Step 2: Goal Setting

In a stakeholder driven process – outlining the goals of the fishery and community will inform the assessment, design and management priorities; and therefore the entire process. For example, a community whose goals are primarily to maximize fisheries harvest every year will set a very different pathway to fishery reform than a community focused on generating fishery yields while also increasing fish biomass in the water to support tourism. Fishery goals may be biological, economic, social or a combination of these categories. 

In this hypothetical multispecies fishery, the goals focus on the production of good yields from all of the targets to avoid serial depletion and the prevention of adverse impacts of fishing on marine ecosystems. In addition, some goals focus on resilience to climate change specifically. The case study nation’s fishery managers and stakeholders have decided that their high-level goals are three-fold, and evolve depending on short-term and long-term projected needs of the community.  These goals are:

  • Produce good (but not necessarily maximum) yields from the main target fisheries.
    • Short-term goal: maintain the health status of fished targets through the development and implementation of a multispecies fishery management plan that is adaptive in real-time to the ecological and social needs of the fishery.
    • Long-term goal: manage the future fished targets and associated species interactions to help maintain the health of the fishery.
  • Provide good dive tourism and recreational fishing experiences.
    • Short-term and long-term goals are centered around maintain alternative livelihood options.
  • Maintain the coral reef ecosystem that supports fishing and tourism by rebuilding depleted stocks and maintaining total fish biomass at appropriate levels. 
    • Short-term goal: manage the current fished targets and associated species interactions to help maintain the health of the ecosystem and evolving fishery.
    • Long-term goal: manage the changing fished targets and associated species interactions to help maintain the health of the ecosystem and fishery in response to changing climatic conditions.

They further break these goals down into biological/ ecological, economic, and socio-cultural objectives:


Biological/ Ecological Objectives

Economic Objectives

Social/ Cultural Objectives

Fishery Sustainability Objectives

Protect spawning stock biomass

Decrease waste or discarding

Increase or maintain local fishing jobs

Decrease bycatch and/ or avoid serial depletion

Decrease fishing costs

Protect cultural fishing traditions

Protect essential habitat

Increase price per fish

Increase or develop community involvement in management

Climate Resilience Objectives

Facilitate the sustainable harvest of emerging stocks

Increase flexibility and adaptability of fishers

Improve community livelihoods and wellbeing

Facilitate species adaptive capacity by protecting habitat throughout temperature corridors

Expand livelihood options

Improve community resilience and transformational capacity

These goals stem from their vision for the future of the fishery – that it can continue to support livelihoods, promotes job security, and contribute significantly to the economy, even in the face of climate change. In order to continue to generate these benefits and increase them over time, it will be necessary to limit access to the fishery and control harvest based on scientific surveys and analysis. Neither of these approaches can function well on its own: limiting access without controlling harvest often results in fishermen who try to maximize catch, resulting in overfishing, and limiting harvest without limiting access often results in overfishing as more and more fishers enter the fishery.