presented as a two-dimensional plot or in a one-dimensional rank order. Uncertainty is expressed through the probability distribution of Monte-Carlo simulations that use the c.l. on each original observation. Overall results of the multidisciplinary analysis may be shown using kite diagrams that compare different locations, time periods (including future projections) and management scenarios, which make policy trade-offs explicit. These enhancements are now available in the R programming language and on an open website, where users can run Rapfish analyses by downloading the software or uploading their data to a user interface.

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